There are moments in life when a person just needs to just let loose, be crazy and blow off steam; while enjoying life to its absolute fullest. Nowhere on earth can this be accomplished any better than Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
New Orleans, the Big Easy, I have been in love with this city since the first time I smelled that aroma that can only be the smell of the French Quarter. The distinct fragrance that combines fried food, alcohol, urine and the air rolling in from the Mississippi River (which these days may equate to petroleum fuems). There is something about being in a place where you can be whomever you choose to be and no one even notices. Well that the Bloody Marys and the most incredible insanely deliciousness that heaven ever put on a plate all which can be enjoyed with music forever present in the background.
The Bloody Marys are spicy enough without challenging the bar tender that what he makes may or may not be the best Bloody Mary in the city. Take advice from the big mouth here just say OK, walk away and don’t even go there. Otherwise you maybe drinking the spiciest, largest, contains the most alcohol a drink could ever contain Bloody Mary in the history of Bloody Marys….Just saying that is all.
This marks the 5th time I have been in New Orleans for the week leading up to Fat Tuesday but the first time to enjoy it with the whole family, by this I mean kids, mom, best friends, 7 in total and that is a crowd when you put this many personalities together. This year we added international delegation to the mix because Incredibly Tall Dutch Man joined us for the festivities. You can just tell by seeing the photos how much fun we are having and how much you want to go next year.
Granted most of the time spent together revolved around eating because food is an important part of family quality time at least for this group. We shared a lot of laughs some really good laughs probably can be contributed at least in part to getting in the spirit of Mardi Gras with adult beverages (Bloody Mary Special anyone). We even set aside time for a family craft project of bedazzling Chucks cause this family has got to prepare for the festivities properly. But you know in each group there has to be that one person who climbs inside the cooler to retrieve those beverages you wish to have but they are all the way in the back of the cooler. Dang foreigners can’t take you anywhere.
Food, since we are already on that subject and it is a subject I love to talk about. Don’t go to this city if you think for a minute you need to watch the calories or want to eat light you will have no fun and really then what is the point. There is no secret that I am a creature of habit and New Orleans allows me feed my creature of habit very well as a matter of fact. Some of my continual all time favorites: Breakfast:
- Ruby Slipper. I could have breakfast here every morning nothing on the menu I don’t love and wouldn’t order 12 times in a row.
- Stanley: Eggs Benedict Poor Boy and Breakfast Potatoes preceded by a Bloody Mary perfect way to begin the day in the French Quarter. Thick creamy cold chocolate malts in the afternoon if you need a pick me up.
- Oceana Grill. French Toast with hashbrowns and crispy bacon paired with a Bacon Bloody Mary. A girl could live on this type of cookin’.
- Nola. Shrimp and Grits to die for (literally if I had them right now I may die of pure joy) preceded by BBQ shrimp and followed by the Crème Brule trio. Meals don’t get any better than this friends.
- Mr. B’s Bistro. The BBQ Shrimp can you say plate full of yummy goodness so great in fact you will need a bib seriously they bring you a bib. Pair that with Garlic Truffle Fries or Duck Springrolls and Hot Buttered Pecan Pie.
- Verti Marte. Great place when the midnight munchies or 2am munchies hit on the way home from parades try their All That Jazz Sandwich. It’s like a taste orchestra in your mouth. Make sure to get a slice of birthday cake to go with the sandwich well cause that is what I do.
- Palace Café. Perfect in the late afternoon for a snack of Crab Meat Cheesecake and Peter Planter’s Punch; which packs a preverbal punch with only one glass.
- August (John Besh). Pork Belly anything paired with Goat Cheese and Peach Salad. The menu changes frequently based on whatever is seasonally available and to be honest everything is beyond spectacular. Additionally don’t we all just want to go to a John Besh restaurant to see him and those dreamy blue eyes and hear that charming southern accent as he is speaking? Yes I think so.
- Irenes. I think the waiter explained it best when he referred to the lamb as food porn. Totally agree. There is a chance you will be dining with a famous director and well your dining partner from another country has to inform you of whom he is.
- Jacques Imo’s Café. Make sure to take a cab and your appetite, order anything on the menu and just know the cornbread is fabulous like cooked in an iron skillet with lard good (all you southerners know exactly what I am talking about).
I think the list could go on indefinitely for the number of restaurants far out numbers anyone’s stomach space and days worth of meals at any one visit in the city. Even mine and you all know by now that I can pack away a lot of calories when I am just even mildly tempted. Additionally, don’t miss Café Beignet or Café Du Monde for beignets both are good. Southern Candymakers for melt in your mouth buttery decadent pralines, Cake Café for cake and cupcakes, Johnny’s PoBoys for po boys and red beans and rice, Port of Call for hurricanes and burgers. Combining this list is really bordering on torture as I sit in my apartment in Buenos Aires, 5500 miles away, suffering through day 5 of a 5 day detox diet; made necessary by my extreme love of rich, buttery, fried southern food and continual search for pastry heaven. Though to be honest pastry heaven in New Orleans takes a back seat to real honest to goodness food. Now you know if I am skipping pastries the food must be super wonderful. Its HEAVENLY.
See now you are too sharing in my New Orleans food torture……
One of the huge draws for Mardi Gras are the parades leading up to the huge Fat Tuesday Celebration. Krewes choose their themes and design floats, throws and costumes around the overall yearly theme ranging from political satire to mythical gods.
By the way at midnight that separates Fat Tuesday from Ash Wednesday the week long party is shut down and the streets cleared by firehose if necessary. I think the cops are pretty much over all the visitors and partying by then.
This year Incredibly Tall Dutch Man and I had the opportunity to participate in the Saturday afternoon parade, Krewe of Tucks. We were assigned to the float The Sporting Life and dressed in referee outfits; which is kinda ironic if you think of all the trouble I have caused umpires and referees during the course of my lifetime. We spent three hours rolling through the streets of New Orleans throwing beads, toilet paper, toilet brushes, frisbees and light up trinkets into crowds of 10s of thousands of yelling screaming people; as well as handing out penalty flags for party and fashion fouls. Flashing of boobs was plentiful as were jello shots, music and laughs (somethings you see are just funny). It was more fun than I have had in one afternoon for as long as I can remember. If you really want to enjoy Mardi Gras to its fullest try to join a Krewe and participate in a parade at least once. There is no other experience like it!!!
Fat Tuesday arrived along with the cold and rain so for the 2nd year in a row my super awesome costume had to remain in the closet. We did wander out amongst all the people for breakfast and the splendid show that is the costume parade. I feel certain a lot of the spectacular costumes I am used to seeing because of the weather remained dry and warm inside…still as amusing as ever.
I like Fat Tuesday early in the day for the costume parades and 2nd line jazz performances but by early evening crowds are getting a bit rowdier and I have usually had enough. So, after a long day I opted for a quiet dinner, a hot bath to warm up and going to sleep early the past week had drained me. And like that Mardi Gras 2014 ended and it started with such a bang. Oh today how I miss New Orleans and the way the city makes you feel alive…..
Man, do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
And miss it each night and day
I know Im not wrong, this feeling’s gettin’ stronger
The longer, I stay away
Miss them moss covered vines, the tall sugar pines
Where mockin’ birds used to sing
And I’d like to see that lazy Mississippi
Hurryin’ into spring
Oh the moonlight on the bayou
A creole tune that fills the air
I dream about Magnolias in bloom
And I’m wishin’ I was there
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
Since that’s where you left your heart
And there’s something more, I miss the one I care for
More than I miss New Orlean
Louis Armstrong – Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans Lyrics | MetroLyrics