Before we go full swing into our December Holiday Giveaway Contest, which starts tomorrow, I thought I'd share my Big Easy Halloween trip with you. It started out a fun "Girlfriends' Getaway" in the planning stages — but then the East Coast was warned of the impending superstorm — Sandy. I kept checking the weather and since my flight was originally scheduled to depart early on Wednesday, the morning of October 31, I decided to switch flights to leave before the storm hit. So I left the previous Sunday morning instead, but even that flight down was "iffy" already. Since we rented a condo, I had to be down there to get the keys before the others (some of whom were traveling from Chicago and New Hampshire) arrived. So, I spent the first 3 days alone in New Orleans. But that was better than not arriving until the following week (which is what happened to our other NY friends who were supposed to arrive on Halloween — they weren't able to leave JFK until Saturday. 🙁
This city is a favorite of mine, with all of its fascinating history, architecture, music, food, and culture. It's a world of its own. What to do in NOLA on your own? You can decisively choose between chickory coffee and beignets from Cafe Beignet or Cafe Du Monde. For the record, Cafe Du Monde is a New Orleans institution, with far more than just good French doughnuts (they're more like Italian zeppole to me). It's a 24-hour/7-day inexpensive hangout. That being said, I liked the taste and size better at Cafe Beignet.
After you've binged on these, maybe try some fried pickles with ranch dressing on the side . . . or a muffaletta sandwich from Central Grocery. Do not expect to lose weight here. And bring a home defibrillator kit! Everything is fried.
There are numerous restaurants by famous chefs — some that we tried:
Commander's Palace — in the Garden District, everyone was just so friendly and nice. Food was good, too.
Emeril's NOLA — in the French Quarter. Good burgers, and the Ooey Gooey Cake to die for.
K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen — in the French Quarter, our favorite. You must try the jambalaya!
Elizabeth's — in the Bywater; did someone say praline bacon?
Luckily we did some walking, too. Poked around the Garden District to see the beautiful homes (played with John Goodman's dogs), toured the Haunted French Quarter (checked out homes owned by Nick Cage, Brad & Angelina, etc.), and chugged down the mighty Mississippi on the steamboat Natchez (the bar makes its hurricanes — of the beverage variety — STRONG). Go visit St. Louis' Cathedral (with Touchdown Jesus in the rear courtyard) in Jackson Square, or stagger down Bourbon Street for all sorts of wild and wonderful craziness — Halloween just makes it that much more Bourbon Street. You will see everything and anything and people there will drink everything and anything.
I loved visiting the historic bars — Lafitte's Old Absinthe House (1806), Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop (1770), Napoleon House (1797) — it's just mind-boggling to me that any place still standing was around at the time of the Revolutionary War! I highly recommend visiting here for a few days any time you have a chance.