24 September 2009

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 CafĂ© 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,


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