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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

New Orleans -- Within The French Quarter 5. 24. 08


*  Cafe du Monde - breakfast                                    *  Central Grocery - Lunch
*  French Quarter walking tour                               *  Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop - Bar
*  ACME Oyster House - Dinner                              *  Bourbon Street

Cafe du Monde was our first stop in New Orleans after the hotel check-in. It was located across Jackson Square. There was a long line in front of the cafe and we were starving. However, the line moved quickly. 

The famous cafe au lait & beignets were simply coffee with milk & fried square dough piled with powdery sugar. They were nothing extraordinary. However, being in Cafe du Monde for cafe au lait & beignets has nothing to do with the food. It was the experience that said "I am in New Orleans."

After sharing the beignets, Hans and I were still hungry. We walked to the Mississippi River levee, Jackson Square, and visited several shops on Decatur Street until we reached our next stop, Central Grocery. Central Grocery is known for it's famous muffulettas.

A muffuletta is a sandwich made of a round sesame bread with olive salad, layers of cold cuts & cheeses. Hans and I shared a half muffuletta. It was amazing. Definitely one of the best sandwiches we have ever had. It was so good that the last morning before we left, we got a whole muffuletta to go for the flight home.

After lunch, we followed our guidebook's self -guided walking tour within the French Quarter.  The French Quarter is full of elegant railing buildings and colorful houses. Many store fronts have attractive display with strong French influence.

The French Quarter was full of memorial day weekend visitors. There were plenty of stores, bars, cafes, and restaurants. It was hard to see any evidence of Katrina in this area.

The tour took us to another "must visit" stop: Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop. At 1: 25 PM, 3.5 hours after we landed in New Orleans, I had my first Hurricane cocktail in hand. Haha, not bad at all.
Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop is the oldest building in French Quarter. I knew it would be exactly the kind of bar that Hans loved: simple, quiet, old, and unpretentious.

The weather was sunny, hot, and humid. After we finished the walking tour, we were sticky and sweaty. We walked back to our hotel, Inter Continental, located in the Central Business district to freshen up before we headed out for the evening again.

We headed out to the French Quarter again around 6 P.M. for dinner. ACME oyster house was strongly recommended by our friends Mark & Donna. It was also quite close to our hotel. When we got to the restaurant, there was already a long line in front of the restaurant. Luckily, we were quickly seated at the bar.

Turned out, they were the best seats in the restaurant. We drank beers and cocktails while watching the bar staff in action. The staff was wearing only thin plastic gloves jamming the oyster shells in fast speed. It was nerve racking to watch though.


The oysters were  as fresh as they can be. We also ordered seafood gumbo, fried catfish po-boy, a plate of boiled crawfish, and top it off with the bread pudding. We had fun eating the crawfish, not only because we don't get them in New York, but also because I always like eating shellfish that requires a little effort.

Getting up at 4 A.M. to catch our flight and walking none-stop for more than 6 hours that day, we were both beat by the time we finished dinner. However, the blasting music and the crowd drew us to the infamous Bourbon street.

It was overflown with testosterone and sexuality that screamed inhibition and trouble. There were rolls of strip joints, bars, and night clubs. Girls with skimpy outfits and club promoters tried to lure you in. Looking at the families with kids and parents pushing strollers with one hand and holding a plastic cup of beer with another, I was not sure if this was the place for a family trip. The energy did excite us, and the fact that we could get alcohol to go was awesome. I could only imagine how crazy the scene must be during Mardi Gras.

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