Years ago I had the opportunity to work for a property management company that sent me all over the southeast. On one of my trips to New Orleans a friend of mine, Dianne Corn, went with me. She’s a true Southern Belle with the accent to match. How lucky for me to have a friend willing to go with me. She was happy to help me market the property during the day so we could go out and explore the real New Orleans at night. Since my work would begin on Monday morning, we decided to leave on Friday evening after work to get a head start on our adventure. It was an easy seven hour drive so…. no sweat!!! Being in a hurry to get there and not planning ahead of time we arrived to the Gulf Shores area after midnight. Nothing special was happening on this particular week-end that we knew of but every hotel we went to was full. It was getting later and later and we were getting more and more tired so being young and probably very foolish we decided to park our car on the water side and fall asleep in our car to the sounds of the ocean rolling in. We fell asleep right away but woke up in the morning wet from the night’s dew and the humidity that was already making both our heads of hair very curly!! We drove on into New Orleans since it was still too early to find a hotel where we were. We were so happy to find the sweetest hotel called St. Ann’s just a few blocks from the French Quarter. Luckily they had a room for us to stay for the next few days but it wouldn’t be available for a few more hours. We were so excited to start exploring so we used the lobby restroom and did the best we could to make ourselves presentable for the day. We actually thought our hair looked pretty good with all the new found curls we’d found! Off we went to have breakfast at Brennan’s who’s specialty is Eggs Benedict, but so is my sister’s and I’m not convinced their’s was as good as hers. That can be another blog for later if she will share her secrets. After eating, antiquing was fun, mostly by looking through the windows. We walked and talked and spied through every courtyard fence we could. By now the heat was at its worse so we retired to our hotel and enjoyed swimming in our own little court yard and rested for the upcoming evening events. New Orleans takes on such a different face at nighttime. The music was jazz and you could here the piano and saxophone sounds over the rest of the instruments anywhere you stood and we knew we weren’t in Kansas anymore! We stopped by the Court of Two Sisters for their famous grasshopper drinks and onto a sweet hidden away little restaurant where we shared red beans and rice and shrimp gumbo with the best French bread ever! When we got out our map to see where we wanted to go next it was dark and hard to see, but all of a sudden we had a lot of light to read by and were looking over the map when a waiter came by and poured water on us to put out the fire from where the map was too close to the candle that was sitting on our table. Leaving there we were wide awake and decided to stop by Pat O’Brien’s and do as the regular’s do and enjoy a Mint Julep before bed. The next day we tried more new restaurants and new menu selections. How do you decide between Shrimp Po’Boy and Louisiana Jambalaya, Cajun “Dirty” Rice or Crawfish Étouffée ? But we still think the best we ate was our first dinner there and wanted to share these recipes with you. You could always put on some jazz music and throw Mardi Gras beads on the table. Shrimp File’ Gumbo This is a good dish for you to get out your old “heirloom” black iron skillet and use it now that they are saying it’s good for us. Put in 1/2 cup vegetable oil and add 1/2 all purpose flour, sauté till brown Add 1 large onion and 1 medium green pepper, 2 stalks celery all chopped, 6 green onions, thinly sliced, 2 garlic cloves, minced, 6 cups water, 2 cups shrimp stock or bottled clam juice, add 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley and 1 teaspoon cayenne Cook for 30 minutes Add 3 lb shrimp & 1 1/2 file’ powder Cook uncovered 5 minutes more Serve over rice with salt and pepper.
Red Beans and Rice Put 12 oz of dried red beans in crock pot and cover over beans about 1 inch Cook all night with a ham bone The next morning take out the bone and put in a new large pot. Add 1 lg onion, 1 medium green pepper and 1 stalk celery, all chopped Add 2 bay leaves, 1/2 t pepper,1/2 t dried thyme Cook on medium heat for 30 minutes Add 12 oz smoked sausage, cook another 5 minutes Serve on hot rice and top with chopped fresh parsley and green onions and all the hot sauce you want.