26 May 2011

Heaven is spelled N.O.L.A. Part 3

Just to refresh your memory we'd just arrived at NOLA Brewing after sampling some wonderful Pisco Sours from Marvin at The Carousel Bar. I approached our “tour guide” and he assured me that I was in no way late, they usually wait until a quarter after to start the tour, ensuring any stragglers (us) have had a chance to make it. He pointed me over to a small table where another brewer handed us our glasses and pointed us to the taps. That day they had their Hopitoulas IPA, Blonde Ale, and Brown Ale on tap and the Flambeau Red on cask.

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I immediately went for the Hopitoulas while the Mrs. took a small sample of the Blonde. I definitely enjoyed all of them, but other than that I didn’t have any details since I was already pretty much drunk at this point.

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The actual tour itself was short and sweet and awesome. I thought it was great how while they couldn’t sell us beer (they didn’t have the necessary permits) we could drink as much as we wanted for free.

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At every transition in the tour he would pause for a minute encouraging us to refill our pints. These guys sure do know how to party. When the floor was opened up for questions I jokingly asked if I could have a job and the brewmaster said I could show up Monday morning in pants and no open-toe shoes. He actually took me seriously. I was floored, and half-tempted to drop everything and move down to New Orleans to take him up on his offer.

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These people were just very passionate about beer, and they thrived in a laid back casual atmosphere. I immediately felt among friends, and while I didn’t chat with any other people in our small tour group, we hung out with the NOLA crew in the merch room for a good 30 minutes after the tour concluded.

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We happily walked away with our pint glasses and two t-shirts to boot. What a fantastic experience. We called a cabby and waited by the curb. I figured what better way to follow imbibing massive amounts of beer than by indulging our sweet tooth? Luckily Creole Creamery was just a short jaunt away.

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I’d read some pretty great things about this place, and once I saw their flavors for the day, I knew coming here was a very, very good decision.

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Being an indecisive guy--wait, let me correct that--a drunk indecisive guy, having this many choices was a bad thing.

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They offer a 6 mini-scoop sampler so I just shouted out whatever sounded good for my first five flavors then let the girl behind the counter choose the sixth. I ended up with…

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Starting in the upper left and going clockwise: Peanut Butter Fudge Pie, Chef’s Perfect Chocolate (the employee’s choice), Butterscotch English Toffee, Steen’s Molasses Oatmeal Cookie, Coffee Pecan Brittle, and Salty Smoky Chocolate Almond. Normally I would’ve coordinated with my wife so we could try a bunch of different flavors, but the alcohol put a stop to that idea right quick. I needed ice cream and I needed it now. So, for my wife’s order…

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Starting left, going clockwise: Salted Caramel, Coffee Pecan Brittle, Peanut Butter Fudge Pie, Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake, Cookie Monster, and Steen’s Molasses Oatmeal Cookie. My top 3 were the PB Fudge, Steen’s, and the SS Choc Almond. The Mrs.’ favorites were Steen’s, CA Cheesecake, and PB Fudge. The Butterscotch English Toffee was butterscotch overload, but it paired really well with the Chef’s Chocolate. The Coffee Pecan Brittle was good; it was just kind of lost among all of the other powerful flavors. This was some goddamn good ice cream, and I can honestly say that starting with Mr. B’s and ending here, I can’t really think of a better way to spend a lazy Friday…

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We walked a few blocks north to St. Charles Ave and caught the streetcar back to our hotel. We freshened up a bit and wasted no time making it to our dinner destination: Cochon Butcher.

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Upon entering we were greeted by no less than four separate employees. It was like they all had just experienced the perfect BM. We felt very welcome. Hopefully they didn’t notice the slight wobble in my step. I think my secret was out since tall icy glasses of water were produced before we even sat down. Unfortunately, we were simply too stuffed to order any sandwiches, which was my main reason for checking this place out. ‘Twas a double dagger when I looked at their sweet cocktail list.

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The Adonis DNA and the Winning looked especially enticing, but if I’d had one I most certainly would’ve had to have been scraped off the floor. Ah, but there was definitely good eats to be had! Poopchute the Magician.

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After much deliberation and asking of questions we decided to go with the Charcuterie Plate and a side of Marinated Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta Mac n Cheese.

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God these photos fucking suck. My 30th birthday is coming up in July, does anyone want to contribute funds to a new camera? I really enjoyed the sprouts, they were nice and blackened with a hefty dose of vinegar and bitter citrus notes--just how I like to make them at home. The only drawback was that they were served cold, I really would’ve preferred them to be warm.

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The M&C was smooth and creamy without being heavy and the addition of pancetta only gilded the lily. The breadcrumbs on top were fine, but I have no idea why they were green. I should’ve asked. The curiosity is gnawing at me.

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I couldn’t handle that much cheese after just putting down so much dairy at CC, but the Mrs. gladly tore it apart like a ravenous pack of wild dogs.

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From left to right the Charcuterie plate featured Spicy Fennel salami, Genoa salami, Duck prosciutto, Coppa, and Pork Rillette. My favorites were definitely the prosciutto and the rillette. Apparently the prosciutto melted in my mouth and the rillette was very buttery and uber-smooth. The accompaniments were horseradish whole grain mustard, housemade sweet sour pickles, and poppy seed crisps. They were all great, and they all compliments the meats well. The mustard went especially well with the salamis, and I liked the crisps so much I found myself munching on them naked.

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Around this point I noticed the bottle of their housemade Sweet Potato Habanero hot sauce on the table and couldn’t resist taking a taste. As expecting it had a smooth cool refreshing sweetness at first taste and then the heat from the habs hit me like a ton of horseshoes. Me likey. One bite I found particularly good was the cracker topped with duck prosciutto, pickle, and hot sauce.

Overall I really enjoyed the vibe of the place, the music selection in particular was great, and the servers couldn’t’ve been nicer, so it was unfortunate that we didn’t have the necessary stomach space required to sample more of the menu. While no one particular thing really blew my mind here, overall it was a great place and I’ll keep it on my list for future trips (of which there will be many, I have no doubt.)

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After “dinner” we decided to wander on over to check out Harrah’s Casino. While neither of us are big gamblers, it’s always fun to check out the nickel slots while also spectating along some of the high dollar tables. The interior had a great Mardi Gras theme and I snapped a few shots of some of the more interesting pieces of artwork furnishing the wide open space.

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We found the Lord of the Rings slot machine which my best friend C and I spent hours on in Atlantic City for our other friend’s bachelor party a few years back. I played a dollar or two and hit an $11 dollar pot so I quickly cashed out, feeling like a badass.

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If only I knew what was about to go down on my wife’s machine. She played a $.40 bet and hit the button and happened upon some bonus round where she got 7 free spins all the while Gandolf’s fireworks display from The Fellowship of the Ring could be seen on the screen above. She racked up a bonus count of 7095 on her spins, but kept assuring me it wouldn’t amount to much.
Both of our jaws dropped as we watched her go higher… and higher… and higher until it finally stopped at $142.10!

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You can imagine how blown away we both were. This definitely made our night. We both cashed out our winnings and after a bit more exploring made our exit. We couldn’t believe our luck.

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Our luck would continue as we descended the stairs the Mrs. happened to catch a glimpse of some hockey being shown on TV in a hotel bar across the street. We made a beeline over there and it just so happened to be the very thing I was talking about as we left, it was game 1 of the Caps vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning. Not only that, but the whole bar was filled with Caps fans from D.C. and Virginia. It seemed our spout of good luck had turned into a full blown streak.

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It was the 2nd intermission and the Caps were down 3-2. I ordered an Abita Amber which was good, but easily outclassed by the NOLA Brown Ale.

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I also took this opportunity to sample one of the Bacon Pralines we purchased at dinner. It had chewy cubes of smoky bacon, crunchy pecans, but again it was a touch grainy. It was rich and a little too sweet. Unfortunately, our luck didn’t quite extend to the Caps because they lost the game 4-2 after an open net goal in the last moments of the 3rd period. Boohoo.

I called up my mom (it was her who orchestrated this entire trip) and she was barely coherent. Apparently, after much deduction, I learned that she'd been partying it up on Bourbon Street at one of the many Tropical Isle locations so we decided to head on up and see what all the fuss was about.

I can basically sum up Bourbon Street in it's entirety in one simple word:


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But, it was the first weekend of Jazz Fest so that was to be expected. What I didn't expect was the fact that the entire street smelled like a jolly old mix of rancid vomit and human excrement. I'm not joking, it literally smelled like shit and vomit. Nonetheless, it was interesting to walk northward, all the while checking out all of the drunks and peaking inside every venue--Live music was blaring from every set of open doors we came across.

When we finally found the place my mom was dancing like a spider monkey covered in napalm. I danced a song with her, but just one. While I was dancing the Mrs. took it upon herself to order us one of their famous Hand Grenades. I was very excited to try one since I read from numerous sources that they're very strong and not sickly sweet like Hurricanes are.

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Well whoever wrote those reviews couldnt've been more wrong. I took one sip and almost gagged. What a horribly disgusting beverage. It tasted like sour mix and corn syrup with a dash of melon liqueur. I don't know how people can down that awful, awful drink. This was by far the most disappointing thing of the entire trip. It's possible that the one we ordered wasn't made properly, but I wasn't about to try ordering another one. Blech!

As we sat and watched the band they started pulling people from the crowd to play the... Metal washboard thing... and almost immediately my mother and her friends heartily volunteered my poor, poor wife. So here's a shot of her doing her best to keep a beat with the band. While not the greatest washboard spoon thing player, I must commend her effort, for at least she tried.

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We only stayed for a little while as we weren't really feeling the music. We decided to keep heading north to check out Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, which lays claim to the title of oldest bar in New Orleans. They also don't have electricity.

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The atmosphere was pretty awesome, but definitely not photo friendly. The entire place was candlelit and there was a piano player in the back belting out all of the classic piano bar tunes. It would've been great if the place weren't clogged with drunken douchebags. We didn't stay long and made our way back south. Along the way we happened across Fat Catz music club where a pretty rockin' 80s cover band was belting out some of our favorite hair metal ballads.

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Journey plus Van Halen always equals a good time. We didn't stay long though, for the place was close to bursting at the seams.

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That concludes day 2 of our long weekend in NOLA. Stay tuned for an epic tale of eating our way through Jazz Fest.


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Jen said...

"When we finally found the place my mom was dancing like a spider monkey covered in napalm."
I think I just snorted.

We've gotta get to NOLA. I've never been. Those ice cream pics looked holyshitamazingyum.

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