New Year in New Orleans - Jan. 13, 2009
4:49 PM | Author: Misty
One of my Christmas presents from Bobby was a trip to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl, so that was how we spent our New Year’s holiday.

We left Tuscaloosa once he got off work on New Year’s Eve and drove straight to Slidell, only to arrive at our hotel and be told there was no reservation for Bobby Mathews. The clerk told us that our reservation must be at the OTHER La Quinta Inn in Slidell. So after already having driven four hours there, we loaded back up in the car and drove about 20 minutes up I-12 toward Hampton.

Only to find out that our reservation was really at the first hotel. The one we thought it was at to begin with.

The clerk at the second La Quinta was much nicer and more helpful, and she gave us milk and cookies because looked sad about having to deal with the hotel mess-ups. We went back to the original hotel and got checked in.

We decided to just stay in Slidell to ring in the New Year rather than trekking into New Orleans, so we ate at a Thai restaurant near our hotel. And when I say near … well, I mean near. The hotel was literally attached to a Japanese steakhouse, which was attached to the Thai restaurant. It was odd. And our hotel room smelled like curry (no joke, it smelled pretty bad).

The Thai restaurant, called Thai House, was actually pretty good. Better than I expected given the odd connection with our hotel. I ordered Pad Thai and had a couple of really weak Mai Thai drinks, and Bobby ordered some type of chicken and potato yellow curry that was pretty good. The Pad Thai was good; nothing extraordinary, but probably a little better than average. We were both so tired that we ended up going to bed before midnight and were roused by fireworks enough to mumble a “Happy New Year” to each other before settling into steady sleep for the night.

Since the Sugar Bowl game was not until the night of Jan. 2, that meant we had two whole days to explore New Orleans. Bobby really wanted to visit Harrah’s, so we went there on New Year’s morning. It was my first visit to a casino, and I mostly thought it was loud and flashy. I was impressed with the security, and I’d actually like to go back to visit John Besh’s restaurant, which I didn’t know was in the casino. (John Besh is a fairly well-known New Orleans chef who has appeared on Food Network shows “Iron Chef: America” and “The Next Iron Chef.” He actually bested one of the Iron Chefs in his guest appearance on that show, so I’d LOVE to try his food.) I had an OK time playing quarter slot machines with a little bit of money Bobby gave me, and I came out better than I started. Bobby lost a little money playing roulette, but he said he had a good time.

We left the casino early afternoon in search of food and stumbled across this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Jazz Tacos. Bobby was skeptical, but they were Zagat rated for the past two years, so I was able to convince him to try it. It ended up being a great choice.

The staff there didn’t really speak much English; they were Honduran, and the food reflected that heritage. I ordered the Jazz Tacos (soft-shell tacos with ground pork and cheese); Bobby asked for “the same,” but ended up with plantains. We were pretty amused. It worked out well, though, because the Jazz Tacos, plantains, chips and salsa were all fantastic. I’d definitely like to visit that restaurant again next time I’m in New Orleans.

At some point on New Year’s Day, we also revisited the Crescent City Brewhouse, where we enjoyed a crab cake and some bread pudding. The crab cake was OK, I thought, but the bread pudding was absolutely delicious! Afterwards, we caught part of the Alabama pep rally at the AllState game center and got a couple of free T-shirts.

We pretty much wore ourselves out in the city that day and ended up eating dinner at the Cracker Barrel in Slidell. I know, not exactly fine New Orleans dining, but we were tired, and it was comfort food!

The next day we slept in later to make up for some of the exhaustion, and we went into the city around lunchtime. It took us forever to find a parking space, but we eventually did and again set out in search of food. This time we ended up on the other side of the Quarter at a restaurant called Dominique’s, attached to La Maison Dupuy at the corner of Tolouse and Burgundy streets. The atmosphere was pretty cool, and the food wasn’t bad. We ordered chicken fingers for our appetizer, and they were really good – coated in Panko, which I’d never heard of. I had a burger for my main course, and Bobby had jambalaya that he really enjoyed.

We returned to the Sugar Bowl game center that afternoon and both pretty much made fools of ourselves by trying to kick a field goal to win a prize. I kicked my shoe off, and it went higher than the ball. Yeah, it’s good that I’m able to laugh at myself, because that would have been exceedingly embarrassing otherwise!

After stopping in at Cigar Factory so Bobby could get another cigar (actually, we went by there the previous day, too), we went in the Lush store. Lush carries these really nice, natural, handmade cosmetics and soaps, and I've heard great things about them but have never gotten to try. So I bought two bath bombs while I was there ... one is a scent called Vanilla Fountain and the other is Honey Bee. I haven't used them yet, but I'm definitely looking forward to it.

So for the game, having learned our lesson about the craziness of driving to and parking at the Super Dome, we followed directions from the saleswomen at Lush to go and Park on St. Charles and then catch a trolley to the Super Dome. We ate dinner at some pub I can't remember the name of -- I had a chicken and andouille hash that was pretty good, but Bobby didn't care for the roast beef Po'boy -- and ended up taking a cab to the stadium.

Our seats at the game were good and gave us a great view of everything that was happening on the field (which was a little frustrating at times). We actually sat beside someone I know -- a girl named Jennifer I had several education classes with.

While the game itself wasn't so great (there's always next year?), the trip was really great, and I had a nice time with my future hubby. I enjoy going on trips like that with him, and I'm looking forward to lots more in the future!
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