Fav Things

Favorite Things in NOLA 2015

First, I’d like to thank everyone who reads this blog (in over 100 countries!). Here are Your Favorite Posts of 2015:

5 – French Quarter Fest – Sunday

4 – Southern Decadence 2015

3 – Big Easy Birthday

2 – Endymion Extravaganza – My First Ball!  (your favorite post of all time)

1 – Street Musicians – Tanya and Dorise

Now to the list! The categories are: Food & Beverage, Music & Entertainment, Culture, Shopping and Giving & More. Anything named previously in my Favorite Things in NOLA 2013 is marked with an Asterix*. Most items have links to their site, but if you’d like to know more, use the search window on the right to find photos, videos, history and stories. Click HERE to see photos of some of the people and places mentioned.

 

FOOD & BEVERAGE:

 

Breakfast – (tie) Ruby  Slipper / Winks

Must have item at Ruby Slipper – Eggs Cochon. A sliced biscuit smothered in pork debris and topped with poached eggs and hollandaise. Plan to wait in line most of the time at most of their 4 locations.

Famous for their Buttermilk Drops, Winks features a menu of standards like a breakfast platter of eggs, a meat, toast and grits as well as when-available items like super-tasty burgers or red beans and rice ($7 to $10).

Downtown Lunch – Dooky Chase’s Restaurant

Must have item – the all-you-can-eat buffet of traditional creole and local dishes cooked just like your Maw Maw makes. The restaurant is also a gallery of works by local artists as well as a historical meeting place for the civil rights movement.

LA to NOLA Restaurant – Willa Jean

I’ll admit that I miss the plentiful avocado dishes of Los Angeles. Local treasure, John Besh’s new venture has plenty of LA to NOLA fare but the must try dish is the Avocado Toast. High in Omega 3, the dish is a grainy bread topped with avocado, poached eggs, olive oil and salt.

Uptown Dinner Experience – Commander’s Palace*

Chef Tory McPhail won the 2013 James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef: South. I love the  “ballet service.” Commander’s has been serving fine food in a beautiful setting since 1880 and neighbors get seating before celebrities. And they still give out hats and balloons for birthdays and serve 25 cent martinis at lunch.

Downtown Dinner Experience – Bayona

Among Chef Susan Spicer’s many accomplishments, she was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame in 2012. Her food is defined by devotion to a purity of flavor even as she blends things like Smoked Duck, Peanut-Cashew Butter, and Pepper Jelly. The Cream of Garlic Soup is so very good. Though you should always consider the specials, the regular menu features a wonderful Peppered Lamb Loin with Goat Cheese and Zinfandel Sauce.

Food Fight – Got Gumbo?*

Benefitting the United Way and hosted by Royal Sonesta, the annual event features around 20 chefs competing in traditional, seafood and exotic gumbos as well as a table decorating category for “best float” (like in a parade).

Beignets – Cafe du Monde*

Since 1862, there is no substitute.

Donuts (American) – Winks Bakery

With fanciful takes on traditional baked treats, Winks is best known for their Buttermilk Drops. I’m a fan of the Apple Fritters and pretty much every donut they sell.

Bacon – Fogo de Chao

I hate to give this honor to a chain from out-of-town but, wow, the candied bacon that comes as part of the “salad” bar is just plain better than our local versions.

Corn Bread – Frankie & Johnny’s

Buttery and browned, it’s simply the best.

Fest Food – Love at First Bite/Walker’s Southern Style BBQ

These are actually the same event-catering establishment. I’m not a sandwich person but their Cochon de Lait Po-Boy is a must-have any time I see the booth at a festival. Truth – I usually have 2 or 3 during a 3 or 4 day fest.

Crawfish Boil – The “NOLA Crawfish King,” Chris “Shaggy” Davis

A party-in-a-person, Shaggy delivers authentic boils onsite – super-spicy like the locals like. Tourists – be forewarned and plan for your lips to burn if you eat the corn.

Grilled Cheese – Continental Provisions

Located in the historic French Market, this cheese shop offers amazing sandwiches but their very-adult grilled cheeses on thick, grainy bread are amazing. Options include chutney and bacon. Ask about the monthly special like the Hubaner with brussels sprouts, apples and bacon.

Hot Dogs – Dreamy Weenies*

Dreamy Weenies offers beef (Halal AND Kosher), lamb and vegan dogs with lots of topping combinations and yummy waffle fries – all right across from Armstrong Park. Try the Satchmo Dog smothered in red beans and rice and the “Pothole” with potato salad below the dog and chili and shredded cheese on top.

Pizza – (tie)  Vieux Carré Pizza* / Dano’s Pizza

Vieux Carré will bring you hot, yummy pizza until at least 3 am in the French Quarter – even during a game. Only half a block from Bourbon St., they also have dine-in seating and sell slices to go.

Dano’s is a pop-up located in front of Wink’s Bakery across from the Art Market on Decatur. Usually open by 10pm on weekends, the crust of this pizza is insanely good. I’m not a crust eater but I can’t get enough.

Fried Chicken – Willie Mae’s Scotch House*

A “Bucket List” item for anyone seeking the world’s best fried chicken. James Beard Award winner where a 3-piece meal runs about $10 (a few dollars more for all white meat) and includes a selection of sides including some of the best red beans and rice I’ve ever tasted. There’s always a line and you’ll have to wait again once you’re finally invited inside. A word to tourists – the group at the table next to us found some of the sides to be a bit spicy and though it’s called a “Scotch House,” don’t expect to find booze.

Drinking Spot – The Street*

Because we can drink and walk at the same time here. Once you’ve purchased a beverage, it’s yours to keep – just ask for a “go-cup.”

Hangover Food – Miss Linda’s Yakamein 

Known locally and by viewers of her winning challenge on Food Network’s Chopped: Pride of New Orleans. Miss Linda is known as “the Yakamein Lady” and is a master of this traditional cure. Her Mac & Cheese with Crawfish and Shrimp is also great.

Cocktail – Brandy Milk Punch*

Brandy Milk Punch is a popular brunch drink and hangover-hair-of-the-dog as old as this country. Brennan’s claims perfecting the recipe but I had my first one at Cafe Pontalba on Jackson Square.

Juice –  d’ Juice Whole Fruit Smoothies and Fresh Juices*

Great tasting juice that’s also “medicinal food.”

Local Beer – Abita Grapefruit*

Made with Louisiana Ruby-Red grapefruits, pale, pilsner and caramel malts and cascade hops. I thought nothing could taste better than the elusive Abita Strawberry, but I love the crisp flavor of the grapefruit and how it compliments the beer. Who knew?

Sno-Ball – SnoWizard*

Still the best bang for the buck. Try nectar with sweetened condensed milk.

BUT, they don’t have Satsuma flavor. For that tangy taste, you’ll have to visit Hansen’s

Bread Pudding – Muriel’s

Bread pudding has many incarnations but most include a white sauce and are mushy in texture. The caramelized sugar sauce over a firm square set Muriel’s apart.

Pralines – Loretta’s*

This year, I finally broke the tie with Southern Candymakers. Both shops make amazing pralines but Loretta’s has made a concerted effort to participate in festivals and contribute to the city and its culture. I like that.

Cookies – Angelo Brocato*

Cookies as good as the ones at Vacarro’s in Baltimore’s Little Italy and I don’t have to pay for shipping.

King Cake – Manny Randazzo

This is as big a fight around here as snoballs and many will rightfully disagree but with their thick, white icing, festive sprinkles and flavorful cake, Manny Randazzo’s is my choice.

Grocery Store – Rouses in the CBD*

Because they’re the first grocery store in the U.S. with an aeroponic herb farm on their roof, their bakery rocks, they make lots of yummy dishes for you to heat up at home like stuffed mirliton and shrimp with capers and they have a made-to-order bar for burritos and paninis.

 

MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT:

 

Venue – Armstrong Park*

Hosting everything from the Jazz in the Park concert series to the Class Got Brass school band competition, the park’s history as the birthplace of Jazz and center of Treme culture should be enough reason to visit. The park also features the Mahalia Jackson Theater and and statues of local icons like the eponymous Louis Armstrong and Big Chief Tootie Montana.

Festival – French Quarter Fest*

My favorite 6 years running because it’s free to attend and features some of the best local food and music the city has to offer during 4 days of fun in the heart of the Quarter.

Musical Auteur – Dr. John

With so many musical icons dying recently, I was reminded to appreciate our icons while they’re still with us. 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Dr. John has influenced many musicians and his songs have found their way into movies and cultures throughout the world.

Best Record Store – Louisiana Music Factory

With an immense collection of local musicians among their library, they set themselves apart by holding free concerts within their store.

All-in-One Experience –  Checkpoint Charlie’s,*/ Igor’s Lounge

These bar/pool-hall/music-club/coin-op laundries offer a place to eat, drink and make merry while waiting for your wash.

Musical Wonder Woman – (tie) Mia Borders / The Original Pinettes Brass Band

Soulful and sassy, Mia’s following steadily grows along with her talent.

My 2013 pick, Jazz Henry, plays with the energetic Original Pinettes, the first all-female brass band. Winners of the Red Bull Street Kings (Queens)

Brass Band – New Breed Brass Band

After 3 years of choosing Rebirth Brass Band,  I tried to give others a shot. Featuring several members of Baby Boyz Brass Band and Trombone Shorty’s nephew, New Breed sounds like they’ve been playing together since forever despite their youth. After opening for Trombone Shorty in Lafayette Square, they came in second at Red Bull Street Kings.

Youth Band – Roots of Music*

For the 6th year because they provide training, tutoring, meals and rides for 150 kids throughout the city and the music is amazing.

Street Musicians – Tanya and Dorise*

Tanya is a virtuoso who could play with any number of orchestras but seems extraordinarily happy to have the freedom to play pop and rock and R&B in addition to classical alongside Dorise. Dorise expertly plays a hollow-neck Blackbird classical 6-string made of carbon fiber and kevlar and adds the beat to their percussion-free duets. Catch them busking on Royal Street.

Locally- Shot TV Show – Scream Queens

Not usually my cup of tea, Scream Queens became my favorite guilty pleasure.

2014 – Astronaut wives, True Detective

Movie Theatre – Prytania Theatre

Built in 1914,  the Prytania features current blockbusters as well as classic films and midnight movies.

Radio Station – WWOZ*

Because they play all NOLA music all the time. Available everywhere through live streaming.

Sports Team – (tie) The Saints* / The Pelicans

The Saints because they give us something to fight for rather than something to fight over.

The Pelicans are evolving as a team but even when they lose, the games are entertaining and the pre-game party outside with dancing, games and a beer garden is fun for the whole family. Plus – Anthony Davis.

Athlete – (tie) Drew Brees / Anthony Davis

Brees may not have led a play-off-bound season but he continued to break records, some long-held and some that were his own.

Though he’s still fairly new to the city, Anthony Davis continues to find ways to give back to the community and, in particular, underprivileged children. Oh, and he’s an amazing athlete with a brilliant future.

 

CULTURE:

 

Local Character (present) – Steve Gleason*

He’s not technically an athlete anymore, but his contributions to our team, our city and those suffering ALS make us all winners. In 2006, blocking the punt at the first post-Katrina game in the Dome made him an instant hero. Now, through his organization, No White Flags, he helps and inspires not only those affected by ALS, but everyone who is touched by his refusal to surrender. Watch his hourlong episode of A Football Life if you want to be inspired too. Though he exemplifies the dangers of sports-related head injuries, he continues to love the game.

Local Character (RIP) (we lost WAY too many recently) – Allen Toussaint

As a singer, songwriter, producer and/or arranger since the 1950’s, Toussaint has contributed to such hits as Working in the Coal MineLady Marmalade and Southern Nights. An inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama in 2013.

Travis “Trumpet Black” Hill passed in Japan last May from a post-dental surgery infection. A member of the ridiculously talented Andrews family, Hill was a young and talented man who gave a lot back to his community and his life is well worth celebrating.

We also lost Bo Dollis, Sr., the Wild Magnolias’ Big Chief and the man responsible for Mardi Gras Indians recording music. Though not all tribes appreciated the Big Chief’s efforts to bring their music to the world at the time, Handa Wanda became a jukebox favorite.

And Cosimo Matassa, the studio owner and recording engineer responsible for hits by Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Little Richard and many more. Matassa was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 and the Blues Hall of Fame in 2013.

And R.I.P. Saints Superfan, “Saints Fett,” Larry Jehle Jr.

Modeled after the bounty hunter in Star Wars, Jehle battled leukemia as a child and dedicated himself to the Saints and serving children’s charities throughout his too-short 30 years.

Parade – Krewe of Orpheus

The first all-inclusive Krewe (male, female, all races, etc.), Orpheus celebrates performing artists with glorious Kern Studios floral floats dripping with giant pearls. A Super Krewe of 1,300 riders, everything about the parade is grand.

Dance Troupe – Pussyfooters*

Again, I have to admit to bias as I became a Pussyfooter in 2013, but readers of this blog know how much I’ve always loved this group of over-30 burlesque-inspired pink movers and shakers. These formidable women promote the values of service and empowerment and support non-profits benefitting women and their families.

Dance – Second Line 

A dance defined mostly by its physical and emotional abandon, steps can include fancy footwork, strutting, splits and spins. Umbrellas and kerchiefs may be involved. The dance is associated with the funeral, wedding and Sunday second line parades throughout the city.

Song – Black and Gold by Chadquentin and Phat Word*

(With All For One Brass Band and 21st Century Brass Band). When the Superdome was looking for a new touchdown theme song to replace the Ying Yang Twins, I did a fairly exhaustive search in my posts Saints Soundtrack and Saints Soundtrack Vol. 2 and this is the only other song I want to hear when the Saints make touchdowns.

Rapper ChadQuentin is Chadrick Honore, Grammy-winning trumpeter from Rebirth Brass Band. Phat Word is a confident street poet and the owner of the sweet-buttery-smelling Geaux Nuts cart in the Superdome.

Mardi Gras Indian – Alphonse “DooWee” Robair

They’re all so beautiful, it’s impossible to choose but I noticed I’ve picked the same Indian a few years in a row so I’m ready to declare a favorite of my favorites. Maybe it’s his color choices, maybe it’s just something in his face, but my favorite Mardi Gras Indian artist often turns out to be Alphonse “DooWee” Robair. (photos below)

Statue – Ignatius Reilly

Situated under the clock in front of the old D. H. Holmes building, the oddball “hero” of John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, is a testament to our city’s pride in its many eccentricities.

Awesome Cultural Thing – Second Lines*

A moving block party with brass bands, food and beverages and plenty of dancing – some on rooftops and fence lines. Here’s a video and explanation of the tradition.

New Thing – Sky-Writing at Jazz Fest

Local Frank Scurlock sponsored the messages of love and hope throughout Jazz Fest 2015 in response to violence in our city and across the country. We got a smiley face, Hi!, Love and Joy.

Comeback/Rebirth – Orpheum Theatre

Built in 1918 and destroyed by Katrina, the Orpheum Theatre finally reopened it’s doorsand it’s just stunning.

Smell – Sweet Olive*

Sweet Olive has been perfuming New Orleans since the horse and buggy days with its honied ripe apricots scent.

 

SHOPPING:

 

Antique Shop – M.S. Rau Antiques*

The 100 year old M.S. Rau is like a museum of decadence featuring art, furniture, lighting and jewelry like a 73 Carat 3-strand diamond necklace ($885,000) or a clock made for Augustus III, King of Saxony and Poland, in 1745 ($1,250,000). Looking is free.

Who Dat and Carnival Shop – Fleurty Girl*

Fleurty Girl specializes in local t-shirts, black & gold tutus and rain boots as well as fun fleur de lis jewelry and household items.

Dress Shop – Trashy Diva*

With slightly-retro flattering, feminine shapes in beautiful fabrics and prints, there’s something wonderful for every woman in Trashy Diva’s dress, shoe and lingerie shops.

Hats – (female) Fleur de Paris*, (male) Goorin Bros*

Fleur de Paris makes each hat like it’s a party on your head. Though most are very refined, each hat expresses some flight of fancy (or feather).

“Bold hatmakers since 1895,” Goorin Bros. part classic – part hip hop American-made hats are functional and fashionable. Leonardo DiCaprio bought a bunch while in town.

Children’s Clothes – Pippen Lane   

The poshest of kid’s boutiques.

Perfume Shop – Bourbon French Parfums*

Established 165 years ago, they do custom blending and feature  a re-creation of Marie Laveau’s Voodoo love potion. Intoxicating.

Mardi Gras Masks – Maskarade*

An amazing array of leather, feathered or laser-cut metal masks  in every shape, color, character and animal imaginable. They also carry decorated second line umbrellas.

Wig Shop – FiFi Mahoney’s*

Specializing in outrageous up-do’s (and great regular wigs), this is where the divas get their “do.”

Bookstore – Garden District Book Shop*

Because they constantly host readings and signings and have an eclectic mix of books with a heavy bent toward local writers and subjects.

Comic Book Shop – Crescent City Comics

The official comic book store of the Django Unchained gang, this shop has a super-helpful, knowledgeable and friendly staff and a huge inventory of comics, graphic novels and small press magazines.

Gallery – Photo Works*

Because photographer Louis Sahuc has been lovingly recording the French Quarter for decades in black-and-white and color, in landscapes and candids.  The gallery is like the city’s memories.

Artist – Brandan B-Mike Odums

A gifted muralist, his Westbank abandoned-building mural #ExhibitBe gained national attention and brought in over 30,000 visitors. I was privileged to be painted by him for the New Orleans Film Festival Mural. (photo below)

Photographer – Gus Bennett

His images have been featured in Ebony and Jet and on the cover of ESSENCE and his Blak Code Series is beautiful. But it’s Bennett’s New Orleans People Project (NOPP) that makes him my pick. For years, the daily series has managed to capture the whimsy, wisdom, joy, scars, talent and history of its citizens. I wrote Bennett a fan letter all-but-begging to be a part of it but it wasn’t until someone else suggested me that I finally got to work with this soul-catcher. (photo below)

Car Repair – GR Automotive

This is a new category I’ve made just to shout how wonderful this place is. Rick and all of the guys that work there kill themselves to get it right and I always feel like I must be underpaying them.

 

GIVING & MORE:

 

Charity – Raintree Children and Family Services*

Because Raintree has provided services for special needs children and foster children since 1926. And because they also run Raintree House, a group home for teenage girls with no family or foster family.

Way to Give Back – Wednesday at the Square

The Wednesday concert series features amazing local acts and is free. Every dollar spent on the yummy food and beverage goes to Young Leadership Council.

Tour – Two Chicks Walking Tours

With both private and public tours in the French Quarter and Garden District, Two Chicks offers tours of cemeteries, mansions and a Brothels, Bordellos and Ladies of the Night tour.

Contest – Queen of Burlesque 

Beautiful women in exotic costumes with inventive props and sets doing skilled, sexy dances – what more do you want? The 2014 winner danced her entire tease on ice skates. It was amazing.

Tranquil Spot – The Singing Oak*

A live oak in City Park covered in giant wind chimes created by Jim Hart. Still the best place in the city to recharge.

Hidden Treasure – Mardi Gras Indians*

HBO’s Treme introduced more of the world to the magnificently plumed and intricately beaded world of the Indians but there’s nothing like seeing them up close or parading past.

Accessory – Wigs

In pink, orange, blue, green and more, we wear wigs for many reasons or for no reason.

Litter – Mardi Gras Beads in Trees*

I choose this every year because every single day they are reminders that life is a celebration.

 

Favorite Things in NOLA 2013

 

This year, I’ve added a gallery of photos. The first photos are of items listed and the last half are of stuff I love in New Orleans from Creole tomatoes to Ashley the Traffic Tranny. Click HERE to see the photos.

I’m also revealing Your Favorite Posts of 2013.

3 – Saints Soundtrack Vol. 2

2 – Street Musicians – Tanya and Dorise

1 – Endymion Extravaganza – My First Ball! – which is also your favorite post of all time.

Now to the list:

FOOD & BEVERAGE:

Breakfast – Surrey’s Cafe and Juice Bar

 

Must have item – the Lump Crab and Brie Omelet with sliced avocado, smothered in cream sauce. Surrey’s is cash only and bring a sweater.

 

Downtown Lunch  K. Paul’s*

 

Only served 11-2 Thursday through Saturday. The menu changes weekly with Paul Prudhomme and Executive Chef Paul Miller’s extraordinary food at ordinary prices (around $12). Their super-tasty hearty gumbo is a permanent menu item.

 

Uptown Treat – District Donuts Sliders Brew

 

Specializing in creative donuts and sliders with micro-roasted coffee. Try the daily special sliders like Hawaiian Braised Oxtail with Crispy Onion & Muscadine Syrup or the menu staple “Monsieur,” a panini-style donut with ham, gruyere, béchamel and dijon. Treat yourself to a fun donut like the Banana Split donut, the Sriracha Maple Glaze w/Candied Thyme or the Black & Gold donut with Lazy Magnolia Stout glaze, chocolate-covered chips and bacon. Also enjoy the beverage quick-chiller and the reclaimed musical instruments and vintage fun-stuff decor.

 

Food Truck  Food Drunk

 

“Chef inspired alcohol influenced cuisine.” I love the Drunken Pig Po-Boy of 15 hour applewood-smoked pig braised in Pabst with pickled green tomato relish, caramelized Vidalia onions, Creole mustard/beer sauce on duck fat toasted bread.

 

Dinner Experience – Commander’s Palace*

 

Chef Tory McPhail won the 2013 James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef: South. I love the  “ballet service.” Commander’s has been serving fine food in a beautiful setting since 1880 and neighbors get seating before celebrities. And they still give out hats and balloons for birthdays and serve 25 cent martinis.

 

Food Fight  Got Gumbo?

 

Benefitting the United Way and hosted by Royal Sonesta, the annual event features around 20 chefs competing in traditional, seafood and exotic gumbos as well as a table decorating category for “best float” (like in a parade).

 

Beignets  Cafe du Monde*

 

Since 1862, there is no substitute.

 

Pasta  Coop’s Place*

 

Must have dish – Pasta Rosa. Inexpensive but long lines and you must be 21 to enter.

 

Hot Dogs  Dreamy Weenies*

 

Dreamy Weenies offers beef (Halal AND Kosher), lamb and vegan dogs with lots of topping combinations and yummy waffle fries – all right across from Armstrong Park. Try the Satchmo Dog smothered in red beans and rice and the “Pothole” with potato salad below the dog and chili and shredded cheese on top.

 

Pizza  Vieux Carré Pizza*

 

Vieux Carré will bring you hot, yummy pizza until at least 3 am in the French Quarter – even during a game. Only half a block from Bourbon St., they also have dine-in seating and sell slices to go.

 

Fried Chicken  Willie Mae’s Scotch House

 

A “Bucket List” item for anyone seeking the world’s best fried chicken. James Beard Award winner where a 3-piece meal runs about $10 (a few dollars more for all white meat) and includes a selection of sides including some of the best red beans and rice I’ve ever tasted. There’s always a line and you’ll have to wait again once you’re finally invited inside. A word to tourists – the group at the table next to us found some of the sides to be a bit spicy and though it’s called a “Scotch House,” don’t expect to find booze.

 

Drinking Spot – The Street*

 

Because we can drink and walk at the same time here. Once you’ve purchased a beverage, it’s yours to keep – just ask for a “go-cup.”

 

Cocktail – Brandy Milk Punch*

 

I’m breaking last year’s tie with the Crescent City Cooler. Brandy Milk Punch is a popular brunch drink and hangover-hair-of-the-dog as old as this country. Brennan’s claims perfecting the recipe but I had my first one at Cafe Pontalba on Jackson Square.

 

Juice  d’ Juice Whole Fruit Smoothies and Fresh Juices*

 

Because juice never tasted so good and it’s “medicinal food.”

 

Local Beer  Abita Grapefruit

 

Made with Louisiana Ruby-Red grapefruits, pale, pilsner and caramel malts and cascade hops. I thought nothing could taste better than the elusive Abita Strawberry, but I love the crisp flavor of the grapefruit and how it compliments the beer. Who knew?

 

Sno-Ball – SnoWizard*

 

Still the best bang for the buck. Try nectar with sweetened condensed milk.

 

Gelato – La Divina*

 

La Divina uses fresh, local ingredients whenever possible and biodegradable cups and spoons.

 

Popsicle  Meltdown Gourmet Popsicles*

 

Love the salted caramel for a creamy flavor and the watermelon with freshly ground mint leaves for something more refreshing.

 

Pralines – (tie) Southern Candymakers* and Loretta’s*

 

Once again, I cannot break the tie. The smell of the Southern Candymakers shop ought to be illegal and both places make amazing pralines.

 

Cookies  Angelo Brocato*

 

Cookies as good as the ones at Vacarro’s in Baltimore’s Little Italy and I don’t have to pay for shipping.

 

Cake  Croissant D’Or Patisserie

 

Though I don’t know the name of the cake, a slice of their lemon-syrup drenched yellow cake with lemon chiffon icing sent me straight back to my childhood when people still made lemon chiffon pies – my favorite. I look forward to trying their French pastries, quiches, sandwiches and soups. Open 6am – 3pm every day except Tuesdays.

 

Chef – John Besh

 

It feels like I’m cheating on Susan Spicer and Tory McPhail, but I was definitely taken by John Besh this year. He made an insanely tasty crab salad with a beluga-like cous cous at a friend’s party and I ate 4 of them without bothering to be embarrassed. A  James Beard Award winner with 9 restaurants, his Restaurant August was nominated  for the James Beard Outstanding Restaurant award in both  2012 and 2013. Get the handmade potato gnocchi tossed with blue crab and black truffle appetizer ($18).

 

Server   Daniel at Commander’s Palace*

 

Because he keeps you feeling constantly served without ever making you feel hustled along. Plus he’s easy on the eyes, has a good sense of humor and tells fun stories.

 

Bartender  Jennifer at Tujague’s

 

Jenny was my Favorite Server 2011 when she worked at Commander’s Palace. She brings the same enthusiasm, warmth, attention to detail and knowledge of local food and beverage history to mixing old favorite drinks and her own concoctions. I may have given her some ideas, but she was the mix-master behind my WWL 12 for the Road non-alcoholic drink, the Jiminy Cricket. Watch the video HERE.

 

Grocery Store  Rouses in the CBD*

 

Because they’re the first grocery store in the U.S. with an aeroponic herb farm on their roof, their bakery rocks, they make lots of yummy dishes for you to heat up at home like stuffed mirliton and shrimp with capers and they have a made-to-order bar for burritos and paninis.

 

MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT:

 

Venue – Armstrong Park

 

Hosting everything from the Jazz in the Park concert series to the Class Got Brass school band competition, the park’s history as the birthplace of Jazz and center of Treme culture should be enough reason to visit. The park also features the Mahalia Jackson Theater and and statues of local icons like the eponymous Louis Armstrong and Big Chief Tootie Montana.

 

Festival – French Quarter Fest*

 

My favorite 4 years running because it’s free to attend and features some of the best local food and music the city has to offer during 4 days of fun in the heart of the Quarter.

 

Musical Auteur – (tie) Trombone Shorty and Glen David Andrews

 

I toiled over this because there are so many great musicians who had an amazing year and these men tied as my favorites in 2011 but Trombone Shorty closed out Jazz Fest this year, taking the baton from the Nevilles, and it was an amazing you-had-to-be-there moment. He also released his new CD, Say This to Say That, which debuted at the top of the charts and stayed there.

 

Glen David is putting the finishing touches on his new CD Redemption, but those of us who see him live have already heard many of the songs and it’s an amazing mix of spiritual and sexy. His voice still “melts like butter,” and his continued sobriety is inspiring.

 

Musical Wonder Woman – Jazz Henry

 

Still 17, she played Jazz Fest with her dad, Corey Henry of Galactic then went on to win the title of Red Bull Street Kings (Queens) with the first all-female brass band, the Original Pinettes. She also continued her role as “Jennifer” on HBO’s Treme. It may be early to call her a Musical Wonder Woman, but she’s certainly achieved a lot before before even graduating high school.

 

Brass Band – New Breed Brass Band

 

After 3 years, I realize Rebirth Brass Band may always be my favorite so it’s time to add some new blood. Formed this year with several members of Baby Boyz Brass Band and Trombone Shorty’s nephew, New Breed already sounds like they’ve been playing together since ever. Even more remarkable when you realize how young they are. After opening for Trombone Shorty in Lafayette Square, they came in second at Red Bull Street Kings.

 

Youth Band – Roots of Music*

 

For the 4th year because they provide training, tutoring, meals and rides for 150 kids throughout the city and the music is amazing.

 

Street Musicians  Tanya and Dorise 

 

Tanya would appear to be the inspiration for Treme‘s Annie character (Lucia Micarelli) – a virtuoso who could play with any number of orchestras but she seems extraordinarily happy to have the freedom to play pop and rock and R&B in addition to classical alongside Dorise. Dorise expertly plays a hollow-neck Blackbird classical 6-string made of carbon fiber and kevlar and adds the beat to their percussion-free duets. Catch them busking on Royal Street.

 

Locally Shot Movie  Now You See Me

 

I am clearly biased since I get hypnotized by Woody Harrelson early in the movie, but this sleeper became wildly popular and profitable and used New Orleans as itself whereas most movies that shoot here are set elsewhere.

 

I also want to mention Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years a Slave and Lee Daniels’ The Butler – all heavily lauded films. I was also a fan of Mud and the raunchy comedy, This is the End.

 

TV Show – HBO’s Treme*  (Honorable Mention – American Horror Story: Coven)

 

Again, I’m biased as I played David Morse’s ex-wife on 2 episodes BUT it was always my favorite – a time capsule of New Orleans with live recordings of some of our greatest musicians playing themselves. Sadly, the series ended in December 2013.

 

I was surprised to find how much I’ve enjoyed American Horror Story: Coven. The show is sinister, sexy and fun. Some of the characters are based on historical New Orleanians and I love all of the locations they use.

 

Radio Station – WWOZ*

 

Because they play all NOLA music all the time. Available everywhere through live streaming.

 

Sports Team – The Saints*

 

Because they give us something to fight for rather than something to fight over.

 

Athlete  Steve Gleason

 

I know he’s not technically an athlete anymore, but his contributions to our team, our city and those suffering ALS make us all winners. In 2006, blocking the punt at the first post-Katrina game in the Dome made him an instant hero. Now, through his organization, No White Flags, he helps and inspires not only those affected by ALS, but everyone who is touched by his refusal to surrender. Watch his hourlong episode of A Football Life if you want to be inspired too. Though he exemplifies the dangers of sports-related head injuries, he continues to love the game and, with the help of the newly-returned Sean Payton, led the Who Dat chant in the Dome at this year’s opener.

 

CULTURE:

 

Local Character (present)  Rob Ryan

 

The Saints new Defensive Coordinator is not a native New Orleanian but he has jumped into this community with both feet. Not only has he taken our defense from the worst in the league to the playoffs but he celebrates home games by buying rounds for everyone at Miss Mae’s. His “Dude”-like appearance inspired many Halloween costumes and some fans wear grey wigs to games.

 

Local Character (RIP)  Claudia Speicher and George Rodrigue

 

As the owner and operator of New Orleans Model and Talent, Claudia represented most of the working-est actors in this town for decades. My agent since the week I moved here in 2009, she has been a friend, a confidant and my partner on this journey. I will miss her immeasurably as will many of this city’s best talent.  I cannot possibly express how critical she was to the actors of this city or how much work she generated for our industry.

 

George Rodrigue was known for his beloved Blue Dog paintings which hang in homes and buildings throughout the city and the world.

 

Parade – Krewe of Muses*

 

A female parade with a Vegas-lighted stiletto leading the way, Muses has become a must-attend parade with my vote for best “throws” – hand-decorated shoes.

 

Dance Troupe  Pussyfooters

 

Again, I have to admit to bias as I recently became a Pussyfooter, but readers of this blog know how much I’ve loved this group of over-30 burlesque-inspired pink movers and shakers. These formidable women promote the values of service and empowerment and support non-profits benefitting women and their families.

 

Dance – Bounce

 

Though it birthed “twerking” and all the mess that came with it, bounce started in New Orleans and continues to amaze with it’s noodle-knees and rapid bootie-popping.

 

Song  Black and Gold by Chadquentin and Phat Word

 

(With All For One Brass Band and 21st Century Brass Band). After a fairly exhaustive search in my posts Saints Soundtrack and Saints Soundtrack Vol. 2, this is the new song I most want to hear when the Saints make touchdowns.

 

Rapper ChadQuentin is Chadrick Honore, Grammy-winning trumpeter from Rebirth Brass Band. Phat Word is a confident street poet and the owner of the sweet-buttery-smelling Geaux Nuts cart in the Superdome.

 

Phrase – Who Dat!?!*

 

Because it unites the Who Dat Nation and makes me believe anything’s possible.

 

Awesome Cultural Thing – Second Lines*

 

A moving block party with brass bands, food and beverages and plenty of dancing – some on rooftops and fence lines. Here’s a video and explanation of the tradition.

 

New Thing – (tie) Petite Restaurants and Million Mrs. Roper March

 

This year, several restaurants in the French Quarter opened faster, cheaper shop-style versions of their elite dining experiences. Perhaps following a trend made popular by Donald Links’ Cochon spin-off, Butcher (Favorite Uptown Lunch 2012), Galatoire’s opened Galatoire’s Bistro and a few others followed suit. I’ve only had the chance to try Cafe Amelie’s Petite Amelie but it was a real treat featuring fresh and finely-made salads, sandwiches, cous cous, juices, pastries and more. Open Wednesday through Sunday from 8am – 7pm.

 

Making their debut at Southern Decadence, the Million Mrs. Roper Marchers featured men in red afros wearing muumuus and carrying Mrs. Roper on-a-stick faces. Photo below.

 

Comeback/Rebirth  (tie) Tujague’s and Saenger Theatre

 

When Tujague’s owner Steven Latter passed last February, the rumors were that the second oldest restaurant in New Orleans was set to become a t-shirt shop or a fried chicken shack or both. When the city freaked out, the family felt inspired to regroup and Mark Latter has since given the interior a facelift and business is booming.

 

Destroyed by Katrina, the Saenger Theatre finally reopened it’s doors. The beautiful restoration of the original 1927 design has attracted shows like Book of Mormon and Jerry Seinfeld.

 

Smell – Sweet Olive*

 

Sweet Olive has been perfuming New Orleans since the horse and buggy days with its honied ripe apricots scent.

 

Litter – Mardi Gras Beads in Trees*

 

Because there are year-round reminders that life is a celebration.

 

Guinness World Record Holder  (tie) Stephan Wanger and Big Freedia

 

It was a big year for Guinness World Records in New Orleans as Galeria Alegria’s Stephan Wanger enlisted locals, students and tourists to create the “Largest Mosaic made out of Mardi Gras Beads” (42′ ft long and 8′ ft tall) in February.  He then topped himself with his Natchitoches army of volunteers who took 4 months and over 2 million beads to create a 48′ ft by 8′ ft mosaic presented in December.

 

In September, O.G. twerker and “Queen of Bounce” Big Freedia broke the world record for “Most People Twerking” (358) during an event in New York.

 

SHOPPING:

 

Antique Shop  M.S. Rau Antiques*

 

Though I love the Who Dat! signs worked from metal scraps and the quirky, reasonably priced furniture of Greg’s Antiques, the 100 year old M.S. Rau is like a museum of decadence featuring art, furniture, lighting and jewelry. Check out the David Morris 72.58 Carat 3-strand diamond necklace ($885,000) and the 9 foot Jean-Pierre Latz clock made for Augustus III, King of Saxony and Poland, in 1745 ($1,250,000).

 

Who Dat and Carnival Shop – (tie) Fleurty Girl*, Forever New Orleans

 

Fleurty Girl specializes in black and gold tutus and galoshes, local t-shirts and fun fleur de lis jewelry and household items.

 

Forever New Orleans carries beautiful frames, reasonably priced NOLA-themed jewelry and scented candles, local books and cookbooks, ornaments and more.

 

Costume Shop  Uptown Costume & Dancewear*

 

Racks and racks of wigs and costumes – it’s like being a kid again.

 

Dress Shop  Trashy Diva*

 

With slightly-retro flattering, feminine shapes in beautiful fabrics and prints, there’s something wonderful for every woman in Trashy Diva’s dress, shoe and lingerie shops.

 

Plus Size Shop  The Voluptuous Vixen*

 

Pretty and shapely dresses, lingerie and swimwear for women sizes 12 and up.

 

Second Hand Shop  On the Other Hand

 

Packed to the gills with gowns, furs, dresses, sweaters, dresses, hats, shoes, jewelry and more, the store features “piano soirées” on Saturdays with wine, cheese and coffee. I was once there before Christmas and Santa played piano for us as cookies were passed around. With negotiable prices starting at $1, the collection includes clothing dating back to 1890 and designers like Chanel, Michael Kors, Versace, Ralph Lauren and St. John. Open Monday through Saturday 10am – 6pm.

 

Hats – (female) Fleur de Paris*, (male) Goorin Bros*

 

Fleur de Paris makes each hat like it’s a party on your head. Though most are very refined, each hat expresses some flight of fancy (or feather).

 

“Bold hatmakers since 1895,” Goorin Bros. part classic – part hip hop American-made hats are functional and fashionable. Leonardo DiCaprio bought a bunch while in town.

 

Perfume Shop  Bourbon French Parfums*

 

Established 165 years ago, they do custom blending and feature  a re-creation of Marie Laveau’s Voodoo love potion. Intoxicating.

 

Mardi Gras Masks  Maskarade*

 

An amazing array of leather, feathered or laser-cut metal masks  in every shape, color, character and animal imaginable. They also carry decorated second line umbrellas.

 

Wig Shop  FiFi Mahoney’s*

 

Specializing in outrageous up-do’s (and great regular wigs), this is where the divas get their “do.”

 

Bookstore – Garden District Book Shop*

 

Because they constantly host readings and signings and have an eclectic mix of books with a heavy bent toward local writers and subjects.

 

Book  Know Small Parts: An Actor’s Guide to Turning Minutes into Moments and Moments into a Career By Laura Cayouette

 

Okay, this is just a shameless plug for my own book with a foreword by Academy Award Winner Richard Dreyfuss and endorsements from Kevin Costner, Lou Diamond Phillips and many more. The book has also been used as a textbook at UNO.

 

Comic Book Shop  Crescent City Comics

 

The official comic book store of the Django Unchained gang, this shop has a super-helpful, knowledgeable and friendly staff and a huge inventory of comics, graphic novels and small press magazines.

 

Gallery  Photo Works*

 

Because photographer Louis Sahuc has been lovingly recording the French Quarter for decades in black-and-white and color, in landscapes and candids.  The gallery is like the city’s memories.

 

Artist  Kaia Martin-Paternoster*

 

Because 13 year-old Kaia’s charming big-eyed square-headed characters, her “dudes and dudettes,” are whimsical, modern and kitschy-cool. Find them at Bon Castor in the Bywater.

 

Photographer  Jeffrey Dupuis

 

An addiction counselor by day, Dupuis always seems to be at every live music event I attend. A former guitarist, his passion for music is obvious in his vibrant photos, many of which reflect the city in a literal sense (like the one below). His photos have been featured in Rolling Stone, Relix, Down Beat, Offbeat and Gambit as well as Jambands.com, HonestTune.com, Jambase.com and a number of artists’ CDs and websites.

 

This is one of the many categories I’m doing for the first time this year and I was overwhelmed with choices including Jerry Moran (who has great on-the-stage feel music photos), Joe Dunn (whose photos are haunting and painting-like), Frank Aymami III (who has a real gift for catching editorial moments), Willow Haley (whose vibrant New Orleans photos are exuberant moments in music),  Marc Pagani (whose forced perspective shots feel like 3D) and James Demaria (whose photos of DancingMan504 are among my favorites) are just a few of the many talented artists here.

 

Designer  Lisa Iacono

 

We now have enough local designers to justify 2 different Fashion Weeks. Iacono’s flowy, feminine but edgy pieces led me to choose her for my Django Unchained red carpet dress (unfortunately, the carpet was cancelled). She and Tam Huynh also run NOLA SEWN, an enterprise producing the collections of over 30 designers.

 

GIVING & MORE:

 

Charity  Raintree Children and Family Services*

 

Because Raintree has provided services for special needs children and foster children since 1926. And because they also run Raintree House, a group home for teenage girls with no family or foster family.

 

Way to Give Back – (tie) Wednesday at the Square* and Harvest the Music*

 

Both Wednesday concert series feature amazing local acts and are free. Every dollar spent on the yummy food and beverage goes to Young Leadership Council and Second Harvest respectively.

 

Tranquil Spot – The Singing Oak*

 

A live oak in City Park covered in giant wind chimes created by Jim Hart. Still the best place in the city to recharge.

 

Hidden Treasure  Mardi Gras Indians 

 

HBO’s Treme introduced more of the world to the magnificently plumed and intricately beaded world of the Indians but there’s nothing like seeing them up close or parading past.

 

_______________________________________

Favorite Things in NOLA 2012

I must confess that I didn’t get out as much in 2012 because Hollywood South is booming and I worked a lot. Even so, here are my 2012 favorites in a nutshell followed by my Favorite Things in NOLA 2011 and Favorite Things in NOLA 2010. Anything named previously in my Favorite Things in NOLA 2011 is marked with an Asterix*.

I have divided the list into categories this year including: Food & Beverage, Music & Entertainment, Culture, Shopping and Giving & More.

Most items have links to their site, but if you’d like to know more, use the search window on the right to find photos, videos, history and stories.

FOOD & BEVERAGE:

Breakfast – Audubon Clubhouse Cafe 

Location, location, location! The all-you-can-eat brunch includes made to order omelets and other tasty treats but it’s the view from the patio that makes this such a treat.

Downtown Lunch – K. Paul’s

Though they only serve 11-2 Thursday through Saturday, the menu changes weekly with Paul Prudhomme and Executive Chef Paul Miller’s extraordinary food at ordinary prices (around $12). Their super-tasty hearty gumbo is a permanent menu item.

Uptown Lunch – Butcher

Okay, it’s really the CBD, not Uptown – but it’s worth making your way to the best sandwiches in town and tasty side dishes from James Beard Award winner Donald Link.

Dinner Experience – Commander’s Palace*

Because they do “ballet service,” they’ve been serving fine food in a beautiful setting since 1880 and because neighbors get seating before celebrities. And because they give out hats and balloons for birthdays.

Beignets – Cafe du Monde*

Since 1862, there is no substitute.

Gumbo –  K. Paul’s

Rich, dark and hearty, just like Mama makes. SO good.

Pasta – Coop’s Place*

Must have dish – Pasta Rosa. Inexpensive but long lines and you must be 21 to enter.

Hot Dogs – Dreamy Weenies

Oddly enough, hot dogs have become a major food player in the last year. Dreamy Weenies offers beef (Halal AND Kosher), lamb and vegan dogs with lots of topping combinations and yummy waffle fries – all right across from Armstrong Park.

Pizza – Vieux Carré Pizza*

Vieux Carré will bring you hot, yummy pizza until at least 3 am in the French Quarter – even during a game. Only half a block from Bourbon St., they also have dine-in seating and sell slices to go.

Drinking Spot – The Street

Because we can drink and walk at the same time here. Once you’ve purchased a beverage, it’s yours to keep – just ask for a “go-cup.”

Cocktail – (tie) Crescent City Cooler, Brandy Milk Punch

Though the refreshing Crescent City Cooler was apparently created by Flo Woodard of Court of Two Sisters, I love the Commander’s Palace version featuring Guava Rum.

Brandy Milk Punch is a popular brunch drink and hangover-hair-of-the-dog as old as this country. Though Brennan’s claims perfecting the recipe, I had my first one at Cafe Pontalba on Jackson Square.

Juice – d’ Juice Whole Fruit Smoothies and Fresh Juices

Because juice never tasted so good and it’s “medicinal food.”

Local Beer – Abita Strawberry*

Seasonal only, but made with the finest Louisiana-grown strawberries and no artificial flavors, extracts or oils.

Sno-Ball – SnoWizard*

Still the best bang for the buck. Try nectar with sweetened condensed milk.

Gelato – La Divina*

La Divina uses fresh, local ingredients whenever possible and biodegradable cups and spoons.

Popsicle – Meltdown Gourmet Popsicles*

Love the salted caramel for a creamy flavor and the watermelon with freshly ground mint leaves for something more refreshing.

Pralines – (tie) Southern Candymakers* and Loretta’s*

The smell of the Southern Candymakers shop ought to be illegal and both places make amazing pralines.

Cookies – Angelo Brocato*

Cookies as good as the ones at Vacarro’s in Baltimore’s Little Italy and I don’t have to pay for shipping.

Chef – Susan Spicer of Bayona*

Because she lets her food speak for itself.

Server –  Daniel at Commander’s Palace

Because he keeps you feeling constantly served without ever making you feel hustled along. Plus he’s easy on the eyes, has a good sense of humor and tells fun stories.

Grocery Store – Rouses in the CBD

Because they’re the first grocery store in the U.S. with an aeroponic herb farm on their roof, their bakery rocks, they make lots of yummy dishes for you to heat up at home like stuffed mirliton and shrimp with capers and they have a made-to-order bar for burritos, soup bowls and paninis. Best of all, their staff includes people like Miss Karen, who always has a smile and often some homespun wisdom.

MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT:

Venue – Woldenberg Park

Because more and more concerts and festivals are setting up camp on that location and I love the gentle breeze off the river on a hot day. Plus the Aquarium and it’s IMAX theatre are right there.

Festival – French Quarter Fest*

Because it’s free to attend and features some of the best local food and music the city has to offer during 4 days of fun in the heart of the Quarter.

Musical Auteur – Billy Iuso

Because his Restless Natives are amazing and he also plays with Anders Osborne, the Wild Magnolias, Iko Allstars and more. He seems to be everywhere and there’s a party wherever he goes.

Musical Wonder Woman – Margie Perez

Because she sings with everyone and always sounds great and she writes songs as infectiously fun as “Ooh Baby La La” and because she’s got a sexy sway onstage. All that and she’s always finding new ways to give back to the community.

Brass Band – Rebirth Brass Band*

In 2012, they became the first brass band to ever win a Grammy so I’m clearly not the only huge fan of Rebirth.

Youth Band – Roots of Music*

Because they provide training, tutoring, meals and rides for 150 kids throughout the city and the music is amazing.

Local Movie Production House – Court 13

Because they nurtured both Tchoupitoulas and the internationally acclaimed Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Locally Shot Movie – Django Unchained

I’ll admit I’m wildly biased as I play DiCaprio’s sister in the movie, but Tarantino’s film is an amazing achievement and a ton of fun. The crew arrived the day after Mardi Gras and stayed through the 4th of July and employed many local actors and crew members.

TV Show – HBO’s Treme*

Because it’s a time capsule of New Orleans with live recordings of some of our greatest musicians playing themselves (and I’m finally part of the story).

Book – Taste of Treme: Creole, Cajun and Soul Food from New Orleans’ Famous Neighborhood of Jazz by Todd-Michael St. Pierre

It’s like a recipe for living in the Treme including the food, culture, history and even the HBO series. And the dishes look amazing!

Author – Cornell P. Landry

Initially inspired to offer positive stories of the Katrina-ravaged city to his daughter at bedtime, Landry keeps coming up with festively illustrated stories celebrating our unique culture from One Dat, Two Dat, Are You a Who Dat? to Happy Mardi Gras and the classic Goodnight NOLA.

Radio Station – WWOZ*

Because they play all NOLA music all the time.

Newspaper – The Advocate 

Because the Times-Picayune has shifted to more online blogging and less investigative reporting in their move away from printing paper.

Sports Team – The Saints*

Because they give us something to fight for rather than something to fight over. And because they survived having no coach all season, suspensions of many defensive players and the general manager and constant character assassination and still they broke records and gave us 7 hard-fought wins.

Athlete – Sean Payton

I know he’s not technically an athlete, but his contributions to our team were made obvious by his absence. Our city spent a season wearing “Free Sean Payton” t-shirts and holding masks of his face at games.

College Athlete – Mo Isom*

A record breaking soccer player for LSU, she’s also an accident survivor and a Homecoming Queen who tried to become the kicker for the LSU football team. Though she didn’t join the team, she was an inspiration to dare to dream and the door is kicked slightly open for the next girl with an amazing leg.

CULTURE:

Local Character (present) – Ashley the Traffic Tranny

Because she keeps the traffic moving in the French Quarter and I once watched her back up a giant bus (that got stuck at a turn) for over 5 traffic-filled blocks with nothing more than a blonde wig, some platform shoes and a loud whistle. Here’s someone’s video of her at work. Woooooo child!

Local Character (RIP) – Uncle Lionel of Treme Brass Band

Because I treasure every encounter I ever had with him, he made the bass drum sexy and he was one heck of a sharp-dressed man. His well-attended second lines went on for weeks.

Parade – Krewe of Muses

A female parade with a Vegas-lighted stiletto leading the way, Muses has become a must-attend parade with my vote for best “throws” – hand-decorated shoes.

Dance Troupe – 610 Stompers*

Guaranteed to make you smile – “Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Moves” and a great sense of humor.

Dance – “Getting Crunk”*

Because we dance to the Ying Yang Twins’ (Halftime) Stand Up and Get Crunk after every touchdown.

Phrase – Who Dat!?!*

Because it unites the Who Dat Nation and reminds us how good next year is going to be.

Awesome Cultural Thing – Second Lines

A moving block party with brass bands, food and beverages and plenty of dancing – some on rooftops and fence lines. Here’s a video and explanation of the tradition.

New Thing – The Crosswalks in the French Quarter

Because every time I cross the street, I feel like I’m posing for the Abbey Road cover.

Smell – Sweet Olive*

Sweet Olive has been perfuming New Orleans since the horse and buggy days with its honied ripe apricots scent.

Litter – Mardi Gras Beads in Trees*

Because there are year-round reminders that life is a celebration.

SHOPPING:

Antique Shop – James H. Cohen & Sons, Inc.

Because I’ve yet to meet the man who doesn’t love to look around at their Civil War era money, weapons and more.

Who Dat and Carnival Shop – (tie) Fleurty Girl*, Roux Royale

Fleurty Girl specializes in black and gold tutus and galoshes, local t-shirts and fun fleur de lis jewelry and household items.

Roux Royale is a kitchen goods store stocked with local cooking books, fleur de lis serving pieces and tasty treats. Perfect for entertaining NOLA-style.

Costume Shop – Uptown Costume & Dancewear

Racks and racks of wigs and costumes – it’s like being a kid again.

Dress Shop – Trashy Diva*

With slightly-retro flattering, feminine shapes in beautiful fabrics and prints, there’s something wonderful for every woman in Trashy Diva’s dress, shoe and lingerie shops.

Plus Size Shop – The Voluptuous Vixen*

Pretty and shapely dresses, lingerie and swimwear for women sizes 12 and up.

Hats – (female) Fleur de Paris*, (male) Goorin Bros*

Fleur de Paris makes each hat like it’s a party on your head. Though most are very refined, each hat expresses some flight of fancy (or feather).

“Bold hatmakers since 1895,” Goorin Bros. part classic – part hip hop American-made hats are functional and fashionable. Leonardo DiCaprio bought a bunch while in town.

Perfume Shop – Bourbon French Parfums*

Established 165 years ago, they do custom blending and feature  a re-creation of Marie Laveau’s Voodoo love potion. Intoxicating.

Mardi Gras Masks – Maskarade*

An amazing array of leather, feathered or laser-cut metal masks  in every shape, color, character and animal imaginable. They also carry decorated second line umbrellas.

Wig Shop – FiFi Mahoney’s*

Specializing in outrageous up-do’s (and great regular wigs), this is where the divas get their “do.”

Bookstore – Garden District Book Shop*

Because they constantly host readings and signings and have an eclectic mix of books with a heavy bent toward local writers and subjects.

Gallery – Photo Works*

Because photographer Louis Sahuc has been lovingly recording the French Quarter for decades in black-and-white and color, in landscapes and candids.  The gallery is like the city’s memories.

Artist – Stephán Wanger of Galeria Alegria* and Kaia Martin-Paternoster

Because Stephán’s Guinness World Record-setting mosaics are not only beautiful portrayals of the city and it’s icons, they are made of recycled Mardi Gras beads so they actually are made of the city’s memories. Plus, he has selflessly dedicated himself to this state and it’s people though he’s originally from Germany.

And because 12 year-old Kaia’s charming big-eyed square-headed characters, her “dudes and dudettes,” are whimsical, modern and kitschy-cool. Find them at Bon Castor in the Bywater.

GIVING & MORE:

Charity – Raintree Children and Family Services*

Because Raintree has provided services for special needs children and foster children since 1926. And because they also run Raintree House, a group home for teenage girls with no family or foster family.

Way to Give Back – (tie) Wednesday at the Square* and Harvest the Music*

Both Wednesday concert series feature amazing local acts and are free. Every dollar spent on the yummy food and beverage goes to Young Leadership Council and Second Harvest respectively.

Tranquil Spot – The Singing Oak*

Despite the recent addition of the civilized park bench, “The Singing Oak” created by Jim Hart (a live oak in City Park covered in giant wind chimes) is still the best place in the city to recharge.

Hidden Treasure – Jean Lafitte French Quarter Visitor Center

Tucked in an alley I found during a rain storm, the museum is like an interactive primer for the city explaining colloquialisms and local culture.

_______________________________________

Favorite Things in NOLA 2011

I continue to accumulate favorite things about New Orleans, but here are my 2011 favorites in a nutshell followed by my Favorite Things in NOLA 2010. Anything named previously in my Favorite Things in NOLA 2010 is marked with an Asterix*.

Most items have links to their site, but if you’d like to know more, use the search window on the right to find photos, videos, research and stories.

Beignets – Cafe du Monde*

Since 1862, there is no substitute.

Breakfast – (tie) Camellia Grill* and Surrey’s Cafe and Juice Bar

Camellia Grill specializes in classics like eggs, grits and bacon, all served with panache.

Must have item at Surrey’s– the Lump Crab and Brie Omelet with sliced avocado, smothered in cream sauce. Why didn’t it win hands down? Surrey’s is cash only and I freeze to death no matter what sweater I bring.

Grits – Zea

Because they’re slightly cheesy and flecked with whole corn kernels.

French Fries – Quarter Grocery

Dipped in batter then fried, so good you don’t need ketchup. Made to order in the back of the 2 aisle grocery.

Soup – The Vintage Garden Kitchen at Arc

Because they deliver, the ingredients are local grown, they use olive oil rather than butter, proceeds benefit Arc and employ people with developmental disabilities and the soup is outstanding!

Salad – Muriel’s*, Covey Rise Farms

Muriel’s Shrimp and Jumbo Lump Crab Salad features super fresh asparagus, mixed greens and lime-mango vinaigrette.

Covey Rise Farms is a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where people pay for a harvest in advance then get $25 baskets of 8 fresh varieties of vegetables every week. Their Heirloom Tomato Salad, served during last year’s Vieux To Do, was packed with fresh herbs and flavors and the tomatoes were so ripe and flavorful.

Appetizers – Louisiana Pizza Kitchen*

Grilled Italian Artichokes – marinated and char-grilled, just like in Rome.

Pasta – Coop’s Place*

Must have dish – Pasta Rosa.

Pizza – Vieux Carré Pizza

Because Slice doesn’t deliver and Vieux Carré will bring you hot, yummy pizza until at least 3 am in the French Quarter – even during a game.

Gumbo – Chef Raymond Signal of  Loew’s Hotel

Perhaps the only way to have a bowl is to attend the annual Got Gumbo? tasting and contest (where I discovered him last year) but Chef Raymond Signal’s duck, andouille, and oyster gumbo topped with duck cracklins was the best I’ve ever tasted. Even the rice was perfect.

Downtown Lunch – Galatoire’s

Because my first Friday lunch there included a fallen politician, a bevy of blingy birthday babes, seersucker suits, a brass band, tables on fire, tiaras, a second line and great food and service.

Uptown Lunch – Gott Gourmet

Try the Shrimp BLT Wrap, a tortilla stuffed with Tabasco butter sautéed jumbo shrimp, fresh mozzarella, apple smoked bacon, roasted peppers and tomatoes, avocado, with chipotle cream cheese and the refreshing cucumber jicama salad.

Sno-Ball – SnoWizard*

Still the best bang for the buck. Try nectar with sweetened condensed milk.

Gelato – La Divina*

I like to do half and half – Chocolate Azteca gelato and a refreshing sorbet like mango or cucumber. La Divina uses fresh, local ingredients whenever possible and biodegradable cups and spoons.

Popsicle – Meltdown Gourmet Popsicles*

Love the salted caramel for a creamy flavor and the watermelon with freshly ground mint leaves for something more refreshing.

Pralines – (tie) Southern Candymakers* and Loretta’s

The smell of the Southern Candymakers shop ought to be illegal and both places make amazing pralines.

Brownies – The Grocery, Inc.*

Because they’re thick and chewy and served with a smile.

Cookies – Angelo Brocato

Cookies as good as the ones at Vacarro’s in Baltimore’s Little Italy and I don’t have to pay for shipping.

Dinner Experience – Commander’s Palace

Because they’ve been serving fine food in a beautiful setting since 1880 and because neighbors get seating before celebrities. And because they give out hats and balloons for birthdays.

Chef – Susan Spicer of Bayona

Because she lets her food speak for itself.

Server – (tie) Jennifer (Jenny) at Commander’s Palace, Deanna at Verti Marte

Jenny doesn’t miss a trick. Personable and professional, she’s a delightful addition to any meal.

Deanna takes the phone orders at Verti Marte and makes it feel like calling home. She calls you “sweetie” and darling” and apologizes if they’re out of brussels sprouts (which they almost always are) and coos, “I’m sorry I don’t have that, baby.” Service with some sugar.

Local Beer – Abita Strawberry

Seasonal only, but made with the finest Louisiana-grown strawberries and no artificial flavors, extracts or oils.

Brass Band – Rebirth Brass Band*

Nominated for a Grammy this year, I’m clearly not the only huge fan of Rebirth.

Musical Auteur – (tie) Glen David AndrewsTrombone Shorty

Because Glen David Andrews has the soul, the confidence and the fiercely growling voice of a man twice his age and the energy of a man half his age.

Because Trombone Shorty has been on a path to greatness since 3 years old when he was given his name, and he just keeps getting better. Must run in the family as he’s Glen David Andrews’ cousin.

Musical Wonder Woman – Sarah Quintana

Because finding her in the woods at Chaz Fest was like stumbling onto a Cajun wood nymph who sings like a nightingale. And she can do more with her grandmother’s Katrina-surving coffee cup than most people can do with an entire orchestra.

Youth Band – Roots of Music*

Because they provide training, tutoring, meals and rides for 125 kids throughout the city and the music is amazing.

Smell – Sweet Olive*

Breaking last year’s tie with boiling seafood, Sweet Olive has been perfuming New Orleans since the horse and buggy days with its honied ripe apricots scent.

Venue – Mercedes-Benz Superdome

Because it’s home to the Saints and the Twelfth Man – the loudest fans in the NFL.

Festival – (tie) French Quarter Fest*, Chaz Fest

Favorite Things in NOLA 2011

French Quarter Fest because it supports local musicians and restaurants with 4 days of fun and food in the heart of the Quarter.

Chaz Fest because it takes place in someone’s yard. Now that’s local. And it’s where I discovered Sarah Quintana.

TV Show – HBO’s Treme*

Because it’s truly great (and they finally had the good sense to cast me).

Sports Team – The Saints*

Because they teach us that anything is possible and because they break new records every week, showing us that excellence is within reach.

College Sports Team – LSU Tigers

Because they just kept winning, no matter what.

Athlete – Drew Brees

The world is a better place. And he is simply the best.

College Athlete – Mo Isom

A heavily lauded and record breaking soccer player for LSU, she’s also an accident survivor and a Homecoming Queen who hopes to become the kicker for the LSU football team. Plus I love her “Mo Versus…” videos where she challenges athletes like Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu in 3 fun competitions.

Parade – Southern Decadence

Technicolor wigs piled high on bearded heads, corsets and costumes, falsies and stilettos, this parade looks like it rolled out of The Wizard of Oz and down St. Ann and it fits perfectly in both worlds.

Dance Troupe – 610 Stompers

If you don’t know why, you’ve never seen them. “Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Moves” and a great sense of humor.

Charity – Raintree Children and Family Services*

Providing services for special needs children and foster children since 1926. And because they also run Raintree House, a group home for teenage girls with no family or foster family.

Way to Give Back – (tie) Wednesday at the Square and Harvest the Music, Jazz Fest Beer Booth, recycling beads at Arc

Sorry to only be able to narrow it to 3, but they were all such fun and such good causes!

Both Wednesday concert series feature amazing local acts and are free. Every dollar spent on the yummy food and beverage goes to Young Leadership Council and Second Harvest respectively.

Working the Raintree Children and Family Services beer booth at Jazz Fest gave me a free day at Jazz Fest and a chance to help local foster and special needs children.

Sorting Mardi Gras beads at Arc is like a childhood fantasy where you can practically roll around in beads. And the complimentary lunch is a fresh grown salad and my new favorite soups from The Vintage Garden Kitchen.

Tranquil Spot – The Singing Oak*, Lafayette Cemetery #1

“The Singing Oak” created by Jim Hart, is a live oak in City Park covered in giant wind chimes.

Lafayette Cemetery #1 in the Garden District is more than just a beautiful, quiet place – it’s filled with history and heritage.

Beer Spot – Molly’s at the Market

Because the juke box has great music, the patrons and staff are cool, it’s a pit stop for downtown parades and Thursday is $1 Miller High Life night.

Radio Station – WWOZ*

Because they play all the music I’ve heard live and now I know the songs and artists.

Newspaper – NOLA Defender*

Because they’re the devil I know.

Local Character (present) – Uncle Lionel of Treme Brass Band

Because, at 80, Uncle Lionel makes the bass drum sexy and outplayed Trombone Shorty with an umbrella.

Local Character (RIP) – Coco Robicheaux

Because so many were so deeply affected by his passing, though his music will live on.

Phrase – Who Dat!?!*

Because it unites the Who Dat Nation.

Dance – “Getting Crunk”*

Because we dance to the Ying Yang Twins’ (Halftime) Stand Up and Get Crunk after every touchdown.

Awesome Cultural Thing – Game Day

I’ve lived in cities with Lakers and Redskins and Kings and Orioles, but I’ve never seen anything like game day in New Orleans. Every person, young and old, rich and poor, priest and stripper, wears Saints gear and watches every game.

Favorite Theatre – Audubon Aquarium of the Americas IMAX Theatre

Because it’s amazing 3-D movies put you under the sea or in flight and the pre-show music the afternoon I went included Phone Sex by Jason Miles, a song best described as Donna Sommers on Ecstasy.

Gallery – Photo Works*

Because photographer Louis Sahuc has been lovingly recording the French Quarter for decades in black-and-white and color, in landscapes and candids.  The gallery is like the city’s memories.

Artist – Stephán Wanger of Galeria Alegria

Because Stephán’s mosaics are not only beautiful portrayals of the city and it’s icons, they are made of recycled Mardi Gras beads so they actually are made of the city’s memories. Plus, he gives lessons.

Antique Shop – M.S. Rau Antiques

Though I love the Who Dat! signs worked from metal scraps and quirky, reasonably priced antiques of Greg’s Antiques, you can’t beat the decadence of a velvet-seated cut crystal throne, a half million dollar sapphire and diamond necklace, a $750,000 pool table that once sat in Buckingham Palace or the other 30,000 square feet of treasures established 100 years ago.

Who Dat and Carnival Couture Shop – (tie) Fleurty Girl*, Black and Gold Sports Shop

Fleurty Girl specializes in black and gold tutus and  jewelry as well as local t-shirts like, “Dome Sweet Dome.”

Black and Gold Sports Shop has every Saints and LSU item from salt shakers to baby booties.

Costume Shop – (tie) New Orleans Party and CostumeSouthern Costume Company

For buying, New Orleans Party and Costume has 2 stories of petticoats, wigs and costumes as well as balloons and party supplies.

For renting and for filming, Southern Costume Company is a full service rental, design, alteration and storage facility with over 9,000 square feet of inventory and offices.

Dress Shop – Trashy Diva

The most flattering, feminine shapes in beautiful fabrics and prints, there’s something wonderful for every woman in Trashy Diva’s dress, shoe and lingerie shops.

Plus Size Shop – The Voluptuous Vixen

Pretty and shapely dresses, lingerie and swimwear for women sizes 12 and up.

Hats – (female) Fleur de Paris, (male) Goorin Bros.

Fleur de Paris makes each hat like it’s a party on your head. Though most are very refined, each hat expresses some flight of fancy (or feather).

“Bold hatmakers since 1895,” Goorin Bros. is not your pawpaw’s hat shop, unless you pawpaw was super-cool. Part classic, part hip hop, Goorin Bros. American-made hats are functional and fashionable.

Perfume Shop – Bourbon French Parfums

Established 165 years ago, they do custom blending and feature  a re-creation of Marie Laveau’s Voodoo love potion. Intoxicating.

Mardi Gras Masks – Maskarade

An amazing array of leather, feathered or laser-cut metal masks  in every shape, color, character and animal imaginable.

Wig Shop – FiFi Mahoney’s

Specializing in outrageous up-do’s (and great regular wigs), this is where the divas get their “do.”

Bookstore – Garden District Book Shop*

Because they constantly host readings and signings and have an eclectic mix of books with a heavy bent toward local writers and subjects.

Accessory – Second Line Umbrella

Because nothing says parade like a second line umbrella and a brass band. They also shade us in the hot sun.

New Thing – Mardi Gras Parade Tracker

A phone and iPad application that gives real time GPS tracking of each parade by deploying people to walk the entire route with the frontline paraders. Now you know when to leave the house and how to time your bathroom breaks.

Litter – Mardi Gras Beads in Trees*

Because there are year-round reminders that life is a celebration.

_________________________________________________

L.A. to N.O.LA’s Favorite Things (in NOLA) 2010

Sno-Ball – SnoWizard

Try wedding cake (or nectar) with sweetened condensed milk

http://www.snowizard.com/

Gelato – La Divina

Must have flavor – Chocolate Azteca

http://www.ladivinagelateria.com/

Popsicle – Meltdown Gourmet Popsicles

Must have flavor – salted caramel

http://www.facebook.com/meltdown.llc

Pralines – Southern Candymakers

Because I’ve tried them all

http://www.southerncandymakers.com/about_us

Brownies – The Grocery, Inc.

Because The Farm of Beverly Hills is 1800 miles away now

http://thegroceryneworleans.com/

Beignets – Cafe du Monde

Because no matter how good you remember them being, they always taste better

http://www.cafedumonde.com/

Breakfast – Camellia Grill

Must have item – grits

http://www.camelliagrill.net/home.htm

Salad – Muriel’s

Must try dish – Shrimp and Jumbo Lump Crab Salad. Sauteed shrimp and crab with super fresh asparagus, mixed greens and lime-mango vinaigrette

http://www.muriels.com/

Appetizers – Louisiana Pizza Kitchen

Must try apps: Shrimp Maque Choux (grilled shrimp with corn and garlic cream sauce) and Grilled Italian Artichokes (marinated and char-grilled, not as good as in Rome but mighty tasty)

http://www.louisianapizzakitchen.com/

Tapas – Three Muses

Must have dish – braised pork belly with apple chutney and scallion pancakes

http://www.thethreemuses.com/

Pasta – Coop’s Place

Must have dish – pasta rosa

http://www.coopsplace.net/

Uptown Lunch – Gott Gourmet

Try the Shrimp BLT Wrap, a tortilla stuffed with Tabasco butter sautéed jumbo shrimp, fresh mozzarella, apple smoked bacon, roasted peppers and tomatoes, avocado, with chipotle cream cheese

http://www.gottgourmetcafe.com/

Dinner Experience – Upperline

Because proprietor Miss JoAnn has lived a storied life and the evidence is all over the walls of her charming gallery/restaurant.

http://www.upperline.com/

Brass Band – Rebirth Brass Band

About which I’ve blogged plenty

http://www.rebirthbrassband.com/

Musical Auteur – Anders Osborne

Because he came, he saw, he wrote and sang and because his concerts are always an experience

http://www.andersosborne.com/

Musical Wonder Woman – Irma Thomas

If you have to ask…

http://www.irmathomas.com/

Youth Band – Roots of Music

Because they provide training, tutoring, meals and rides for 125 kids throughout the city and the music is amazing

http://www.therootsofmusic.com/

Smell – (tie) Sweet Olive, seafood boil

Sweet olive because it smells vaguely of honied ripe apricots or peaches and perfumes the Garden District and seafood boil because it smells like home and means great food is near

Venue – Lafayette Square

Because it hosts the Wednesday in the Square and Harvest the Music concert series. Great times benefitting great causes

http://www.wednesdayatthesquare.com/

http://harvestthemusic.org/

Festival – French Quarter Fest

Because it was giant and intimate at the same time and all about local

http://www.fqfi.org/frenchquarterfest/

TV Show – Treme

Because it’s great and the locals play themselves

http://www.hbo.com/treme/index.html

Sports Team – The Saints

Because they teach us that anything is possible

http://www.neworleanssaints.com/

Parade – Saints Victory Parade

You had to be there

https://latonola.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/lombardi-gras-aka-when-the-saints-come-marching-in/

Charity – tie – Second Harvest

Because every dollar feeds a local family of four and the need is so increased after the oil spill

http://no-hunger.org/

Raintree Children and Family Services

Serving special needs children as well as foster child and adoption services. Because they also run Raintree House, a group home for teenage girls with no family or foster family.

http://www.raintreeservices.org/

Tranquil Spot – The Singing Oak

“The Singing Oak” created by Jim Hart, a live oak in City Park covered in giant wind chimes. I call it the bing bong tree.

https://latonola.wordpress.com/2010/07/04/ending-with-style/

Beer Spot – Lost Love Lounge

Because the people are great and you never know who you may meet there and because they host scotch tastings and game days with free food

http://lostlovelounge.com/

Radio Station – WWOZ

Because they play all the music I’ve heard live and teach me to long for more

http://www.wwoz.org/

Newspaper – NOLA Defender

Because I’m biased

http://noladefender.com/

Local Character (present) DancingMan504

Because he dances rain or shine, keeps second line alive and teaches it to children through Heal to Toe

http://dancingman504.com/

Local Character (RIP) Albert Joseph Jackson

Because he was a blessing to all he met

https://latonola.wordpress.com/2010/08/05/r-i-p-albert-joseph-jackson-the-moses-of-magazine-street/

Moment – Saints winning the Super Bowl

Because it proved anything could happen and brought everyone together

https://latonola.wordpress.com/2010/02/08/believe-dat/

Phrase – Who Dat!?!

Because “I Believe” is more poignant but “Who Dat” is much more fun to say!

https://latonola.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/who-dat/

Dance – “Getting Crunk”

Because we dance after every touchdown

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CYDFoEz8rg

Awesome Cultural Thing – Mardi Gras Indians

Because they’re beyond beautiful and embody the gumbo of our heritage

https://latonola.wordpress.com/2010/04/02/indians-and-super-sunday/

Favorite Theatre – Prytania

Not only because it’s the only single screen theatre left in Louisiana, but because of the many events they sponsor.

http://theprytania.com/

Gallery – Louis Sahuc Photo Gallery

Because of the series, “The Memories of Margi and Joe” and the photo of Dennis Hopper

http://www.louissahuc.com/home.html

Antique Shop – Greg’s Antiques and Other Assorted Junk

Because they have salvaged windows and Who Dat! signs worked from metal scraps, gorgeous and reasonably priced antiques, old lanterns, door hinges and even a Mardi Gras Indian costume

http://www.gregsantiques.net/

Who Dat and Carnival Couture Shop – Fleurty Girl

Because they have black and gold tutus, local t-shirts like, “There’s no place like Houma,” Who Dat jewelry, colorful rubber cowboy boots, fleur de lis cookie cutters and painted roof tiles.

http://fleurtygirl.net/

Hats – Fleur de Paris hat and dress shop

Seeing is believing

http://www.fleurdeparis.net

Bookstore – Garden District Book Shop

Because they constantly host readings and signings and have an eclectic mix of books with a heavy bent toward local writers.

http://gardendistrictbookshop.com

Litter – Mardi Gras Beads in Trees

Because every day there are reminders that life is a celebration

10 responses to “Fav Things

  1. Pingback: Christmas Tree 2014 | L.A. to N.O.LA

  2. Pingback: How Do You Red Bean, LAURA CAYOUETTE? | Red Beans and Eric... err Rice!

  3. Hey Miss Laura,
    I was honored to have my “Singing Oak” named on your “Fav” list. Few folks know that the scale it uses is the same scale used in West African music, Jazz and gospel- tying it to the history of New Orleans spiritual sounds. By using different numbers of tubes ( like organ pipes) the hidden wind chimes are designed to have overlapping notes -thus a breeze plays the 7 wind chimes as one with the music changing as you move around the base of the tree.Just thought you’d like to know. Keeep on truckin!
    Jim Hart

  4. John Jacobs

    Hi Laura – this is a very cool blog. I got here because of a link to your Treme article. We are Treme junkies – timed our (re) viewing of seasons 1 and 2 on BluRay to conclude last Friday in preparation for Sunday’s premier. We’re also in the midst of a decades-long love affair with NOLA which we hope will result in a move there soon (we’re in Tucson AZ). As it is now, we visit about 3 times a year.

    I’d like to recommend an additional link to your charities section – lowernine.org. The Executive Director is a good friend. This is a small, dedicated organization that helps about 10 families a year rebuild and return to their homes in the Lower Ninth Ward. Check their web site to see if they make your list. And send ’em a few bucks if you can.

    Hope to see you in town someday soon. Thanks for the very enjoyable blog.

    • So glad you’re enjoying the blog and, yes, Treme rocks! I’m working out of town for a day or two but will be sure to look up the charity as soon as I get back. Hope you find your way to NOLA soon!

  5. Guy Byrd

    Laura,

    What an incredible list. I am familiar with some of your favorites (e.g. Galatoires & Commanders) but mostly not. May I suggest that you consider adding the Felix and Acme oyster houses, which are among my favorites.

    Looking forward to meeting you while I am in NO wiith Betty Carr — Guy

  6. Jennifer

    Hey I didn’t see your favorite bakery. We are headed to NO with a big group for my birthday and I need to have an absolutely wonderful cake!

    Any suggestions?

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