New Orleans Day 2 -- Andre Agassi, Good Food, & Local Music

A trip to Nola always requires at least one stop in at Café du Monde for beignets and café au lait.

The Café has been around for over 150 years, orginally serving just coffee. When competition started growing fierce, Café du Monde had to come up with something that would bring customers back time and again. And, that's when the beignet came in.

French in origin, the beignet is basically a fritter that starts with a sweet batter that is cut into squares and deep-fried, and then topped with mounds upon mounds of powered sugar … much of which ends up on the ground. Excellent place to people-watch.

Day 2 was "culture" and oh-my-god-there's-Andre-Agassi day. First I will show you the trunk … He was amazingly attractive … and here, he looks like he's talking to me, doesn't he?

Okay, so we had some learnin' that day, too. We visited the Historic New Orleans Collection and went through the exhibit "What's Cooking in New Orleans?" We learned that gumbo originated as a Bantu word, and that filé is made from sassafras leaves.

We also toured the 1850 House, located on St. Ann (next to Jackson Square). Many of the buildings around Jackson Square were developed and then rented out as retail and family townhouses by the Baroness Pontalba.

You follow a short self-guided tour, getting an upclose look at period furnishings and a close idea of what life was like in the mid-1800s. You also see the big differences between the owners' and the hired help/slaves' living areas.

Based on a recommendation from a local, we found Café Amelie tucked in behind an iron archway at 912 Royal Street.

This was a really wonderful little oasis hidden away. With a trickling fountain and a nice lunch menu, Café Amelie was the perfect place to take a mid-day break, and I would highly recommend it for lunch. The menu offers a nice selection of seafood, salads, and a dab of champagne if you're in the mood.

Café Amelie is located in the very historic courtyard of the Princess of Manaco Carriage House & Courtyard. During the 1830s-1850s, a series of townhouses, a carriage house, and the courtyard were built off Royal Street. Here's a touch of interesting history about the family that built and owned this courtyard.

Much of the afternoon was spent dreaming about Andre Agassi's tush, whom we spotted as we were wandering down Royal Street looking for a fancy antique necklace Kathryn had remembered from the day before. Sarah was the master of secrecy as she snapped a few photos of Agassi's backside.

Aside from this exciting event, we wandered the side streets of the French Quarter taking photographs of musicans and artists selling their wares, and stopping in at the many galleries, shops, and antique stores throughout.

As we headed into the evening, we were excited about our dinner reservations at Irene's Cuisine! New Orleans is full of excellent restaurants that run the gamut from humble red beans and rice to haute cuisine. Whatever your budget or "scene" you're going for, you will certainly always find good service and good food.

Irene's was one of those places where reviews varied. Some said it was much ado, while others said it was the one restaurant they dined at every time they were in Nola.

With flickering candles and flowers on each small table, and walls plastered with framed photos, Irene's was just the kind of place I knew we'd love. Being the smart ladies we were, we had made reservations, so we didn't have to wait. (Irene's does, though, have a special waiting room. It's in the back and offers a piano player and drink menu.)

We got a corner table in the front room and a warm, friendly, and knowledgeable waiter. I ended up ordering two appetizers for my entrée (crab gratin and deliciously stuffed ravioli), while Sarah ordered the crab cakes and Kathryn had a fish dish with whipped sweet potatoes. We shared a slice of simple cheescake for dessert, and even Kathryn who doesn't "do" cheesecake said it was good enough to almost make her a convert.

After dinner, we were off to Faubourg Marginy, a section of neighborhoods that border the French Quarter. Full of cafes and more specifically, live music locales, this area was definitely more full of locals than tourists. Interestingly, Sarah had picked up an issue of Travel + Leisure at the airport because there was an article about New Orleans. Once we read the following, we thought, "Wow, we've got to check this place out!" …. [There are still places like The Spotted Cat, a bare-bones bar in the Marigny that could have been dropped in from 1933. There’s no PA, no amplification at all, and no spotlights per se—just a dim yellow bulb above the stage, a worn patch of floorboards beside the front door. The door stays open all night to the breeze, and passersby gather on the sidewalk to listen to the band. Travel + Leisure]

We weren't disappointed! The Spotted Cat has just a small, carved wooden sign hanging out front and great music coming out the door. We nabbed a few seats (not easy), and settled in for a few hours. We heard two bands, one of which was Washboard Chaz Blues. Chaz sang vocals and played a washboard, and was accompanied by a guitarist and harmonica player. It was great way to end off the evening.

Back to Main New Orleans Page / Or go to Day 3


Lynette said...

The ABC's of New Orleans--Andre, beignets and Cafe du Monde. Yummy all around. Your second days rocks, just like the first one.

Mohamed said...

I almost fell on the floor laughing at the Agassi photo.
Love your blog!! Keep flying, Oiseau!


(oh, and NOLA rules. Went there a year or so ago, and I loved it!!)

Waldo Oiseau said...

I must admit, it was surreal and so cool to see Agassi in the flesh. Ah, the flesh. Just kidding. All I can say, is that while I never had a thing for him, I was astonished to how attractive he was in person.

Waldo Oiseau said...

I must admit, it was surreal and so cool to see Agassi in the flesh. Ah, the flesh. Just kidding. All I can say, is that while I never had a thing for him, I was astonished to how attractive he was in person.