Just made one of my favorite annual purchases - a new calendar book for next year. (One with an audacious red cover, because that's the kind of year I plan on having.) I love the clean slate and the possibilities that this simple book represents. Mapping out my favorite festivals and the birthdays of my favorite people. Planning vacation/staycation time, casual get-togethers, or just a night out. Nowadays, most people prefer to use their smartphones, or whatever current gadget is trending, to do these things. Not me. I love seeing the written words on the page, filling in the spots on my "dance card". I actually enjoy scheduling and planning. And with a book, at year's end, you have a physical record of everything you've done.....good, bad, busy, or not.
Last week, for me, happened to be busy. I had five straight days of social obligations with friends in town. A great time was had by all and I wouldn't have had it any other way, but I was reminded of the stamina that is sometimes required to "hang" in this city. It can wear you out, especially if you're out of practice. The festivities began, as mentioned in my previous post, at Harry's Corner. When I entered the bar at 3 on a Monday afternoon there were two old guys, a woman on the other side of middle age, the bar tender, and me. I wasn't exactly enthused about drinking - I've come to a point where I REALLY have to be in the mood for it, and I wasn't. But I grabbed a seat at one of the few tables, determined to make the best of it. And that, we did. Fran and John arrived from Canada, other friends joined us, and I'd say I rolled in bed right around midnight. Drunk, smelling like smoke, and having to work on Tuesday.
After plugging through the day, we had Fran and John over for dinner on Tuesday evening. This was "spur of the drunken moment", as during the previous night's libations (sans dinner) Fran drunkenly indicated that she HAD to have red beans & rice and Lester drunkenly volunteered to make them for her. Thus, an evening was born. A very nice evening, indeed. Lester made the promised red beans along with some fried chicken that was just on point. Great food and great company. And we all chose to abstain from alcohol.
Wednesday it was back to work, where I anticipated the arrival of my old friend Becca, from my NJ hometown, for her first visit to our fair city. Her visit was short and I loosely planned a variety of things to give her a nice sampling of what the city has to offer. So, after fetching her from the airport we headed straight to Port of Call for burgers and monsoons. And even though we agreed on an early night, we stopped at the Balcony Music Club to catch a few songs by the Deja Vu Brass Band.
Thursday we were up and at 'em. Cafe du Monde for beignets & cafe au lait, a stop by the river, some souvenir shopping, a quick jaunt through the French Market, then lunch at El Gato Negro. I absolutely love El Gato Negro and can't say enough about the freshness of the food and margaritas! After cheesy nachos with chorizo, refried beans, & sauteed peppers and onions; filet mignon tacos; and fresh raspberry margaritas; it was time for a nap. By 8pm we were refreshed and ready to head to Vaughn's for trumpet player Kermit Ruffins. I hadn't been to Vaughn's for some time but it hasn't changed and still got as crowded as ever. When we tired of the crowd, we left for Mimi's in the Marigny for Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue. Gal Holiday has a stellar voice and Mimi's offers a much more chill atmosphere that includes music, booze and tapas. I am in love with their Mushroom Manchego Toast (mushrooms sauteed in sherry wine, butter, garlic & a bit of cream, served on bread topped w/ melted manchego cheese) and have tried numerous times to duplicate it at home, to no avail. Relatively early to bed again.
Friday we toured our neighborhood while walking the dogs, had roast beef po' boys and cocktails at Liuzza's By the Track, lounged around the house, hit Three Muses for happy hour with singer Debbie Davis and tapas (the brushetta of the day involving pesto, corn, ricotta, tomatoes, & balsamic glaze; and the meyer lemon chicken were terrific!) and, finally, The Spotted Cat for cocktails and Cassidy & the New Orleans Kids.
An incredibly pleasant five days catching up with friends. And we were lucky.....everything we experienced was lovely. Nothing at all to complain about and I felt as if my mission to give a quick, but thorough, glimpse of the city was accomplished.
Which brings us back to calendars, plans, and schedules......I LOVE planning ways to spend time in New Orleans. I need to find a way to make a living doing it and am going to research it. It could actually be possible for me to LOVE my job.
Maybe I found my groove.
So.........know anyone coming to New Orleans?