Dec 27, 2011

A Big Easy birthday bar crawl

Considering how it’s been almost a month since my birthday, I figured I’d better wrap up the series of New Orleans blogs with the night of bar hopping that concluded the trip (well, except for the following day we used to recover).

As fate would have it, I was accompanied on my drinking tour by a mysterious and exotic Gypsy who happened to be falling more in love with New Orleans with every day we spent there.  Lucky me, as it bodes well for our future, no doubt J.  We began the night still full from our Jazz brunch at Court of Two Sisters, which served as a good base.  I would eventually need it, too because I didn’t start lightly.

First stop:  Pat O’Brien’s and their main bar to the left side of the entrance on St. Peter Street.  The drinks are always a little cheaper there than if you order them in the courtyard of piano bar.  It was a chilly night, so sitting beside the flaming fountain in the courtyard wasn’t going to make or break the experience.  Besides, you get plenty of bar feel inside with the enough German beer steins hanging everywhere from the ceiling and classic pictures dotting the walls from years gone by.  I started with a signature hurricane …

Dec 22, 2011

Things Discussed at the Brewhaus, Episode IV: A New Hope

We interrupt our regularly scheduled series of New Orleans blogs for a new list of fascinating and thought-provoking subjects discussed within the past few weeks at my favorite watering hole: 

Dec 18, 2011

A Big Easy birthday brunch

I figured I should get around to posting about my birthday before my memory begins to fail me.  Besides, I lost enough brain cells that night as it was.  New Orleans is a city that celebrates gluttony, and I certainly did my part on my birthday.  And, as fate would have it, I was accompanied by a mysterious and exotic Gypsy who helped me along the way.

As my last blog entry might have led you to believe, we got a late start to the day (I didn’t even cover dinner and bar hopping from the night before … perhaps fodder for another future blog?).  But we started it off in style with the famous jazz buffet brunch at Court of Two Sisters.  What makes it a jazz brunch?  These folks …

Dec 13, 2011

Monday means Magazine Street and St. Charles Avenue

When we first checked into our hotel, my mysterious and exotic Gypsy co-pilot and travel companion got a tip from the concierge about a great bead shop on Magazine Street.  Apparently, she had made an impression with the jewelry she was wearing, and the concierge was rightfully impressed.  These sorts of things have been known to happen.  So, on our first full day in the Big Easy, we decided to get passes for the St. Charles Avenue streetcar and head toward the Garden District and other points Uptown. 

Based on our tip from the concierge, we got off the streetcar at Napoleon Avenue to walk down to Magazine Street, and as fate would have it (fate often plays a key role when traveling with a Gypsy), we passed St. Elizabeth’s Asylum, which was an orphanage back in the day but more recently famous for having been purchased by novelist Anne Rice as a private residence. 
See, the plaque shows I'm not kidding.
Notice the Gypsy in the corner checking out the entrance.

Dec 10, 2011

A relatively slow Sunday night in the Big Easy

As fate would have it, not even traveling with a mysterious and exotic Gypsy could keep the rain away for most of the two days on the road on our way down to New Orleans.  So, by the time we approached the Big Easy Sunday evening, we were ready to reward ourselves with a stop at Middendorf’s on the bayou and some of their outstanding barbecued oysters. 

I intended to take a picture of these masterpieces, but what can I say?  I ate my half dozen before I had the chance.  But I did take a couple of pictures of the place all decked out for Christmas. 
The "thick or thin" refers to Middendorf's famous catfish.  I always go thin.

After our pit stop at Middendorf’s, we made our way into New Orleans on I-10 with a Lake Pontchartrain sunset behind us.  Things were looking up. 

Dec 5, 2011

A commoner reviews Jake & Rips, Grenada, Miss.

There are 289 miles of Interstate 55 from Memphis, Tenn. to the Louisiana state line and a whole lot of nothing in between.  But at least it’s a scenic “nothing” compared to Illinois, an equally long state north to south, and I’d much rather look at Mississippi’s pine trees, rolling hills and the occasional magnolia (when in bloom) than flat land, corn and soybeans.  Still, if you’re heading southbound in a driving rain like we were on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, it starts to get a little monotonous after the towns start disappearing about an hour past Memphis. 

One of the few major spots of civilization in rural northern Mississippi is Grenada, or Exit 206 if you’re counting the miles.  That’s where I first discovered Jake & Rips several years ago.  I’ve always had an excellent dining experience every time I’ve visited, and this day was no exception. 

Dec 4, 2011

A rainy November night in Memphis

An old adage says the only certainties in life are death and taxes.  I’d like to add to that copious amounts of rain whenever I visit Memphis, Tenn.  Such was the case for the first day and night of my birthday trip. 

After a six hour drive in consistent rainfall, we checked in to the Econo Lodge in downtown Memphis where I got a very good deal for a Saturday night.  Maybe it was because of Thanksgiving weekend and they expected slow tourist traffic, but for whatever reason I wasn’t complaining. They even left us a nice welcome on the bed.
OK, we put the guest directory there ...

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...