Mardi Gras 2016      

On a whim, we decided to visit New Orleans in 2016 for Mardi Gras (plus a few days).  We both hate crowds but love music and festivals and great food — it was a sight-sound-and-taste experience we will not forget.  I can’t replicate the sounds or tastes for you, but I can share some interesting sights in the accompanying selection of photos.

New Orleans and its friendly, welcoming people and wonderful restaurants did not disappoint.  Sound-wise, we loved the street music but were blown away by the Treme Brass Band at the Candlelight Lounge the night of Ash Wednesday.  Great musicians, casual setting, and I got to play a washboard that one of the patrons brought along.

As for the food, where do I start?  For white-tablecloth dining, we loved and recommend Bayona and Muriel’s Jackson Square.  Bayona served the most ample and tender duck breast ever (and they make a great sidecar too).  Muriel’s had turtle soup on the menu, which I had to try, and it was hearty and wonderful.  Not sure there was turtle in it but no matter.  The pecan-encrusted drum was delicious too.  I thought both restaurants were priced reasonably given the quality, service and ambience.

Then there were the oysters.  New Orleans may have spoiled us forever in terms of the size, flavor and freshness of the gulf oysters.  We sampled them at Felix’s, The Creole Cookery, and Oceana, and all were excellent.  I especially liked Felix’s char-grilled oysters but next time I will ask them to hold the butter-drenched bread.

Finally, my full-tourist experience would have been lacking had I not tried the alligator andouille sausage “gator bites” with red beans and rice at The Creole Cookery.  Good thing I decided ahead of time to suspend my weight-loss mandates for the duration of the trip — it would have been miserable! (And I did not gain weight.)

Will we return for another NOLA party someday? We’re not ruling it out. Both of us were impressed by how open and friendly the locals were and how they (unlike the conflicted residents of Asheville) seemed to genuinely embrace tourism.  As we were told a number of times, the devastation of Katrina changed attitudes along with realities.

Someday it would be nice to go back just to shoot.  In the meantime, here are twelve of my favorites from our 2016 adventure:

• Purple Knight on a Baritone Horn

Pink and Black and Shadows

Turning Heads

Treasured Beads

Gator at the Creole Cookery

Royal Street Combo

Black, White and Beer

Hot Dog Man & Friends

Patron at Antoine’s Hermes Bar

Tonya at The 700 Club

French Quarter Buskers

Midnight at the Clover Grill

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