Monday, March 25, 2013

Getaway 2013: New Orleans, Last Day, Commander’s Palace

For our last day in New Orleans…and consequently the last day of our vacation…we had a lunch reservation booked for a lovely lunch at Commander’s Palace Restaurant.


Commander’s is one of the must-do things for food loving visitors to NOLA.  We didn’t want to be out late on our last day, so instead I took the advice of a Twitter friend and booked in for lunch.  Same excellent service and food, but a little less busy and more reasonable on the pocketbook.


Nothing says power lunch like a 25 cent martini.  Or three.

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After cozying in to our little table lined with white linen and sinking into the fresh, warm garlic bread they brought us we got to placing our food orders.  Four course lunch?  OK!


I have to say that if this was a game, Michael won the first and second courses!  All of the food was delicious, but his choices were pretty amazing.

First course:  I had the Crawfish Boil Beignets (above) and he had the Oyster & Absinthe “Dome” (below).  I should have known something with bacon and cream under a pastry shell would be a winner! 


Second course:  Michael ordered one of the house specialties…Commander’s Turtle Soup (above).  Finished tableside with sherry…it was sooo delicious.  I had the Champagne & Strawberry salad, which was one of the best salads I’ve ever had but it still didn’t stand up to that Turtle Soup!


But I won round three!! 

Main course: I had their version of Louisiana Shrimp & Grits (above). This was an elevated version of the Southern classic and every bite was perfect.  Michael ordered the Gremolata Crusted Gulf Fish (below) which was good, but he had food envy of my shrimp.


But in the end we both won, because this was the dessert to beat all desserts.  If you are ever in New Orleans, do yourself a favour and take a trip to Commander’s if even just for this final course.

Fourth course:  We shared the Creole Bread Pudding SoufflĂ© (below).  So.damn.good.  Bread pudding is on every menu in Louisiana, but not like this.  Finished tableside with Whiskey Cream Sauce…we were both ready to crawl inside for a nap.


The whole meal was a highlight of our stay in New Orleans.  We’re springing for dinner next time! :)


Unfortunately the weather turned cooler and wetter so our plan to do some walking around after lunch was thwarted.  Instead we grabbed a cab back to our hotel, put on warmer shoes and then headed back out for afternoon cocktails.


We had tried to get into The Carousel Bar a few nights earlier but it was jam packed and overrun with Mardi Gras partiers (so much so that the hotel had actually covered their entire entrance in plastic sheeting!) so we were happy to return and find it in a much classier state.


The bartenders are inside the round bar, and the stools are affixed to the carousel which turns very slowly around the bar.  Fun to sip your drink and watch the view of the room change.


All in all a fine end to our fabulous, fun, exhausting vacation.  Our flight home was early the next morning so we spent our final evening sipping drinks and eating up the rest of our travel snacks while catching up on some TV in our room. 

Thanks New Orleans!  It was a treat.  Maybe one day we’ll come back when it’s not Mardi Gras and see everything else the city has to offer!  :)

{Hope everyone enjoyed the photos and my recaps.  If you have any questions…about New Orleans or our Royal Caribbean cruise…, drop me a note.}

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Getaway 2013: Day Eleven (Mardi Gras)

On Tuesday morning…actual Mardi Gras day…we actually decided to take things easy and head away from the day’s festivities. We wanted to check out the Garden District with it’s big ol’ mansions and such, so we put on our walking shoes and took a different turn out of our hotel.


Of course, you can’t be in New Orleans on Mardi Gras and NOT see a parade, so we still ended up in the midst of party time. :)  This time instead of being in the frat house street party, we followed a different route and were with more locals and found the streets lined with the infamous Mardi Gras ladders.  Local families know how to watch a parade!


These last few parades had some of the best beads and throws, which made getting anything so difficult!!  Everyone was really focused on their catches!  (I really didn’t need any more beads anyway!)


After snagging rice and beans, and a Bloody Mary for breakfast we finally made our way off the parade route and into our destination area…the Garden District.


Mostly it’s just a nice area of town with lots of expensive real estate and pretty houses.


I think my next home needs some pillars and a wrought iron fence.

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We eventually needed a rest break and found the first and only Starbucks we saw in New Orleans, where I added a mug to my collection.  (Sadly one of the ugliest city mugs ever…so many beautiful sights in NOLA and this is what they use for the mug? Meh.)


We then continued on to visit one of New Orleans’ most famous cemeteries…Lafayette No. 1.


New Orleans is above sea level, so all of their graves are above ground.  This makes for some of the coolest looking graveyards.  We missed out on taking a guided tour, but this one is open to visitors every day.

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The grey skies added a little something to the ambience here.


It was nice to visit an area outside of the French Quarter and see a quieter piece of New Orleans.  After the cemetery we hoofed it back to our hotel for a much need afternoon relax session.

Later on we got ready for dinner and decided to hop in a cab to check out Frenchman Street.  This is where we had hoped to find a nice little bar to hear some jazz or Cajun music, but because it was Mardi Gras what we found was chaos!  Eventually we landed ourselves at the patio bar of a restaurant where we shared an alligator po'boy and listened to a jazz quartet while watching costumed tourists dance and wobble about.


As we were walking towards our hotel and close to calling it a night, we decided to stop for a final beer at a hole in the wall Irish pub and ended up discovering a fabulous acoustic duo.  We spent the rest of our evening here away from the crazy crowds and really enjoying the music.  Not exactly Zydeco but we were happy!


{Next post: Our final day, and a fabulous lunch!}