Escape from Winter - 2012 travel blog


French Market

Jackson Square

with azaleas

Pat O'Briens

Joan of Arc


You might think that after a week of fine eating on a cruise ship, we would be cutting back a bit on the consumption. But if you thought that, you would be wrong. While we are enjoying all the colorful neighborhoods and varied architecture of the city, a primary reason to come here is the food. Everyone we meet and talk to here has a favorite food and/or spot to eat it. The list continues to grow.

We started the day at Cafe Du Monde with a breakfast of beignets and chicory coffee. Beignets are a New Orleans version of doughnuts, fried dough piled high with powdered sugar. The eating technique here is not to breathe in too deeply or the powdered sugar coats your entire respiratory system. The poor waiters have a massive clean up after every table empties; there's no way to eat these delights neatly.

Then we walked the Mississippi River past Jackson Square to a seafood restaurant famous for its grilled oysters. I used to love to eat raw oysters, but my immune system isn't getting any younger and there's still all the petroleum sludge floating around out there. So oysters that are grilled in the shell and covered with butter, garlic, bread crumbs and spices were a wonderful treat.

Then we moved on to Pat O'Briens for a Hurricane, a rum drink which debuted at the 1939 World's Fair and was named after the hurricane lamp-shaped glasses the first drinks were served in. A patron at the bar warned Ken not to have more than three. His girl friend did and could not get out of bed the next day. For an extra fee you can get a hurricane lamp shaped souvenir glass. We still have ours from 1972, the first time we had a Hurricane. Pat O'Brien's has a special place in our hearts. As we sat there in 1972 sipping in the crowded bar, we shared a table with a couple that told us about a wonderful cruise they had just been on. We had never heard of cruising before, but it sounded like fun. The rest is history!

Then we joined up with a food tour and things went downhill fast. We thought we would be with a few other people and would go from restaurant to restaurant sampling and learning as we have in other cities. Instead we were with a group of 18 graduate students from NYU and were given food samples that the guide hauled around in her cooler. While the gumbo was tasty, the rest was pretty ordinary. No seafood, normally a staple of Creole cooking. Corn muffins are nothing special. The food was served from tupper ware containers. Who had prepared it and how? The Chicago food sanitation police would never allow such a thing. We were SO disappointed both by the food and how little we learned. The only good thing about this tour was that we didn't end up eating too much. There may be an unfavorable write up on the Trip Advisor web site some day soon.

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