February 28, 2017

When Work Is Travel- New Orleans

First off, Happy Fat Tuesday. Yes I held this post back just to commemorate this day as well as my time in New Orleans. A month ago my job sent me to New Orleans for a Tap Root Analysis Training. Now I've really been dying to get to the West Coast for the free-free and I've been suggesting that non-stop to my boss; but he settled on New Orleans and I was fine with that. The kicker was… I’d get to be there for an entire week. Which meant, free food, free hotel, and free rental car, all checks in my book. Aside from the training this would be a mini vacay for me, especially since I don’t actually earn vacation time until my 1 year Anniversary but that’s another story.
Louisiana has a really special place in my heart. I remember spending Summers with my Aunt and thinking that I’d ONLY attend Southern University in Baton, Rouge but my momma cut that short and made me apply to other colleges. But New Orleans, is such a unique vibe in and of itself. Nawlins how I love thee… let me count the ways.

1. Music
During my visit I was able to venture out and visit places that were away from the usual tourist trap such as the Maple Leaf Bar. I am a huge fan of live music and it really doesn't matter the genre. This nice gentleman sitting next to me at happy hour recommended I go and see one of the best bands in the city, Rebirth Band. I am sooo glad that he put me on. As I was getting out of my car I noticed a guy heading in the same direction who happened to be a member of the band and he took me in family for the free-free. Rebirth Band is a brass band that combines traditional New Orleans second line, with funk, jazz, soul and hip hop. If you are ever in the area definitely look them up to experience what the locals love. This had to be my lucky week because while I was visiting it was also the birthday of Big Freedia. Like I literally got a chance to attend Big Freedia's birthday concert and it was beyond lit. Honestly, if you don't know Big Freedia, we probably can't be friends. Now is the time to pause and go to Google, Apple Music, or Fuse type in the name and get you whole entire life while twerking in front of a mirror. Yes she's kinda a big deal especially in  those Nawlins streets.  For the party to be sooo live, there was n fighting or any type of commotion; it was all love. And to top that off, they were also doing filming for the show. I was front and center so if you see ya girl, know that its me lol. This party sooo much fun that it actually made it to my memory jar. If I'm having a bad day I just re-play one of the clips that I filmed from that night to instantly perk me up and put me in a good mood.

2. Food
Being the foodie that I am, I probably should have started here first. I actually worked out pretty hard before going to New Orleans because I knew that it'd be a serious matter in regard to food. Talk about spicey, creamy, fried, grilled, sweet... you name it. Whatever  flavor you crave just know that its there and it is prepared to the highest level of excellence. I. Did. Not. Have. One Bad. Meal. At. All. Those are facts. I started my food journey with the most succulent oysters from Drago's Seafood Restaurant. I honestly think of them weekly, they were char broiled to perfection and the bread that they served besides it was light yet crispy outside and soft inside. The bread was perfect for sopping up the leftover butter. This wasn't last time having oysters while I was there, but this was by far the best oysters I've ever had in my life. Because I LOVE coffee and prefer local coffee shops to large chains, I was able to visit two. Out of the two one was clearly my fav, so much so that I went back the next day and the owner recognized me. Since carnival season was right around the corner they had their King Cake Latte available. And just typing this is making me think of all the flavors that was in that cup of joe. New Orleans is King Cake Country, I've never seen sooo many King Cake flavored items ever. Even at the Walmart, they were selling King Cake flavored vodka. During my stay, I was also introduced to a new type of cake: Doberge. I saw this business on trusty Yelp and new I had to visit because I thought it was genius to combine a bar and a bakery so to speak. This cake literally melted in your mouth. This is how you know its good... you can only order two slices maximum. I mean it ain't no fun if the homies can't have none!!! I had the strawberry and savored every single moment of it. I will seriously be considering a Doberge cake whenever someone asks for this hand in marriage. I am saving the best meal for last, that honorable mention goes to the shrimp and collard green po-boy. If you are like me, you're thinking, who decided to put shrimp and collards on a po boy. I don't know who made the decision but it was the best thing that I decided on the day that I ordered it. Again, the bread was sooo light yet crispy outside and soft inside (my manager said that it has something to do with the water in that area) I'm not sure if there was a sauce added or if the actual flavor of the shrimp and collard greens produced its own unique hybrid flavor but it was a culinary marriage of the two. If I had to choose one thing to get in New Orleans don't make me choose Lawd I would certainly choose this... over and over and over again.

3. Culture

I'm from the South and the South has a way of welcoming you and making you feel at home. This is exactly the vibe that you get from New Orleans. I remember moving to VA and thinking it was weird that folks never spoke to one another in passing, just a simple hello. Everyone in New Orleans I encountered seem warm and welcoming. Even, the Uber drivers talked to me as if I'd known them forever. I mean everyone was happy, and getting along... as people. Not people of this ethnicity/race or religion. It was like everyone was there to soak up the goodness of New Orleans. Even the guy who owns the mansion that American Horror Story was filmed in was nice and allowed us to go up and take a few pictures. That feeling is the reason why I wanted to attend college in Louisiana as a teenager and its the feeling that I wish I could have bottled up to bring back here. Did I mention that I saw Solanges' husband and son in H&M near Bourbon St. I did not want to fan girl over someone's child and hubby that have actually been in the presence of the Queen but I almost did!!!

If you ever get the chance to go to New Orleans, go. It's not Miami, nor is it Vegas , but it is definitely worth multiple visits.