It’s … it’s … an ice cream po-boy?

When it comes to ice cream sandwiches, nothing is finer (in this Bay Area girl’s most humble opinion) than an It’s It. These rather notorious cookie and ice cream sandwiches have been around since 1928 and, regrettably, I tend to judge all other similar confections by their standard.

Now admittedly, It’s-It has gone somewhat downhill since I was a kid. The ice cream isn’t as creamy and the cookies seemed to have shrunk, but I will never forget being a sweaty, hungry 10 year-old girl who was treated to pizza and It’s-Its after a continuous stream of disappointing soft ball games. (*Our coach was flaky and cut out on the team right before our big game, taking all of the candy money we earned with her, but that’s another story). Smooth, dense chocolate ice cream sandwiched by two, chewy oatmeal cookies and dipped in dark chocolate … I can almost taste it.

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Tuning out

I want to be her again. Blissfully unaware, biding my time, plotting my escape to a place that finally understood and accepted me, exactly as I was. This moment was only one year before I made the move. This moment was three years before the levees broke.

My heart is wrenched recalling this moment because it took too damn long to find my home. My heart is wrenched recalling this moment because it was pulled from my grasp after only two short years of euphoria.

My heart is wrenched because this place, while it still somewhat resembles the paradise I lost, is rapidly becoming the place I ran away from … and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

Should I run again? Or should I stay and find whatever solace I can among the remnants? Where would I run to?

 

Craving CIBO

Although during hot, summer days like today I tend to hide in the air-conditioned comfort of my apartment, I can’t help but hanker for something to eat that unfortunately, does not reside in my fridge. Since well past the lunch hour, I’ve been craving a good deli sandwich and the closest option in my neck of the woods is the Carrollton neighborhood newcomer dubbed CIBO.

This quaint, Italian-style deli opened up not too long ago in a space that has seen a long train of fairly unsuccessful ventures. For a long time, this little house-turned-restaurant on Carrollton Avenue was the home of Maurice French Pastries, but after they moved out, nothing has really stuck, until now (I hope).

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House of the week: Historic home on Atlantic Ave.

If I had lots of extra cash and experience restoring homes, I would love to buy this house on Atlantic Avenue in Algiers and bring it back to its former glory. Not only is it on a lot twice as large as the properties that surround it, it has all the classic details that cause me to swoon.

Just check out that huge front porch, floor-to-ceiling windows, original hardwood floors, the unique architectural accents around the windows and doors, wainscoting, fireplace … I wish there were more pictures. The shot I have here was taken from the Google Maps Street View and offers a bit more than the pictures alone. Fortunately, someone has already put a bid on this house that’s listed for a mere $150,000. I sure hope they don’t ruin it.

Po-Boys to suffer for at Avery’s on Tulane

Ever since I got arrested on Lundi Gras oh-so many years ago, I sort of dread being anywhere near the ominous courthouse at the Broad and Tulane intersection. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) it seems that I need to get over that particular bad taste in my mouth, because there are too many good tastes to be had (and many more to come) in this growing corridor. A little while back, I sucked it up and took John to lunch at Avery’s on Tulane, a po-boy spot that I discovered from a visitor to our fair city who regaled a tale about an incredible roast beef. I simply had to go find out for myself, after all — what would a tourist know about roast beef po-boys? Apparently, he knew a lot…

Located less than two blocks from the dreaded courthouse and prison, Avery’s has been open for three years now and I feel like a failed foodie for not knowing about their deliciousness earlier. John and I stumbled in, incredibly hungry, and grabbed an open table. Avery’s is super casual, a low-key po-boy joint with local art on the walls and a gator mural beneath the counter. After seriously debating our choices, we finally ordered lunch and sat back to wait.

Though it may be odd to order an appetizer at a po-boy shop, we simply had to try their Fried Potato Salad. A large, ball-shaped scoop of a basic potato salad (with bacon!) was breaded with Leidenheimer po-boy bread crumbs and deep fried. We gobbled it all too quickly, which shows how tasty that particular experiment turned out to be.

Then, with a wailing fanfare that was heard only in my head, our po-boys arrived. John kept it simple with a half and half, that is half fried oysters and half fried shrimp, fully dressed of course. The shrimp were delicious, breaded in seasoned flour and the cornmeal-breaded oysters were equally pleasurable, plump and juicy, right out of the fryer.

I went a little different and tried one of their special po-boys called the “Sandbag.” Hot roast beef is topped with fried pickles and provolone cheese to create a po-boy only my wildest dreams could replicate. I’m salivating as I write this, remembering the tangy, crunch of the fried pickles and the heady flavor of the roast beef. Seriously, this is one hell of a sandwich.

John and I both ordered the large (a.k.a. 12 inch) version of our po-boys, but we quickly discovered that there was no way on this green earth we’d be able to finish more than half! So, we boxed up what was left and proceeded to order dessert. John was groaning at me out of over-satiation, but I insisted we at least try something sweet before we left. As it turned out, Avery’s home made bread pudding was just as good as everything else they put out, though it was nothing fancy, just a simple, well-made bread pudding sopping in an added caramel sauce. Were we incredibly full? Yes. Did we inhale every last bite? You bet!

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5 New Orleans Homes I’d Buy If I Were Filthy Rich

Wallowing in my poverty-stricken misery, I thought a listicle of homes I could never-ever attain would serve as appropriate torture for committing a few oh-so deadly sins; specifically lust, greed and envy. Though I cannot fathom how it would feel to be filthy, stinking rich, I sure know what I would do with all that excess…

1. Victorian on Esplanade Avenue

Over 4,000 square feet of magnificent hardwood floors, elaborate moulding, transoms, floor-to-ceiling windows, wrought-iron balconies, high ceilings and much more. This quaint beauty also comes with a guest cottage replete with a full kitchen and it’s right on the corner of Esplanade and Royal on the edge of the French Quarter and shaded by gorgeous oak trees. It’d be a drop in the bucket to a billionaire like me listed at $2,375,000.

2. Sidehall on Dauphine

Located in the Marigny Triangle, this 1890’s Victorian Sidehall is stunning with hardwood floors and heavy wooden mouldings, double parlor, built-in bookcases, wood-beamed ceiling, impeccable architectural details both inside and out, and, to top it all off, an in-ground swimming pool out back. Compared to the first house, this one is being sold for chump change at a mere $1,250,000
3. Greek Revival Mansion on Esplanade

This particular property really makes me drool with incredible architectural details like high, curved ceilings, sliding pocket doors, double parlor, wainscoting, bead board ceilings, wrought-iron balconies, transoms, floor-to-ceiling windows, claw foot tubs, and I believe there’s also a guest room next to the garage in back. This house is on the Esplanade Ridge just on the other side of I-10 which drops the price down a smidgen to a piddly $1,097,000.

4. Queen Anne on Josephine 

This one kind of blows my mind considering it’s questionable location in Central City, but what do I care? I’m loaded, right? I can hire 24-hour security if I’m that paranoid. Located approximately two blocks from St. Charles Avenue, this awesome house has a huge front porch, high ceilings, hardwood floors, a truly incredible wooden staircase, rich wood-paneled wainscoting and trim, tall windows and doorways with transoms, several fireplaces, French doors, bead board ceilings and a magnificent renovated attic. With almost 5,000 square feet of living space, this house is steal at $899,000.
5. Creole Townhouse on Burgundy
Saving one of the best for last, this three story, historical head-turner offers it all… plus a little lagniappe. The transoms are more elaborate and artistic, all of the rooms seem to be decked out with chandeliers and towering ceilings, French doors abound from room to room and letting out onto the balconies — this place is a freaking dream. Built in the early 1800s, this home offers all of the historic detail I crave while allowing elements that are modern, yet elegant. Located in the French Quarter, this divine diva would only set me back a paltry $2,950,000 and it would be worth every penny.
*Just in case you were wondering, the answer is yes. If I was a mega-billionaire, it’s likely I would buy ALL of these houses, not just one. Otherwise, what’s the point of being filthy rich?

**Please also note that these homes are all on the market right now. If had my choice of ANY house in New Orleans, this list would be quite different!

Breakfast at Blue Line Sandwich Co.

While I don’t often journey into Metairie, when I heard (quite a few months ago) that Chef Brad McGehee had opened up his own breakfast spot after leaving Ye Olde College Inn, I simply had to go check it out. Though it is tough to convince John to leave the house on Saturday mornings, I managed to drag him out for breakfast at the Blue Line Sandwich Co. on Metairie Road.

When we walked in, there was a lull at the counter so we were able to order quickly, get our giant mugs of French Truck Coffee and grab a table before the rush. While we waited for our food to arrive, we watched traffic roll by outside the window and commented to each other on the sparse, but appropriate blue decor.

By the time we were almost finished with our first cuppa Joe, our food came flying out of the kitchen all in a rush. We decided to share a plate of biscuits and gravy, and while the biscuits were buttery and fluffy, the gravy was a lot thinner in consistency then I had hoped, even though the flavors were all present and accounted for. A minor glitch, perhaps?

For entrees, John ordered the Cochon de Lait Biscuit and I got the Broken Yolk Sandwich. John’s slow-cooked pork with grilled tomatoes and red-eye gravy certainly looked “to die for,” but the flavor was somewhat blander than he had imagined. On the other hand, my sandwich made with house-corned beef, Swiss cheese, grilled onions and a fried egg on seven grain toast was spot on. My only complaint was a devout wish for more corned beef because it was, put quite simply, off the friggin hook.

All in all, I chalked any oddities up to being a newly opened restaurant that was still working out the kinks, but the beautiful biscuits and my Broken Yolk Sandwich are more than enough reason to seek a return trip.

Blue Line Sandwich Co. on Urbanspoon

Fat Falafel plus at 1000 Figs

While I realize I constantly tout the awesomeness of my Oak Street neighborhood, there are areas all over the city of which I would love to be a part. One such neighborhood is the Esplanade Ridge, especially that area right next to the Bayou St. John. The trees and houses are stunning; you’re right near the bayou, City Park and the fairgrounds; and you have “around-the-corner” access to restaurants like Cafe Degas, Liuzza’s by the Track and, a new addition, 1000 Figs.

Opened a little over 6 months ago, the folks from one of the city’s favorite food trucks, The Fat Falafel, have planted their specialties into a brick and mortar along with a few other tasty tidbits. About a month after it opened, Lorin and I visited 100 Figs and enjoyed a fabulous sit-down lunch which always tops standing on the sidewalk, shoveling goodies in my face with a plastic fork. Does that make me a snob? Maybe. But I’m also a gimp with back problems who enjoys a comfortable seat and real silverware…so sue me.

The restaurant was smaller than I expected, but offered gorgeous, wood benches and tables, plus a high counter along the front window where guests can perch, savor lunch and watch the world go by. I wanted to try one of everything, but to start we ordered some crispy, flash-fried Brussels sprouts with red cabbage and salad greens drizzled with fresh lemon. We also scored a big bowl of hand-cut French fries served with a thick, creamy labneh or yogurt for dipping. I couldn’t stop munching on the fries and long after we “finished” and were paying the check, I couldn’t help sneaking forkfuls of the crispy sprouts.

For her entree, Lorin ordered a ginormous squid salad and I opted for their signature falafel in platter form. I got a taste of Lorin’s calamari which was nice, but I was far more focused on the light, crunchy falafel that was served with a creamy hummus, salad greens and wedges of pita. Overall, it was a lovely lunch and while I realize French fries and falafel are … well … fried, I felt like I had enjoyed a healthy meal because it didn’t weigh me down or make me groan from being over-sated. If you’re looking for a delicious, “light” lunch, I highly recommend it. Oh, and don’t forget to get a big glass of their Hibiscus Iced Tea!  

1000 Figs on Urbanspoon

House of the week: Shotgun on Flood Street

Depression has set in and I can’t avoid it. Unless I suddenly write a bestselling novel, win the lotto or have a rich relative die and leave me a fat inheritance, there is no way in hell I’ll ever be able to afford a house in New Orleans.

Regardless of this fact, I still have this awful habit of continued self-flagellation, scanning the real estate listings only to watch another dream house go to someone who (I imagine) will appreciate it far less that I would. Jerks. During my latest bout of torment, I happened upon another awesome house that will likely be sold to some cretin who will use it as a vacation home or some such nonsense. Gee, do I sound bitter?

While the irony of fawning over a house on Flood Street in the Holy Cross (Lower 9th Ward) is not lost on me, it still fails to dampen my ardor (har-har). Here we have a two bedroom, two bathroom single shotgun house replete with original hardwood floors, towering bead board ceilings, transoms, fireplace mantles, claw foot tub and a nice front porch that faces the levee. Bye, bye beauty! You’re bound to disappear within days of my post, especially since you’re listed at the low, low price of only $200,000. Unfortunately, it’s still not low enough for me.  

House of the week: Condo on Napoleon Avenue

My boyfriend John won’t even entertain the idea of buying a condo. When I find a cute half double or a cool apartment in an old home spilling over with character and history, John will completely write it off if there’s a mere mention of the “c” word. But, I do believe that if this particular condo was anywhere near our price range, he’d swiftly change his mind.

Located inside a stunning building that long ago served as St. Elizabeth’s, an orphanage in the 1860’s (previously owned by famous author Anne Rice), this particular unit appears to be centered in what was, at one point, a chapel. We’re talking 24-ft ceilings, awe-inspiring stained glass windows, 3 bedroom, 5 bathroom, 5,000 square feet of reverent wonder. I mean, just look at this place! There’s a freaking theater upstairs! For the first time on this fantasy house-hunt of mine, I am at a loss for words. 
Who lives in places like this? Listed at a paltry $4,950,000, I’m sure it will never be me.