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The City of New Orleans

5 Nov

Life has been a whirlwind since my last post – we stopped in Austin for a couple days to handle some business, and it began to rain. (I’m sure you heard about the flooding here in Texas).

Lake Georgetown, TX

 

The lake we were camped beside rose dramatically overnight, and it was “colder than the dickens,” so we left and headed to Houston. Gratefully, they had space for us. It was warm, mostly sunny, and their pool was heated. It was fun, but we were so impatient to “laissez les bon temps rouler,” that we both woke at 5:00 a.m. the morning we left for New Orleans! 

 

 

 

The last time we drove through Louisiana, I-10 was in horrible condition. Looking for alternate routes, we followed the advice of another RVer, taking a road they said was better and more interesting. Ugh. It was even worse than I-10. But, it was more scenic!

We drove past endless fields of sugarcane, a crop neither of us had seen before. We drove over too many bridges to count, and sailed past a sea of cattails (another thing neither of us had ever seen).

 

 

French Quarter RV

 

Finally, we crossed the enormous Mississippi River, curved around the Superdome, made an incredibly narrow, and gut-wrenching, turn and arriving at our “securely fenced” RV park in the French Quarter – right beside the oldest cemeteries in New Orleans. I couldn’t wait to go explore!

 

 

 

Vessel NOLA

 

We were meeting friends for dinner that night at 7:00 pm, and I was tasked with finding a place. I chose a restaurant named Vessel, housed in a beautifully restored 1914 Lutheran church. The beams in the open-ceiling bring to mind an old ship, and bar reaches skyward in front of golden glass windows. The bottles residing on the  top shelves are reached via library-ladder. Classic cocktails are their specialty, with an emphasis on  the proper glass (vessel) and ice for each, and their food was delicious, fresh, beautifully presented, and affordably priced. Vessel lived up to all of our expectations!

 

 

Beignets (ben-yays) @ Cafe du Monde

Early the next morning I dragged my sweetie out into the streets to head to Café du Monde for beignets since he’d never had one. The walk was only 8 or 9 blocks, the sun was shining, and the St. Louis Cathedral Bells were chiming as we enjoyed our beignets and lattes. What a guilty pleasure!

We strolled for a while before heading “home.” We were meeting Mike and Patricia for a late jazz brunch in the Garden District at Commander’s Palace, an elegant old mansion that’s been operating since 1880. I appreciated that there was a dress code: no jeans or shorts, men needed a jacket. What a pleasure… everyone looked great and “acted right!” I’ve been thinking about their Ramos Gin Fizz every day since!

 

 

The mansions there were so grand, that the next day we hopped onto the streetcar and rode all the way through the incredible Garden District. However, the return trip was so claustrophobic, that thinking we were closer, I insisted we get off and walk home.

Garden District

It turned out to be a 2.2 mile walk! We missed lunch, but grabbed some lattes-to-go and hustled in order to meet our friends on time for cocktails at The Roosevelt Hotel, they were both looking forward to having a Sazerac, since it was invented there. Afterward we strolled down Canal Street to the Palace Café for a light supper. 

The day before we planned to leave, we met Mike at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, which includes the Museum of the American Cocktail. Leave it to Mike to find a place this interesting!  There was a lot to see, but not on an empty stomach. We enjoyed lunch, and a Prohibition Cocktail, in the adjacent restaurant, Toups South. (during Prohibition (1920 – 1933) bitters were created, and a “cocktail culture” was born in order to cover up the taste of wood alcohol and bathtub gin.)

 

SoFAB

After lunch we strolled the large open museum, seeing many items we remembered our parents, and grandparents using as we grew up.

There were also many items we knew nothing about. As we perused, we listened to a tour group in an open classroom. They came in for a private class on Absinthe, and every one had a glass of the pale green liquid in front of them… silver sugar-cube spoons (above) and all.

 

St. Louis 2

 

The day we were supposed to leave it was windy and raining hard in the morning, so we asked to stay an extra day. Luckily, the weather cleared, and we walked to Acme Oyster Bar for lunch (personally, I wouldn’t go again).

On the walk home we finally had both the time, and an unlocked gate, to stroll through the St. Louis 2 Cemetery. There are three Roman Catholic cemeteries, built in 1789, 1823, and 1854 respectively. The graves are above ground in New Orleans because of the high water table, and the fact that in places, New Orleans is below sea-level.

 

 

 

Many have nobody left to attend to them, and are in various stages  of disrepair, but a group is currently working to restore “abandoned tombs” in St. Louis 1 & 2.  It was beautiful, sad, and inspiring to think about the courage of these people who braved the journey, leaving so much behind them, to settle in a new territory so completely different and begin the process of that would create this unique and historical city. I loved New Orleans.

XO Donna

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I’ve Been Everywhere

10 Nov

To me, learning new things is the best part of travel. I usually plan a trip down to the most minute detail… but this time, for the first time, I left room for lots of other things to happen, and great things did!

71BB1856-40BA-467F-906F-29C0B90230C0I couldn’t find an RV “resort” in Jackson, MS, but there was a state park on the route and the price was good, or should I say, cheap? As we drove deep into the park along swampy ponds, we both got a little nervous. Things were getting closer, smaller, more jungle-like… were we going to be able to fit? As we slowly, slowly snaked our way in, we began to wonder why we even wanted to.

“If I hear banjos, we’re outta here,” my sweetie mumbled.

Having already unhooked the truck, we decided to see the Capital and the State Supreme Court buildings. Then we drove to the Fondren Neighborhood where parts of the movie “The Help” was filmed. Being sure to return before dark, I got to see my first alligator. The realization that there were alligators in that lake made me almost faint!  I couldn’t wait to leave in the morning.

A572B947-758C-4CEC-929E-5E85B9FE0150We headed to Florence, AL, hoping to have work done on our coach. Since there was a five-week wait at the Tiffin factory, that didn’t happen, but we did get to tour a Frank Lloyd Wright house, which was very close to our RV park (above) on the banks of the spectacular Tennessee River. We’ve always wanted to see one. I loved it, he didn’t like the small rooms. But the exterior, wow!

8764E0B5-7F97-4470-9C24-1C568BA02A96From there we went to Nashville, TN, and what a revelation! While Austin, where we live, is supposed to be the “coolest” city around, I disagree. Nashville is everything Austin could have grown-up to be, if we’d had leadership with that kind of vision. There are so many ways to get around Nashville that traffic isn’t the horrific experience we are used to at home… everything moved easily here. 218F7482-7209-4203-9E39-C5963F01AD3C

Staying at a spectacular park SE of town on Percy Priest Lake, we had our first taste of autumn, and the pleasant surprise of running into friends we’d made back in Natchez! We were excited to sit in their sleek Airstream and visit with them again. EC1206ED-32F3-4378-80CA-9B6DB404C9F2

We’d planned to visit with our dear friend Juliet, also a motorcycle rider. She came out to the lake to see our “casa,” one afternoon, and then we met her in East Nashville, where she lives, for a fabulous Sunday brunch at Marche. Having also eaten at Biscuit Love, I contend that we had our two best meals of the trip in Nashville!

From Nashville, we originally planned to go to Chattanooga… but headed to Memphis instead. Everyone told us to see The Ducks at The Peabody Hotel, which we thought was kind of corny… but we planned a whole day around it: lunch at a bbq joint, then explore the town, planning to be at the hotel by 4:00 to have a cocktail and see the ducks perform.

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Lunch was good, more so for the people-watching than the old rooster I’d been served. Afterwards, my sweetie suggested going to “the museum” across the street to see why tour buses were bringing people there. We saw a sign… The Lorraine Motel. It rang a bell, but it wasn’t until we got closer that I realized why:

We were facing the balcony where Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had stood and shared his dream. Where he had died. I felt my heart break all over again, and I stood and wept.

B0B5FBF1-9692-4E50-B668-96106BCB49B1The next day, we ate at Beauty Shop Lunch, in the Cooper-Young neighborhood. An actual beauty salon with dryers, booths, and sinks that is now a chic cafe, how could I NOT go there? Priscilla Presley used to get her hair done here!

Getting to see the ducks at the beautiful old Peabody Hotel, the riverfront along the Mississippi, with its trolleys, and the MLK Memorial Park I’m so glad we visited Memphis. And to think, we had originally planned to skip it!

Our final stop was Little Rock, AR, and the RV park is right downtown, on the beautiful Arkansas River. It’s nestled between two pedestrian bridges, and blocks from their trolley system. The closest bridge leads to The Clinton Presidential Library. 2AFDC78F-3D8B-4B9F-B80C-C84A984093B0

The riverfront is beautiful. The city is small, elegant, and there seemed to be lots of cultural things to do other than just bars and music. However, the very best thing, in our opinion, is the fact that the Clinton Pedestrian Bridge lights up each night! We saw LED lights on it during our walk, but were disappointed when it never lit-up before we went to bed. 50221EEA-36C3-422A-B39A-19571DC1D900

One sleepless night, I peeked out of our living-room shade and to my amazement, there was a light-show on the bridge! Even though it was 2:30 a.m. I woke my better-half up… we were both as excited as kids at Christmas. What a great finale for a wonderful trip!

XO Donna

 

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Puzzled

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