AN EXAGGERATING FISHERMAN & OTHER UNLIKELY BREAKFAST TALES
After my wonderfully unexpected yet late Wednesday, I slept in before eagerly strolling to Slim Goodies for breakfast. I had stumbled into La Fin du Monde the day before only because The Captain had told me Slim Goodies, a greasy diner he had recommended last December during a visit, had burned down. I had had an amazing breakfast at this funky little dive with bright walls and an open, eclectic vibe and knew as soon as I learned they had WiFi that this would be a regular blogging spot when I moved town. Thus I was devastated by the news of their demise.
Walking back from La Fin, however, I peeped in and the place looked fine. A cook who was just leaving informed me that a kitchen fire had done minimal damage and closed them down for only two weeks. Apparently The Captain had exaggerated. (Imagine that, from an avid fisherman?!)
So Thursday morning I arrived eager to dive into the creative menu. Whereas most breakfast spots stick to the basics with a few creative flares, Slim Goodies has a folded paper menu thickly scrawled with creative omelets, pancakes, slammers (breakfast goodness served over eggs and hash browns), and other concoctions spanning countless casual culinary styles such as Cajun, vegan, low-carb, Tex-Mex, California-esque fresh and healthy, etc. The Popeye Slammer sounded temptingly nutritious with fresh spinach, tomatoes, and feta, especially knowing that my companion in December had ordered a similar scramble that was so rich and creamy the eggs melted in your mouth like soft butter, but I decided to re-order the dish that had originally won my heart: The Creole Slammer.
I’d ordered this dish expecting a blasé Cajun stew over eggs—this was a breakfast place after all–but instead was treated to some of the best Crawfish Creole I’d ever had poured over eggs and tender hash browns. The crawfish tails were remarkably plump, tender, and fresh and the broth was crisp with herb-infused flavor that the eggs-over-easy and hash browns delightfully absorbed. When my order arrived, the rerun didn’t disappoint. Blog and breakfast accomplished.
CABERNET & GRUYERE AT GUNPOINT
After a day of writing and wandering, I planned a modest evening after two adventurous nights. A friend from Charlotte and fellow lover of New Orleans had been demanding since my arrival that I visit a wine and tapas bar called Bacchanal over in a far corner of Bywater. Her constant urging was near-obsessive and I knew if I didn’t go soon she was going to drive down and force me to Cabernet & Gruyere at gunpoint. When I explained my plans and my friend’s enthusiasm that afternoon to a local bachelor, he laughed and explained that Bacchanal was New Orleans’s version of female Viagra. Good to know.
Some friends I’d made during Mardi Gras had mentioned meeting here, so I arranged a rendezvous via text and headed off, though getting there was an adventure in itself. Bywater is on the opposite side of the French Quarter past the Marigny and up against the infamous 9th Ward, as far from the Quarter as Oak Street was in the opposite direction. Yet whereas St. Charles and South Claiborne Avenues provide wide Uptown arteries, downtown is a maze of narrow, poorly maintained roads that frequently dead end or change directions, making traversing Bywater and Marigny in a big truck a nerve-wracking trek.
THE AMBIANCE OF A PARISIAN NIGHT OR A TRUNK FULL OF BULLET HOLES
I arrived to find an unassuming old house nestled in the corner of an industrial wall blocking views of the river to the south and an undeveloped bayou to the east. The front door led to a small room full of racks of wine where you chose a bottle which they would open for you. There was also a small window to order from the kitchen.
Apparently I’m not much of a wine snob, because I didn’t recognize a single label, yet picked a Cabernet blend based on region and a declaration of some gold medal triumph. A friend chose three cheeses from a cooler and brought them to the kitchen to be prepared with accompaniments.
The wine turned out to be an excellent as did the cheese tray assembled from out selections. I’m usually not a fan of the boring plates of bland, congealed milk fat in most trendy restaurants, but the choices here were diverse and rich with creamy, complex flavor. I later ordered dates stuffed with chorizo and wrapped in bacon and, well, this was every bit as indulgent as it sounds.
We chose to sit in the courtyard where a string trio was playing softly in the corner. Decorative metal tables were strewn throughout the lush vegetation and white Christmas lights were strung thickly overhead, giving the garden a lovely and incongruent Parisian ambiance despite this city’s French ancestry. The low, mystical lighting, soft music, and lush gardens made it obvious why this is a destination for dates and hipsters, though it’s not the best spot for petty photographers. I took pictures for the blog, but they came out looking like one of those hostage movies where someone is locked inside a dark trunk riddled with bullet holes where traces of light pour through!
In addition to the courtyard, there was an upstairs bar exposed brick and rustic pine stretching through two rooms with balcony access on three sides. It was a slightly different, but equally pleasant and trendy take on one of my companions dubbed ‘rustic chic.’
THINKING A DAY IS A DAY: A ROOKIE MISTAKE
Having managed to arrive home slightly before midnight Thursday, I awoke relatively early Friday for a day of chores and running around. I driving to Baton Rouge that night to visit my friends Chris and Pam Tusa for the Baton Rouge parade Saturday. My plan was to be back in town Sunday for the New Orleans festivities.
You see, forgetting the character of the city, I had assumed St. Patrick’s Day was, well, a day. Silly me. I was sitting in a coffee shop that afternoon writing when two sharply dressed limousine drivers walked in. One bumped my computer and apologized profusely but I merely shrugged—I had hardly even noticed. We began talking and they were gracious and encouraging when I explained my project. They, like so many locals I have met, seemed grateful that I was attempting to show the real New Orleans, digging beyond stereotypes and over-hyped tourist attractions. When I asked about them, they told me they were driving a group around town for a St. Patrick’s Day pub-crawl; their patrons were currently imbibing at a bar next door.
After these gentleman departed I grabbed up a Gambit Weekly and began to research. Although St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t till Sunday, the Irish Channel neighborhood had started nightly block parties last night while I was out wine-and-cheesing. There were parades every day Thursday through Sunday and events all over the city. And herE I sat idly by on Friday afternoon, preparing to go out-of-town and late to the game.