Wow….sorry for the gap in posting. But hey…that’s how I roll.
Since it’s Mardi Gras, it seems like a good day to jump back into these memories. It’s kind of odd how much I remember about this trip, nearly a month later. That NOLA, gets in there and holds on!
After the Ninth Ward, etc… we went back to the hotel to figure out what was next. The only thing that came up was Cafe du Monde and the French Market. So we grabbed a cab and off we went.
We were dropped off at Aunt Sally’s Pralines. My mom has been an Aunt Sally since she was a teenager…so she was pretty excited. Plus, we had been threatening to buy pralines since we got to town. Aunt Sally’s is a big ol’ gift shop with all kinds of Nawlin’s paraphernalia that seems like a must buy at the time, but then sits on shelves. But they are KNOWN for their pralines. Once my mom made the choice of which tote bag she was going to buy, she proceeded to pick up the largest box of pralines she could find. It was only 12, half original and half chocolate, but if you’ve ever had a praline, you know that a little goes a LONG way. And PS, pralines ain’t cheap! After she dealt with the sticker shock of her purchase, we walked next door to Cafe du Monde.
Normally it is an open air patio, but since it was chilly and windy, they had dark green curtains pulled down to protect us. Probably to also protect innocent bystanders from getting pulled into a cloud of powdered sugar! Luckily I had read a lot about how to act like a local in NOLA and knew that there was not “hostess” and that if you saw an open table, it should be grabbed, even if you have to step on children and push over the elderly. Well…maybe not the last part, but it was first come, first serve….or at least first come, first seated. The menu is on the napkin dispenser and is beignets and beverages…..and souvenirs. We pretty much knew what we wanted and once I saw a souvenir plastic cup….I also knew I’d have to get cafe au lait later. I am a sucker for a souvenir plastic cup….for real!
It should be noted that there are numerous Cafe du Mond uniformed workers milling about….like almost too many. Or perhaps it just felt like too many once we noticed that few of them were actually doing any work. I’ll admit…it’s a total madhouse in there. Lots of tiny tables. Lots of people. The take out line seeming to never end, etc….but it seems like an empty table should be a sign that we needed some service. Eventually a VERY OLD woman came and I think she took our order, but to this day, I’m still not completely sure. What I am sure of, is that we didn’t see that lady for a LONG time. I started to be concerned that she had died and was perhaps being trampled on by Marathon runners in need of a fried dough and sugar fix (yeah…the New Orleans Marathon was that weekend, no, I did not participate!). I could imagine her trying to catch one last breath and instead inhaling powdered sugar and just coughing to death….. it could SO happen!
Anyway, we did eventually get part of our order…the old lady wasn’t dead!!! Then we got the rest of our order, had a strange exchange of money (I think she was a gypsy!) and went about the task at hand.
On our table were two orders of piping hot squares of fired dough, nearly smothered by a PILE, and I mean pile!, of powdered sugar.
This would be a good time to tell you how much I DO NOT LIKE powdered donuts. The texture is weird and I always choke on the damn sugar! However, I was all about the beignets.
I picked one up.
Dusted a bit of the sugar off.
Opened my mouth.
And proceeded to cough. This sent a cloud of powdered sugar toward my mom, who was doing her best Johnny Cash impression and was dressed in all black. The whole thing was in slow motion….I watched the sugar spread through the air, travel towards my mom and then settle all over her. Seriously, ALL over.
This, of course, made me laugh…which sent another cloud out. My mom was using damp napkins to clean up the mess. Take note, water and powdered sugar combine to make glaze! Add a cheap napkin and you have a glaze with big chunks of lint. Good times. Good times.
But the beignets were AMAZING!
Best to use as few fingers as possible to eat them. It helps avoid getting an eye full of powdered sugar later…..
Let ME learn things the hard way for you 🙂
Once we finished our beignets, we headed out with no real destination in mind. Although, I will admit, I wanted to hit the Casino. Much like plastic souvenir cups, I am a slut for a casino. The noise, the lights, I love it!
There are LOTS, and I mean LOTS, of crappy t-shirt stores in the Vieux Carre. But there are also lots of crappy mask stores, that aren’t really that crappy. I can honestly say that I never knew one could do so much with a partial face mask, lots of glitter, lots of feathers and a bit of imagination. I could probably have spent hours and lots of money on them….I never found the perfect one, however. Plus…there was a daiquiri store just down the street.
It would seem pretty cool to have a daiquiri place just down the street. However, they are EVERYWHERE…which is, also, pretty cool.
For example…the photo above was taken of the daiquiri place around the corner from the daiquiri place that was around the corner from our hotel. It was also across the street from numerous other daiquiri places. Simple storefronts with around a dozen whirring machines filled with cheap alcohol and artificial fruit flavors. It’s kind of like heaven.
I was somewhat dumbfounded when faced with that wall of cheap, sweet, alcoholic goodness. They had frozen Red Bull and Vodka….why didn’t EVERYONE have that? There were basic margaritas and a veritable artificual fruit salad of flavor to choose from. I went with the bellini…aka, fake peach and cheap alcohol. It was like the best slushie ever. 20 oz of goodness just waiting to be consumed. Be warned…these make for killer brain freeze…at least according to my mom. It makes sense though….they are so tasty you just want to go to town on them….but they are so cold, so be careful!
After the daiquiri stop we were on our way to Harrah’s. There isn’t really anything special about this casino…or any casino for that matter. But the noises and sights and smells always make me happy. Well…not so much the smells. SO MUCH CIGARETTE SMOKE….like Vegas in the 90’s levels. It doesn’t seem as though they have upgraded to the super mega air cleaning systems they have in Vegas….but that’s alright, they had Jackpot Party! The best slot machine EVER….until that night, when it failed me. I never even got the Jackpot Party bonus, aka the whole point of playing the game!! Luckily they had Village People Party…which is basically the same, but I got the bonus a few times. Once again, the gays have my back!
There is also an amazing creation in the gaming world known as The Sex & the City Slot Machine! It’s glittery and pink and shows clips from the show and the bonus rounds have you trying to get the most Manolo’s etc…..it’s FAB.
But, as it normally goes in Casinos…the house won. I was down $100….which isn’t bad, but since I was playing nickel slots is pretty sad, and my mom was overcome by the smoke, so we grabbed a cab back to the Hotel Dauphine.
There is a funky, yet nondescript place across the street from the hotel that looked like it might hold a place to get some food. It being New Orleans, it did! I had red beans and rice (according to the waiter, it had been a red beans and rice kinda night) and they were delish! Creamy beans, super hot andouille and fluffy rice. Just what I wanted to eat. Things just seem to hit the spot in NOLA. The city knows what you want/need more then you do….and it provides.
Coming up: a trip across the longest bridge over water in the world and revisiting a new friend.