Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Ain't no city like New Orleans

"Ain't no city like New Orleans" so wrote the blues singer Earl King of his hometown. It is a place most of us know because of the devastating effects of hurricane Katrina in 2005.  It is also well known for it's music heritage, noteably the earliest style of jazz.  Louis Armstrong was a native of New Orleans and the international airport is named after him.
This brings me to the primary reason for visiting on this occasion ... (not to mention wanting to sample the delights of the French/Cajun/Creole cuisine) The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival!  "The Festival celebrates the indigenous music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana, so the music encompasses every style associated with the city and the state: blues, R&B, gospel music, Cajun music, zydeco, Afro-Caribbean, folk music, Latin, rock, rap music, country music, bluegrass and everything in between. And of course there is lots of jazz, both contemporary and traditional."
With only three days to sample a small slice of the city along with the jazz fest, after a delicious lunch at August, the first afternoon was spent walking along Canal Street to the famous Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. The street is alive with restaurants, bars and strip clubs but relatively quiet during the day. Mardi Gras would be something to see - I think I will need to come back for that! We came across a bar with bras hanging from the ceiling! Apparently if you donate your bra you get a free beer!!  Prior to my trip I was warned by a number of people to be aware of pick pockets but I have to say I never once felt threatened or saw anything of the sort .. the vibe was friendly and inviting.

You cannot leave NO without sampling the beignets and coffee so it was breakfast the next morning from Cafe Du Monde. The Original Cafe Du Monde is a traditional coffee shop. Its menu consists of dark roasted Coffee and Chicory, Beignets, White and Chocolate Milk, and fresh squeezed Orange Juice. The coffee is served Black or Au Lait. Au Lait means that it is mixed half and half with hot milk. Beignets are square French-style doughnuts, lavishly covered with powdered sugar. In 1988 Iced Coffee was introduced to the cafe. Absolutely to die for but if I had those everyday I would be the size of a house!!  Don't expect anything else there .. no eggs and bacon at this cafe!!
Dinners were sampled at Dick and Jenny's .. a fairly casual setting serving Louisiana cuisine .. the corn bread was the best I've ever tasted!!  And Le Foret .. delicious French food in a beautifully renovated building.
The Jazzfest took up the bulk of the weekend and it was a fantastic atmosphere with great local food, culture and music.  Next time I'm coming for both weekends of music and using the days in between to explore NOLA and the surrounding areas more fully!

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