Subject: Back from Nashville and New Orleans (long)
Hi, All... Back from Nashville and New Orleans, and we had a great trip :-) Our first stop was in Nashville, where we visited with our oldest son and his wife, before going on to New Orleans, and stopped back by there, on the way home. We took our son and his wife to the Grand Ole Opry, which was a first for them and the second time for us. It was fun watching them see it for the first time. We toured the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's home, which was very interesting -- lovely grounds. We could have walked around for hours, but we had to get back. We were looking for a good place to have catfish, and we found it in Cock 'o the Walk, near Opryland. Great platters of crispy fillets of catfish and fries, but only 4 hush puppies. My husband loves them, so we ordered more! After 3 days, in Nashville, we headed for New Orleans. We took the History Tour of the Garden District, with its beautiful stately homes, (second link will take you to some Garden District Photos) and the Lafayette Cemetery. It was a great tour! Our guide, a retired New Orleans cop, was very knowledgeable and funny.

We listened to jazz at Preservation Hall... the place isn't much to look at, but the music was great! It was so crowded that we had to stand... well worth the price of entry, though -- only $5.00!

We went everywhere by streetcar on the VisiTour pass, once we figured out how to do it. Before that, we walked for miles to get from our hotel to the French Market area. No need to... the street cars took us everywhere we wanted to go :-) By the way, we bought them on the bus for $5.00 each, correct change.

My souvenirs were restaurant cookbooks, so I can duplicate some of the wonderful dishes we ate. We had dinner at Brennan's, and I had redfish, with hollandaise sauce, lump crab meat, and shrimp. Mmmm....Bob had Shrimp Creole, and it was very good too. Brennan's was our one splurge and worth it -- great service and great food. We both had their famous Bananas Foster for dessert. It was delicious, and it's in their cookbook. Here's their website, with a photo of the courtyard.... we sat right next to the window, so we had a view of the courtyard:

I think my favorite food, though, was the Mufaletta, at the Central Grocery Store. For those who don't know what a Mufaletta is, it's a round loaf of Italian bread, cut crosswise, and then in four wedges. It's filled with Italian meats and cheese, their olive salad and olive oil. Terrific! Half a Mufaletta is enough for one person -- they're huge! They were accompanied by Barq's root beer in a bottle, so much better than the stuff we get in cans. We went back on Sunday, but they were closed for Father's Day, I guess. I had wanted to get a jar of their olive salad, but since they were closed we bought another brand in Aunt Sally's praline shop, where they sold more than pralines. If you love pralines, Aunt Sally's has a website:

They're a little more online than we paid in New Orleans, but they're not too much more. We also went to the Café du Monde and ate beignets. They were great! I don't normally eat such things, as I'm diabetic, but we walked so much that I didn't have to worry about what I ate :-)

I tried crawfish at the Acme Oyster House, and Bob ordered a seafood platter, loaded with catfish, shrimp, and fried oysters, accompanied by Dixie Beer. We enjoyed the experience, but I can't say I'm a big fan of crawfish... I'm glad I tried them, though. Here's what the restaurant looks like:

Bob's favorite restaurant was the Gumbo Shop, and I enjoyed it too. We had a starter of shrimp gumbo and Jamalaya for our meal, accompanied by lots of iced tea -- "sweet tea" for Bob, who's originally from Georgia :-) We didn't have the dessert, and instead, went back to Café de Monde for more beignets. Gumbo Shop also has online shopping:

We ate at Mother's -- was it ever popular... we had to stand in line to get in! Very easy to get to on the streetcar... ride the St. Charles Streetcar, and walk a couple of blocks. Somewhere I read that it was in a bad neighborhood. It wasn't... it was a business area, very nice. Here's a picture of the PO boys at Mother's:

We brought back pralines and Mardi Gras masks -- both the feathered masks and porcelain ones. The masks we found in a shop on Bourbon Street -- they were in every store, it seemed. The feathered masks were just like the ones on this website, only royal blue:

We had a hurricane at Pat O'Brien's and a blended margarita at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. Pat O'Brien's was quite popular. It was packed, but we were able to sit down, as a very nice couple offered to share their table with us, near the flaming fountain.

Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville was very quiet when we stopped by in the afternoon, on the way back to the hotel, though they had live music even at that time. We didn't eat there, as I'd read that the food wasn't that great.

We went to the nearby French Market, where I bought file powder and post cards.

Our favorite time was early morning, walking around the French Quarter and looking at the balconies, with the scrolled iron work, many of them overflowing with gorgeous flowers. We stopped several times, during our walks, in two cafés -- Croissant D'Or and La Madeleine -- for tea, water, and croissants. They were very different... it seemed that Croissant D'Or was filled with more locals and La Madeleine with more tourists. We enjoyed them both, though.

As much as we enjoyed New Orleans, it was extremely hot (which we expected) so if we were ever to go back, we'd go back in the winter and mid-week rather than the week-end, and we'd fly instead of drive :-) People were very friendly, greeting us with a "How ya'll doin'?" When we got off the street car in the Garden District and started to walk the wrong way -- presumably a dangerous area -- a woman ran down from her porch, where she was eating breakfast to warn us that we were headed the wrong way.

Best, Sandy in Illinois