A post in three parts:
Part 3: The long weekend that wouldn’t end: Our week in New Orleans
There’s a common practice called deflection which, poorly summarized, means that we justify failure in one aspect of our lives with totally unrelated success in other parts. It’s okay that I’m not doing so well in school this semester because I made a lot of really great friendships. Yeah, I missed out on the promotion but it’s okay because I’m really tall.
Better yet: I feel okay about my poor race performance because I won New Orleans.
Right about now you’re pointing out that I can’t actually “win” New Orleans and yes, technically, you’re right. But if you had only been there for the week you would appreciate how great my performance was and I think that you too would objectively grant me the victory. If only you had been there to see it.
Reasons I won New Orleans
- I got there early: Awesome Wife Kelly and I took the extra time off and snuck out for the Thursday flight. With a little romantic time before the others arrived we got to have some nice, quiet meals to enjoy at a slower pace and a quieter volume. A great way to relax and ease into the weekend
- I stayed late: On Sunday afternoon, as we were working our way through our 4th dozen oysters, we got a text message informing us that our flight was cancelled due to a snow storm. Given the beautiful 65 degree weather this was quite confusing. Turns out we’d been living in a total bubble and didn’t realize that snowmageddon was bearing down on the east coast (though it wasn’t, really). The airline rescheduled us for Wednesday morning and after some brief handwringing about missing work, we started celebrating two extra days in New Orleans…by ordering our 5th dozen oysters. I very honestly told my boss there was no way to get home and the lovely man was full of understanding and commiserating. Best snow days ever
- I ate everything (and ordered best): Oysters, shrimp, fried oysters, fried shrimp, po-boy of every stripe, gumbo and jambalaya and stuffed pork chops. And everything covered with heaping mounds of crab meat.
- I finally got to Galatoire’s Friday lunch: Be in the know – it’s pronounced without the “r”. Also, the reason to go is the Friday lunch, where the locals take over and the whole place rocks with good spirit and southern charm. Waiters are hesitant to even let you order, they’re so concerned that you’re relaxing and enjoying yourself. The food is great but almost beside the point. The point is to soak in the atmosphere, feel like you’re a part of a tradition and also to drink lots and lots of bloody marys and martinis. Don’t believe me? If you’re not waiting outside at 9 AM you won’t get seated at 11:30 when the restaurant opens (don’t worry, eventually you can put your name on a list and go back to bed) and the locals pay “agents” $15/head to wait in line and reserve them tables. Still don’t believe me? This lunch is the sole reason Awesome Wife Kelly and I took the extra time off work and ponied up for the extra night in a hotel. And it was worth it
- I was surrounded by amazing friends: Adam, Anne, Dave and Running Partner Lindsey. Great folk all of them both in supporting the race and in doing everything they could to try to get me drunk the night before (they mostly failed)
- I made new friends: Marty was the crazy local we met in line at Galatoire’s. He’s friends with every street walker on Bourbon, dated a (male) member of a famous political family whose name we swore we would never reveal, and offered, in exchange for a small fortune, to wait three days in line at Galatoire’s to get me a table on the Friday of the first week of Mardi Gras. The two Tulane grad students at NOLA Brewing who strongly recommended we go to F&M – but never before 2 AM – but, through knowing smirks, refused to tell us what went on there. The many, many taxi drivers, all of whom had colorful tales and language and a (small) few of whom even knew how to get us to our destination.
- Awesome Wife Kelly was there: She’s awesome and she makes everything awesome
- I’m going back tomorrow: Seriously, rolling it back this weekend for a bachelor party. If you don’t see a blog post next week, call the police
See, now I feel better about the run.
The following highlights are probably only of interest to people who are planning a trip to NO and are looking for restaurant recommendations. All others consider yourself warned.
Galatoire’s: See above
Clancy’s: Thursday night dinner immediately after we arrived. It’s a bit of a hike, exacerbated by a cab driver who calmly explained that she had bad night vision and couldn’t really make the road out very clearly. The pouring rain made this even more exciting. I guess we were glad that she drove 10 MPH in a 25? Our 10 minute trip took 25 and we didn’t know whether to laugh about it or to jump out of the very slowly advancing taxi. The restaurant is a classic NO neighborhood spot with a great atmosphere – with the exception of the table of very loud lawyers screaming back and forth about how awesome they are. Though it’s widely regarded as one of the top restaurants in town, we thought the classic creole cuisine was very good though not exceptional. Lots of fish and veal, blackened or with creamy sauces. Delicious crab meat tops just about everything. Good but not exceptional, especially by NO standards.
Mr. B’s: I had high hopes for this French Quarter classic but found it uneven. The service was pretty bad while most of the food was pretty good. Some raved about the gumbo, everybody loved the BBQ shrimp, which were truly awesome. My pork was fine.
Domilise’s: When in NO we are constantly looking for great po-boys. We’d never been to Domilise’s so made the hike over on Saturday afternoon. The biggest draw here is the atmosphere, as it’s housed in what feels like an old run down house filled with colorful locals fueled by roast beef po-boys and cheap Abita. We rolled deep with 6 adults and two babies, taking up half the joint but folks could not have been friendlier. I thought the fried shrimp po-boys were clearly the winner, but others preferred the oysters. Definitely worth the trip.
Coop’s: Saturday night before the race we headed to Coop’s for the best Jambalaya in town. It’s a dive with rude (but lovable) service and amazing food. Anne, who is both discerning and In The Know, described the signature Rabbit & Sausage Jambalaya as “the best thing I’ve eaten this year.” Adam and Dave liked it so much that they each ordered seconds. Early to bed for Lindsey and me but the rest of the crew went next door to Cane and Table, about whose cocktails they raved for days to come.
Post race shenanigans
Acme Oyster House: This is where locals and others well informed will call me a dumb tourist and say this place isn’t worth the price or the line. I humbly and respectfully disagree. This is a Sunday tradition for our team and made an amazing post-race party / protein binge. The raw oysters are great, but the char grilled are mind blowing. Every time I go I’m shocked at how good they are. For six of us we ordered 5 dozen char grilled, 2 dozen raw and then po-boys to wash it all down
Peche: Sister restaurant to the instant classic Cochon, Peche is the fish to Cochon’s pig. They specialize in whole fish and total awesomeness. Unlike a lot of the classic creole restaurants, this is a scene, more interested in 10 ingredient cocktails and inventive food than the staid (but delicious) Sazerac. The whole fish was delicious, as were all of the seafood appetizers and the beers. It’s a great place if you’re looking for top quality seafood and a modern feel.
The following days
With the race over we relaxed and got rowdy. We hit Mahoney’s, whose Peacemaker po-boy has fried oysters, cheddar cheese and bacon and is every bit as delicious as it sounds. The NOLA brewery and tap room is worth the trip – not for the brewery tour, but for the great selection of interesting, quality beers and the free beer served from 2-3 on Fridays. Pat O’Brien’s piano bar is a classic and always worth a visit. The surprise star of the trip was K. Paul’s. Surprise because we had just modest expectations and also because we’d been there before and liked, though not loved it. The stuffed pork chop was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Awesome Wife Kelly contacted the restaurant to ask them which of chef Paul Prudhomme’s many cookbooks contained that recipe (see, isn’t she awesome) and they cheerily asked for our address so they could send the recipe to us directly. That’s good people. There are several others we hit, too numerous to recount here, and by and large all awesome. What an amazing place to be trapped as the east coast freezes. And what fun people to be trapped with!