Monday, October 12, 2015

Road Trip Weekend: New Orleans Day 3

 We woke up this morning with one goal in mind: Cafe Du Monde. It was time for me to taste the world famous beignets of New Orleans. It's not a far walk from our hotel, maybe 15 minutes or so, and this morning was just gorgeous outside. We arrived sometime around 8:15 and the line of people waiting wasn't that long, but I had read about how you don't really need to stand there in line, just walk around and find a table so Nick followed me around to the back side and we walked right up to an empty table and sat down. We each ordered beignets, Nick had cafe au lait with his and I opted for hot chocolate because drinking water with them just didn't seem right.
 Each order of beignets comes in threes, so we had 6 total on the table (that's about 8000 calories, if you're counting). They are puffy pastry squares that are drowning in powdered sugar. With each bite, powdered sugar sticks to the roof of your mouth, no lie. So here's the thing...while they are really good, let's be real here - they're nothing more than puffy, square funnel cakes with lots of powdered sugar on top. I did appreciate more of the soft dough inside than you get with a funnel cake since they're thinner, but seriously - that's all they are. I think the hype surrounding them had set my expectations way higher than they needed to be. I wasn't disappointed, and yes, they were awesome, but still - just funnel cake.
 Nick actually found a long toothpick sized stick of some kind of grass or something in his third beignet, which was really we sent that one back to the kitchen and the waitress brought him 3 more (he had already consumed two of them) and returned our money to basically we had 3 orders of beignets, a hot chocolate and a cafe au lait for free. Score one for us.

After finishing breakfast we walked down to the French Market and browsed through the vendors there. I wish we had been there on a farmer's market day, but those are only Wednesday and Saturdays. We made our way through and around Jackson Square, and even stepped inside the St. Louis Cathedral for a minutes to look around. We didn't stay long since they were about to hold a funeral. We wandered around for a few hours in that area before heading back to our hotel to relax for about 45 minutes until it was time for our tour shuttle to pick us up to head to the Oak Alley Plantation.
 We chose Cajun Pride Tours because they were the cheapest from New Orleans for the plantation tour, and there was no way I was getting the car out of valet and trying to drive in this crazy town. It was well worth the money for us to let the tour company take us, plus we learned some cool stuff along the way from the driver.

 Upon arrival we had just enough time to grab a sandwich in the cafe before the tour started. We took the tour of the main house on the plantation grounds, and then we had a little bit of time to explore on our own, which we spent mainly walking through the alley of oak trees for which the plantation gets its name. There are 28  300-year-old oak trees that make up the alley, 14 on each side. The largest one has a circumference of 30'! They are glorious and amazing. I think I could have stayed there all day long, just sitting under their massive branches.
The largest tree of the plantation.
 However we didn't have all day to stay and at 4:30 the bus departed to head back to the city. We were pretty ready for dinner by the time we got back, so we started wandering down Bourbon Street looking at menus. We opted for Olde Nola Restaurant mainly because the host told us we could sit on the balcony overlooking Bourbon Street, which was a total score for us!
 I ordered what they call the Trio of New Orleans: crawfish etouffee, gumbo, and red beans and rice. Nick had the Cajun jambalaya pasta with alligator sausage and shrimp. Both entrees were fabulous and we shared with each other. It was way more food than we needed, but we ate it anyway. I didn't finish my beans and rice because really, who needs that when you have crawfish etouffee and gumbo to eat??
We did a little bit of walking after dinner and checked out the amazing lobby of the Monteleone Hotel, which is just up the street and over a block from ours. It's super fancy and has a famous bar inside that is built to look like a carousel and actually rotates very slowly around. That was pretty cool to see. We ended up back in the room around 7 pm though. I really, really don't like walking around this city at night time, so last night we were back by 8 and tonight it was even earlier. Once it gets dark here, my comfort level goes way down.

Tomorrow it's time to head back home!

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