Last month the Brooks family took a step on the wild side. We visited New Orleans. Mary Jane and I had talked about this visit for roughly twenty-five years. We often do not get in a hurry. Upon our arrival at the Maison Perrier Bed and Breakfast we were greeted with a welcome drink. At this point I thought that perhaps the drive was worth it. Tom, the host at the Inn along with his wife Patricia, were so welcoming and full of information it seemed that it would be impossible to do and see all there was to partake of.
Magazine street was just a few blocks from our new home. We toured the antique shops and found that they housed very rare and upscale items that were for the discerning collector. At Patricia’s suggestion we ate at the World Famous New A’wlins Jazz Cafe and Oyster Bar. The cuisine was to die for and the atmosphere was special! A three-piece combo and singer treated us to as fine Jazz music as it has been my privilege to hear. The owner came to our table to thank us profusely for coming in both english and french and to admonish us to look at the television in the corner where he and his restaurant had just come on the Food channel. He was extremely proud of this rare treat!
Our tours of two historic cemeteries was enjoyable. St. Louis 1 and Lafayette 1 are like no burial grounds I have seen in that they are not only very old but also totally above ground mausoleums. Some of the individual sarcophagus are so deteriorated that little more than a pile of bricks remain. It was extremely hot while we were there and I overheard tour guides likening the crypts to ovens and what happens to items in them.
I think Jackson Square was my favorite area of the French Quarter. Full of unique shops as well as sidewalk artists and the display of their crafts it was an area that reminded me of our visit to Nice, France, a couple of years past, with our good friend Margo Lestz. An artist had made tin figures from roofs of homes in the ninth ward that had been devastated by hurricane Katrina in 2005. The images were of skeletons and other macabre icons that both seemed so appropriate and chilling. He wondered if anyone had ever told me that I resembled the famous Doctor Oliver Sacks? I told him that he was the first.
We took two bites of the apple when it came to the well-known restaurant Pat O’Brien’s. The first was at the bar where we enjoyed the classic Hurricane which is a drink with four shots of rum mixed with punch. You have heard of rum punch I presume? It was quite delicious and left us with a feeling of well-being and a slight euphoria. On another day we sojourned into the other side of the establishment which is a dueling piano bar. This being my first experience and being placed right next to one of the dueling pianos with a table of frat boys almost setting with us…I was somewhat uncomfortable until I had another Hurricane. Whereupon the dancing frat boys became interesting and somewhat humorous.
Coops, was my favorite restaurant experience in the French Quarter. It was the end of a long hot day where we had been somewhat underwhelmed by Frenchmen’s street and subsequently decided to return to the New A’wlins Cafe on Magazine rather than continue to search for what was supposed to be the highlights of the Quarter. As we were walking back to the street car, which is a rarefied experience in our modern life, we happened upon Coops. We waked in and were immediately waked out very nicely as we found out that due to fire codes the waiting line formed outside the door. Soon the waitress came to get us as we told her that we were more than willing to set at the bar. After all we had already been to Pat O’Brien’s. The very fast and business like bar tender asked me if I would like something to drink. When I asked if he made a good Dirty Martini he responded that he made a very bad Dirty Martini. I had two. From the Alligator bites to the Red fish and Sausage it was an outstanding meal!
After our search for Nirvana in the French Quarter we came upon two native New Orleanians. One of them admonished us that the best way to enjoy the riches of the city was to find our own special place and that place would become our New Orleans. Truer words have not been spoken!