The Price of Freedom

October 11, 2011
Frank’s cousin and girlfriend were picking us up Tuesday morning at 9:30. We had to shower, dress and pack beforehand. We left our luggage with the bell desk. Mel and Jen arrived soon after. They took us to Elizabeth’s for breakfast which is not far from their house in Bywater. Elizabeth’s is known for Praline Bacon, and after one bite it’s easy to understand why. It’s smoky and savory with sweetness from what I believe is brown sugar. We also had grits and sausage biscuits and gravy. It was my first time having grits, there must be a pound of butter melted in there, but they were pretty tasty with Crystal hot sauce. I’ve never been a fan of biscuits and gravy, but I did like their biscuits they were more moist than most.

After breakfast, we went back to Mel & Jen’s place; they’re renting a shotgun home that was built in the 1740’s. Coming from Vegas, that’s hard to wrap my mind around. It was a cute home with a ton of character. The kitchen has reclaimed wood from old tug boats that ran down the Mississippi. Each of the shotgun homes was painted a variety of bright colors. Shutters were all a bit off kilter from weathering a few hundred years’ worth of storms. I’m glad we stopped by to see it.

Jen hung back at the house, while Mel drove us to the WWII museum. On the way, she pointed out the bridge that crosses over to the 9th ward, which was the area most affected by Katrina. Can you believe people are still waiting for FEMA money? Sad. Jen was telling us the school where she teaches is still using temporary trailers for classrooms. They are anticipating FEMA money soon, but rather than build an actual school the talk is they’ll be getting “nicer” trailers instead. Unreal.

We said, “Goodbye” to Mel and bought our tickets for the WWII museum. There is a movie to watch beforehand in a building across the street. This is also where John Besh’s American Sector is located. I wanted to try August, but AS was more convenient. Besh is one of the few celebrity chefs that haven’t hit Las Vegas, so trying one of his restaurants was a must for me.

We ordered crabmeat pies and creole corned beef. The crabmeat pies were best with ground mustard. The mustard helped cut the richness. The corned beef was extremely sweet like it had been cooked in root beer or Coke. Neither dish was bad, but they didn’t wow us either. The house made pickles to start were really good, though.

Timing worked out perfectly, we finished our snack and lined up for the WWII film, Beyond All Boundaries. It’s 4D, between that and the collection of actual accounts it was really well done. We walked over to the museum and walked the exhibits. It’s has a nice layout with a mix of storyboards, short films, audio and artifacts. Towards the end we passed a WWII vet that was visiting, overhearing his accounts was chilling. The museum is great reminder of the challenges our country faced and what we were able to overcome, and all that was sacrificed for the freedoms we have today. We were the youngest visitors by far. That saddened me.

After the museum, we walked over to Cochon Butcher. It was one place that wasn’t Cajun/Creole that I just had to try. It’s located in the Warehouse District, which seems to be one area of NOLA’s undergoing gentrification. We ordered the duck pastrami slider and the Gambino sandwich cotto salami, sopressata, capicola and fresh herb vinaigrette. Our order took forever, but it was worth the wait. Even if I did have to stare at dirty bare feet… One last rant, before I wrap this up, what’s the deal with all the bare feet? There’s no beach! We saw people all over the city without shoes… on Bourbon, Decatur, Jogger on St. Charles, this lady in Cochon Butcher. Gah. Gross. Back to the sandwiches, the sliders were more like grilled cheese. Salty, grilled cheese. The duck on its own was really tasty, I wish it was paired with a less salty cheese because it was overpowering. The Gambino was a yummy Italian mix, the bread was equal to the rest of its parts. I was appreciative.

We left Cochon Butcher and walked back to the Quarter via Tchoupitoulas St. It was an enjoyable stroll.


Couldn't leave without a photo of one of the hundreds of Popeye's in NOLA.

Or some random beads strewn about.

We returned to the hotel, with nothing left that we had to see and bellies too full to eat anymore, we called for a taxi and went to the airport. I didn’t realize the taxi ride was a flat fee of $33, I thought we’d save money by beating rush hour, but it mattered none. Getting back home was a breeze. The flight back had 50 or so people so there was plenty of room. We had a beautiful sunset when leaving MSY the orange glow reflecting off the swamps below was breathtaking. It was a nice send off.

We had heard Vegas had been inundated with storms while we were away, but I didn’t expect the cool air. The day before we left for NOLA it was triple digits, it was 67 degrees when we got home Tuesday night. That’s one helluva swing. Who’s the Grinch that stole summer?


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