Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Orleans - Day One

As our belated Christmas present to each other, my fiancé and I spent a four day weekend in New Orleans, LA. We chose this city since it's only a quarter day's drive away and we wanted to be able to say we've been at least once before we move from the area. We were apprehensive about going since the atmosphere surrounding the city isn't a perfect personality match, but we decided to try anyway.

We left Thursday morning, after consoling my dog at the baby sitter's (I'd never left her anyway before and she had a rough first morning), and I was already looking forward to lunch. Pensacola, FL, was the halfway point on our trip, and it houses one of my favorite restaurants - McGuire's Irish Pub. Kylene introduced me to this local jewel when I accompanied her to second shoot a wedding last summer. I couldn't wait to show Guy.

The pub is quite large, but has a very small feel on the inside which makes you feel nestled. One of the first things you notice are the walls - they are covered in one dollar bills. The pub allows you to sign a dollar and staple it to the wall as a way of leaving your mark. We signed our names and I climbed on top of a chair and nailed it to the ceiling. The restaurant patrons clapped in approval as I climbed down.

We started with their famous senate bean soup. This simple soup, at only 18 cents a bowl, is the epitome of white bean soup. We scarfed it down so quickly, I have no evidence of its existence, but I promise it's worth finding.

Then came the entrees. McGuire's knows how to cook an authentic Irish meal. Last time I had the shepherd's pie, which was amazing. The meat was cooked to tender perfection, and the vegetables were left in large chunks to soak in the rich sauce. It's then topped with whipped potatoes, piped on in a wavy design, and finally baked all together.

This trip I chose the Irish steak and mushroom pie. They take the same tender meat and pair it with button mushrooms cooked in Cabernet wine. They are then covered with a puff pastry, with the shape of a clover cut in the middle, and baked until warm and flaky. The meal was so flavorful with the addition of the wine sauce, and deliciously filling.

Guy wisely chose the pot roast, which was their special. I kept sneaking bites of his tender meal and savoring the medley of flavors.

After we bid farewell to McGuire's, we soon found ourselves entering Louisiana. The coastal drive into Louisiana looked like the Florida panhandle, until we crossed the border. The sky was ominous as there was no mistaking you were entering the devil's playground. The clouds twisted in an unnatural manner and the sunlight begged to push through but was shoved backward at the first glimpse of hope.

I had been apprehensive to come to New Orleans. The gloom of the city was bleeding into my ever darkening mood. I had become coarse and protective before my feet had ever swept over the ground. The sky turns ever blacker as the city swallows you whole and you feel so insignificant. People line the streets like skeletons in limbo.

Canal Street appeared more civilized and we attempted to remain hopeful of good things to come. We arrived at the Hilton on Poydras Street and swiftly retreated to our room. Thankfully the hotel would remain our comfortable haven.

We ventured out into the city at dusk for dinner at The Napoleon House on Chartres Street. The house is over 200 years old and oozes with history. Nicholas Girod, mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815, originally owned the house. In 1821, he offered Napoleon refuge. Even though Napoleon never set foot in the house, the name haunts the house still.

We were immediately sat at a lovely table by a street window. Images of what the street looked like at its conception and thoughts of the original inhabitants danced in our heads. The waiters were dressed in a classy attire of black slacks, white dress shirts, and black ties.

I ordered a Pimm's Cup to start, in a souvenir glass. This drink is claimed to be invented in 1840 by James Pimm of England. The drink was delicious and would be quite refreshing in warmer months. The smooth taste and finishing wisp of cucumber was delightful.

Reuben Sandwich

Organic Sandwich

Guy ordered a classic Reuben sandwich while I opted for the Organic sandwich. My sandwich was filled to the brim with huge slices of avocado, sprouts, juicy tomatoes, cream cheese, and balsamic-dijon vinaigrette all on toasted multi-grain bread. We enjoyed ourselves at this restaurant, and wish we could sample more from their menu.

After dinner, we clung tightly to our coats and walked over to the tip of Bourbon Street to try The Old Absinthe House. Erected in 1806, this building also has a rich history. The first story was converted into a saloon named "Aleix's Coffee House" in 1815. However, in 1874 the floor was renamed "The Absinthe Room" when the infamous drink, Absinthe House Frappe, was invented.

I chose this as my first drink. The licorice flavor was nearly overwhelming, but I unwisely endured. I rarely visit bars, but here enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and warm fire. The two female bartenders began to appear to glide across the floor, and I began to sway to the music that filled the air unwillingly.

My second, and final, drink was the Hurricane. I was not a fan of this drink, but I can offer some advice - if it begins to taste good, you're already in trouble.


  1. Only get a Hurricane at Brenna's, otherwise it's icky! Sorry : ( I'm glad you got a Pimm's cup - but no muffaletta at Napolean? And you know, I think absinthe may be an acquired taste! I certainly wouldn't have many. I hope you hung on to your wallets at the Absinthe House.

    Looks like I lost track of time and didn't send you the tour but with 4 days I bet you had plenty to do.

  2. Seems like you are having some fun over there...I heard the muffaletta is not to be missed. Enjoy!

  3. @Trix no, i don't eat the meat that's featured on the muffaletta and Guy wasn't interested. i think both the drinks have an acquired taste ;) the absinthe house wasn't scary, but we went at a good time of year when no one was there. i didn't want to bug you about the walking tour since i know you're uber busy, but the guide you sent helped us map our vacation out! thanks!

    @Silvia i was unable to find a toned down muffaletta with different meats, but i'm sure it's tasty since it seems to be so popular. i've still got three more days to go!

  4. Yay so glad you got to go back and visit McGuire's! We just visited an Irish Pub in Jacksonville that had some great food and reminded me of it, but definitely not as good. You've got to try the Senate Bean Soup recipe at home! It's super easy! Just call Honey Baked Ham a million times until they have a ham bone and reserve one! :)

  5. hey, Kylene! yes, i saw that tip when you posted about it on your blog, thanks! Guy really liked it, so i hope we get to go back one day and just enjoy the beach and eat at McGuire's every meal. ;)