Nope! Not at Jacques-Imo’s, at least. One of the specialties there is shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake. It’s an appetizer, and it’s succulent. We’d heard about it, and we actually Ubered away from the French Quarter to try it.
We’re staying in a VRBO rental in the French Quarter, about halfway between Bourbon Street and Louis Armstrong Park. This morning at about 8:30 a.m., with the temperature already about 90 degrees and the humidity approximately 1000 percent, we walked to the park and checked out the statue of the legendary jazz trumpeter. We’re traveling with two long-time music educators, so we also got an interesting tutorial on how Armstrong started off on the coronet, and how the coronet and the trumpet are different.
When you’re planning on a day of visiting live music ensues — and perhaps sampling an adult beverage or two along the way — it’s important to establish a good base. This morning we wandered over to Hobnobbers, a place UJ discovered on-line, wound our way past the pool table and the front room bar, and found ourselves in the back room where the locals hang out and you order from daily specials at a window. I went in for the shrimp and cheesy grits and was rewarded with a plastic plate groaning with probably three dozen succulent shrimp, cheesy, perfectly cooked grits, and white toast with grape jelly. A bottle of water, too, to prepare for a day of 90-degree temperatures and humidity.
We can’t get enough of the live music in New Orleans. Last night we hit multiple venues on Frenchman Street, which has just about the best collection of live music venues within a small geographical area that you’ll find anywhere. We started at one of our favorites, the Spotted Cat Music Club, where this band deftly covered some classic selections from the Great American Songbook.
As always on Frenchman Street, the music options are diverse — from torch songs at the Spotted Cat to roots blues music at the Apple Barrel to a kick out the jams, move your feet horn band at Cafe Negril. We enjoyed every one of them, and tonight we’ll be back for more.
We’re in New Orleans for a family gathering, and last night we hit the Acme Oyster House — a Big Easy institution. Astonishingly, our group of seven was seated immediately, and we promptly ordered some pitchers of Abita beer, two dozen raw oysters, and the house specialty: char-grilled oysters.
It’s not easy to describe how good the char-grilled oysters were, and how spectacularly they kick-started our weekend. They’re topped with Parmesan cheese and are melts and crusty, all at the same time. They were so good we ate four dozen of them, and probably could have polished off 100 more.
For dinner, Richard and I split the seafood platter, which was a mound of crunchy fish, crab, shrimp, French fries, and hush puppies. It was the perfect food to consume before heading out for a little live music crawl. Thus fortified, and with the lip-smacking goodness of the char-grilled oysters still freshly in mind, our hardy band ventured forth into the New Orleans night.
Suppose, for a moment, that you are in a strange town on a business trip. Suppose that, in the eerie twilight, you are walking back to your generic motel room after having consumed a forgettable meal served by a forgettable franchise restaurant, along a busy commercial thoroughfare with telephone wires overhead. Suppose you hear an odd fluttering noise, like a random displacement of air, when suddenly you look up and see that every square inch of telephone pole and wire is covered by a roiling mass of indistinguishable black birds that don’t seem to be doing anything except creepily perching in this spot for reasons known only to their tiny, alien, nictating bird brains.
Oh, yeah — and suppose when you were a kid you stupidly watched Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds on late-night TV and ever since you’ve been secretly terrified by the possibility that your eyes will be pecked out by evil birds in a strange town — probably after you have to put up with tiresome lectures by some bird know-it-all woman wearing a beret.
Yes, you’ll sleep well tonight, experiencing the wonders of business travel. At least you haven’t seen anybody in a beret . . . yet.