Our recent trip to New Orleans was gray, misty, and overcast. After a wonderful eggs benedict breakfast at the Ruby Slipper on Magazine Street (www.therubyslippercafe.net), we went for a walk around the French Quarter. The buildings were cloaked in a gray damp fog that cast an eerie feeling over the city. It would have been a great day for one of the cemetery tours, but we will leave that for another visit.
A few times a year we head over to NOLA to visit Larry’s son Sean, his wife Heather, and their eight-year old daughter Riley, whom we had just picked up from a sleepover and she still had on her unicorn onesie from the party. But hey, it’s Mardi Gras time in NOLA and costumes are always optional.
With each trip to New Orleans, we try to do something new or different. This time we visited The Music Box Village (www.musicboxvillage.com). It is a unique artist-built sculpture garden where each of the artist-built interactive “music houses” creates distinct notes, sounds — music. Each house has a name and the visitors can experience the creation of their own music. There are drums, horns, chimes, xylophones and when they are all playing together, it is a wild, joyous cacophony of sound. One of the favorites is the Chateau Poulet where you pull on ropes that unleash sonic fans creating a high-pitched whine; the longer you pull and hold down the ropes, the faster the fans spin. One of Riley’s favorites was the Inter-Relational Messages and Patterns – a drum set that created sounds from the bass drum to bongos. The Bower’s Nest featured an interesting collection of chimes. One of my favorites was the horns where you pull on levers to create mellow tones. There’s even a phone booth – remember those?
Check the website for their public hours and performances. The day we visited, there was a pop-up food vendor and a refreshment bar. The spiked cider was warming and they were generous with the bourbon. Admission is $12.00; locals and kids 5-18 are free or donations. The Music Box Village is located in the Bywater neighborhood where Rampart ends at the levee. One tip – if you have a headache, you might want to save this visit for another day. Just sayin’ — it is noisy and at all different pitches and tones.
We also visited the Chalmette Battlefield, famous for the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815. You know the old song written by Jimmy Driftwood and recorded by Johnny Horton (it was the #1 song in 1959) — “In 1814, we took a little trip along with Colonel Jackson down the Mighty Mississip.” Check out the Visitors Center for lots of information on the battle from the American and British perspectives. (www.nps.gov).
Where we stayed: The Wyndham La Belle Maison on Magazine Street is a beautifully restored historic building that was originally a printing press. The comfortable one bedroom suite had exposed brick walls and a kitchenette.
Where we ate: On Friday evening, we went out to Arabi and joined Sean and Heather and Larry’s brother, Joe, and his wife, Erin, at the Kitchen Table Café (facebook.com/kitchentablearabi or www.kitchentablearabi.com). It’s a casual neighborhood café serving lunch and dinner with the focus on fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. They have daily specials posted on their Facebook page. I had the roast pork tenderloin which was tender and delicious. Larry had the crispy duck special and he cleaned his plate. The chocolate hazelnut semifreddo was an excellent light finish to the meal with enough to share. They are famous for their huge, juicy burgers! Heather says they’re delicious. The Kitchen Table Café is located at 7005 St. Claude Ave in Arabi.
For breakfast, no trip to NOLA is complete without at least one breakfast at The Ruby Slipper, which is conveniently located across the street from the hotel. Their breakfasts are wonderful. The Mimosa and cappuccino for me and coffee and a Bloody Mary for Larry was a great start to an overcast, drizzly Saturday. On Sunday morning, we ate at the Creole House on Canal Street (http://creolehouserestaurant.com). I had an excellent eggs benedict made with an avocado spread on French bread with tomato and the traditional poached eggs and Hollandaise. I will definitely go back there on another trip.
On Saturday, we also stopped into Pirogue’s Whiskey Bayou, (https://www.facebook.com/Pirogues-Whiskey-Bayou-191098534592782/) also on St. Claude across from the Kitchen Table Café. The boiled shrimp quesadilla was excellent. This is a great little neighborhood bar to hang out, have a drink, and meet up with friends.
On Sunday before heading to the Music Box Village, we stopped for lunch at Bratz, Y’all. (www.bratzyall.com) a new bistro, bakery, and biergarten on Piety Street. Larry and I split a chicken NOLA schnitzel on a muffuletta bun. Delicious. Riley’s kids meal chicken schnitzel fingers were crispy and made with real pieces of chicken, not ground up meat breaded and fried. They serve German beers and wines. We got an apple strudel and a small King Cake pretzel to take home. Both were delicious. The King Cake pretzel was a new experience for me. It was split and had a delicious cream filling. It was iced and covered with green and purple sprinkles for Mardi Gras. A real treat, but I forgot to take a picture.
So much for this trip to New Orleans. What are your favorite places to visits in NOLA!
P.S. The day we left, the skies were clear blue.