I only live 90 miles away, but New Orleans is a world apart. Every time I visit, I love it more. I’ve never been there during Christmas. My sweetie and I just spent the weekend savoring it all. I discovered Christmas in this old city has it’s own feel; it’s not Mardi Gras or festival time or it’s-so-hot-I-can’t-breathe-I-must-find-a-cold-bar-summertime. It’s beautiful and sparkly, people aren’t in a hurry, there’s more children with their families in the grand hotels all dressed up in their holiday best. There’s the odd mix of evergreen and palm trees and the illusion in hotel lobbies that it’s cold and wintery yet everyone is wearing short sleeves. The city feels more ancient at Christmas, maybe it’s the carolers dressed in vintage clothes sitting in the bars taking a break from singing their carols. Or maybe it’s the old spirits of those who have walked it’s streets, have once again come back for a visit.
I love the aromas of New Orleans
New Orleans has it’s own smell that’s like no other city. It’s the wet, humid, tropical, heavy air mixed with french bread, coffee, frying foods, beignets, alcohol and car exhaust. You sense the decay and the decadence and the history. It fills your senses the moment you arrive. For me it breathes welcome back.
I love the sights and sounds of New Orleans
Car horns, people talking, laughing, arguing, but mostly I hear music and as the sound of one musician fades you hear another. A trio of men singing Temptations-style wearing matching suits and standing in the middle of the street; musicians playing instruments I’ve never seen; crowds dancing and clapping; young street people with matted hair making up for their lack of talent with their great enthusiasm.
I love the tastes of New Orleans
Almost immediately upon arrival, we go to have a drink at my favorite spot in the Quarter. The balcony at Muriel’s overlooking Jackson Square in the shadow of the Cathedral. Muriel’s is a favorite place for a memorable meal; their crawfish and goat cheese crepes will remain a sense memory that stays with you for the rest of your life. But this is also a haunted restaurant. It was once a private home and the owner gambled it away in a poker game one night long, long ago. He came home and hung himself so the home wouldn’t be taken away from his widow. If you meander through the back hallway on the way to the balcony, you’ll see the table set every day with bread and wine for his ghost.
Great food is so much the heart and soul of this city. And whatever restaurant you stumble upon will quickly become your favorite until you stumble upon another. Even the bread and coffee are better here. Herbsaint is a little bistro that we’ve been hearing about. I love to watch cooking shows and am always intrigued by the food combinations that I never thought could be put together. The magic that occurs when tastes blend and marry in your mouth with the perfect pairing of wine. We had one of their signature dishes Housemade Spaghetti with Guanciale and Fried-Poached Farm Egg. I do not know how you can fry a poached egg with a crust and keep the yoke buttery. But they did it. When you cut that egg and it drizzles into the pasta, well, my eyes rolled back in my head, as I tasted total deliciousness.
A toast to New Orleans
When I win the lottery, I’ll buy a French Quarter home with a courtyard and a balcony. I’ll call to you from the street and invite you up for a drink, maybe a Pimm’s Cup or a Sazarac. And you’ll join me on the balcony and we’ll wish everyone below a Merry Christmas.