“Oooh, Helana. Look at how beautiful the Quarter looks. Take a picture!” Michael (the one from Clearly Delicious) says to me. Turning around in my chair on the second floor balcony of Bourbon Pub & Parade, the city is all string lights, open containers of beer and vodka.
Right as I go to snap my picture a startling “LOOK OUT!!!” screams directly below us as a girl bicycling home with her groceries suddenly collides into another bicyclist on the corner of Bourbon and St. Ann. Her bottled beer and lettuce spills everywhere, and the locals run up, picking up groceries, asking if she is okay. They prop up her bicycle. A large black man stops playing his tuba and momentarily abandons his tip-filled music case to join this anxious frenzy. A sea of concern quickly engulfs her and the tourists seem less foreign as they communicate concern and questions. We see the guy who caused the collision–a good looking 20-something–apologize profusely, help with the effort to pick up her spilled goods, and give her some money for the broken beer now seeping into the sidewalk. Beer frequently spills in this spot, but seldom in this way.
The quarter is always a surprising combination of southern beauty and mayhem. It’s 2011, but this city block is also old south, filled with surprising moments of chivalry. What could have been any other scene in any other city–an angry New Yorker whose bicycle never gets respect, or a crying skinned knee that doesn’t receive a proper apology–quickly rights itself by the transfer of cash and genuine sympathy. I like to imagine that this girl, who happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, is only blocks from her place and a student like many of us. She probably doesn’t make much money and the overturned beer was a good $10 of her evening never to be drank. But the could-be fears of a skinned knee and broken beer bottles are resolved as quickly as they are realized and the quarter turns back into its back-and-forth pedestrian traffic.
I turn to my other Michael who is visiting from New York City and he is sucking on a Cherry Bomb–a red, fruity drink dressed in maraschino cherries. Cherry Bombs are the more flamboyant of the drinks on Bourbon–kind of like a hand grenade–but not nearly as potent. Mixed with vodka, red bull, and grenadine, this drink is clearly girly and delicious. The name is rather misleading as you won’t get any kind of buzz drinking it. However, you do get to keep your cup.
Many come to Bourbon Street for debauchery and drinks. Michael, John, other Michael, and I find ourselves here after eating too much food and bed surfing.
Upon checking into the Marriott on Canal Street, we had such a great view, we couldn’t help ourselves. The beds were fluffy, the river was gorgeous, and we had to dive in.
Then, we dove into two of my favorite dishes located right off Jackson Square: Eggs Benedict and Banana French Toast Foster at Stanley’s.
Banana French Toast Foster is the best way to serve french toast. Toast french baguettes till golden and serve with dripping caramel sauce, warm walnuts, and a scoop of melting vanilla ice cream dressed in fresh bananas. It’s dessert for breakfast (or dinner).
The Eggs Benedict is oozing and perfect. Golden, poached eggs on toasted french baguette doused in a hollandaise sauce. This is not your everyday food and definitely meant for vacation.
The food is good here. Too good. And I can’t stop taking pictures.
Some highlights of my favorites sights:
Watched a man do a magic trick in Jackson Square (the one & only Windy City Wizard!).
Listened to a Brass Band.
Ate beignets at the Café du Monde.
Visited a Voodoo Altar.
And watched a street artist sketch a small boy.
All within the course of 24 hours. It’s all so beautiful, so busy (and at times, surprisingly peaceful), and clearly delicious in food and company.
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Written by: Helana Brigman