January Dreaming: Kensington Palace High Tea and Gardens

The fifth post in a series, January Dreaming. Click for the series, and see the end of the post for the backstory.

In the dead of winter, it’s nice to dream of warmer good times. On this overcast January afternoon, I’m sipping some Earl Grey tea and reminiscing about the time The Grill-Meister and I enjoyed a traditional English tea at Kensington Palace in late summer.

Image from Kensington Palace Pavilion Restaurant in The Orangery

Let me tell you, Old Bean, this lifelong anglophile and foodie from Southeast Texas was in high cotton that day! Afternoon tea at the palace where Queen Victoria grew up – by Jove, it was a jolly good show!

Soaking up the history and sipping champagne

Check out those desserts!

After this scrumptious afternoon feast, a walk in the garden is not only pleasant, it’s required! It is so lovely there.

I’ve been to London quite a few times since this summer vacation with the Grill-Meister in 2010, but haven’t gone back to have tea at Kensington Palace. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem right to go without him. If he doesn’t come with me soon, though, I might just have to!

The January Dreaming Series Backstory

If you read this post, January Dreaming, you know that the inspiration for this series is my Mom’s longstanding loathing of the pitiful month of January. Like her, we’re dreaming of good times in warmer months, and celebrating those good times in this series.

© 2019 Glover Gardens

Kitty Fisher’s in London Pulled Me In, Fed Me Well and Charmed Me Completely

…and I didn’t even know they were trendy, hot and famous, with a “cult-like following” (to quote a review)!


Photo of Kitty Fisher’s courtesy of TripAdvisor

It Started with a Walkabout

It was a chilly and rainy December Saturday, and I was in London. I had slept well, slept hard and slept late in my cubbyhole-sized room at a giant chain hotel in Kensington / Shepherd’s Bush. Rested and ready, I headed out to do what I love to do most in London: walk around and take in the sights, smells and sounds of the place. The feel of it. And the people. Most of all, the people.

I took my time, and my first find was C. Lidgate’s, the subject of a previous post.

Lidgate’s is a carnivorous cook’s dream! There’s a huge selection of meats, fish, poultry, sausages, cheeses, pies, condiments, cured meats and deli items.

Part of what makes London a fantastic walking city is the Tube, because you can hop on when you’re through walking in one area and quickly make your way to another. Which I did. I love the Tube system!

Shepherd Market was My Destination

My Tube stop was Green Park Station, the nearest to Shepherd Market in Mayfair. I LOVE this tiny celebrated enclave with its rich and colorful history that practically walks alongside as you make your way through the square on cobblestone streets past pubs and restaurants in historic stone buildings. It was the home of the first Mayfair public market in the late 1600’s, and has always been popular with writers and artists. And me.

From www.shepherdmarket.co.uk

Although it was drizzling in that way that only London can drizzle, I walked through the streets in Shepherd Market several times, trying to decide where to have my late lunch / early dinner. Pausing in front of various establishments, I scanned their posted menus and checked out their ambience, sneaking a look at the meals on the tables.

The Manager at Kitty Fisher’s was Irresistible

At Kitty Fisher’s, the manager opened the door as I was lingering outside drooling over the menu and literally pulled me into the door, albeit gently: “Don’t you want to eat with us?” I couldn’t resist her and did as I was told. (Like Eliza Doolittle, “I’m a good girl, I am!”) Kitty Fisher’s namesake is the famous 18th-century courtesan, but she couldn’t have been half as charming and welcoming as the front-of-the-house team in this lovely little place.

The manager, on the right, is the one who literally pulled me into the restaurant; the bartender the left entertained me the whole time I was there

I spent two happy hours at Kitty Fisher’s. The ambience is an appealing mix of cozy old England and fresh, trendy-foodie-creative.

The bar at Kitty Fisher’s is warm and appealing, like the staff

I Like to Sit at the Bar and Watch

I sat at the bar, my favorite place to be when eating alone.

Bartenders have great stories, and watching them work is fascinating. The good ones are always willing to narrate what they’re doing. Kitty Fisher’s bartender (below) was making one of the infused liquors used to create their imaginative cocktails, one of which is called “Bad Kitty” (see the photo on the left from an article in The Times). I wasn’t in a cocktail mood that day, but will try the Bad Kitty next time…it has gin, sloe gin, elderflower cordial (house-made), lemon juice and cava. Sounds great!

Enjoy the Meal with Me

And the food, oh the food! Sweet Tower of London, the food was magnificent! Sit down with me here and let me describe it to you.

I started with bread and butter, the perfect way to warm up on a foggy day in London town. Yeasty, crusty, chewy, it had a satisfying, grandmotherly quality, but on the other hand, Grandma never toasted her bread on a wood-fired grill (look at those grill marks!) or served it with whipped butter dusted with onion ash. That’s right, onion ash. Yum!!!

Check out those grill marks and the dusting of onion ash – oh my goodness!

And then there was the pasta, the glorious pasta, specifically: smoked cod belly and egg yolk raviolo with pickled golden raisins, hazelnuts and curry butter. It was heavenly, a rich and subtle combination of complementary flavors and textures. The creaminess of the egg and sauce are perfectly balanced by the crunch of the toasted hazelnuts and smoky cod.

Rich and satisfying, this pasta was a patchwork quilt of flavors and textures

“Eat your vegetables,” my late mother’s voice always rings in my head, and I’m so glad I listened to her at Kitty Fisher’s. (“I’m a good girl, I am!”) The hispi cabbage was a satisfying surprise, a big, thick steak-like slice of it that was grilled and then topped with a mustard seed sauce.

Surprisingly good hispi cabbage “steak” with mustard seeds

A Walkabout Inside the Restaurant

Kitty Fisher’s wasn’t busy when I was there in the middle of that rainy Saturday afternoon and only a few other customers were there to enjoy it. (Apparently, this is highly unusual, as all the glowing reviews take pains to mention the need for reservations and how hard it is to get a table.) 

After I polished off my delicious meal, I wandered around and took pictures.

Downstairs has an old-school, snug, clubby feel with its red upholstery and dark green walls, but isn’t stuffy.

Downstairs at Kitty Fisher’s

Kitty Fisher’s building was once a Georgian bakery, and the relics embedded in the walls downstairs are part of its charm and personality.

Reviews I read from diners who ate downstairs mentioned the experience of watching what goes on in the small kitchen, which is visible through glass doors.

Star Treatment Makes Memories

Noticing me with my touristy curiosity and camera, a member of the kitchen team came out to meet and greet me, and then summoned the rest of the staff to take a photo with me. Really. It wasn’t even my idea. They are that nice.

The excellent kitchen staff at Kitty Fisher’s, swarming me with welcome

In addition to praising the food and remarking on Kitty Fisher’s diminutive size and imposing presence on the London restaurant scene, reviews by restaurant critics unfailingly mention the patronage of stars and TV personalities (Kate Moss, Brad Pitt, Nigella Lawson, to name a few) and even a former prime minister (David Cameron). I’m a nobody from the colonies, but the staff treated me like I was royalty and served me a meal to match. If everyone gets that star treatment, and I suspect they do, Kitty Fisher’s will be around for a long, long time.

And I will be back to reunite with these folks who made me feel like family.

Photo taken at the insistence of the manager; don’t I look happy and well-cared for?

© 2019 Glover Gardens

Reminder: all recommendations, such as those in this post, are based on personal opinion and experience and should not be considered as advertisements (Glover Gardens is not a commercial blog).

Window Shopping: C. Lidgate’s in London

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From outside the window, looking in

Dear Reader, I stood outside this butcher shop and charcuterie at 110 Holland Park in London and gawked.

And then I went inside C. Lidgate’s and gawked some more.

Oh, to have a local butcher shop like this nearby when planning a dinner party or Christmas feast! It’s a carnivorous cook’s dream (with apologies to all of my vegetarian friends). There’s a huge selection of meats, fish, poultry, sausages, cheeses, house-made pies and casseroles, condiments, cured meats and deli items (even Scotch eggs!), and everything is displayed beautifully, looking almost Victorian in its lushness.

From a review by author and food writer Hattie Ellis on the Lidgate’s web site:

Chefs, dedicated carnivores and the locals of this foodie neighbourhood come here for anything from a lunchtime sausage roll to a magnificent rib of grass-fed beef for a dinner party.

The staff are super-friendly and were quite welcoming to this Texas foodie gal, telling me that the shop has been in the same family for 5 generations since it originally opened in 1850. They didn’t mind my gawking at all.

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This photo from Lidgate’s Facebook page perfectly captures the vibe of the staff: “we’re here to help, and we’re happy to do it”

I refrained from snapping photos inside Lidgate’s, because there were customers eager to be waited on, and I was something of an interloper, a traveler who could only window-shop and imagine what it would be like to have a neighborhood butcher shop like Lidgate’s where I could source all of my meat. I think I may have emitted a bit of a jealous sigh when a man asked for a chicken carcass to make stock, and the butcher said, “Right away!” That just wouldn’t happen at my local grocery store meat counter.

But if I’d been willing to annoy those regular customers going about their meat-shopping day with my shutter-bugging, I’d have gotten images of the house-made pies for you. They were things of beauty. So for you foodie-tourists, here are some of the photos from the Lidgate’s Facebook page.

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Oh my goodness! Can’t you just see this bounty on your holiday table?

Just a reminder, Glover Gardens is not a commercial blog and has received no compensation from Lidgate’s. I’m just sharing as a public service, so you can window shop along with me.

And for the family, I’ve put Lidgate’s cookbook on my Christmas list. 🙂

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You can find the cookbook on Amazon

© 2018 Glover Gardens

From Food & Wine: “The 50 best Southern restaurants in America, according to OpenTable”

Food & Wine Magazine sends me emails fairly often, but I don’t usually have time for them unless the headline catches my eye. This one did: “The 50 best Southern restaurants in America, according to OpenTable.”

Hmmm. I’m in the South – I wonder if I’ve been to any of these ‘best Southern restaurants’, I wonder what the selection criteria was, I wonder ….”

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BBQ Shrimp at Mr. B’s in NOLA

So of course I read the article, and of course I’m sharing it with you. I’ve only been to two of the 50 spots on the list, Brennan’s of Houston and Mr. B’s in New Orleans, both of which were excellent, in my humble opinion (that extended Brennan’s family just knows how to do restaurants). In fact, I have a Mr. B’s post half-drafted to share with y’all one day soon in my Restaurant Rave series – it’s all about the barbecued shrimp. And the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had was at Brennan’s in Houston. Stories for another day…

The methodology for selecting this list of top Southern restaurants was based on analysis of OpenTable reviews of restaurants in the Southern Cuisine category over a certain period of time. It’s interesting that the restaurants aren’t all located in the South; they are simply “Southern restaurants”.  I guess that’s all right, but I feel a little uneasy about it. It’s cool, though, and not surprising, that New Orleans had the most establishments on the list with 8.

photo from Yarbird Los Angeles

Did your fave make the list?

I want to check some of these out! Watch this space for more restaurant raves, if they live up to the hype.

Read the article here: These are the 50 best Southern restaurants in America, according to OpenTable.

© 2018, Glover Gardens

 

A Tea Cake Break in Aberdeen Exposes Me as an Unrepentant Hypocrite

I might be a bit of a hypocrite.

I call myself a foodie, sneer at junk food, avoid fast food and pretty much loathe restaurant chains. I don’t mind if you call me a food snob. I deserve it.

Gimme authentic! Gimme homemade! Down with overly-processed, pre-packaged, over-salted, sugar-laden foodstuffs!

But.

It’s different when it is another country’s junk food.

At a meeting in Aberdeen, something came over me. I saw these Scottish treats as “snack food” instead of junk food. My colleague brought the fudge and the tea cakes as a gift, and so of course I tasted them – – and they rocked! And the super-salty crisps provided the perfect pairing to the sweet treats.

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Like I said: I’m a hypocrite! Of the first degree. And I’m not even sorry.

© 2018, Glover Gardens

Leftover Steak Makes an Easy but Sophisticated Sandwich

We had a lotta leftover steak recently, because we tried this recipe from the Food Network’s show, The Kitchen. It involves huge porterhouse steaks, a cast iron skillet, and a unique method. Our foodie-senses were intrigued when we saw this, and we just had to make it.

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Photo from the Food Network

It was good, but more work – and more food – than we anticipated. The instructions called for porterhouse steaks that were 2″ – 2 1/2″ thick, so of course I went for the thickest (wouldn’t you?). The butcher thought I was crazy.  Turns out, he was right! And in looking at the picture above from the Food Network, there’s no way that’s a 2″ steak or bigger.

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A 2 1/2″ thick porterhouse is a huge steak at about 3 1/2 lbs. (each)

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We didn’t have a cast iron skillet that was big enough for both steaks, so we had to use two. Geez!

I gave up the idea of getting photos mid-recipe because it was a bit overwhelming; just suffice it to say that we had steak for days. Steak salad, steak quesadillas, steak burritos, steak tostadas and steak sandwiches. (Did I say it was a lotta steak?)

Well, Gentle Reader, in this Steak Week Odyssey, the steak sandwich was the best. Sautéed onions and jalapeños enhanced the flavor of the steak, and we dressed the sandwiches with ripe red tomato, fresh mint from our herb garden, and shreds of crisp raw cabbage, serving them on onion rolls. Double-Yum! Creating this Steak Sandwich for 2 recipe more than made up for the somewhat disappointing experience of the original steak dinner.

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It wasn’t just tasty, it was pretty!

Steak Sandwiches for Two

Ingredients

  • 3/4 lb. of leftover steak, cut in very thin slices
  • 1 medium onion, sliced (I used part red and part yellow)
  • 2 fresh jalapeños, sliced (leaving in the ribs and seeds for the heat unless that doesn’t work for you)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 ripe tomato, sliced
  • 1/4 cup shredded raw cabbage
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, sliced in ribbons
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 onion rolls
  • optional condiments of your choice – I used stone ground mustard

Cooking Instructions

In a medium skillet, sauté the sliced onions and jalapeños in the olive oil over medium high heat until they are soft. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.  Heat the steak briefly to warm it without overcooking it; the microwave is fine for this. Try 1-2 minutes on half power. Assemble the sandwiches on warm onion rolls or other buns of your choice by starting with the steak on the bottom, adding freshly ground pepper, then the sautéed onions and jalapeños, then the tomatoes, cabbage and mint.


This sandwich was delightfully easy, with a very sophisticated taste. The crunch of the fresh cabbage and brightness of the mint were the perfect compliment to the juicy earthiness of the onions and steak. Pair it with potato salad and a quick black bean salad for an easy weeknight meal whenever you’re wondering what to do with leftover steak from the weekend’s barbecuing. Here’s a recipe for the black bean salad.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Food & Wine: 40 Photographs That Changed the Way We Eat (and a haiku)

“Stilleben,” 1910, Wladimir Schohin

Foodie friends, I received an email today from Food & Wine magazine that I want to share with you.

Dear Food & Wine Reader,

Not long after the invention of photography in the early 19th century, photographers began training their lenses on food. As part of a yearlong celebration of Food & Wine’s 40th anniversary, we’ve gathered 40 milestone moments in food photography. Chefs, historians, and photographers all gave their input for this collection. Some of these photos capture the zeitgeist of their culinary era; others sparked dining trends—and some even changed the course of history. From diplomatic dinners abroad to the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins, from behind-the-scenes moments on set with Julia Child to the nascent days of social media latte art—here are the photographs that have forever altered how we perceive food and food culture in America.

Food & Wine Editors

If you’re interested in food, food history, food photography or just cultural history in general, I encourage you to click on the links and view the photos with their short stories. As a teaser, I’ve included a couple below.

I love this picture of Julia Child on the set of her TV show, taken by her husband. As the story notes, it illustrates just how much goes on behind the scenes of a cooking show.

The Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

The one below is from 1910 – can you believe it? The article describes the difficult process that the photographer (artist!) undertook in the developing and printing process to get this final product. I don’t know much about photography (yet), but even I can see how the dots on the photo connect all of the elements in this still life.

Working Title: 40 Image / Published Title:
Wladimir Schohin, Stilleben, 1910 / Courtesy of Amatörfotografklubben I Helsingfors rf, Finland

The next one is from McCall’s magazine in 1943, called Lemonade and Fruit Salad. I love how stylized it is, right down to the use of the leaf-shaped napkin rings to anchor the fruit. I’d like to recreate that look sometime for a luncheon or afternoon tea (if I had those kinds of parties; maybe I’ll start).

Working Title: 40 Image / Published Title: 15.
Courtesy of the George Eastman Museum. Photo by Nickolas Muray, © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

Source: 40 photographs that changed the way we eat.  Check it out!

300x0wAnd also, the current issue of Food & Wine is all about food and photography. It is excellent! They turned photographers loose for a large segment called “Cooks and Shooters” and the stories and photos are wonderful.  The recipes are all from these articles by the photographers, and it is cool to “see” the world of food through their eyes.

And finally, because there are still a few more days in February, National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo), here’s a haiku for all of those venerable food photographers.

portrait, still life or
action shot – delectable!
here’s looking at food

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Gift for a Serious Cook: a Good Mandoline

I love my kitchen gadgets and tools! My Mom used to joke that she wanted to have “every kitchen gadget known to man,” and I may have been influenced by that. A little. Actually, a lot. You can see lots of Mom’s gadgets and dishes on display in the her kitchen below with the two of us in the late 80s.  In fact, I just noticed that the wooden corn scraper I wrote about a couple of weeks ago is hanging on the top right edge of the photo.

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One of my favorite gadgets is the mandoline slicer I inherited from Mom.  Even after she was an invalid and much too ill to cook (or even stand), she was adamant that she’d be back in the kitchen one day and was still putting serious cooking tools on her Christmas list.

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Mom cried when she opened this Matfer mandoline that she had been wanting. It was Dad’s big gift to her on what turned out to be her last Christmas with us. She was never able to use this high-end slicer imported from France, but she had Dad put it on display in the kitchen. I have always wondered if it was a symbol of hope to Mom, or something that made her sad, or even perhaps that she knew she wouldn’t be using it and that it would end up in my kitchen as a beloved instrument involved in making marvelous meals. My Dad gave me this mandoline soon after Mom died in September of 2000, and I think of her every time we use it.

The Grill-Meister is actually the food slicer here at Glover Gardens.  The mandoline is so sharp that I’m actually a little afraid of it. Here he is in action, slicing potatoes for me.

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You can slice a lot of vegetables, really fast, with a good mandoline

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Look how perfectly even those potatoes are sliced

The Matfer mandoline is completely adjustable, so you can get any thickness you want. Did I say that I love this tool? It is super-functional and professional-grade, and the nostalgia factor is high, since it belonged to my Mom.

So in these last few days before Christmas – or if you are reading this in the future – here’s a tip from me: a very good mandoline is a very good gift for a serious cook, at Christmas or any time. If do you buy a mandoline, get a solid metal one and make sure it is adjustable – we also have a cheapo little plastic one that isn’t, and it is not worth the $15 it cost. The Grill-Meister says, “if you buy a good mandoline, it will last a lifetime”. And beyond…thanks, Mom!

If you’re interested, here is the Matfer on Amazon. I’m sure there are other really good ones.

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The current model available on Amazon (photo from Amazon)

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens

 

 

A Favorite Vintage Kitchen Gadget: My Grandmother’s Wooden Corn Scraper

I think corn is a magic vegetable.  It is good on its own, unadulterated and on its humble cob: grilled, boiled, or just fresh off the stalk.  It is a marvelous added ingredient that brings both flavor and texture to muffins or savory breads, main courses like meat loaf, or hearty soups, chowders or risotto. It can star in a variety of salads or adorn a gourmet pizza.  Highlighting its flexibility, there are dozens of ways to showcase corn with all types of international flavors, from Italian to Peruvian to Southwestern to Scandinavian to African and more.

Salmon, Corn, Bruschetta and Snow PeasWe eat a lot of corn here at Glover Gardens.  It is my go-to quick vegetable when the main course requires intensive effort. I often cut it off the cob and pair it with peppers and tomatoes and give it a quick, hot sauté. I also like to use my antique corn scraper to get the most of the creamy “corn milk”, which both thickens and provides a richness to a corn-based dish.

Do you have a corn scraper? Here’s what mine looks like.

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This scraper was handed down from my grandmother to my Dad, and then to me when he decided to buy a new one.  I treasure it!  It is an antique but still very much in use, the best kind of inheritance. I think of my grandmother (“Mama”) and my Dad every time I use this wonderful tool.

Here’s a photo of a new corn scraper in action, from a company that sells them, Lem Products (see the link below).

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Image from Lem Products, one of the sellers of this wonderful little tool

The picture above is very much a styled image; the real thing in action looks very, very messy.  See all my denuded corn cobs below? And how creamy and juicy the output is? And how the corn is all over the countertop? I was documenting the family creamed corn recipe while I was making it for Thanksgiving, and got corn bits everywhere from my enthusiastic corn-scraping, including on the computer and the camera. I’m still finding little bits on the keyboard (this makes me smile.)

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So, if you like corn and don’t have a corn scraper, you need one! This handy little tool retails from various places for about $10 – $15, which makes for a great stocking stuffer for a cook or a foodie.  If you do have one, do you use it often? I’d like to know…

And finally, here’s a family recipe for creamed corn that we make with this marvelous tool: Best Creamed Corn Ever – Handed-Down and Upgraded Scratch Recipe from My Dad and Grandmother. Try it – you’ll love it!  This creamed corn is a rich, creamy dish that makes you nostalgic for the old days when life was simpler, people were kinder and you could borrow an egg from your neighbor, even if you never experienced any “old days” in that way.

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Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens

Request from a Friend: Got New Orleans Trip Advice?

This post is in response to a request from a high school friend of my son’s. They’ve kept in touch since starting college in the fall of 2016. She said:

23735210_1976769339315597_7870035890653888512_nHi! It’s been a while since we’ve talked – I hope you’re doing well. I’m planning a trip for 2 to New Orleans on December 18-21st and I was wondering if, by chance, you might know of any good things to do in NOLA around that time of year.

Thanks in advance!

And I said: “Oh yeah! I will be happy to send you tips. Thanks for asking; I am so flattered! You are an excellent photographer and beautiful model, so I hope you will consider letting me post some of your experiences in my blog.” (She agreed.)

New Orleans Tips for Mallory

And so, my dear, here is my New Orleans travel advice for you and your companion. It’s probably a bit more than you expected, but I’ve been carrying around this list in my head for a long, long time; I was only 18 when I first visited the Crescent City. And by the way, don’t worry that you’re missing out by being under 21 – NOLA is one of the great all-age cities of the world. You will have a wonderful time.

Packing and Pre-Trip Mindset

  • Be ready for weather that could be anywhere from 30° – 70° (or even higher), but will definitely be damp; take clothing that can be layered on and off, like scarves, vests and light jackets.
  • Comfortable walking shoes are a must! And be sure to pack band-aids in case of walking-induced blisters (I speak from experience).
  • In fact, unless you’re planning to go somewhere that requires fancy clothes, don’t bother with them – New Orleans is about the food, the music and the people-watching, and you won’t see many fashion mavens.
  • An umbrella or raincoat with a hood is your friend. That’s me below at Jazz Fest in the spring of 2010, but believe me, the rains can strike at a moment’s notice in the Big Easy in any season.

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  • Bring an extra memory card and battery for your camera or be sure to carry your phone charger with you, because you will take way more pictures than you than you imagine and will need the extra memory and power.
  • Get lots of sleep the night before you go, because NOLA is a 24/7 wonder and you won’t want to sleep much while you’re there (the best time to go to Cafe du Monde is in the middle of the night).
  • 51oy430jrhl-_sx327_bo1204203200_Get in a New Orleans frame of mind early by boning up on its history.  If you have time (although I know you have finals just before this trip), go to the library or download a book about New Orleans. It is so fun to walk around in a city when you know a bit about its past and the physical structures that you’re seeing.  NOLA has a fascinating and diverse heritage, probably the most varied of all American cities, which adds to the enjoyment of your visit. (I’m reading a book right now called The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans, which is far too long to absorb before your trip, but if you’re interested, you can borrow it next summer when you have time.)
  • 41he5yidzvlOr jump-start that New Orleans feeling by reading a quick novel or watching a movie set in the Crescent City.  I have always liked Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, which isn’t about New Orleans, but the city is definitely a character (in my humble opinion) and a sense of place is a recurring theme. Amazon will let you download The Moviegoer for free right now with a 30-day trial of Audible. I think you will find this book interesting and thought-provoking, even beyond its connection to New Orleans and travels.
  • Take a look through The Storyteller blog to see the real New Orleans through the lens and mind of a photographer. I think you will be inspired, given your interest in photography.

Getting Around

  • If you’re driving to NOLA, park your car when you get there and leave it.  It’s a pain to park and much more fun to use other forms of transportation. Parking is also very expensive, because it is at a premium.
  • Walk as much as you can; much of the magic of New Orleans lies in its dynamic street life.
  • When you’re not walking, ride the streetcar as much as you can.
  • Uber is quick and easy, but the cab drivers have the best stories.

Stuff to Do

  • Amble through Jackson Square and strike up conversations with the artists. There is usually music to enjoy, too.

  • Go to the French Market and shop, shop, shop.  It is seedy, tacky, touristy and full of imports like $7 sunglasses, while also offering cool local art, jewelry and other handmade items at reasonable prices. There are local foodstuffs, and some funky junk. I usually pick up a stocking stuffer or two while I’m at the market.  Sometimes there’s live music, and on Wednesdays, there’s a farmer’s market. Green space, trees and tiny parks can be found in the 6 blocks of shopping, too.

  • Take a whole afternoon to visit the galleries in the Arts District.
  • Or plan a whole day in the Arts District and take in a museum or three after the galleries.  The National World War II Museum is over there (an immersion experience; you’ll have to pick just part of it if you want to fit it into an afternoon), and so are the Contemporary Arts Center and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.  All are worth the trip!
  • There are many other museums scattered across NOLA that you should consider, like the Jazz Museum in the Old Mint, which frequently has performances, and, lucky you, is staging one during your trip (there will be clarinets!). There’s a sculpture garden over by City Park, and, while not a museum, I’ve always wanted to stroll through the cemetery there, too.
  • If you want the holiday festival experience with rides and an amazing array of holiday lights, take the streetcar out to City Park and go to Celebration in the Oaks (even this kind of big-production, glitzy festival is different and special in NOLA, because of its unique ‘carnival’ food, jazzy music and enchanting, ancient oak trees).
  • Explore the River Walk and riverfront, checking out the public art, Crescent Park and the fascinating hustle and bustle of NOLA’s river commerce.
  • If you’re curious about Bourbon Street, take a walk from where it intersects Canal Street all the way to Frenchmen Street, in the late afternoon before it gets too rambunctious. It is very entertaining during the day, and not scary. (You can probably tell that I don’t care for Bourbon Street at night.)
  • Take the ferry over to Algiers and check out the shops in Algiers Point or walk along the riverfront, or just do a round trip. The views from the ferry alone are worth the $2 trip.  Be sure to check the schedule for the last ferry so you don’t get stuck there, because they don’t run at night.
  • Get on out to the Garden District to see a different side of the city, first printing out this itinerary and map for the self-guided walking tour.  This is a lovely way to spend an afternoon, and to work off the beignets, muffulettas and poorboys you’re going to be eating!
  • Get off the beaten path and be open to unique adventures…talk to locals some more and find out what they’re excited about doing in the Crescent City in December.
  • One more thing on the Stuff to Do List: don’t be in a hurry.  Take your time; be deliberate. Look, listen, smell, taste and touch. New Orleans has a myriad of unexpected sights, sounds and people that can only be discovered – or appreciated – if you are truly in the moment. In my humble opinion, that’s the best thing about it.

Food and Drink

  • Go to Café du Monde if you must (it’s an icon, has great beignets, and you can visit on the day you go to the French Market because it is close by), but also try tiny little coffee houses you stumble across and take time to chat with the proprietors and other customers. They’ll give you the best tips about where to go and what to do.
  • Be a foodie-on-a-budget by going to a great restaurant at lunch; my favorite is Bayona (click here for my gushing testimonial).

  • Another foodie-on-a-budget trick is to eat at the bar at popular restaurants, ordering a stellar appetizer to share and then moving on to another stop; you don’t have to have reservations and can still experience stellar cuisine.

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Barbecued Shrimp at the bar at Mr. B’s Bistro – enough to share!

  • Have a po-boy sandwich somewhere – you’ll never have a better one than in New Orleans. Go for an oyster po-boy, or mix of fried oysters and shrimp (you’ll be having a meat-stuffed muffuletta later, so stick with the seafood on the po-boy). With creamy remoulade or tartar sauce spread liberally on freshly baked  french bread, a pile of cold, shredded iceberg lettuce and thinly sliced tomatoes and hot, crunchy seafood stuffed so full it falls out, the po-boy in New Orleans will rock your world. Trust me on this. I haven’t been there, but the Storyteller blogger in New Orleans highly recommends Cafe Reconcile in Central City in this post. It’s a non-profit that helps at-risk youth turn their lives around, and I will definitely be going there on my next trip.

 

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Image of the chef at Cafe Reconcile making po-boys from the Storyteller blog / www.laskowitzpictures.com

  • In addition to the po-boy, you must have a muffuletta. They’re large, so you can split one with your travel companion.  I daren’t court controversy by naming a place with the “best” muffuletta because there are huge disagreements over the amount of meat / hot versus cold / size of the bread and how / whether it is toasted, etc. You’ll have to check with the locals and report back on your findings for the benefit of Glover Gardens readers. Here’s a muffuletta picture and recipe from Emerils.com to whet your appetite.

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Muffuletta from Emerils.com

  • Another food must: have a cup of gumbo somewhere. I don’t always do this any more because I make a pretty mean gumbo myself, quite often (have you had it?), but you shouldn’t miss the chance to have gumbo in NOLA if you haven’t had that pleasure. You could order it at the bar of one of the foodie places you visit, and can be sure that they’ll bring you some crusty french bread for sopping.
  • And, since you asked, most people wouldn’t call this a must-eat in the Big Easy, but the Grill-Meister and I had a wonderful and memorable lunch at the New Orleans Pizza Kitchen when we ordered their extremely tasty and memorable Jambalaya Pizza.

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Music

  • My usual go-to for jazz is any place on Frenchmen Street, but since you’re under 21, most of the clubs there are off-limits, including my favorite, The Spotted Cat. However, here’s a link to some great recommendations where you can get in. I’ve been to almost all of the places listed, and you really can’t go wrong. Let me know where you go and what you think.
  • Preservation Hall is an experience unto itself and worth standing in line.
  • img_3012You’ll encounter small bands of musicians or solo artists camped on street corner after street corner – who are just as likely to be self-taught geniuses as they are to have had formal instruction. The music can be folksy or sophisticated, but either way, it is captivating, and you’ll want to be sure to have some dollars ready for tipping. If you feel called to dance, do it!

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Got my picture with the musicians, after tipping, of course

  • Be ready to seize the moment and literally “follow the music” at any time, because you might get lucky and see a second line parade. If you do, be sure to join in and become part of the party.

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The Grill-Meister and I were awestruck a couple of years ago when we happened on a 2nd line parade that was a wedding party and all of the guests following a brass band in their traditional white uniforms and dancing Mardi Gras “Indians” in elaborate costumes as they made their way from the church to the reception at a hotel a few blocks away. The street was blocked off and there were several tables covered with champagne in plastic glasses (I had one; I’m not sorry). The whole experience was a microcosm of how “living out loud” seems to be commonplace in NOLA. It was magic – the mood, the people, the music. Wow.

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Well Mallory, That’s About All…’Til Next Time, or ‘Til We Hear Your Tips

Most of these tips apply at any time of the year, and NOLA is the kind of place that is fun at any time of the year. I’m looking forward to hearing about your discoveries during your December journey and posting them here.

Anyone Have Anything to Add?

And finally, here’s a request for all of you out there who love or live in NOLA: what are your suggestions for having a great time there in December, or any time? We’d love to know.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook