Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cooking skills try-out

Our kids are still out of town so Rob and I decided to try our hand at Gumbo today. And the result was complete success! We ate the whole batch! OK it was only a half batch we made, but we ate all of it!

Then I decided to try Pralines. Not quite as successful, but edible those will take more practice. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Jackson, MS

We arrived at the Jackson, MS station 40 mins early. Now we await the scheduled departure time. Sunset while we wait. 

For some reason Rob has had a pizza craving most of the trip. He finally got his pizza fix on the train. Nothing like $6 for a few bites of pizza. But he's happy and that's what counts. ;)

I got a not so good picture of a house that we liked. 

And here is a stupid picture of an old train engine I tried to capture as we went by. LOL

Now it's dark. No more lame pictures. Thanks for joining me for our New Orleans trip. :)

Hammond, LA

First stop Hammond, LA. Scenery to this point has been swamps and Lake Pontachatrain (sp?) which looks like ocean to me. Can't see any land on the other side. Water as far as the eye can see. Didn't get a pic this time by let me look back and see if I have one from our ride south. Nope bummer. 

Well here is a pic of the Hammon station. 

Last morning

Our last morning in New Orleans. I was glad I had done some research ahead of time because there was very little open on Christmas Day. We walked over to the French Quarter and breakfast at Cafe Fluer de Lis. Cute little cafe, good service, decent food, great coffee with real cream. 

I had the Big Easy breakfast because I wasn't sure what I wanted and it had it all. I couldn't get it all on one pic without doing a pano. 

Sausage and hash browns were eh but edible. Everything else was good. I liked how they browned the biscuit. 

Rob chose the Farmer's omelette but told the waiter he wanted the cow and the pig too. So it had a bunch of veggies and ham and cheese. It was very tasty.

After breakfast they brought me a to go cup full of coffee and we strolled through a very quiet French Quarter. We enjoyed looking in shop windows, it didn't matter if they weren't open - jewelry and antiques weren't in the budget for this trip!

We say this chandelier in the lobby of the W hotel. It made us think of my brother and our daughter, our favorite trumpet players. 

After our little stroll it was back to the hotel to pack up for our trip back. 

We are back on board Amtrak now and left right on time. Maybe freight trains don't run on Xmas and we can get back to Memphis on time. :) We are scheduled to arrive at 10 pm. I have to work tomorrow and we have an almost two hour drive home. 

Really enjoyed our trip. Will be nice to be home in our own bed tonight. Although the be at the Hilton Riverside was not uncomfortable at all.

Did I post pics of the view from our room? Here is a daytime and one at night with the moon. iPhone pics not great. But you get the idea. We had a river view. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Cajun Mike's

3 awesome poboys, 2 sides and 5 cocktails, $63 including tip. Another successful Yelp! find. Local dive bar delivered!

My NOLA tips

1. Bring lots of cash in small bills for street cars, tipping and places that only take cash like Cafe du Monde. 

2. Try Cafe du Monde if you must, but don't fret if you don't get there. And certainly don't stand in a long line to go there. 

3. Comfy walking shoes are a must. 

4. In cooler weather dress in layers. A wind breaker type jacket with hood over a sweater and shirt is going to keep you warmer than a wool or leather coat in the wind. 

5. Do the New Orleans School of Cooking. It's fantastic!

6. Get to Jackson Square early one morning before the crowds. Especially if you think you want to stop in at Cafe du Monde. 

7. All museums are closed on Mondays.

8. Free Tours by Foot is a good no pressure name your own price option. Our tour was very informative. 

9. Most restaurants that say casual but take reservations will have most people dressed up anyway.

10. $100/day for two is doable. $200/day person would give you more options. If you like your cocktails maybe more. We dropped $20 for one round of drinks at Pat O's. 

11. Afternoon naps are your friend. 

12. If you can afford it, stay in the French Quarter. But there are lots of places on the Central Business District that work as well. 

That's it for now. If I think of more later I'll add to it. 

More street cars, Garden District, Cemetary

Took three different street cars to get over to the Garden District. 

Below is the St Charles St car. This is the line that goes to the Garden District.

We got off on Jackson and walked to Washington and turned left. We took a few pictures of homes and the tree lined streets. 

After we turned left on Washington, we walked down to the Cemetary and wondered around a bit. We had learned a little about how the graves in the area work. The graves are all above ground due to the high water table. We also over-heard a few details from on going tours in the Cemetary. It was interesting to hear how they worked.

After we left the Cemetary we came across a few trees with no bark. At first we thought it was a dead tree. But since there were several of them and it is winter we aren't sure. 

Now we are in our room resting again. We will head out later to find some dinner and see what else we can get into on our last night. 

Ferry to Algiers and French Market

After breakfast we headed back to Canal St and got a day pass for the street cars (and buses) and rode done to the ferry. We rode the Ferry over to Algiers Point and took some pictures looking back toward New Orleans. 

We saw the Algiers Courthouse.

Back by the ferry we saw this statue of the late Louis Armstrong. 

And then headed back on the ferry. We saw these pelicans along the way. 

We rode the Riverside streetcar down to the French Market and browsed around a little. 

While we were there we grabbed a couple snacks. I chose apple beneigts. There were four but I initially forgot to take a pic. These were better than cafe du Monde of you ask me. 

Rob chose Gator bites. I tried them. They were pretty good. He said there were some chewy spots. 

Now we are back on the Riverfront streetcar headed back toward Canal where we will catch the one going up to St Charles and transfer to go to the Garden District. 

Ruby Slipper Cafe

We got a much later start this morning. After 9am or so. Had breakfast at the Rubby Slipper Cafe. Would definitely go back. The mimosa was average. The coffee is a good strong coffee with no bitterness. Yum!

Rob had the Blackston:

I chose the Lousianan Omlette it was huge! And loaded with fresh shrimp as cheese. 

Rest and then Bourbon St

After cooking school we headed back to the hotel and napped. We got back to the room just before and rested until almost 8:30 or so. 

The view from our room this afternoon. Ironically the cruise ship in the river was the Carnival Elation. The ship we were on 13 years ago.

After nap time we headed out to Bourbon St. It was pretty tame. We walked down to Pat O'Briens. I had a hurricane and Rob had a Guiness. We made our way to the piano bar and had fun listening to several songs be murdered. The 10 o'clock crew was much better. We stuck around until our brings were gone then slowly headed back to our hotel. We made a brief stop off at Hotel Monteleone to see the carousel bar.

Bourbon St


Piano guy named Joel. He was one of the good ones. 

She had a great voice and seemed quite talented to me on the piano. 

That's is for December 23, we are up to date. Now I'll get some sleep and we will see what adventures tomorrow holds. 

A little snack and warmup

After the tour we walked around the square and looked at local artists work. 

These boys has aluminum cans on the bottom of their shoes and they were doing a sort of tap or clog type thing.

Still very cold and having not had any food besides beneigts we decided to duck into an oyster sports bar place and get a beer and some appetizers to hold us over until cooking school time. 

Rob had the bacon wrapped oysters. They were lightly fried and smothered with a crawfish sauce that Rob raved about. I had a tase and although I don't usually go for oysters it was pretty good. 

I had a southern egg roll thing. It was good but I felt it was similar to a Chili's dish. Not super special. But sufficient. 

When we finished up here we did a little more window shopping while we killed time waiting for cooking school. 

This next feature of our trip is a highlight for sure! New Orleans School of Cooking on St Louis St. This is a must do if you've never been! Our class was a demonstration of how to make Gumbo, Jambalaya, and Pralines. Our instructor was Big Kevin and he was perfect. Funny and informative.

After class we picked up a few spices in their shop so that we can attempt to replicate these dishes at home. Oh and a box of Pralines. My new drug of choice. They are sitting on the bedside table calling my name now!

Early morning at Jackson Square

It was nice to get to the square early. Probably about 8am. We were able to get some pics without a ton of people around. 

After our little breakfast we had another hour before our tour. So we browsed the area a little. Went into an antique shop that had some amazing things that were way out of my price range.

After the little window shopping we headed over to meet our group for a "Free Tours by Foot" tour of the French Quarter. Our guide was Joanne. She was originally from Australia but has lived in New Orleans for several years now. 

It was very cold and windy. Poor thing was chattering as she talked. But she was a trooper. She new her history of New Orleans and the Louisiana purchase and more. The tour included a good variety from history to architecture and recommendations.

I would recommend Free Tours by Foot for sure. There was no pressure with regard to tipping or an amount. She was very discreet about taking money at the end and not paying attention to the amount. 

Let see what I can remember about some of these photos. 

There was a long story about the lady that had this building and the one similar on the other side of Jackson Square. She inherited money from her father who was Spanish. She married a French guy. Something something something anyway. The scroll work on the wrought iron was really cool and included her maiden and married name initials.

I think the is the Napoleon House. Napoleon never lived here. 

Don't know what exactly we are all looking at. But here you can see some of our tour group or at least the backs if their heads. 

Louisiana Supreme Court building. Has been in several movies, including The Pelican Brief. 

The yellow building was the home of someone. Perhaps Tennessee Williams (I know we saw one of his homes). The person died from yellow fever. She talked about Yellow fever and it's impact on the area. 

Pretty sure this was on Royal St. Some locals setting up to play music. 

?? More French Quarter

Pat O'Briens on Burboun St. 


The gallery of a famous local artist. Not open because he recently passed away losing a battle with cancer. There several slower arrangements in the window. 

This was in a residentional area of the FQ. I liked the ferns on the balcony. 

That about covers the pics I took during the tour.