As I alluded to in the previous post, I spend most of my time in New Orleans in the French Quarter. For me it is a special and sacred space.
While in the French Quarter there so many things I look forward to doing but this list are both mandatory as well as pleasurable.
Bourbon Street is mostly known as the place you go to party especially during Mardi Gras. I have never visited New Orleans during that time of year because I think it is too experience and way too crowded. The small, often cobblestone streets of the French Quarter are better when you have space to walk around and enjoy the sights. It is New Orleans’ answer to Austin’s Dirty 6th Street (http://bit.ly/2hxZKue).
Bad reputation aside, Bourbon Street isn't just one long block of drinking, although it can be if thats what you are looking for. Sure there are some strip clubs and less classy establishments but there are also karaoke bars, great restaurants, and places to get beads without any indecency. No matter what type of music you are into there is no doubt a venue dedicated to playing it.
Bourbon Street is also the ideal place to get a big ass beer and drink it too.
Speaking of hearing great music, if you want to stick with Jazz and hearing local musicians Preservation Hall is the place to be. It opened back in the 1960s and is as popular as ever.
I went only once long ago but be ware the hall is small and gets real crowded real fast. There are only a handful of seats in the front so you want to get on line well before the doors open to ensure you get in and have a seat or spot to stand. Tickets are fifteen dollars, cash only. Most nights there are three shows, seven days a week. Nowadays you can reserve so called “Big Shot” tickets which are anywhere from thirty-five to fifty dollars a piece on their website.
There are certain people I travel with (a.k.a. my mother) who like to gamble whenever the opportunity presents itself. New Orleans is one such location.
Harrah’s Casino is located in the New Orleans Hotel that borders the French Quarter and the Central Business Street District. I think it is a bit to far from where I like to stay to walk, especially at night, but a cab will take more time because of traffic.
I have not been here but I hear it was a fun place to visit. I am also told it is a medium sized venue in between the size of the casino I visited in Newport, Rhode Island (http://bit.ly/2qGGEoD) and Rivers Casino (http://bit.ly/2wjSpUd) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
For anyone who has traveled to San Francisco and like myself lived to tell about a ride you took on their cable cars you should know the street cars of New Orleans are a lot less threatening.
Street cars are a great and cheap way to get around the city. There are numerous lines and continually go in both directions.
I love the Garden District because of all of the old, big, beautiful Victorian homes there that I dream of owning. It is also the area where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had lived, so you get the proper image in your mind’s eye.
I was determined to take a street car there and back simply for the views. You can get this line on Canal Street. Hands down it was the easiest, cleanest, best mode of public transportation I have ever used.
As I mentioned last time, New Orleans draws all types of folks but those who love words and live to write them often make this their home, if only for a little while.
Two of the greatest authors of all time, Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote have both made their mark here.
Tennessee William’s lived in the French Quarter when he wrote his best seller; “A Street Car Named Desire”. His address at that time was 632 St. Peter Street.
Truman Capote has a special place in my heart. I am a great fan of his work especially “In Cold Blood” and I am fascinated that he grew up with Harper Lee. For a period of time Truman once also resided in Brooklyn and I have passed by the place he called home there. He lived in the basement of a townhouse and it is where he wrote “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (http://bit.ly/2gqTfcB). I also saw a rare personal photo shoot from that time period that was recently displayed at the Brooklyn Historical Society (http://bit.ly/2wUahGV).
While in New Orleans Truman Capote once lived at 623 Bourbon Street. He returned to New Orleans many times over the course of his life while working on numerous projects.
As I walk around the French Quarter there are a handful of small shops that I love in step in and out of. They are either food related or sell local handmade goods that “need” a place in my home.
Aunt Sally’s Pralines make and sell sweet treats. They are caramel candies with pecans in them. There are other varieties as well but the original are my favorite. You can buy them in a prepackaged box to take home and get some fresh out of the oven to eat right away - and that is the best way!
Evan’s Creole Candy Factory and Southern Candy Makers are additional places where I buy coffee and other candies, like fresh fudge, to bring home with me.
This is not unlike when I was in Essex, Connecticut (http://bit.ly/2upqB13) near the Griswold Inn, or in City Market in Savannah, Georgia (http://bit.ly/2wq68aG).
After all, once a trip is over I need more than just photos to remind me of beloved places. I need the tastes as well.
Lastly, my favorite store in all of the French Quarter is The Christmas Shop. It sells holiday decorations all year round and has some items I have only seen in my great aunt’s house when I was little. They have the best of old and new treasures. There are more than enough ornaments, Santa Clauses, trees, etc., for you to comb through. If you can walk out without buying anything you have a stronger will than I. The only other city where I found Christmas items I had to bring home was also found in Savannah, Georgia (http://bit.ly/2gkSP3C).
Central Grocery is known for one thing and one thing only: the muffuletta sandwich!! Sure it is a home grown store where you can get any kind of fresh sandwich made to your liking as well as purchase some other Italian products like pasta and aged cheese. But the muffulettas are what drove most people here.
The muffuletta sandwich can be found on practically menu in New Orleans but this is the place where it was born in 1906, the brainchild of Sicilian store owner Salvatore Lupo.
So this is why you have to have it here.
A muffuletta is an Italian sandwich served on a sesame seed roll or loaf of bread, containing layers of mortadella, salami, ham, mozzarella and provolone cheeses, and a special marinated olive salad.
It is certainly a unique blend of favors and not something I could indulge in every day. Most of those cold cuts wouldn't be my first choice for a sandwich but that olive salad is good on anything or even eaten right out of the jar. The sandwich is fulling and usually a half of one is enough to satisfy my craving. I have to always make sure to have room for a beignet.
If you can't get there any time soon you can order both the olive salad and muffeletta online and have it delivered to your door.
Just like Hotel Monteleone this store remains very much a family business.
I am purposefully leaving you all salivating over muffulettas as my next post will address of all the very delicious foods and beverages that are musts when in New Orleans.
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