Thursday, January 20, 2011

We Began 2011 in...

... New Orleans!

This was the third time that we spent New Year's Eve in New Orleans, previously ringing in 2007 and 2008 in the city.

It was a late choice on our part, only deciding the 26th or 27th that we would go for it. We knew some friends who were going to be there (and with whom we'd gone to New Orleans three other times), but the long drive and expense made us wary. However, we lucked out in a lot of ways. First, we were able to break up the drive there into two days by spending the night at my friend Heather's place in Tallahassee. Tallahassee is about half an hour from being in the exact middle, so it makes for a great stopping point anyway. It also gave us a chance to get some One Fresh Stir Fry, which is my very favorite Tallahassee restaurant. It's as good as ever! We also had Cracker Barrel on our way out of town the next morning, which gave us a great and happy start on the road.

We booked at a Marriott because Jonathan had a lot of points and silver elite status with them. To stay downtown we paid $75 for both nights (including tax and everything) for a King Spa Room. It was the first time I'd ever had enough points on something to cash them in, so that was fun. The super-upgrade was nice, too. We were on a special floor and we had a very large room, with high ceilings, wooden rafters, and brick walls. I think my favorite part was having the jacuzzi in the room, where we watched the first half of the Seminoles game on New Year's Eve!
Backing up a smidgen, right after we checked-in we drove out to Metairie to meet our friends and some of their friends at the Acme Oyster House for lunch. We weren't too hungry (we had sandwich stuff in the cooler in the room so we had plenty of snacks on the drive there and back), so we had a couple of oysters and we shared a shrimp & oyster po-boy. I love the oysters at this place (we had been there one or two times before), and the po-boy did not disappoint, either.

After lunch the majority of the group went to the Creole Creamery, which I'm convinced is one of Keith's very favorite places. The very first time Jonathan and I went to New Orleans, Keith brough us there and four of us shared the "Tchoupitoulas," which is 8 scoops and 8 topping. This time around Jonathan went with a cone of Chocolate Cheesecake Amaretto, which he liked a lot at the beginning, but it was too sweet for him to finish. I went with the Sampler Special, which is 4 small scoops for $4. I chose I Scream Fudge, Gingerbread, Bananas Foster, and one more which I can't remember at this point. All were delicious, especially the fudge.

We parted ways at this point, and Jonathan and I went back to our hotel room to nap, plan a little, and watch the first half of the game before meeting up for dinner. We had planned to go to Antoine's for dinner, but since the wait was pretty long, we went around the corner and ate upstairs at Oceana Grill. Jonathan and I weren't that hungry so we split a plate of jambalaya, which was absolutely fabulous. We were both bragging about it for days, so we would totally recommend it.

From there we went over to the Ritz Carlton to go dancing for a little bit, since they had a band playing there that Keith was familiar with. We were only there thirty or forty minutes, but it was a fun stop. We headed straight to Jackson Square after that, and this time we were on the park side (the other two times we were on the street side), which was much less crowded than I expected. There was no official countdown on that side, which was weird. And, instead of a gumbo pot, a fleur-de-lis was supposed to drop. But it never rose to the top of the pole, so at midnight it just lit up and had some small pyrotechnics go off. We watched the fireworks and then immediately headed for Cafe du Monde. We got lucky and grabbed a table after only a few minutes, although we had to squish in, since we needed eight chairs around a table fit for a bistro. As always, the beignets were delicious.

From there it was over to Pat O'Brien's, which is one of our favorite bars in the French Quarter. We found a table in the courtyard and were served pretty quickly. It was a little shocking to see them use plastic disposable cups, since we're quite accustomed to the glass hurricane glasses, which they let you keep if you want (and we therefore have about a dozen, some from the New Orleans location and some from the Orlando one). We ended up calling it an early night after that, which was fine by me since I was tired and my heels can only walk so many miles, LoL.

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