New city, new food, New Orleans

It’s hard not to love a city that teems with life around every corner. Live music and dancing entertains passers-by, old world architecture is enhanced with fresh flowers in window boxes, colorful art lines streets, and colorful locals add their own spicy flavor to the mix.

New Orleans lives up to all expectations of a city that loves to party. Bourbon Street is closed off to vehicles at night to accommodate the heavy pedestrian traffic that travel from bar to bar. Some even take the party to the street, drinks in hand. It’s a blur of neon colored lights, beads, and beverages. A combination one may or may not forget.

Besides the liveliness and libations, New Orleans knows how to eat. Gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish, po-boys, bread pudding, I could go on, but then I’d have to pause to have a snack. Cajun and Creole cooking is king, but they’re also not picky about what goes into the pot. “If you can catch it, you can cook it” is the motto of some, but after enjoying some alligator sausage, I’m sure they can make anything taste good.

One of the best ways to get to know New Orleans, is to learn about its history through its food. At the New Orleans School of Cooking, not only can you cook and eat, but you learn about why certain foods are synonymous with the area and gain a deeper appreciation for the culture. Of course, there’s a shop where you can take some of that culinary culture home with you.

After all that eating, you can dance it off with some good ole fashion foot stomping, knee slapping tunes. There are many places to hear jazz in New Orleans, but Preservation Hall seems to be the most authentic for those who truly appreciate jazz in its simplest form. The hall itself can fit just over 100 people, and with three rows of seats, most of it is standing room only.

For those who seek some serenity from the liveliness of the French Quarter, the Garden District is a short street car ride away. Historic southern mansions line these quieter streets, and those who reside in Lafayette Cemetery #1 don’t create too much of a racket.

Although there is so much to see, do, and eat in New Orleans, one weekend was all I needed to immerse myself. Here’s how I did it:

Friday:

  • Arrived to New Orleans in the early afternoon.
  • Headed to Cafe Du Monde for their famous beignets and cafe au lait.
  • Strolled the French Market for more shopping and local delicacies.
  • Toured Jackson Square area and Bourbon Street before and after dinner.

Saturday:

  • Cooking school at the New Orleans School of Cooking which includes lunch
  • Visited the Oyster Festival along the Riverwalk (there seems to always be a festival of some kind in New Orleans. There’s sure to be music and food, so you can’t go wrong).
  • Took a street car to the Garden District for a self-guided walking tour of the mansions.
  • Dinner at The Court of Two Sisters, which is like an oasis in between the craziness of Bourbon Street and the high-class antique shops and galleries of Royal Street.
  • Jazz performance at Preservation Hall.

Sunday:

  • Half day tour through Tours by Isabelle which included a guided tour of Destrehan Plantation and an air boat swamp tour.
  • Evening Mississippi river cruise on the Steamboat Natchez.

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