Monday, March 30, 2015

New Orleans - Day #4

It's our last day in NOLA, and there's still some eating to be done.

This is the Creole Country Breakfast from Cafe Fleur De Lis: grilled boudin sausage, eggs, biscuit and grits. I'm gonna miss those grits!

Click here for Cafe Fleur De Lis' website.

And this is the Carousel Bar in the day light. Basically, just not as crowded as night time.

And I couldn't go back to my LA without some pralines to share. The good folks at the Bienville said that Southern Candymakers made the best ones!

Click here for Southern Candymakers' website.

And finally, this is my au revoir from the Bienville courtyard.

New Orleans, it's not goodbye, it's 'til we eat again, my new friend!!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

New Orleans - Day #3

We start off the morning with tour of St. Louis Cemetery #1 with The Voodoo Bone Lady Haunted Tours.

St. Louis #1 is the oldest cemetery and the site of Voodoo Priestess Marie Laveau's tomb, which you see here. On this tour, I learned the Marie's tomb is the second-most visited tomb in America. Who is first? The King himself, Elvis Presley. (Click here to read about my visit to Graceland.) Our tour guide explained that during Hurricane Katrina, the French Quarter was untouched. She hinted that this was because of Marie's protection! That's Miss Gwen in the hat; she told us lots of great things about Creole culture and the influence on everything New Orleans.

These are a few more of the various tombs inside the cemetery.

After our 2-hour tour, it was back to the FoodFest!

My first stop was Hot Tamale Mama from Folsom, LA. Consider two beef and one eggplant and portabella mushroom tamales over cheese grits with hot sauce as a pretty delicious appetizer. YUM!!

For my main course, it was fried catfish and the most awesome hushpuppies I've ever tasted! Peck's Seafood's version had corn, red peppers and jalapeño chopped up in the cornmeal batter. It was all topped with their Voodoo hot sauce. WOW!!

More architecture, walking off lunch, and shopping followed.

Until it was time for dinner!

This, my friends, is the famous Ferdi's debris sandwich from Mother's Restaurant. It's ham and roast beef drenched in "debris gravy," which is the pan drippings with chunks of meat. WOW! The greens were also loaded with chunks of ham. Deeeelish!! Mother's was a recommended stop on a New Orleans Man v. Food episode, and it was totally worth the visit! P.S. food won this time!

Finally, on the walk back to the hotel, we spot Mr. Apple. Mind you, the decorated caramel and candy apples in the display window were luscious. Inside, what caught my eye was the homemade Moonpie looking all delicious. And it was! Here you see it cracked open; I say cracked because the chocolate was super dense! The staff at Mr. Apple totally made my day by selling me a plastic cup filled with milk. Yes, my open-container experience in New Orleans was with milk!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

New Orleans - Day #2

So much is happening today! Instead of presenting it chronologically, I'm going to break it down categorically: food, music, and visuals. Let the games begin!

Since this is a key reason I'm in NOLA, this is a great place to start!

And Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken from Memphis was my first stop. Yesterday, I had Willie Mae's, which was #2 on's fantastic fried chicken survey. Today, it's Gus's at #1. And I totally get why Gus's is tops: the chicken is all spiced up BEFORE it is battered and deep fried. It burned my mouth from heat THEN burned my mouth from spice!!

Click here for Gus's website.

Good thing the Plum Street Snoballs tent was close by to cool me down! This is the chocolate/peppermint concoction.

Click here for NOLA FoodFest's website.

That night, we went to the fancy-schmancy Commander's Palace. Since 1880, Commander's Palace has been serving up fine southern food. It is also Zagat's top-rated New Orleans restaurant. Good stuff!! I was totally impressed by the service. If there was a table of four, four servers brought and presented the food simultaneously. Pretty cool, as I lean more to paper plates and vinyl tablecloths for my eats. Commander's Palace is in the Garden District, with the grand mansion-y houses. I'll need to make a return visit to explore!

This is my Filet of Black Angus Beef: an 8 ounce chargrilled tenderloin of beef with roasted mushrooms, whiskey-smoked onions, French potato puree and tasso and white truffle marchands de vin. I'm not quite sure what all of that is, but it was incredible!!

Click here to go to Commander's Palace's website.

We capped off the night with the rest of NOLA for Cafe Du Monde beignets (I'm still finding powder sugar in random places!) and hot chocolate. Yummmm!!

Click here to go to Cafe Du Monde's website.

And, I promised you some music:

And yes, a bagpiper! This NOLA fireman played "When the Saints Go Marching In" to draw in a crowd for the Fire Department's fundraiser. What a hoot!!

The sights were pretty amazing, too!

The famous architecture is as cool as you imagine.

Some of the buildings still burn gaslamps. I felt very Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!

Which brings us to the Pharmacy Museum, which is housed at the site of the apothecary of America's first licensed pharmacist. Prepare yourself for some wacky/quacky stuff: leeches, lead nipples for a baby's bottle, arsenic in makeup. We've come a long way, people!!

Click here for the Pharmacy Museum's website.

Finally, the money shot of St. Louis Cathedral and Andrew Jackson's statue in Jackson Square.

Are YOU having fun yet?!

Friday, March 27, 2015

New Orleans - Day #1

Cruise Director LA is off to the other LA: Louisiana. I'm in New Orleans to celebrate the big birthday! One of my chums who now lives in Hong Kong joined me for the whirlwind adventure. How convenient that it is also Food Festival weekend in conjunction with my fave It was a tight schedule for the long weekend, so let the games begin!!

First stop after dropping off my luggage at the Bienville House in the French Quarter was Willie Mae's Scotch House. See, right before I flew out published a list of the 50 best fried chicken spots, and Willie Mae's was number 2. (For comparison, Roscoe's is number 46.) This is their America's Best Fried Chicken meal, with delicious thigh, leg and wing. Wow, that crunchy batter is off the hook! I have the after picture, and it looks like some dermestid beetles picked the bones clean!

Willie Mae does not have a website. Their address is 2401 St. Ann Street, in the Treme district. Phone is (504) 822-9503.

Click here for's Fried Chicken list.

After that gluttonous feed, I took the streetcar back to the hotel to chill before my friend landed. I specifically wanted a room with a balcony, and this is what I got at the Bienville House. Sooo peaceful and calming. Perfect conditions to digest one meal before heading out to the next.

Click here for Bienville House's website.

Once my friend arrived and got settled, we headed out for a stroll down the historic streets.

Things are a little different in NOLA!

Like these VooDoo Heat chips with spice-o-licious crunch.

And this brass band leading a wedding procession down the street. Traffic stopped, and I loved it!! That's the groom holding the black umbrella; the bride had a white one. They are in front of the Hotel Monteleone, famous for...

the Carousel Bar! You know me and my merry-go-rounds and carousels, so I had to give this place a spin. Yes, it actually spins, at a very low speed (of course), but it does spin!

Click her for Hotel Monteleone's website.

Finally, it's time for more food. This is the Ole Saint Craft Burger, with angus beef patty, cheddar, smoked bacon, fried onion stings, and honey BBQ aioli on a pretzel bun, from Ole Saint Kitchen and Tap. A perfect end to a whirlwind day!

So far, me and NOLA are fast friends!!

Click here for Ole Saint's website.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Magic Lamp Inn

I am out in Rancho Cucamonga to pick up my sassy competition vest, and, having time to kill, I decided to take the leisurely drive back via Route 66.

Burgers were on my mind. There had to be on fun place on Route 66, right?! The Magic Lamp Inn's huge sign was the first to catch my eye. Imagine that neon all lit up! Inside, it was decidedly old school: wood paneling and exposed brick, dimly lit with chandeliers and sconces, linen table covers, brass "reserved for" signs attached to the walls at many of the tables, ladies who lunch filling the booths. It does date back to 1955, and the look definitely still works.

As shared, I was thinking burger, so I went with the charbroiled Magic Lamp Burger with cheddar. It was delivered to my table via a clothed service cart and under a shiny silver dome. Wow, I wish that I had ordered something more fancy to see how that would be presented!

Who wants to take the drive with me next time? The neon alone will be worth the trip!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Thai Spirit

I think this is the best Thai food I've ever had! Across the street from the Eagle Rock Mall (with the weirdly-stocked Macy's and a Target), there is a humble little restaurant named Thai Spirit. And spirited, it is! Seriously, I've eaten a lot of Thai food in my days, and I think this one tops them all.

I've driven by a gazillion times, and, since I was stuck in the Colorado Boulevard traffic anyway, I decided to give it a try. It was lunch time, so I went with the specials. Wonderful scents were wafting out of the kitchen, and this bowl of soup was served to my table. Not your average brothy/vegetable/tofu soup! Yum, and I knew we off to a great start!

I went with the garlic basil chicken, with brown rice and egg roll. Wow! The chicken and peppers were so flavorful, and the Thai chili certainly cleared my sinuses! After I devoured the solids, I scooped the brown rice into the broth and was one manner away from drinking it. Sooo good!!

Who wants to start a Thai food March Madness bracket?! That could be super fun!

Click here for Thai Spirit's website.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

On The Thirty

I'm meeting my dear friend from Denver for lunch at On The Thirty on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks, and we want something, well, Amaze Balls!

Word on the street tells me that saying "amaze balls!" is the modern whippersnapper's version of Jeff Spicoli's "awesome, totally awesome!" And these Amaze Balls were just that!! Imagine shredded potatoes, gruyere and cream cheese, bacon and prosciutto, and jalapeño rolled in panko and deep-fried, then drizzled with basil aioli. Wowza, and that was just the appetizer!

For my main course, I went with the appropriately-themed Ides of March pizza. Atop a most heavenly crust, that's pesto, provolone, ricotta, and grilled chicken layered with romaine, Caesar dressing, and parmesan reggiano. Yes, I think I covered the whole cheese aisle with my choices!! And, beware the Ides of March only if you aren't prepared with some stretch pants!

Who wants to gain thirty or so pounds with me?!

Click here for On The Thirty's website.