Our host, Eric, had to go in to work for a few hours on Saturday morning, so we hopped in our Tracker and headed out east to The French Quarter in New Orleans. I had been there many years ago, but this time with GPS and our host's recommendations, we were able to really pinpoint the things we wanted to see. (plus I was with my darling Steveio, a much better exploring companion)
We found our way right to the parking area we were hoping to find a spot so we would be near the French Quarter. Yup... an empty spot in the lot 3 spaces in from the gate! The first thing we walked by were the carriages for hire, all with mules and not horses? I wonder why?
Artists lined the gates around the Andrew Jackson square. We saw interesting stuff, and some bizarre stuff, but nothing that we would consider having in our home.
We really enjoyed the "people watching" and wandered among the displays and vendors. All round the park borders the artists were either creating more works of art, or gently talking to others... nobody bothered us or hawked their wares like some places we have been. This was very nice.
Steve and I strolled arm and arm around inside of the park too, ringing the statue on the beautiful cobble stones. It was such a nice romantic space in the middle of a very large city. Just as it started to rain, we decided to go for lunch.
Our food was served quickly and soon I had my MUFFULETTA!
(Steve ordered Jambalaya)
Wanna know what is in a MUFFULETTA?(from WIKIPEDIA)
The muffuletta sandwich has its origins at the Central Grocery in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
According to Marie Lupo Tusa, daughter of the Central Grocery's founder, it was born when Sicilian farmers selling their produce at the nearby Farmers' Market would come into her father's grocery for lunch and order some salami, ham, cheese, olive salad, and either long braided Italian bread or a round muffuletta loaf. In typical Sicilian fashion they ate everything separately sitting on crates or barrels while precariously balancing their meals on their knees. Her father suggested cutting the bread and putting everything on it like a sandwich, even if it was not typical Sicilian fashion. The thicker braided Italian bread proved too hard to bite and the softer round muffuletta loaf won out. Shortly, farmers came to merely ask for a "muffuletta" for their lunch
A traditional style muffuletta sandwich consists of a muffuletta loaf split horizontally and covered with layers of marinated olive salad, capicola, mortadella, salami, pepperoni, ham, Swiss cheese and provolone. The sandwich is sometimes heated to soften the provolone. Quarter, half, and full-sized muffulettas are sold.
The signature olive salad consists of olives diced with the celery, cauliflower and carrot found in a jar of giardiniera, seasoned withoregano and garlic, covered in olive oil, and allowed to combine for at least 24 hours.
I could only eat half of it, so we carried the other half around in our backpack for the rest of the day! We wandered up and down the streets of the French Quarter, admiring the buildings, peeking in some of the shops, and watching the people. We wandered into some of the residential areas too.
We stood there, just wondering about the history of some of these buildings, who owned them, how many families passed through their doors. The colors were amazing and even in the dark rain soaked streets, we found history and engineering and flavor of the area.
Back into the business district areas, we imagined the crazy scenes of many, many people jammed in the streets during Mardi Gras. We even saw some leftover beads hanging from spikes up high here and there that had been thrown to the throngs of crowds as the floats went by.
We peeked behind some of the gates of inner courtyards and peaceful sections of the town. Though I would imagine on Mardi Gras, there is not a quiet spot to be found. It's amazing how trees can grow when sandwiched in between the buildings. Birds were all over, even in the restaurant we were eating in. The multiple door panels in restaurants lined along the buildings are opened wide, and the birds come in and hop around on the floor, looking for crumbs....
We found our way to Bourbon Street... it was too early in the day for a drink, but I did manage to stop in a kitschy shop and buy a Tshirt! The neon lights during the daylight looked strange and surreal. Some of the bars had bands playing and plenty of patrons already inside getting rowdy on a Saturday afternoon.
We found ourselves thinking we needed to get some pralines---- another thing on our list. So we wandered along and found this shop----- Called Southern Candymakers. While Steve was at the counter ordering up some goodies.. our phone rang. It was our host, Eric. We asked him if he needed anything from "The Quarter" and he said hmmm could we pick up some pralines? And he said the BEST place to get them was... ummm you guessed it! Southern Candymakers! hahahaha and we were right at the counter ready to make a purchase.!
Praline can refer to confections made from nuts and sugar syrup, whether in whole pieces or a ground powder, or to any chocolate cookie containing the ground powder or nuts. French pralines are a combination of almonds and caramelized sugar. American pralines such as ones from New Orleans also contain milk or cream and are therefore softer and creamier, resembling fudge.
We added some salt water taffy and New Orleans Creme Brulee coffee beans to our sack. I think this was a much better purchase than sitting in a bar on Bourbon Street and getting toasted.
Eric was done with his work, so we headed on back to his house. The guys had some motorhome projects to work on, between both motorhomes. Being only a year apart, many of the items are the same. Eric even gave us a cool door bell/alarm unit to put on our rig. I will do a blog post about it later when I install it. They fiddled and futzed around with all their tools and toys.
Later in the evening, we tossed some of our good Wisconsin tenderloin steaks on the grill. (thanks to Paula and Mel!) Eric had made up a batch of seafood gumbo and a pot of rice. Oh my... when is this New Orleans eating is going to end? What a great way to wind up a great day!
We sat out late on the patio with the mild evening air... not even jackets on! Little Annie and Jackie kept making the rounds, looking for something good to nibble on. Our host, Eric was so kind to have us moochdock in his yard. Sure wish his wife, Cathy had been able to be there too.
The conversation wound down about 11 pm and we toddled off to bed.
Whew.. what a day!
But wait till you read the next blog
and see what we did on Sunday!!!