Friday, February 26, 2016

A Swing Through the South

Ed and I have been off on one of our road trip adventures; it started with a few sunny days of fishing at the Juniper Club (which I have written about before: here, and here), followed by a quick overnight stop in Destin to visit with my Godmother, and then on to New Orleans, where we met up with our girls. Making our way home, we took the slow and scenic Natchez Trace Parkway from Natchez, MS almost to Nashville, TN.

Just to capture the highlights...

It's always great to get to Juniper, one of my favorite places in the world. The sky was blue; the fishing good; the live oaks dreamy; and as an added bonus, we saw (fairly upclose) a beautiful bobcat making his way down the gravel road. Where is my camera when I need it!

We left Juniper on Wednesday and headed to New Orleans, making stops in Apalachicola for lunch at Boss Oysters, a visit with Margie in Destin, and a tour of the USS Alabama in Mobile Bay.

We arrived after dark in New Orleans and hotwired a hotel in the Garden District. It was lovely, as was the walk down Magazine Street to Coquette, where we sat at the bar and began our food odyssey.

The next morning found us at the National World War II Museum and it was phenomenal – definitely worth a morning or even longer, even if you are not a history buff.

From there, we made our way to Couchon, where we caught up with daughter Mary, who had flown in from NYC that morning.

We checked into our Bourbon Street hotel and spend the afternoon walking around the French Quarter. I had never been to New Orleans and I have to tell you, the French Quarter is an introvert's worst nightmare: too many people, too much mid-day drunkedness, too many sounds and strange people to take in. This isn't to say that we didn't have fun – but most of it was away from the Big Easy's most famous streets.

Maggie got in late on Friday night and came directly to the cozy uptown restaurant, Gautreau's, where we were having the most lovely dinner. I now was with two of my three children and my husband, eating duck confit and drinking a New Orleans original Sazerac.  If Jack had been with us, it would have been perfect.

Saturday morning we were up and out early, standing in a quick-moving line for chicory coffee and powder-sugary beignets at Café du Monde, while being entertained by street jazz musicians playing the old standards.

To work up an appetite for lunch, we walked over the to St. Louis #1 Cemetery and learned about the strange burial rituals of a city that is slowly sinking. Then it was back to the French Quarter for lunch at Felix's Resturant and Oyster Bar: crawfish, gumbo, raw oysters, wood-roasted oysters, fried oysters. Really messy, but great fun.

Ed headed back to hotel to catch up on ballgames and the girls and I headed straight to the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium. Not sure it is everyone's cup of tea, but we three loved it.

We then met up with Ed, called an Uber, and headed out of the mayhem. Mary had this idea that we should go to funky wine bar in the Bywater neighborhood. It was a great idea. While Maggie and Ed scouted out a table, Mary and I selected a bottle of wine and two hunks of cheese. We were given our open bottle and a number, and made our way upstairs, stopping to pick up four wine glasses. Shortly, a waiter appeared with our two cheese selections arranged on a platter with sour dough bread, pecans, and fruit chutneys. As the sun went down, we kicked back and enjoyed ourselves. Good call, Mary!

From there, we rallied for dinner back in the French Quarter at Galatoire's. I loved it that Ed had to don a sports coat to be seated. The place felt like it probably hadn't changed much since it opened in 1905; the service was excellent, but truth be told, we were just not up to another fancy meal. Still, I'm glad we went.

Sunday morning, we went to First Presbyterian Church and then on to brunch at Patois in uptown and then a little afternoon shopping along Magazine Street, back in the Garden district. (Yes, Maggie did the entire weekend, without complaint, using a crutch – as she was recovering from a tumble down some stairs.)

All good things must end, and so it was that we dropped the girls at the airport and we headed home. I'll tell you about our adventures along the Natchez Trace Parkway in my next post. All this writing about food is making me hungry. I'm off to the kitchen to try to recreate a dish that Mary had at Patois: Southern cauliflower hash. Wish me luck. 

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