Saturday, March 6, 2010

New Orleans - Day Three & Four

We woke up late on day three and quickly got dressed to leave for breakfast. I was excited to try Surrey's Café & Juice Bar and was kinda glad it was late in the morning, as most of the crowd should be finished and on to other things. We began walking up Poydras Street to St. Charles Avenue hoping to catch the trolley. The previous night we had been stranded after dinner in the French Quarter for 45 min waiting for the trolley to take us back to the hotel to change for drinks. We were hoping not for a repeat. We enjoyed the stroll up the main road and stopped at the corner. No trolley. We decided to walk down St. Charles and just hop on the trolley once it catches up.

We made it five blocks to Lee Circle - still no trolley. We climbed up the steps on Lee Circle to take some photos. As soon as we had made it to the top - three trolleys rolled on by. Sigh. We began our walk again on St. Charles and had to trek the entire fifteen or so block hike to brunch.

We approached the café and unfortunately found a large group of people outside waiting to be seated. We added our name to the list and just stared at the other houses for the next 40 min trying to catch our breath from the walk over. I was under the false impression the café was entirely organic, which was why I chose to try it. They do offer freshly squeezed organic juices, but it's $5 a glass. I just couldn't bring myself to order a glass of $5 orange juice when I live in Florida and have a counter full of organic oranges that I can squeeze to drink to my heart's content. I did, however, struggle to choose what to have for breakfast, as their items all sounded delicious. I settled on the Huevos Rancheros, while Guy ordered the Cinnamon French Toast. The interior was brightly painted and each table was hand made with interesting pictures and magazine cut-outs. I dubbed our table the "Jesus Table", since old Biblical comics had been pasted together with quotes and cut-outs of the universe. The seating area was also on a lower level than the kitchen, which had old windows you could look up into to see what the cooks were doing. Breakfast arrived quicker than anticipated and we dove right in.

Guy's french toast was made with thick pieces of french bread, soaked through with egg, milk, and cinnamon, then toasted just right with a slight crust on the outside, but warm and soft on the inside. He once again chose well, unlike myself.

The Huevos Racheros sounded and looked delicious, with corn tortillas smothered with black beans, eggs, cheese, pico de gallo, and molé sauce; but, it had no flavor - at all. I only ate what was on my plate because I was so ravenous and cranky from the walk over, I dared not protest, afraid of what I might say. The hand made the corn tortillas were bland and just dense, instead of crispy. The eggs tasted store bought, as I later discovered you needed to ask for organic eggs (which is when I discovered the entire menu was not organic). The rest of the items could also just be described as bland. Of course, any meal smothered in sugar is hard to get wrong, but I wanted something healthy to get me through walking the rest of the day (since the trolley system was "unreliable" at best). We paid for our meal (after withdrawing cash from the ATM conveniently located next to the back tables where people are eating since the restaurant only accepts cash) and decided to change our plans since our day was not going so smoothly.

We had originally decided to visit a few of the famous cemeteries and take photographs of the unusual above ground burial plots. However, with the way our day was turning out, we sadly decided to nix the cemeteries and just meander through the Garden District. I had a list of the 5 most famous historical houses of the Garden District (which is debatable most likely), so we took off toward Coliseum Street.

Without any trouble, we located the Goodrich-Stanley House at 1729 Coliseum Street. The house was once owned by William Goodrich, a local New Orleans jeweler in the 1860s. He sold the house in 1866 to Henry Hope Stanley, a wealthy British cotton merchant. It was this family who adopted John Rowlands, aka Sir Henry Morton Stanley, who later became a journalist and discovered Dr. Livingston in the African jungle.

We happened upon some more trouble by not being able to confirm which house was the Grace King House. We even asked a mailman, whom we had a bad feeling about, as he tried to send us into the bad part of town and was no help at all. We used our phones to look up photographs to confirm which house was hers online. The house is located at 1749 Coliseum Street (just two houses to the left of the Goodrich-Stanley House as it turns out), but does not have any markings to confirm the historical home. Grace King is a famous nineteenth-century author of New Orleans, who courted other famous literary giants of her time in this home.

We strolled over to 1342 First Street. This area of New Orleans was peaceful. The historic houses gave the essence of walking back through time. Although it doesn't compare to Charleston or Savannah, the Garden District has an aura of old Southern charm.

Nearly next door is the famous Rosegate House at 1239 First Street, the previous residence of the author Anne Rice. This house had the most people stopped outside for a tour and history lesson.

We last visited the Colonel Short House at 1448 Fourth Street, with its famous cornstalk iron fence. The Union Colonel and his wife modeled the home after their memories of Kentucky, since his wife was homesick. This house also was not marked, and we asked a neighbor doing yard work which house was 1448. Humorously enough, he scratched his head and did a circle before Guy spotted which house it was. We explained to the man why we were taking photos, and he had no idea the house had such history behind it, even though he had lived next door for quite some time.

We were too tired for lunch, and had eaten breakfast so late, so we decided to take a short ferry ride before resting for dinner. We couldn't take anymore walking for the moment, so we stopped at St. Charles to wait for a trolley. The universe was kind at that moment as a trolley showed up in 10 min to take us back to Canal Street. We made it to the bottom and hopped onto a ferry within minutes. The ferry, it seems, sticks to its posted schedule, unlike the trolley system. We rode across the great Mississippi River on the top deck since they had seats.

Once on the other side, we walked through the quaint neighborhood to the Rosetree glass shop, which was closed. With nothing else to do on the West Bank, we soon found ourselves back on the ferry. This time we rode standing on the lower deck in the open air.

Passengers couldn't help but wave at the steamboat passing by.

After a much needed rest, we dressed up and marched back out into the cold night. After getting lost attempting to find a shortcut to a trolley, we finally found St. Charles and just had to shiver for 30 min until one showed up. Our feet just couldn't take anymore long walks. After climbing aboard the trolley, we swiftly arrived at our dinner destination and were surprised by the restaurant's small size. Once we stepped inside we realized it wasn't a restaurant - it was a bar.

The Delachaise has received rave reviews online, and for good reason. This is a local favorite as they have an endless wall full of every wine, liqueur, and beer one could possibly want. They also have professional chefs on hand for anyone wanting a nice nibble during their leisurely drinks. However, this is one local favorite that should remain for locals. We were quite out of place. A nice couple informed us that it was a seat yourself establishment and to put all orders in at the bar. We glanced over the menu and settled on our dinner selections. I elbowed my way through the crowd and placed our order, while Guy scored better seats for us in a quiet corner. Since the crowd wasn't there for the food, our meals arrived in a very short time. I went with a Grilled Cheese Annabella with Pommes Frites.

The grilled cheese was oozing with cheesy goodness, both asiago and fiore sardo, but had a peculiar spread on the toasted bread.

The pommes frites were fried in duck fat and served with two dipping sauces; one was a malt vinegar aioli, which I preferred, and the other spicy satay, which failed to dance on my palate as the peanut flavor didn't meld with the potatoes.

Guy again chose the better meal with Flank Steak Bruchetta - an open faced sandwich dripping with flavor, covered with peruvian garlic sauce and shaved aged manchego on a ciabatta crostini. We gulped down our dinner and had enough energy to saunter over to our dessert destination.

Sucré is a diamond in the rough. The shop glows with a warm light and bright colors. It was full of people during our brief stay. They offer rows of gelato, truffles, and specialty desserts.

Guy quickly spotted mint chocolate gelato and ordered a healthy scoop. It was refreshing to see a smile return to his face after a long day. I decided to try their pumpkin cheesecake.

The top layer was a unique gelatin applesauce which was delicious. The middle layer was a delicate, creamy pumpkin cheesecake. But the third layer was a strange tasting crust, what it contained I'm not sure. Since I left so much of the dessert on my plate, and because I had had such a rough day, I didn't hesitate to go for a small bowl of gelato myself.

I chose the pistachio since it's one of my favorite dessert flavors. The smooth gelato melted in my mouth and even contained whole pistachio pieces, which was a nice crunchy bonus.

After a satisfying dessert experience, we were ready to end our difficult day. We had to wait another 45 min for the trolley to pick us up, but it was better than walking at that point.

New Orleans - Day Four

After a much needed deep sleep, we awoke on the fourth morning ready to head home. We stopped downstairs in the Riverwalk mall for another round of café au lait and beignets from a sister shop of Café Du Monde. We sat at a nice table next to a wall of windows and quietly ate our breakfast while looking out onto the lightly fogged riverfront.

The checkout at the hotel was also nicely uneventful and we rolled onto I10 to arrive back home. I had missed my dog terribly, as we had not been separated for more than 12 hours since I first brought her home in August.

It seemed to take longer to get home, but we were both eager to end the underwhelming trip. We didn't have high expectations for New Orleans, but it still was a disappointment. We had never been exposed to so much cigarette smoke and exhaust fumes in our lives. Even with a full schedule of places to visit, it was let down anyway. It just seems that city is not for us.

We're already planning another vacation to make up for this one, so suggestions are welcome for a relaxing destination in the Southern US!

I'm looking forward to returning to happy recipes, as I do not like remembering negative events.


  1. looks like a blast! love the gelato great pictures and story love the post!

  2. I'm so sorry that it doesn't seem you were able to discover the real New Orleans or get a feel for the true character of the place. It's an amazing city with a rich, deep history and it's unlike anyplace in the U.S., and so many people fall madly and deeply in love with it's mystery, quirky charms and singular personality ... but it is a US city nonetheless, and as such public transportation does not always run on time! That's just how it is - it's not a good idea to be in a hurry in a place like NOLA, esp when you're waiting for the streetcar! But it's personal preference I guess - I've walked all the way from the Garden District to Canal St. when it's 100 degrees and humid by choice because I really love soaking in the flavor of it all. I wish you could have sampled some more authentic local specialties and real NOLA-style foods and had better experiences. Sorry to hear it. : (

  3. @pegasuslegend thanks, i tried to write it with as little whining as possible. i prefer happy stories. ;)

    @Trix sorry to disappoint. :( i'm not sure what we could have done differently. we had discussed once while waiting for a trolley about getting the car out, but decided attempting to park or running the chances of getting towed wasn't worth it. those trains in Europe just ruined us for any other transportation system. i think a plantation stay in the countryside might have suited us better. at least we tried it. it wasn't a total loss, as the dinners on day one and two were really good. keep loving your city though! we just weren't a right fit for it.

  4. Well I can somehow relate, because I really didn't like my NO experience...ahaha whining is ok, you should have heard me whine! Then a lot of people like it, so it's really personal. I ended up lost in some kind of weird warehouse district all run down and hate the food, I got sick, and there is nothing French about the quarter in my opinion. How is that for being negative? Again, it could have been our experiences or maybe we were expecting too much, so from now on, I just do not expect anything anymore, I am going with no expectations whatsoever on anything. Then you cannot be disappointed.

  5. This post brings back a lot of memories of my visit there. I had fond memories though. One thing, I am glad to see the city coming back into its own again. We had a lovely apartment within walking distance to the French Quarter.

  6. @Silvia i didn't find it very French either! so glad i'm not the only one who thinks that. that's too bad you also had a bad experience. i should have trusted my instincts, but decided to try something new anyway. it wasn't terrible, but we've had better vacations. i am planning a new trip for this summer and hope it turns out better!

    @Arlene that's really neat. we did take a lot of pictures of some nice houses. it definitely felt like a city which has die-hard fans and for others (like us) it just didn't click. the city does seem to be doing much better from what we could gather.