Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Delta

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2012/02/23 19:12:38 (permalink)

Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Delta

Sound familiar?- there might be some deja vu in the title for those who remember my roadtrip in August of last year.
http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/tm.aspx?m=664082
 
This was my precursor to the presidents day weekend glee club event  in Nashville.
 
Each day will be divided into a chapter and each chapter will have a sub title.
 
Chapter 1- Back in the Big Easy
 
Tuesday February 7
 
Having no weather worries, I arrived in New Orleans just after noon time after an easy flight with a quick change of planes in Baltimore.
 
Since I'll be carless over the next few days, I took the shuttle from the Airport to my hotel, downtown, a couple of blocks from the french quarter, 
 
After checking in and quite hungry, I walked to my first roadfood stop for lunch.
 
Napoleon House
 

 
Since it was around 2pm it was after the lunch rush
 

 
 
 
and  as I arrived I realized perhaps I shouldn't have walked, as my chariot awaits me.
 

 
 
Apparently well known for their Muffalettas warmed up in the oven, I asked for mine served cold probably to compare it to my previous experience at Central Grocery 7 years ago.
 
I ordered half a muffaletta, more than enough for one person
 

 
The olive tapenaude adds a nice garlicky touch, although I remember the bread at Central Grocery being denser and crustier, although it's been so long, I probably forgot.
 
I ordered the "side with sandwich" order of Jambalaya
 

 
A little on the mild side, however adding some hot sauce really gave it a nice kick and brought it up a notch.  Everything went well with unsweetened iced tea. Overall a fine filling lunch.
 
I spent the next several hours walking around the quarter. Realistically I could probably spend days and never get tired.
 
I checked out Jackson Square.
 

 
named after our 7th president (who ironically made his home- where else but in Nashville)
 

 
The Cabildo was nearby. I made mention of touring it in one of my earlier trip reports back in 2005
 

 
 
I finally walked inside St Louis Cathedral and was amazed at the ornate interior and stained glass
 
 

 

 

 
Afterwards, I headed to towards the French Market for a brief respite at Cafe Du Monde
 

 
and a Cafe Au Lait
 

 
sat back and people watched. I'm not sure if it's me, but I found the cafe au lait very pedestrian. I'm sure it will go well with those beignets, but that's for another chapter.
 
I continued to stroll around the french market and came across the Jackson Brewery.
 

 
No longer an viable brewery it's now an urban mall with shops and restaurants.
 
I finally made it inside the french market itself.
 

 

 
having purchased a very forgettable "homemade" peach ice cream that didn't even deserve a photo, i moved on and noticed the reminder that Mardi Gras is on its way..
 

 
Although I didn't purchase one, they were giving out samples some with pecans and even a cheesecake version. I tried one with pecans. It reminded me of a typical entemann's cake- nothing special.
 
I continued strolling around afterwards passing landmarks  such as Central Grocery and Court of Two Sisters.
 

 

 
Happy hour was fast approaching and there's a German style Brewpub I've been wanting to try.
 
Crescent City Brew House
 
I ordered a refreshing malty "red stallion"
 

 
and walked back to my hotel to chill out afterwards.
 
After resting for an hour or so, Imagine my surprise when I realized that my hotel was right across the street from my dinner stop.
 
The Bonton Cafe.
 


This is going to be my first real challenge with dim lighting and my new camera.
 
Starting out with a loaf of french bread
 

 
and spicy shrimp and crab okra gumbo
 

 
I was torn between the Crawfish Etoufee and the Shrimp, Eggplant and Crab Etoufee. I was put at ease when my waitress said I could order half of each.
 

 
(yes this is a non -flash photo in very dim light!)
 
That's crawfish etoufee on the left and the shrimp-eggplant-crab etoufee on the right)
 
My waitress prefers the crawfish etoufee- athough both were really good, I agree.
 
I chose a side of  tempura style onion rings.
 

 
You don't think my meal would conlude here? 

I had to order dessert and I'm so glad I did.
 
I never knew that dessert can put someone over the limit- the blood alcohol limit that is.
 
 
 
This amazing hunka bread pudding, drenched in whiskey sauce, will leave anyone "sauced" . It actually gave me a really good buzz (no kidding!)
 
After dinner, I was already to head out on Bourbon Street. (hell, I probably just downed a whole bunch of the stuff in my bread pudding)
 

 

 
 
Engaged in the sites and sounds..
 

 
 

 
 

 
(I'm picturing beer in a big can)- get the pun?
 

 
I headed on over to Tropical Aisle - to listen to the Zydeco Band, "The Can't Hardly Play Boys"
 

 
 
You cans see the washboard player to the left-although he's out of the spotlight in this photo)
 
They put on a great show, half zydeco/half country. The accordian player sang all the zydeco stuff, he even had the thick cajun accent although I'm not completely sure if it was "put on" . the  old long haired guy playing the guitar sang all the country stuff- he even did a great rendition of Johnny Cash's "I walk the line" 
 
After enjoying a set and a local Abita beer, I felt I was ready to head back to my hotel for a good nights sleep
 
much more to come.
#1

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    will_work_4_bbq
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/23 20:23:35 (permalink)
    Wow!  Off to a great start!
    #2
    joerogo
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/23 21:37:19 (permalink)
    Besides the food, my favorite in NOLA is live music.  In my heyday, all the bars and clubs had live music.  I miss that.
    #3
    mayor al
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/23 21:51:23 (permalink)
    Super start, Dale. I am looking forward to chapter 2 !
    #4
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/24 08:03:42 (permalink)
    Thanks Al and Lynn. It was good to see you Al after three years and it was a pleasure meeting you, Lynn,  I'm hoping you will be joining us at future events.
     
    Joe, not sure if it was because Mardi Gras was starting, but there was music all over the french quarter, however it was very difficult to find Zydeco music, porbably because it was during the week. I was checking the local entertainment weeklies as well as stuff on line- and it appears more of the zydeo bands play on the weekends.
     
    I'll continue the report sometime after the weekend.
    #5
    Louis
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/24 08:11:09 (permalink)
    There are places that know how to prepare bread pudding correctly.  I'm glad you found one of them!
    #6
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/24 10:01:00 (permalink)
    Louis

    There are places that know how to prepare bread pudding correctly.  I'm glad you found one of them!


    Louis,
     
    It seems that New Orleans is bread pudding capitol. The best bread pudding of the trip can be found there.
    #7
    Sundancer7
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/24 12:19:35 (permalink)
    Dale, I spent six months in NOLA.  There is music in the Quarter all the time (evenings).  The hygiene there ain't the best but the ambiance, food, people watching is over the top.
     
    Roz and I were walking to the quarter and somewhat close to the casino, four high school girls opened their shirts and exposed their breast in unison.  they looked at me and said "what do you think?"  I promptly replied " looks like breast to me except smaller!"  I think it made them somewhat unhappy
     
    Great pics Dale and I appreciate your new camera.
     
    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #8
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/24 16:51:44 (permalink)
    Sundancer7

    Dale, I spent six months in NOLA.  There is music in the Quarter all the time (evenings).  The hygiene there ain't the best but the ambiance, food, people watching is over the top.

    Roz and I were walking to the quarter and somewhat close to the casino, four high school girls opened their shirts and exposed their breast in unison.  they looked at me and said "what do you think?"  I promptly replied " looks like breast to me except smaller!"  I think it made them somewhat unhappy

    Great pics Dale and I appreciate your new camera.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN


    Paul,
     
    Just wait till you see part 2- no breasts, but something "quite interesting"
    The camera seems to do better than my last- with my last camera I could never get away with not using flash at the Bon Ton Cafe- there is just no way, however I'm still challenged with unusal or very minimal lighting with my current camera. I really need to read the manual to figure out how to counteract that but again its not a $3000 camera
    #9
    ann peeples
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/24 19:28:48 (permalink)
    Dale, I sure wish I could travel with you on both food adventures and sights of the places you visit.I would even enjoy the walking! Keep it coming!
    #10
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/25 08:44:41 (permalink)
    ann peeples

    Dale, I sure wish I could travel with you on both food adventures and sights of the places you visit.I would even enjoy the walking! Keep it coming!

     
    Thanks, Anne,
     
    That means alot.
     
    Next chapter will come tomorrow evening. Have much to do over the weekend.
    #11
    ayersian
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/25 10:38:30 (permalink)
    WJ, my mouth is watering for this series -- keep it coming, my friend.  Amy & I certainly missed you guys in Nashville last week.  FYI, bad lighting is a constant struggle with my camera, too, and the flash often washes out the shot.  Feel free to commiserate with me anytime!    Chris
    #12
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/26 08:11:27 (permalink)
    Chris,
     
    Thankfully the flash was used rarely. In part 1- of the trip report. I used flash for the onion rings and gumbo only at Bon Ton Cafe. I still just learning my new camera.  I also discovered that my camera is very sensitive to sunlight so in normal lighting I don't need to be near a window. 
     
    I'll note in future segments which photos I used flash.
    #13
    MiamiDon
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/26 08:41:34 (permalink)
    Nice tour of N'awlins!  I had my first muffaletta at the Napolean House, and some seriously good craft cocktails.
     
    What?  No beignets with your chicory-laced cafe au lait? " />
    #14
    leethebard
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/26 08:48:21 (permalink)
    A great report so far...that new camera is looking good....can't wait for more!
    #15
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/26 08:53:24 (permalink)
    Nice start, Sir. You're making me hungry.
    #16
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/26 11:16:43 (permalink)
    In fact, you made me so hungry I had to go to the Waffle House for breakfast. Thanks Dale.
    #17
    leethebard
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/26 11:30:12 (permalink)
    ......And I'm looking for a Cracker Barrel!
    #18
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/26 20:25:29 (permalink)
    Chapter II-  Laissez Les BOMB Temps Rouler (and then some)
    Wednesday February 8
     
    No, the chapter subheading is not a mispelling.  You'll find out why near the end.
    My first full day in New Orleans. Although I'm not a breakfast guy in general, I thought it would be a real shame to pass it up in the Crescent City.
     
    My stop this morning was the Camellia Grill. 
     
    I opted to visit the location in the French Quarter versus the original location uptown since I was without transportation and didn't want to waste the morning on the street car
     


    Starting out with predictably bad coffee, I decided to go with the pecan waffle. Adding just a little maple syrup, since I did not want it to overwhelm the waffle was probably a good idea. This was a traditional, not belgian style waffle, The waffle itself was crisp and was not overloaded with meaty pecans but as far as waffles go, it wasn't bad, however  there was nothing about it that really blew me away or that captured my attention
     

     
     
    however the thick strips of crisp oinky bacon that accompanied my my meal did bring the waffle to a new level. (Sorry there are no photos of the bacon topped waffle)
     
     

     
    After breakfast, I wanted to get a decent cup of coffee and walked over to a coffee house ingrained in my memory called Royal Blend. Well, somethings are better left as memories. Although it has a nice atmosphere with courtyard seating I asked for a dark roast and it was as bland as all get up. When I got my refill, I thought perhaps they made a mistake and gave me a light roast instead, nope- just as bland as the first cup. 
     
    I spent the morning walking around  Bourbon Street to compare night and day, afterwards decided to walk towards downtown and catch a photo of the superdome, home of the New Orleans Saints.
     

     
    As lunch time was approaching, I decided to return to an old favorite from 7 years ago. 


     
    Mother's Restaurant 
     
    Little did I know I would be returning to this restaurant, not once, not twice but three more times. 
    Tourist trap or not, Mother's has some of the best food in New Orleans.
    As I arrived, there was only one person in front of me in line. I new what I wanted to order, something I didn't get last time.
     
    The Ferdi Special.
     

     
    Just loaded with debris, roast beef, ham and gravy, this sandwich is just deliriously good. Yes, it put me into a state of delirium.
     
    I ordered a cup of red beans and rice on the side
     

     
    that was just as good as I remembered on my previous visited.
     
    And for dessert- of course
     

     Bread Pudding - very different from the alcohol infused version at The Bon Ton but just as good.
     
    Mother's is just as good as I remembered. Afterwards I continued walking around the French Quarter since I had some time to kill before my afternoon activity.
     
    I came across these guys
     
     
     
    and these guys
     

     
    The Royal Street Gum Scrapers.
     
    Just like I ran into Chi Town Diner's scruffier long lost cousin last year in Madison WI, it seems that this year I ran into Ayersian's more buff long lost cousin (the second from the right).
     
    I did stop for a refreshing iced cafe au' lait at Cafe Beignet.
     

     
    And then as I headed towards the river, I ran into these two clowns.
     

     

     
    I ended up spending the afternoon taking a Mississippi River cruise on the Creole Queen which culminates in a tour of the Chalmette Battlefield.
     

     
    As we left port
     

     
    We passed alot of cool things including several ships both foreign and domestic.
     
     

     
     

     
     

     
    \\
     
    And even the Domino's Sugar Factory. I could even sense the aroma of burnt sugar downwind.
     

     
    We finally docket at Chalmette Battlefield.  This is where Andrew Jackson and a bunch of rag tag Tennesseans kicked butt on the British during the War of 1812.
     
    This is a national park and we were greeted by a park ranger who explained the history behind the battlefield which was a  working plantation..
     

     
     
    The plantation house was built several decades after the war. Unfortunately there was no tour of the house.
     
    The cruise lasted a little over 2 hours. 
     
    After we docked back in town, happy hour was fast approaching which meant a return to the Crescent City Brewhouse
     

     
     
    This time I decided to go with the Weiss Beer
     

     
    Which had a fruity clove- banana undertone .
     
    Dinnertime was fast approaching which meant a visit to

    The Gumbo House
     

     
    I had the option of sitting inside or in the outdoor courtyard. Since the temp's were in the mid 60's all day and even at dusk was still at least 60 degrees, I opted for the outdoor courtyard.
     
    I began with a cup  of the seafood gumbo
     

     
    My first thoughts were "where is the seafood"? . It wasn't one of the better cups of gumbo I've had, I hope the main course will be better.
     
    For my main course I ordered the Creole Combination Platter which included Red Beans and Rice, Shrimp Creole and Jambalaya
     

     
    This was by far one of the most disgusting meals I ever had.  Besides the fact that I could not tell where the shrimp creole began and where the red beans and rice ended, nor could I tell the difference when I tasted this soupy horrendous disaster but what I think was Jambalaya in the middle was just as bland and nasty. There was no discernable flavor other than blandness. When I thought of adding hot sauce to see if it would enhance the meal-instead  the entire meal competely took on the flavor of Louisiana Hot Sauce. I was horribly disappointed.
    The Gumbo Shop wasn't "The Bomb" , it  "BOMBED" It flat out sucked. I felt horribly cheated at this flat out TOURIST TRAP. Not only was this the nastiest meal of the trip- it was the ONLY bomb on the entire trip.

    I can assure you which list this will end up at the end of 2012. 
     
    What to do- what to do.   I was still hungry  I would find me a good dish of shrimp creole before leaving New Orleans and I knew just where to go. Mothers
    Although I've never had their shrimp creole before, I just knew it would be good- I ordered a bowl- nothing more, nothing less.
     

     
    And my assumptions were right on the money. This is what  a bowl of Shrimp Creole is all about- Thick, Spicy, slightly sweet  and chock full of shrimp
     
    Returning to Bourbon Street, I continued to walk down the most famous street in the City that Care Forgot.
     

     
    Enjoying once again the sites and sounds
     

     
    I returned to The Tropical Isle as I was under the impression that there would be a new Zydeco band playing that evening. Imagine to my surprise that the same band, The Can't Hardly Play Boys that was there the evening before was back again. I had no problem with that. I grabbed an Abita, sat down and enjoyed a set.
     

     

     
    As I was walking Bourbon Street back to my hotel,  I have to bring up what Paul previously mentioned. You never know what you're going to see in New Orleans...
     
    Well....here is my what the "frig"
     
    ?
     
    Now I know what they mean by bone......oh forget it!!!,,,,,
     
    Much more to come....
     
    (no flash photos in chapter 2)
    post edited by wanderingjew - 2012/02/26 20:28:04
    #19
    sk bob
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/26 22:24:11 (permalink)
    nice trip WJ.
     great photos also
    I haven't been to The Big Easy since the Worlds Fair was there in 1984.
    do they still have Worlds Fairs any more?
    how did the Royal Street Gum Scrappers sound?
    my first encounter ever on Bourbon ST. was with a little kid that said to me "hey mister. I bet you a dollar I can tell where you got those shoes" I said OK I'll bet,he said"you got those shoes on Bourbon ST. in New Orleans"
    he was right. I GOT them on Bourbon ST., but I BOUGHT them in NYC.
    I gave the kid a buck.
    scammers everywhere.
    #20
    ayersian
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/26 23:01:59 (permalink)
    WJ, thank you so much for finding my cousin!  My aunt always told him he could never make any money playing the washboard, yet there he is.
     
    I'm surprised you liked Mother's so much.  That's one of the only RF-reviewed places downtown that we thought was just so-so.  Looks like it's worth a revisit!    Chris
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    leethebard
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/26 23:03:12 (permalink)
    Some great looking food here!!!!!
    #22
    billyboy
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/26 23:26:31 (permalink)
    Great, great report, Dale!  Love the mix of food, music and culture.  Can't wait to see the rest!
    At first I didn't get the whole "what the frig" element of your photo.  I mean yeah, skull masks are kinda weird, but it IS NOLA, then I looked in a southerly direction...  Some things you just can't unsee.  Thanks, WJ!
    #23
    Louis
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/27 09:10:56 (permalink)
    I'm enjoying this very much, Dale.  I like the report's alternating focus between the food and the environment.  It gives a good sense of the overall atmosphere of the trip.  I'm also glad to see that you are as finicky about finding the perfect cup of coffee as I am.
    post edited by Louis - 2012/02/27 09:13:00
    #24
    kland01s
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/27 09:22:21 (permalink)
    Sorry you had a bad meal at the Gumbo Shop, we enjoyed ours there but that was 10 years ago.
    #25
    Davydd
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/27 10:48:33 (permalink)
    wanderingjew

    Well....here is my what the "frig"

    ?

    Now I know what they mean by bone......oh forget it!!!,,,,,

    Much more to come....

     
    Dale,
    Great report as usual. You missed this guy?

    #26
    MiamiDon
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/27 18:14:03 (permalink)
    The Gumbo Shop is sort of "industrial gumbo.". I'm not surprised at your reaction. It literally is a,"tourist trap," in my opinion.
    #27
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/27 19:40:57 (permalink)
    SK Bob
     
    The Royal Street Gum Scrapers  kind of sound like this
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ja5XLLY_wfU
     
    Is this considered "skiffle"?
     
    Chris
     
    Perhaps next time your long lost cousin should get together with Chi Town Diner's  scruffier long lost cousin . The washboard and string bass should be a nice combo
     

     
    What did you have at Mother's that you didn't care for?  Everything I had was just stellar. But then again it was just the basics- Jambalaya, Shrimp Creole, Red Beans and Rice- but that Ferdi Special was just completely over the top.
     
    Lee
     
    You forgot to mention Bubba Gumps
     
    Don
     
    Your jumping the gun on the Beignets- wait till chapter 3- Who do you think I am- Chi Town Diner or Buffetbuster?
     
    Kland01s
     
    Do you remember what you had at the Gumbo Shop? As I said the Gumbo itself wasn't bad- perhaps I should have just stuck to that and gone elsewhere for dinner.
     
    Billyboy
     
    I too had to do a double take- I did give the boner a buck for taking his photo
     
    Mr Hoffman, I hope you ordered your hash browns smothered covered and what ever else they do with it? 
     
    Louis
     
    Believe it or not it took me a week before I found a decent cup of coffee but from then on - the coffee was stellar.
     
    Davydd
     
    That's not you is it? 
     
    Ok, 
     
    I'll probably do chapter 3 tomorrow evening. It's monday evening and I'm tired- I started work extra early this morning at 6:30pm.
    #28
    Greymo
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 3738
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/27 19:50:29 (permalink)
    Wow!  You are doing such a great job of capturing New Orleans!  This is one of my top three favorite cities in the USA.
    #29
    wanderingjew
    Sirloin
    • Total Posts : 7900
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    Re:Cajun, Creole and Ozark Adventures with a Bite of the Bluff City and a Dash of the Del 2012/02/28 06:53:28 (permalink)
    Thanks Greymo
    New Orleans is probably in my top 5....
     
    I think in no particular order my top 5 are
    Kansas City
    Charleston SC
    New Orleans
    Austin
    San Francisco
     
     
    #30
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