New Orleans Day 3: Yeah you right

I wasn’t as hungover as I deserved to be this morning as I grabbed my morning coffee and made my way to the conference centre. A decent morning session. The conference is made more fun by the fact there are several other people tweeting the talks, and so there is feedback about the good, noteworthy and sometimes bad in each session.

Food highlight of the day was no doubt a visit to Cochon Butchery with my new friends Rebecca and Chris. This place cures and smokes their own meat and is rammed at lunchtimes. The menu read like an absolute dream – sandwiches including one with pork belly and mint, the cured-meat heavy “Gambino” and Cubanos. Pancetta mac-n-cheese, marinated brussels sprouts, brisket sliders are all options. Great stuff, a drying cabinet on the wall shows off their hanging proscuitto and sausages.

In the end I settled for boudin blanc, the duck pastrami sliders and a BBQ pulled pork sandwich. That’s a light lunch by New Orleans standards. The duck pastrami was fantastic – I have to try to make this when I get home – made even richer by a slice of melted cheese. The boudin was even better, soft and creamy with a little texture from the rice and fine pink sausage meat with proper flavour. It shows that they buy their meat from local farms, something so unusual in the US with its centralised meat production system. Dipped into the local Abita beer grain mustard it was sublime (I need to take some of this home).

The afternoon session was uneventful – I became rather tired and I was very glad to slip away from the conference and have a quick swim in the hotel’s outdoor pool. A pre-dinner Sazerac (or Mint Julep’s for the ladies) with Jackie, Annie, Jennifer and some of the Vancouver crew proceeded dinner at Brennan’s with Mark and George Weinstock. Brennan’s is a real throwback to the 70s with dishes named in the Escoffier style like “Shrimp Samantha” and “Trout Kottwitz”. Of course they flambe suzettes at the table for pudding. It’s all very jolly, the highlight was a waiter accidentally tipping a whole dish over another diner’s shirt.

But now just glad to be going to bed without the effects of a couple of Hurricanes sloshing around my system.

New Orelans Day 2: Woah what the fuck

Oh shit my vision has gone like a badly tuned TV I’m so hammered. It’s taken like 10 minutes to even get to this wordpress admin page. ohhh.

New Orleans pulls off the trick of being like every other tourist hell-hole in the Universe .. but manages to stay classy, somehow. I love the fact we can watch stuff like “Treme” and peer behind the curtain of the “real New Orleans”.

Wow this blog post is effortful, I can barely type the keys.

So what did I do today. Well I managed to sleep in until 8am with the aid of my melatonin. I spent an hour or so checking my talk, got a coffee, registered for the confernce and then sped off to the “Bywater” by way of a taxon to meet up with Jasprit’s friend Rebecca from New Orleans.

I have to admit to feeling somewhat out of sorts – a little jet-lagged and anxious about giving my presentation later in the afternoon. Rebecca took me to Elizabeth’s – a very cool joint with a flying pig on the ign. We had praline bacon to start off with. Wait, can I say this blog post is fucking hard work, none of the letter are coming out right – something to do with the several Hurricanes I have drunk tonight. Anyway the praline bacon was amazing – you take bacon and add butter and sugar and pralines to it. It must be the only way of improving bacon.

We both had “shrimps’ n grits” for our main course.. Wow this was pretty amazing – I love grits anyway and these were cooked in some kind of pork stock .The shrimps were OK. But the combination of jetlag and nerves were stopping me fully enjoying the experience.

A pudding of “Ooey Gooey” cake was pretty much as described. I joked to our waitress that I would go home and “get diabetes” but she didn’t think that was much of an idea. Wow there are some fucking big asses in New Orleans. Yikes.

Back to the conference centre. My talk was after Mark’s and it went pretty OK although my subject was not my favourite. ASM is a serious conference, there are 12000 delegates and it was standing room only during my talk. The whole session was pretty good though, I think

After the workshop we followed @madthemikebiol to a cafe where we feasted on various New Orleans classic dishes including oysters (bit of a worry, given the missisippi being the last place for the whole of the US to take a shit – and the entirely fucked-up Gulf), “blackened” alligator – actually very nice, like a kind of fishy-flavored (US spellin) chicken, covered in a very spicy Cajun rub, and fried crawfish tails. The basic rule in New Orleans is to deep-fry everything, and if you have the time to coat it in butter and sugar so much the better.

After that we went to a jazz club – “Maison Bourbon” on the ever-insane Bourbon St where I am staying. Despite the “one drink per person per table” and “no taping” rules it was pretty good value, band leader Jamil producing a succession of crowd-pleasing jazz/blues numbers. I was tapping my foot like a mo’fucker. “Yeah you right”. A whole family of Japanese tourists – replete with Mardi Gras beads were similarily getting into it.

The Rotary club are also in town – there is a competition between the ASM and these guys as to who is least exciting. I spoke to some young Rotarians – they call themselves “Rotawrags” or something. It’s not clear what it’s all about really.

OK I go now, I’m about to pass out. “Hurricanes” – they mainly rum yes?

PS. I just puked up. Yuck.

New Orleans Day 1: From George Bush to Louis Armstrong

Hey campers, a quick note from New Orleans. An eventful day of travelling which started with a rude awakening at 6am. I’m too tired to write a proper update, but some highlights
* The Fighter on the inflight entertainment. What a film! In fact I spent the whole film going “this film is great .. this film is great .. this film is great” whilst watching it, which rather distracted me from the film in fact. But it’s good. Like Rocky crossed with a better film.
* An uneventful flight ruined by a 90 minute queue at Houston immigration. The amount of good old British whingeing going on (including by me) would be enough to fill an entire season of “Airline”. I didn’t kick up a fuss like those Mallorca-bound idiots though because they have guns in airport security here.
* Knock on effect of missing my connection to New Orleans. Started making elaborate plans to get to the other airport but in the end got on the next flight so there by 6pm.
* A Fox News shop in Houston airport
* Bourbon St! “The most visited street in America.” My hotel balcony opens up onto it. It’s loud, very very loud. Right now they are playing Sweet Home Alabama. A procession went past, Treme style, with big tubas and everything.
* It’s a cross between Broad Street in Birmingham and Vegas – lots of tacky adult entertainment, pissed-up yankees on their holidays, hen parties, that kind of thing.
* Mothers; I checked this joint out and had the seafood gumbo. Very good it was too, I will be back for a debris po’boy soon. I hooked up with some random ASM people from Harvard.
* The Rapture. It didn’t happen. Or at least “Not yet” according to the episcopalian I sat next to on the flight.
* The mississippi – a huge, filthy river from the air, and I saw the Bonnet Carre spillway opened up, quite a sight. The amount of heavy industry on the river is quite unbelievable.
* Wow its humid here.
* Melatonin time, night night