Tuesday, August 7, 2012

N.O. Part 2: Makin' it right.

...later that night, Mary took us to her favorite restaurant in New Orleans called Dante’s Kitchen. It was uptown right by the river, tucked away in a sweet little corner. The inside was just as sweet and comfortable. I got the Shrimp & Grits per Mary’s recommendation, with a side of snap peas. Chris and Mary got Duck Fat Roasted Smashed New Potatoes, which were absolutely delicious. My food was great too, but I was jealous. Our waitress was super cool, and made superb recommendations. It was at Dante's where Chris proclaimed herself a "foodie" because the waitress agreed with her food pairing suggestion. Thanks for that, waitress. I totally get why Dante’s is Mary’s favorite. I think my Dad would love that place!

After dinner, it was time to hit the town. We took the infamous streetcar (surely named Desire) to the French Quarter, and dove right in to Bourbon St. 

I don’t think I have words to describe that ridiculous place. It reminded me of Times Square in a way, but with debauchery everywhere. I assumed the beads thing was just for Mardi Gras…nope, not true. Beads were everywhere, and so where the pretty much naked “ladies”, endless amounts of neon (both lights and clothing), and drunk folks galore. It was awesome.

 We stopped at a random spot on Bourbon and got these amazing giant syringe Jell-O shots. 2 for $5!! And they were REALLY good! We felt super scandalous, and soooo NOLA.

We’d already had a drink or 4 by the time we hit Bourbon St, so our next stop was the famous Pat O’Brien’s, where we got the obligatory Hurricane. Annnd we only needed one. I understand why they’re called Hurricanes. 

The flaming fountain!
We met and hung out with a Bachelor party at Pat O’s, then headed to Frenchman St. again. Mary knew of a band playing at Maison, the bar where we danced our tails off the night before. It was packed. My toe got stilletoed, and the night pretty much ended after that. We cabbed it home at some absurd hour, and passed right out.

The next morning, we had brunch reservations at Atchafalaya, which is supposedly a top brunch spot in Nola. It was exactly what we needed after a weekend of drinking. Chris and I got grits (of course she did), eggs, and bacon, per usual, and Mary got one of their delicious-sounding benedicts. Our food took forever to come out, so our sweet waiter treated us to Mimosas, and he had one with us. No harm, no foul.
Mary & I needed the shades...
After brunch, we headed back to the French Quarter by way of streetcar to see things in the daytime. We avoided Bourbon St. this time, and stuck to the ridiculous shops and Jackson Square. I was super into the voodoo stuff, so of course I got myself a voodoo doll. And we picked up some postcards and a few other little surprises along the way. The weather was pretty terrible, but we made-do. We walked through the French Market and Café Du Monde. The shear volume of stuff packed into the place was amazing. It reminded me of River Street in Savannah. We were hot and hungover, so we didn’t make it much past the market.

On the way back to Mary’s from the French Quarter, I finally, after three days of intense googling, figured out where the Jolie-Pitt house was! I totally count that as one of the great accomplishments of my life. We decided we should probably go home and pack and grab a late lunch, but Mary promised we could go by it before we went to the airport. We went home, packed, and then got in the car and headed to find THE house. AND we did. So, here it is…You can find Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s French Quarter residence on Governor Nicholls at Decatur St. If you’re on Decatur St looking up Governor Nicholls, it’s the third or fourth house on the right. We got out, inspected the place, and took plenty of pictures. My googling was confirmed when an older lady-neighbor walked by and told us Brad wasn’t in town this weekend, which we figured, but we were still excited to know we were in the right place. The house was sealed up like Fort Knox, but I’m sure they giggled when they saw me looking for cracks and peaking spots on their surveillance camera footage. They were everywhere. Ha!

After that excitement, we really wanted to see the 9th ward, which was one of the hardest hit spots in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Even almost 7 years later, there’s still plenty of evidence of the storm. It was hard for us to picture all of it under water, and even harder to imagine the levee breaking. 
Bridge to the 9th Ward

The river's on the other side.

Since we were already on a Brad Pitt high, we drove through his “Make it Right” program, which is working to rebuild homes for displaced residence from the pre-storm 9th ward. The coolest part about the whole thing is that the homes are being built to be sustainable in both architecture and design, but are also affordable. Brad has gotten some amazingly talented big-name architects to help out with this great cause, and the houses are freaking awesome! According to the foundation’s website, the average price of a single-family home is $150,000 to $200,000, and homeowners are asked to contribute as much as they can. The average resident contribution has been around $75,000, and then Make It Right covers the rest.

After spending time down there in the Lower 9th ward, we were even more fascinated than ever before, so we of course came home and researched. We found an awesome documentary on Netflix called “Trouble the Water”, which follows a family before, during, and after Katrina. The home video footage was amazing, and it was nominated for an Oscar! We definitely recommend it.

Anyway, we made our way back towards Mary’s, and had some Red Beans and Rice, New Orleans style on Magazine St. at Ignatius. We loved it, especially since we haven’t made it at home in a while. So we are this week! I also got a delicious specialty cocktail that was perfect for pre-flight Katy.

We got to the airport just in time for boarding, and headed back home. I had a moment with Lake Pontchatrain as we flew over. 

 New Orleans was amazing; we fell in love. 

Can’t wait to go back. The food, drinks, culture, everything. Loved it. I don’t know how people have normal, productive lives there, but no matter. What a gem of a place! I decided that if I ever get married, I’m having my Bachelorette Party there. No excuses, ladies.

And thanks Chris, for being THAT tourist and taking such awesome pictures for the both of us. <3

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