Searched For new orleans

This didn’t deserve its own post: New Orleans


When I take a trip somewhere, if I don’t do a day-by-day recounting, there’s usually a bunch of tidbits left over that I either couldn’t write more than a few sentences about or don’t have any photos for or would drag out the series far beyond what any human could be expected to tolerate or that would involve telling more personal stories about people who haven’t necessarily agreed to have their lives permanently archived on my blog just because we’re friends. All combined, however, they make for something a little more substantial, so here’s yet another one, this time about New Orleans.

tom cruise movie set

street decorations

I arrived in New Orleans after sunset and ravenous. I immediately headed out to get dinner at Muriel’s, and since I had a little time to kill before my reservation, I wandered around the area and saw that the next street over was closed off for filming. A crew member told me they were working on a new Tom Cruise film with a Halloween parade, and while that he personally was not allowed to take pictures, I could be as nosy as I wanted to be as long as I didn’t cross the street barriers.  The next day, I noted that entire area was decked out for Halloween, so I’m glad I was a little nosy and asked questions otherwise I would have been wondering what was up with all of the cobwebs, pumpkins, and skeletons in mid-December.

view of jackson square from artillery park

st louis cathedral

bird bath

mississippi sunset

Every list of New Orleans must-dos includes a visit to Cafe du Monde for beignets and chicory coffee. I’m nearly convinced that all of these publishers must be getting kickbacks from Cafe du Monde as neither thing is all that great…and that’s being charitable. It’s an overly powdered sugared sorta soggy doughnut with mediocre coffee from a shop where the service blows ass and you can either battle people at the shop for a powdered sugar covered seat or you can do like we did and find a bench along the Mississippi and be hassled by people who would like nothing better than an opportunity to tell you where you got dem shoes because your powdered sugar covered face points you out as an easy target. I think some tourist things become staples for a reason and that no one should be ashamed of doing touristy stuff on their trips, but I also think you could safely cross this one off your list and find a better beignet within easy walking distance. The sweet potato beignets at SoBou, for instance, which have a chicory glaze and are to-die for, which you can pair with a twenty five cent martini at lunch and live like a drunken lunch king.

You can also pass on the flea market down the street, which is essentially tables and tables full of the same stuff over and over again. One person near the entrance was working us hard on a stone tea set, saying how rare it was and that we’d never again see its like…so it must have just been intense deja vu when we saw the exact same set at the other end of the market. Everywhere there are signs insisting you don’t take photos, and I have to assume it’s because they don’t want people to see how crappy their wares are and just how much of it you could find on alibaba if you were motivated.


For a great non-drunken lunch, I really enjoyed the central grocery muffuletta. It’s a little different (and spelled differently) from the muffo-lotta sandwich of the italian deli of my youth, but still rich, meaty, and delicious, with the world’s best sandwich bread. And sizable at that, we split a half sandwich between three people and were good until dinner. I’m not typically an olive lover, but this sandwich is an exception.

battle of new orleans photo op

I wasn’t as taken with the Cabildo museum as I was the Presbytere. I think mainly I just wasn’t in the mood for it–a combination of being hot and tired and full and wanting a nap which didn’t play well with enthusiasm for learning. They did have one of Andrew Jackson’s coats on display which was pretty cool, and a video about the various presentations of The Buccaneer and how it contrasted with the real Jean Lafitte. I’m also glad they didn’t shy away from the history of slavery in the state–it would have been so easy to just conveniently ignore how the state and the wealth in it was actually built. History can be so ugly and cruel and it’s important that we acknowledge it.

After I went to the Cabildo, I went into some antique shops along Royal Street, which are absolutely nothing like any antique store I’ve ever been in anywhere else in my life. All of the antique shops I’d been to prior to this were like upscale Goodwills–in exchange for being pretty sure you wouldn’t find poop crusted on anything, you’re charged a higher price for the same items you could probably find at a regular Goodwill if you weren’t all that concerned about maybe running into a rogue poo. I’m not actually certain I could afford anything in any of the antique shops on Royal Street. Following the adage of “if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it”, I didn’t bother to inquire. What I did ask, however, was to see the secret room at M.S. Rau Antiques. Everything in the store was already so elaborate and magnificent–furniture owned by flipping kings, jewelry owned by popes–that I  wondered what they would even bother to put in a secret room…the dregs, surely, and then somehow things got even more amazing and beautiful and rare. Marble sculpture. Alabaster sculpture–I’m not sure I’d ever even seen alabaster before that day. Multiple Monets. Their secret room is actually three floors of multimillion dollar art and furniture, like a museum you can buy and then have in your house and look at and touch whenever you want to. I wanted to touch everything. I’m sure I looked like a drooling yokel, but at least I managed to keep my arms pinned to my sides and not put my greasy powdered sugar monkey mitts on anything, though some paintings I did look at very closely. I’m so glad they did take me back there, as they could certainly tell by looking at me and my clothes that there was no way I was going to pull out a black card and tell them I’d take the lot.

sun and moon tray

I did consider pulling out the credit card for this sun and moon tray from Venice, but figure I’ll save that purchase for when I’m actually, you know, in Venice. Also it doesn’t go with anything in my house, but that’s a problem for post-Venice. A more New Orleans-based souvenir I did splash out for, however, was an old cast iron horse head hitching post topper that I found in the sort of antique shop I’m more accustomed to in the garden district. I didn’t find its match in the french quarter (the horses are different from street to street or even on the same block–some of them aren’t even metal anymore) and I can’t be sure it was ever out on a New Orleans street, but it reminds me of the lovely time I had there, and if it came down to brass tacks, I could probably kill a man with it if I had to, which can’t be said of most souvenirs.

wanted yelping butthead

Also in the garden district: H. Rault Locksmith, full of awesome hardware for the home, some new, some restored vintage, and a really cool unique selection of locking jewelry. The owner also has a very public dispute with some douchebag on Yelp, which I personally found delightful because I have some issues with Yelp myself. If I had more bag space or a clear idea of exactly how much hardware I needed, I would have totally invested in some cool vintage hardware for my house…I just may make a list before the next time I go to New Orleans and make this love affair official.

sucre desserts

Also ALSO in the garden district is Sucre, which I read has possibly the best macarons in the United States. I wouldn’t go that far, I actually prefer the ones at Mon Amie, but what was thrilling and kind of shocking was that I asked what flavor a macaron was as it wasn’t labeled, and they not only told me, but popped one over the counter for me to try. Seriously, free macaron, which probably cost them two cents in materials but it made my damn day. By the way, it was absinthe flavored and it was delicious. They had a number of really beautiful treats in their cases but I was already full and kind of on sugar overload from my earlier visit to District.  I ended up buying a variety pack of their NOLA inspired macaron flavors: bananas foster, chicory, pecan, and salted caramel and ate them all in the hotel bed, because I am a little piggy.

Speaking of the hotel, I stayed at the Hampton Inn New Orleans. The room was fine, the free wifi was a nice touch, I appreciated that the fridge was there for my use instead of crammed full of things to purchase, and my only complaint was something that I mocked as being ridiculous when I was searching for hotels to book. “Look at this guy, he’s complaining about the water pressure in the shower, what a manbaby.”  No, the babyman was correct, the water pressure in the shower was beyond terrible. It was like standing under a giant’s mouth, waiting for him to slowly dribble lukewarm spit on your head. I felt dirty the entire week. I probably stank. Sorry everyone. Sorry for judging you, babyman. Sorry for still calling you babyman even though you were completely correct, it’s the only name I know you by.

wino bar

At W.I.N.O., where you pay for wine by the ounce, we learned that Jason has a knack for picking out the least mouth pleasing wine at any given price point. My favorite wine of the evening was one that they said tasted like an Italian grandma’s hug. An expensive Italian grandma’s hug. Only cashmere for this granny, watch your saucy mouth before she goes in for a hug.

giant jenga

If you’ve been to a game bar, you basically know what Barcadia is like–I appreciated that they’re less slickly corporate than a Dave & Busters or Gameworks so you can have fun without feeling a vampiric drain on your wallet and you don’t need to load a card to play. It’s all quarters, like it should be.  I had so much fun hanging out with Carrie there, playing giant connect 4 and jenga, putting down a couple of deceptively delicious not-your-father’s root beers, getting ripped off on skee ball, and learning that we can both kick over our heads but that Carrie, being taller, could straight kick me in the face if she wanted to so I’d better watch my mouth. So I guess we’re still a little rock ‘n’ roll.

carousel bar  

A bar at which I sincerely hoped I would have fun but did not is the Carousel bar in the hotel Monteleone. I don’t know what fricking hour of what fricking day you need to go in order to get a seat at the actual rotating portion of the bar, but I can tell you it’s not worth the effort. I tried on at least three separate occasions, finally got a seat in the bar if not at the bar, got a mediocre sazerac which I paid out the wazoo for, and it was so loud inside that you couldn’t really have a conversation even if you wanted to. Blech. It was hyped as one of the top twenty bars in the world, which I guess means I’m not all that interested in checking out the other nineteen if this is the standard. You know where the best bar is–it’s the place that makes those drinks you like in comfortable surroundings with people whose company you enjoy. Before she ran away and joined the office and got promoted sixty times, the best bar for me was Pegasus because Carrie was there, mixing up grey. Now, the best bar is wherever we can hang out and be ourselves. Carousel is not that place.

bacon sundae       

Hidden down an alleyway in the French Quarter is Green Goddess. Unless you knew it was there, you could easily walk right past it. You shouldn’t, though. The dinner I had there was superb, but the best part was the bacon sundae. Oh my. Praise the lord and pass the caramel sauce.


I laughed until I almost peed a little when I saw this sign at the Audubon Aquarium. The gulf of mexico, sponsored by the corporations who are actively destroying it! How about a healthy living exhibit, brought to you by Cheetos? This cancer ward sponsored by: lead paint! The last remaining ice floe, also brought to you by Exxon! This abomination against language, brought to you by me!

Ahh, New Orleans. The Big Cheezy. Sweet Lady Gumbo. Old….Swampy.

the big cheezy

I love a good pun. And bad ones, too. So when I spotted The Big Cheezy on Google Maps as I was plotting out places that I wanted to visit on my trip, it immediately got added to the list. What’s not to love about grilled cheese sandwiches?

It was actually a bit of a struggle to get to the shop–I intended to take the streetcar the majority of the way there and walk the remaining few blocks, but literally two blocks into my ride, a truck tried to make a left turn in front of it, the streetcar couldn’t stop in time, and t-boned the truck pretty badly, really crunching the rear quarter. The driver of the truck just drove away, she didn’t even look back. Even though everyone seemed fine and the streetcar itself had very little damage, we had to wait for the transportation authorities to arrive, and then fill out paperwork, and everyone was deboarded as that car had to be put out of commission for the investigation. The distance between me and lunch never felt longer.  I eventually called for an uber driver to pick us up and take us the rest of the way as the next car was jam packed and I was starting to get hangry.

red streetcar

grilled cheezes here

big cheezy menu

The grilled cheeses were completely worth every second of hassle, however. We went splitsies on two sandwiches–The Juice (cheddar & pepper jack on sourdough, roast beef w/ debris gravy and grilled green peppers) and Crawgator (cheddar, pepper jack on sourdough w/alligator and crawfish sausages, caramelized onions and grilled green peppers)–so basically, the difference between them was some onions and the type of meat. My standout favorite was the Crawgator. The Juice was good, but a bit wet, and the beef gravy tended to overpower the cheese. The crawgator sausage added heat and complexity without overwhelming the cheese–because after all, a grilled cheese is first and foremost a cheese sandwich.



the juice

The streetcars were still borked from earlier. I should’ve grabbed a third sandwich for the long walk back.

New Orleans! Home of pirates, drunks, and whores! New Orleans! Tacky overpriced souvenir stores!

When I was in my early twenties, I would have loved Bourbon Street. I would have definitely reveled in the seediness with a Huge Ass Beer(tm) in each hand, a poboy strapped between my boobs, and I would have offered bites of the sandwich to anyone in exchange for strings of tacky plastic beads, plus I probably would have come home with at least six new t-shirts with slogans ranging from mildly suggestive to banned in three states. Now that I’m older, saggier, significantly less rock ‘n’ roll, and way more possessive of my sandwiches, Bourbon Street doesn’t really do it for me. Every morning, the streets are literally hosed off from the previous night’s debauchery, and the smell that arises from said hosing can only be described as the scent of bad decision making.

  horse hitching post

napoleons itch

wrought iron veranda


buggy outside lafittes

It could be solely that I am older and more cynical, but especially during daylight hours, it feels like every tagline on Bourbon could be followed by “…you assholes!” “Pizza by the slice…you assholes!” “Huge Ass Beers…you assholes!” “Barely Legal Club…you assholes!” “Put some spice in your life…you assholes!”  “Balcony upstairs party party party…you assholes!” “Home of the hand grenade…you assholes!” Even the stuff that’s sold as sincere is kind of bullshitty. Take Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, for one. It’s advertised as the oldest bar in the United States, a pirate bar, and it is a pretty old bar, but not the oldest–it wasn’t a bar at the same time it was an actual blacksmith shop. They also claim that the Lafitte brothers (the pirates in question) used the place as a base for their smuggling operations between 1772 and 1791. However, the elder Lafitte didn’t even come to Louisiana until 1803. And then there’s the faux aging on the outside of the building, which makes it look less authentically old and more like a pirate bar as built by Disney. The only thing I would buy as being authentically old in the building is the bathroom, which will sincerely make you regret breaking the seal on your bladder with the aforementioned Huge Ass Beer…you asshole.

lafittes blacksmith shop exterior

lafittes blacksmith shop

beer at lafittes

nola poboys

Which isn’t to say that dreams don’t come true on Bourbon Street or that nothing good happens there. I was meeting up with friends to take a tour nearby, so we decided to grab lunch at NOLA Poboys on Bourbon beforehand. They actually didn’t have a permit for their deep fryer at the time (waiting on a visit from the fire department) so anything that would normally be fried on their menu was unavailable–which I was totally fine with because I do occasionally eat things that haven’t been deep fried.

I ordered a hot ham and beef sandwich, and while the sandwich itself was delicious, the truly wonderful thing happened in the wake of the sandwich, when I went to wash off the gravy that had dripped down to my elbows. You see, ever since I first encountered one of those super powerful hand dryers that flap the skin on the backs of your hands around like it’s trying to push it aside and dry you at the mitochondrial level, I have wanted to stick my stomach under one and see what happens. The problem is, these dryers are always right out in the open, so you never really get a level of privacy that’s particularly conducive to this type of scientific experiment. However, the bathroom at NOLA Poboys was an all-in-one unit, complete with super hand dryer, and thus, science could happen.


…As my gut whipped around like the Blob caught in a freak tornado, I may have shed a tear composed of 90% joy, 10% shame. Bourbon Street is truly a magical place.