Monday, March 30, 2009
DAY TWO NOLA
We slept with the windows open and wake to the sounds of the St. Charles Trolley passing. Today we will find the Indians.
We walked a couple of blocks from the hotel and had coffee and a bagel. Looked at our maps and decided the game plan. Last year we saw the Downtown Indians, this year we will try to see the Uptown Indians. The newspaper says both will be parading, but time and location details are sketchy.
We headed to Bayou St. John around 10:45. It’s only about a 10 minute drive and we arrive at the corner of Toulouse and Hagen Avenue. Home of the Parkway Bakery and Tavern. They open at 11. Perfect timing. We order two double Bloody Marys to go, you can do that in NOLA. These drinks are really good. Just the right amount of heat, olives and pickled string beans. Perfect. So, with Bloody Mary’s in hand we walk across the street to Bayou St. John. We don’t see any Indians or crowds of people, but it is a little early and we are not worried. Walking down the Bayou, people are kayaking, walking their dogs and just enjoying a beautiful morning.
We sit for a minute and a car stops and asks us “if we are waiting on the Indians’. We said yes and they said they were too, but saw no signs of them around and that they were going to head downtown to catch the other group. We decided the same thing.
We get in the car and drive across town - takes only a few minutes. Park in the same place we did last year. People are gathering. You can just feel something is happening.
Bought a beer at the neighborhood convenient store and started walking up the street. At one of the main intersections, lots of folks are gathering, pickup trucks selling food and drinks from the back. There is a Full bar of liquor in a green pick up truck.
Can’t pass that up. Two shots of tequila and a couple of beers. We are just walking around looking at the sites and Stacey has to go to the bathroom. This neighborhood doesn’t have gas stations with bathrooms or port o lets for that matter. I tell her to follow me and that she’s gonna have to go behind a building. It’s Sunday and we are walking around the block and there is a small Community Church. Some members are sweeping and getting ready for services. I ask them if my wife can use their bathroom. They are very nice and let her. God bless them.
Back to the main intersection, another round of tequila and the Indians have started to arrive. Some are already in costumes, others are getting dressed. It is a family affair. The Chief, the scouts and spy boys. The colors are incredible.
So we walk a few blocks with the Indians as more and more show up. The crowd is much larger then last year and there are a lot more Indians. One group of Indians decide to go a different route so we follow. Straight down the street, block after block making lots of noise. House after house folks come to the front porch to check them out. We spend about an hour or two walking with the Indians and decide we have had enough. We need food.
It’s a long way back to the car. We go looking for something to eat. We come across a little corner store with a sign that only says “FOOD”. That’s what we want so we stop and get more fried chicken, red beans and rice and biscuits. It was good food, but not as good and Man Chu.
Back to the room to eat as none of these hole in the wall joints have a place to sit and eat. We have a suite so it’s no problem. We eat and lay down for a minute thinking about a nap, but soon we realize we are in NOLA and not to sleep. We can sleep when we’re dead.
So Stacey put’s on a pretty purple dress and we head to the French Quarter. Sure the Quarter is all about tourism, but if you know where to go you can drink cheap and with the locals. We go to The Chart Room. Last year, our friend Harold took us to the Chart Room and we decided to go back. It’s a small hole in the wall bar with good music on the juke box and cheap drinks. The bartender, Will, is funny as hell. It’s not what he says so much as in his action. He tries to wait on three people at one time, while making drinks for another person. He fills all the drinks to the very top of the glasses and liquor spills out all over. He likes to toss mixing tools in the air, but doesn’t catch half of them. If he doesn’t like some song that people have selected from the juke box he turns down the volume and takes a vote of people that want to continue listening to a song. Says it’s a democracy and then selects another song. Funny. Some tourist from England start to leave and don’t tip. Well, Will the bartender follows them out to the street yelling at them the whole time “limey bastards don’t come back”. As Will takes his place behind the bar again he explains how he did that for all the other bartenders in the Quarter. He says where he used to tend bar he couldn’t do that, I think he’s getting even.
I met this guy that came and sat next to us at the bar. His name was Chris. Sometimes you meet someone and talk to them and it makes you feel like you missed out on something. When some guy sitting next to you at the bar tells you he quit his job as an architect, left Nashville and came to NOLA and helps run a soup kitchen it makes you think. It reminds of you how tied down you are to job’s and bills and house payments and such. Chris said he thought he would do a couple weeks at a soup kitchen, five months later he is still there and I run into him Sunday night, his only night off.
Well we need food again. The drinks are good, cold and cheap, but we need food. We had read about a new place, Cafe Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar. It is one of Ti Brennan’s restaurants. She of the famous Brennan restaurant family. It is named after her mother and is in some big, fancy hotel. It’s a real shinny place and when we saw it we thought we had made a bad call. But, we took a seat at the bar which was empty and looked around the restaurant, which was empty and spoke with the bartender who seemed empty and we were sure we had made a mistake. So we thought one drink, a quick look at the menu and we were out of there. Well the menu looked great and we found out the bartender, a native of NOLA, was moving to Wisconsin soon. No wonder he was in a bad mood. Anyway we ate, boy did we eat. Check this out.
We had a Corn Dog. Well that’s what they called it. It was a large Shrimp wrapped in Tasso, skewered and deep fried. Served with Asian sauce. It was awesome.
Then we had Oysters Benville. Well that’s what they called it. It was fried oysters on a couple slices of french bread smothered in a creamy spinach sauce. It was awesome. Then we had Gumbo, well that’s what they called it and that’s what it was and it was awesome. Then we had Biscuits and Gravy. Well that’s what called it. It was a cat head biscuit split open with andouille sausage smothered with Foie gras gravy and it was awesome. We then had Shrimp Curry and it was okay, not as good as the other dishes, but it didn’t suck. Then I went to the kitchen and applauded the kitchen crew. They liked that I think. There were only three of them and the chef had been carrying the food out to the bar himself. He told me they had sent all the help home cause it was so slow. I guess the word was not out yet cause this was very good food.
Then we went back to the hotel and went to bed.