"New Orleans at night is so different from New Orleans during the day," remarked Deb as we drunkenly stumbled down Bourbon Street on our way to catch the old wooden trolley to our motel. We had hopped the same trolley a few hours earlier back into the heart of the French Quarter in search of Cajun cuisine.
A few weeks earlier, we had been interviewed by a reporter from NY1 about our trip and, when asked if there was a theme, Deb recalled a casual conversation we'd had about trying to sample the "traditional" foods of the cities we visited. But now that it had been on the news and was part of the public record, our half-joking concept had become a reality. It would now seem dishonest if we didn't make a point of sampling classic local foods. With that in mind, Deb snapped into research mode and found us a great destination: Acme Oyster House.
Deb and I are not drinkers. We haven't any aversion to drinking, we just don't do it very much--St. Patrick's Day, our birthdays, New Year's Eve--you know, the usual suspects. We ordered oyster shooters expecting the usual blend of shelled deliciousness and cocktail sauce, but in New Orleans they also include vodka. Not bad for only a buck-fifty. So we ordered some more. We sampled a sampler of the region's best fare: crawfish, gumbo, jambalaya, andouille sausage, plus red beans and rice. I only wished my stomach was bigger so I could have eaten more. Just writing those delectable cajun flavors is making my mouth water. We then went in search of Bananas Foster and arrived at it's supposed birthplace: Broussard's, but they we shut tight at 9:30pm. There would be no flaming bananas for us : (
During the day, the French Quarter is quiet place, but every night it is always wild shades of Mardi Gras, with the intensity determined by the number of revelers. The locals informed us how slow it was that night, but it was plenty lively for us. Every bar blared live music: zydeco, rock, torch songs, Billy Joel covers, honkytonk blues; and every strip club had a scantily-clad girl in the doorway beckoning you inside. We were lucky enough to ignore all of these oh-so-tempting options and ended up at Maison Bourbon. Inside was a a band comprised of trumpet, piano, clarinet, upright bass, and drums playing traditional dixieland jazz.
We happily settled in and upped the local flavor ante with a local beer for me and a delicious Mint Julep for Deb. The band was amazing, playing wonderful down tempo numbers mixed with traditional hits like "When the Saints go Marching In." We listened as long as possible before making our way back to our beds so we'd be sure to catch our early flight to Chicago-via-New York. New Orleans is such an unique, vibrant city with surprises around every corner. We are now considering manipulating our meticulously planned travel schedule so that we may spend just one more day in the Big Easy.