Earlier this year, May to be exact, my husband and I went with his family to New Orleans. In my younger days, I used to venture to New Orleans frequently because my sister, Edith, and her husband, Lem, used to live there, and some of my best memories are from visiting them in New Orleans. I always have a wonderful time in New Orleans, and, of course, Ben and I love the food there. Unfortunately, when we went most recently, I had not started this blog yet, but I do have a few pictures of some of the food and drink we enjoyed while there.
A bit about our wonderful hotel first. We stayed at the Château Bourbon with a long, lovely balcony overlooking Bourbon Street, and our room had huge windows that let a wonderful amount of light in during the day. I was happy as soon as I saw that lovely balcony from which, around the time the sky turned purple, I could watch people slip by on their way to Bourbon Street (our hotel was at the far end of Bourbon Street) to get into whatever trouble they might find. The humid spring week in May that we were there was a down time for New Orleans. The jazz fest had just ended and restaurant week was about to start (Ben was a bit disappointed we missed that), which was perfect to me: the noise from Bourbon Street in the hotel was much less than it otherwise might have been. I slept like a baby each night.
With regard to food, the first night we went to Acme, which was just about a block from the hotel. We ordered the chargrilled oysters because I was not quite ready to try raw oysters, and Ben ordered an amazing oyster po’ boy. This was my first night in New Orleans after many years absent, and I was feeling both excited and nostalgic most of the time we were in Acme. Edith and Lem used to go to Acme often for the beer and oysters while they were in law school. I could picture them there, sitting at the bar, sipping on beer and downing cold oysters on a hot summer night in New Orleans. We always did fun things like that when I went to visit them, and I went any opportunity I had. For anyone with the time to travel, New Orleans, with its old southern houses and bright beads hanging from Magnolia trees, is the perfect place to go. A drive to see Edith and Lem in New Orleans was also one of the first trips Ben and I took together, and he absolutely fell in love with it and everything about it: Pirates Ally, the French Quarter and the lanterns lining the streets, window shopping on fancy Royal Street, and Edith and Lem’s shotgun house. That was a trip that made me fall in love with Ben even more. So those days, ten or eleven years ago (!), is what I remember thinking about while we were in Acme. Certain foods, certain restaurants can do that: take us back to certain times and places.
In the more immediate, Ben and I really enjoyed Acme, but we had not eaten any raw oysters there, so a few nights later, we decided to return; however, the line was super long this time. So, instead, we opted for Felix’s, and I have to say I liked it even better than Acme (although both are great). I got the oyster po’ boy because I had taken a bite of Ben’s at Acme and instantly regretted not ordering one myself. It was amazing. And this time we ordered oysters on the half-shell, which I tried for the first time. They were great: I just poured some fine tasting hot sauce over them and threw ‘em down the gullet with a bit of beer. I did thoroughly enjoy the many other items we ordered at Felix’s: my oyster po’ boy, a plate of French fries to share, and a bowl of beans and rice. I don’t know if it was because we had been walking all day and we were starving or if the food was really as good as I remember, but I will say we both left feeling happy. In terms of the ambience, I love it. To me, Felix’s is like a mix between a cafeteria and a great bar. I wanted to sit at the bar but it was too crowded, so the waitress took Ben and I to the other side of the restaurant where the white, plaster tables were decorated with ketchup, napkins, and a caddy of sugar. Nothing fancy, but everything we needed. It was a meal with Ben that I’m sure someday will bring up waves of nostalgia.
I’ve decided I’m going to have to split our New Orleans trip into two blogs because otherwise it will be too long, so on that note, I have just a few general comments. New Orleans was wonderful for a few reasons. I had never taken a trip with Ben’s parents before and so that was wonderful to have the opportunity to spend that time with them. In addition, we did things that I might not have found so interesting when I was younger or, perhaps more accurately, would have had difficulty enjoying because of the previous night’s indulging of jazz music and adult beverages. Of course, there was some of that this trip, but my capabilities in that area of life seem to have thankfully dissipated some. So anyway, we went on a tour of the Garden District (wonderful), Ben and his mother went to Kitchen Witch and spent two hours (he loved it) in there while I walked around taking photos in the French Quarter. That was a wonderful three or four hours with them and by myself. I got some great shots and later we all stopped for ice coffee and gelato at Antoine’s Annex. I had a scoop of chocolate and limon in a cup, which is the gelato pairing I have ordered since my return from Italy four years ago. The courtyard was small, shady, and perfect after walking around under the spring’s bright blue sky and hot sun, and the coffee was just what I needed to perk me up for the culinary evening we had planned.
More on New Orleans and our trip in a future blog; it was a very memorable trip, so it might take a few blogs! Thanks for reading!