We have been experiencing posting problems on this blog over the past week. You may not have received the email blog, even though they were posted on the web site. We have not resolved the issue with Google, but I hope that this post gets sent out correctly. If not, we may have to find another host. Watch this space for more information.
After departing Jackson, Mississippi, we stopped in to visit my sister Karen and her partner Debbie. They have a gorgeous 4 acre estate on the Tchefuncte River in Covington, Louisiana. They are retired nurses, and their house looks like something from Southern Living magazine. Debbie made us a beautiful salmon dinner, and as we were leaving mentioned that she was giving away a lot of canned goods soon.
She pointed to a pile on the counter, and my heart raced as I saw a large cellophane-wrapped box of Alaskan Copper River smoked salmon. The conversation went like this: “Debbie, did you err and leave that smoked salmon lying around for five years until it went out of date?” “No, Ty, a friend gave it to us as a gift last week, and it’s too high in salt and sugar from the curing for us to eat.” Sure enough, the box had a 2013 label and a June 2018 expiration date. (I may have been staring and drooling heavily at this point.) “Ty, would you like that salmon?” “Debbie, I would crawl over broken glass for Copper River salmon.” (I learned early in life to never look a gift salmon in the mouth.) And now that salmon is sitting on our countertop, awaiting our arrival home for a celebratory meal.
Our next stop was New Orleans. Our neighbors Bob and Jan met us here in their coach for their first-ever visit to the City that Care Forgot. We are camped out in the Elks Lodge parking lot in Metairie, outside the city itself. It’s quieter here, and much less expensive than a commercial campground. It was funny though, because when we arrived, the usually empty parking lot was filled with taxi cabs. The local taxi union was having a vote, and cabs kept coming and going for hours. We briefly detoured to a K-Mart parking lot and waited for the hackneys to clear, finally getting settled in just before Jan and Bob arrived. They were slightly delayed because My Good Friend Bob decided to try a trick I used last year… locking yourself outside of the coach. His electronic door evidently is possessed by a gremlin, and when he stepped outside to hook up his toad, the door locked him out. Since this happened in the middle of the day, rather than at 10:00 PM like we did, I don’t think he gets full points for timing. On the other hand, he made up for his daylight error by leaving his coach running for two hours while he waited for a locksmith to arrive and hand cut a new key. So I guess he gets more total points than I earned, but not by much.
Part of any trip to New Orleans is enjoying the unique cuisine (Creole, Cajun and seafood) that the city offers. Our first dinner was at my sister Lynn’s house, where she made our mother’s great soup recipes and sandwiches. It was great catching up with family, because we don’t get back to New Orleans every year. We also enjoyed showing Jan and Bob around the French Quarter. We made obligatory stops at Café du Monde, praline shops, the French Market, and Jackson Square, before heading to Bourbon Street. Because we went early morning, debauchery was at a disappointingly low ebb; there were only a handful of leggy young strippers in clear Lucite 9 inch platform heels, halter tops and scanty skirts hanging out in doorways trying to entice young fellows from Iowa and Nebraska into their shows. (I told Bob that we might have to come back later for better scenery… Smack!) (Photo censored by Higher Authority.)
But as always, food is the primary reason to visit New Orleans. Many great restaurants are located in the suburbs rather than in New Orleans itself, and we enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Drago’s just a few minutes from our coaches in Metairie. Their specialty is charbroiled oysters with garlic butter and French bread. (I am convinced that this is one of the top meals in Heaven.)
In between tasting local cuisine, we did actually do some more sightseeing, like up to Vacherie, Louisiana, on the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Oak Alley is my favorite plantation to show visitors. The oaks are over 300 years old, and run from the big house to the levee along the river.
This plantation home sold for $60,000 during the Depression, and fortunately has been beautifully restored. Fire destroyed the separate kitchen building years ago, but fortunately the house was not seriously damaged. The walls are 18 inches thick; 12 foot ceilings and lots of windows helped keep the house reasonably cool considering the hot, humid climate here.
Our tour guide, Sarah, was eloquent and thoroughly knowledgeable about the history of the Roman family who built the plantation back in the 1840s. Here are a couple of photos of the dining room and master bedroom. Sugar cane fields still ring the house, and several rebuilt slave quarters attest to the dark side of plantation life in the 19th Century.
On Thursday evening, we helped Jan and Bob celebrate their 44th anniversary at Venezia’s, a neighborhood Italian restaurant in Mid-City that was a Mafia hangout in the days of Carlos Marcello (and maybe still is?). Our family went there weekly when I was a kid, because my stepfather played poker with the wise guys. (I’m not sure it was good form to beat them at cards too often.) Our next stop was at Angelo Brocatto’s Spumone Shop for Italian ice cream. It’s located only a few doors from Venezia’s, and yes, the wise guys used to hang out there as well.