Archive for the ‘Dining’ Category

Saturday Afternoon: Shopping, Art, Coffee

The Light is Brilliant at Colton School

The Light is Brilliant at Colton School

Still homeless, we’ve been staying in the Bywater, house sitting with two slightly traumatized rescue cats. Moving around from neighborhood to neighborhood, I’m beginning to formulate ideas about what constitutes a “good” neighborhood. Certainly the less crime the better, but other things are important too. Like shopping, and art, and coffee.

I mean shopping to live, not shopping for therapy. There are no major markets in this area. There are some smaller places like Hank’s Supermarket that sell canned goods, and liquor and ding dongs, but if you want to do proper weekly food shopping, you have to walk into the Quarter to Rouses or ride the Louisa bus up to the Winn Dixie.

That’s why the Bywater Farmer’s Market is so important. This market goes every Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Holy Angels on St. Claude. We got 4 medium sized locally grown yellow squash for $2, which I think is pretty cheap. Other vendors were selling homemade pesto, fruit and veg and drinks. The market is really small, but look, if you are growing spices or tomatoes or you can pickle okra like your maw maw, you can sell stuff at this market. You can maybe even swap. And, that’s where things get interesting.

Local farmer’s markets are really important. They help the local economy, they are good for the environment, and they can save shoppers a lot of money. It’s a win/win. And, as an aside, the Market Association is trying to get 5 people together so that they can start a FREE yoga class during the Market. I am all about the free, so I’ve already signed up. Email info@dnmc.org to put your name on the list too.

The P.1 exhibition at Colton School on St. Claude was next on the agenda. Fireworks, massage chairs and nuclear bombs, the art was quite impressive. The building was impressive as well. The light is brilliant (see above), and it’s a stunning location. Drop in if you get a chance. Even if you’re not into art, the free massage will do you some good.

Central City

Cafe Reconcile

Cafe Reconcile

Frank picked us up at my maaama’s in Gretna. He had arranged for a meeting between us and his friend Don, whom Frank is sure will help us with connections. We drove over the beautiful Crescent City Connection to Cafe Reconcile. A crowd of retired white folks outside who were literally bussed in from some hotel raved about the food and the service. Good. Reconcile Cafe is in Central City and employs at-risk youths and trains them up to work in the hospitality industry.
 
There are so many neighborhoods that have names that I don’t know. I started hearing about Central City after Ka-ka-ka-trina. Reading about it in the blogs while still in London. Where the hell is that? I asked myself. Well, it’s Dryads Street, which is now Oretha Castle Harvey Blvd. Changed its name from tree nymphs to civil rights leader. I wonder anyway where the whole greek mythology theme came from what with Caliope and Elysian Fields and that.
 
I used to drive through Central City every day on my way to Loyola. I’d drive from Gentilly where I was living with my Aunt Velma to Bywater to pick up Mark at St. Cecilia where he was living with Ronnie. Then we’d drive all the way down Rampart cross over the Ponchetrain Expressway and then onto Dryads. It was a beautiful decaying street then, and it ended in the YMCA, which was a beautiful decaying building. I always wanted to live in that building. It’s a school now. And there’s the Zeitgeist Theatre and a voter registration center down there.
I had smothered okra, green beans and cornbread. Yummy. This time, I went in armed with my own tupperware for my gator bag.

After, Frank drove us around through Mid City, City Park, Bayou St. John, Lakeview, Lake Vista, Gentilly and the Marigny. It was like doing a state of the union on New Orleans neighborhoods. I did this the last time I came here in December of 2006. Things still look pretty fucked up, so the afternoon had a bittersweet tinge to it.

Go here for a comprehensive article about Central City.

Lagniappe

Styrofoam Sofa from urbanreview.com

Styrofoam Sofa from urbanreview.com

I’ve decided that I’m not going to bitch about how things work better in London than here. This is New Orleans. Things are different…not necessarily worse. Also, I am still in the first stage of culture shock where everything is awesome. That may change, and I may start to bitch. I just don’t know.

Everything comes with a side of Lagniappe:

Like…

People talk about their feelings here. To complete strangers. This is something that is both beautiful and heart wrenching at the same time. Bittersweet. There’s a feeling that we are all in this together.

People touch each other here. Having breakfast at the Ruby Slipper Cafe this morning, the waitress touched me 17 times. They have a really amazing shrimp omelet, by the way. The coffee is fair trade from the Coffee Roasters of New Orleans. And, they offered me wax paper and tin foil instead of a styrofoam box to wrap up my leftovers in.

Which brings me to 3.) When you go out to breakfast/lunch/dinner, there is enough food to last you for two meals after. This to me is like getting three meals for the price of one. Speaking of which, does anyone remember three for one Wednesdays at…was it Que Serat? That big restaurant/bar on St. Charles near the Golden Spaceship…

A note on styrofoam: unless you are saving up to make a sofa (see above), stop flipping using it. It’s bad for the environment, and there are cheap and more sustainable alternatives. If you want to be really silly green as a consumer, you can bring your own containers from home when you go out to eat. You know you are going to get a doggie bag, so don’t tut tut at this idea.

Hurricane Preparedness Watch: Volume #2

Bobby Jindal
• Declares emergency
• Asks for federal help
• Steps up readiness plan, including buses for evacuation

Ray Nagin
• May still be in Denver, or possibly on a plane
• Says there are “no shelters of last resort”
• Questions the stability of levees
• Says that 7,000 people have registered for assistance with evacuation through the 311 service–although that service appears to be down a lot and doesn’t seem to provide any specifics on evacuation plans
• Has a webmaster who posted some lovely photos (but sadly no useful information) from a Gustav-related press conference at City Hall

Summary:
Jindal: 7
Nagin: -4
CityOfNO webmaster: -6

Of food and floating mammals

The New York Times says that the Times-Picayune is reviewing New Orleans-area restaurants again, for the first time since the storm. Which is something I wouldn’t have ordinarily noticed, since I don’t subscribe to the Picayune and since its online version makes my eyes bleed. Still, you have to wonder: if the paper is going to relaunch its reviews, and if New Orleans has more restaurants now than before Katrina, why the hell would the Picayune wanna review an eatery that’s been around for decades–much less one as dull and snoozy as Mr. B’s? Srsly.

Also: apparently, we have manatees. Watch out.

Two Kid Friendly Restaurants on Magazine

A trip down Magazine Street has taken us to a couple restaurants that are very kid friendly so I want to share them here with you.

First is J’Anita’s. This is a cute little place on a part of Magazine we had not been to many times because it is that little section on the downtown side just before Magazine turns two-way. Usually when I drive down Magazine I am headed in the downtown direction so I do not see much of the block where J’Anita’s is located but even if you have to go around the block to get to it the food and atmosphere is well worth the extra maneuvering. The family and I stopped in for some lunch not too long ago. We were greeted at the door, before we even stepped inside actually, with a warm hello and a promise of animal crackers for the little one. They have plenty of high chairs (thumbs up) and after settling ourselves at the table of our choosing a little plastic (they know kids) bowl full of animals crackers was presented for the baby to play with and munch on which he did with great gusto. We ordered a sandwich and Nachos with BBQ beef brisket on top. I had never tasted Nachos with brisket topping but they were very yummy. The brisket turned the Nachos from an appetizer into a meal. The staff was very friendly, playing peek-a-boo with the baby and generally giving the restaurant a very comfortable vibe. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner opening at 7am and closing up shop at 8pm 7 days per week. This is a great place to grab a bite anytime and with their kid friendly atmosphere they get two thumbs way up. Don’t let those new summer hours get you though, they are closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the season.

Another place a little farther down Magazine Street is Nacho Mama’s Mexican Grill. This is one of the few restaurants that my husband and I frequented pre-baby that we can still enjoy post-baby. They have a bar but no gaming machines so we are allowed inside and for allowing us a little piece of our pre-baby lives in this crazy world we live in now Nacho Mama’s makes the list. Ok it is not for that reason alone, they also have pretty good food. Their décor is an interesting array of Mexican inspired art done New Orleans style with the whole place being drenched in that adobe/terra cotta color scheme. I am a fan of their regular chicken burrito; their burritos are “California style” which I take to mean not covered in melted cheese. Now I like melted cheese as much as the next guy but what I like about Nacho Mama burritos is I don’t feel as if I am clogging an artery as I eat it (thumbs up for not actually clogging an artery at the table). The hard walls make it a noisy place at times when they have a full house but the baby does not seem to mind and high chairs make it an easy visit. There website boasts celebrity dinners so if the food and the high chairs aren’t enough to bring you in maybe the celebrity watching will.

Foodies, sidewalks and the rest of it

Busy Memorial Day weekend coming up, since we’re once again involved in the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience.

TBK has been lasagnaing all day and I’ve been working on the day-to-day at the restaurant, all the while trying to put aside stuff for Friday and Saturday. We’re temporarily a man down in the shop due to a tragedy, so some extra juggling is taking place. Whomever came up with the term “self-employment” obviously didn’t try it for themselves. You don’t work for yourself, you work for EVERYbody. So I’m a couple days late paying city sales taxes. I think Sugar Ray and his crew can handle it.

Speaking of taxes, we’re seeing them hard at work here in the Irish Channel. The streets are actually being resurfaced — including rebuilding of all corners. In most places (such as on our corner lot), the actual curbs sank into the pavement sometime back in the Rutherford B. Hayes Administration. But now they are being rebuilt — complete with wheelchair ramps and street nameplates (not sure if actual tiles will be used or not). Since the curbs disappeared so long ago, each corner has actually had what amounted to its own wheelchair ramp for generations — but now they are freshly concreted and the ramps themselves are an industrial yellow so even the most inebriated wheelchair drunks coming out of Parasol’s (and there are several, actually) can easily see where to aim. Can a drunk in a motorized wheelchair be arrested for DWI? Just askin’. What’s weird is to see these brand new curbs and ramps in front of some of the most derelict buildings in the neighborhood.

Oh — the reason the Hornets got bumped from the playoffs is that I went out and bought a Hornets T-shirt the day before their exit. Just so you know.

Restaurants with kids – VooDooBBQ

Since adding the baby to our little family we have been searching the city for a new type of restaurant. We used to be looking for a bar with food somewhere with drinks and a good menu or damn good drinks and an ok menu either way we were not concerned so much with the atmosphere. As long as we did not feel as though we might leave the place with blood spatters on our clothes (though that can make for one hell of a story) we were pretty much good to go. Now however things have changed just a bit. The places we frequent for food and drink must be kid friendly. They don’t have to be kid oriented like Chuck E. Cheese but they need to at the least allow children through the doors. They get double points if they actually have high chairs in stock.

Finding these places in a city known for its drunken debauchery can be a little challenging. Ok maybe debauchery is a little far but New Orleans certainly hasn’t been known for its kid friendly aspects. That being said I also find a lack of high chairs in restaurants. We live in the Marigny and sure there are actually quite a few restaurants that we can even walk to that will allow the baby inside but if they don’t have a high chair then it is a logistical challenge to enjoy a meal there. Anyone with kids will tell you it is a bit of a challenge to enjoy a meal in a restaurant with the little one(s) in tow under the best of circumstances so making in harder on me by frequenting non highchair venues is not top on my list of things to do.

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Spring Respite

Avery Island Safari (35)   Clark Creek MS (16)

Over the last few weeks some friends and I have been heading out to the hinterland to do some exploring. It began with a trip to Natchez MS.,  with my friend, E.  We visited Longwood and a few other antebellum homes.  Longwood is a must see for architectural buffs. There aren’t many good places to eat in this sleepy town on Sunday but I always go to the Magnolia Cafe on the Mississippi River because I enjoy the dramatic view of the river which is rather humbling here. In fact, they are preparing for a rise in the river as floodwaters from the Midwest move south.  This event threatens the Isle of Capri riverboat gambling stationed near the Magnolia Cafe.

Last week we went on a walking tour of Avery Island and Rip VanWinkle Gardens. These were all really pretty adventures. The flowers are in full bloom. At the end of our safari, we rewarded ourselves with a delicious meal at Cafe des Amis.

Today we pumped it up a notch or two and visited Clark Creek, MS.  I was almost too tired to shower. The hills are a workout that can’t be mimicked on the stairmaster and the waterfalls were really beautiful. It’s a totally different world just 2.5 hrs away.

More Photos Sorry, I didn’t feel like taking photos while in Natchez. Next time for sure.

Fast Food News

2338banksT.jpg
R.I.P. *

It is with teary eyes and a heavy heart that I report the Bud’s Broiler on Banks St. near Dixie Brewery is now a pile of rubble. It appears to have been bulldozed within the past couple of days. I spent many a lunch hour there eating a #6 with fries, occasionally cheese fries.

Other terrible news: I was driving down Vets last night and noticed the most excellent Super Popeye’s was dark. Their marquee sign displayed a very concise and chilling message: CLOSED. This led me to believe that the restaurant was not just closed early because of weird hours, or even temporarily closed, but closed permanently. This place was a landmark if only for their sign (which depicts the cartoon Popeye wearing a sombrero) and the fact that it was perhaps the only restaurant on the continent serving both Popeye’s Chicken and alcohol. It was so fucking classy that you could buy those little single serving bottles of wine there, and daiquiris too.

On a positive note…
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