“There’s certain thing in life that I love. One is architecture…music, culture, food, people…and New Orleans has all of that.”
We met our friends and neighbors, Susan and Nelson Bye in New Orleans this weekend to enjoy the 35th Annual French Quarter Festival prior to our scheduled river boat cruise on the Mississippi River tomorrow afternoon. It was a visual, musical and gastronomical feast. Susan who was born in Ecuador, and raised in Chile to Jewish parents said she was going to take us to church. Huh? I thought. After walking around the market district we heard church bells. She bumped into a priest from another Catholic parish who told her a service was taking place at St. Patrick’s Church right up the street. Though Susan is not particularly religious, she has had a long standing love affair with church choirs. We discovered that the church was established in 1833 and was on the National Historic Register. Before we new it we were sitting in the cedar wood pews. The grand pipe organ was playing, and a choir was singing. It was beautiful, calming and majestic and brought me back to my childhood when I used to attend mass.
Next stop was Compere Lapin Caribbean Restaurant located in the Warehouse Arts District. We were scheduled to meet our niece Emily and her friend Abbey there at 11:30 AM for brunch. Emily has been attending the French Quarter Festival for three years now and recommended Compere Lapin which in French means, brother rabbit. We introduced Emily and Abby Stockwell to the Byes. The quaint eater specializes in Creole and Cajun style and was awesome. Our two hour visit passed by quickly, we walked together down the street, then before parting company hugged and said our goodbyes.
Cecile and I and the Byes walked along the waterfront. It was a windy day and the smell of marijuana was in the air. There were several bands playing in stages stretched along the waterfront. We stopped at a few to enjoy the music. The scene was vibrant, alive, colorful. Large paddle boats were ever-present on the river.
I bumped into a few interesting characters and took photos of and with them. One in particular was an African American balloon making clown named Dwayno. He was making animal shaped figures for the kids, some with their fathers who were from the East Coast. He mentioned he used to work at Seaport Village in NYC but lived in Hoboken. I got his attention and said: “I’m from Hoboken.” An instant connection was made. We talked about Frank Sinatra, Hoboken’s favorite son, etc.
We then walked to the legendary and late BB King’s Blues Club. We paid our cover charge, got the top of our hand ink stamped with BB and Nelson and I had a beer. We listened to the Joy Owens band and I finished one of the beignets we ordered to go from the one and only Cafe du Monde. On each table top, was a painted portrait like the late Muddy Waters, the “father of modern Chicago Blues (photo).
After we left BB King’s, we walked some more, perused some shops and made our way to the award winning Palace Club in the French Quarter for a 6:15 PM dinner. It was an upbeat and lively cafe housed in the historic Werlein’s Music building. We had a wonderful waitress Kathleen serve us and a young good-natured young man named Bryson brought us our cocktails. I had a Shilo, the supper clubs version of a Moscow Mule, only they use tequila instead of Vodka. The Byes and myself ordered fish and seafood and Cecile had a cauliflower tort with Brie cheese which was out of this world. For dessert, Bryson made us Bananas Foster Flambé (photo). After bidding our servers farewell, we caught a trolley and went to hear Steamboat Willie, a veteran musician perform a set with his band at Cafe Beignet, before, heading back to our hotel. We clocked over 14,000 steps and were finally ready to call it night.