Sinking in to the Big Easy

Good friends at BayonnaDarlings, I have been fortunate; I have been able to travel a lot in my life. It is something I have always enjoyed and dreamed of doing even when I was very young. I remember developing an obsession with Siam as young girl. I think it came from watching the movie The King and I. It stuck, and it is still one of my favourite places today. I adore Thailand. Nothing about it disappointed me; it was every bit as delightful, beautiful, fascinating and delicious as I had envisioned it.

I have been lucky to visit a few times and really have been able to sink into the country and get to know it.
 
Sinking into a place is always my goal when I travel. My husband shares my obsession, so I’m lucky. We like to our take our time and really get the feel of the place, even if it means missing some so-called destinations, and leaving a few miles untrod. 
 
In 1969 there was a popular romantic comedy called If It’s Tuesday, This Must be Belgium. It depicts the adventures of a group of tourists as they race through seven countries in18 days. Even today, young tourists from all over the world dash through breakneck schedules on Kontiki tours. That’s not for me. I need to get to know a city and its people. I love to stroll and meander. I long to chat, absorb, and eat. I need to sink-in! 
 
Recently we returned to New Orleans; a city we adore. This is our first visit since before Katrina. Don’t let anyone tell you it has lost its charm or seduction. It may have been down, but the lady is not out.
 
My husband lives for the music that fills the streets. He has always hankered to attend the Jazz Festival. This year, the lure of Tony Bennett made it a must. I like music too, but can’t take the sun or crowds. I like my music in darker venues.
 
It is hard to say what makes me happier in the Big Easy: dear old friends, beautiful old buildings, truly fabulous food, or the joie de vie.
 
The buildings dressed in their pretty peeling pastels still stand in the French Quarter delighting the eye. The vegetation is lush in the heavy semi-tropical heat. Darlings, I adore the palms and scent of jasmine. For me the poetry of the Quarter is found in its denizens: writers and artists. Its Creole architecture helps to keep its secrets. I covet the lovely apartments and courtyards hidden behind heavy hurricane shutters.
 
If you love music and fun it is hard to think of city with more to do. New Orleans loves to party.
 
This is a city where food is taken seriously. Years ago, my fist trip to New Orleans coincided with the opening of Bayona. It was Chef Susan Spicer’s first restaurant. I went with my friend Rochelle. We declared it divine at first bite. It has reigned as one of the city’s best ever since. I cannot imagine visiting the city without stopping there, preferably with Rochelle and her husband Phil. Since it 1990, its global-style cuisine has made Bayona and Chef Spicer a star.
 
This trip, I anticipated dining in the restaurants of Chef John Besh. I was not disappointed. My husband and I dined at two of his restaurants. We ate at August, where the food is contemporary French and heavenly. The service is impeccable but relaxed. The wine list is fabulous; there is an exceptionable choice by the glass. I appreciated this as I want great wine, but not a lot of it. The restaurant is absolutely lovely with stunning floral arrangements. We also dined at Chef Besh’s bistro-style Luke, a lovely place with a lively downtown ambience. We savored moules et frites, a classic. The desserts in both restaurants are heavenly. Both are located in the central business district.
 
John Besh is a very charming local man. We met him at August, where he is known to make appearances frequently. Besh was named one of the Ten Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine Magazine 1999. He also won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef in the Southeast in 2006.
 
Katrina kicked the stuffing out the city. Parts of it will never come back and it’s shame. But those left send the message that they want everyone to visit. New Orleans is still the Big Easy and the city is still a fabulous place to be. It gives visitors a big welcome, and has something for everyone.
 
So darlings, if you like your getaways way elegant as I do, it is a perfect venue. If you like your fun bit more rowdy, it will work for you, too. But, if you haven’t, as the song goes, been Way down yonder in New Orleans, head there. Take time to sink-in. You’ll love it. Be sure to bring your appetite.
 
Katheleen Mars Commented: "The buildings dressed in their pretty peeling pastels still stand in the French Quarter delighting the eye. The vegetation is lush in the heavy semi-tropical heat. Darlings, I adore the palms and scent of jasmine. For me the poetry of the Quarter is found in its denizens: writers and artists. Its Creole architecture helps to keep its secrets. I covet the lovely apartments and courtyards hidden behind heavy hurricane shutters."

 
Gracey…
You simply must write a book… I felt as though I were walking and dining in New Orleans!

 
Share



Ode to New Orleans

‘Cap’n Ted’ Gauthier, a proud Cajun, giving a bayou tour.The CrescentCity is not only alive, it is showing unmistakable signs of thriving.

 
From steamy, colorful, vibrant, kitschy, boozy, sexy Bourbon Street – where Louis Armstrong’s legacy toots out of every doorway — to the sophistication of Bayona and August restaurants, New Orleans is a treat for the senses. It is a sensual voyage through worlds musical, gastronomic, visual, cultural, and spiritual.                                                                             
 Jazz pours onto the streets of the CrescentCityA tour through a local cemetery was a monumental reminder of New Orleans history. This is a city created by France, taken over by the Spanish, returned to the French, and then sold to the Americans. New Orleans has always been buffeted by the winds of change, but this voodoo capital always conjures new magic.
 
 
 
 
Rap three times on the tomb of voodoo Queen Marie Laveau to make a wish come tureCreoles in New Orleans developed a remarkably open and progressive society. Acadians, banished from what is now eastern Canada, adapted and flourished in their imposed homeland. Together, they stewed up a vibrant cuisine, music scene, and culture. Once the Cajuns’ French language was banned in the schools, but its endurance mocks North American homogenization. In a continent where too many cities are clones of each other, N’Awlins is unique. Melting pot? Vive gumbo and jambalaya!
         
Tony Bennett headlined the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.What other city shuns chain restaurants and their quarter-pound burgers, quadruple iced decaf lattes a la mode, and cheese crust overstuffed pizzas at its jazz festival? In New Orleans, vendors sell “cochon au lait” sandwiches, fried eggplant with crayfish sauce, and bread pudding. They keep prices reasonable.
 
 
 
New Orleans suffered a terrible blow when Katrina slammed ashore. Parts of the city remain dismal, tens of thousands of people departed forever, and some companies sought higher ground in other states. There’s fear that another hurricane of the same magnitude would finish New Orleans off for good.
 
But now, homes are being rebuilt, immigrants who came in to do the work are staying, and the city still attracts musicians and creative people from everywhere. Joie de vivre is back in the air.
 After the party… 	….the recovery.
After the party… 	….the recovery.There are never guarantees about what life has in store for New Orleans — or anywhere else, for that matter. But if we let New Orleans sink into the gulf we will all wind up in the abyss. Cities like New Orleans tell us something wonderful about what it is to be human and alive. The good news is that sightings of funeral parades for New Orleans itself are vastly exaggerated!
 
 
 
 
                                                          After the party, the recovery!
 

 

Share