I’ve lived through a few hurricanes. Agnes took out our outdoor deck in 1972. But if Isaac becomes a hurricane, it will be the first to hit NOLA since my move here in 2009. I’ve decided to stay. Despite the anniversary with Katrina, this storm will be much weaker and NEVER FORGET – Katrina was really about the levee failures.
Most of the homes in New Orleans have long doors and windows with equally long shutters. They’re usually painted to stylishly accent the colors of the walls and the doors of each house. And, they are usually open. Almost always. So, today, walking around, all those regal homes looked ominous with their closed shutters. Some windows even had plywood over them. I had closed my own shutters before leaving, tying them shut with shoelaces.
Lots of people were out and about, all with one question, “You stayin’ or goin’?” It seemed about 60-40 staying, much lower than in the pre-Katrina days for a storm this size. Like everyone else in the city, we headed to the Walmart (Wallyworld to some locals) to stock up. I ran into Manny Edwards from Django Unchained. He was picking up party provisions to ride out the storm with friends.
The water aisle was already empty. Jumbo packs were being sold straight off the palettes. The beer and wine aisle was pretty well picked over. Ramen noodles, canned goods and chips were flying off the shelves. The cart traffic was pretty chaotic. There was only one flavor of Cliff Bars left and no 9 volt batteries. All that said, the checkouts moved swiftly and our cashier said she would be working the next day. No one’s panicking, merely preparing for the probable power loss and a few days without stores. Plenty of people had under 20 items (though the recent college arrivals were buying cartfuls and enough water to bathe for weeks).
Then it was time for the last supper. As the city emptied, we tried a new restaurant, Mia’s Balcony. We decided to pass on the blustery patio overlooking the St. Charles streetcar line. The interior was cozy and contemporary and completely… empty. Other than our host/waiter/(and perhaps chef), we were the only people there. Much to my delight, there were so many things on the menu I wanted to try. Then, I heard about the specials! We tried the Shrimp and Crawfish Corn Bisque and it was delicious. And the bowl was super-sized.
Next, I sampled the Roasted Caprese Salad, a grilled tomato with slightly melted mozzarella plated beautifully with basil, balsamic glaze and roasted garlic cloves ($8). I had a bite of Filet Mignon with chimichurri sauce, asparagus & roasted potatoes ($18) before devouring an avocado stuffed with crabmeat and drizzled with Balsamic Glaze ($12).
Though I know I’ll have to share the restaurant next time, I will definitely be returning to try the Seared Scallops on the Halfshell, a fish special and the Sautéed Shrimp and Grits in Etouffee, among other items. The portions were generous and, though I know his attention was undivided, our service was also great. Apparently, they serve mussels 3 different ways and on Wednesdays, they serve wine bottles for half price among several other daily specials.
The first big gusts of wind have come and gone, reminding me that the next couple of days may be nerve-wracking, but they too will pass.