Category: New Orleans

Oak Alley Plantation

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

We are on a photography workshop with Mark Zablotsky (https://www.markzphotoworkshops.com) in New Orleans. Driving north, we crossed the Mississippi River, that always impresses me. It is big, appears to be rather fast and is heavily trafficked by barges shipping products.

We visited Oak Alley Plantation. Oak Alley is.a beautiful place with its oak-lined drive, gardens and slave quarters. Turning away from the house, I saw a ship making its way up the Mississippi. The plantation has rooms and cabins for rent as well as an excellent dining room, where we had breakfast.

After some initial shots, we went into the restaurant for a good breakfast.

Picture on the wall of he restaurant

Back outside, we walked the grounds and gardens.

Heading back, Mark had found an eagle’s nest with a young one taking short flights.

Then on to Middendorf’s Manchac Restaurant at the Manchac Swamp Bridge, known for its thin-sliced catfish. A lot of other things also looked good on the menu.

Back at the hotel, Mark reviewed and helped us with our images, pointing out ways to improve and showing us editing techniques and sequence. In the evening, we took a ghost tour, but it was rather disappointing, so we dropped out.

New Orleans School of Cooking Class

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Next up on our photography workshop (https://www.markzphotoworkshops.com) was a cooking class. I didn’t know what to expect as we waited in the store part of the School of Cooking. I did see some interesting books, spices and goods.

We went into the class, in which were round tables with place settings. Things were looking up when they brought us a beer. Our instructor was Harriete, a little lady loaded with personality and local knowledge. She first made corn and crab bisque and gave served us a bowl which was excellent. Although I had heard the term, roux, I didn’t really know what it was. This one was butter and flour and took maybe 15 minutes to make. She emphasized staying with it, stirring or it would burn and you would have to start over. She used Joe’s Stuff seasoning, claw crab meat, chopped green onion, corn and parsley.

Next up was Chicken Étouffée. I had already seen that Étouffées were a common thing. One might have a fish covered with crawfish Étouffée. I learned that an Étouffée is dish of shellfish simmered in sauce made from a roux, usually served over rice. Rice, Harriette told us, was brought by Africans to the area, and it grew well here. She made here dark roux with butter, flour Joe’s Stuff seasoning with onions, celery, green pepper and garlic. It was another excellent dish.

In another pot she heated chicken stock, added it to the roux gradually, cooked 10 minutes, added chicken for 30 minutes adding green onions and parsley and served over rice.

Then she was on to making pralines, a signature desert in New Orleans. I learned it is pronounced “prahlines”, like you are having your throat examined by a doctor.

Harriette was a treat. You just wanted to give her a big hug!

We went back to the hotel for some quiet time, well actually to upload our images and edit them before venturing out to dinner. We walked most places, which is always interesting. The more I walked the streets, the more interesting it became – the people, the street art, the ever-present music and the shops.

We couldn’t get into Superior Seafood, so we went to Carmo where our Cemetery guide, Taylor, used to work. It was quite good.

New Orleans Cemetery Tour

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

We were on a photography workshop with Mark Zablotsky (https://www.markzphotoworkshops.com) After walking the streets for a while, we had breakfast at Cafe Beignet’s, a popular, very efficient little restaurant that moves people quickly, and the food is good.

We then took a cemetery tour with Taylor, a very knowledgeable young man. He had been a chef for 12 years, but finally decided to make a change, to work outside and do tours, so he does the cemetery and a ghost tour at night. There is quite a unique history to the cemeteries of New Orleans since it is below sea level, so at first bodies would float up, especially if it was in a coffin. There is also limited space, so a unique way of doing things was developed. The graves had to be above ground. To keep the bodies in place, the plot was often capped with concrete. The Masons were prevalent and the Catholic Church strong. Rules were made and fees charged for maintenance of each site could be quite expensive. Whole families could be buried in one plot. As many as 35 bodies would be uniquely placed. We visited St. Patrick Cemetery that was started by Irish Catholics in 1841

Mosquitoes being prevalent in the area, Yellow Fever epidemics in 1847 and 1853 were devastating. As many as 1300 people died in a week! There were so many people buried so fast, the sites are haphazard, not in their usual neat rows.

Maintenance fees were high and some families couldn’t keep up. There was an eviction notice on one

The soil being so soft, the tombs would sink, cracking or even bending marble doors.

The wealthy had some very ornate tombs with brick and marble, but most impressive were the crosses and statues on top.

In August of 2005 Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, causing 1800 fatalities and $125 billion in damages, the costliest tropical cyclone in US history. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina). A memorial and the dead are in Charity Hospital Cemetery. The horror would strike again with Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Adjacent to the memorial is a huge field where where the poor or unknown were buried

New Orleans French Quarter

On our first day of our Photography/Cultural Workshop with Zablotsky Photography (https://www.markzphotoworkshops.com), we explored the French Quarter. We would soon realize that we were going to sample New Orleans’ unique cuisine. The day started with a walk to maybe the best breakfast place anywhere, Mother’s Restaurant. It’s a busy place, where people stand in line to place their order. They give you a number on a metal stand to put on your table. A waitress quickly came by, taking our receipts that she gave to the kitchen while she got our drinks.

With a full stomach, we walked the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, Jackson Square and the Market. The iron works, porches, flower baskets, open air restaurants and the ever-present music make up the atmosphere. the street people sleeping in doorways and park benches are blended with tourists from all over the world.

The area was inhabited by Native Americans for 10,000 years. By the time Jean-Baptiste, who was born in Montreal, founded New Orleans in 1718, there were about 15,000 Indians inhabiting the area. The Natchez Indians were predominant in the area. If you follow the Natchez Trace north, there is an impressive Native American history. Today there are four recognized tribes: the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians, the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, and the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana. The United Houma Nation is recognized as a tribe by the state of Louisiana. Standing before the Andrew Jackson statue, I was reminded of his role as president and the “Trail of Tears” so vividly told in the Museum of Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, North Carolina. For a long time the French Quarter was the city of New Orleans, named after Regent Duc d’Orleans.

After a little quiet time, we went to dinner at the excellent Deanie’s Seafood Restaurant on Iberville Street where I had a fabulous grilled Redfish, and their crawfish were outstanding.

Catfish for Chuck
We shared a bread pudding

On the walk back to the Wyndham Hotel, the streets were taking on a more lively atmosphere.

New Orleans For The Zablotsky Photography/Cultural Workshop

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Driving from my Tentrr campsite in Buccaneer State Park headed for New Orleans, the skies opened up and it poured sheets of rain. I pulled over at a Louisiana Welcome Center to wait it out. I was to meet Mark at the Airport where he was meeting Terry, who was coming in on the red-eye from California. Now was going to be late, but safety comes first. 

Gulf shore at Buccaneer State Park
A quiet section of Buccaneer State Park

I was coming for Mark’s one-week photography workshop in and around New Orleans. I have been on two other workshops with Mark, and I always learn a lot. He knows New Orleans because he spent two years here for a Periodontics residency at LSU. It is also Jazz Week, so I’m sure there will be big crowds. Big cities are not my thing, but I’m sure Mark will find some great shoots, and it will be interesting to see how he works. This is also going to be culinary tour because the foods of New Orleans are unique.

Fortunately, things worked out as Terry’s flight was delayed due to the thunderstorms. We met at Camellia Grill for lunch, a popular place for hamburgers, omelets and other goodies along with excellent service. The food was good and the service great. Sitting outside on a perfect day, we had a good view of streetcars going by while people continued to line up to get into this New Orleans classic. Terry made it about 45 minutes later.

We loaded all our luggage and photography equipment into Mark’s Honda Pilot, then drove to the airport where I left my truck in long-term parking for $14/day. It costs $40/day in the French Quarter and it is not secure. Well, the Wyndham has a garage, and it is all valet parking.

We checked into the Wyndham French Quarter Hotel and chilled for a few hours, then drove to Harbor Seafood and Bar out near the airport. I was now becoming familiar with I10 and 610, although I was glad I wasn’t driving. There are some very confusing exits and on-ramps to I10 going underneath the highway, turn left, turn right. In heavy traffic, it is wild!

At Harbor Seafood and Oyster Bar, there was a line out the door. A simple restaurant, it can seat a lot of people. Mark used to come here with his fellow residents one or two times a week. It is an interesting menu. I was all set to order the “Swamp Platter” with gator tail, turtle soup, crawfish tails, fried frog legs, crawfish etoufee and cajun alligator sausage. Now you won’t get that everywhere!

We decided to order for the table, so we got crawfish, steamed shrimp, oysters on the half shell, hush puppies and a soft shell crab Po Boy. The three of us couldn’t eat it all. It was quite a table of food!

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