Monday, August 22, 2011

Welcome to the Big Easy

This past May the family once again ventured to the south to visit the famous New Orleans.  I have been dying to go back to the south ever since we traveled to Charleston and Savannah last year.  New Orleans is a bit different then those wonderful cities, but I must say I think I like NOLA (New Orleans Louisiana) better. New Orleans is just so full of personality, I love the jazz, the food and I love the people and the pride they have for their city.  For the first part of our stay we stayed in the french quarter at the Hotel Montelone.  It was fabulous, full of history and class.

I loved everything about our hotel but one of my favorite things was the Carousel Bar.  It was literally a carousel that was continuously moving!  It made a full rotation every 15 minutes and there was no opening in the bar for the bartenders so they had to jump over the counter to get in and out. It was so awesome!

For dinner our first night we walked directly across the street from our hotel to Mr. B's Bistro.  I will say it was my favorite meal of the entire trip, it was magnificent.  I immediately scanned the menu for shrimp and grits, my favorite southern dish, and was so excited to discover they had it!  This was no ordinary shrimp and grits dish though it was the best shirmp and grits I have ever had, and I feel like I have had it quite a bit I basically order it whenever I get the chance.  First of all the shrimp was wrapped in bacon bonus points right there, and the grits had three types of cheese in them which made them exceptionally creamy then the whole dish was topped off with some red gravy that gave that nice little tang that I like so much. Man it was good. Then for dessert I ordered a moulten filled chocolate cupcake topped with vanilla ice cream and rapsberry puree.  Like I said, best. meal. ever.

During our meal a jazz parade came down the street!  It was fun and festive we have no idea what it was for.  Just a typical thing to walk down the streets of NOLA.

The next morning we were up early, this was the view out my window of the sun rising over the rooftops of the french quarter.  Today we had free to do whatever we want.  We will be joining up with a tour tonight and will be with them the rest of the trip.  With our free day we decided to go tour a couple of plantations outside the city.

The first plantation we visited was Oak Alley.  It is situated directly across from the Mississipi River and is named after the quarter mile walk way in the back of the house that is lined on either side by 300 year old oak trees.  It is a beautiful plantation that was built in the 1830's.

We had some time to stroll through the gift shop before our tour began, we thought these were kinda funny souvenirs, but the longer we were in Louisiana we realized this was just typical of the area. 

The view of the back gallery is breath taking, that oak tree alley is definitely a beautiful sight.  The trees were planted long before they plantation was built.  The original owner of the plantation,Geroge Swainy, chose
The view of the back gallery is breath taking, that oak tree alley is definitely a beautiful sight.  The trees were planted long before they plantation was built and no one knows by who or for what reason.  The original owner of the plantation,Geroge Swainy, chose this site to build the plantation because of the gorgeous alley of oaks.
After our tour we all got refreshing mint julips to sip, it was an extremely hot day so they were a welcome treat and so delicious I wished they came in bigger cups!
Our next plantation to tour was Laura Plantation which was built in 1805.  It is significant for its early 19th c. Créole-style raised big house and several surviving outbuildings, including six slave quarters. It is one of only 15 plantation complexes in Louisiana with this degree of complete structures. 

The creole style is very different from the classic style that we saw at oak alley plantation, it was very colorful and raised off the ground to protect it from flooding.  It was fun to see the contrast of the two different styles of plantations homes.

This map shows all of the plantatiosn that were built along the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.  I was astounded by how many there were!

These little guys were running all over the grounds and on the side of the house.
Laura Locoul Gore's memoirs provided much of what is known about life on Laura Plantation, she was the 4th mistress to run the sugar plantation.  This is one of her origianal journal entries, she had beautiful handwriting.  My mom bought a book of her complete memoirs that is full of stories about life on the plantation. 

Laura plantation is also the plantation that is mention in the br'er rabbit and br'er fox stories, whenever the stories mention "the big house" it is referring to the main house of this plantation. After our tour was over we visited the gift shop and got the complete tales of br'er rabbit, I wrote in the cover the date that I visited "the big house."  I also bought a cameo locket, the portrait is supposed to look like Laura Gore, its beautiful cameo.

Out back we got to visit the cute kitchen garden as well as some of the slave quarters that were on the property.

After our tours in the country we headed back to the city.  For lunch we got beignets at a cute little cafe that was just down the street from our hotel.  This was one of the main things I wanted to do while in New Orleans, they are famous for their beignets.
As usual Bethy and I spotted some kitties that lived in the cafe's garden, one of them was mitsy's twin.  We passed this cafe everyday since it was just down the street from our hotel so we got to check up on our little kitty friends every time we passed by.

The begniets were everything I ever wanted and more, loaded with powder sugar and delicious (In the picture below I am wearing that pretty cameo that I got at Laura Plantation.)

The rest of the afternoon was devoted to exploring the French Quarter.  It was seriously a dream come true. It was just what I had imagined it would look like, filled with wonderful wrought iron balconies, mardi gras beads and decorations at every turn, small little jazz bands on all the public squares, horse drawn carriages giving tours though all the streets, brightly colored buildings, iron lamp posts.  It's all so fabulous!

The shadow man from The Princess and the Frog does exsist! and I found him in a park!  But to be fair, I watched him interact with people and he was nothing like the shadow man, he was acutally a very nice guy.


We ended on Burbon Street.  For those of you who know what Burbon street is, it was funny that my dad led us through that street.  But like he said, its part of the New Orleans experience and you gotta see it sometime!  haha so true.
That night we had our opening social with our tour and met the people that we were going to be traveling with for the next week and had dinner at the famous Brennen's Restuarant.  This is the restaurant where the bananas foster dessert was invented so we all got to sample it for dessert! How fun!  It was excellent to come home to my cozy hotel room and climb into my big comfy bed after such a full day.

1 comment:

  1. Kitch, these pictures are beautiful, I mean, there is some real eye candy in this post! And you look GORGEOUS in these pictures! I LOVE the one of you with your lemonade in's stunning. Keep em coming!
    {P.S. for some reason, your blog wouldn't recognize my google account so that's why I'm anonymous.}