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More Things To Love About New Orleans

5 Dec

Last Saturday was one of those times that I thanked my lucky stars that I live here.

I have been meaning to visit The Music Box, an “interactive musical village” that is in our neighborhood, and we finally made it over. What is there now is the first phase of a planned  full-scale musical house called Dithyrambalina designed by the artist Swoon.

I tried to write a description of it, but you really should just go to the site I linked to above and look at the pictures. It’s like a little dreamland. We have tickets for the last musical performance this coming Saturday, and I can’t wait.

At night, we rode our bikes down to the river and took the ferry to Algiers. That in itself is fun because I love to go down to the riverfront. But for the first time, I got to see a Christmas bonfire. It’s a tradition in the area, and like the Mardi Gras Indians, it is a little mysterious.

The bonfires are also called the “feux de joie” (fires of joy) and seem to have begun between 1880-1900. The best page of information I’ve found so far is from Louisiana Folk Life, even if it isn’t able to give definitive answers. I suspect there aren’t any, really, which keeps things a little odd and mysterious. And just makes it more wonderful, in my opinion.

This year, the bonfire was special because the artist Jana Napoli’s installation called Floodwall was burned to the ground. The piece incorporated hundreds of drawers found in the city after Katrina, meant to help document what we lost after the storm. Burning it was a symbolic letting go. It was moving to me, and beautiful, with glowing ashes swirling around above our heads and the fire burning hot.

I didn’t take pictures, so here is a link to the newspaper’s photos of the event. Of course there was a choir, and a second line to the site. Music is a must with everything down here.

My heart was so full-up with love for the city and the people in it that day. Happy, happy day.


One Year

26 Oct

I’ve been writing (or not writing) this blog for a year today.

I wish I could find out more information about Zodiac coffee, or the Foltz Tea and Coffee Co. I do like this label, though there seem to be a million and one faux-vintage prints of it for sale online.

You Go Girl Cat

19 Oct

This is on the way to the place you can hang out by the river. You know the place.

I’m gonna get back into the posting groove. I swear it.

I Get to Look at This Every Time I Go to the Gym

15 Sep

Shrimp Remoulade

30 Aug

A few years ago, a friend gave me some homemade tarragon vinegar. In my search for recipes that called for it, I found this one for shrimp remoulade. I don’t know where I got it, so I can’t give credit where it’s due, sorry!

Remoulade sauce has many, many variations, and while the Louisiana kind can be either oil- or mayonnaise-based, it usually has paprika. It is most often served with shrimp, but it also works with crab cakes, fried green tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, or fish.

For me, this simple cold shrimp salad is the perfect summer dinner. And though I make my own tarragon vinegar now, I’ve seen it in the grocery store, so you don’t have to!

Shrimp Remoulade

2 TB Creole (brown) mustard, preferably Zatarain’s

1 TB paprika

1/2 tst cayenne

2 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 c tarragon vinegar

1/2 c olive oil

3/4 c chopped scallions, including 2-3 inches of the green tops

1/4 c minced celery

1/4 c chopped flat-leaf parsley

3 pounds raw medium shrimp

romaine lettuce


Whisk together the mustard, paprika, cayenne and salt in a deep bowl

Beat in the vinegar

Whisking constantly, pour the oil in a slow, thin stream and beat until smooth and thick

Add the scallions, celery, and parsley and mix well

Cover and let rest at room temperature for at least 4 hours


Shell and devein the shrimp

Rinse under cold water

Bring 2 quarts of water to a simmer in a large pot (add a little salt if you want)

Drop the shrimp in the water and cook uncovered for 3-5 minutes until pink and firm

Drain, let cool, then chill the shrimp until ready to serve


Mound the torn lettuce on individual plates

Arrange the shrimp on top, spoon some sauce on top and serve immediately

I use about 2-4 TB sauce for each salad, so you will probably have some left over. I like to let the leftovers come to room temperature before using.

I’m Excited About: We Live to Eat! Restaurant Week

22 Aug

This is the first year of this event, and it takes place Sept. 12-18. I’ve spent a good part of today looking at menus, and I have three restaurants I’d like to visit. Well, really, there are more, but I think three reasonable for one week.

The participating restaurants are offering $20 two course lunches and $35 three course dinners. On a bit of a tangent, I love fixed price menus! Not so much on a day like Valentine’s day, where you aren’t going to get the best food or the best value, but at other times, I love them.

With a fixed price menu, I feel compelled to order the most interesting offerings. And I sort of like being confined to just a couple choices, usually ones that I may not have considered if I was ordering from the full menu. I’m a sucker for a steak, man, what can I say? It’s hard for me to resist ordering a big hunk of beef.

And, continuing along this tangent, I have to just say that MiLa’s $20 three course fixed price lunch is the greatest deal in town. I still think about the coconut panna cotta with roasted strawberries  and mint oil I had there once. Ah! And I would have never ordered that if it were next to a chocolate dessert. I’m a sucker for chocolate, too, you see.

OK, so back to Restaurant Week and where I’d like to go. First is Restaurant August. They don’t have a menu posted, but I have never been and I’d really like to go.

Second is Cafe Adelaide. I already know I want the duck tasso-arugula flatbread and the charred sage brined pork.

Third is Mike’s on the Avenue, which I confess I didn’t even really know about before my menu perusal. But their lunch menu looks great, and bonus! The lunch is three courses as well as the dinner!

What I’ve really got to have there is the lilikoi cheesecake, which is a passion fruit cheesecake. Oh, yes, please, thanks. I’m sorta koo koo for passionfruit, and you just don’t see it used much without mixing it with other tropical fruits. I really prefer it on its own. I found their recipe for this dessert online, and while I’d love to make it, I’d like to try it at the restaurant first.

So I’ve got to start making some reservations! I feel so lucky to live in a city with such great restaurants, and an event like this is a great time to try some new places.

Lovin’ on St Louis. NOLA, too.

3 Aug

I grew up in St. Louis and I miss it something fierce. I was just there a couple months ago, but it’s got a place in my heart always.

The Hi Fi Fo Fum store mascot! How can he not make you happy?

One of the things I love is the look of it- big trees, brick buildings, wide streets. I didn’t realize how deep the history of brick was in the city, and I hope one day I’m able to see the movie Brick by Chance and Fortune. Here’s the trailer:

When Adam went to buy bricks here in New Orleans, he said they were piled on different pallets, labeled by city: Detroit, St. Louis, etc. It broke my heart a little, because I had been reading about brick theft through the blog Preservation Research Office and others.

On a happier note, I’ve become fascinated by a residential architectural style called the flounder house. It’s fairly rare, apparently, but St. Louis has some. (And so does New Orleans, but I have yet to see any.) It’s hard to describe what it is; better you should check out this post from Preservation Research Office with lots of pictures. I love these quirky elements of our history!

I love progress and change, but there is so much to lose when we don’t take preservation into account. New is not always better. So often, it’s worse. There is a feeling I get from things with history; it’s a feeling that goes straight to my core, almost like a romantic love. Buildings, clothing, dishes. It feels like a connection to people in the past, to a different time. I used to think everyone felt it; I was sad to figure out that isn’t so.

For me, it isn’t about a certain time period. I love the ancient warehouses down by the river bank and the midcentury ranch houses in the suburbs. I love it all. I’ve been wanting to do these self-guided tours of midcentury modern buildings put together by I’ve also been wanting to visit the Metairie Cemetery down here. St. Louis and New Orleans hold endless treasures, and I want to know everything about them.