Tennessee Williams said, “There’s only three cities in the U.S: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everything else is Cleveland.” That’s a bit severe, but it points up the high regard for the port city known for its Cajun/Creole cooking, raucous French Quarter, quaint shops, jazz bars, parties and parades.
This week my kids took me to NOLA for my 85th birthday. We were joined by adventuresome friends (from 5 different cities), willing to drop everything in the middle of the Christmas season for several days of decadence. One day we worked in 4 meals! All participants deserve the Croix de Guerre for exemplary performance in the Battle of New Orleans.
Party at Pêche
The highlight of the trip was the birthday dinner at Pêche, a NOLA hotspot recommended to us by St. Louis Chef Kevin Nashan (Sidney Street Cafe, Peacemaker, and James Beard award winner). His friend, Chef Ryan Prewitt, made history in 2014 with the opening of Pêche. That same year the place became the first New Orleans restaurant to ever win the James Beard Best New Restaurant award. Prewitt also tied for Best Chef: South.
As its name implies, Pêche is primarily a seafood restaurant, but one that’s reeling in the awards and admirers. Chef Prewitt gambled that serving whole fish rather than fillets would work with fine dining. People are loving it!
Singing and Dancing in Jackson Square
Also noteworthy was having the chance to “sing and dance” with a street band in Jackson Square near the Cathedral. When I posted this clip on Facebook, more than 4,000 viewed it! I couldn’t believe it! My clip got as many viewers as a crazy cat video!
Jazz with Jeremy
In NOLA, every event’s an occasion for multiple parties. On the eve of my birthday, we had reservations at La Petite Grocery at 9 p.m.—the best we could do. But first we gathered in the Davenport Lounge at the Ritz to hear Missouri’s own Jeremy Davenport. The popular jazz singer-trumpeter grew up in U City and his mother still lives here in St. Louis. He played Happy Birthday and at intermission joined us to reminisce about his early years in St. Louis. He still comes back for local performances.
Birthday Eve Party at La Petite Grocery
Not Rained Out
Yes, it rained, but it didn’t slow us down. We just hoisted umbrellas and went on with the shopping and eating. More later about our whirlwind trip, when I get through sorting photos and wrapping gifts. Had to get home for Christmas.
To be continued . . . .