Saturday, February 18, 2012

New Orleans ~~ Girl Trip 2012

I earn my beads the old fashioned way. At parades!

Oh, yes...I know what it means to miss New Orleans. I hadn't been there in years. So you can imagine how excited I was to get back there for Girl Trip 2102 -- which, incidentally, is the 15th year that Pam and I have been Girl Trippin' for her birthday. Okay...there have been several that were not her birthday, but it's a milestone to celebrate. Any reason to celebrate, after all...
Oh, yes, I know that New Orleans can be considered sleazy. And parts of it may be, but I love the diversity, the architecture, the history, the characters, the show.

First...the apartment. Oh my freakin' Goddess. This apartment was fantastic. Two bedrooms, exquisitely decorated with antiques and art, the home of a local art dealer. It even featured a large and gorgeous balcony that was just feet from the corner or Bourbon Street and St. Ann. It slept 6 comfortably and was drop dead gorgeous. Yes, I outdid myself this time. Thanks for noticing. :)

The living room, complete with Baby Grand piano. The window to the left of the piano served as the door to the gorgeous balcony.

We spent lots of time on our balcony, which was just steps from Bourbon Street. Many of the horse and carriage tours stopped to look at our balcony and take pictures. People would yell to us 'Your balcony is beautiful. You're so lucky!'.

The Courtyard

Master Bedroom -- it was huge! There was also a second bedroom with two queen beds

Look at that chandelier!!!

The china cabinet kept opening by itself. A little spooky.

Fireplaces in the bedrooms. Love it.

We hung out in the French Quarter, napped one afternoon when it rained, lounged on our balcony, walked around. One afternoon there was a parade that we could see from our balcony and when people walked by afterward, we threw them beads. That was fun! Pam, Laura and I went to the Krewe of Pontchartrain parade, which was a BLAST! Who knew that standing out on the street yelling for beads and catching them from the floats was so much fun?! The crowd was amazingly well behaved and everyone was polite and shared beads and gave the stuffed animal throws to children. That made me extra happy.

We took a tour of the Garden District and Cemetary one morning. The Garden District is a neighborhood of about 1000 mansions and gingerbread houses that originally began in the mid 1800s for the newly wealthy 'genteel' population of New Orleans who didn't want to live in the French Quarter with the working class.
This place is swankalicious...

The Manning Home. Yep, I mean Eli and Peyton.
Surprised that I know who they are, aren't you?

Anne Rice's former house. The home of  'The Mayfair Witches', one of my favorite books.

12,000 square feet for sale at $12 million. A steal.

Festive door wreaths everywhere for Carnival

Sandra Bullock's house. Gorgeous!

House where Benjamin Button was filmed
The tour we took was with "Free Tours by Foot", which -- yes -- is free. Actually it's for tips only, which is great and our tour guide, Sarah was extremely knowledgable.

The cemeteries in New Orleans are interesting and known as Cities of the Dead. The above ground tombs act as ovens and they say it takes 'a year and a day' for a body to completely decompose and turn back to dust. Many people are buried in these family vaults. When they open it up to add a newly deceased family member, they place what's left of the most recent burial in a special burial bag and move it into the 'basement' of the tomb. The remains of the coffin are then burned in ovens located within the cemetery. There are many notes of people in this cemetery that died during a Yellow Fever plague and one tomb that contained about 10 children of one couple who died in infancy or childhood. Heartbreaking.

This cemetery is the fictional home of the Mayfair Witches tomb and the vampire Lestat's tomb

Sarah, our tour guide

Fireman's Tomb

People leave tokens and toys at the tomb of the orphan boys to ward off a little boy demon and keep him happy.

Open tomb

You can see how this would work as an 'oven'

The ferns are called 'Resurrection Ferns' and feed off decomposing bodies

Food....Well, you know me and you know that eating is a big part of traveling for me. The food in New Orleans is delicious. It's hard to find a bad meal. Hope you're hungry...
This was one of the best things I've ever eaten. At Camellia Grill in Carrollton (we rode the streetcar up there, it was fun!) Pecan Pie....warmed up on the grill while being slathered with liquid butter. (no...really) Then served with ice cream AND whipped cream. Oh, Baby...

Cheeseburger at Camellia Grill with grilled onions. Fantastic and such a fun place.

Workin' hard at the Camellia Grill. The waiters are also cooks, singers, comedians. And extremely flirtatious. So much fun!

Pat O'Brien's - we went on a rainy day and huddled under an awning. The food was hit or miss. My muffaletta was 'eh', but Laura's shrimp and cheese grits were awesome. Fried Gator was surprisingly good. (Yep, tastes like chicken) The Bloody Mary was good, spicy and garnished with spicy pickled green beans.

Burger at Yo Momma's Bar and Grill with mushrooms and blue cheese. Fab!

Belle, Tara and Laura at Yo Momma's (Or is that the ghost of Belle??)

Steak and Lobster for Pam and Belle at Orleans Grapevine Wine Bar and Bistro. Delicious food, great wine selection. Located at 720 Orleans Avenue in the Quarter

My Barbeque Shrimp at Orleans Grapevine. (red eye reduction - on)  It was fabulous. I also had a cup of wonderful gumbo

Laura had scallops wrapped with bacon and served over a mushroomy sauce. Delish.
Shrimp Po boy at ?? I don't remember but it was good. We had just gotten to town and were hungry. I also ate  fried oysters for a couple of meals, but obviously they were so good that I forgot to take a pic.

Random Fun, N'awlins Style
He had the biggest balls on Bourbon Street and that's saying a lot

Show you my tits? For plastic jewelry? Oh, Honey, you've got to be kidding.

Saturday Night on Bourbon Street


At Prima Donna's Closet - a designer consignment store owned by my cool friend, Stephanie, whom I met years ago while vacationing on Isla Mujeres.

Stephanie and Me
These were calling my a sexy Southern accent. I surprisingly succumbed.

Splendid gowns. I could so rock that one on the right

All dressed up for Mardi Gras at Prima Donna's Closet on Royal Street in the Quarter

This was the most fun night out, as we ended up at Parade, a fabulous gay bar, which was right next door to our apartment. It was sing along night and we lost our little minds!

The video screen shows a tribute to Whitney Houston and the back of a dancer who was on the bar at Parade can be seen . LOL

This is Carter. He was adorable and smelled really good.

Me, Tara and Pam

Sammy ~~ my favorite bartender (except for Steve at Casa Sirena) EVER!!!!!!!! He would come over to our corner of the bar and at the crescendo of a song, he'd throw about 20 cocktail napkins in the air like confetti.

Dancer on the bar

Belle and Pam

What happens in NOLA stays in NOLA. Except for what goes on my blog

Random guy, Pam, Tara and Sammy

The dancer looks like Chris Kattan from SNL

At LaFitte's Blacksmith Shop. Great piano player/singer.

Me, Laura, Pam and Tara

Random Bourbon Street dude who had boobs drawn on him.


Me and Laura at the Oyster Bar

Pretty Girls - Tara and Pam

Parade of the Krewe of Barkus ~~ Dog parade! So incredibly cute. Dogs of all kinds and sizes dressed up.

By our front door

Bite it like a Pirate!

St. Louis Cathedral

Pam had a Tarot reading at Jackson Square

Pretty balconies

View from our balcony

No one rocks the Hokey Pokey like Belle!!!

Tara very cutely vamps it up

The piano player likes Melissa

Birthday Girl!!

In addition to all that fun, some of us had readings at Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo with Phillip Humphries, who (altho I didn't know it at the time) is THE psychic of NOLA. His readings were very specific and all four of us were impressed. I have to be honest...he scared me a little. There is no way on earth that he could know such personal and specific things about me that he knew. If you are into that type of stuff (and I really only do this in NOLA) I highly suggest a reading with him. I'm still pretty freaked out by it.
Another fun, spooky story from our trip - Belle awoke Saturday night in the middle of the night and saw the ghost of a woman standing in the corner of her bedroom. She blinked hard, and looked again and sure enough, she was still there. The pretty lady had long salt and pepper hair and looked to be in her mid thirties. She was wearing a purple blouse and was holding a large feather. Belle decided that the spirit was not going to hurt her and tried to go back to sleep, but she kept feeling the feather tickling her nose. Finally, Belle gave up and got up to go out on the balcony to have a cigarette. At that time Melissa came home with her cousin and her cousin's husband, so Belle felt a little better. The next day, when Melissa was home alone, she said she felt a presence in the kitchen with her, like she wasn't alone. It scared her a little, so she went into the living room and turned on the tv.

So, there you have it ~~ fun, food, drinks, ghosts, pecan pie, mansions, cemeteries, drunks, balconies and beads. Mardi Gras is coming soon, so here are a few inspired recipes. Happy Mardi Gras!!!!


Olive Oil ( about 3 Tablespoons)
White Onion - chopped
Celery (about 5 ribs) - chopped
Bell Pepper - chopped
Minced Garlic - 2 heaping tablespoons
3 cans of petite diced tomatoes
Emeril's Bayou Blast seasoning
32 oz carton of chicken broth
Smoked sausage - sliced
about 2 chicken breasts- torn into bites
1/2 - 1 pound of shrimp - cut off tails
Louisiana hot sauce
bay leaf - 2
About 2 cups of minute rice

Cheats: I buy a whole rotiserrie chicken and tear off what I want to use in the jambalaya and use the extra with the extra celery to make chicken salad. Shortcut - buy the shrimp already cooked at the seafood counter.

This makes a big pot!
In a large pot, saute the Bell Pepper, Onion, Garlic and Celery in the Olive Oil until softened and onion is translucent.

Add Tomatoes (juice and all), Chicken Broth, Chicken and Sausage. Add two or three Bay Leaves and then add Bayou Blast, Hot Sauce, Salt and Pepper to taste. You can always add more later.

Simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste and add more seasoning if needed.

Add minute rice and cook until the rice is done.
Add shrimp until warm (if precooked) or done.
Serve with hot French Bread and buttah!

Big Easy Key Lime Pie (not technically NOLA food, but served  at many places there and not technically that big, but definitely easy)

Graham Cracker crust (make it or buy it, whatever finds your Nemo)
2 (14 oz) cans of Sweetened Condensed Milk (fat free works, too)
1 c Key Lime Juice
Whipping cream
1/4 c powdered sugar
1/2 t vanilla
2 key limes (or small limes) for zest and garnish

Preheat oven to 325. Whisk together the condensed milk, lime juice and 1 tsp of grated lime zest. Pour into prepared crust. Bake for 25-28 minutes until center is set. Cool.

Whip cream with powdered sugar and vanilla. Don't you dare use Cool Whip on this. It's nasty and made of chemicals. Slice limes into thin slices for pretty garnish. Chill until ready to serve.

Southern Black Eyed Pea Salad

2 cans of Black Eyed Peas (15 1/2 oz each) drained and rinsed
3 ripe Tomatoes, cut into chunks
1/2 cup thinly sliced Red Onion
1 bag (10 oz) washed Spinach leaves, tough stems discarded
4 strips of Bacon (yeah...'healthy' this salad up a bit, Sugah!) cooked crisp and crumbled
1/2 cup toasted Pecans (coarsely chopped)
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp each Salt and Pepper

Whisk dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in black eyed peas, tomatoes and onion. Cover and chill. Just before serving add Spinach leaves and toss. Garnish with bacon and pecans.

Mr B's Barbeque Shrimp New Orleans Style
(copied from their website)

Don’t break out your grill for this dish. Here in New Orleans, barbecued shrimp means sautéed shrimp in Worcestershire-spiked butter sauce. We serve these shrimp with heads and tails on, so you need to dig in to enjoy. I highly recommend a bib.
We are famous for our barbecued shrimp, and with reason. The biggest trick to making this taste like ours is to not hold back on the butter. The three sticks called for are enough to scare you into cholesterol shock, but are key to the flavor and consistency of the sauce. Another tip to keep in mind: to emulsify the sauce, be sure to add a little butter at a time while stirring rapidly. And don’t overcook the shrimp or they’ll become tough and hard to peel.
16 jumbo shrimp (12 per pound, about 1 1/2 pounds), with heads and unpeeled
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed

French bread as accompaniment

In a large skillet combine shrimp, Worcestershire, lemon juice, black peppers, Creole seasoning, and garlic and cook over moderately high heat until shrimp turn pink, about 1 minute on each side. Reduce heat to moderate and stir in butter, a few cubes at a time, stirring constantly and adding more only when butter is melted. Remove skillet from heat. Place shrimp in a bowl and pour sauce over top. Serve with French bread for dipping.

Yield: 4 appetizers or 2 entrees

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