|Governor Nicholls Street, New Orleans, LA|
Governor Nicholls Street is two blocks behind Esplanade Avenue in the 6th Ward. The house in the picture, and the truck, are between North Rocheblave and North Dorgenois Streets. The house is behind St. Luke's Episcopal Church, which used to be the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, the oldest Greek Orthodox church in America. The Greek Orthodox church is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. The new Catherdral is located on St. Bernard Avenue, way up in Lakeview on the shores of Bayou St. John.
Every story is a tangled skein in New Orleans. Talk to me long enough over breakfast and you might feel hopelessly lost in the thicket of details, but then, all of a sudden, the story will become clear, like an epiphany. That's what it's like to spend time in New Orleans. It's like coming out of a corn maze.
|St. Roch Market, New Orleans, LA|
I recently read that there are 1400 restaurants in New Orleans. That isn't technically true. It sounds more impressive that way, but it's more accurate to say that there are 1400 restaurants in the New Orleans Metropolitan Statistical Area as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. The NOMSA includes such places as Slidell, Covington, and Mandeville, LA, on the other side of Lake Pontchartrain, as well as all the restaurants in Jefferson Parish, St. Bernard Parish, Plaquemines Parish, and St. Charles Parish on this side of the lake (though not necessarily on this side of the Mississippi River). Didn't I just say that things are complicated here?
You probably aren't going to go to any of those places. We don't recommend them. We rarely go there, either, unless we're forced to by some unpalatable errand that takes us outside of the city. There's no sprawl like suburban sprawl. Outside New Orleans, all the dry land is thick with strip malls and chain stores. We like where we live.
Frau Schmitt likes to say that there are about 800 restaurants in New Orleans proper. She just started saying this, and she is usually right about these things. I haven't asked her where she got the 800 number, but, knowing her, it must have been a reliable source. Otherwise, she wouldn't say it. She is a stickler for accuracy.
I prefer to say there are a little more than 600 restaurants, which is what Frau Schmitt used to say. She hasn't corrected me yet, so I don't know which one of us is right. It's probably somewhere in the middle.
|Sweets of the Southern Wild|
I was at Rouse's Supermarket the other morning and saw that he's selling his buttermilk drops in the supermarket. A buttermilk drop is a local kind of donut. They're delicious.
Sometimes, before arriving, people ask us for a list of restaurant recommendations. There are about 600 restaurants in New Orleans, a city of about 340,000 people. It's hard to make recommendations to people we've never met, about whom we know nothing but their names. I tell them, via email, about the restaurants in our neighborhood. If you're going to stay on Esplanade Avenue, you should sample some of the culture and cuisine in this part of the city. You're going to go the French Quarter and Frenchmen Street and there are plenty of places to eat there. It's hard to have a bad meal in New Orleans. We don't really talk about places Uptown or on Magazine Street unless we already know you're headed in that direction. If you are, we've eaten at over 250 restaurants so far, as of this writing. That's a lot of dining rooms to keep straight in our memories, but we manage.
We recently had a couple stay with us for five nights. They ate at a few of the restaurants they read about in guide books: Lilette, Coquette, Flaming Torch, Herbsaint, Bayona, Emeril's, Commander's Palace... those kind of places. I asked them where their favorite meal was. They thought about it awhile and then they replied, "Lola's was probably the best meal we had here. Everyone was so friendly and the food was delicious." Lola's is just up the street from us, toward City Park. It's the only place open on Mondays this time of year. It's open for a good reason. It's for the locals. They are also open for you.
À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.