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New Orleans – the old, the new and the green

– Swing band we captured on video –

We recently spent a week in New Orleans – this was Brenda’s first time – it was a blast.  We stayed at the French Quarter RV Resort which was literally 3 blocks from Quarter happenings.  It doesn’t get any better than this – no driving necessary.  Now NOLA is one of my very favorite cities and has been for a while.  I grew up in Birmingham, AL and Memphis, TN and spent many a long weekend here.  So I was super psyched to take my lady to an old stomping ground.  I haven’t been back since Hurricane Katrina and we were excited to learn about rebuilding efforts – past and present.  The people were beautiful – soul, energy and love.  The music and food were just as I remember.

First, we will start off with the food, culture and play and then we will end with the green efforts taking place in this fine city.

Cafe Du Monde – a staple in NOLA since 1862

We went to Cafe Du Monde every day for breakfast except for our Satuday brunch splurge at Brennan’s.  CDM makes the best beignets and cafe au lait (hot, iced or frozen).  If you aren’t familiar, the beignet is a square piece of dough, fried and covered/smothered with powdered sugar. They are served in orders of three.

Beignets and cafe au lait

Breakfast at Brennan’s included strawberries in double cream

Breakfast at Brennan’s is simply a TREAT!  3 course meals included strawberries in double cream, a twice baked apple in double cream, eggs done a million ways and the original banana’s foster.  The Eggs Sardou – poached eggs on artichoke bottoms nestled in a bed of creamed spinach and covered with hollandaise sauce – very decadent.  If you haven’t had banana’s foster you have to try it. It is a Brennan creation which consists of bananas sautéed in butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and banana liqueur, then flamed in rum. This is served over vanilla ice cream. This is one of my mom’s favorite desserts and she made it on special occasions when I was young (without the alcohol, of course).

This would probably be a good time to mention that since we started juicing fresh fruits and veggies last Thanksgiving we have also tried to eat a mostly plant-based diet. But here – the home of amazing beignets, blackened redfish, BBQ shrimp and bananas foster (to name a few) – it becomes quite a challenge.  Suffice it to say that it was not a plant-based week – which I think is pretty obvious from the photos you’ve seen so far:) While many of the restaurants use local and fresh food, we did not find organic foods served very often.

Mahony’s fried oyster remoulade po-boy

Mahony’s was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives so we wanted to check it out.  We had the spicy slaw (amazing), a fried oyster and remoulade po-boy and a grilled shrimp, fried green tomato and remoulade po-boy.  All seafood is local catch and market price.  Very tasty – a bit pricy – but worth it.

K-Pauls Louisiana Kitchen – Top notch blackened redfish is served here (this is what they are known for).  Fresh fish from Louisiana waters is seasoned and blackened in a cast iron skillet and served with drawn butter, potatoes and veggies.  We had the BEST bottle of white wine – Rombauer Chardonnay from Napa, CA.

Pat O’Briens– the creator of the Hurricane drink – In a 26 oz. glass, mix

  • 4 oz. of Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane Rum or a good Amber/Gold Rum
  • 4 oz. of Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane Mix
  • Fill with crushed ice
  • Garnish with an orange and cherry

Pascal Manale’s – BBQ shrimp – world-famous specialty of the house prepared in a spicy and tangy sauce.  Lots of butter and spices – great to dip your bread in.  High calories but it’s worth it.  The waiter even ties on your bib for you.  All local fresh shrimp.

Restaurant Stella – created by Chef Boswell – along with his other restaurant, Stanley. Both are in the French Quarter and while we didn’t eat here, they both got great reviews. Plus the sign is cool!

Horse drawn carriage tours around the FQ – 30 minutes for $20 – well worth it.

Local French Quarter jazz band

St. Louis Cathedral in the heart of the French Quarter

St. Louis Cathedral

The St Louis Cathedral in the heart of the French Quarter is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans; it has the distinction of being the oldest continuously operating cathedral in the United States.  The first church on the site was built in 1718; the third, built in 1789, was raised to cathedral rank in 1793. The cathedral was expanded and largely rebuilt in 1850, with little of the 1789 structure remaining.

Typical FQ architecture – vibrant and lush balcony gardens

French Quarter fun – Brenda and the silver lady

Frenchmen Street – where the locals say to go to hear “real” New Orleans music. You can find jazz, R&B and rock n roll music.  They have jazz clubs, bars and cafes and are pretty much open all night.  Frenchmen Street is the true music club scene in NOLA.  We loved it!

Royal Street – The main street for art in the French Quarter is Royal Street. The galleries run along Royal from Canal Street to Esplanade, with the most concentration being between the 300 and the 800 blocks. There are all types of art galleries.

Swamp tour with Cajun Encounters

Now let’s venture into sustainable and green initiatives going on in New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina (1995) provided New Orleans with the opportunity to be part of an environmental revolution and rebuild its houses, schools, and neighborhoods in a green, sustainable way.

Global Green – Matt Petersen has led Global Green USA since 1994, building and guiding the organization’s innovative programs and initiatives. He also is Chair of Green Cross International’s Energy Program. Matt’s vision for the green rebuilding of New Orleans has led to the greening of New Orleans schools, helped educate thousands of residents to rebuild their homes more energy efficiently, and helped create the Holy Cross Project, a sustainable village in the Lower 9th Ward with 23 units of affordable housing and a community/climate action center.

Fifty for Five – Gentilly is on the city’s north side, on the southern shore of Lake Ponchartrain. It is low lying and was heavily damaged when the levees breached during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, sending in floodwaters up to 12 feet deep. However, Gentilly hasn’t received near as much national attention as the practically flattened Lower Ninth Ward. Gentilly is largely low and middle income and is predominantly African American.

Gentilly is also the target of the Fifty for Five program, the largest volunteer rebuilding effort in the city in the years since Katrina. During the week of August 24 to 29, 2010, more than 1,000 volunteers from all over the country came to help rebuild 50 homes for low-income families. Projects ranged from minor exterior repairs, such as building fences and painting siding, to complete “guts.”

Fifty For Five is administered by Rebuilding Together, a national nonprofit network with more than 30 years of experience in renovating and preserving affordable housing. Rebuilding Together’s headquarters are in Washington, D.C., although most of the work in New Orleans has been coordinated by the group’s local chapter. For Fifty For Five, 46 other regional chapters of Rebuilding Together sent teams, as did Americorps, and Morgan Freeman’s PlanItNow.

Make it Right – Established by Brad Pitt, the Make It Right Foundation builds safe, sustainable and affordable homes for working families. They aim to be a catalyst for change in the building industry in New Orleans and beyond.

Sierra Club Environmental Justice and Community Partnerships – Check out the link to see the Regional Chapter’s efforts in green rebuilding.

Clean Fuel Partnerships – introducing biodiesel and other clean fuel into New Orlean’s mass transit systems.

As we ate all the coastal seafood during our visit we couldn’t help wonder how safe it was due to the recent Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill in 2010.  We found recent information from the FDA stating that gulf seafood is indeed safe.  Check it out here – FDA states Gulf seafood safe to eat.  Since we don’t eat a lot of seafood we aren’t too worried BUT for those of you out there eating seafood on a weekly basis please research where your food comes from and seek out sustainable sources 🙂 The Seafood Watch program from the Monterey Bay Aquarium can help.


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