Sweet Treats

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Prior to SantaCon, I was in the ‘hood yesterday (the SoMa ‘hood) when I stumbled upon the newest branch of Chantal Guillon!  It’s bigger and better than the original – more macarons, GRAND macarons (say what?!), other confections, Mariage Freres teas, marzipan, plus sandwiches and salads.  The seating area is much bigger, too.  The place was so pretty yesterday with the nice-sized Christmas tree spreading holiday cheer.  It’s on Howard; sorry, but you’ll have to look up the address!

Check it out.

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We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming…

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to inform you that SantaCon was alive and well (and a huge success, as always) in San Francisco yesterday.  For those who aren’t aware, SantaCon (short for Santa Convention) is an annual gathering of Santas that takes place across the U.S., and possibly in other parts of the world, for a day of shopping, eating, picture taking, merrymaking and mostly drinking.  In San Francisco, the hundreds of Santas (anyone can participate) gather at Union Square at noon, where they eventually break off into groups that head off to The Mission, The Tenderloin, North Beach and various neighborhoods to continue the party.

The proof is in the pudding.

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Back to Bophut Beach

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Bophut Beach, as you may recall, was the place of my 6 night stay on Koh Samui.  Chaweng is the party beach, so I purposely chose Bophut, which is composed of many French expats.  The French influence was apparent at the grocery store with the large selection of French meats, cheeses, bread and pastries.  Also, many of the owners of the stores, spas and restaurants that I patronized while in Bophut were French.  Beings I’m a Francophile, it was all fine and good with me.

October is low season in Koh Samui, thus there wasn’t a lot of activity going on.  In addition, the sand is rather coarse at Bophut Beach, which didn’t make me want to run down there on a daily basis with my beach mat.  Finally, it rained off and on for 5 of my 6 days there.

There were absolutely no “extracurricular” activities on my part.  I was too lazy and relaxed to be bothered with taking any tours, seeing the Big Buddha or other temples, going out on a boat or going to the other side of the island.  I did, however, try to book a Muay Thai ticket on-line.  Once my information was filled in on-line, they informed me that they didn’t pick up from my area and promptly refunded my money!

The highlight of my stay in Bophut Beach was probably the Friday Night Street Market.  The streets around Fisherman’s Village were closed down to traffic about 5:30 p.m. and local vendors came in with their handicrafts, food and drinks to sell.  There was a very nice atmosphere with plenty of Thai families out enjoying the evening; prices were reasonable, too.  The extent of my shopping was a Thai puppet/marionette, the Urban Decay Naked 2 set and some spring rolls.  I had to maintain, not knowing what treasures might be found in Bangkok, as well as being assured that I’d be doing plenty of shopping in Bali.

Aside from the Night Market, I did buy a couple of other dresses that were on sale at a boutique store.  I regretted not buying some cotton shorts with elephants on them.  When I saw someone at the airport wearing them, they looked too cute.

Food-wise, Karma Sutra provided me with my newest addiction – jasmine ice cream.  Divine!  Le Cabanon had good Italian food and great Thai food.  Coco Tam’s was the perfect place to chill around sunset with their four-poster beds, tables and cushions right on the beach, and house music.

No, I never found the elusive Namcha Samui.  Probably needed a better map of the Fisherman’s Village area.

I would return to Koh Samui, preferably when it’s not raining.  I would stay at Bophut Beach in the exact same apartment again, but would venture further afoot.  It was a pleasant and ultra relaxing 6 days.

Enjoying an Adult Beverage at Coco Tam's

Enjoying an Adult Beverage at Coco Tam’s

Fisherman at the Beach

Fisherman at the Beach

Bophut Beach Pier

Bophut Beach Pier

Inside Karma Sutra

Inside Karma Sutra

Beef Penang from Le Cabanon

Beef Penang from Le Cabanon

A Couple Enjoying the View from Billabong Surf Club

A Couple Enjoying the View from Billabong Surf Club

 

 

The Utmost Apologies

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Let’s face it, I’m the worst when it comes to blogging while on vacation.  There, I’ve said it and now own it.  When you run around all day in heat and humidity, by the time you make it back to the apartment, blogging is the last thing on your mind.  It’s more like…  have a drink, turn on the A/C, chill with some music and probably fall asleep early!

On my one night in Bangkok en route to Bali, I had every intention of blogging.  My laptop was out and I was getting my thoughts in order.  However, the father of the woman who owned the apartment called and came by with food for me – a Pad Thai Omelette with Chili.  Rather than drop it off, he hung out for a couple of hours talking and showing me photos of his trips to the U.S. and other places.  By the time he left, and knowing that I needed to be ready at 3:30 a.m. to go to the airport, my laptop was put away.

In Seminyak, the woman who owned the apartment had mentioned something about having limited internet (or data or whatever), so didn’t want me to use it all up.  Therefore, I didn’t even attempt to blog.  In Ubud, the internet didn’t work in my hotel room at all; only in the lobby area.  I didn’t feel like dragging my laptop down to the lobby every evening to blog while getting eaten alive by mosquitos.

Back in Bangkok, the internet worked just fine in that apartment.  However, I had a full schedule every single day and could barely keep my eyes open in the evenings when I made it back to the apartment.

It’s taken me awhile to begin to get caught up here ’cause, frankly, it depresses me to be back in cold, gray, gloomy San Francisco.  When not sleeping at odd hours due to jet lag, I’ve been laying on my bed staring at the ceiling hoping upon hope that my next vacation comes quickly.

My apologies once again.  You’re going to be reading overviews of each place shortly.  Thanks for sticking with me, though.  (I’m a bad friend; I know.)

Land of Smiles

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After an extremely long and (not very) arduous journey, I’ve finally arrived in Thailand.  Unlike when I was in Phuket in 2011, the Thai people that I’ve thus far encountered at the Bangkok airport and in Koh Samui are very friendly.  It’s restored my faith in the term “Land of Smiles.”

My apartment in Koh Samui is the epitome of zen and peacefulness.  It’s beautifully decorated with a prevalent Buddha theme, accented with Thai accessories and Jim Thompson silk pillow cases.  In fact, I’ve decided that I could very well be completely happy staying here listening to birdsong and rainfall, playing my August Alsina and J. Holiday playlists on Spotify and reading books on Thai culture and history, as opposed to going out and running around.  Waking up with a large Buddha statue next to your bed seems to make my day begin with serenity.

I did venture out for my first (followed by my second) Thai massage.  Now I completely understand when people describe Thai massages as “painful.”  Being extremely tired due to my travels, I’d managed to pass out for a bit during my first one.  What woke me up was when the masseuse grabbed my arms from behind and attempted to rip them out of their sockets!  The quick turning movements with my back made me feel as if I was at a chiropractor’s office!  Then the putting my legs out straight in front of me while she urged me to touch my toes and applied extra pressure to my back was a bit of a surprise, too.  My flexibility is fine, for the most part, considering my age, but still…  Serious pressure was applied to my, well, pressure points.  My second Thai massage followed the next day and was much the same.  I don’t feel like exposing myself to the torture today, however.  Although my lower back feels better, my right shoulder is a little sore and my fingers were tingly afterwards.

So I was in a Thai grocery store called Mr. C yesterday; half groceries and half clothing and home supplies.  As to be expected, there were plenty of French selections in the deli and boulangerie; Bophut is composed of many French expats.  The Thai guy could tell I had no clue as to how the system works in the boulangerie.  He politely took my already-bagged puffs and mini croissants out of my cart, then proceeded to weigh and label them.  I was tempted to try out the durian cookies, but…  NO!!!  I had to pass on the Sriracha pineapples, too, beings I haven’t the faintest idea how to cut and core a pineapple.  My Heinekens were confiscated from my cart by the cashier with the information that alcohol is not sold after 11:00 a.m. (although it was only 9:30 a.m.).

I wandered down to Fishermans Village yesterday in search of Namcha Samui, a tea house owned by Filipinos.  Not being able to find it, I stopped in at Kama Sutra Restaurant for beef with garlic and blak pepper, steamed rice and a Singha; it was alright, nothing special. I also had a glass of sauvignon blanc somewhere.  Today I’ll venture further afoot ’cause I’m determined to find Namcha Samui and Coco Tam’s!

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I’m Not Getting Older…

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Who am I kidding?!  Hell, yes, I am!  My birthday isn’t actually quite here yet, but it’s in less than two weeks.  Against my better judgment, and due to past experiences with flakey people, I decided to invite people to join me at my birthday dinner at Benihana.  I only invited five people, but three of them showed up (one with an unexpected guest).  The couple that I invited had to cancel a few hours before because their dog, who’s HUGE, seemed to have injured himself and they needed to take him to the vet immediately.

So Benihana…  For those of you who aren’t aware, if you go on to the Benihana website and sign up, they send you a birthday certificate to be used during the month of your birthday.  It can only be used during dinner service Monday through Thursday.  In the past, the birthday girl or boy got their meal for absolutely nothing!  Now, however, you get a certificate for $30 to be used towards your meal, PLUS you have to have at least one other person along to pay for a complete meal.  Awww, inflation.

One of my friends, M.L., had never been to Benihana before.  He was going to show me some photos of something, but commented “Well, this is awkward” when he realized that we were being seated at the teppan grill with other people.  I told him to show me the photos under cover of the table if they were that private, which they weren’t actually!

Our teppan grill master was of Hispanic descent; didn’t catch his name.  He did all the usual – the smoking volcano made out of onions, a heart with the fried rice, flipping the shrimp tails into his chef’s hat and pocket, as well as all of the fancy cutting techniques with plenty of fanfare.

Dinner was nice – I had the shrimp and steak, which came with soup, salad, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, rice and green tea ice cream.  M.L. and I shared a carafe of sake.  He doesn’t normally drink at all, so I tried to drink most of it (only worrying about him, of course!).  The company was great.  I’ve been largely anti-social as of late, so it was nice to go out, loosen up a little and chat with friends.  I got a couple of bottles of sparkling wine and a gift certificate to Globe restaurant out of it, too!

My actual birthday will be celebrated in Seminyak.  I have a late lunch reservation at Breeze at The Samaya, somewhere I’ve always intended to go, but never made it to.  My dinner reservation is at Sarong, my favorite restaurant in Bali.  Aside from that, I expect to spend my morning laying out at Cocoon, nibbling and sipping for a couple of hours, then sneaking a massage in somewhere during the afternoon.  Then again, I thought I just read that Cocoon now offers massages, too, possibly in private cabanas.  Will check that out momentarily.

Thus, au revoir until SE Asia, where I promise to TRY and be much better about blogging while I’m actually on the road.

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Thaitay All Day

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I’m really taking Thailand to heart, in preparation for the upcoming vacation.  Since sometime in the spring, I reacquainted myself with Thai music.  When my ex and I were together, he played Thai music, but I never took note of the names of any of the artists or songs.  It’s as if I’m rediscovering all of it on my own.  I’ve found that one of my favorite groups, Thaitanium, plays (gulp!) Thai hip hop!  Their music is on repeat on my iPad.  Imagine my joy when I found out that Thaitanium, after a 5 year absence, would be returning to do a mini concert Stateside, which would start in…  San Francisco!  I JUMPED on that ticket!

Last week I bussed it over to DNA Lounge in the SoMa area; not a place I usually hang at night.  I was there a little early, not sure what to expect.  L.A. has a HUGE Thai population.  I wasn’t sure if San Francisco had a huge Thai population, or whether the word was out that Thaitanium would be in town.  The doors opened at 10:00 a.m. and the crowd was really sparse inside.  For an hour, I suffered through a Thai singer and his accompanying guitarist.  He wasn’t THAT bad, but he truly wasn’t good enough to be opening for Thaitanium.  Let’s be real here.  There was another hour of a DJ playing mostly the type of house/electronic/dance music that makes me want to shoot myself.  I had to have at least one drink to get me through it.

Around 12:15 a.m. Thaitanium was in the building.  By then, the crowd was packed in there.  I’d squished myself as close to the front as possible, barring the VIP tables directly in front of the stage. The crowd, as expected, appeared to be 95% Thai. Let me tell you, this crowd was down to party AND they imbibed whiskey as if Prohibition were about to hit. Earlier in the evening, a woman had spoken to me in English, asking if it would be ok for her to place her drinks on the table next to me. Since most people mistake me for Thai, I asked if she spoke Thai. She said “No, I’m actually Filipino!” With that, I had to laugh and explain that I’m Filipino as well and don’t speak Thai, either! Her friend and she had recently seen some Thaitanium postings on Instagram and kind of spur-of-the-moment decided to check it out. We both agreed that Dek Tay (a.k.a. “daboyway”) has exactly the kind of swagger that we like! Meanwhile, the 3 women on my right side appeared to be “older.” I use that term loosely, as I’m “older” myself. These women appeared to be mothers that were clearly out of their element, though. It seemed that they were there with a younger guy, who may have been the son of one of them. All I know is that the guy kept screaming in my ear like a little girl, and the 3 women kept dancing wildly, laughing at each other, nudging me to laugh at one or more of them, then filming as much as possible.

Thaitanium put on a hell of a show. They sounded great live and were very high energy – dancing, singing, joking around, pouring whiskey from their own bottles for the people at the VIP tables, etc. No, I didn’t understand most of what they were singing about; they sing about 70% Thai and 30% English, if that much. Even so, I recognized certain songs & sang along to the few words that I DID know!

When the show was over and I departed, I made a point to pick up one of their snapbacks (I LOVE that it says “Run BKK”) and a T-shirt.

Their next stop was Boardner’s in Los Angeles, an old hangout of mine. Wish I could have been there, too, but I’ll be watching like a hawk for their next return to San Francisco!

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Easy Like Sunday Morning

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Sunday morning called for an earlier than usual wake-up to deal with packing all of my things, which were scattered all around the apartment.  It never takes me as long as expected to pack up things when LEAVING a destination, which is a good thing.  I took a few pictures of the apartment for reference, once my things were out of the way.  Aside from the 3 flights of stairs, I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again.  The location was perfect, the kitchen was great and the sofa bed was comfortable.  Next time, I’ll try to pack a little lighter, though, so as not to give myself a heart attack getting my suitcase upstairs.

Once everything was relatively in order, my first stop was David’s Antiques.  Although they’d been closed on Saturday, they opened bright and early at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday.  I’d planned to look at more of the loose cameos. Besides the cameos, this time I made a point to look at some other silver jewelry, beings it was 50% off.  Cuff links are another of my collectibles and I managed to find a nice pair of silver and jade ones.  The saleswoman put those aside with a pair of silver and cameo earrings.  I was getting out my wallet to pay when my eyes spied a case of antique Afghan silver jewelry.  It contained a stunning silver and peridot necklace that looked even more stunning on ME than in the case!  Naturally, that was one of the few cases of silver jewelry that was NOT on sale because it was Afghan jewelry.  She knew how badly I wanted it, though, so worked with me to give me a slight discount.  Even with the discount, it cost more than the cuff links and earrings combined, so those had to go back in their respective places.  They suggested that I take a picture of the silver and cameo earrings because, if I decide that I want them in the near future, I can always send them the photo to inquire if they still have them.  They assured me that anything can be shipped to me.

After my shopping adventure, I made my way to The Grill.  There was a huge line on Sunday morning.  For a moment, I thought about going somewhere else, but didn’t want to lose my place in line, in case another place was similarly packed.  The wait may have been 15 to 20 minutes.  My palate was not craving the usual breakfast food, but yearned for a chicken salad sandwich on toasted wheat bread, along with a Coke.  As the waiter brought my order, I noticed that his name tag said “Ricky.”  “Are YOU Pretty Ricky?” I asked.  “Yes!  Who have you been talking to?” he smiled.  “John.  He told me that you’d be taking care of me today.”  Pretty Ricky was even friendlier after that.  All the guys in there are super nice, though.  Pretty Ricky asked where I was from, then announced to everyone, as well as pointing out, which patrons were from San Francisco.  There were a fair amount of us!  The guy on my right was with a group of guys in town for Southern Decadence, of course.  He was actually from Dallas and said that this was his first time to The Big Easy.  Although he’d loved the experience, he confessed that he’d probably never return.  “Why?  If you like it so much?”  I asked.  He said that the 8 block stretch of Bourbon Street, crammed with men and alcohol at every turn, was too much (i.e. too tempting); he couldn’t be doing that all the time.  I told him that he just needs to come back when it’s NOT Southern Decadence, get off of Bourbon Street and see what else New Orleans has to offer.  He hadn’t thought about that yet, but said that it was probably a good idea to come back to New Orleans during a NORMAL time, then go on some plantation and swamp tours and such.

My last bit of business for the morning was to make another stop at Central Grocery to get half a muffelatta for the long journey back to San Francisco.  I’d been happy to discover that they were open on a Sunday, as they never used to be.

I took my time getting my luggage downstairs, dragging that suitcase down at least 45 minutes before the shuttle was to arrive.  Once all 3 pieces were down in the courtyard, I sat in the apartment awhile cooling myself off with the air conditioning.  When I turned the air conditioning off and locked everything up, I sat in the courtyard drinking some San Pellegrino until it was time to roll my luggage half a block away in front of the Ste. Helene Hotel, where the shuttle would be picking me up.

Originally, my return flight was a direct flight scheduled for 7:30 p.m.  Sometime within the last month or two, United Airlines had changed it to a 2:30 p.m. flight with a connection through Houston.  They hadn’t even called me or sent me an E-mail in regards to the change.  When I called them to complain a week before my departure, the United Airlines representative had been sympathetic.  There were no more direct flights out late in the day/evening.  The latest she could put me on was at 4:30 p.m., but with short connections in both Houston and Los Angeles.  I didn’t care because I wanted as much time in New Orleans as possible.  Since I was fine with the 4:30 p.m. flight and two connections, she was kind enough to upgrade me to roomier seats in the front of the plane for free.  It DID make a difference.  Let me tell you, that half a muffelatta really came in handy, too!  There were no little doggies on any of my return flights, but there WERE two children sitting next to me on my L.A. to San Francisco flight.  All of my close friends know that children (of any age) give me the heebie jeebies.  I put my headphones on and tried to sleep, but the seemingly 8-year old girl fell asleep with her head half on my shoulder.  I nearly screamed, but managed to maintain until the landing in San Francisco.

There you have it – drinking, eating, shopping, taking pictures, zydeco, brass bands and Southern Decadence.  I even have a couple of new Facebook friends to show for it.

In the Quarter

In the Quarter

Counter at Central Grocery

Counter at Central Grocery

In the Quarter

In the Quarter

Me in my Steampunk Top Hat

Me in my Steampunk Top Hat

 

 

 

 

 

Where in the Hoodoo is the Voodoo?

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Saturday was the day that I planned to get out the DSLR and take some big girl pictures.  What’s the point of lugging the damned thing across the country if you’re not going to put it to use?  Of course, once I was dressed and ready, DSLR strapped around my neck, I heard, to my chagrin, heavy rain beginning.  Thinking it would taper off in 15 minutes or so, I waited…  and waited.  When it didn’t taper off, I decided to take an hour’s nap!  By the time my nap was finished, it had seemed to lighten up quite a bit.  I had my umbrella, anyway.

I made a final dash through The French Market.  There still weren’t any voodoo dolls made of Spanish moss!  What the heck, people?!  Someone mentioned that the ones made of Spanish moss were notorious for having chiggers.  Mine didn’t and neither did the ones that I’d bought for friends in the past.  The “new” style simply doesn’t do it for me.  Someone suggested that I make my own, but I’m no voodoo priestess; nor do I have access to Spanish moss!  I gave up and bought a few of the ones made of twigs and stones.  Then to avoid the rain, which had started again, I actually took a gander at what else was for sale in there.  As an Eiffel Tower fanatic, I couldn’t pass up the Eiffel Tower trinket box.  Nothing else was a must-have, however.

Back over in Jackson Square, I dashed into Shushan’s because the cutest Swarovski-laden bunny purse seemed to be calling my name.  Priced at over $200, though, I decided to play deaf.  Instead I found 2 other New Orleans-esque items that made a fashion statement – a steampunk top hat and a pair of “platform” slippers with Swarovski crystals and a fleur-de-lys on each.  I’ve long been admiring steampunk top hats at festivals in San Francisco.  They’re usually leather and in the vicinity of $250 and up.  This one, though not leather, was a steal in comparison.  I bought the slippers because my canvas shoes were soaked and wearing my regular slippers wouldn’t help much.  The height of these slippers would help me avoid some puddles, at the very least.

By now, it was lunch time again.  My cousin, who’d been to New Orleans a month ago, had suggested getting crab cakes at Pierre Maspero’s.  It may have been due to the rain, but the place was ridiculousness in there.  I couldn’t handle it, so went back to K-Paul’s instead.  I ordered a bowl of gumbo and a meatloaf po’ boy, not aware that it came with potato salad.  I had to have a spicy Bloody Mary as well.  Lunch at K-Paul’s was NOT cheap!  The gumbo was $5.00, the Bloody Mary was $10.00 and the po’ boy was $13.00!  I should have skipped both the gumbo and the Bloody Mary.  The gumbo was fine flavor-wise, but wasn’t thick enough.  Didn’t they start that with a roux or what?!  The potato salad was kinda’ soupy and the Bloody Mary was too spicy for me to finish.  The po’ boy was good, but actually simply tasted like a cheeseburger.  In other words, skip lunch at K-Paul’s, but do go for dinner.

Exploring further in the French Quarter, I later came upon Voodoo Authentica (or something like that) that had many Spanish moss voodoo and other dolls.  Their voodoo dolls were much more expensive and were geared to specific wishes.  My cousin had wanted a “general” one and besides, I’d already given up and bought those at The French Market.

Bambi de Ville on Royal Street used to be a shop specializing in prints.  Now they have vintage (i.e. used) clothing.  Having worn hand-me-downs for ages, I’ve never been a fan of vintage clothing.  Bambi, however, had a fantabulous collection of perfectly preserved, exquisite dresses for reasonable prices, considering the quality.  I was almost tempted to try a few on, but thought better of it.  I keep telling myself that I’ll probably be having some clothes tailored in Thailand, so do NOT need to be buying any at this time.

Back at the apartment, I dropped off my purchases, freshened up and rested.  Before long, I got antsy again.

Just down the street was Kingfish.  I walked in to a pianist playing in the bar area, as well as party hats atop the piano.  When I asked the bartender whose birthday it was, he replied “Huey Long,” who just happened to be their namesake.  I don’t know the history, but believe he was a politician whose nickname was Kingfish.  As I downed a few glasses of Prosecco, the 3 people next to me asked where I was from.  They were from Cali, too – San Diego – and come to New Orleans once or twice a year.  We talked restaurants and bars awhile; they were getting ready to have dinner at the French Market Restaurant, which just happens to be across the street from The French Market.

Once they left, I made my way back to Pierre Maspero’s and squeezed in at the bar for dinner.  Aric was my very competent server/bartender.  As per my cousin’s suggestion, I ordered the crab cakes, plus a shrimp Caesar salad.  The crab cakes were big and meaty, seemingly with little filler.  To me, the sauce was rather like Thousand Island, which I like.  They were good, but I’ve had better.  The shrimp Caesar was also good; the shrimp were served warm, since they were grilled.  I had a beer and somehow struck  up a conversation with the 3 guys on my left.  Of course, they were in town for Southern Decadence.  The one closest to me was Filipino, but (like me) doesn’t speak a word of any Filipino dialect!  I believe he was from San Diego and had lived in San Francisco for a year before moving to New York, which he found much more exciting.  When one of his friends mentioned something about wanting to go out and get a fleur-de-lys tattoo, I showed him mine – a Christmas present from my ex-husband, even after we were divorced!

By that time, I was ready to brave Bourbon Street awhile.  I went into my preferred drinking hole, Krazy Korner, and watched some live R&B band.  The couple standing in front of my table was incredibly  drunk, mainly the woman.  She kept apologizing for blocking my view and bumping into me, hugging me every time.  Then she showed me her T-shirt, of which she was very proud.  It said “I love my hot husband!”  He was pretty proud, too!

I continued onwards to the bar at Muriel’s Restaurant, which was being hosted by a female bartender on this evening.  When I asked HER if the bar was haunted, she replied affirmatively.  She said that many, many times in her 8 years of employ there, bottles had routinely flown off of the shelves.  What’s more amazing is that NONE of them ever broke.  I inquired about the upstairs lounge, which she said was open, as there had been a bachelorette party up there earlier.  She definitely recommended checking it out, which I did post haste.  The rooms were predominantly red, there was a cool (as in temperature-wise) feel to them, they were playing Enigma, of all things, and it was deserted.  I sat down with my drink in an attempt to make myself comfortable, but…  I couldn’t.  It creeped me out a bit, though I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why.  I decided to finish my drink back downstairs in the bar.  As the bartender and I discussed haunted New Orleans further, she said that the strangest place she’d ever stayed was at The Columns Hotel out in the Garden District, the hotel where “Pretty Baby” had been filmed.  She said the rooms were huge, but odd in some way and that she’d definitely felt a presence, even though another person had been with her.  She couldn’t imagine how strange it would be to stay in one of those rooms by oneself.

Rather than continuing to drink, I decided it would be best to go back to the apartment, chill out and wait until about 12:45 a.m. to pop into The Grill, apologize to the guys and see if they were almost ready to go out for drinks.  When I showed up there, they DID ask “What happened to you last night?”  I told them I’d fallen asleep again, which is what happens when you drink all day!  John told me that he’d even waited for me until 2:00 a.m., for which I profusely apologized.  Today, however, I’d paced myself and would be ready to join them for a few rounds at 1:00 a.m.  It was not to be, though, as they had to work until 3:00 a.m.  In that case, I just parked myself at the counter, informing them that I’d be drinking there and keeping them company until 3:00 a.m.  With both Jack and John attending to me, I downed about 4 Abitas and took a picture with both of them before leaving.  When I mentioned being back in the morning for breakfast, they said that Pretty Ricky from the morning crew would most likely be helping me.  They also told me that Brandon would flirt with me, but to pay him no mind!

That was my last night in New Orleans – nothing crazy, but a very enjoyable time for me.  I was still bummed about the voodoo dolls, though.

Lunch at K-Paul's Restaurant

Lunch at K-Paul’s Restaurant

Beads at The French Market

Beads at The French Market

Crab cakes from Pierre Maspero's

Crab cakes from Pierre Maspero’s

Somewhere in the Quarter

Somewhere in the Quarter

Part of the "lounge" at Muriel's Restaurant

Part of the “lounge” at Muriel’s Restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend in The Big Easy Begins

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Friday morning saw me crawling out of bed around 9:30 a.m. again.  I decided to walk to the Fauborg-Marigny, a.k.a. simply “The Marigny.”  It was probably a 20 minute walk, give or take, from my apartment.  Aside from restaurants and coffee shops, not much was open yet.  Breakfast at Rose Nicaud Café seemed like a good idea; ordered a grilled cheese (pear and provolone on 9-grain), along with watermelon-cucumber juice.  They were fine; not outstanding.  I could probably make both at home and jazz them up a bit, though.

There was another quick dash through The French Market in hopes that new vendors might be there with the Spanish moss voodoo dolls.  No such luck! I didn’t take the time to really peruse any of the other things for sale.

I stopped in at Rouse’s Market, formerly A&P, on Royal Street.  This is my go-to place for Cajun/Creole spices and packaged mixes, as they’re always cheaper than the tourist places and generally cheaper than places like Walgreens as well.  Since the heat and humidity was beginning to get to me, I loaded up on drinkables instead – the non-alcoholic kind (for the most part).

After dropping the beverages off at the apartment, I finally dared to venture into a few of the antique stores on Royal Street.  Although James H. Cohen & Sons specializes in guns and coins, I’d found a nicely-sized loose cameo there about 12 years ago.  They’d had a small, medium and very large one, all decently priced.  I’d decided on the medium one, and the saleswoman even gave me an additional discount.  I eventually took that cameo to Los Angeles and had it set as a gold pendant.  Whenever I wear it, people comment on how pretty it is.  Makes me forever regret not buying the large one, too!  There were no cameos in their store this time, though they had Roman, Greek, Spanish and even Japanese silver and gold coin jewelry.  Moving on to Keil’s Antiques and Naghi’s, I came to the realization that everything seems to have increased in price from my last trip a mere year and a half ago.  All of the pocket watches, cuff links, Creole bracelets, cameo jewelry and Russian lacquer boxes are now far out of my price range.  My last stop was at David’s Antiques because they were having a sale – 50% discount on silver and 10% discount on gold.  There were several nice silver pieces, some were antique and some were not.  Naturally, the cameos set in silver that I liked were huge and elaborate, which still made them pricey.  Fortunately, I spied several very small loose cameos which were quite affordable.  I bought a few of those and intend to make them into gold rings on my next trip to Los Angeles.  They were trying to talk me into looking in-depth at several other pieces, but I had to rush off to my lunch reservation.

Muriel’s Restaurant bordering Jackson Square was my lunch destination.  They started me off with turtle soup with sherry, then followed that up with a wood-grilled beef tenderloin salad, which also had cherry tomatoes, parmesan and tart blackberries.  Blackberries remind me of my Grandmother’s backyard, where raspberries and blackberries grew wild.  Both the soup and the salad were good, but, once again, not outstanding.  Service was in the good range as well.  On the menu, it instructs customers to ask their server about Antoine.  It turns out Antoine was the former owner of the house that the restaurant is in.  He was a ne-er-do-well who drank and gambled heavily.  Once he ended up losing the house in a bet, he hung himself there.  That’s why it’s supposedly haunted.  I’d also heard before that specifically the bar and/or upstairs/slave quarters were haunted.  After lunch, I moseyed on over to their bar to treat myself to a Honey Child – Cathead honeysuckle vodka, blackberries, basil and Chambord.  Honeysuckle reminds me of Grandma, too, as it grew on her front porch. When I asked the bartender if the bar was haunted, he merely said that, if anything fell or broke, he blamed it on Antoine!

The French Quarter is dotted with plenty of cute boutique clothing stores.  Of course, it was the “Sale” signs that were drawing me in.  Hemline was having a sale with certain items at 80% off.  I went in, honed in on a flowing cotton top, tried it on (fit perfectly) and purchased it, happy to know that I’d saved more than $100! Then I went back to the apartment, freshened up and put said purchase on immediately!

Another place that’s been talked up a bit these days is Patrick’s Bar Vin, connected to Hotel Mazarin on Bienville Street.  Various reviews comment on how friendly and welcoming Patrick himself is, while a few proclaim him to be a drunk.  Either way, I had to check it out.  The place was cozy and maybe half full, mostly locals, but with some tourists.  I squeezed in at the bar and ordered a glass of merlot.  I was sipping and observing when Patrick walked in wearing a red seersucker jacket.  Men in the South carry off seersucker so well!  He was working the room and eventually made his way over to me.  He was charming; taking a real interest in what I had to say and attempting to introduce me to people.  Which reminds me, the locals sitting next to me asked the tourists (next to them) where they were from.  When the couple answered “Rhode Island,” the local woman proclaimed “They’re Yankees!”  Made me laugh! After my glass of wine, as I was gathering my things to leave, Patrick asked where I was going.  I was off in search of sustenance.  He strongly suggested that I return by 6:00 p.m., as a “drinking” group/club would be there from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., or thereabouts, and it would a great opportunity for me to meet more people, thus I promised to return.

After 4 meals at nice sit-down restaurants, it was time to get down and dirty.  Much ado has been made about the peanut butter and bacon burger at Yo Mama Bar and Grill on St. Peter, just off of Bourbon.  There was both a downstairs and an upstairs area; I opted for upstairs.  In the future, however, go for the downstairs as it’s too dim and dark upstairs – the perfect place to eat and drink after you’re already hammered and don’t want anyone to see/recognize you!  Feeling guilty from all of the heavy foods over the past few days, I ordered the burger with a salad as my side, rather than a baked potato or fries. Of course, there was that beer, too.  The burger was a mess to eat, but a unique and tasty combination!  It’s not something I would eat every week, but maybe once a month.  Yet again, I could probably experiment at home and get the right peanut butter to bacon ratio for me.

True to my word, I returned to Patrick’s Bar Vin.  The place was packed and even more lively by then.  Patrick saw me walk in and immediately gestured to the bartender.  The bartender poured my preferred merlot and handed it to Patrick, who personally delivered it to me.  I found myself sitting in the sofa area next to a few local couples.  Jeanie, I believe that was her name, started talking to me and introducing me around.  She told me that she frequents The Grill; often also walks past there, bangs on the window and dances.  She said that I should go there and ask for John.  Another suggestion of hers was a foot massage place a few blocks away.  While we were talking, Patrick tapped me on the shoulder.  I turned to find another glass of merlot on the table next to me.  When it was time for me to head out, Patrick gave me hugs, kisses and his card, pointing out his cell phone number!

My feet led me in the direction of Frenchmen Street in the Marigny.  Since Frenchmen is the main thoroughfare, most of the bars and restaurants were already filled to capacity.  Rather than paying a cover and/or fighting with a crowd, I listened to a brass band playing on one of the corners for awhile.  There’s also a new “art market” that takes place during the latter half of the week on Frenchmen, starting at 7:00 p.m.  It was my first time checking it out as it probably started within the last year, but nothing caught my eye.

As if I needed more alcohol, I made my way back over to Cane & Table.  That Shamu glass would be mine, come Hell or high water!  By then, as you might have imagined, I was toasted, so can’t remember my order.  As the bartender got ready to mix, I inquired about the Shamu glass.  Oddly, he seemed a tad perturbed and informed me that my order wasn’t appropriate for the Shamu glass.  When I asked which cocktail would best compliment the glass, he suggested a Hawaiian something or other.  (Why does anything deemed Hawaiian always contain either pineapple or coconut?!)  Rather than piss him off further, I let him mix one up for me.  The Shamu glass WAS cute, but the drink failed to impress me.  Honestly, in my opinion the 3 male bartenders that night were rather dorky.  The woman next to me started a conversation, but, being toasted, I don’t recall anything!  My consensus is that Cane & Table is overrated on their drinks (and bartenders), the glass IS cute and the ambience has potential, but their food menu doesn’t interest me, either.  Probably will never bother with that place again (and I’ll buy my own Shamu glass).

Cut to me now stumbling through the French Quarter, nearly home.  As I passed The Grill, more food to soak up the alcohol seemed like my best bet.  Another burger, something called The Hickman, seemed to fit the bill.  I inhaled as much as possible, but couldn’t finish it.  In fact, the guys were teasing me, asking if I was enjoying it.  So I asked for John, who was right there in front of me; we talked about Jeanie.  He said that she’d already come by and wanted to go dancing at Oz at 1:00 a.m.  Was I in?  Ummm, ok.  In the meantime, Leonard and other guys were joking around with me, assuring me that they were going, too.  It was 11:30 p.m., but felt like 2:30 a.m.  I informed the guys that I’d be at my apartment taking a nap, half a block away, but would be back by 1:00 a.m. to go dancing with them at Oz.

The nap came easily (i.e. quickly).  My alarm went off at 12:30 a.m. and I put my contacts back in.  It would only take 5 minutes for me to walk downstairs and to The Grill, so I sat watching TV.  Wouldn’t you know it?  I passed out again!  I woke up later, thinking that maybe a 10-15 minute cat nap had taken place.  It was 1:44 a.m.!!!  Oh no, I thought, I’m late for the party!  Assuming that they’d given up on me and left without me, I promptly went back to sleep!

A few bikes

A few bikes

A Little Nature in The Quarter

A Little Nature in The Quarter

Art in Jackson Square

Art in Jackson Square

Simpsons Pipes at a Store on Decatur Street

Simpsons Pipes at a Store on Decatur Street

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