New Orleans Homecoming: Welcome to the Modern Twists.
Last weekend, I went on a last minute trip to New Orleans to celebrate my Mom’s Decade1 Birthday. It was unplanned2, costly, and my employer was probably3 unhappy that I was off work again4; but I went anyway, because I needed to and even more importantly, because I wanted to. New Orleans is one of the few cities where my mom would actually agree to travel to.5 She did not want a grand birthday party or to travel overseas, but she agreed6 to meet in New Orleans and celebrate. I have not been back to New Orleans since the twins7 were three; they are 17 now, and it was definitely time for a Big Easy homecoming.
It is probably important to note that neither my parents, nor I were originally from New Orleans. Although my parents have been Southerners for almost two decades now, our origins hail mostly from Southern California, not Louisiana. New Orleans, however, since the very first visit, felt like home. The city has a sense of warmth; deeply rooted in mysticism and spirituality; and the food is glorious; and for us, that is definitive of home.
I waited8 for my sister9 at the airport and we took an Uber to the Le Meridien, where friendly staff members assisted us into checking in early to our cozy but fabulous top floor hotel room, courtesy of mom and dad. Le Meridien towers at 23 floors and and although it boasts of sleek, modern aesthetic in its ambiance, amenities, and fixtures; it still exudes the charm and hospitality we know of traditional New Orleans. My sister and I were delighted with how wonderful every single staff member we encountered were, particularly Delriel S. and Kevin C. They assisted us not only in an early check-in, but also in concierge matters that significantly made our party planning duties streamlined. They interacted with us not as guests, but longtime friends returning home.
After checking-in and freshening-up a bit, we walked across the street and had late lunch and martinis at Cafe Adelaide, the “little corky sister” of the renowned Commander’s Palace. The restaurant celebrates the colorful character of its inspiration Adelaide Brennan, who was described as the definition of “glamorous and naughty.” Such description takes flare in the restaurant’s elegant, yet whimsical environment; it is modern and tongue-in-cheek, without being tacky. It was as if Warhol came for lunch and decided to stay for months to paint and decorate. The quirky modernity of its decor seeps into its menu, and Executive Chef Meg Bickford has taken full responsibility to uphold the restaurant’s playful take on modern Creole cuisine. I am excited to return and taste the “Poor Man’s Foie Gras,” a dish made of chicken liver pate with blueberry-sherry jelly, house made Boudin beignets, spicy mustard, sourdough bread, and pickled “stuff,” and other dishes that wink at you straight from the menu. I thought of getting bubbly to start our visit, but after the discovery of 25c lunchtime martinis tickled me, I decided to join my sister in sipping on loudly colorful martinis. You have the choice from Classic, Adelaide’s Appletini, Cosmopolitan, and the Commander’s Martini; and you may order up to three martinis because “that’s enough!”
Although my sister committed to a “light lunch,” I did not. I picked Chef Meg’s Two Course Special from the lunch menu, starting with the Louisiana Sugarcane and Blueberry Salad, a delicious plate of tart blueberries, candied New Roads pecans, shaved mirlitons, spring leaves, minted yogurt and sugarcane vinaigrette; and for my main course, I enjoyed the savory bliss of the Cochon de Lait Turnover, an elegant and flakey pastry filled with smoker braised pork debris and chevre, which lay on a bed of pickled cucumber & grilled onion salad and accompanied by a poblano-tomato puree, which you could either treat as soup or dip. It was an excellent pairing, and although dreams of my long-lost six pack abs continue to dissipate in the humidity outside, I cherished my choice not to have a light lunch. My sister, committed to her choice, envied the fantastical world where my meal appeared from as she sipped on the Commander’s Turtle Soup and the lemon, herb, and parmesan fries she had ordered.
Lunch was delightful for the eyes, the belly, and the spirit; and coupled with a stay at Le Meridien, provided an excitingly modern and chic beginning to our New Orleans homecoming. With the spirit invigorated, we went off on an unplanned, but essential shopping10 trip to get warm weather clothes, since the forecasted thunderstorms were no were in sight, and all that welcomed us were the whitest and fluffiest cumulus clouds, blue skies, and radiant sunlight; just perfect for a long-delayed return to a city we so love.
- The actual decade is not to be disclosed.
- Well, it sort of was, but with such a short notice
- No, for sure.
- I had just returned from an almost three-week European trip
- We have, on many occasions, offered to fly her to Europe, Asia, or other parts of the United States, but she said no every single time.
- She also agreed to receive a 3,000 karat diamond ring as a birthday gift, even if none of us offered.
- My little sisters.
- Because she is a diva. #halfkidding
- She flew in from Los Angeles, and I, from Sacramento.
- Prior to the trip, I checked the weather forecast, which projected thunderstorms and lots of rain. No pair of shorts, T-shirts, or warm weather footwear made it into my carry on luggage. The unexpected weather shift presented an excuse to go clothes shopping, and The Rack saved my life.