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Journal of No. 118


March 14th, 2015

Pittcon 2015 - New Orleans @ 03:42 pm


Headed out Sunday for Pittcon. New Orleans this year, which is always fun. All the pictures here.

Arrived in the afternoon, and had time for a short walk with a couple colleagues around the town.

Bourbon Street remains classier than ever, complete with topless-but-for-paint/latex women.

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Saw a lovely entrance for the United Fruit Company. It helps having a historian wife, so I was all up on how the UFC was instrumental in creating the phrase banana republic. It's not just a store for capitalist imperialists.

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After the first press conference of the con, we went to the Hotel Monteleone, one of only three hotels to be a "literary landmark by the Friends of the Library Association," due to the associations with Hemingway, Williams, Faulkner, and others. We dined at Criollo, where I had been attracted by their mention of Beef Rossini on their online menu. I know foie gras is controversial, but I did do my research and Hudson Valley foie gras seems to be about as humane as foie gras can be. Ordinarily, I'm not much of a fan of fatty food, so this is probably my one and only foray into foie gras, especially as its legal status wavers.

Come to the restaurant to find that Beef Rossini is not on the menu. Fortunately, the filet is still there, and they have foie gras on the side, and if you wink at the waiter, the chef will put the foie gras on top.

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The foie gras is so fatty, it really has not much livery taste at all. It's more a dose of mouthfeel of nearly-liquid pork belly on top a filet mignon. Homer-drool. The madeira sauce was too die for. Really fine.

Thence we repaired to the Carousel Bar, also in the hotel. Just before leaving, someone posted a list of the bars in the US you have to visit before you die, and this was on it. And it deserves a spot on the list. Not only do the bar and barstools rotate, but the bartenders know their stuff and serve out some solid drinks. I had a sazerac, and it was just to my liking. Large and not too sweet. We all delighted in using the timelapse function on our iphones:



The three musketeers were not content to go to bed, so we wandered by Jackson Square.

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For some reason, we were talked into posing 'like vampire hunters'.

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Nearby is the world-famous Cafe du Monde.

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Beignets were mandatory, and we consumed them as gingerly as we could, but Aaron still looked like a Colombian drug lord afterwards, with all the powdered sugar on him. There is literally a half-inch of powdered sugar in the bottom of the bag. I guess I don't regret not having done this on my previous visits, because... they're good, but not really amazing.

Tuesday evening we got our schmoozing on at a cocktail reception hosted by a good client. Great apps passed around, a local artist producing masks, and this table offering a bourbon tasting.

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Afterwards we trekked rather a long way to Bayona, but it was worth every step. Earlier in the day, I had to plead to get a reservation. My offer of 'table for 5 at 7pm' was countered with 'table for 4 at 9pm'. 'B-b-b-but we're from Los Angeles, we may never have another chance!' Fortunately, we found a compromise. Once there, we bided our time in the sitting room as our table was readied, and then we were squeezed into our corner. They were packed to the gills on a Monday night. Food and service was slow, but that's the last negative thing I'll say. The Driving Glove (Tres Agaves Reposado, Pamplemousse Rose, Fleur de Sommer, Lime) was lovely, and I had a taste of the Fascinator (Miller’s Gin, Cocchi Americano, Lemon, Sage Syrup) that fascinated splendidly.

The menu has a few stable items, and then others as the produce of the day and the whim of the chef dictate. I aimed for a Latin American theme, and opted for the yuca with chipotle crema as a starter.

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On its own, the yuca was a bit dry, but there was plenty of crema, tomatillo salsa, and beans to slather on it to make it all work nicely together.

And then duck breast with duck tamale. I don't eat duck a lot, but this was still the best duck breast I've ever had. Moist, just enough fat, done, and tasty. I'm not so sure about the authenticity of the 'Oaxacan mole' but regardless it was a very tasty sauce.

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Others had nice desserts, but I opted for armagnac, and I talked A into trying chartreuse. The first sip gave him a nasty shock, but by the end of the snifter he was hooked. Earlier in the meal, I saved him from 'sweetbreads,' though it's no longer clear whether he would or wouldn't have enjoyed them.

Tuesday night, Mr. B's Bistro brought me a too-sweet-for-me sazerac, but a very nice rabbit.

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There was a nice gathering of the LA team at the hotel bar afterwards, but unfortunately all the drinks there were watered down to an absurd degree.

Wednesday noon, I had already eaten at the convention center, but I rejoined the other two musketeers who ventured outside and asked a parking attendant for a tip on local grub. The man knew his business and sent us to the Corporation Bar & Grill.

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Dive bar with poboys in the back. I had a bite of A's alligator poboy, and it was good and spicy. Mainly I focused on testing various flavors of Abita beer. The seasonal strawberry was good, but didn't displace the Purple Haze. The lady running the poboy counter in the back took no shit from anyone. Some poor Japanese conventioneers were hectored for not having told her they wanted to split the order. Now she'd have to go back and get more utensils. One guy volunteered to go for the utensils, but she said if he invaded her kitchen, she'd lay him out flat.

On the taxi ride back to the airport, I managed to snatch a few pictures of the Metairie Cemetery, last resting place of Louis Prima (and a lot of other people).

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Next year, Atlanta.
 
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From:stevenkaye
Date:March 15th, 2015 02:12 am (UTC)

New Orleans

(Link)
Oddly, I stayed at the Hotel Monteleone when the World Horror Convention was there, but didn't go to the Carousel Bar. Oh well, another excuse to go back. And I had lots of oysters at Felix's, so that was all good.

One of the places E. Hoffman Price lived in New Orleans (he worked for Union Carbide) is now an art gallery, the Vincent Mann Gallery on Royal Street, across from the Hotel Monteleone.

Journal of No. 118