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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Very Southern Honeymoon

After working a couple of days at the restaurant,
I was glad to check into our hotel in NOLA

AFTER a big sigh of relief that our wedding was not only a success, but also over, David and I were in sweet anticipation of our upcoming New Orleans getaway.

The view from our room at Hotel Royal,
in the French Quarter

Our third time together in NOLA, David and I had plotted out nearly every eating excursion during the four-day stay. We arrived at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans airport in the early evening, and checked into our room with enough time for an early-evening dinner. Our first NOLA stop (as has been the pattern) was at Mother's Restaurant, located in the central business district (also known as the "CBD").

fried shrimp & oyster po' boy at Mother's Restaurant

Not exactly a "Roman" yet (when in Rome...), I decided to let David do the ordering (although I did decide on a mimosa which I was heavily chastised for--People don't come to New Orleans to drink mimosas!). For our first New Orleans dinner, David chose: (his favorite) turkey ferdi po' boy (turkey po' boy with ham, roast beef, debris and gravy); po' boy special (fried shrimp & oyster po' boy); gumbo; and a side of collard greens. It was an insane amount of food.

At Mother's, David wasted no time

Being a Saturday, David and I designated our first night out in NOLA as a "going out" night. The night was filled with the usual French Quarter shenanigans including hurricanes on Bourbon Street and... more fried shrimp, later that night!

I was swooning over New Orleans' fried shrimp!

SUNDAY morning, I decided to let David sleep in while I eagerly (and patiently) awaited our 1:30 brunch reservation at The Court of Two Sisters. In the meantime, I enjoyed the picturesque bedside view...

our daily view for four days of bliss

Eventually roused from his sleep, David and I made the short trip to The Court of Two Sisters at a 'Sunday stroller's' pace. Upon checking in, we were directed to a second host stand from where we were escorted to the restaurant's inner courtyard at which a "jazz brunch buffet" was taking place. After placing an order with our server for mimosas, David and I made our way to the buffet line...

from an experienced past in "buffeting," I judiciously scanned
all options before making my plate

From the cold buffet I selected: zesty Cajun pasta (only some of the pâté and red onion) and shrimp cocktail; and from the hot buffet: macque chouxveal grillades and gravy, crawfish Louise, duck à l'orange and catfish roulade. For my second helping, I only went back for a modest cup of turtle soup au sherry.

the best turtle soup I've had, to date!

Instantly, I remarked that it was the best duck à l'orange (better than Tout Va Bien's) and best turtle soup (better than Palace Café's) I've ever had! Post-brunch, we returned to the serene space of our room where we recharged for a walk to Bywater.

having the doors and shutters closed made our room the
perfect getaway-within-a-getaway

Being that we were in New Orleans on a bit of an extended stay (our last two visits lasted no more than forty-eight hours), David made plans for us to walk to Bywater, a nearby historic district and home to The Country Club. There, we were able to spend the afternoon relaxing poolside, enjoying mango (myself) and strawberry (David) daiquiris; I even got a taste of The Country Club's house made boudin balls!

café au lait and beignets at Café du Monde

MONDAY morning, David and I finally got around to having a "beignet breakfast" at Café du Monde!

be not fooled--it's the only place in NOLA to eat beignets!

With that major task out of the way, David and I spent our final few days in New Orleans listening to some good jazz (The Spotted Cat Music Club), tasting some out-of-the-way (and out of this world) Vietnamese food (Lilly's Café), checking out the much talked about Cochon, uptown, getting our favorite pralines (Southern Candymakers), trying local muffuletta and even taking the "voodoo tour" to Marie Laveau's grave.

Jackson Square at dusk

OUR final evening in New Orleans was marked for the romantic, quiet dinner for two that we never did get around to having in the days following the wedding. Finding ourselves caught in a regular New Orleans shower, we tucked into Patrick's Bar Vin on Bienville Street (seemingly the only place in the area highlighting champagne as a libation of choice). Being that I had something special tucked away (on ice) back at the hotel, I selected a modest glass of Charles de Fère while we waited for the rain to subside.

a final night's glimpse of the courtyard at
Hotel Royal

Back at the hotel, David and I dressed for our farewell, NOLA dinner--it was my first opportunity to wear my wedding suit since the wedding. Having already had an apéritif at the champagne bar, David planned for some pre-dinner jazz at Preservation Hall (no trip to New Orleans would be complete without a visit). Before heading out the door, I had David wait in the hall while I stowed a bottle of Dom Pérignon 2003 in my bag. (Our concierge recommended Sidney's Wine Cellar for a "really nice bottle of wine." I was very happy to find there what I was looking for.)

wedding-honeymoon shadow box

After the nearly one hour set at Preservation Hall, we headed upriver to Dickie Brennan's Palace Café on Canal Street. David and I have a tradition of going to Palace Café on every New Orleans visit (although on our last visit, it was only for a cocktail), therefore it was the clear choice for our final NOLA dinner. Upon being greeted by our server, I removed the surprise bottle of Dom Pérignon from my bag to which David leant over and whispered, "... you're very bad!" Our server deftly poured out two flutefuls (which, to my surprise, where at the ideal temperature) and at first sip, David noted: ... there's no imperfections. (Unfortunately, I don't have any photos from our dinner at Palace Café. With Dom Pérignon on the table, I didn't want to be fumbling for a camera--sometimes you have to draw the line.)

Palace Café on Canal Street

Again, I let David do (most of) the ordering (after ensuring he'd order turtle soup). Beginning with the soup, our next course consisted of barbecued shrimp and oysters pan roast, poached in rosemary cream with herb breadcrumbs (I was particularly fond of the latter dish). Following, was catfish pecan (which David and I easily agreed upon) and a decadent bleu cheese salad with thick-cut crispy prosciutto, local blueberries and candied pecans. The catfish was one of the best fish dishes I've ever had and we both remarked on how decadent (and delicious) the bleu cheese salad was! If this place existed in New York, the line would be out the door. Following the main course, we simply had to end the meal with bananas Foster (originating at Brennan's in 1951)--prepared tableside from start to finish. It was the perfect ending to a perfect meal and a perfect honeymoon... Until next time, NOLA!
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