We learned that we were getting a Chevy Impala to test drive for a week, and did what any sane, reasonable people would do: We took it on a last minute excursion to New Orleans, during what turned out to be Jazz Fest. (We seriously didn’t realize that Jazz Fest, the SXSW of New Orleans, was going on.) We originally thought we could get away with using Hotel Tonight to book something last-minute, but with the festival weekend in full swing, that just wasn’t an option. We sent a few panicked messages to AirBnB hosts located in the Crescent City, and set off praying that we’d get a response before we arrived.
I have to say, I was impressed with the car. With safety sensors alerting my partner every time he veered too close to another lane, I was relieved of what I consider to be my sworn duty to bicker at him when his driving is less than perfect. (Thanks, Impala! You do all the backseat driving for me!)
Our last-minute host, an Irish artist that lived near the cemeteries on a street car line, was wonderful. We did fork over a fortune for the room, but the convenient location and “from another time” charm of the aging house made it worth it. Let’s be honest though, I came to the city to eat (and freely drink in the streets), and wasted no time between throwing my bags down and sprinting to the nearest French Quarter-bound transportation.
After a few “go cups” of vodka, and about an hour of wandering tourist-strewn streets, we stopped for oysters, oysters, and then more oysters. The Quarter was in some ways smaller than I expected (easily navigated within a few hours), but also larger than I expected (far more massive and interesting than 6th Street). We did spot the famous Acme Oyster House, and beat the lines by hopping in just after 4:30. At that particular stop we went with raw oysters, but after spotting someone else’s melty-cheesy-buttery spread of grilled oysters, I made sure that the next stop would include an order of those instead.
I’m always a sucker for deals, and saw that the Yelp app offered a free appetizer at a nearby place called Royal House. We climbed the steps to sit on the edge of their balcony, and ate the most incredible crab claw dish whilst watching people in wedding dresses pose for photographers on the street below. I don’t know what was in their sauce, but I drank it.
…And I drank more than my fair share of wine too. We left the Quarter for the Bywater area. I’m friends with quite a few food writers, and I was threatened within an inch of my life to, “Eat in the Bywater area or else! Doesn’t matter where. All restaurants are amazing there!” I found a place called Bacchanal that had wine, cheese, food, a massive patio, and live music. The selections were perfect, the restaurant had the most pleasant vibe, and I almost felt like I was home in Austin with the band playing. Be warned though, it is cash only for the most part. It was there that I met some locals that shared their cheese plate with us, and invited us to a nude bar. You read that last sentence right.
So we went. (You read that sentence correctly as well.) The Country Club was more than a bar, it was a clothing-optional pool, hot tub, and restaurant. My partner and I are far from wild and crazy, well at least he’s far from it, and there we were… Getting naked under the stars with every shape, size, age, and variety of stranger to go swimming in the middle of the night in New Orleans. I hear the brunch there is fantastic, but I can’t imagine that much nudity in broad daylight over pancakes. It was certainly an out of the ordinary experience, and I’m glad we met the people that invited us, because that experience would have never happened in a million years otherwise.
They brought us home wet and drunk. We slept for a few hours, and packed our things so that we could catch a quick brunch or two before heading off. I also had a secret pit stop in mind for my British partner: I wanted him to try boudin, because I grew up Cajun (little known fact), and if he wasn’t eating crawfish or frog legs on this trip, he was going to get at least one, “weird” Cajun food. I took him to Cochon Butcher, in the Central Business district. I had seen the reviews, and heard the praise for this place, so I knew we would be in good hands. In our typical fashion, he ate the meat, and I ordered Champagne. (Or was it Cava? It was probably Cava.)
Knowing that our “24 hours in New Orleans” trip was soon ending, we decided to venture to a new neighborhood, and find another place loved by Crescent City locals: Atchafalaya. We parked a few blocks away, and wandered through sidewalks that wrapped around cute houses with booming flower gardens.
As expected, the place was packed. We decided to wait outside for our table with mimosas in hand. The food passing us by on plates in the hands of busy waiters looked incredible, but we didn’t get to sit down. The wait simply became too much with our last minutes in New Orleans remaining, so we left. We walked through the neighborhood; my partner calmly taking in the sites while I weaved in and out of businesses for more of those wonderful vodka “go cups.”