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I love New Orleans, have you been? Honestly- it’s a city that you should experience for Mardi Gras and come back to experience the sights and sounds of this vibrant city when things are a bit more calm. It’s been 10 years since Katrina kit- and I think President Obama’s recent remarks summed it up best:
“That’s the story of New Orleans…a city that, for almost 300 years, has been the gateway to America’s soul. Where the jazz makes you cry, the funerals make you dance, the bayou makes you believe all kinds of things. A place that has always brought together people of all races and religions and languages. And everybody adds their culture and their flavor into this city’s gumbo. You remind our nation that for all of our differences, in the end, what matters is we’re all in the same boat. We all share a similar destiny.” —President Obama
Yup. See? This is why I’m not president, he’s way better at describing this amazing place. When we got to the home of Mardi Gras and delicious gumbo, we had already been traveling for 2.5 weeks and wanted to spend our last 3 days out of state with one really good tour, to wrap up the travels throughout the south.
We got to meander a bit through New Orleans on our own, then met up for my big birthday bash- the Doctor Gumbo Cocktail and Food Combo Tour.
Honestly, I love tours and wanted to book a really good one for my birthday. I could spend the whole afternoon going from place to place, but having a tour guide bringing us to his favorite spots helped us save time and money on a very short trip to New Orleans.
I love eating and sipping my way through a city, and for our tour with Doctor Gumbo, a New Orleans native and all around cool dude, we met up at SoBou for our first round of food and drink:
Brandy Crusta and a Taylor Bird Sauzerac
We also hit up Leah’s Pralines, Little Vic’s, NOLA Poboys, Tujague’s, a local hot sauce bar, and finally Tableau on our grand tour of New Orleans…enjoying bites and sips along the way!
Do you know the origin of the Poboy? I’ve been told that in the late 1920’s, the Streetcar Union of New Orleans went on strike, leaving many men with little money to eat with. Two brothers who owned a local restaurant were former streetcar operators, and decided to help their friends on the picket line. They fed their friends sandwiches made of one pound loaves of French Bread cut into three and filled them with ham, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mayo-served free of charge. As the picketing men came into the restaurant, they would say “Here comes another ‘poor boy’”. And so, the po-boy became a part of New Orleans cuisine..and a really yummy sandwich- weather you’re “po” or not.
The grasshopper… minty, creamy deliciousness. Recipe here, I want to make one!
If you’re in New Orleans, you can stop in one of the many spice and sauce stores that are around the French Quarter. With plenty of free samples of salsas, jams, and spicy sauces- you’ll be in heaven. We spent our nearly 3 weeks of travel with 1 carryon a piece, so while I wanted to bring some home, I will just have to come back to NOLA for another trip and get some great sauces!
A refreshing French 75 & Mint Julep from Tableau
We then stopped into Tableau, which is a newer spot, with delicious gumbo and gorgeous hand lettering on the walls…
We had a blast on the tour, and it was worth every penny- we had tons of cocktails and lots of good food with local stories. In an afternoon, we felt like we really got to experience of course, afterwards, we still managed to make room for some Cafe DuMonde beignets and iced coffee for my “birthday cake.” You’ll have to wait in line, but it’s worth it!
During our stay, we also got to stay at the gorgeous and historical Bourbon Orleans Hotel. This hotel is right at the heart of the action- literally, you can see Bourbon Street from the balconies and enjoy the sights and sounds of the infamous street and all the fun.
Our room was two stories- part of a converted ballroom that made the layout really fun and interesting. After entering the main area with a couch, sink and access to the balcony, you’d go up a winding staircase to the second floor of the room where the bathoom and bed were located.
It was really a cool room- especially knowing that the history of the place was where some amazing parties and dances must have been held! Plus, it’s rumored that the Bourbon Orleans is haunted– though we didn’t see any ghosts during our stay.
Complimentary waters were in the room, and after a call from my travel buddy, they put some wonderful champagne in the room as a birthday surprise. Every morning, you could get complimentary coffee or tea in the lobby, or infused water in the afternoon. The lobby smelled of stargazer lilies so the amenities matched the prime location- it was really a great way to spend a birthday!
One thing I was really excited about was the bar that’s in the Hotel- the Bourbon “O” Bar. We got complimentary drink tickets to enjoy a beverage, but I had to try the absinthe, they had a really cool french contraption in which to enjoy it the way it should be enjoyed- with a slow drip of ice water to dillute the absinthe and make it drinkable. Basically, absinthe is a licorice flavored liquor that’s just mixed with a slow drip of ice water over a sugar cube on a slotted spoon. Also, it’s delicious.
Also, pickled okra is beyond amazing. If bloody marys came with pickled okra in Chicago, I would drink them regularly!
Having a birthday in New Orleans was beyond awesome. Doing a food tour and staying at the historic Bourbon Orleans Hotel gave us two really awesome days of exploring the city- hearing the jazz and enjoying a few really yummy cocktails. I have yet to experience Mardi Gras, but totally want to go back- if the city was this much fun during the muggy summer months, I can only imagine what a party Fat Tuesday would be.
If I could go back anywhere right now, it would be New Orleans- there is so much to see and do there, this was just the tip of the iceberg- the city has an art scene I’d like to explore, and some great street musicians as well. One of my favorite acts is Tanya and Dorise…I remember hearing them play during my first visit to NOLA and I’ve been a fan ever since.
NOLA. You should totally go. The city will steal your heart, but be sure to bring comfy, stretchy pants- the food is just that good!
Thank you to the Bourbon Orleans Hotel for hosting us during our stay!aq