Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hello y’all, here’s too much information

Our hotel in New Orleans

The Garden District - NO - view from trolley car

beignets (donuts covered in mountains of white icing sugar) at Café Du Monde

Mr U at the Hank Williams exhibition at Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame

The Bindies in Austin

Yes we’re back from the States and I have to say it’s nice to return to some glorious sunny weather in Melbourne. The trip was a complete blast. We had a ball. I’m posting some notes on Mr and Mrs Peters in Austin so everyone can see how they’re going. They’re known as The Bindies over there (Ben and Cindy for the slow-to-catch-up) and are in fine form. I’m shite at getting the photos in the right spots when it comes to this blogging thing but hopefully it will be easy enough to follow.

NIGHT ONE saw us arrive in New Orleans where it was hot, hot, hot and steamy. Thirty hours awake did not stop us from hitting the town (and all the bars) til about 2am in the morning. I tried a Sazerac, (a rye whiskey concoction invented by a New Orleans pharmacist in the 1830s) an unofficial cocktail of the city, which we sipped at The Old Absinthe Bar, one of the only civilised places to visit in Bourbon Street.

The next day we hit the trolley car to visit the garden district. This is not to be missed if you go to New O. The houses are sublime. We didn’t get great shots but I’ll pop one on to give you an idea. An old guy on the tram wore rolled up jeans and kept his ciggies in their cuff. Cool.

We ate a Po-Boy at Mother’s Restaurant at 401 Poydras at Tchoupitoulas (basically meat, more meat, a bit more meat on top, juices and a white bun), beignets (donuts covered in mountains of white icing sugar) at Café Du Monde at 1039 Decatur Street and had a terribly upmarket dinner at the famous Arnauds. This place is all 19th century grandeur with mosaic floors and bevelled glass windows in the dining room. I had this: Quail, partially deboned and filled with Foie Gras Mousse and Mushroom Duxelle. Served on a bed of Truffle-infused Bordelaise Sauce. I kid you not! Plus we shared the side dish the place is famous for - SOUFFLE POTATOES – don’t ask! Suffice to say Jenny Craig was not consulted when the menu was drawn up.

New Orleans was recently voted the fattest town in America. I am moving there to become a petite sized model.

SECOND STOP was Nashville and the flight in, over the Tennessee wilderness, has left me wanting to go back and really explore this State. We went to the Grand Ole Opry on the night we arrived and were treated to a fantastic night of bluegrass. The next day we took a tour of the city which only had us and three other people on it. Highly recommended as a quick way to see a city when you only have 24 hours there. A highlight of the tour was a visit to United Record Pressing where the business of producing vinyl records is on the increase. This is the place where famous black performers of the 50s and 60s would stay in Nashville when black folk weren’t welcome in hotels there. We got some shots of the party room, located just steps from the Motown Suite. This large room was once used as an event room and hosted record label signing parties for folks including Wayne Newton, The Cowsills and a then 16 year old Hank Williams Jr.

OUR SECOND NIGHT in Nashville was spent honky tonking and, yes, shock and horror, drinking again. We hit all the ‘name’ bars like Tootsies Orchard Lounge where we met a wine distributor from Australia, Jason ‘signed’ a guitarist to his imaginary HELL YES RECORD company (ok, we were flying by this stage) and we managed to sneak in yet another dinner, this time at Merchants (referred to as a ‘fine dining’ restaurant in local parlance). The room is gorgeous. We didn’t have our camera with us but it’s worth looking at www.merchantsrestaurant.com if you’re planning a trip to Nash in the future.

THIRD LOCATION was, of course Austin where The Peters picked us up at the airport in the v e r y long ancient Pontiac that Mr Peters is restoring. It was SO GOOD to see them. Mrs Peters is the colour of coffee and her husband has taken to dressing in striped tees (a la Leave it to Beaver). Divine!

After initial confusion because they thought we were staying at the hotel the first few nights and THEN going to their place (nope, it was the other way around) we got to the wonderful house where they’re staying (email me if you want new postal address) and Gigi wet herself saying hello (yes, literally!).

Of course we hit two venues that first night – The Broken Spoke – where Mr U and I had chicken fried steak (arggghhh!) and then Trophy’s where a great Cajun guy was playing. The Spoke is a revelation … a real honest to goodness dance hall with people Texas Two Stepping from the ages of 21 to 80. Pitchers of beer were consumed and much gushing was done.

DAY TWO IN AUSTIN was spent at Walmart where Mr U bought 1000 Hanes t-shirts and singlets and I bought THREE pairs of jeans for $60 all up. Ha! We then went and dropped more than USA$200 on groceries at HEB supermarket where an old bloke told Mrs Peters she was “r e a l perty” and then headed home to cook up a Texas Melbourne style BBQ. We drank Californian reds. Never again. I thought Mr U was going to cry.

Other activities in Austin included two lots of parmesan coated French fries BEFORE an Italian lunch and the discovery of a wonderful Italian white wine called Tenuta (thank God). We saw a few bands at the famous Continental in South Congress (including the very chubby handed, amazing playing, charmingly witty Red Volkart), sat outside and drank margaritas at Guero’s Oak Garden and drove out to Kreuz Market for the German-style barbecue restaurant in Lockhart, the barbecue capital of Texas! Here the food is ordered by the pound and served on brown paper, accompanied by white bread and crackers. Vegetarian Mrs Peters ordered potato salad and beans, both of which had meat in them. Hilarious. I think the Coke had meat in it.

We went to Ginny's Little Longhorn and saw Roger Wallace play, we took Mr P out for early birthday dinner to the very swank Mexican restaurant, Fonda San Miguel, where I had a half chicken baked in traditional mole of Puebla, we had MORE bbq, this time at Mr P’s favourite place – Ruby’s – and shopped for records at the famous Antones. We had drinks at The Belmont, saw Nick Curran play at Antones … you name it!

The Bindies are in fine form. Mr Peters is playing again and was working on a big all day, six band extravaganza while we were leaving. Mrs P is the belle of the ball as ever, has the town wired and has officially proved to be the head of the social club, no matter what hemisphere she has her sling backs dug into. Hooray!

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