Wednesday, April 23, 2008

In New Orleans

Last night's dinner was at Cochon, no reservation but no problem at this warehouse district restaurant that had recently been recognized by the NYT as one of the ten best new eateries in the whole U.S.A. The difference with the other nine was that Cochon is no more expensive than my local New York diner excluding the drinks and wine while the others are in the $100 - $200 range for a meal. I had "wood fired oysters" as a fiery appetizer, passing on the fried rabbit livers with pepper jelly toast. Their signature dish was amazing, Louisiana couchon with cabbage, turnips and pickles. Couchon was a "small", 5oz they said, amount of spiced pulled pork deep fried like a burger on top of the melange of other stuff. With smothered greens and creamy grits it was amazing, except that about three quarters of the way through the meal there was some sort of time released explosion that was overwhelming. This is seriously heavy food as evidenced by the girth of most of the other folks there. I took a slice of lemon cream pie back to the hotel.

Then heard some music at House of Blues on Decatur and did more walking. Those "local dives" mentioned in yesterday's post mostly opened at night despite being a wreck and most of the patrons, all locals, looked the same. They can still talk and joke and laugh New Orleans style.

Having had almost a 24 hour day on Tuesday it was late when the strolling began today. Walked up Decatur to Frenchman St. where we had stayed in 1989 with a 2 year old for Jazzfest and now it's the best scene in town. Will go back tonight. Had an espresso and conversation near the French market as most people here are just so casual with their talk if reciprocated, and that's just so comfortable. As an immediate creature of habit went back to my "Open" grocery at 1000 Royal, run by Vietnamese, and got some perfect greasy shrimp lo mein with a few big fried shrimp on top for lunch at "my" Time Picayune box table across the street, five bucks today.

Then walked down to Jackson Square, went into the cathedral and cooled off, sitting and trying to get into the spirit, or just relaxing. Came out and there was an informal band gathering, two trombones, one tuba, one string bass held together by newspaper and duct tape, and a snare drum, five project type guys half drunk and half drugged. They were amazingly good and it was at least a half hour before I wandered on, having talked about things of no consequence with the lead trombone guy between every song.

Back to the 200 block of Decatur to spend time in a wonderful old expansive individually owned bookstore and a record store with the same pedigree. Comfortable places, and I contributed to the local economy.

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