I got an alert just before Thanksgiving that my old boss at the Cleveland Jewish News, Rob Certner, was considering coming to visit New Orleans. Since August Rob and his lady friend Debby have been traveling by a 43-foot trawler from out of Cleveland past Lake Michigan and down through the Illinois, Ohio, Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers as well as the Tombigbee Waterway. While Debby was winging her way to have Thanksgiving dinner with Cleveland relatives, Rob had opted to rent a car and take the two-hour trip to the Crescent City. I offered him a place to stay, but more than that a deep immersion into the city of my birth. The first day we visited Domilise's, a po-boy restaurant noted for its fried seafood sandwiches and he was amazed. Later, after taking a tour of most of the parts of the city, Rob was then instructed in the making of and the drinking of the official New Orleans cocktail, the Sazerac. Finally, we enjoyed a meal at Galatoire's Restaurant on Bourbon Street, a favorite of locals for decades. Rob and I enjoyed the latter part of the night sipping absinthe under the stars.
Is there any more an iconic New Orleans image other than Jackson Square with the imposing structures of St. Louis Cathedral flanked by the historic Cabildo and Presbytere on its left and right, respectively? In the picture at the top, Rob and I enjoy a spectacular view of the river with Jackson Square behind us. The twin Pontalba Buildings on the left and right sides of Jackson Square, which are the oldest apartment buildings in America, are mostly obscured by trees (at left) and out of view on the right. (Make sure you double-click each picture to get a nice full closeup.) Then we made our way next door to historic Café du Monde to eat beignets and enjoy coffee with chicory. Rob had his coffee black and I had the more popular café au lait.
The piéce de résistance was the traditional Thanksgiving meal at world famous Commander's Palace Restaurant in the Garden District. The famous offerings include turtle soup and all manner of fresh Louisiana seafood. Rob and I had the turkey, while my mom enjoyed the redfish. Above we all enjoyed different desserts. Rob had the strawberry shortcake. My mom had the caramel cup custard, while I had the decadent white chocolate bread pudding souflé. All in all we had a magnificent meal to cap off Rob's visit. Rob and Debby will soon be off to visit more of the Gulf Coast, but I have good reason to believe he will be back soon.