Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Who Dat?

Mom, dad, and I woke up early and grabbed a bad-ass coffee (literally) and headed to N'Orleans. I have to correct myself, it has actually been more like 20 years since I have been to N'Orleans. I was eight then and would spend the evenings eating room service and playing truth or dare with my sister and cousins, while my parents and aunts and uncles were out on the town. Yeah, so basically, I haven't been to N'Orleans.

After a few hours in the car, we drove right into the heart of the French Quarter Festival. Let me tell you, it was exactly what I was thinking it would be. There were people all over, music blaring from every bar, and drinks flowing like water from a fountain. It was magical. After checking into one of our best finds, The Prince Conti Hotel, we plunged head first into the chaos.

We stopped at the first bar we could find and ordered our first drinks. We started walking and there were people carrying drinks and really good music everywhere. It was love at first sight for me. We landed at Jackson Square and I was put to work stirring cheese grits that was being served with shrimp. We had a margarita and soaked up the creole flavor.

A few cocktails later we ate lunch at a balcony cafe overlooking a live band and couples dancing in the street. I didn't have a dance partner, but I did my best dancing solo and later joined a zydaco band. My dad wanted to know if they wanted a record deal with me. Sadly, the answer is no.

We ate delicious Shrimp Rumelaude and crab cakes and gumbo as we watched the dancers and cheered on the band in the hot Louisiana sunshine.

Over lunch, I commented to my mom, "I really don't get the 'Who Dat' thing? What is is all about?" She responded, "It doesn't matter. Just go with it." And sort of waved me off. Okay, we had another drink and were off. We found a jazz club and before we knew it things were out of control. At least we were anyway.

We were drinking whatever happened our way, I was dancing to anything that I could come across and we stumbled on the gay district. My mom and I loved it! The day fell out of our hands and before we knew it it was way past dinner time. We selected a dinner joint and grabbed a bite. Had another drink and passed out back in our hotel room.

The next morning, we had lived through the French Quarter fest (barely) and my dad commented, "I tried to tell us that we were completely out of hand, but I was too drunk and couldn't keep it together long enough to to get it out." Exactly. There wasn't anything that better sums up New Orleans than that. With all that fun all around, it's hard to hold anything together. Which I guess is the point of a vacation right?

We took it a little slower the next day and started with beignets at Cafe Du Monde. You can't do New Orleans without their classic dougnuts. We also had to compare them to the ones that mom and I had created. They were slightly larger, just as delicious and had tons of powdered sugar just like I remembered as a kid!

Then shopped around and had a lovely 10 cent martini lunch at Bacco. The food was great, service was impeccable, and the martini's were 10 cents! It was a no brainer and a wonderful tip from my dear friend Mike. We finished lunch of delicate pastas and muscles with a ricotta cheesecake. Oh yes, I will be making this at home. It was light and airy laced with citrus and honey. Perfect end to a delicious lunch.

We wandered in and out of shops on the now what seemed like deserted streets of the French Quarter and without me realizing I started to sing "Who Dat!" and I found a baby onsie that said, "Poo Dat!" and fell in love with it. We had a casual meander through the French Quarter and ended up at the cooking school. They almost put me to work, but I told them I was really busy (okay that didn't really happen, but I wished it did. I was running out of money!

The next stop was the Spotted Cat (another tip from Mike) and listened to live music. Mom and I tried to start a band, but it seems we weren't up to par. So we moved on to dinner feeling a little more defeated, but still happy non the less.

We had classic southern food at The Praline Connection for dinner. We had ribs, mac n' cheese, ettouffe and fried pork chops before returning back to the Spotted Cat to see another great live jazz band. We danced until we couldn't handle it anymore and retired to our room.

We sufficiently witnessed everything that I thought I would when in New Orleans and I now get "Who Dat!" It isn't about making sense, nothing really is. It is about throwing caution to the wind and getting into the spirit of things. Really letting yourself be rediculous. I am very good at this by the way. If only I could find a way to make money at it?

On our way out of Louisiana we stopped at the Boiling Point. We had try try these boudin's and pistolettes. We kept seeing signs and had no idea what they were. We stopped at this local hot spot and weren't dissapointed. Boudin's are a combination of rice, sausage, peppers, onions, seasonings, and ground beef rolled in a ball and deep fried! Delicious.

Pistolettes are a type of sandwich. We tried the crawfish and the shrimp and crab. It is a creamy sauce stuffed into a deliciously light sourdough bread with seafood and deep fried again. It was delicious too! We also tried the fried catfish and they had delicious gumbo that my dad kept raving about. I think we have successfully had a true Louisiana style experience. I can't wait to come back! 

Mental Health Travel Tip:  My tip when traveling on a big road trip is to go big and then go home. Know when to say, "Okay, maybe I've had enough and it's time for bed" before end up making really rash unintelligent decisions. We managed to kept out of trouble, well, kind of. I also wasn't scared to try something new and step out of my comfort zone. That is what traveling is about. Discovering new things, learning about yourself along the way, and having new experiences that you can't have at home. So, step out, but know when to go home.

Next Stop... San Antonio, Texas! Come along!

Who Dat! From our long road trip to your trip through life. Everything is a trip.... Get into it! Who Dat!

~ "Too Hot" Messes still on the road.

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