We love our trips to New Orleans, and are able to go often, even just on the spur of the moment. Such was our trip last weekend, we needed to pick up some things from our friends at Zito’s, and decided to make it an overnight.
We have never visited the New Orleans Museum of Art, so we looked for restaurants nearby and found Cafe Degas, a French restaurant.
We miss France. Going to France was one of the best parts of living in Germany, not far from the French border. We were in France all the time, and oh, how we miss France.
We found Cafe Degas with no trouble, and were able to find a parking spot within a short walk.
Each table filled almost as soon as it emptied. There were families, people coming in after church, friends meeting up to share their weeks. It had a great vibe.
The bread was wonderful, crispy on the outside, light as a cloud on the inside
We LOVE mussels. These were perfect, and the broth was exquisite.
The mussels come with fries. Normally I will avoid fries, but oh, these were so good. I ate about half, more than I had intended! I had thought “oh one bite won’t hurt!” and twenty fries later, I still had trouble stopping.
3127 Esplanade Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70119
Hours of operation
Lunch: Wednesday through Friday 11:00am – 3:00pm.
We are open for drinks, salads and appetizers between lunch and dinner service Wed – Sat.
Dinner: Wednesday through Saturday 5:30pm – 10:00pm.
Sunday: 5:30pm – 9:30pm
Brunch: Saturday and Sunday 10:30am – 3:00pm
HAPPY HOUR Wednesday and Thursday 3:00pm – 6:00pm
All Major Credit Cards Accepted
I bet you think we are going to write about a grand adventure partying in New Orleans, crowded with people eager to watch the Sugar Bowl, parades, grand times. I could – but our visit was a little different.
AdventureMan and I DID have a grand adventure – taking the 6 year old and 3 year old grandchildren to New Orleans for three days. We were a little aghast at the enormity of our undertaking, but AdventureMan did a little investigating, and found a wonderful solution – The Audubon Nature Institute has an annual family membership which gets you into the New Orleans zoo, the Aquarium, the Butterfly Garden and the Insectarium, and invited to special events, for a year.
Even better, the cost of the year-long family membership is so reasonable that our first trip to the zoo paid off the entire membership. The next day, the children voted that we visit the zoo again, and the third day we visited the aquarium. We can go back all year, walk in through the membership gate (that is a great feature, beats standing in line for tickets) and get a membership discount in the gift shop. This is a real deal. You can find it at Audubon Nature Institute, you can join online and print out your temporary membership card. What a great value for the money.
Once we discovered how easy it is to go to New Orleans, even just for the day, we are hooked. When Zito’s Metal Polishing & Plating called to tell us our pieces were finished and offered to mail them (free of charge) to us, AdventureMan said “Oh no, we’ll come get them” and set the date. We invited a friend who also has some pieces that need re-tinning to be usable, and off we went.
You may think this is trivial, but for us, it is beautiful:
Gas is so much cheaper in Louisiana. Of course, it takes nearly half a tank to get there, so I don’t suppose we are saving so much, LOL. When I saw my old friends, my copper pots, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I don’t think they looked this good in Damascus, where I bought them, on The Street Called Straight. Who knows if we will ever be able to walk the streets of Damascus again?
Zito’s was able to replace a handle on the brass piece we bought, oh so long ago, in the Khan al Khalili in Cairo.
These pieces are, I believe, more beautiful now than when I bought them! I had the pots re-tinned because I have used them cooking many many times over the last 35 years, but now I am afraid to use them, they are so beautiful!
We stayed out of the tourist areas with Mardi Gras madness in full swing, and found a fabulous Thai restaurant, La Thai, on Prytania, (voted Best Thai in New Orleans,) when our two Ethiopian restaurants were both closed. It was a wonderful happenstance; we had a great meal (scallops!) and we also were able to finish our day in New Orleans with a tour of City Park and ice cream at the Creole Creamery. Oh wow. Flavors like King Cake Ice Cream, and Red Velvet Ice Cream and 5 Spice Ginger. It was a great day.
Have you ever eaten Ethiopian food? That injera is so delicious, but hours later, it has swollen in your tummy, and even after a long long walk, and several hours, even though it is dinner time, you are still not very hungry.
We didn’t want to go to a restaurant with courses and sauces. We weren’t that hungry. We had passed the French Market Restaurant as we strolled through the old French Market, and we liked that they had a good selection of boiled, steamed and healthy foods on their menu. It was just a few blocks from our hotel, an easy walk, so we decided to go there for dinner – or anyplace else that struck our fancy, but this was our destination if we didn’t find any place else.
We passed a lot of restaurants with lines, but not the foods we wanted.
When we got to the French Market Restaurant, we were so glad we had waited. The greeting was warm, the wait staff looked happy and like they knew what they were all about, and we had a nice table. The place was about half full when we got there, and within the next fifteen minutes, was packed. The tables are close together, so you get to see what everyone is eating, and hear about everyone’s lives, but it’s just that kind of place; cozy, comfortable, and the food is divine.
I stuck with my plan – I ordered the shrimp and crab salad. It was perfect. AdventureMan ordered the oyster poor boy, of which he could only eat about half, and just the oysters. Oysters are rich! Battered oysters are richer! We started with the onion rings, which were fabulous, real onions dipped in a peppery batter, big pieces of pepper. This was unusual, the batter was light and tasty, and the dipping sauce piquant.
We split a dessert. Hey, it’s New Orleans. I’m not a big sweet eater, but we ordered a piece of the Bourbon Pecan Pie which arrived cut in half with about a cup of whipped cream. It was SOO good. They were kind, my piece was the smaller “half” but still, if it weren’t so good, I wouldn’t have eaten my whole half. It’s all their fault, making such a delicious pie. AdventureMan is intrigued, and thinks he will try incorporating bourbon into his famous pecan pies now, too. (Wooooo Hooooooooo!)
It’s been raining for so long we feel like frogs, with webbed feet. We have a gorgeous day, not hot, not cold, and a hotel in a perfect location for walking, so we go out to master our 10,000 steps. In the French Quarter, it is easy! There is so much to see; it is so much fun just to walk.
These kids are GOOD! They have attracted a large crowd, in front of the Cathedral. What a great way to get practice playing in front of an audience and to earn a little extra spending money, providing a little New Orleans culture. Loved our time listening; they really were good
This policeman with his blue light special, blocked a whole lane of traffic so he could pick up his fresh hot beignet at the French Market.
The Hop On, Hop Off Bus, New Orleans style:
“Follow the sign, please!” for the New Orleans city tour. No, we weren’t on that one, just walking around on our own.
A statue of Bienville, a founder of New Orleans:
This is kind of creepy, to me, a woman who tells people their fortunes in front of the cathedral.
The Maiden of Oreans:
We loved this terrace garden, on Chartres:
This man earned every penny. He made up verses to songs about people watching, all very kind, and people gave generously 🙂
I knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t want a room that could be anywhere, Seattle, Pensacola, Missoula, El Paso. I wanted it to feel like New Orleans, and I wanted tall ceilings and I didn’t want it to cost an arm and a leg. I didn’t want it to be stuffy. I looked and looked, and then I found it, The French Market Inn, on Decatur, in the middle of everything.
Some reviews said it could be a little noisy, but hey, it’s after Christmas, low season, not yet Mardi Gras. There was a great online special. We took a chance.
Immediately, there is one negative; there is no parking. You can pay extra for valet parking, which we did. There may be some places where you don’t pay extra to park in New Orleans, but I don’t know them.
We loved it the minute we walked in. We had talked with the receptionist earlier, and she remembered us. Check in was a breeze. We had to walk through a winding courtyard to get to our room, then up an elevator, but oh WOW.
I kept telling AdventureMan “I love this room! I love this room!” It is not often a room exceeds my expectations, but this room delighted my heart:
Up those two stairs and out the door, we have this huge terrace which we share with the room next door. We each have our own table and chairs, and a view of the river and Decatur street in each direction. We also look directly over some kind of party central, where the New Year’s Eve Parade will pass, and the big pre-Sugar Bowl party will be held. They are setting up now; bands are practicing, it is ear-splitting, but we are assured all the noise will stop at eight p.m.
As dusk fall, the Steamboat Natchez gives us a calliope concert. We sit out on our deck and listen, and watch the crews for the bands setting up and playing with the sound and light displays:
Promptly at eight, the bands all stop. Our room is quiet . . .most of the time. About once an hour, a very very loud car comes by with its booming bass beat and some wanna-be rapper going on down the road. A couple times during the night, emergency vehicles come by. At 3:30 I see odd lights on our wall, and as I peer out the curtains, I see the crews still at work on the stage lights, and they are pulsing colors and bright lights. We have great black out curtains, I close them tightly and snooze away 🙂
The room is gorgeous. The hotel has a fabulous location, close to everywhere. It wasn’t very noisy, but next time, same hotel, and a courtyard room. We had a lot of fun with our balcony, but once was enough and next time we will opt for one of the interior rooms, hoping it is a little more quiet.
It’s just not fair. There are NO Ethiopian restaurants in Pensacola, but there are two, on the same street, Magazine, in New Orleans, and not far from one another. We ate at one in late October, when we were in New Orleans for the day getting a new passport, Cafe Abyssinia. We would have gone back, but they were closed for the holidays, and we decided to try the Nile, just up the street.
Oh. We are so glad we did!
From the outside:
The menu; short, sweet, everything you need.
The interior is light and bright, even on a cloudy day. I loved the high ceilings and the spacious feeling.
But best of all is the food. We ordered the vegetarian assortment (on the left) and the Doro Wat, a mildly spicy chicken dish, sometimes called the National Dish. I first heard about Doro Wat in Vargese’s Cutting for Stone, and have been ordering it whenever I could. This time, it was just spicy enough (we like spicy). I like the sauce so much, I don’t even care about the chicken, or the hard boiled egg. Just the sauce is so delicious. It is messy, you eat it with the spongy bread, injera, and even if you are very delicate, you usually have a mess. I use a lot of napkins, and even when you wash your hands, hours later you will still smell the spices on your hand (in a good way).
There is a whole basket of the rolled injera in the upper left corner, as well as more underneath the vegetarian selections and the Doro Wat.
A long time ago, AdventureMan was talking with my father, and my father told him that they were no longer in the acquisition stage of their marriage, that he and my mother really had everything they needed and didn’t buy much, other than food and replacing something when it needed replacing like a car. Since we were deeply into our acquisition phase, this was a stunning revelation to us.
We totally understand now what he was getting at. When you are young, and setting up a household, and when children come along, it’s like you are always needing something . . . it can be as basic as pots and pans or as specialized as a car seat. It’s all about trying to set priorities, with great needs, a whole list of wants, and a need to set priorities because resources are limited.
And it is one of life’s ironies, it seems to me, that when you begin to have the money to buy what you need, you need so much less, LOL. We learned a lot living in the Middle East, and from our Mormon friends, and from families we got to know – we learned the joy of giving to your children while they need it and can enjoy it.
Meanwhile, Christmas has been perplexing. Neither of us really needs anything. When we need – or want – something, we tend to pick it out and get it, so there is no great need at Christmas for big gifts. We have a lot of fun with stocking stuffers, but we’ve learned to tell each other very exactly what we like, so we get what we like.
AdventureMan asked what I might like for Christmas, and I told him my beautiful pots and pans from Damascus have lost their tinning, and I can’t use them until we have them re-tinned, and I can’t find anyplace to have them retinned. “Leave it to me!” he pronounced! I will find how we can get this done.
He found some places in Colorado, in Pittsburgh, other places, and I said “isn’t there anyplace nearer? What about New Orleans?” so he checked New Orleans, and sure enough, there is a wonderful metal finishing shop. He talked to the owner and made a date we could bring in our pots. Meanwhile, I visited the website and discovered they could also fix broken metal things. I have another beautiful pot that the handle had broken off in the last move, so I asked if that could also be included in our Christmas present to ourselves 🙂
Early in the morning, shortly after Christmas, we loaded up the car for the drive to New Orleans, arriving at Zito’s exactly at ten.
Zito’s is in Mid-Town, a part of New Orleans we have never explored. It isn’t hard, it was just out of our comfort zone. Inside Zito’s is a big friendly rescue dog and some fine craftsmen metal workers. We know our pots are in good hands. I loved the way he handled the pots, and we loved looking at some of his recent repairs and polishings. You can see some of the work they have done, including for church vessels, by clicking here:
4421 Banks Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70119
MONDAY – THURSDAY:
6:00 AM – 6:00 PM
6:00 AM – NOON
Across the street is the Wakin’ Bakin’ Cafe, and down the street is one of New Orleans cemeteries with little houses above ground, above the water level:
We are in luck. I don’t know if you’ve been following the weather down here, but we are as rainy as the Pacific Northwest. We normally have winter; Christmas was 79 degrees. Today is cool, and while the skies are not cloudless, the sun is breaking through, and even better, no rain. We are having a wonderful day.
It’s seven in the morning, I’ve fed the cat, made the coffee, fixed some cereal and taken care of first-thing-in-the-morning things so I can sit with my morning Lectionary readings, and as I start, the phone rings. It’s seven. In the morning. I figured it was an emergency grand-child babysit call, but the call is coming from New Orleans, an oh no. I know I need to answer it.
It’s the really nice lady who took care of me on Tuesday, and she says “We were putting together your new passport and we noticed you used the same photo you used on your last passport.”
“Why yes!” I said proudly, “when I had them taken, they gave me two, so I just used the second one.”
Big mistake. They needed a RECENT passport. My never-been-used-shiny-new passport was MONTHS ago and I need to get RECENT photos and send them immediately so they can compete the passport with the right photo.
I think about good old Donald Rumsfeld, with the things you know you know, the things you know you don’t know, the things you don’t know you know (love that one) and then – horrors – the things you don’t know you don’t know.
And then I head down first thing to UPS where the nice people took my photo and sent it off so that they will have it as soon as possible.
And . . . I am wondering what else is out there that I don’t know I don’t know.
On the road by six to make our appointment, every now and then things go just right and you can’t forget to be thankful. The process worked, and I should have my new passport . . . tomorrow! It is such good news I can hardly believe that things could go so smoothly.
And we have time for a really fun stroll through the nearby French Quarter, a drive through the Garden District and lunch at the Abyssinian Cafe; New Orleans has the nearest Ethiopian food to Pensacola.
The Cafe Abyssinia at 3511 Magazine, tucked back behind a shoe repair shop. It has a parking lot for outdoor parking, and outdoor seating for this most comfortable time of the year . . .
And back in Pensacola in time to make my late afternoon meeting! Life is sweet!