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Old 01-21-2009, 02:44 PM   #1
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Take Two Journeys and Call me In The Morning

nb--this is a motorcycle ride report. Patience is a virtue: that's why God invented Adderall Pictures, too, nice ones, I think.

Journey. A regular word. An ordinary word. But a word that has seen its usage increase a gajillion-fold in the past few months.

Journey used to mean a long trip.

In fact the first three definitions of the word are pretty much just that. Aeneas took a journey on his way to found Rome. Odysseus took a journey, getting big time lost on his way home from Troy. Genghis Khan took a journey across Asia and Napoleon took a journey when he "visited" Russia.

But then there is the fourth definition and, as the say, the devil is in the details:

4. passage or progress from one stage to another: the journey to success

And there is where I get stuck on the word: this passage, this transformation, almost transmogrification from one stage to another, from one living thing to another.

Ok, maybe it is just semantics, but doesn't it seem that the word is just a little overworked?

Ok, maybe I need to get a life, but hasn't the word become just a little bit cliche' ?

Ok, maybe I shouldn't rain on others' parades, but are so many really on a "journey" to some sort of self awareness, some closer to nirvananess, so many on the cusp, or over the brink, of being In Bloom?

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Old 01-21-2009, 02:57 PM   #2
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nb--this is a motorcycle ride report. Patience is a virtue: that's why God invented Adderall Pictures, too, nice ones, I think.

What will happen when the number of those self aware outnumber those who delight in curmudgeonry?
This is a little known fact, but the end of the Mayan Calender on Dec 21, 2012 will herald just that occurrence.


I sh*t you not.

What's his name, ummm, oh, you know, that guy who speaks old French jibberish, umm ...Nostradamus, yeah, him, even wrote a quatrain about it in a little known text:
Ou est le Joker avec le croissant de poisson, eh?

In it he pens (cue the flickering candle and dark wood desk, basso voice-over):

Le journee, est le route des fous

Je rire, haha

et je dorme, zzzzzzz

Quelle bore! Quelle bore!

I am not really sure what he means, but I eagerly await the History Channel's explanation. And it concerns me that here, on this very board, there is an infectious spread of the need to "journey."

But who am I kidding.
I mean. . .
It's just that. . .
OK, I'll come clean. . .

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea MAXIMA Culpa, I. too, succumbed to "journey fever." But I have to admit whenever I wrote the word--Travels with Stella!-- I did feel just a wee bit pretentious, but I wrote it anyway.
I wanted to say something more than my "ride" or my "trip" or my "getawayfromitall." I, too, wanted to be in that number who experienced (rim shot, please) a "journey."

And I think I did. I became a "journeyista." Is that pretentious, conceited? Can one refer to oneself as one who "journeys, " a traveler. Riding the Earth, waiting for the next momentous thought? Sure that it is just down the next Forest Service Single Track road? Complete with pictures of water traps and ruts. Talking to porcupines, learning the secrets of the quill?


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Old 01-21-2009, 03:01 PM   #3
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pictures and motorcycle on the way

Question: Is a rash really part of the experience? It seems on many "journeys" baths are at a premium. Is that a dirty secret of the real journey person? I didn't get one on my journey, so does that make mine somehow "less." Should I feel cheated? I did itch a little, and I did use pit toilets. That has to count for something. But I was deficient in the rash department.

Now, I have to confess, though, don't tell anyone, especially those who "journey" right and left. And they "journey" oh-so-well. It was really sort of a vacation from responsibility, from work, from the mundane quotidian stuff that fills my life. And I "vanted to be alone." On my shiny red BMW motorcycle. And I wanted to go fast and do the twisties and sweepers and roller coasters. And I really didn't want a rash, but if it is required, well. ok, but...

It must be said that those long solitary motorcycle rides do good for the soul. Things are figured out, new insights arise, and your mind is allowed to reboot, daily, and that indeed is therapeutic. You get to scratch just the right spot, both physically AND mentally.

The Aussies have a name, a specific name, for such a "journey" and that is "walkabout." Well, actually walkabout is close to the right word. But this journey business, there's something that just seems, I don't know...startling thought...could it be?

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Old 01-21-2009, 03:15 PM   #4
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But this journey business, there's something that just seems, I don't know...startling thought...could it be?

The real journey one undertakes in life is that day to day existence, the getting up at 430, going to work, doing a good job, taking care of your family, being nice and charitable, loving your fellow man; hell, at least talking to your fellow man, and hell#2, having a fellow man within "talking" distance.

That is the journey of life. The other is an exercise in luxury, an extravagance that only an elite few can do. A lot of fun to be sure and an educational experience, and sometimes an emotional one, but the hard journey, the real "journey" is from bed to work to bed and doing the best job you can.

This is a story of two journeys. The commonplace and the less commonplace. Everyone reading this board has such "journeys" within them, and unless you work in Human Resources, your daily 9-5 is just as important as mine or a trip, excuse me, a "journey" from Toledo to Timbuktu.
One's soul can be found in the most surprising places, not just Colorado or Wyoming.

I suspect there will be many that will disagree with me and I really don't know how strongly I believe what I just wrote, except for the Nostradamus stuff, because I believe everything that guy wrote, even if I don't understand it. But, the thing is, I think I read the word "journey" one time too many, and something broke.

So, I decided to go on a mini journey, a "journette" if you will. I decided to "journey" to some of our favorite restaurants in New Orleans, my hometown. In New Orleans, food is a journey in and of itself, it is a favorite topic of conversation anywhere you go. So, to journey from one to another, to a New Orleanian, is indeed a journey.

Just so you know, I can recommend all of these places without reservation (pardon the pun). They are all favorites. They are not the typical touristy places, and most often require a relatively short "journey" by taxi. But they are worth the "journey."

Bon Appetit et Bienvenue a la Nouvelle Orleans.

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Old 01-21-2009, 04:59 PM   #5
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So it is a Sunday morning, the first nice morning in a long time when the weather was nice enough to ride. Thought a little journey among the potholes of the city, visiting various eateries, and posting them for possible tourists to my home town, might be a good idea, so here goes

The place is Riccobono's Restuarant on Panola St. It is a simply great breakfast place. No pretentions other than a neighborhood joint with decent prices. A freind and I ate there twice last weekend.

My next stop is a New Orleans institution. If there is one classic diner in the city, this is it. Open 24/7 and good for Chocolate Freezes, an array of omelettes, hamburgers and pecan pie, Camellia Grill is on the St Charles Streetcar run. It is on Carrollton Ave in the "Riverbend" area.

Frome there I rode up ( actually "down" as up and down refers to the direction of the river's flow) St. Charles Avenue. The "streetcars" have been a fixture for over 100 years and are declared an Historic Landmark. The cheapest and one of the best tours of the city can be had by just riding the streetcar it's whole route. And you can get off and have a bite to eat at Camellia Grill along the way.

I turned toward the River and then onto Magazine Street. Magazine street is in the running for "coolest" street title. It features probably the greatest collection of antique stores outside of the Quarter and is the location of many fine restaurants in all price ranges. The follwoing are just a few.

A Mexican restaurant is actually El Salvadorian, Taqueria Carona. It is a favorite for a quick bite late Satruday afternoon and into the evening. It's pretty cheap, too.

Within a stone's throw is a new favorite and where the whole family went on New Year's Eve. Bistro Daisy was wonderful, really quaint and cozy inside what was once an old house. The food was terrific and the service was noteworthy in that everyone at our table was trying to set up my son who is 20 with our server, a perky 23 year old Tulane student. It didn't happen though he did get a big hug when leaving , one that prompted a "whoa!" from him.

Also nearby is a favorite, Matrinique Bistro. Not much from the outside, but it is charming inside exuding character. It also has a nice courtyard for al fresco dining. You will not go wrong here.

more in a bit--LOST is on!

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Old 01-21-2009, 05:04 PM   #6
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Sounds like a hardship assignment! Glad to see you took it on!

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Old 01-22-2009, 07:51 PM   #7
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So, we are still on Magazine street and a mile or so closer to the CBD is a neat restaurant the is undergoing renovation, Lilette. Lilette is notable for a few reasons. It's food is some of the best in the city. They have a baked chicken and brussel sprouts entre that is simply wonderful. I know, chicken and brussel sprouts? Yes! Chicken and brussel sprouts. A couple of years ago I started ordering on the menu the items that I would ordinarily never order and that is how I happened on to this gem. It is a place to see and bee seen. Very cool people in there, excpet for yours truly. And they have perhaps the best dessert on the planet. It is a poached pears with goat cheese quenelles in lavender honey delight that defies superlatives. I once had a raspberry souffle in Eze that I thought was to "die for." Quite literally I was drunk enough by the end of the meal that the souffle was so good that if I died right then and there, it was all worth it. The dessert at Lilette is better.

Moving even farther up Magazine and now into the CBD is a favorite, Cuvee. Walking distance to all of the downtown hotels, this is a bit of an undiscovered gem. Wonderful food, a rich atmosphere and a very knowledgeable wait staff completes the experience.

Heading back "uptown", but now off of Magazine street we come upon a couple of restaurants just a block from each other. the first is La Crepe Nanou on Robert street.
Taking no reservations, its bisro atmosphere is fun and a favorite of the locals. A nice bar complements a very trendy dining area and moderately priced delicious food make for a good experience. If you like mussels the way they are prepared in France and can do a bit of les assiette des crudites, then this is your place. it is a bit of the French countryside.

And a block away on Upperline is the Upperline Restaurant. Another favorite of locals, you are in for a very warm and cozy welcome and some very fine contemporary New Orleans cuisine.

A half a block away on Prytania is Zara's, home of some very fine "po-boy" sandwiches. I once took care of a cook at Zara's who had the most beautiful tatoo on his right deltoid. It was a Renaissance rendition of a Madonna and Child that was simply beautiful.

and just down the street from Zara's and between Crepe Nanou and Upperline is The Creole Creamery, arguably the best ice cream parlor in the city, thoough there are those that would argue that point. Thing is, if you are at any of the places I just mentioned, you can go there for a tasty dessert of fresh homemade ice cream in many different flavors. That is a sign for "king cakes" in the window. A seasonal pastry that is commonplace in the weeks before Mardi Gras (2/24/09)

to be continued


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Old 01-23-2009, 12:28 PM   #8
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Very nice.
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Old 01-23-2009, 06:03 PM   #9
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Ok, there was one place on Magazne that I didn't mention before and it is this place.

It is the real thing. Run by Frenchies--I hope that is not offensive--it is just like any french bakery you could find in France. They serve coffee and it is a nce place for a breakfast croissant or whatever else may promise to tickle your tastebuds.

Crossing St Charles Avenue on Soniat St is an unassuming little place that was once a pharmacy. Pressed tin ceiling and all, it is a wonderful place for a fancy dinner. It is Gautreau's Restaurant and it is fine.

A few blocks away at the corner of Annunciation and Webster (New Orleans street names are great) is a real favorite of the locals, Clancey's Restaurant serving contemporary New Orleans cuisine. I may have had the best meal of my life here and it was a very basic New Orleans dish, soft-shelled crab as an entre and shrimp remoulade as an appetizer. So basic and it was so good. I can even tell you the night it was. It was the night LSU beat Texas to go to the Final Four a few years ago. The game was on in the bar. Anyway, if you go you want to sit in the downstairs dining room, the one right in the front as you come in. It is the room with the most charm.

A bit of an aside here as Stella!, that red beauty pictured above turned a milestone. I missed 40,000, but got this:

Now we come to a place that holds special favor. Mandina's Restaurant is one of a very few quintessential New Orleans restaurants. It is loud. It is served by the Canal Street Streetcar. It is a combination of cuisines that frequently exist in the same establishment in the city, but here that combination exists in total accord. It is the combination of local seafood, Italian, and soul food. There are so many good things on the menu. So many. I think the oyster loaves (just get a half) are the best in the city, and in this city that is saying something. Their tartar sauce is homemade and again, the best in the city, their gumbo is one of the classic forms of this dish and is as good as my mother's. They have a turtle soup that is the equal of Commander's Palace. Their grilled fish plate is wonderful and is usually trout. If you've never had speckled trout, what a treat. The onion rings redefine the dish. And they are known for soemthing as mundane as their green beans. So, suffice it to say the dishes deliver. And, oh, I forgot, the spaghetti and meatballs or Italian sausage is terrific. And, as an added bonus, on a Friday evening and less so on a Saturday evening the bar is a mix of local color from politicians, crooked and straight, and reporters who sometimes report on the same. A great place.

Just a couple of blocks away, on Bienville Street, is another similar restaurant, Liuzza's, that has similar fare, but not the charm of Mandina's. However, that being said, Liuzza's is no slouch in the food department. They have a sandwich called a Frenchelatta, which is like a muffelatta sandwich but on french bread (we have the real thing here, just like France. Why is it so hard to find real French bread in this country?) If you don't know what a muffelatta is, well, I am going to leave that a mystery to you, but if you like salami, provoloni, olive salad, ham and all on a sandwich that drips with olive oil--uhoh, I'll be quiet. And get a draft, or a root beer. Always served in a frozen mug.

A few blocks away from Liuzza's is a lovely little place that is another favorite of locals, Cafe Degas. It is on Esplanade Street and features a very plain dining room that is at once rustic, rough hewn, charming, romantic, cozy, and conducive to a boisterous partyy of 8, or a quiet dinner for lovers. The food is French and quite good. The prices are moderate and food at that price is a bargain. The restaurant is behind the greenery seen here. There are people waiting for a table when this was taken at noon last Sunday afternoon.

Heading up Esplanade to the Quarter we pass what is considered to be the best hamburger place in the city, Port of Call. Yes, that is a line to get in. When I was growing up, well, aging as I don't know if I ever grew up, it was considered also to have the best juke box in the city.

And now, I am so happy to present what has been our most favorite (is that redundant/) restaurant for the past couple of years. There are other restaurants that may have better food, maybe; there are places that are less expensive, though it is not that expensive and less than the big name places; but, in our view there is no place that combines charm, atmosphere, service, and food as does Irene's Cuisine on St Philip in the French Quarter. You want to sit in the front dining room, only. I emphasize that because that is part of the experience. It is a place equally at home on a cold winter's night or a warm late August afternoon. A couple of waiters are favorites, but they are all good and have been there a while. The aroma you smell when you enter is the garlic chicken a house specialty. The raviolis as an appetizer are really good. The soups are outstanding; did you get that? The soups are outstanding--even if they sound weird, someone at the table HAS TO GET ONE. I remember an eggplant soup that I thought was the best soup I have ever had, until a couple of weeks later when I had a sweet potato soup that was sublime. Unbelievable! Oh, and they have a praline cheescake with a strawberry coulis or raspberry, that is, again, to die for. This place is terrific. Now, they open at 530 pm and take very few reservations, but do some. And you have to request the front dining room remember. But if you show up at around 530 to just before 6 you should be able to walk in and get the front room. Please go there if you are in the city.

Ok, that's enough for now. There will be a few more coming over the weekend. But again I want to say that these restaurants are a small percentage of the restaurants in the city, but are the ones that my wife and I find ourselves going to repeatedly.

But in this city, everyone's an expert and there will be those who will have other choices, but these represent ours.
Til then....

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Old 01-25-2009, 01:44 PM   #10
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So, staying in the same part of the city, generally, but moving out of the French Quarter, I come to the neighborhood just adjacent, the Faubourg Marigny. This area is noted for many restaurants and music clubs, maybe the most famous being Snug Harbor. My dearest memory of music at Snug Harbor was a solo performance by New Orleans piano legend James Booker, long gone to the emerald beyond. Booker had a uniques style of playing that could seamlessly transition from boogie woogie to New Orleans R&B to Gershwin to pop to Chopin. He was simply amazing and played stunningly beautifully. Anyway, we are in there and the crowd is into it, small room, 10, 15? tables. James stops for a moment and as the applause dwindles a patron, an inebriated patron walks up to the piano bench and sits next to Booker. While everyone was listening for a pin to drop, except for James's accompanist who was grinning, James Booker, completely dead pan turns to the side and says words that I have quoted him on ever since: "I Plays Alone."
Accompanist's face drops and doing a very creditable sheep impression he returns to his table, probably embarrassed for the rest of his life.
But I digress.
If you are going to Snug Harbor, or you just find yourself in the "Faubourg" you can do no better than the Marigny Brasserie on Royal Street. Serving contemporary New Orleans cuisine very well, the room has a very nice atmosphere. The only qualm I have ever had about eating there is that on occassion the wait staff could be a little, oh, what's the word...surley. On those couple of occassions we were sort of surley right back and it didn't take away from the experience. I think one might think that the political bent of the staff is : Obama is a cop out. But it is a very good place and well worth a spin.

This was the part of my ride farthest from my home--about 6-7 miles, and there were many good places bypassed, but now heading home through the Quarter we pass what is arguably the best restaurant in the city. There are many contenders for that honor, but Bayona on Dauphine Street is on the short list of everyone. Elegant, gourmet, expensive it is the place you want to choose if a business associate wants to take you to dinner. It is so awfully good. I remember a pork chop, and a St Julien, and a St Emelion and pastries, and plush chairs and quiet fancy schmanciness that is at once not off putting and inviting. This is just a feel good place and the staff does everything to make you as comfortable as possible. Just simply a beautiful dining experience.

But, when New Orleanians talk of food and favorite restaurants they sometimes speak out of both sides of their mouths. There is another place that would be on the short list also for best restaurant honors and that is Brigtsen's Restaurant on Dante Street in the Riverbend area. This place was featured on the Food Network in the Rachel Ray show detailing eating on $40 a day. there is an early bird special for $16.95 that is the bargain of the city. In fact, Mrs JayElDee and I were eating there one evening and the staff asked for permission to film us eating. They were shooting wrap-arounds for the Rachel Ray piece and I guess they wanted to make sure I wasn't out with my lover, or my wife wasn't out with hers. We agreed and that was when I made my national television debut. Over two years ago, people still come up and ask if that was me. Anyway, whenever we go to Brigtsen's (pronounced bright-sens) I always hear myself saying that this may be the best restaurant in the city. By the time I say it though I am usually feeling pretty good, but in truth the food is wonderful. There is a paneed rabbit dish that is extraordinary. The soups are terrific and if they have the blueberry short cake, get it. It is in an old "shotgun" single and each room of the former residence is a dining room. My favorite place is on the front porch, but there is no bad place to be when you're in Brigtsen's. Very highly recommended.

Almost back home and there is a cutesy little neighborhood restaurant that deserves mention because I think they have the best pizza in the city. It is a little French restaurant called Cote Sud on Maple Street. Traditionally French in cuisine the Les Oliviers pizza is an oddity on the menu. The family that runs this place are the children of the lady that runs Cafe Degas on Esplanade, seen earlier in the report.

So that does it for my journey for food and visting some of my favorite places. If you have any questions about any of these places please pm me. Any true New Orleanian is always ready to talk about food.

But as I said at the beginning, and as this "journey" quite readily shows, many "journeys" are flash and little substance. Again, to be sure great insights can be had in the solitude of a motorcyle trip, but again, the real journey begins at home. No one said the journey of life should be easy or should be filled with almost narcissistic self awareness. The real journey is what each of us does to make the "journey" of our fellow man just a little bit easier--the weight of glory. And it doesn't matter if that journey is one of a physician, a truck driver, a cook, a pastor, a social worker, a brick layer. Everyone of us has little choices we make everyday that can contribute or detract from the well being of our brothers and sisters.

The following are pictures from my daily journey.

to be continued


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Old 01-25-2009, 04:20 PM   #11
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Old 01-26-2009, 02:27 PM   #12
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Every morning I make a journey of 37 miles to get here

and on that journey, it is sometimes long enough to get those answers that otherwise require a much longer ride. Once arriving though, begins a journey not only for me, but for those that we guide through some difficult journeys of their own.

We have fuel for this journey

And ATTGATT is required

And we have farkles aplenty

as well as some pretty mundane things

and some fancy specialized "toys" that we share

and we are ready with our best face on

and we get the littlest girl to pull the heaviest equipment

And we wait for the surgeons to show

But they always arrive (eventually) and we begin

The journey is well underway and there is danger from some expected quarters and unexpected also.

and the obvious question, or observation really is here is your government at work--see the Braille? Can anyone imagine someone sight impaired (read "blind) working in an OR? Apparantly the Feds can.

And we even get to do a "Ride Report" on every one of our journeys

and we arrive at the destination

so how's that for a Deus ex Machina, start the journey with food and tie it up with food. Ok, pretty cheap literary trick. But, sometimes the day is not over when the last patient has left the facility. And the ORs are readied for another journey.

Sometimes we stay in house all night and begin the journey for a new set of passengers the next day.

The call room

Everyone on this board has a daily journey. Everyone's journey touches others on theirs, hopefully to make that other's journey smoother or more enriching.

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Old 04-10-2009, 08:44 AM   #13
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John, Thanks for a wonderful tour of the locals' preferences in restaurants. New Orleans is truly a city of exqusite restaurants and cuisine...each one being a treasure to discover and experience. We visit the City about once a month, living only 100 miles away, and always enjoy its atmosphere and excellent food.
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