House of the Week: Greek Revival side hall on Prytania Street

When I moved from the Carrollton neighborhood and back to the Garden District three years ago, there was a house just a few doors down that had been almost wholly razed except for the foundation. As the months passed, construction began, and after a year or so, it almost looked as if it had always been there. They designed the new house (at least the exterior) to look practically identical to the 1830s-era home they tore down.

While I am generally not a fan of new construction, I was pretty impressed with this particular house. Not only was the foundation and structure essentially the same, but they also kept the old wrought-iron railings and fleur de lis fence. One day, I noticed a Re/Max sign mounted on the fence and as soon as I got home, I looked it up online to see photos of the interior, but strangely enough, it is nowhere to be found. Even to this day, I can’t find it on Remax, Realtor, or Zillow. I mean, is the house for sale or not?

Every day, I walk by the house and hope the sign has come down or has the “sold” or “under contract” bit added to it. After all, a beautiful house like this one just sitting empty pains me deep down inside.

One day I was standing outside the house, admiring it while Pippin took his time smelling the grass out front when an older gentleman walked towards us and paused to grasp the front gate with both hands and stare up at the house. Being the social person I am, I commented on how long the house had been on the market and that I hope someone buys it soon. He turned to me and said, “It used to be my house!”

It seemed he was eager to talk about it and I love to listen to people’s stories, so over the next half hour or so, he regaled me with tales about his life on Prytania Street. From a  polite, but uninvited Mardi Gras guest who crashed on their couch to the neighborhood dachshund who wandered about freely impregnating female dogs he found in heat, it seemed the quirky and hilarious tale would never end.

The man told me how he had to sell the house because they could no longer afford the upkeep, but that he dearly misses it and the neighborhood. They miss it so much, in fact, that his wife and their dog still get their hair done at the same neighborhood shops they’ve always frequented in the past.

I hope I see him again in a month or so to hear more stories about their life in the Garden District. Until then, I am planning on calling a realtor to get a tour of the house, although I know I couldn’t even come close to affording it! I don’t know about you, but I am dying to see what they did and didn’t change on the inside.

What I did on my summer vacation …

Surely y’all remember writing about what you did on your summer vacation when you went back to school in September. It seemed like an elementary/middle school English teaching requirement. Naturally, my essays would include a lot of food and not much has changed over time. After 8 long years, I finally was able to take a short vacation thanks to my mother’s plentiful miles and my friend’s willingness to care for my elderly Shih Tzu while I was away.

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Celebrating 48 Years: Palm & Pine

Though some might believe it makes me a terrible food writer, I’m notoriously bad at patronizing pop-ups. I’ll mark them on my Google calendar, get all excited about trying new dishes from daring young chefs eking their way towards their own brick & mortar. Then almost inevitably, something will prevent me from attending … IE. illness, car trouble, money issues, a heated argument with my SO, my lazy ass … you get the idea.

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Trading Thai for tapas

When the Spanish-inspired Costera Restaurant & Bar opened in the Prytania Street building that formerly housed La Thai, I was easily one of the first to try it. My zealousness was not due to the type of restaurant nor was I overly anxious to see what Brian Burns, formerly chef de cuisine at Peche, had in store (well, in all honesty, I was actually a little excited about that). But what really pulled me in there, no joke, was the fact that Costera was an Uptown spot that was open all day long.

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House of the Week: Sidehall Camelback on Coliseum Street

New Orleans’ wretched summer heat is already upon us and it’s not even officially summertime yet. Though I love taking walks with Pippin around my gorgeous neighborhood, my sweet pup turns 17 this year and he’s really slowing down … especially when the heat index is over 90°.  Our long, long walks have recently shortened to a quick jaunt then back into our air-conditioned apartment.

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Down on Oak Street

Opened a little over two years ago, DTB or “Down the Bayou” is a restaurant in the Carrollton neighborhood described as offering “reinterpreted  coastal Cajun cuisine.” Created by talented local chef Carl Schaubhut and run by his chef de cuisine John Hill, this intriguing, corner restaurant has been going strong, enticing diners with their dishes of fried cornbread with ham hock marmalade and goat cheese mousse, LA-1 Gumbo with blue crab and collard greens, and blackened redfish with succotash risotto.

Shrimp & Grits with oyster mushrooms and Pecorino cheese grits

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Cooking Keto: Andouille Sausage, Spinach & Mushroom Quiche

As anyone who has followed my blogs knows, I have always had a weight problem. For reasons I’d rather not delve into as of yet (someday), I’ve used food for comfort since I was 9 or 10-years-old. People have many forms of escape to dull the pain of living, from drugs and alcohol to athletics or a well-worn book. For me it was mostly food. Sure, I dabbled in drugs during my youth, but stints with LSD and cocaine were more about fitting in, having fun and expanding my mind as opposed to easing the aches and pains of reality. For me, food was the ultimate safety net, the bastion of comfort and pleasure, the hole I would crawl into so frequently, that it’s taken all my life to finally emerge from its dangerous embrace.

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A sign?

Throughout my 45+ years on this planet, I’ve seen some pretty amazing natural phenomenon. While walking with my mom on Sawyer Camp Trail in San Mateo, we encountered a large buck standing on a hill staring down at us and as we glanced up, the  sun just happened to be setting perfectly in between its antlers. Another time, while I was on a 6th grade camping trip, we discovered a large meadow of white wildflowers in the middle of the forest and when one of my classmates stepped into it, clouds of ladybugs burst from seemingly nowhere and many of them lit upon us … covering us all in red and black. Finally, at one of the many late night beach parties I attended in Half Moon Bay, we were shocked to find our footprints were glowing. Every time we stepped in the wet sand, green sparks would shine and then fade before our disbelieving eyes. We later discovered that a tiny, single-celled marine animal called “noctiluca” will often wash up onto the shore and when it’s disturbed, it emits a bio luminescence or those eerie green sparkles that glowed in our wet footprints.

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Like a fat girl loves cake …

Over the past several years I have formed a somewhat unhealthy addiction to king cake. It’s an affliction you can chalk up to loving “all things New Orleans,” but I think it also goes deeper than that. The mammoth brioche-like rolls heavily iced with purple, green and gold seem to embody this extraordinary time of year, a holiday that I have taken into my heart and held closer than Christmas, Easter and Halloween combined. It is a sugary-sweet representation of all that’s wondrous about New Orleans and the multitudes of variation only expound that fact. More than anything, king cake is about ritual, from waiting till January 6th for that first annual bite to the obligation one inevitably feels when the baby is discovered in their slice. Continue reading