Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Crescent City

Greetings from New Orleans, where I've been on a business trip since lunchtime Tuesday.

If you've never been, it's really a whole different environment than what you're probably used to seeing in your daily activities.

The big thing here is that it's all about entertainment.  That means different things to different people, of course.  Food and dining out is huge here, and there's something for nearly every appetite, even if you don't care for the local cuisine.  But if you do happen to like it there are many, MANY options in the heart of the city and elsewhere.  And instead of a clump of chain restaurants as you see in so many homogenous cities, there are restaurant groups operated by dynastic food families like the Brennans and so many others.  Frankly, I've never had a bad meal in a locally owned/operated place that serves fine cuisine.  A business associate even tuned into a local radio program that airs DAILY that is hosted by a restaurant critic and he converses with callers about current and long-gone establishments.  Amazing.

Of course, there's also a fair amount of emphasis on drink here, too, and party is the operative word along Bourbon Street.  I decided to take a stroll up that thoroughfare early last evening and was offered some amazing options.....like the STRONGEST drink served in New Orleans (no idea what it was, for fear of waking in a ditch like that fellow on the current TV commercial), or the LARGEST beer ever, or the BEST hurricane you ever had, and on and on and on.

And along my path I was invited into a number of establishments that feature more, shall we say, ADULT entertainment.  A couple had some exotic dancers loitering in their doorways to advertise what awaited their potential patrons inside.  And the doormen are pretty aggressive, but I was able to move past all of that without being abducted or otherwise forced to enter.

And then there's music.  It's EVERYWHERE.  I found some sort of historic courtyard right off Bourbon Street last night, where some jazz veterans were plying their trade rather expertly.  I lingered for about ten minutes and then continued to explore.  But music pours out of just about every venue one passes, and all different types, too.  The biggest problem is that I am a pretty early riser most of the time, so having the energy to stick with things when the live acts start to play is difficult for me, but one of these days.....

Lots of street musicians, too.  Some of them are actually very good.  Others, not so much.  Good thing they're playing for change and no one's buying tickets....

I saw the Cafe du Monde, famous for their chickory coffee and beignets, which are a form of fried dough covered in powdered sugar.  Didn't indulge, as that wasn't what I wanted in the early evening.  It's right on Jackson Square, a beautiful park that adjoins a large historic cathedral.  Very picturesque.

I found a bar and grill that some associates and I had visited once before, and enjoyed a couple of beers and a burger before the long stroll back to my hotel.  About the only downside of the entire experience is that folks in bars, at least, are allowed to smoke if they like, so I consumed more secondhand smoke last night than I have in the last few years, I'd wager.

Tonight my colleague and I are attending an industry event which will be a crawfish boil.  That should be fun--I like crawfish but haven't eaten them out of the shell.  Hope I have enough dexterity to avoid embarrassing myself or starvation!


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