This beard belongs to my friend Pableaux Johnson, a New Orleans native who literally wrote the book on eating in his home town. Whenever we got hungry, I called Pableaux, so he could tell us where to go, what to order, and how to make our meal a better experience. Much of the advice below is straight from Pableaux’s mouth, and I’ve never eaten better. (Thanks again, mister.)
1. Shrimp Po’ Boy at Parkway
Go hungry. If you can, go hungover. Walk past the line winding through the patio, and find the bar in back. If you can get a seat, the waitress will take your order right away. Order the Shrimp Po’ Boy, the sweet potato fries, and a side of the beef gravy for dipping. If it’s the season, you’ll want a Strawberry Abita too.
Stay as long as you want. Have another beer.
2. Beignets at Café Du Monde
Once you’ve tasted these beignets, the memory will bring you comfort. Warm, soft, sweet, and your soundtrack is a man singing gospel on the corner.
3. Hamburger at Slim Goodies
The quintessential burger, the first I’ve eaten in a restaurant that reminded me of the ones my mom fried up in a cast iron skillet at home. Thick, salty, fatty perfection.
4. Moscow Mule or House Sazerac at Bar Tonique
Come to Bar Tonique while the sun’s still out, and have a seat. Don’t make any special requests, don’t try to direct your bartender through the mix. Just sit down, and let them give you something better than what you know how to order.
If you’re a whiskey drinker, the House Sazerac will make you calmer, more acute. What you’re tasting there is a little fennel. If you’re thirsty and want something juicy, ask for the Moscow Mule. Knock it with your straw, and watch the flurries of fresh ginger dance around the ice.
5. Muffaletta at Cochon
Cochon has an in-house boucherie, so order something meaty like this Muffaletta. The cocktails are just as good as the food, and and the food is just fine, thank you very much.
6. Strawberry Abita on the porch
First off, I’m usually dubious about flavored beer. The Strawberry Abita, however, doesn’t try to pretend it’s a wine cooler. It tastes like cold beer with a little bit of extra summer on the backend. Like eating iced strawberries and popping open a beer chilled in the same bucket.
7. Turtle Soup at Commander’s Palace or Brennan’s
Unfortunately, turtle soup isn’t to my taste, but you’re a visitor so you’re honor-bound to try it. I tried a bowl at Commander’s Palace — where they take three days to make it — and a bowl at Brennan’s. They were remarkably similar to me, but I had a sentimental preference for the bowl at Brennan’s because the staff was singing happy anniversary to a gray-haired couple at the next table.
When they ask if you’d like some Sherry floated on top, you would.
8. Pimm’s Cup at Napoleon House
It’s hot. You want a drink with a cucumber in it, and this is where you should get it. Wait to sit on the patio.
9. Eggs Benedict at Stanley
Pableaux said if he had three days to eat breakfast in the French Quarter, he’d eat at Stanley all three times. Fair enough.
10. Strawberry Shortcake at Commander’s Palace
Make your reservation, fasten your pearls, and set aside a few hours for lunch at Commander’s Palace. When they offer you a dark napkin because your dress is black, let your brain unclench. Order the two-course special, and ask for the House Martini, which is a quarter. You heard me. (If you don’t drink martinis, the House Cosmo is also 25 cents, as are a nebulous blue drink, and a florescent green drink, neither of which we can discuss here.)
Everyone will tell you to finish up with the bread pudding soufflé, but if the strawberry shortcake is in season, you know what to do. Bring a cigarillo in your clutch, because you should be pleasantly illuminated by the time you leave. There’s a lovely graveyard across the street where you can chat with your girlfriend, and pat your hair back into place while you smoke.
If there’s more computing power in my smart phone than in the the first space shuttle, then I shouldn’t need a Sherpa to help me lug my gadgets. Still, as our tech gets smarter, our suitcases get heavier. The more clever the device, the harder it is to leave behind. Here are five tips and ten gadgets that let you pack light without a heavy heart. Read more…
While I was away, I mostly ate. I managed to “outgrow” most of the clothes I brought with me. New Orleans is good for your butt.
I was in Louisiana to do a presentation with Erin Loechner and Liz Gumbinner, the women I also presented with at the Alt Design Summit. Our panel was “How’d You Get that Sponsor?” and I was really happy with it. (You’ll find recaps on the Mom 2.0 blog, and Work it, Mom if you’re interested in the business side of blogging.)
We ate some more.
We had cocktails.
We had more food.
The closing keynote on the future of media was excellent, and I’m still chewing on something Margaret said. She mentioned how personalization algorithms were getting so good that soon we’d have to seek out differing viewpoints on anything.
So maybe one element of the “future of content” lies in synthesizing and presenting differing viewpoints for people tired of hearing their own opinions echoed back. Do people get tired of that?
I also did my first reading! Oh my goodness, it went poorly. I read A 12-Step Guide to Threesomes, but while I was on stage shaking with fear, I realized that half the audience was sober, and I was in the midst of Operation Separation, and I was wearing a minidress (like a common whore), cataloguing a laundry list of ways in which one might fictionally seduce me. Had I actually been naked in front of my high school class, I don’t think I could have been more uncomfortable. In retrospect, I should have been much more inebriated, so I proceeded to do that backstage while Heather petted my hair, and teared up when she saw me tearing up, and did not bullshit me about how great I had been. This is why we are friends.
I stayed a couple extra days with Anna Beth in a gorgeous apartment on St. Charles. We went antiquing, ate some more, had red wine on the porch.
When I was a little kid, this is what I thought it would be like to be a grownup.
The best parts of Model Home, by Eric Puchner:
“They had lost this feeling, the way you might lose a favorite gift you were no longer attached to. It had not seemed an important loss at the time: Dustin was born, and if anything a deeper,more devout-seeming love took its place. Once, while they were bathing Dustin together in the sink of their apartment, washing his scabbed-up bellybutton and tiny, heartbreaking penis, Camille had turned to Warren with a look of such stunning affection that he had actually lost his breath. I will never be happier than I am now, Warren had thought. Seventeen years later, he realized how sadly prescient that was.”
“[The guy in the top hat] sprayed some PAM into a plastic bag and then stuffed it up to his face. He blinked his eyes wide when he was finished, like something hatching from an egg.”
“The place gave Lyle a sludgy, unreal feeling, as though she were watching soap operas on a beautiful day.”
“He looked like one of those football players whose popularity hinged on their willingness to eat strange things.”
“The fact that you could know someone almost intimately and then a year later not know him at all seemed to be at the heart of everything sad and fucked up in the world.”
On St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, this tree was heavy with beads.
People throw them from the Mardi Gras floats, and they catch on branches and telephone wires. These have been up for months.
Oh, Louisiana. You know how to charm a girl.
It was OK, I guess.
(More later today, when I can get my camera to start speaking to my laptop again. My laptop should never have told my camera that the 4GB flash card made her look fat.)
Helen Jane: Mah flight! It’s landed! En rote in five — where can I find your awesome face?
Me: Room 375!
HJ: Need anything?
Me: Black pantyhose. Otherwise, no. Wait. Wine.
HJ: I gotcher hose, and we should have wine waiting for us at the front desk!
Me: You are like a magical unicorn with boobs.
HJ: That is going in my bio.