Saturday, August 19, 2023
We were supposed to leave New Orleans this morning.
But last night we got back to our room after listening to Lee Plink Floyd on the banjo and after drinking multiple absinthes and after stumbling down Bourbon Street saying I’m hungry! and What should we eat? and OMG let’s get a pizza!!! And that changed everything.
We got a large pizza. A giant pizza. An I-didn’t-even-know-pizza-came-that-big pizza.
I have no idea what was on it. We walked into the pizza shop and it was loud, as everything is on Bourbon Street so you can’t even hear your teeth rattling in your head let alone what someone is saying to you. Ralph exchanged whats? and huhs? and other nondescript words with the guy behind the counter and concluded by telling him to pick whatever slices he had left and put them in a box enough to make a pie.
So we went back to the hotel with some mashup of whatever was left at the time and then ate the entire thing.
But not before we looked at each other and said we should totally stay another night want to yeah let’s do it ok!
The last time we made a snap decision like that over a meal, we ended up selling our condo. At least this time all we ended up with was an extra day in New Orleans.
Today we woke up with nothing to do. No work, no plan, just a day of playing tourist.
I decided I wanted to go to the Sazerac House.
It’s part museum, part exhibit, part distillery, part celebration of all things cocktail. It was originally a coffee house, which means it was really a bar, home of Peychaud’s bitters and of course the Sazerac.
It was gorgeous. There they were, bottling Peychaud’s right in front of us and every few steps they offered you a new cocktail to sample.
At the end you landed right in the gift shop, which is really where I planned to be all along. The number of bottles we bought was limited only by the number of arms we had to carry them in.
I should pause to mention that you do not drive in New Orleans. There’s no real need to drive, and it would be ridiculous to try to navigate the narrow, pedestrian-clogged streets and find parking at your destination anyway.
So we walked to the Sazerac House, just under a mile from our hotel, and walked back after an hour and a half long tour that culminated in expanding my bar collection. This would have been no great feat on an ordinary day, but on a one hundred degree day off the southern tip of the Mississippi River and carrying six bottles of liquor, it was… melty.
We sloshed back to the hotel room, not least of all because we had already sampled four different cocktails.
I should also pause to mention that we had skipped breakfast due in large part to the fact that we’d consumed an entire pizza a few hours earlier. So by the end of our tour and tasting, we were pretty hungry.
There was a Latin restaurant we wanted to try, a bit over a mile walk in the opposite direction, but we were doing the tourist thing, so we picked ourselves up, blotted our brow, and went.
We arrived at 2.
Do you want to guess when they stopped serving lunch?
Do I really need to answer that?
We stood there for a minute, blinking sweat out of our eyeballs, wondering where to go, and, coming up with no solution other than to sit in the courtyard with the pigeons, walked the mile-plus back.
Still. If you’re going to be a tourist, if you’ve paid the Saturday night rate for the hotel room, you’re going to make the best of it.
We spent the next couple of hours bar hopping and window shopping. I did not buy the $600 tree carving even though it was really cool. I did order another absinthe on fire.
We swung by a bookstore and feasted our eyes if nothing else. Do you know what there are none of in the French Quarter? Chain stores. No Starbucks. No Barnes & Noble. Just a glorious array of small and unique businesses.
And when the Latin restaurant opened back up for dinner, we walked the mile-plus once more. I mean, there’s no putting that ice cube back in the tray. Once you’re melted, does it matter whether you’re a puddle or a slightly warmer puddle?
I will say that the trial was worth it. We ate our way through the entire menu. Six appetizers, entrees, dessert, cocktails.
Instead of a bread basket they served fried Saltines. Fried. Saltines.
I’ve seen and heard of a lot of fried things but never a Saltine. If you are ever in a restaurant and someone asks you if you want the fried Saltines, you say YES PLEASE WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG!?
I’m estimating we consumed about twelve thousand Peloton miles’ worth, or perhaps if we started walking home to Tennessee now, we would work off the plantains by the time we got there.
We capped off the evening with an encore Lee Plink Floyd show and a bit of the club’s house band before nearly falling asleep in our final Sazeracs of the day.
I honestly have no idea how we walked back to the hotel.
I’m happy to say that playing tourist was an excellent way to spend our extra day, and I can confidently say I’ve walked every square inch of New Orleans. Multiple times. And I still have enough molecules left to take back to Tennessee.
Photo: a few of the herbs, spices and roots that go into the super secret Peychaud’s recipe. It hasn’t been cracked since it first appeared in the 1830’s.