- The Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone, revolving every 15 minutes, was our place to contemplate daily fascinations, people watch, and imbibe the local classic, Sazerac .
“In 2008,” the menu states, “the Louisiana legislature declared the Sazerac as the official cocktail of New Orleans.”
Their recipe: rye whisky, simple syrup, Peychaud ‘s bitters. Strained and served up in a glass chilled with ice, coated with Absinthe, it is reputed to be the original cocktail.
- Guide Mary LaCoste of New Orleans Culinary History Tours expertly indoctrinated us to the Presidential Four (Antoine’s, Arnaud’s, Brennan’s, Tujague restaurants) and Creole (city) vs Cajun (country) cuisine.
The sample offerings: Seafood Gumbo at Hermes bar at Antoine’s and Leah’s pralines: classic pecan pralines and brittle, with sweet potato and bacon, if you wish. Sister restaurant to Arnaud’s, Remoulade, won us over with sumptuous Shrimp Arnaud (the secret ingredient in the remoulade is creole mustard). Onward we trekked to engage red beans and rice at soulful Café Soulé, and La Divina’s muffuletta and gelato. Last, but not least, was Tujague’s knock- your- socks- off beef brisket with creole sauce.The ex- school teacher’s savvy, spicy commentary, detail and entry via secret doors and hidden rooms were as tasty as the eats. Example? During Prohibition, men frequented the “Ladies’ Room”, coffee cups in hand, emerging with a bit of liquid refreshment. Our tour snaked through lavish dining rooms, personal art and photo collections amid Ms. La Coste’s tales of VIP visitors, beads and Krewes, and the establishments’ histories.
- Everything we ate was superb, including
*Gigantic charbroiled oysters, shrimp and oyster po’boys at Mr. Ed’s Oyster Bar & Fish House, local brew Abita;
*Kingfish’s over-the-top Shrimp Gaufre: cornmeal waffle pirogue on sweet potato puree with New Orleans barbecue shrimp and Hoppin’ John salad with fried green tomatoes and remoulade;
*K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen’s blackened drum and fun Cajun Martini;
*Mr. B’s barbecued shrimp and bread pudding, enjoyed gloriously at the bar in a packed house.
- The café au lait and beignets at Café du Monde were even better than we remembered: in a word incroyable.
- Music in the streets!!! Brass, guitar, piano and vocals popped up on pedestrian-only Royal Street during the day, and Bourbon Street at night.
A trio in Jackson Square, Wael, Ana and Fernando delighted a huge crowd mid-morning.
- Nighttime jazz emanated from lively venues on and near Frenchman Street: the Spotted Cat, d.b.a., Blue Nile, Snug harbor and Maison.
During our stay, Tom Hook and Wendell Brunious, Antoine Diel Jazz Quartet, and Robin Barnes and Band played for crowds at the Carousel Bar.
On Wednesdays, Irvin Mayfield entertains at Mayfield’s in the Royal Sonesta.
- Atop the classic Hotel Monteleone, we found respite in the rooftop workout area and the sunny, stately rooftop pool, energizing for the next round of adventure, food and drink.
- Wandering the French Quarter day and night is highly recommended.
- A scheduled NCIS New Orleans filming in Jackson Square created excitement among tourists and residents alike. It seemed another notch in the revived city’s belt.
- Lagniappe, meaning “a little something extra”. This Creole word followed us around New Orleans during our stay. How nicely it captures this fine city’s spirit!
The French Quarter’s blend of people, history and culture permeated each sip and rich morsel. We’re fulfilled!