CB&W- Things Found in a Kitchen

Thanksgiving is a good day to post about ‘things found in a kitchen’. Good thing Cee came up with this perfect challenge for today. Here are some photos I took in New Orleans at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.

I love New Orleans! It’s full of interesting things to do and see. This museum is just one example (here’s a post about another).

The Southern Food & Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. SoFAB also hosts special exhibits, demonstrations, lectures and tastings that showcase the food and drink of the South.

You can learn about all the different foods each state is famous for. You can learn about the history of the cocktail and how to make them. You can take a cooking class. You can try the specialty cocktails at the bar, or enjoy a hearty meal. It’s easy to get to on the streetcar, and the nearby bars and restaurants look worth a try too. 🙂

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Natchez

I was in New Orleans last September for a travel writing workshop with GEP. I’ve been to a few workshops with them, both for writing and for photography. Boston, Chicago, Miami, Korea, Costa Rico, the photography safari last November (wow, a year’s gone by already), and the one in New Orleans. I always have a great time, learn a lot and look forward to the next one. 🙂

During this workshop we were assigned to come up with story ideas, then actually write a story. We had help on making them more interesting and salable. One of the great things about travel writing and photography is that doing it gives you a focus and incentive to get out there and do all kinds of things.

You may not know it, but I’m actually pretty shy. Focusing on a story gives me the courage to talk to people. Without the story, I’d be way too nervous to do more than say ‘hi, how’re you doing’. With a story in mind, I’ll ask them all kinds of questions since now I have an ‘excuse’. 😉

Before I left for the trip to New Orleans, I asked around for some help and the nice people at the CVB sent me on a riverboat cruise. Specifically- a jazz dinner cruise on the historic Steamboat Natchez. I wrote a story about it, and was supposed to have it published on the website of the company that set up the whole deal with the CVB. Sadly, they shut down before my story ever got published and I haven’t been able to find another spot for it yet (tho I am still trying, in between job hunting and all the other things on my plate).

Here’s the first draft, please give it a read and let me know what you think. I could use the critiques. 😉

Steamboat Natchez (www.steamboatnatchez.com) docks where Toulouse Street dead ends at the Mississippi River, in the French Quarter. You walk up the gangway to take a trip back in time as you slowly steam your way down the Great Mississippi River. You’ll be transported back to the 1800’s, when these boats ruled the river. From only 20 in the 1810s, to over 1200 in 1833. They carried passengers and freight from as far away as Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Chicago, Minneapolis, Little Rock, and further out the Missouri, Arkansas and Red Rivers down the Mississippi River to New Orleans.

Steamboats were built of wood, shallow draft (1-5’ loaded), with the main deck close to the water and used for cargo. Wood burning boilers were placed midships, with the engines aft, shafts turning the paddle wheels. Some added 2-3 decks above that for passengers. Most were simple workboats, but some became quite ornate. For those carrying upper class passengers, they were richly decorated: delicate filagreed railings, large mirrors reflecting gilded highlights, coffered ceilings, velvet upholstery, plush carpets. Fine food, liquor and gambling helped pass the time during the voyage of up to 2 weeks.

Though she was built in 1975- the ninth iteration of the series to carry the name, Steamboat Natchez follows in this tradition and offers daily Mississippi River cruises. She’s a 265’ long 46’ wide stern paddle wheeler, with 3 decks. She’s furnished in the manner of a high class passenger vessel of the mid-1800’s. In only a couple of hours, you can soak in the atmosphere and get a taste of what it was like in the heyday of the Mississippi River steamships. You can go for dinner, Sunday brunch, or just a harbor cruise with no meal served.

I went for a dinner jazz cruise with the Dukes of Dixieland aboard. As I stepped aboard from the gangway, the hostess informed me of the procedure for dinner. Since I had chosen the 1st seating, I was led to my reserved table in the dining room. The setting was impressive, a large room running almost the full length of the vessel. It had large picture windows all the way around, decorative moulded ceiling tiles filling the white coffered overheads, wall to wall carpet, and nicely set tables filling the space.

My table was set for 4 (tho I was by myself). There was a salad already dressed (iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, croutons, vinaigrette), along with silverware and plates, but no water. The waiter soon came by to take drink orders. It took him a while since he had at least a dozen full tables. As the room filled up, another couple was seated at my table, but we still had one seat open. Good, since the tables were tightly packed and it was crowded. My neighbor had to get up every time I needed to get out of my seat. The dinner was buffet style, so I did have to get up a few times.

There were two long buffet tables, one on either side of the room. The servers dressed in chef’s whites  stood behind the chafing dishes to answer any questions and help if you needed it. They had classic Southern recipes like red beans & rice, blackened fish, gumbo, greens, and more ‘mainstream’ dinner classics like pork loin and roast beef. It was all made onboard, hot and fresh. It was OK, but nothing spectacular. For a city as famous for its food as New Orleans, I really expected better of them.

The lights were too low to read by but bright enough to see your food. We were able to have a conversation even with the music in the background since we were at the very back of the room.  The band was set up in front. There was another playing jazz and dixieland outside on the upper deck, I spent most of my time up there. I enjoyed watching the scenery go by, being able to smoke, drink, and still listen to the music.

The live jazz band adds to the atmosphere onboard. It was casual and relaxing. I enjoyed having drinks on the deck, watching the river rolling by, snapping photos of the New Orleans skyline and passing ships. It was easy to imagine myself drifting back to an earlier time. There’s a real sense of history aboard.

Steamers have all but disappeared from the worlds waterways, due to many factors. They usually had a short lifetime (there were many boiler explosions), competition with railroads back in action after the Civil War, displaced by competition with diesel tugs and barges.  The Natchez is one of only 2 true steam paddle wheelers left on the Mississippi River today.

Her engines were originally built for the sternwheeler “Clairton” in 1925. They were recovered when the Clairton was retired and placed in the Natchez, where they are still going strong. Anyone interested in how things work will enjoy wandering around the Natchez. You’re free to take a look in the engine room. Check out the engines (with posted explanations) and the boilers “Thelma” and “Louise” next door. The engineers are rightly proud of their gleaming domain.

The entire crew seemed to love their job, their ship and it showed. They did their job well and took pride in that fact. From the Mate who welcomed me aboard, the engineers, the hostess who showed me to my table, the servers at dinner, to the deckhands who secured the ship back to the dock. Everyone was friendly, polite and answered my questions with a smile.

A cruise on the Steamboat Natchez is a New Orleans experience you just can’t get anywhere else. From the magnificently maintained historical vessel, to the lively jazz bands, to the delicious Southern style cooking (don’t miss the white chocolate bread pudding), to the mighty Mississippi itself. It all adds up to a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours next time you visit New Orleans.

PS- This post is for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter N. Join in, all it takes is to come up with a post starting with the letter N. 🙂

D is for Death- #AtoZChallenge

There is a curious little museum in New Orleans. Located at 227 Dauphine Street, it’s easy to pass by. Just another unassuming shop front.

I was passing by on a rainy day and noticed the intriguing displays through the front windows. The writing on the door was provocative. I was looking for something interesting to do, and so I went in to take a look around.

The Museum of Death is a small place, but they packed a lot into it. They say it takes about an hour for the self guided tour, but if you take the time to read and absorb the information posted with the displays it will take longer. They didn’t allow photos, so this one of the door is the only one I got. I thought it was expensive at $15, but I suppose for what they’re trying to do, it’s the only way to help pay for it.

It’s a fantastic place to visit if you’re into serial killers, murders, sensational deaths. They had some really great displays on various killers and their victims. I’ve always been interested in what makes a person do something like that. I’ve always been curious about how people think the things they do, and why.

The museum did a pretty thorough job of explaining the whole autopsy process, with tools of the trade and even a video to watch. They had coffins, skulls, shrunken heads and more. If you take the time to read the information posted along with the artifacts, you can learn a lot.

It can get pretty gruesome, lots of blood, guts and gore. It’s definitely not for everyone. I thought it was a pretty cool way to spend a rainy afternoon in New Orleans, but then maybe I’m just weird. 😉

D” is for Death, my post for the #AtoZChallenge.

New Orleans Was A Trip!

I just got home from New Orleans. What a trip! I got in around midnight last Thursday (after  attending the Nautical Institute seminar). Friday morning the workshop started bright and early 8 AM. I’m not a morning person.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday was spent 8-5 in the travel writing workshop I was there for. Monday addition on ‘Social Media’. My brain was spinning by then and ready for some down time.

Tuesday, I slept in and was able to spend the day around New Orleans gathering information for my planned writing projects. I had researched beforehand and thanks to Mike at Hospitality21 and Christine at the New Orleans CVB, I was comped tickets to a couple of wonderful New Orleans attractions.

Everyone I talked to about the World War II Museum raved about how good it was. I had been wanting to go for a couple of years. I spent all afternoon there and still didn’t get the complete experience (I missed the movie and show- I’ll have to go back for that).

I made it to the Steamboat Natchez just in time for departure. A really nice way to spend the evening. A jazz dinner cruise on the Mississippi River. You could imagine yourself back in the day of Tom Sawyer if you ignored all the people taking ‘selfies’.

I had a late flight out on Wednesday, so spent the morning wandering around the French Quarter: walking down Royal Street, checking out the antique shops, looking at the artists working along Pirates Alley and Jackson Square, breakfast (brunch) at Monty’s, listening to jazz at Latrobe Park, timidly tasting a couple selections at the Pepper Palace, wandering through the French Market, and then taking the Riverfront streetcar back up to Canal Street.

I spent the last couple hours wasting my time (and my money) at Harrah’s Casino and before I knew it, it was time to head back to the hotel to catch my ride to the airport. I guess it’s a good thing they don’t allow smoking anymore, I might have missed my plane if I hadn’t needed a smoke!

More later, as I get my photos uploaded. 🙂

Galatoire’s 33

Looking for a nearby place for lunch today, we wandered into this place after a couple of false starts. One of the ladies from the travel writing workshop was specifically looking for Galatoire’s and so we figured we would go ahead and try it out. It’s right around the corner from our hotel, at 209 Bourbon Street. Only took about 5 minutes to walk.

It’s definitely not my usual kind of place. I’m not one to enjoy spending big bucks on food and drinks. In fact, I much prefer the opposite end of the price scale. My favorite place to eat out at home is Chinatown where the all you can eat buffet is less than $15 including drink and tip!

I figured I might as well go ahead and try it since it really was a super deal. Looking at the normal prices where a ribeye goes for $44 and side of onion rings is $7, the fact that the entire lunch cost only $20 today was enough to convince me to give it a try.

The other ladies I was with both really enjoyed their meals. I’m not much for seafood (or creole/cajun either) so I was pretty much out of luck for the special. I sure wasn’t going to choose anything off the regular menu tho I definitely prefer steak over fish any day! I decided to try the ‘broiled drum casino’ in the spirit of exploration as a travel writer. 😉

The appetizer was ‘roasted beet risotto’. It was really very good. Not what I was expecting, but nice. It tasted more cheesy than anything else to me (might have been the truffle oil). I really couldn’t taste any beets at all.

The fish was very well done as well. I really liked the sauce. It was creamy and cheesy also. It tasted smokey and salty from the bacon. Very nice. The drum was cooked just right and tasted nice and fresh. I’m sure if I liked fish better, I would have just loved it. I did enjoy the broccoli. 🙂

I chose the Bananas Fosters Cobbler for dessert, it was excellent. Too bad by that time we were in a real rush to get back to the hotel before the next session started.

It’s not my kind of place, but I would recommend it if you’re out to impress. The service was excellent and so was the food. I thought the prices were sky high, but not out of line with similar restaurants.

Ogden

I was in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago for the Workboat Show. I always try to go if I’m not working. It’s interesting and New Orleans is always a blast. 🙂

This year, the schedule was a little off, also I’ve been laid off and no idea when I’ll get any work. It could be months. Years even. I was hoping to find somebody hiring at the job fair. Or, talk up some of the recruiters at their booths. So, I went to the show, but I cut back. I didn’t stay as long as usual. I didn’t spend as much money as usual. I was only there 4 days instead of 5-6, but I still had a good time.

I flew in Wednesday and flew out Saturday. I had hoped to be able to do some tourist stuff on Friday since I had all day free. I wound up spending all day long driving down to Fourchon and back to pick up some paperwork from my last ship.

So Saturday morning I had to return the car. Lucky for me, I saw on the way that they were setting up for the Krewe of Jingle Christmas Parade. I was planning to spend the day in the WWII Museum. I had heard it was really good, especially the movie (Tom Hanks).

Because I really wanted to see the parade, I skipped the WWII Museum (I thought it would be worth more than 1-2 hours) and went to see the Ogden Museum of Southern Art instead.

It’s nice that all those museums are so close together. Almost right across the street from each other. There is also a Civil War museum right there and a contemporary arts museum there too. I’ll have to do those and the WWII Museum next time. 🙂

The Ogden Museum was interesting. They had an exhibit of photographer Bill Yates that was pretty good. They displayed a bunch of black and white photographs from a skating rink (FL in the 70s), reminded me of when I was growing up over there. There was another exhibit of Michael Meads that I really liked. A lot of those were huge drawings/paintings, mostly in black and white but very intricate. (Not allowed to take pictures of those exhibits).

I started from the top (nice view from the balcony) and worked my way down. Four floors, pretty compact. They had painting, photography, pottery, sculpture, glass and more. They had an exhibit by some school kids that I really liked. Made out of garbage (plastic) and painted. Sculptures of fantasy creatures and interesting objects. I thought it was very creative and nice to recycle.

They had some of the more traditional museum type paintings, they also had some strange stuff that really got me thinking about ‘what is art?’.

Some of the things they had I could see really took a lot of effort, a lot of thought, a lot of creativity, a lot of talent. I could see why someone would want to put them in a museum (and probably pay a bunch of money for them).

"Victim of Silence"- Mark Messersmith 2011

“Victim of Silence”- Mark Messersmith 2011

detail

detail

But some of the things they had on display I thought “WTF???”. Why in the world would anybody want THAT hanging around? Much less pay anything for it! Why would anyone consider it ‘art”?

mud & paint on plywood by Jimmy Lee Sudduth

mud & paint on plywood by Jimmy Lee Sudduth

Those items looked to me like anybody could make them. A child could do better. A MONKEY could do better!

Why are these things sitting in a museum? What makes them worth it? What makes them ‘great’? I’m assuming if they’re in a museum, they’re considered to be ‘great art’. Why do the curators pay high dollars for these things when the majority of people who see them think the same way as I do and wouldn’t pay 10 cents for them? What makes them art and your kids refrigerator specials not?

So, what does make art?

And what makes ‘great’ art (worth of a spot in a museum)?

I’m really curious. Come on with your comments…

New Orleans: Christmas Parade 2014

I went to New Orleans for the WorkBoat Show again this year. I stayed over a couple of days to just chill out and enjoy New Orleans. It’s such a great city to hang out in. 🙂

I did try to check around to see if there was anything especially interesting going on. I checked online and didn’t see anything unusual.  I had thought about going on another walking tour or going to the WWll museum, or the Pharmacy museum. What won out in the end was sleeping late. 😉

I had just got around to wandering out of the hotel and I heard the drums playing. I had to find out what was going on. I’m so glad I did. 🙂

I followed my ears down the street a couple of blocks until I ran into the crowd lined up along St Charles street and the parade marching by.

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It was so neat. I missed out on the beginning of it, but I was still in time to see a few groups of dancers, majorettes, and marching bands. The riding club and their little miniature horses were SO cute! So were the little girls all dressed up in their sparkling outfits, tapping their way down the street.

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Floats carrying bands playing Dixieland jazz and Santa-hatted, bead throwing locals were interspersed among the dance schools and high school marching bands. Santa and his dancing elves brought up the rear.

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And tho I think for some reason the bikers weren’t in the parade (technically), they didn’t let that ruin their fun and they had their own little parade right after the last musical blasting car passed by.

Nowhere like New Orleans for a party! 🙂

WorkBoat Show: Day 1

After a VERY late night, I drug myself out of bed to check out the WorkBoat Show.

I didn’t really plan on staying up half the night, but I saw on Facebook that a friend and travel writer was going to be in town for a ‘comp trip’. I had met her at a travel writing workshop in Boston a couple of years ago. After messaging back and forth on Facebook before leaving home, we agreed to meet up here in New Orleans after she finished up her work.

Turns out, when I went to meet her, she was in the middle of dinner with the whole group of writers involved on the comp trip. It was an interesting evening, for true! 🙂

I got back to my hotel about 0200 in the morning, but for some reason I just couldn’t sleep. So it was pretty hard to get up and out. Once I did, I walked over to the Convention center for the WorkBoat Show.

In the same Facebook conversation, I learned there was another writer (and fellow blogger who I met at the same workshop)  coming to town for the show. We planned to meet up too. The first thing we wanted to do was to hear Capt Phillips. He was the Keynote speaker.

Remember the Maersk Alabama, the American flagged ship that got attacked by pirates a couple of years ago? Tom Hanks played him in the movie? Yep, that Capt Phillips. He gave a good presentation and we got to ask questions and afterwards have pictures taken with him (I skipped that but my friend got hers done).

As the presentation was ending, I spotted another friend of mine from Kirby Towing. We stopped to say hi on the way out. That’s what I love about these events. I always wind up meeting so many of my old friends. It’s great to catch up and hear what everybody’s been doing. 🙂

I had a couple of hours before the next presentation. My writer friend was doing an interview with a guy from the Deadliest Catch, so I went to wander around a little bit and ran into some other old friends.

Father Sinclair and Doreen from the Apostleship of the Sea. They always have so many good projects going on to help the sailors and the maritime community. Sinclair still sails, but he somehow finds the time to get involved with all kinds of important stuff.

I went to the presentation on mariner health issues. I picked that one since I have a lot of concerns of my own about how the medical standards are getting harder and harder to meet and are being used to throw a lot of us sailors out of our jobs. It seems a lot of the companies want 50 years of experience in a 20 year old body. 😦

Spent the rest of the afternoon wandering through the convention center and checking out  some of the things there that I’m especially interested in. The latest DP systems from Kongsberg, MT, L3, etc.

I met a few more old friends. Hope to spend some more time with them tomorrow in between all the other events. 🙂

New Orleans

I’m off to New Orleans this afternoon. I’ll be there for a few days. I’m going to the WorkBoat Show. I try to go every year if I’m not offshore at work.

This year they’re having a job fair. I mentioned it to some people last year. I’m really glad to see they listened (I’m sure I’m not the only one). I think it’s a perfect place to have one. So many of these offshore companies say they can’t find the people they need to go to work. So many good people out of work. I hope it’s a success. 🙂

It’s being marketed towards military people, but I think it would be open to others too. Might take some talking? I’m not sure. This is the first one I’m going to where they’ve done it this way. The actual show is open to all and is FREE if you register online before it opens tomorrow. You can do it from the link (above).

Photography 101 Challenge: Glass

Here’s my post for Day 17: Glass in the Photography 101 challenge. I haven’t really been out to take pictures. Too busy trying to catch up on other things. But I found a couple of good ones on my computer (I sure WISH I could get the darn thing fixed!!).

I took these last time I was in New Orleans. I went on a plantation tour one day. We went to Laura Plantation and Oak Alley. I’ve never been on one of those tours before. I thought it was interesting how different they were, even though they were both built to do the same thing.

I liked the contrast in these 2 shots too. One is very old and also practical. The other is brand new and really serves no purpose other than decoration.