Thursday, January 31, 2013


Outdoor breakfast Hotel Le Marais

National WWII Museum
Thursday, 17 January 2013 – Well we were close to Bourbon Street alright!  The live music continued outside in the wee hours but fortunately our hotel was reasonably sound-proofed allowing us old-fogies (well me actually) to sleep!  Breakfast was provided in our hotel, so after meeting up with mum and dad, we planned our itineraries for the day.  Mum and dad wanted to go riding airboats on the bayou’s and spot alligators while Justyn was keen to head to the National World War 2 museum.  So after agreeing to meet up for pre-dinner drinks at the end of the day mum and dad pottered off in one direction and Justyn and I walked out into the sunshine of the New Orleans morning and headed up Magazine Street towards the museum.  Justyn thoroughly enjoyed himself at the museum but unfortunately some of the larger exhibits were closed as New Orleans was hosting a little thing called the Super Bowl on February 3 and these areas in the museum were being set up to host media and various functions.  Some may wonder why The National World War II Museum is located in New Orleans, a city known for other tourism sites but which is not usually associated with 20th-century military history.  The museum opened as the D-Day Museum, focusing initially on the amphibious invasion of Normandy, then opening a second gallery exploring the amphibious invasions of the Pacific War.  As the Higgins Boats vital to D-Day operations were designed, built, and tested in New Orleans by Higgins Industries, the city was deemed to be the natural home for such a project.  A highlight of the museum is the ‘Beyond all Boundaries’ film that is shown as a 4D experience.  Justyn’s favourite Tom Hanks narrates the film and the voices of some of Hollywood’s top stars bringing to life the words of actual World War II participants and war correspondents. 

Creole Queen on the Mississippi
Cafe du Monde beignets
Finally I had had enough of trawling the museum and dragged Justyn away and out to see some of the more famous sites of ‘Nawlins.  We found ourselves following the route the mardi-gras will take –evidenced by the street closures and seating being built.  Did you know we missed the start of Mardi-Gras by just one day!  

Setting up for Mardi Gras, NOLA

Next time….  Many of the city’s icon’s were being adapted not only for mardi-gras but also the Super Bowl.  Large decorated footballs popped up in the oddest places representing each year of the Super Bowl and its location.  Our wanderings found us down on the Mississippi where the Creole Queen Riverboat was setting off for a run up the river.  A huge storm had swept through the Gulf region so the river was churning and brown, but the sky was blue and the sun was glowing and it made for a beautiful backdrop for the paddle steamer.  By this time my stomach was demanding a taste of something from the famous cusine of New Orleans, so we found the Café du Monde.  All they serve are café au lait and beignets.  Beignets are fluffy globs of dough deep fried and absolutely smothered in powdered sugar.  I was delighted!  New Orleans are also famous for the po-boy and a well-known deli specialising in all versions of po-boys was not far from Café du Monde – Johnny’s Po-Boy’s.  Along the way we stopped in at a record shop called Peaches which is a local institution specialising in the music of Louisiana – Zydeco, Local New Orleans Rap, Blues and of course Jazz.  Continuing to Johnny’s, Justyn ordered the roast beef po-boy and went with the more traditional fried oyster po-boy.  And both were ‘dressed’.  What a taste sensation!  For those who are asking “but what is a po-boy”, it is a traditional submarine sandwich almost always consisting of meat, usually roast beef, or fried seafood.  
Fried oyster po-boy from Johnny's, NOLA
The meat is served on baguette-like New Orleans French bread, known for its crisp crust and fluffy centre.  A "dressed" po-boy has lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayonnaise; onions are optional.  After our late lunch, we headed back to our hotel to drop of some souvenirs we had collected along the way and set out to explore the area around the hotel known as the French Quarter.  It is a beautiful part of the city, with gorgeous architecture and this afternoon our stroll was accompanied by the music from many bands and buskers set up on most street corners.  Often we found ourselves stalling whilst listening to the various genres being played around us.
Buskers on Bourbon St, NOLA

Too soon it the sun was setting and the winter chill was moving in signalling time to head back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.  We had booked into Emeril Lagasse’s flagship restaurant for another exceptional New Orleans dining experience.  Justyn and I became familiar with Emeril through various cooking shows such as Top Chef that we regularly watch.  Emeril initially gained fame in the culinary world as executive chef of Commander’s Palace which is a famous New Orleans restaurant.  After leaving Commander’s he opened his first restaurant, Emeril’s, with an emphasis on Creole and Cajun cooking styles.  And the dining experience more than lived up to expectations.  We had three people waiting on us (plus a sommelier) and they were all engaging, professional and very knowledgeable; we felt like VIP’s!  For appetisers, mum, dad and Justyn all went with the gumbo and I had the special of the day which was Sweet and Sour pigs tail.  We all went in different directions for our entrees (main course) with Justyn enjoying the "Mac N’ Cheese" which was sautéed gulf shrimp with artisanal pasta, vermouth cream, guanciale and brioche crumbs, mum decided on the Sweet Barbecue Glazed Salmon with andouille potato hash, crispy onions and house made Worcestershire, dad hit the gamier side with the veal special and I had one of items that have been on Emeril’s menu since opening the restaurant in 1990, the Andouille Crusted Drum (a local fish) with grilled vegetables, shoestring potatoes, glazed pecans and creole meunière sauce.  There wasn’t much talking at the table while we were all in our own little rapturous worlds.  And then there was dessert.  With not much room to fit it in, we managed to share two of his well-known desserts - Emeril’s Banana Cream Pie with a graham cracker crust, caramel sauce, chocolate shavings and his Key Lime Ice Box Pie with torched cinnamon meringue and tequila gingersnap crust – heavenly bites of deliciousness each one!

We were all very full from our fantastic meal so we decided to amble back to our hotel.  Emeril’s was in the Warehouse District so it wasn’t far to wander.  Before long we came across Harrah’s Casino and instead of going around, we headed in to put a few pennies through the slot machines.  Justyn was the only one to come out the other side a winner.  We knew when we were getting close to our hotel as Bourbon Street became louder and louder.  Another Nawlins institution we felt we needed to experience, we dodged the hordes stumbling around the street clutching their hurricane cocktails in fish bowls, the spruikers toting ‘It’s go-time for ho-time’ strip clubs and the bachelor/bachelorette groups covered in beads and swinging from the lamp posts.  All quite entertaining through my slightly tipsy eyes (well I had had a couple of cocktails and glasses of wine with dinner!)

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