5 Days in New Orleans
Look! A post! From me! I’m trying really, really hard to get my shit together. Four months in a hotel can really mess with you. Let’s hope that I can pull it together and do a little better in the coming months.
Last week, I got to stay in an entirely different hotel! Continuing the Year of Hyatt, I spent five days at the Hyatt French Quarter on Bourbon Street, a freshly remodeled hotel with a quiet room facing the inner courtyard. It was really ideal for me, and right next door to the very crowded, very noisy and not-remodeled conference hotel that shall remain nameless.
I had never been to New Orleans before, and when I checked in at approximately 10 pm on a Saturday night, largely unwilling to brave the chaos of Bourbon Street, my lovely Hyatt staff ensured that I was well-fed with a muffuletta sandwich and some sparkling water without having to leave the building. (The theme of this post, by the way? Food. Food, food and more food.)
But I did wake early on Sunday morning and headed down to the legendary Cafe du Monde for beignets. This was my first real encounter with Bourbon Street, and let’s just say that the sights and smells made a lasting impression. (That impression: stay the hell away from Bourbon Street. The other streets are lovely.)
Cafe du Monde has been serving up deep-fried, sugar-coated dough since the Civil War. It’s a legend. Predictably, there was a line of people waiting for a table. When it was my turn to sit, I felt a little awkward about taking up a whole table just for myself. A woman at the next table seemed to read my mind: “I feel strange taking up a whole table by myself. Would you like to join me?” I never do things like that, but for some reason I sat down with her and we started talking.
Turns out that she was on a month-long drive across the country, trying to figure out what her next thing was going to be. She had a job lined up in Houston, but when she heard that I was a writer she confessed that what she really wanted to do was write a book about navigating the labyrinth of elder care, particularly for those who want to stay in their homes. She had a hard drive full of research and information about it, but she wasn’t sure that anyone would read it. I told her that I thought that there was a huge and growing market for a book like that, and that she should take her final week of travel and start writing that book. It was like we were meant to meet. I really hope that she starts writing that book.
I could bore you with dozens of food photos. Red beans and rice aren’t terribly photogenic. Catfish doesn’t look terribly exciting. Shrimp and grits looks kind of blah. But I’ll share these with you:
This beauty is the legendary double chocolate bread pudding at the Red Fish Grill. It was amazing.
The gorgonzola cheesecake was my chosen appetizer that came with my three-course meal at Muriel’s. That meal was start-to-finish amazing. My entree was this pork chop, served on a bed of southern greens and candied sweet potatoes. I finished with a killer bread pudding. Amazing.
And let’s not forget the drinks. Every bloody Mary I came across, like this one at The Ruby Slipper Cafe, comes with a collection of spicy pickled green beans. I could make a meal out of the pickled green beans. Someone please make this happen.
Overall, I can say that I ate better on this trip than I have on any business trip in recent memory. The food is extraordinary. I’m a little bit disappointed that I had to return home and cook very ordinary meals again.