Street Cars, Congo Square and Bread Pudding


streetcarlbv

Devin’s travel bear Mr Kermit Ruffins on the St. Charles Line Street Car

Previous New Orleans Post: You Say Muffaletta, I Say Muffalatta

Ride the St. Charles Street Car

When we finished eating lunch it was still raining. Determined to not let some gray skies and soggy ground dampen our trip, we took refuge on a trolley headed towards the Garden District.

The future of this system looked bleak after five feet of floodwater submerged all but one of the new streetcars and would cost over $800,000 each to repair. The system was saved by a 48 million dollar grant and the fact that the vintage cars were stored at another location that did not flood. The old green car did the job while repairs took place and the New Orleans icon avoided extinction.

The streetcar rumbled its way out of downtown into a residential area lined with southern mansions with pillars and grand wrap around porches that screamed southern elegance. The trolley rocked the boy to sleep and allowed us a quiet moment to take in the sights. We rode to the end of the line and caught the trolley heading back as we planned to take in some “Jazz in the Park” that evening at Louis Armstrong Park.

armstrong park lbv

Visit Congo Square – The main reason for coming to New Orleans was to to see the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and take in all the good music, food and culture the city has to offer. Learning about and coming to see Congo Square gives you a appreciation for where the music came from.

Congo Square is an open space within Louis Armstrong Park. The ground is a pattern of circles made from stone bricks. During slave days when Louisiana was still under French ownership, there was a more liberal attitude towards slaves than in the American colonies. Every Sunday they were free to gather, to sing, dance and play music openly, this all took place here at Congo Square. With the Louisiana Purchase, New Orleans and Congo Square became a part of the United States and visitors from the colonies were so amazed to see hundreds of slaves dancing and playing freely. A spectacle like this couldn’t be found anywhere else in the states or its territories (slave music and dance was suppressed in the colonies, think Footloose) and tourists would come from all over to witness the spectacle. Its in this square, in this tolerant city that an enslaved people were free of their chains for a day do what heals all pain, sing and dance. So it’s in this square that African American music was born in the Delta.

Congo Square in Louis Armstong Park

Congo Square in Louis Armstong Park

New Orleans is still performing for the world and this city’s long and intimate relationship with music is evident. It started pouring rain and we took cover in a portico of the Municipal Auditorium facing the square. With nowhere to be we just sat there and watched the rain fall on the square for about a half hour until it let up.

WHAT TO EAT FOR DINNER

Pere Antoine

741 Royal Street

New Orleans, LA

sazerac lbv

America’s first cocktail, Sazerac

After the rained passed we made our way back across North Rampart Street into the French Quarter to find something to eat. On the corner of Royal and Saint Ann we found Pere Antoine. We shed our rain gear and took a look at the menu that read like a Cajun and Creole all-star team, crawfish etouffe, beans and rice, seafood jambalaya, blacken catfish and more.

Mardi Gras Shrimp

Mardi Gras Shrimp

While we looked over the menu I wanted to try New Orleans official cocktail and what is said to be America’s first cocktail, Sazerac. I had never heard of the drink until I saw the chef from the HBO series Treme throw one in food critic Alan Richman’s face. Although I am a big whiskey fan I stand by the expression, “everything ain’t for everyone” and this cocktail just isn’t for me. Commonly made with rye whiskey, bitters, simple syrup, absinthe and garnished with a lime, I have to say it tasted like NyQuil in an old fashion class. With that said, I would probably be inclined to have another one on future trips to New Orleans because when in New Orleans its best to start the evening off like a 19th century drunk.

famous bread pudding

Pere Antoine’s Bread Pudding

Highlights:

Mardi Gras Pasta – Shrimp and sausage blended with local seasonings in tomato cream sauce

Famous Bread Pudding

Pere Antoine on Urbanspoon

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Categories: Reviews, Travel

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  1. New Orleans: Last Day, Cafe Beignet | La Buena Vida - August 15, 2013

    […] In a previous post I mentioned that we visited the famous Cafe Du Monde during our trip to New Orleans, I also mentioned why you should visit this historic spot at least once when in the Crescent City. I then explained why after paying homage to the the mecca of beignets, I am not falling over myself to go back. While we were looking for a place to have breakfast before catching a flight back to North Carolina, we fell upon this small Parisian style spot called Cafe Beignet. We were initially put off by the long line poking out of the small open air cafe. Our FOMO (fear of missing out) got the best of us and we decided we needed to cross the street and figure out what the big buzz was all about. . What we found was a line that moved surprisingly fast and great beignets (although I am not sure how you can mess these up, fry dough, dump a mound of powdered sugar on top, YUM) and an excellent croissant egg sandwich. After our trip, I went online to learn more about Cafe Beignet and got an idea why people were swarming to the little joint that Saturday afternoon. The Food Network had given the place the nod on two separate occasions, once on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” and on Rachel Ray’s “$30 a Day”. If I knew that, I would have asked how Rachel Ray tipped because she must go a bit light on the gratuity to stay true to the title of that show. After a great breakfast we made our way to the airport and while sitting at the terminal I looked back at the pictures from our four days in The Big Easy, I again wondered how much our son (3 months shy of his first birthday) would be affected by the music he heard, the hundreds of people he saw or the food we mashed up and slipped past his tongue. I am convinced someone can’t visit New Orleans and not be affected by all it has to offer. I accept that many visit this city and depart only with a hangover and some beads, but even a reveler that never strayed from Bourbon Street may have been affected by the sound of a world class musician regulated to a New Orleans Street corner, playing music that originated from slaves in Congo Square. In any meal in New Orleans, one can’t help but take in a rich culinary history blending French, Spanish, Italian and more to end up with something All-American. It would be an understatement to say we are looking forward to touching down at Louis Armstrong Airport and doing it all again. Click the links below to see the previous post on out trip to New Orleans: Traveling to New Orleans with a Baby Sponge PoBoys, Strippers, Huge Ass Beers and History; A Days Walk in the French Quarter You Say Muffaletta, I say Muffalatta: New Orleans Day 2 / Morning Street Cars, Congo Square and Bread Pudding […]

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