It was good to get back in the pool this morning on a crisp sunny day after a long week of Spring Break. Deanna was here for the whole time, and Stef and Rosemary visited for parts. We ramped up the activity level a little bit, hearing some great music and eating great food while enjoying the warm weather and the city.
Deanna arrived late Friday after a long travel day, and we began our establishment as regulars at Horn’s for brunch Saturday. We walked across town along the river to the Upper Quarter, enjoying the Italian-American parade at the Chart Room, and then meandering through the Quarter back to Touro Street before a late night show from the Rebirth Brass Band at dba.
On Sunday we had a mellow start, including some grocery shopping where we ran into Kermit Ruffins in the deli aisle. Fun stuff! We were invited to a neighborhood crawfish boil in the driveway/courtyard of a neighbor’s house and met some interesting folks. It is good to get dug in deeper to the neighborhood. Rosemary arrived, and we had a good first meal at Buffa’s while listening to Steve Pistorius from the table closest to the stage. The unamplified tone from the clarinets and saxophone made the set a special one.
We had another great meal at Horn’s the next day, and walked the neighborhood a bit, touring the St. Augustine Church, the Unknown Slave memorial, Armstrong Park and Congo Square. The highlight of the afternoon was the Backstreet cultural museum focused on Mardi Gras Indians and Second Line groups of the Treme. It was a very detailed look at the history of one of the Indian tribes. That evening we ate at Snug Harbor, and because of a ticketing snafu, ended up seeing John Boutte at dba for an excellent and moving set, and then seeing Charmaine Neville back at Snug in the company of a memorable couple from Guyana by way of Maryland.
On Tuesday, we ate breakfast at the Clover Grill and then walked the galleries on Royal Street, stopping for a tour of the beautifully restored 1850s era courtyard and a drink at Finnegan’s Easy, and a good traditional meal at the Napoleon House. The street musicians seemed to be especially good on this sunny day. We stopped for refreshment at Tujague’s and Molly’s at the Market, with a stop at the costume shop to buy sparkly clothing. A black and gold sequin jacket and a glittery cape turn out to be the perfect wardrobe choices for a Tuesday night Treme Brass Band show at dba, although I did break my Lenten prohibition against costuming after Carnival. I suppose I will have to repent harder.
The next morning I found the Banksy “girl with umbrella” piece on the way from Buffa’s to the airbnb, and showed it to Rosemary. It is fun to have an internationally known work of street art two blocks from our house. We took the long walk through the Bywater for a little change of pace, and ended up at brunch at Elizabeth’s. The shrimp and grits in beef and tasso gravy is one of the great dishes of New Orleans. Stef met us there, and we spent an hour in our courtyard, and then we were off to the Elysian Bar at the very fancy St. Peter and Paul hotel in the neighborhood. We were joined by Chris Seker for a drink and conversation, and then were off to Cane and Table for some excellent seafood.
Rosemary left early the next morning after a great visit, and we had a casual morning in the lower Quarter walking with Stef, ending up at the Great American Sports Saloon for Opening Day for the Cubbies. We watched the first part of the game and then made for the N-7 restaurant on Montegut. It is a speakeasy style restaurant, behind a wood gate unmarked except for a stenciled and painted sign. Open the gate, and it is beautiful courtyard with excellently restored small buildings, and a rusted Citroen straight out of a 1940s European gangster movie. The crowd was different than most I hang out with, richer, hipper, and whiter, with fewer obvious tourists or street people. The food was excellent, French-inspired but local ingredients and a lot of care taken in preparation. We shared nine big “small plates”, each of which with a distinctive flavor and texture profile, followed by two perfect desserts. A soy sauce Creme Brullee? This is a great restaurant. We tried to meet friends at our local wine shop and tasting room, Second Vine, where we heard Mojo Working (Mike from around the corner) play a few songs in a singer-songwriter style, and met Danny the wine shop manager. This is a very cool space in the back of a small retail shop that I had passed many times without stopping. They also had a grill going outside, serving charbroiled oysters.
On Friday we met with Stef and Eileen at her bakery on Magazine Street, and had a nice shopping walk up the street. I scored a seersucker jacket at a thrift store that will make at least a great prop or semi-costume. We had a nice break at the Balcony Bar and Grill, looked at furniture at West Elm, walking away without a comfy chair, and ended up at Parasol’s for a roast beef po-boy. We fought the clock, and ended up at the Blue Nile to hear a late night show from Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers. He had a woman soul singer and dancer join the group for a couple of songs which was the highlight of the show, unless you count Kermit doing “Wonderful World”, a show-stopper.
Stef met us for another great meal at Horn’s in the morning before she had to fly out, and we had a relaxed day in the Lower Quarter, with a drink and snack at Manolito, home of the perfect Cuban daiquiri, a very good and unusual Chinese food meal at Dian Xian that included a wrap filled with good veggies, a couple of fried crackers, and seafood. Another excellent spot to discover in the extended neighborhood. We watched a little of the baseball game, and Deanna headed out the next morning.
Perhaps appropriately, the temperature dropped and it rained for a good part of the day Sunday, so I spent the morning doing house chores and then went out to watch baseball. I ended the evening with a sandwich at Buffa’s, sitting next to a couple of musicians trying to write rap beats in 5:4 time. A great neighborhood, and an almost exhausting week!