I have to admit it. New Orleans in and of itself was certainly a big reason for me to go down and volunteer. The first trip I took there was was driving down to New Orleans in the late 90’s. It was New Orleans where I loosened up a little. I drank, I ate, I listened to music, I rented a bike and rode up to Lake Pontchartrain, through parks, to old cemeteries.
I wouldn’t be back until March 2006, when I tagged along with Bubs, who was volunteering through Habitat for Humanity. I took the spot left by his eldest daughter, who had a foot injury that prevented her from going. Bubs was a bundle of energy down there. It was an effort to keep up with him as he showed us all his favorite places. I got introduced to the Sazerac cocktail at the Napoleon House. I had fried pickles. We heard some great music on Frenchman Street. It was a good time.
So, I’m just trying to say something, that any of you that have been there already know. New Orleans is reason enough to go and volunteer.
What kind of person would I be if I didn’t devote at least a little space to food, drink and music? There’s no need to contemplate that question, because here comes the food, drink and music.
I’m not going to describe every single meal I had in New Orleans — I’ll just give the highlights (of which there are many).
Monday dinner – Oceana – Crabcake appetizers, blackened catfish with grilled vegetables
We got into town on Monday night and checked into Camp Hope. Camp Hope is actually in St. Bernard’s Parish, and is a good half hour away from the French Quarter. We decided to drive in and find something for dinner. Bubs had given me a little cheat sheet to restaurants he was fond of (many of which we had been to in 2006). We parked in the southwest corner of the Quarter, near Frenchman and Chartres. I saw the Praline Connection, which I had eaten at the previous year, but Andy wanted to walk into the Quarter a bit. After we wandered aimlessly for a while and couldn’t find a place to eat, I eventually asked a police officer for a recommendation. He pointed us to Oceana. We had some incredible crabcake appetizers. I had a very good blackened catfish dish with grilled vegetables, but the crabcakes were the highlight of the meal.
Tuesday dinner – Gumbo Shop – Chicken Espagnola With Rice, and Corn Macque Choux
A group of volunteers met here and had a lovely meal. I think there was some delicious bread, but I didn’t get a picture of it. My memory is fading, but I think I also had some soup or appetizer or something.
Wednesday lunch – Poppa’s Seafood – Fried porkchop po’ boy and fries.
This restaurant was just down the street from the first two houses I worked in, on N Galvez. I don’t know if the picture does the sandwich justice. It was freakin’ enormous. As you can see in the picture, my abstinence from cola drinks was put on hold during this trip.
Wednesday dinner – Acme Oyster House – Grilled oyster appetizer, followed by fried catfish platter and hush puppies
I had been here in 2006 with Bubs. I have now definitively learned I am not really fond of oysters, but have a special place in my heart for fried food (probably not the best location for fried food).
Wednesday dessert – Cafe du Monde – Beignets and hot chocolate
I have been to Cafe du Monde during each trip down to New Orleans for beignets and hot chocolate. The food is delicious, but the actual act of sitting down at a table and peoplewatch, enjoy the outdoors, etc., is one of my favorite aspects of this place. If you go to New Orleans and do not visit Cafe du Monde, I will be waiting for you at your house when you return and give you crap about it.
Wednesday turned out to be a completely fried day for me — fried porkchop sandwich for lunch, fried catfish, french fries, fried dough covered in powdered sugar, fried, fried, fried. Oh, that reminds me. I was registering to volunteer online, and since there was more than just me, I registered as a group. They give you the opportunity to name your group. I chose the name “Fried What?”, which is a name I got from a food booth at the 2007 Illinois State Fair.
Thursday lunch – The Joint – Pulled pork sandwich with mac ‘n cheese and slaw sides, and peanut butter pie for dessert
This place was in the Bywater neighborhood. We passed it every day, and decided to try it out. It was dee-licious. We actually had lunch there again on Saturday, BUT THEY WERE OUT OF PIE. Yes, you heard me, I was unable to get another slice of peanut butter pie.
Thursday dinner – The Original Pierre Maspero’s – Pork chop stuffed with shrimp, crabmeat and dirty rice, topped with bleu cheese. A salad with raspberry vinaigrette. Some delicious mushrooms. Followed by some sort of triple chocolate dessert.
This was my favorite meal for this New Orleans trip. My meal was that night’s special, and it was fantastic. The chef actually came out and asked how everything was. Our waitress was from Indiana and had just moved down there a couple months prior. We had a long, friendly conversation with her about New Orleans, and about stuff in general. While we were eating, news of the protests about the violence at the recent City Council meeting (regarding the demolition of some housing projects) came on the news.
Friday lunch – Nawlins Flava – Crawfish beignet appetizers, with a shrimp and hot sausage pasta entrée
This turned out to be more of a coffeehouse. I find the name annoying. Okay, sure, use “Nawlins” in the name or use “Flava” in the name, but don’t use them together. That’s just goddamned obnoxious. We were the only customers there, but it took a horrendously long time to get our food. The fried crawfish beignets were tasty, as was my pasta dish, but it just took entirely too long for the time he had alloted for our lunch break. I had wanted to stop in Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo which was literally next door, but we had to head back. No time…
Friday dinner – Coop’s – Cheeseburger ‘n seasoned fries (not pictured)
I was feeling a little crappy as the day w