Wednesday, December 10, 2008

NOLA

Last week Rhett and I took our very first "Mommy & Daddy" trip and went to New Orleans for a few days. It was fantastically wonderful. We didn't even turn the radio on for the 5 hour drive from Birmingham. We just talked and talked about politics, theology, the kids . . . you name it. We basically just caught up. It was really nice. We did learn that if you stop to eat in Mississippi and you want to eat in a non-smoking section you have to ask for really non-smoking in order to actually not be seating in an area where you choke on smoke (that is what the hostess at Cracker Barrel told us as she lead us to a really non-smoking table). The other interesting thing on the way down there was the FEMA trailer graveyard somewhere outside of New Orleans. There were THOUSANDS of those white trailers parked on the side of the interstate. It looked like Talladega race weekend times a thousand. I would hate to be the person who had to clean those things out. Anyway, we finally got there and saw this . . .

A beautiful drive across the bridge to the city. We settled into our hotel, The Monteleone, and got ready for a quick glance around the French Quarter and our first of many awesome meals. It was so easy just getting myself ready for a change. I took a really, really long bath and took a really deep breath that has been three years in the making. Ahhh. Relaxation. We went to dinner at a place that was recommended to us by several people who are from or live in New Orleans . . .
From the outside you would think this was a meat and three type establishment but as soon as you walk in you can just tell by the understated elegance that this place is going to be good. We knew when we saw James Carville sitting by the front door when we walked in that we were in a good spot and it did not disappoint. I had lobster and mushroom risotto that was off the charts. Rhett had trout that he said ranked in his top three meals of all time. Can you tell we liked it? We topped everything off with a slice of frozen lemon ice box pie.
Rhett and I love history and interesting tourist destinations. We have learned that when you are in a new place for a very limited amount of time it is usually better to do a tour than just walk around and try to manage on your own. We did not sign up for a bus tour and follow around some lady holding an umbrella but we did find some cool walking tours that we took advantage of. One was of the Garden District and one of the cemeteries. It was lead by a cultural anthropologist who knew so much about the rich history of the area. We really enjoyed it. The houses were beautiful but I really enjoyed the cemetery part of the tour. I've wanted to go on one since I saw Double Jeopardy a long time ago. It turns out that scene in the movie was filmed in this very cemetery! There was a huge infectious disease component to the history of the city. Rhett and I both thought it was interesting to hear about that. Lesson learned: yellow fever . . . very bad. Not a way I'd choose to go.

Anyway, after a street car ride down St. Charles Ave. our day was complete and we got ready for our next big meal at a French restaurant called Restaurant August. It was very fancy and very French. We enjoyed being somewhere that was so outside of our normal life. I thought it was funny when as we sit in this fancy-smancy French resturant munching on freshly baked bread Rhett looked at me and said, "What does it say about me that the best bread I've had this week was at the Olive Garden?". (You have to admit those freshly defrosted breadsticks are yummy!). The thing with French restaurants is when reading the menu they will have me except for one ingredient that I'm just not sure about. Like it all sounds good except for the goose liver or braised pork belly or roasted marrow. Not exactly the type of establishment where you can ask to leave things off (wouldn't want to offend the chef) so you just have to go with it and not think about it. I had speckled trout prepared three different ways that was fantastic and Rhett had lamb. It was a fun night for us.
The next morning we went to Cafe du Monde and had bingets, freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee for Rhett and hot chocolate for me. YUM! A great substitute for Krispy Kreme! I loved sitting outside and sipping my hot chocolate watching the sights of the city around us. We then went on a walking tour of the French Quarter. A lovely older French woman lead the tour (just us and a lady from Ireland) her accent really added to the ambiance of walking through the quarter and stopping in the beautiful courtyards. We grabbed a po boy for a late lunch and then hit the road back to Birmingham.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first day in 3 years that I haven't changed a diaper and all of the uninterrupted adult conversations that Rhett and I were able to have. It was a great belated celebration of our first 5 years of marriage. We are looking forward to another trip to New Orleans sooner rather than later. I really fell in love with the city - the culture, food and history. It is a real gem. I was reminded of Haiti several times with the architecture in the French quarter. It felt familiar. This may be the last time we have Mommy/Daddy time for a while so it was really special.
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2 comments:

Shanan said...

Thank you for sharing your trip with us! It sounds like you had a wonderful time. Mommy/Daddy time is so important and it is nice to have those uninterupted conversations! Cole has now learned that if he puts his head in the way of my line-of-sight to Shannon, he gets some kind of attention. Sneaky little kids. And although the away time is nice, it's always good to come home to children who run into your arms the moment they see you. Happy Anniversary! Now it's time to plan Cole's 3rd birthday party...wow.

Stacy said...

August is my fave restaurant in NOLA - we ate there in the spring, and it was most delightful! Love Mommy/Daddy time as well - we still have many months left before we can take that kind of trip again...glad you and Rhett had fun - you deserve it!