Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tourin' N O L A

Today was our first day on the Tauck tour.  We began the day with a city tour by bus.  We saw all of down town and some of the surrounding neighborhoods.  I was so happy to see how much of it had been restored since Katrina but was equally surprised to see how many building were still completely vacant.  There were entire hotels and hospitals that were all empty. But for the most part the city is doing great and is constantly getting better and better.  We made a couple of stops along the way to see different interesting things, one of these stops was at a typical New Orleans cemetery.  Cemeteries in Louisiana are very unique, burial plots are shallow in New Orleans because the water table is high. Dig a few feet down, and the grave becomes soggy,  filling with water. The casket will literally float, so all their coffins are above ground in family tombs.  I thought these cemeteries were such spetacular places, all the tombs were so interesting and full of personality and history.

After our bus tour we began a walking tour of the French Quarter.  We visited some of the same places that my family had explored yesterday but we also saw a lot of different areas as well.

The wrought iron railings are my favorite part of southern architecuture.  I loved seeing all the different patterns that people had choosen for their houses, some have Oreiental elements, some look Egyptian and others look European

Below is a picture of Brennan's, the restaurant that we ate at last night, it was too dark to get a picture last night so I snapped one today as we passed by on our tour.

These pitch fork railings were all over the city in between apartments.  Legend has it that they were invented to keep young romeos away from the young juliettes living next door.

Our walking tour ended at the New Orleans School of Cooking where we had a private cooking lesson!  Our teacher was Big Kevin, and he was huge, definitely a trustworthy cook.  He made our cooking class so fun, he was hilarious and just such a happy guy.  We learned how to make all the NOLA classics, including gumbo, jambalya, and pralines.
To make gumbo you start by making a rioux, I have heard it's tricky to get the consistancy just right for a good rioux so I took this picture because he said once your rioux gets to this dark, caramel color, then it's perfect!

Big Kev has his own special bayou blend of secret spices, I love the picture he chose for the label, very classy, and very Big Kev.

The lunch Big Kev made us was delicious!  He also introduced us to Louisiana garlic sauce wich is soooo good.  We bought a big bottle at their general store and will use it when we make these scrumptious recipes at home!

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