New Orleans – 2017

April 19th – Day 16

Back to Belle’s Diner for breakfast today. Pancakes with berries and pecans. The waiter looked a little surprised when I turned down the offer of a side of bacon. Stew is picking me up around 4:30 to take me to a College Baseball Game. Glad to read in the Picayune that an ‘expert’ has predicted that this year’s hurricane season will be less active.

Stew advised to get a bite to eat before he picked me up as the food available at the game would be limited. So around 2:30 I went over to Fiorella’s for Fried Chicken and Potato Salad.

Stew picked me up right on time and we were at the Baseball Park an hour before the first pitch. The stadium is very impressive. Sure puts our State Baseball stadium to shame. We had seats just to the side of home plate, three rows from the front. Great game against the more fancied University of Southern Mississippi. Tulane won the game 10  – 8. Very high standard of ball. Of course when at a ball game ya gotta have a hot dog and a beer.

Real enjoyable night out thanks to Stew

New Orleans – 2017

April 18th. – Day 15

Up early – Laundry Day. The owner, Dinah, greets me and tells me that she is glad to see that I am keeping up with my laundry. She is a real character just like so many people who work in da Quarter.

I decided while making plans for this trip that I would research a few restaurants that have been written up in various travel sites. Hence my visit to Dookey Chase last week.

Today I have embarked on a very long walk to Cochon (Pig)which is at 930 Tchoupitoulas and is a Cajun Southern Cooking restaurant. This restaurant is one of the Donald Link Group. Link is a famous chef in these here parts and I have one of his cook books at home. It is a bit of a treat as the food is not cheap and the setting is a little more formal. I was given the choice of sitting at a table or taking a seat along a bar that runs along the extent of the open kitchen. I took up the offer to watch the chefs in action.

I ordered a bottle of Mountain Valley Spring Water, bottled at the source – Ouachita Mountains. Now it is not often that I would rave about the quality of drinking water but boy was this water good. For lunch I ordered Louisiana Cochon with cabbage, cracklin’ and pickled pear washed down with Mexican Coke. The Mexican Coke (the drinking kind tasted a little different). Maybe i will start burping in Spanish! I started writing in my journal. Next thing I know is that a guy came over to me and said this is compliments of the Chef, a small pulled pork pattie with a tiny fried quail egg sitting on top. Maybe they think I am a foreign food reviewer! The kitchen staff are friendly and engage in conversation. They pick my accent quickly and I am told they had a trainee Australian in the kitchen a few months back. Great food.

There is a bit of rain about. I was going to get a Uber back home but decided to walk off the pig. I got half way through da Quarter and had to seek shelter at the corner of Royal and St. Ann as the rain is now real heavy. It took about 45 minutes for the storm to clear.

After an afternoon nap it was time for some music on Frenchman. First stop was the Spotted Cat for the last set of New Orleans Bluesman Andy Forester. I found myself sitting at the bar next to a couple of women from Toronto. They were up for a chat about our respective countries. Then I heard a familiar sounding accent ordering a beer. I asked the guy where he was from. He said, ‘Houston.’ Sure sounded more Australian to me. He was an ex-pat Aussie who has lived in Houston for the last five years. He is a Chemical Engineer. He is holidaying with his sister who has just flown in. They both live In Wheelers Hill!

Like all bars in New Orleans they are very strict on checking people’s I.D. to ensure they are of the drinking age of 21. One of the bar people tells me she lived in a Kibbutz in Israel for a while with as she described. ‘three crazy Australians.’ She did learn one think from them. As I went to take a drink she said, ‘Cheers Big Ears.’ Next performer up was Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns, they get the place rockin’ and the bar is now crowded.

I headed over to a newer bar 30/90 and caught a young band, the Bayou Saints. More Rock than Jazz but I am mighty impressed. It cost me a $1 to take a leak as the Restroom has an attendant.

New Orleans – 2017

April 17th. – Day 14

First meal of the day ay N’awlins Café and Spice Emporium down at the market. Shrimp Creole and a Barg’s Root Beer. Very tasty and spicy.

People seem a little sluggish after the 3 days of Easter celebrations, as does your writer. For a religious celebration, New Orleans sure likes to party. Also it is the end of Spring Break and many people left town yesterday.

12:40 and the blog is up to date. A storm is brewing and I can hear some distant thunder. 13:10 and the rain is here, heavy and persistent, although the forecast tells me it should clear in an hour or so.

2:30 and off for a walk, need a coffee and something sweet. The humidity is high after the thunderstorm and it does not take long to feel a little sticky. Had my much needed coffee and an Almond Croissant at Cafe Beignet on Royal. Nice to sit and relax. I have done nil in the way of touristy things. I am just content to absorb the comings and goings of the city. Walked the length of Canal and had a look in a couple of jean shops as well as window shopping a very cool men’s clothing and shoe store. There are no conservative business suits here. Very brightly coloured suits and shirts.

Back to the apartment to watch a couple of more movies. Then out to the Verty Mart for a take-out, meatloaf, mashed potato and green beans. 

New Orleans – 2017

April 16th. – Day 13

Easter Sunday in da Quarter. Up early and down to Envie’s for breakfast. I have been listening in to a conversation of two older locals and a couple of policemen enjoying a morning coffee. They got around to talking about the Grateful Dead and more particularly Jerry Garcia. One of the guys was saying that he never really got into ‘the Dead’ and that he thought Garcia was a sloppy and lazy guitarist. He then reminisced about seeing Garcia play a  few times with the legendary New Orleans Piano Professor James Booker. At one stage Booker screamed at Garcia to ‘just make the fuckin changes, man.’ Now for those of you who know of the somewhat erratic nature of Mr. Booker you will realize that maybe Garcia was not all he is feted to be?

When I finally left Envie’s there was a line snaking out the door for service. It is a popular hangout.

Went and got some Strawberry Abita in readiness for today’s Gay Easter Parade which will pass our door later this afternoon. I have noticed that whenever you pay with a $20 bill it is checked thoroughly and then marked with a felt-tip pen. My curiosity aroused I asked the shop keeper why this was so although I am sure it is to check for counterfeit notes. She confirmed my suspicions and further added that on holiday weekends a lot of bleached notes are presented by out of towners. The paper feels right but the denomination has been altered. By checking the note up to the light and then putting it under an ultra violet light they confirm that it is legitimate.

I have also noticed that big Al Carson has not been advertised as playing at his normal gig at the Funky Pirate. He also did not perform at the FQF or is scheduled to play Jazz Fest. A quick Google search revealed that he has been hospitalized last April and was in intensive care suffering pneumonia. No further updates are available on the net. Maybe his ongoing weight issues have forced him into retirement. I hope he is o.k.

Went down to St. Philip around 1:30 to get a position for the Chris Owen Easter Parade. There are many people out and about wearing bunny ears (men and women) as well as more ornate Easter Bonnets. The locals sure make an effort to dress up for Easter Sunday. I took the camera with me for the first time this trip as there will be many great photo opportunities. The locals love Chris Owen and she looks pretty in her Easter finery. There are many shouts of, ‘we love you Chris.’ She does not seem to age from year to year, just looks ancient.

It got hot standing in the sun so I was glad to walk the short distance back home and sit out on the balcony with a cold Abita. The six pack of Abita had cost $12.09 from the Quarter Master. Good value seeing that a single Abita at most bars is $5 to $6.

Most people that pass me by say ‘Happy Easter’ and a few have said to me ‘go cubbies.’ I forgot that I had on my Chicago Cubs t-shirt. For those of you that don’t know the ‘cubbies’ won last year’s baseball World Series. What a year for me, the doggies winning the Grand Final and the cubs winning the World Series after an even longer wait than the dogs. Any by the way red, white and blue are the colors of both teams.

A group of Elvis impersonators went past on small scooters. I nearly got knocked out when one strong-arm Elvis threw me a dum dums (sorta like a small chuppa chup)

There is a travel guide across the road from me explaining some of the local architecture as well as adding in some snippets about Hurricane Katrina. Where my apartment is built is approx. 5 to 6 feet above sea level as is much of the Quarter. Hence the reason it did not flood. However compare that to some areas of Metairie which is 44 feet below sea level and you can see the problem.

Although having said that Mickey told me that a short time back it rained so hard and long that the Quarter did experience some flooding.

Stew and Carol came over around 4 o’clock. I invited them over to watch the Gay Easter Parade. There are so many interesting people to photograph and no one seems to object when I ask to take their picture. The only hassle I have with bringing over my tablet and not my laptop is that I can’t download any of those photos. You will just have to wait until I get back.

Spoiler Alert – Mickey has just told me thatt the current filming of New Orleans NCIS has Pride’s bar being blown up!

All in all another great Easter Sunday in New Orleans.

New Orleans – 2017

April 15th – Day 12

As could be expected after (for me) such a late night, it was an effort to get out of bed. All in all arising at 11 was a pretty brave thing on my behalf. Just feeling mighty tired but not hungover.

Again an overcast day with a nice breeze.

Time to eat. I tried out a new restaurant across from the market. St. Celia is a little upmarket for the area. Got myself a seat and ordered the Fried Chicken that comes with a mountain of mashed potato smothered in gravy and a big serve of cabbage. Very nice even if the service was very slow. If Kate and Wendy were here they would have struggled to eat this whole plate of food even if they were sharing.

Today is just going to be a rest day. 

The only other thing I did was go out at 6 to have an Italian Sausage Pizza at the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen. The sky is looking threatening and wouldn’t you know it as soon as I was ready to walk back home the heavens opened up. Very heavy downpour for 30 or so minutes. I took shelter and waited out the rain. Been lucky as this is the first rain in the 12 days I have been here.

New Orleans – 2017

April 14th. – Day 11

Good Friday in the Quarter. I am out and about at 9:30. A little overcast and still quiet around town.

Down to Belle’s Diner on Decatur just across from the French Market. One thing about being a regular visitor is that you build up a bit of knowledge about good eating establishments. Belle’s is a 50’s styled Diner with the obligatory rock ‘n’ roll music greeting customers. Ordered the Belle’s breakfast of sunny-side up eggs, bacon, hash browns and coffee all for $10. Smothered of course with Crystal hot sauce.

Went back to the apartment and chilled out listening to WWOZ.

Around 12:30 I headed down to the market for a Pecan Pie. I have been trying to bake these little sweet morals at home. Had some success with the filling turning out O.K. but just need to work on the pastry. When Cara comes back home I will get her to help me out. She is our families baking wizard.

About time that I took a nice long walk along the Mississippi down to the Riverwalk Mall. Perfect day for it with a cooling breeze coming off the river. Did some window shopping, taking note of a few things I might buy toward the end of my trip. Depending of course on how my finances are holding up.

Time to head back for a rest and then shower before heading out again to meet up with our good friends Pat & Bob ‘Gentilly’ Jnr. at a favorite watering hole on St. Phillips, the legendary Johnny White’s bar. We are not meeting up until 9ish. Now I must say that if I was back home I would normally be in bed by this time. New Orleans sure brings out the bad boy in me!

I headed out around 7:30 to make sure I had a feed before consuming a copious amount of the seasonal Abita Strawberry Ale. I found a Vietnamese restaurant and ordered a Beef Pho and an appetizer of fried dumplings filled with crab meat and cream cheese. The Beef Pho was a little disappointing, nowhere as tasty as those from Barkly St. Footscray however the dumplings were very tasty.

I am seated a the bar at 9 and there is a change of shift, ‘Evil’ Bob is now our barman through to 3 A.M. In fact I said hello to Evil Bon yesterday as he was part of the wedding reception at Mr. B’s Bar.

Pat and Bob came in shortly after and we greeted like the old friend’s that we have become. They are both truly the most friendly and accommodating people you would wish to meet. I know that Wendy is sorely sorry that she is not with me this trip. Not so much for the destination but for the people we know call friends. We had a great time chatting and discussing Pat’s planned ‘Down Under’ trip. I am trying valiantly to persuade Bob to also come away with Pat. It would be great to be able to show them both our Melbourne music scene and places such as the Great Ocean Road and of course the crazy people we knock about with.

A Brass Band went past Johnny White’s (apparently). Pat said to me, ‘ You are now a local, a brass band just went by and you just kept on talking.’ Normally I would have went over to the door to have a look! Pat showed me a photo of ‘Evil’ Bob in his Mardi Gras Costume. He was dressed as a vagina, yes that is what I said, a vagina. Looked incredible, a 6 foot five inch vagina! He could hire himself out to schools for sex education classes.

The night finished up around 2 A.M. with plans to do it all again next Friday. Can’t wait.

New Orleans – 2017

April 13th – Day 10

Well here I am in New Orleans on our wedding anniversary! Don’t worry I have already found a gift for Wendy. She is not getting want she dreams of though, that is me kidnapping Tab Benoit and bringing him back as her toy boy.

I walked over to Frenchman to visit the Louisiana Music Factory, the best record shop in the South. It is 10:30 and a sign on the door says closed – open at 11. I am a little hungry so I wandered across the street to Café Rose Nichaud. I know the food is good here. Local business people use the Café for their morning meetings. A little interesting history about Rose Nichaud – In the early 1800’s Rose became the first known coffee vendor in New Orleans. Rose, a slave, saw the opportunity to provide a service to French Market vendors, workers and shoppers by providing them with fresh hot coffee. Rose created a portable cart which she pushed around the market on Sundays, selling “café noir ou café au lait” Her entrepreneurial efforts were a quick success. One customer is quoted to have said, “Her coffee is like the benediction that follows after a prayer.”

 I had a healthy (for New Orleans) dish – the Rose Benedict – the signature dish of the Café – organic yellow corn rosemary cheese grits topped with open faced biscuit with garlic mayo, portabella mushrooms, caramelized (when in the U.S. spell like the U.S) onion, avocado, tomatoes, sunny side up eggs, asiago cheese and argola. I could have added alligator sausage but I decided to go vego for at least one meal. Pretty amazing breakfast and one I will have again. 

Tonight, William has invited my neighbor and myself to Mr. B Bar ‘n’ Restaurant for a crawfish boil. William has taken me to this bar before and it is on St Phillips and does not attract tourists. Indeed we gate crashed a wedding reception. An incredibly eclectic gathering of people that only New Orleans could muster. No suits and ties here. Just an amazing sight of characters straight out of ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’ the John Toole award winning novel that must be read by all.

I made a real mess of my first crawfish. I attacked it from the wrong end and finished up with crawfish brains all over my face, glasses and t-shirt much to the mirth of William. After three of so of the tasty little morsels I had the eatin’ down pat.

I was back at the apartment by 7:30 and flicked through the T.V. channels. Came across a crazy movie called Coffee and Cigarettes. I really enjoyed the show. Check it out at if you dig left on center films then you might like it.

New Orleans – 2017

April 12th- Day 12

Laundry Day at Suds Dem Duds, just a few doors down from my apartment.

I have decided today to have lunch at the famous Dooky Chase restaurant in the Treme. I know the address – 2301 Orleans Avenue but am unsure how long the walk will take. I checked up Google Maps and it will be a 27 minute walk. I have a suggestion for Google Maps. I want them to allow you to input your age and the quality of your legs so as to ascertain a more accurate walking time!

 It is worth checking out the Dooky Chase link to understand why this restaurant is an institution in New Orleans. It is consistently voted as having the best fried chicken in town and many famous people have dined here.

Took me about 35 minutes, not bad. The lunch menu  is a la carte and includes a delicious chicken soup and a choice of fried chicken, dirty rice, cheesy mac, hot sausage, greens and candied yam followed by a peach cobbler all for under $20 bucks. Nice looking restaurant without being pretentious. More locals than tourists. Can’t wait to bring Kate here. She will love the chicken and cheesy mac. You can go back for seconds. Real friendly staff help for a great New Orleans experience. The place is decked out with Easter decorations. A lot of homes in the Quarter are also decorated. New Orleans is very much still a catholic city without being pushy. Mrs. Chase the matriarch of the family walks around each table to greet the diners. She is somewhat of a celebrity as many diners want to have their photo taken with her. She stopped and thanked me for dining with her. For a lady in her mid 90’s she is still switched on and takes a delight at being in her restaurant daily even though her cooking days are over.

Tonight I head down to Lafayette Square for the free music in the park series. Every Wednesday night during Spring you get to sample two of New Orleans finest bands. Tonight it is John ‘Popa’ Gross followed by John Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentleman. I have been coming to these events each year I am in New Orleans. I even recognize a few familiar faces. Again, more locals than tourists. The gig runs from 5 PM to 8PM and the CBD workers just take off their ties and get a little music after a days work.

Normally when I am over here there is always in the back of my mind that as the days tick over I have to shortly go back to a job that I was not enjoying. I real damper. I don’t have to worry about that crap any more. Even though I lost my job in very unsavory circumstances (near on a year ago) I am glad that I am no longing in the sales driven banking industry. Not having to report to wankers in corporate suits/dress is a blessing

New Orleans – 2015

April 11th – Day 11

I mucked up my accommodation booking dates. I still have a day to stay here on Sth. Rampart but found out that I am due to arrive at my normal apartment today as well. I will go to 1123 Bourbon St as it is in the Quarter and I will not have to battle the St. Charles Street Car tourists. Once I got to my familiar abode it felt more like being back at my second home.

I went straight down to EnVie’s for French Toast and Iced Coffee, real nice, with Buddy Guy playing on the radio. Gotta be back by Noon as Stew is coming to pick me up and take me to a couple of spots that are not in the tourist guides.

Kate will be happy when she arrives at the apartment. The T.V. has all the movie channels available.

Stew was right on time. I now have some new music memorabilia including, the book ‘Backbeat – Earl Palmer’s Story.’ Earl was the greatest session drummer of his era. He is a Rock ‘n’ Roll hall of fame member. He has worked with the biggest names in the business as well as working on major file scores and T.V. series. .Two Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown C.D.’s both signed and a full bottle of whiskey with a Willie Nelson pick around the neck and Willie’s autograph on the label.

We headed over to Frenchman St as Stew had not eaten today. We sat for an hour at Dat Dog and chatted. Stew then took me to an upmarket hotel on St Charles called the Pontchatrain Hotel. Very classy establishment but the surprise was the top floor bar and balcony area. The view of the CBD is fantastic. I should have brought my camera!

Next we drove to a Cancer research hospital. The reason being that their is a cancer survival park called the Richard and Annette Block Cancer Survival Plaza. Lovely statues and columns dedicated to different places around the globe. Check out this article or Google Richard Bloch an inspiring  philanthropist.

We drove down (stop reading here Kate) to Decatur and found a park and went to Cafe Du Monde. No big line to get in today. The bad news is I have on a black shirt! 

We sat and talked and I asked Stew about his air force days and more particularly how he became a jet pilot. Stew was a Major during the Vietnam war and trained to be a pilot at Selma Alabama. He was there when Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr. led the freedom march across that infamous bridge. Stew flew Boing 707 mid air refuelling jets known as KC – 135

I said to Stew that  flying those type of jets would have been scary. He said that flying war time jets was commonly described as 90% boredom and 10% sheer terror.

At 6:45 I headed down to B.B.King’s club which is now where the old Margaretville was. Grabbed a seat at the bar and waited for the 7:30 band to start up. The Kenny Brown Trio. I thought it might have been the Kenny Brown that played alongside R.L.Burnside, alas is was not but they were still pretty good.

I had a feed of Nachos with an abundance of Jalapenos washed down with Lady Magnolia Southern Pecan beer. The young bar dude is from Arizona and he is a guitarist and has come to learn more in the music capital of the world. Nice guy. At the end of the night I asked for my bill to be ‘closed out.’ I thought he had made a mistake as I only got charged for 3 beers. I must have looked puzzled, he looked at me and smiled and said ‘there may be a few beers missing, I enjoyed talking to you!’

New Orleans – 2017

April 10th – Day 8 

I was up at 8:15, checked some emails.

Overcast day but not cold. Took a walk down St. Charles and stopped at the Avenue Café for a real tasty bagel made with hot salami, cheese and egg. Sipped away on my iced coffee while reading the Times Picayune. I picked up a few things at Walmart, the front of the store was blasting out classical music which keeps the loiterers away.

I had been mulling over posting a blog this year. Figured I had written about most things over the last 5 years or so. Kate sent a message to ask when the blog was going up. Luckily I had been keeping a daily journal. The journal helps me remember what I have been doing day to day. If I did not record my daily comings and goings I would have no hope of recalling what I had done. So today, being a bit of a rest day after the FQF I decided to post the six days to date. It took about three hours all up.

Glad to hear that Cara has landed in Alaska. She sent a photo from the airplane and there is a lot of snow still about.

Caught the Street Car around 3:30. Surely it will not be as busy as the last few days. Only had to wait 5 minutes and it came rocking and rolling down the track. Oh no, it is packed. The driver stopped anyway and somehow the four of us waiting squeezed on. I am literally sitting on the drivers lap and I could easily have taken over the controls. The female driver has her front window open and a nice breeze is keeping me cool in the sardine tin environment.

I got down to the French Market just after 4 and immediately headed over to get my favourite Tropical Smoothie. I just spent an hour or so watching people and listening to the blues music being played at the nearby B.B.King franchise. The French Market is no where as busy as the weekend. Much more sedate and civilised.

So ended the quietest day I have had to date. One that I needed.