24 September 2009

Closed, on Mondays...

Monday, September 21, 2009

It was another slow-starting morning!  We had lots of catching up to do, both on sleep and on blogging and facebooking and photos after our weekend in New Orleans.  We didn’t really have too much on our agenda today – we planned to learn a bit about Acadian culture, eat some good Cajun food, and visit our childhood friend Merrill in the capital city of Baton Rouge.  So it was after ten when we finally found ourselves at Dwyer’s Café (http://www.lafayettetravel.com/foodtour/acadianamornings/?id=26) in downtown Lafayette, ordering our sweet potato pancakes with sugar cane syrup and some eggs.  We sat outside on the patio, right on the main drag, where we could admire a beautiful mural painted on the side of a building across a parking lot from us.  A local couple joined us outside and we chatted with them throughout our meal.  That’s one of the most fun things about this kind of travel – we’ve met some really interesting and nice folks along the way!  We had read about this restaurant in several of our books, and it did not disappoint!  The pancakes were especially tasty – and healthy, too, right?  Oh, and just as we were leaving, Elvis, in the flesh, came walking in the door.  I couldn't get a photo - sorry!

After breakfast, we drove downtown, looking for the Borden Dairy store where we planned to have a frappe’ later on.  We heard at breakfast that it was being renovated by its new owner, but that it was now open for business – good thing!  Sure enough, when we went by, the parking lot was full of workmen.  At least we knew where to find it when we were ready for ice cream!  Our next stop was at the Jean Lafitte Acadian Cultural Center, which is home to a museum about the exile and relocation of the Acadian people from Nova Scotia and areas around there.  We’d also heard they had a very informative movie about the exile, too.  Turns out we got there in mid-cycle of the movie, and even though it appeared we were the only ones there, we would have to wait for the next show.  So, we took our time in the museum section, which was really well done.

In case you don’t know, this area of Louisiana has quite a storied history.  The Acadians were French immigrants who settled in and around the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.  When the French and Indian war began, the British expelled these people, who sailed around the east coast of America, only to be repulsed and denied safe harbor in any of the colonies.  They continued looking for a home, and eventually settled in the area that is now present-day Lafayette, Louisiana, and includes 22 parishes, which are now known as Acadiana.  The word ‘Cajun’ is a derivative of the word ‘Acadian’ and descendants of these people still speak a dialect of French and observe many of the traditions of their ancestors.  Many other peoples settled in this untamed, mostly unclaimed area of the Louisiana Purchase – native Americans were already here, and they were joined by Spaniards, Africans, Germans, English, and West Indians.  Many of these other cultures refer to themselves as Creole, but there has been a lot of blending of cultures over time.  All I know is the food is fantastic, the music unusual but fun to listen to and impossible not to move to, the language is like music to the ears, and the people are friendly.  What’s not to love?

The movie started eventually – a private showing for Kim and me – and even though it was very well done and quite moving, I found myself nodding off at times.  Kim said the movie was sad and she wondered why she was sitting there watching it while I slept!  But I didn’t miss it all!  You may be familiar with the Longfellow poem “Evangeline”, which is the story of two lovers separated by the exile of the Acadians.  Lots of roads down here (and other things, like businesses) are named Evangeline, which now we understand.  After the movie was over, we finished looking at the museum, and then we were off to explore Breaux Bridge and find some of the good restaurants we’d heard about there.  But first – we went back to town to get our frappe’, only to be direly disappointed – CLOSED on MONDAYS!!  Sadly, we were about to learn that this would be the theme for the day….

We soon found ourselves in Breaux Bridge, parking on the street, right in front of  Café des Amis.  That should have been our first clue…and indeed there on the door was the dreaded “Closed on Mondays” sign.  See what we missed at www.cafedesamis.com and you'll know how bummed we were!  Okay, on to our next place, which was Champagne’s Breaux Bridge Bakery, allegedly serving breakfast and lunch and not to be missed.  Hmmm…maybe something has changed since the Road Food people rolled through, but I doubt it.  Didn’t look like much had changed in thirty or forty years, but believe it or not, there is a website!  Try http://www.champagnesbakery.com.  One room, no tables, no drinks, no parking, no menu, lots of cookies, and a handful of meat pies.  So we bought a dozen cookies for the road – two each of: the specialty of the house, a pink filled sandwich cookie, a similar looking chocolate crème filled cookie, some cookies that looked like Kim’s favorite, the Mexican wedding cookie, chocolate crinkles, macaroons, and brownies.  We crossed back over the bridge (yes, there really is one, built in 1950, crossing the Bayou Teche and topped by a giant crawfish) and went to the Visitor Information Center, rather than heading down a rural highway to get the best cracklin’s in the state (according to our breakfast friends) in a place that MIGHT just be closed on Mondays.

The nice lady there thought we should go back to Mulate’s, which we had seen on the way into town, for some good Cajun food, so we did.  Since it was about two thirty, the place was deserted, until we got there.  As is often the case, almost immediately the place filled up – four tables came in!  You’d be surprised how often that happens to us.  Anyway, we weren’t really hungry, but we had no idea where we were going that night or when we might eat again, and you’ve probably noticed that if we go too long without a meal, we might require medical assistance.  We split a catfish po’boy and that was just right!  The restaurant was dark and cool inside, and you could see there was plenty of room for dancing in front of the stage that, sadly, was empty this afternoon.  Looks like lots of famous area musical acts have played here, and we were sorry to miss that fun!  Get a shot of ear and eye candy at www.mulates.com and you'll almost feel like you were there!

We called our friend Merrill in Baton Rouge, and it turned out she was waiting for us (sorry, Merrill!!) so we hopped on I-10 and skedaddled across the Atchafalaya Swamp, arriving in Baton Rouge in front of the Old State Capitol at about four.  We found Merrill, who we haven’t seen since Jr. High School (gotta love facebook!) and went inside. I loved this old building!  It looked like a big castle, and on the inside, it had the most beautiful stained glass windows and dome!  We walked around a bit, noting what a pretty place it would be for a reception or party, and we didn’t find the missing statue of George Washington, either.  Want more info about it?  Go to http://www.nps.gov/history/NR/travel/louisiana/ocap.htm to learn more.  Even though it was warmish outside, we opted to walk down to the ‘new’ capitol building, which was built in about 1935. 

The brainchild and pet project of then-Governor Huey P. Long (yes, of bridge fame!), it is the tallest state capitol building in the US at 34 stories!  The interior of the lobby and first floors is very ornate and looks like a capitol building that is out to impress – lots of naked women on murals on the ceiling and some pretty Art Deco features – but the tower was closed for maintenance so we didn’t get to see the view from the top.  As it turns out, Governor Long, aka the Kingfish, ran for US Senate and won, so he never occupied this building as governor of the state.  Even sadder, it was here in the back hall of this building that he was gunned down and killed by a mild-mannered-looking doctor when he was only 42 years old.  Long was a much loved and evidently much hated figure in Louisiana politics, and pretty much of a legend around here.  Anyway, you’ll want to see the capitol, so go to http://www.nps.gov/history/nR/travel/louisiana/cap.htm

I neglected to mention the outside of the capitol – it sits on a bit of a hill, looking out over a mall of sorts, complete with a huge statue of – you guessed it – Huey P. Long.  The front doors of the capitol are HUGE, and there’s lots of great statuary out front.  There are a lot of wide steps leading up to the doors – thirteen on the first section, each one labeled with the name of one of the thirteen original states and the date of its entrance into the Union.  After a landing, more stairs of the other states, in order of statehood, ending with Arizona, which I guess was the last state at the time the building was completed.  All in all, it was a lovely capitol and one more to add to our collection of capitol buildings we have seen and/or visited.  This trip has been kind of fun in that we’ve been through the capitals of each state we visited – Nashville, Tennessee; Frankfort, Kentucky; Jackson, Mississippi; and now Baton Rouge.  Technically, we were in Alabama for a few miles on the Natchez Trace, but we’ve both been to Montgomery before anyway.

As we walked back through downtown Baton Rouge, Merrill showed us some of the other great buildings there and told us how, like many other places, the downtown is finally being revitalized and people are starting to come back to their city again.  We are glad to see that happening all over the country and regret that the 70’s and 80’s had the influence on city centers that they did.  We still reminisce, as we did that day with Merrill, about our bus trips to bustling downtown Paducah when we were kids, getting dressed up, window shopping with our friends, and spending our allowances at the counters of Kresge or the booths of Walgreen’s.  Remember that strawberry pie, y’all??  Good times!  Speaking of – we sure were glad to find one coffee shop (Community Coffee – a local business) still open (just before 5, downtown!) so we could get that refreshing glass of iced tea – we were all HOT, HOT, HOT!!

We parted company with Merrill back at the Old Capitol, across the street from what used to be the Yazoo and Mississippi Railroad Depot and is now a museum, and we decided to go a little farther north since it was still pretty early.  We set our sights on St. Francisville, the second oldest town in Louisiana, and we took the Great River Road to get there.  This part of the GRR is often called Plantation Alley for all the lovely antebellum homes that used to line the land behind the levees of the Mississippi here in the Delta.  Of course, it first took us past the “Chemical Corridor” of Baton Rouge – evidence of the oil industry that still thrives here – we get to see all the sights!  Soon we were in rural Louisiana, passing fields of sugar cane that made me feel like I was back in Queensland for a minute!  Somewhere along the way we ended up on the west side of the river, and since St. Francisville was on the east side, we weren’t exactly sure how we would be getting over there.  Guess the navigator should have looked ahead!

Turns out a ferry boat ride was in order, and it looked like we might have just missed the one that supposedly ran on the hour and the half hour, which was not a good thing, since we were both feeling the effects of our two glasses of tea.  But we were in luck!  The guidebooks were misguided, and the ferry actually runs at a quarter past and a quarter to the hour!  Saved!!  Kim bravely steered us on board the ferry, following the directions of the boatman that no one else seemed to need.  I reckon most of the folks on this late afternoon ferry are on it twice a day, every day.  So it goes without saying that they all had a big laugh when the horn sounded and we about jumped out of the sunroof!  We ate some of our cookies to take our minds off the fact that there were no facilities on board, and that worked pretty well, in case you ever need a good remedy.  The ride was short and uneventful, the best kind, and soon we were leaving the ferry in a cloud of dust and making our way into St. Francisville.

You’ve likely guessed that St. Francisville was named for none other than THE St. Francis, he of the friend to birds and other animals.  The town grew up around one of the French Catholic monasteries that dotted this area of Louisiana, and it is home to many well-preserved homes and antebellum manors.  We had plans to see a few of these in the light of day, which was fading fast, but we had no plans for dinner or lodging.  We had called a few places on our way into town, but had not found a place to sleep yet.  No worries!  We pulled into a gas station to see what our options were, and when I looked up, it was to see a sign that said “St. Francisville Inn and Wine Parlor”, and we were right next door to it!  So, guess where we stayed?  See our digs at http://www.stfrancisvilleinn.com/

The proprietor, Laurie Walsh, couldn’t have been nicer, and soon we had a key to our B&B room with two beds, which is not an easy thing to find!  She also gave us a map of a walking tour and told us which restaurants were still serving (after all, it was 7:30!!!) and so around the corner we went, to George’s Feliciana.  Even though it was our only choice, it was a GREAT one!!  I thought I’d have a light supper of a shrimp remoulade salad and some corn and shrimp soup, and Kim opted for a shrimp po’boy.  Then we threw in an order of sweet potato fries, just because.  Well, when our order was ready, there was enough food on our tray to feed the whole restaurant!  I have to tell you, my soup was really yummy, but my salad, which was FULL of lemony shrimp and lined with huge chunks of avocado and tomatoes, was to die for!!  I ate every last bite!  Kim couldn’t begin to eat all of her sandwich, which must have had about a pound of fried shrimp on it and around it.  Needless to say, the BUCKET of sweet potato fries went largely untouched, which was too bad, because the ones we did eat were perfect.  We were not even tempted to even think about ordering pie, which looked yummy, too.  See what I'm talking about - http://www.georgesbr.com/FELICIANA/

I forgot to say that we had attempted to eat at a little place across the street at the V3 Motor Lodge, but the Baldwin Sisters were playing and they stopped serving soup and sandwiches at 7:30.  Got lucky, I guess!  Sometimes it pays to be slow.  We shuffled our over-stuffed selves back to our room to watch the rest of MNF (Go Colts!) and do a little blogging, even though we had no internet.  Can’t have everything, but now you know how easy it is for me to get behind on these trips!

I was sound asleep before Peyton was able to work his weekly miracle, but Kim saw the demise of the Dolphins and then could rest easy.  It was time to head north in earnest, but we sure have enjoyed our time in Cajun country!

Dem dere shrimps and crawdads, dey be so good!


So Much Food, So Little Time!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Amazingly, I was clear-headed this morning but seriously wondering why on earth we agreed to a 9 AM start….I got my day going right with a large glass of iced tea from the Starbucks in the lobby of the hotel, and that turned out to be one smart move!  Sunday morning in N’awlins means Café du Monde for beignets, so off we went.  There was more activity than I expected at this hour, and it was hot, hot, hot already.  But we didn’t have to wait long, and soon we were stuffing our faces with those hot, melt-in-your-mouth, powdered sugar-coated morsels that make me drool just writing about them.  Drool on your own self as you look at http://www.cafedumonde.com.  We sat and savored them for as long as we could, given the people in line waiting for their turn at nirvana.

We strolled around the shops near Jackson Square, buying some pralines and a few little lagniappes for friends back home.  We got a kick out of the street performers and the buggy drivers, and Alex and Kim bought some art from the street vendors.  We took our time getting back to the hotel, and when we got there, we saw Storm Troopers (from Star Wars) in the lobby.  Go figure.  We dropped off our purchases, and everyone got a glass of tea to go this time.  It was HOT!  Even though we had just eaten (a seemingly non-stop activity this weekend), we walked over to Canal Street to catch the St. Charles streetcar so that we could have lunch at the Camellia Grill.

The streetcar ride was lots of fun and something I had not done before.  Kim was really getting her money’s worth for her first trip to the Big Easy!  We rode past the Garden District – great houses –  the Audubon Zoo, and Tulane, Loyola, and Newcomb on our way to the end of the line and the treats that awaited us there.  The Camellia Grill is an institution that almost met its end, but has been resurrected.  You will want to check it out, but you’ll have to just google it for now and see other people’s reviews,  as www.camelliagrill.net is a new website that’s not quite open yet. Then you’ll want to make plans to get there as soon as you can!

Our wait wasn’t too long, and it just gave us time to digest breakfast.  Soon we were at least inside, in the AC, waiting for our turn at the counter.  White-coated, bow-tied waiters and cooks worked with flair and economy of movement as they grilled, fried, and soda-jerked our burgers, onion rings, fries, and shakes.  And they had the most awesome crushed ice!!  My all-time favorite meal – loaded cheeseburger and onion rings – stick a fork in me now ‘cause I am DONE!!!  It was SO GOOD!!!  We absolutely could not eat a piece of pie this time!  Josh, our waiter, even filled up my giant Sonic cup with that wonderful ice, and we were ready for the ride back to the hotel.

This time, our streetcar driver wouldn’t let me on because my cup of precious ice had no lid, so I had to toss it…so sad!!  So I didn’t enjoy that ride back as much as I would have!!  By the time we got back, it was our late checkout time – Kim and I had miles to go and Rex had a plane to catch, but Jim and Alex weren’t leaving until Monday.  I’m not sure I could have eaten or drunk any more rich New Orleans food!  We said our goodbyes to the guys and headed down to the car, and it probably won’t surprise you to know that we had an interesting adventure just trying to get out of New Orleans.  Never a dull moment in the car with us!  But we made it, and soon we were crossing the Huey P. Long bridge (or at least an annex of the bridge!) and were on our way to Houma.

We were going to Houma to see my friends Rod and Beulah, who had befriended Rex and me and fed and housed us four years ago when we were in Houma to built a Volunteer Village to house people who were coming to aid with relief from Hurricane Katrina.  The village is still being used, as relief still continues for a part of the state that was very badly damaged yet receives little notice from the rest of the world.  Camp Good Earth is run by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance – see what I mean at http://www.pcusa.org/pda/response/usa/gulfcoast/index-gulfcoast.htm. It was no surprise to me that Beulah is still a force!  My daughter, Kim, and I stopped in to visit Rod and Beulah last summer when we were on our way home from Austin – it is always good to be in their home.

Houma is deep in the heart of Cajun country, and Rod is a bona fide Cajun (and boy, can he cook, too!!)  Back in the day, he used to host a Cajun radio show, in the native tongue, and he plays in Cajun bands.  We headed even deeper into Acadian Louisiana, bound for Lafayette.  We passed bayou after bayou, noting the ‘bear crossing’ signs with interest.  Hmmm – we would have to find out more about that!

It was almost dark by the time we found our hotel in Lafayette, and Lee the Garmin man was hell-bent to send us through the hood to get to the restaurant we were going to.  It’s not easy finding things open on Sunday night (by night, I mean after about 7:30) so we headed to Prejean’s, (www.prejeans.com) which was open.  Good choice, once we got there!  I had corn and crab chowder and crawfish enchiladas, and Kim had a huge bowl of shrimp gumbo.  More good eats! 

We had an easier time getting back to the hotel, and were looking forward to learning about Cajun country over the next few days.

Hearing a zydeco in my sleep,


23 September 2009

Drink, Eat, Drink, Repeat (thanks, Kim!)

Saturday, 19 September 2009

How lovely it was to sleep in this morning!!  We had a date to meet Jim and Alex in the lobby at 11:15, so we were able to take our time.  No breakfast needed, as we were heading for a gastronomic experience at Galatoire’s, a New Orleans institution – and it was just down the street, so no worries!  Alex is a NO planner extraordinaire, and we were along for the ride and loving every minute of it!  Even Jim and I were on time for this fine day, so off we went.  Let the good times roll!

Galatoire’s opens at 11:30 and doesn’t take reservations for the downstairs dining room, so we made sure to be there early.  First stop – the upstairs bar.  Bloody Marys for Jim and me, Mimosas for Rex and Kim, and a brandy milk punch for Alex, and before we had finished them, it was time to get our table.  Jim and Alex are regulars here on their trips to New Orleans, and Bryant is their server of choice – we can see why!  He was great!  Baskets of fresh bread were waiting on us, and our drinks were quickly refilled.  Garlic bread was next, followed closely by shrimp remoulade and oysters en brouchette.  We had a couple of salads, one with shrimp and one with crabmeat, then it was time for the main courses.  Alex and I had two of our favorite things – Eggs Benedict and a filet, Jim had broiled drum, Rex had poisson meuniere amandine, and Kim had a filet.  I think.  We also ordered cauliflower au gratin, onion rings, and asparagus with Hollandaise to share, and there was plenty of Bearnaise sauce for our meat.  Rex, Jim, and I decided to try a Pimm’s Cup, and Kim and Alex stuck to beer. 

One thing I love about New Orleans restaurants, beside the obvious, is that they are lined with mirrors so you can see everything going on around you.  We had fun people watching, and were pretty sure we had spotted a celebrity.  Kim recognized Laurie from Trading Spaces, and sure enough, she and her husband were there celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary.  We sang Happy Birthday about half a dozen times (but not to Rex!), too.  The table behind us looked like the Sopranos had come to town, complete with a little kid who looked like Eddie Munster and who kept falling asleep between courses. 

You may think we’d eaten so much that we couldn’t possibly want more, but there was more!  Alex had arranged for us to have some Café’ Brulot (a brandied coffee drink that Bryant flamed at our table), and I even had two cups of it.  And I HATE coffee!!!  Out came dessert – a couple of chocolate sundaes for Jim, Kim, and Alex and an order of banana bread pudding (not banana bread, but bread pudding with bananas) for Rex and me.  Oh my.  When we looked at the time, it was 3:30 -  we had been there for FOUR HOURS!!!!  What a special treat!!  Thanks, ALEX!!  When you come to New Orleans next time, make sure you save time for Galatoire’s – get a feel for the experience at www.galatoires.com.

We waddled back to the hotel thinking we might spend some time by the pool (don’t ask what we were thinking – I had not brought a maternity bathing suit with me and I’m sure the one I had wouldn’t hold me after that lunch!!) but there were too many young people out there, so we just put on our shorts and t-shirts and went for a walk.  Somehow we ended up at a bar, one that may be the oldest continually operated bar in the country.  It was Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, which we thought was fitting, since Saturday was “Talk Like a Pirate Day”.   Read all about it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lafitte%27s_Blacksmith_Shop.  It is home of the Voodoo, a frozen concoction that tastes like a grape Icee but is full of vodka.  A most dangerous combination!!  We all had to have one, of course, and since Florida was kicking Tennessee’s butt, some of us (Jim, Alex, and I) had a second one for the road.

This time we walked down to Jackson Square, watching street performers and just taking in the sights.  I loved seeing all of the creative hanging signs outside the shops that lined the streets, and the balconies covered with lush green plants and laced with wrought iron were so pretty!  Somehow, we ended up back at the voodoo place, where the three of us had yet another drink.  What were we thinking??  By 8:30 or 9:00, we were thinking we might should eat (what?!?!) so we got a table at Mona Lisa’s pizza, where I am told we enjoyed really good garlic cheese bread and a couple of pizzas.

It was a fun, full day, but it was time to call it a night.  We walked back to the hotel (wasn’t this a cool shadow we saw along the way?) and made plans for the morning, and I’m sure the rest of the gang didn’t think I’d remember enough to write this!  And I know David and Kim enjoyed getting our text messages from the Mona Lisa!!

It would have been the perfect Saturday if the Vols had won…


PS  Thanks, Jim and Alex!!

Eating Our Way Across the South, part 9...

Friday, 18 September 2009

Although we had very few ideas about what we might be seeing in Natchez today, we were excited to find out what the possibilities were and we were stoked to know we'd be in New Orleans by dinner time.  At least, that was the plan!!  We found a little breakfast place on one of the downtown streets and tried to be a little healthier than usual.  We split a yogurt, granola, and fruit cup, and Kim had a cranberry orange muffin (she said it was like eating cake!) and I had a blueberry scone that was about the size of a softball.  I didn't even eat half of it!!  We asked the nice lady in the coffee shop what we shouldn't leave Natchez without seeing, and she suggested St. Mary's Basilica, just around the corner, and the Longwood Plantation, also not far away.  We already knew we would be driving out of town past Mammy's Cupboard, so that seemed like a good start - we could always come back through this way on the flip side.

We had noticed the basilica on our way to the hotel last night, even commenting on it, but we hadn't known what it was.  There was a lovely park just behind the church - trees festooned with Spanish moss, a gorgeous fountain, a Civil War statue, and benches set in shady spots.  We walked around the corner to the TALL front doors of the building - it was quite an imposing ediface!  After taking a few photos from the outside and noting that mass was at 8:30 AM (it was about 11 AM), we started to go into the sanctuary when we realized there was a service of some sort going on, so we made a note to stop back in on our trip home, because the stained glass windows are supposed to be stunning.

Off we went to Longwood, following the instructions on the Garmin, so we saw neighborhoods that most people would have missed.  We passed several other plantations on the way, so we wondered what made Longwood so special.  We pulled into the drive and were instantly transported to an earlier time, driving down a long drive under an arcade of trees full of Spanish moss.  Our first glimpse of the house was impressive - it was very tall, and it was octagonal!  We couldn't wait to see the inside of it!  We parked and found our way into the gift shop, which was darling and full of funny books about the South, lots of good sounding cookbooks, postcards, and little pretties.  We did a bit of shopping as we waited for our tour to start - reading material for the road!

As is typical on many of these tours, we could not take pictures of the main floor, so I won't be able to share a whole lot with you, but here are a few of the details I remember.  The house was the dream of Dr. Haller Nutt, who wanted a different kind of plantation home, hence the shape and style of the house.  To build the facade, a kiln for making bricks was built on the property and 750,000 bricks were produced here.  At the time the war broke out, the facade was finished, as was the 10,000 square foot basement, consisting of nine rooms.  The house was six stories and would have 30,000 square feet of finished space when it was done, but most of the builders and craftsmen were from Pennsylvania and other states in the northeast, so they left most of their tools and supplies and went home.  At the time, people thought this 'uprising' would be settled quickly, so the workers thought they would soon be back to finish their work.  As you may have guessed, this never happened.

The war lasted four years, Dr. Nutt lost his fortune and then died before the end of the war, and his wife and eight children lived in the finished basement of the house for the duration.  As hard as it is for me to believe, the house NEVER got finished, yet it somehow survived.  It was finally purchased by a Texas man who has stipulated that it never be completed but that it be open for the public to enjoy as it is.  You'll want to be sure to go to http://www.mississippibeautiful.com/capital-river/longwood-plantation.html or www.natchezpilgrimage.com to see more of this fascinating, fantastic home! One thing that adds to it's historical value - since the facade was completed and the flooring put in for the other floors, the top five stories of the house were used for storage.  That means that almost EVERYTHING - packing crates, even for the piano - was stored in the house and many of the original boxes are still there.  Be sure to visit it when you come to Natchez!  Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and you can tell that the people caring for and showing this house really love it!

Although we were sure when we started out this morning that we would be on the road before Mammy's Cupboard opened for the day, we were now going to be lucky to get there before it closed!  Only open from 11-2 and closed on Mondays, we were afraid if we missed it today, we might have missed it for good.  The Garmin sent us off in exactly the opposite direction than we should have gone, but common sense, a phone call, and the iphone got us to Mammy's.  And yes, Mammy's could be considered politically incorrect, although she is now painted more of a flesh-tone than I'm sure she used to be, but who could help but want to eat lunch under the skirts of a 28 foot tall woman?  Okay, that didn't sound exactly the way I intended it, but maybe you get the picture.  If not, look at our picture and then go to http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/3344  for the rest of the story.

Even though we were still stuffed from breakfast, we could not resist lunch here!  Homemade bread, delicious sandwiches, and mile high pies - oh my goodness!!!  My roast turkey sandwich came with avocado and blueberry chutney and it was served with homemade vegetable soup and a side of potato salad.  It was SO GOOD!!!  Kim had a ham sandwich that looked equally tasty, but so that we could have some pie, we each only ate half of our sandwiches, then we shared a piece of chocolate icebox pie (we only shared it because it was the last piece...)  We could not wait to come back here when we were really hungry!!

By now we were afraid Rex would arrive in New Orleans before we did, so we skedaddled off down Highway 61 (the Blues Highway) bound for Baton Rouge and New Orleans.  No more stops for us (except for tea!) and we probably passed the airport about the time Rex's plane landed!!  But since we were sure we would have already been in NOLA and drinking by then, we'd had Kim's friends Jim and Alex arrange a ride for Rex!  We found our way into the city, to the hotel, and into the parking garage without incident, and soon we were joining Jim and Alex for drinks at the Old Absinthe House, just across the street from our hotel.  Rex got there not long after we did, so our New Orleans party weekend could officially begin.  I probably forgot to mention that we were celebrating Rex's double-nickel birthday, which is really on the 26th, and ORIGINALLY, the rest of his family (adults, not our kids) were to be partying with us.  We see how well that went over...they won't know what fun they missed and will have to read about it here!!

We met some of Jim and Alex's friends at the bar - thanks for the great hotel rooms, Allison!! - and then went back to the Royal Sonesta to make arrangements for dinner.  Russell, the concierge, set us up with late reservations at Clancy's, on Annunciation in Uptown New Orleans.  We cleaned up a bit, then took a taxi over to St. Joe's Bar for a drink before dinner.  It was a cool bar complete with church pews and other icons.  We sat out on the back porch until it was time to walk over to Clancy's.

Clancy's was a hopping place - packed with people (mostly local, I'd say) having a good time and enjoying great food - and it was loud!  I'm sure I won't remember what everyone else had, but I got some shrimp and crab gumbo, the Clancy's crab salad, and an order of fried green tomatos.  With crabmeat!  Rex and Kim got the gumbo, too, and I think Jim and Alex got salads.  Jim and Alex got veal, Kim got the same crab salad I did, and Rex got the lobster risotto that I was thinking about ordering - saved!  You can read more reviews at http://www.yelp.com/biz/clancys-restaurant-new-orleans if you are thinking about eating here.  We had a pretty long wait for dinner (good thing the bread was good!) but it was worth it - delish!!  We split some desserts - Kim, Jim, and Alex shared a big brownie with ice cream, and Rex and I had a frozen lemon pie.  Oh man, we hit the mother lode!  That pie was fantastic!!

Somehow, we made it back to the French Quarter and walked around a bit.  Kim had never been to Nawlins, so we made the obligatory trip to Pat O'Brien's for a nightcap.  The streets were wild - it's Friday night - so we saw all we needed to see and then went back to rest up for our big lunch date at Galatoire's.  I probably gained five pounds today - it was great!!

Where's the wheelbarrow when I need it?