Thursday, July 25, 2013

You Gotsta Mooooooove! Breakfast and Ghosts in New Orleans

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

Perhaps it was excitement or a new bed in a strange place or the extra large frozen cafe au lait I had the night before, but I could not sleep at all my first night in New Orleans.  I tossed and turned all night long.  When I finally left my bed at 6:30 a.m., my hair looked like I had a faux hawk.

I had purposely set my alarm clock for 6:30 a.m.  I wanted an early start on the day where I could walk around the French Quarter without sweating profusely.  Unfortunately, it was already 81 degrees at 7:20 a.m. when I left the hotel.  

Not to get too personal, but I am one Sweaty Betty.  I could be at the Arctic Circle and be complaining of the heat.  So New Orleans in July?  It was like my sweat glands were a running faucet.  I was soaked in minutes.  Tasty!

Other than the heat, I love the French Quarter in the early morning.  I like to go to Jackson Square and Louis Armstrong Park and all throughout the French Quarter.  The air smelled like Lemon Pledge as a truck whipped through the streets spraying foam.  I have seen people hosing off the streets before, but artificial lemon-scented suds?  I guess lemon masks the smell of sin, vomit and feces.

Truck spraying foam on the streets of the French Quarter

Can streetwashing scrub off the sin of New Orleans' French Quarter?

Trail of Foam

Oh and speaking of feces ... when I go to New York and Paris I play this game - I ask "What's that smell?"  And the answer is always "Urine."  

In New Orleans the answer to "What's that smell?" is always "Feces."  Nothing like a good deep inhale of feces-scented air in the morning to make you feel ALIVE!  

At first, I thought the feces smell was from the horse drawn carriages that line Jackson Square.  But as I walked around the French Quarter, I determined that the smell was most likely from dog sh*t and possibly human excrement too.  People, curb your dogs!  And yourselves!  If you're going to own a dog, pick up its poop!  I scoop cat sh*t every week.  Do I enjoy it?  NO.  But do I do it?  Yes!  And you can too!

It's been quite some time since I have been to New Orleans, so I did some advanced research before arriving.  This is important because invariably I will become intoxicated and then have no idea where I should go except to the next bar.  Advanced planning is key if you want to be guaranteed to see some good sights, do some good shopping and have a good meal.  

I was whipping through various foodie blogs and I saw a picture of eggs Benedict - but not any eggs benedict - a jaunty tower of eggs Benedict.  Thick logs of French bread hoisting up glorious poached eggs under a thin blanket of Creole Hollandaise.  WHAT WAS THIS AND WHERE COULD I GET IT?  The answer?  No, not feces this time.  The answer to where to get this wonderful breakfast was Stanley Restaurant - the sister restaurant to Restaurant Stella.  (Stanley and Stella from A Streetcar Named Desire of course.)

Breaux Bridge Benedict - Stanley Restaurant - New Orleans

I arrived at Stanley eager to try the towering Benedict.  Stanley is located right next to Jackson Square.  From my table I could watch the street kids and the aged fortune tellers grabbing choice benches for the day.

Interior of Stanley Restaurant - New Orleans

The restaurant is bright with clean lines but still a rustic, old New Orleans feel.  The staff is nice, kind, welcoming and attentive.  The large windows makes this a perfect spot to enjoy the air conditioning and watch the world go by.

I knew before arriving that I would be ordering the Breaux Bridge Benedict.  The Benedict had house made boudin sausage- rice, pork, green peppers, onions and seasonings.  In France, "boudin" means blood sausage but what arrived on my plate was nice little pork and rice patties.

The Benedict was perched atop two large slabs of French baguette that had been fried on both ends.  The boudin patties, slices of American cheese, two poached eggs and Creole Hollandaise with a shower of smoked ham squares garnishing the plate.

I was surprised by use of American cheese, but it did blend well with the smoky and rich flavors.

But before I could order the Breaux Bridge Benedict, another breakfast item caught my eye.

Bananas Foster French Toast!  French bread with sliced bananas, toasted walnuts and a Bananas Foster sauce.  Oh and ... vanilla bean ice cream.  Sigh.  It sounded delicious.  But ice cream at 7:30 a.m.?  I just felt like if I started my day with ice cream it would be all downhill from there.  What would be next?  Beignets at 9 a.m.?  Pralines at 11 a.m.?  Mainlining rock sugar by Noon?  Passed out in the gutter, covered in artificial lemon foam by 2 p.m.?  I just couldn't do it.  I have young cats to raise and so much to live for!

I ordered the Breaux Bridge Benedict, a side of Creole Potatoes and a cup of coffee.  I love coffee in New Orleans.  Maybe its the added chicory.  Maybe you just need some strong caffeine to cut through the fat and alcohol that seems to enter your system by osmosis just walking through the French Quarter.    

I put in two little buckets of half and half in this coffee and it barely changed the color.  That's some strong coffee, baby!

Ringo Starr singing "With A Little Help From My Friends" filled the air of the small restaurant and I felt completely at peace.  This was a great start to the day.

While the Breaux Bridge Benedict was amazingly good - the right combination of flavors with a nice kick of Cajun heat.  The Creole Potatoes were a miss.  The huge chunks of potato were undercooked and completely over-seasoned.  At first bite they were bland with no discernible flavor.  Then suddenly a powerful kick of heat knocks you back.  I took a few bites and that was enough for me.  I normally would have packaged up my leftovers for one of the homeless people in the Quarter but the potatoes were so sad, I wouldn't do that to a fellow human!

Next one of my favorite songs from long, long, long ago started - The Cure's "Just Like Heaven."  Did someone steal my iPod to DJ at the restaurant?  

I took the picture below to show a cross-section of the pork and rice boudin sausage and crusty French bread.  If you're in New Orleans you really have to try this Breaux Bridge Benedict at Stanley Restaurant.

After my hearty breakfast, I set out walking along the French Quarter.  None of the shops were open as it was barely 8:30 a.m.  But I enjoyed window shopping and making notes of stores I would like to hit later in the day.  

I forget how friendly everyone in New Orleans is.  Everyone said hello or wished me a good morning as I walked by.  Seeing that I was sweating like I was about to lie on the witness stand, I actually wish people would be a little less friendly.  "I think I'll say hello to that lady who looks like she fell in Lake Pontchartrain!"   

I was walking up Bourbon Street when I had this sudden urge that I needed to walk to the other side of the street.  I didn't know why.  I was toward the end of the French Quarter and both sides of the street were residential.  There was no one on either side of the street except for myself.  Why did I need to cross the street?  The urge grew more intense.  I scoffed - "I'm fine on this side of the street.  Why would I need to cross over?"  

Then suddenly I felt a pressure on my back as if I was being pushed.  But no one was around me.  I could hear an older woman's raspy voice in my ear saying insistently "You Gotsta MOOOOOOOVE!"    

Well that was all I needed to hear!  

I walked across the street right away - jaywalking across the middle to get to the other side.

Once safely across the street, I stared over at the other side, waiting.  I thought maybe a piano would fall from the sky and land at the spot I had previously been walking.  

But no - nothing.  

Evidently I had crossed paths with a ghost who just didn't want me on her side of Calle de Borbon (Bourbon Street).   

I just shook my head and laughed it off.  The crazy Crescent City and their ghosts.  

Stay tuned to for more NOLA adventures!

Stanley Restaurant on Urbanspoon