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Saturday 16 August 2008

Vieux Carré

An unusual set of circumstances came together last night and found us in the French Quarter. It was a good time. It's crab season there, and they're having a great crab season.

We started out at Dickie Brennan's Palace Cafe, a beautiful restaurant with a decor that just screams "New Orleans". We had the artichoke and oyster soup, the andouille and chicken gumbo, and their crabcake cheesecake, which was pretty much just what it sounds like. We can definitely recommend this place; it's right on Canal Street.

Then it was off to the famous Acme Oyster House. You simply cannot leave New Orleans without an oyster. No raw oysters for us, thank you (this is a month without an "R"), but a platter of them grilled with garlic and butter and romano sure hit the spot. Check out their "OysterCam". We sat at the far end of the bar you see there, although we don't recall being notified at the time that our image was being broadcast across the internet.

After that, we went to Deanie's Seafood on Iberville Street for a Bucktown Bloody Mary and their crab quartet: fried crab claws, a whole fried soft shell crab, crabmeat au gratin, and a stuffed crab. Instead of bread, they bring you new potatoes that have been boiled in crab boil to munch on while you wait.

By this time we were sufficiently fortified to tackle Bourbon Street. I had barely gone two blocks when I was stopped at Bienville Street and cited for not partying hard enough. This entailed a ten dollar "fine", actually a donation to a local food bank, but the "officer" did give me a nice cap with "New Orleans" and a fleur-de-lis embroidered on it. CVH got a pink version.

Thus firmly established in our tourist ware, we continued down Bourbon until we saw the Olympics playing at Beerfest I, where we had a Warsteiner and a Shiner Bock while watching the track and field competition. When the commercials started up, we headed on down the street, listening to several bands. We finally ended up going into a club where five guys were doing a Motown Revue before a small crowd of middle aged white people. We fit right in.

Then on the way back to the hotel, we enjoyed a group of teenage street musicians doing their arrangement of "Grazing in the Grass". That was real New Orleans.

I realized the next day that I didn't have my nice cap anymore. Well, if you visit the French Quarter and don't lose at least one piece of clothing, then you just weren't enjoying yourself enough.

This morning we got up and walked around the Quarter, visiting Jackson square, the riverfront, and several shops, and then it was off (capless) to the Court of Two Sisters for their Jazz Brunch. We enjoyed a shrimp Creole omelet, fresh boiled shrimp and crawfish (the crawfish, being out of season, were small, but the shrimp were good), zesty Cajun pasta, sweet potato with andouille sausage (I think that was my favorite), crawfish and spinach pasta, ceviche, country pâté, gouda, veal grillades and gravy over grits (the grits were made with something (heavy cream?) that CVH felt would be illegal outside of New Orleans), king cake, bananas Foster (mmm - on fresh homemade ice cream), and bread pudding. Everything was superb, except perhaps for the bread pudding - I like Louisville's Oakroom bread pudding better, because here they put in about a case of bourbon.

Friday 15 August 2008

Come fly, come fly away

We had to enter the once exciting, but now more often dreaded, arena of commercial aviation this weekend. On the positive side, all our planes took off on schedule, none were cancelled, although I was rather concerned about the last leg home when I saw that the plane was only going to be about one-third full. They must have needed that plane in Louisville, as they put us on and took off just as though we were paying customers.

You may have heard that the Transportation Safety Agency (I laugh everytime I hear that name) decided to try to speed up the airport security checkpoints this summer by having travellers "self-select" themselves into groups depending on how well they understood the current screening procedures. This being Kentucky (all horse, all the time), the lines were indicated by signs that showed a mare and foal (the family line), a trot (the occasional traveller), and a gallop (as a pony express rider - the frequent traveller). We got in the "gallop" line, but it didn't really do much good.

We carried our own luggage, as the airlines charge fifteen to fifty dollars to check bags these days. There is no food on the airplane, not even a bag of peanuts, and water costs you two dollars, so the beverage cart just flies down the aisle, and the flight attendants don't have very much to do anymore other than to check that your seatbelt is fastened.

We changed planes in Charlotte. Charlotte has a huge airport, as it is one of the hubs for US Air (née Allegheny). It can be, as it was for us, a good twenty minute walk (with luggage) from your arrival gate to your connection gate, making you think that there should really be a train, such as there is in Dallas or Houston or Atlanta. But there is not. I think this is because the airport more closely resembles a shopping mall, and the merchants there (Brookstone, Johnston & Murphy, The Body Shop, Harley Davidson, Yadkin Valley Wine Bar, Mindworks, Carolina Beer Company, Wolfgang Puck, etc) would really rather you walk by their stores rather than zip from gate to gate.

Categories: News from Louisville

Sunday 03 August 2008

Hot Fudge Eggplant?

Our little garden has given us some surprises this year. We've learned several new things about plants. Such as basil grows like crazy in the summer, and will reach shrub-like proportions. The yellow squash took off like gangbusters, and so did the cucumbers, but then they both suddenly died out. The broccoli plants keep getting larger and larger, yet still no sign of anything that looks like broccoli. Japanese Beetles (which you don't have down South) are truly a scourge upon the countryside. Our bell pepper plant has produced one mature pepper so far. But the true success stories have been the sweet banana peppers (which, when perfectly fresh, substitute well for green bell peppers), and the eggplant. The eggplants have been coming in at the rate of about one a day, making devising menu plans to deal with them a bit of a challenge. So far we've had fried eggplant, eggplant parmensan, curried eggplant, eggplant pasta sauce, eggplant caponata, moussaka, and spicy chinese eggplant. They've all been delicious, but even though we've started giving them away, I'm still looking for more recipes!

Categories: News from Louisville