We woke up at yet another ridiculous hour thanks to my brother to go and get a spot of breakfast in a famous café. This particular café served up what is known as the best beignets and café au lait. The beignets were worth the incredibly long wait. I had never had anything like them before but everything about them was perfect. They were warm, fried and sweet. The experience was simply brilliant.
The deep-fried bundles of joy with some coffee
My reaction to the beignets
Afterwards, we decided to go on a long walk to burn off the massive calorific intake. We then headed towards the main church and square around the French Quarter.
The main church in the French Quarter
Inside the main church
This was also where we visited the Tabasco store to try some of the unique flavours you only get in this store. Since our luggage was all carry on we couldn’t get any as the bottles were all over 100 ml. After the Tobacco store, we thought we might check out the Voodoo cemetery. According to the guidebooks, this is one of the key places to visit when coming down to New Orleans. Unfortunately, we were unable to visit it as there have placed new restrictions where you have to be with a tour group in order to see the cemetery.
Some of the sights on the French Quarter
The entrance to the Louis Armstrong park
So Nalin and I elected to head back to the Fresh Quarter just to look around more. We also explored the Katrina museum which gave an insight into how the city managed to stay strong and rebuild itself after the huge damage.
More sights from the French Quarter
Soon it was going to be lunch time and we decided to try a local speciality, a Poboy. A Poboy is a type of sandwich which has Creole origins and it is unique due to the type of bread used. The bread is a hearty and crunchy bread which is similar to a baguette. Since Poboys are typically non-veg we had to look far and wide for a place. When we say far and wide we mean look up places using Google.
On the way to the Poboy place, which was in the middle of the French Quarter, I decided to try a local drink called a Hand Grenade. It is named for having a plastic cup that is in the shape of a grenade and because of how quickly the alcohol hits you. It is very tasty and very sweet but to this day, I have no idea how it is made. The recipe is a trade secret but I assume it has sugar syrup, some food colouring and quite literally a tonne of alcohol. The main issue with this drink is that when you realise the alcohol has hit you, it is too late. I also made the mistake of having this on an empty stomach.
Regret in a colourful cup
Soon I stumbled into the Poboy place and waited for a sandwich that turned out be incredibly tasty and filling. The filling was grilled veggies which were full of flavour. I enjoyed it a lot.
Afterwards, despite my protestations about not having another drink, Nalin took me to the Sazerac hotel to have the cocktail named after the hotel's namesake. It is the home of this cocktail so I thought “might as well.” Thankfully it was a fair bit of a walk so I was able to burn off the alcohol I had drank earlier. After a walk in the surprisingly hot winter Louisiana sun, we soon arrived at the bar to some well-deserved air-conditioning. I decided to order the famous cocktail while Nalin ordered a different cocktail. The drink wasn’t what I was expecting but it had the two characteristics I like in a good cocktail, strong feel and smooth aftertaste.
The famous Sazerac cocktail
After the boozy tour and admiring the famous New Orleans streetcars, none of whom were named Desire, I decided to take a nap to sleep off the booze and my god it was the best nap of my life.
After around three hours it was soon evening and because it was winter the sun already started to set. We were going to be meeting Nalins friend Claire. At the time she was in her final year at Tulane but as of May 2016, she is now a graduate of the university. She had offered to show us around her town. I was thrilled when she said she would take us to the non-touristy sites in the city. She first took us to a bar which was near the French Quarter. This bar is famous for having a rotating counter. We spent most of the time trying to the find seats as there were so many people taking up tables. We had a constant snare against a woman who was hogging a four-person table all to herself. Thankfully a very kind elderly couple were leaving and kindly offered their table to us. I decided to get myself a Vesper Martini while the others settled on their own unique cocktails. We spent some of the time in this place getting to know one another.
After drinks, we headed towards a cheese shop which served up an amazing mac and cheese. It just so happened to be close to the start-up tech firm where Claire was interning as a coder. The taste and texture of this mac and cheese were amazing, the guys at Beecher's in Seattle have competition down in NOLA. Afterwards, we crossed the street where we went to a wine bar where you get to try different wines and pay for it all in the end after using a card. The system works similar to the restaurant Marche where they give you a card, you buy all the items using the card and are charged in the end. I ended up sampling a whole, variety of red wines including an Italian Amarone which was sublime. Afterwards, we trying to think of places to go.
One of the reasons I wanted to come to New Orleans was to see live music and thankfully Claire knew of a brass band called the Brass-o-holics who were playing a bar called Tipitina's, just 10 minutes away by drive. We soon hurried on over there to be able to get a good place to see the band. It was here where I tried my first shot of Fireball whisky, a product which was banned in Europe for containing traces of anti-freeze. Naturally, I downed the thing in one quick shot. To my surprise, it was better than I thought, had a strong taste of cinnamon. After my dance with anti-freeze, it was time for tonight’s entertainment to start. The band came on with a loud bright number to get the audience going. The tempo did not drop for one second it was incredibly exciting.
The incredibly talented Brass-a-holics
After about an hour and a half, we decided to rest for the evening. Claire agreed to meet us again tomorrow after breakfast to show around some quieter parts of the city and her university. We bid farewell for the night and had a good rest for tomorrow.