I love the anticipation of going on vacation. The planning, the plotting, and the making of lists. You would think after how many times I’ve been back to New Orleans I wouldn’t go through the same rituals. But I do. I love planning our trips back to my home town. We make lists of new restaurants we want to try, where are we going to go with which friends, when. In this instance, we’re printing out the Jazz Festival cubes, planning on what days we’re going, what stages we want to be at, and when.
This trip we are actually going for a full eight days. Owning a full service restaurant, two years new, it’s a big deal for us to be gone that long. We’ve worked hard, have a great team in place and we NEED to get away. Research and inspiration. Yeah that’s what we call it. Aaaaahhhh research and inspiration. Doesn’t that even sound relaxing and inspiring?
We have another really good reason to head back to New Orleans. Lisa and I want to put my family story together in the form of a cookbook. We want to see cousins that we haven’t seen in a while. We want to talk to them about memories growing up, food memories, favorite family dishes. Food is such a source of joy and comfort for me. It’s the best way to gather friends and family. It’s the best way to celebrate. It’s the best way to kick off the start of a football game. The end of a football game.
And even when we are sad, to share a meal and to share memories of a loved one, it’s such a loving and comforting way to be together.
Growing up learning how to cook, I experience real joy in providing someone with a sandwich or a plate of food that make them happy. Providing joy and satisfaction for someone –isn’t that the best? It’s immediate gratification at its finest.
OK so bags are packed, lists are checked and we’re off.
First stop, Biloxi, Mississippi. The truth is I was born in Biloxi. Dad worked for Shell Oil and decided to bring his pregnant wife to stay with his parents while he was on the road for days at a time. Sure enough, that's where I chose to pop into this world. My dad's brother Joe lived in Biloxi as well, and his eldest daughter Cece loves to tell everyone that she fell in love with me the first time she held me in her arms. To this day Cece and her wonderful husband David are more like brother and sister than cousins, and we stop in and spend the night in their beautiful home everytime we drive into New Orleans.
We’re bringing dinner – yep we packed up a selection of deliciousness from Ricky P’s Orleans Bistro that include Louisiana Crab Cakes, our Seafood Gumbo and Crawfish Etouffee’.
Cece and David’s son Jason, his lovely wife and two lively boys are
coming over as well as their daughter Nikki, her daughter and six friends on
the way home from soccer practice. The kids of course can’t wait to jump in the pool and after they do, they are hungry. We’re thinking uh oh we didn’t bring anything for all these kids. Well they were screaming for gumbo like most kids scream for ice cream. And they loved it. Noses running a bit from the spice and everything! How amazing is that?! It’s all in what we are exposed to isn’t it?
A Day of Festin'
We park near Liuzza's on the track and grab our traditional bloody mary. It makes for a lovely stroll into the fairgrounds :)
We have our favorite foods that we must have everytime....Crawfish Monica, Cochon du Lait po boy, Crawfish Pie and Alligator Sauce Piquante to name a few. I also love that you can bring in a empty soft sided cooler, buy your beer & water and they'll give you ice to keep it cold. You can park in front of your favorite stage and not have to worry about getting up each time you are ready for a frosty beverage...brilliant!
We never get tired of seeing St. Louis Cathedral in all her glory.
Driving Out to the Country....
Visiting with Cousins in Vacherie, LA
Next Up...The Patry!
We heard about this amazing "mini jazz fest" through our good friend Robert who works for Zatarains. They are the major sponsor of this Threadhead Cultural Foundation fundraiser that supports local New Orleans musicians. It is always held the Tuesday between jazz fest weekends. So you never know who will be playing or showing up to join in on the fun. It is such a relaxed venue (a iron works studio/work shop by day) that gets transformed into a fun, intimate display of great music and of course food. (Right up our alley, right?)
A full day of music includes Paul Sanchez & John Boutte', Rebirth Brass Band and Jon Cleary. It's a small stage, a small crowd and lots of fun people! What a way to enjoy some amazing music.
Oh and let's talk about the food! Zatarains and their team cook up a storm. Dirty Jambalaya, cajun potato salad and gumbo! Man oh man was it delicious! And they also bring in 1,000 pounds of live crawfish. We litterally ate crawfish all day! Abita is also a major sponsor and that means the beer is flowing! We also enjoy several kinds of king cake and there are the sweetest volunteers walking the crowd to share jello shots! God I love this place!
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
Take time to wander. Pop into galleries, check out the sites, shops and architecture. Pop in for a cool drink....
And don't forget to ask for a Go Cup when you are leaving a bar/restaurant. You can enjoy your frosty beverage while
you are strolling along.
Another trip to see family....Lafayette it is.
We chat with cousins Debbie, Kathy and Wayne...I just love hearing about the dishes they cook and what is traditional in their households.
On the way back to New Orleans we are stopping by Richard's ( Ree shards) in Abbeville. Our friends Claire & Tom Brantley said we must stop in for their crawfish. So we pop in directions into our gps and we are driving through all these country roads and boom! we miss it! I just laughed out loud, because it truly is a "dive" and we blinked and we did miss it. BUT let me tell you, these guys have been crankin out the goods since 1950 and I know why. Ca c'est bon!! We order boiled crawfish...and this is how they serve it...with all kinds of hot sauce, ketchup and mayo with little cups to make your own remoulade for dipping.
While they don't seem to have a website, they do serve up a killer buffet that the locals line up for.
Richard's Seafood Patio - Abbeville
Touring the Abita Brewery in Abita Springs.
One of the perks of owning a New Orleans Style Restaurant...lunch and tour at the Abita Brewery- north lake from NOLA! Of course anyone can tour...it's a pretty cool place in downtown Abita Springs and of course you get to sample the beer that is made from that pure spring water. My favorite is the Abita Andygator...but proceed with caution, it packs a punch! They also have a pretty cool gift shop with original art and all kinds of Abita swag. Be on the watch for the Abita seasonals.. They do a great job in crafting special brews using fruits from the area--