Last week, we made it all a reality. P and I enjoyed some extraordinary meals. If you go, make sure you get a table at Ralph's on the Park (across the street from City Park). You need to order their BBQ Shrimp. It’s the best anywhere. Above and beyond the rest was one truly memorable meal at Commander's Palace. I started with a soup sampler of shrimp and okra Louisiana gumbo, their signature turtle soup (finished with aged Spanish sherry), and a shrimp & fennel bisque. That soup sampler was paired with a perfectly balanced glass of wine (a Barolo). My entree was pistachio crusted duck breast over a bed of rice and dried bing cherries. For dessert, Commander’s Palace’s famous bread pudding soufflé and the classic New Orleans coffee with chicory. The whole meal was topped off by our wait captain giving us a tour of the kitchen, wine room, and presenting us with a signed menu from the executive chef.
You can’t spend any quality time in NOLA without hearing great jazz, and we certainly did. Just walking along the street you’re bound to catch some good musician, but the real music neighborhood is Frenchmen Street. It’s hard to find a bad club there. You can wander into The Spotted Cat, d.b.a., Three Muses, and so many more.
We stayed in the Quarter for two nights, and then went to Ashton's, our originally reserved bed and breakfast on Esplanade Street, for the last two nights. The B&B had lost power in Hurricane Isaac, and so we improvised a little. That was a brilliant decision, as it turned out. The Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter was a perfect choice, and along with its legendary history for hosting great writers and artists, it is also home to the Carousel Bar, which rotates. Definitely worth seeing. Most everyone wants to stay in or near the Quarter, and for good reason. However, I'm so glad we spent two nights at Ashton's. The hosts were gracious, and the house is spectacular. Also, the breakfasts are to die for.
Now I get what people have told me for years - there is no place on earth like New Orleans. You can't describe it, you just have to experience it. So yeah, P and I need to return, probably many, many times. I'm hooked now.