I Feel like Funkin’ it Up

New Orleans, Music, Street Bands, French Quarter, Jackson Square

I feel like funkin’ it up feel like funkin’ it up
I feel like funkin’ it up feel like funkin’ it up
I feel like funkin’ it up feel like funkin’ it up
I feel like funkin’ it up feel like funkin’ it up

We had two days left to explore New Orleans and wanted to make the most of it. Thankfully, it was Tuesday and Tuesday in New Orleans means one thing and one thing only: Rebirth Brass Band plays at the Maple Leaf. The Maple Leaf is just north west of the Garden District on Oak Street. It’s dark, long and narrow. It’s hot and sweaty. And when Rebirth gets the party started up in there, people push to the front, dance on top of each other and climb up on the benches with their hands in the air.

In college, when we used to drive to New Orleans frequently to party, I spent many a Tuesday night at the Maple Leaf. I was thrilled to take Buddy there and give him a taste of a New Orleans tradition.

Rebirth was on tour this week so we were treated to their stand in, the New Birth Brass Band, which features members of the now defunct Olympia Brass Band and includes Tuba player Kerwin James, the younger brother of Philip and Keith Frazier, who are part of Rebirth Brass Band.

New Orleans, Creole Food, Oak St

We started our night on Oak St with dinner at Jacques-Imos, where you walk through the kitchen to get seated in a tiny shotgun house and may get the chance to peek at Samuel L Jackson, a frequenter of the joint. He was there the night we were, wearing a track suit, arriving on foot. Buddy and I, learning from our previous nights dinner where we ordered WAY too much food, split a rabbit appetizer and the smothered chicken entree. All the meals start out with some of the best cornbread I’ve eaten (parsley and garlic in it!) and the restaurant is lively and vivacious. We arrived just before the evening crowd, but if you happen to get there late, you can go drink in the Maple Leaf Bar and they will come find you when your table is ready.

Earlier that day, we also visited the Presbytere, part of the Louisiana State Museum. Admission is a whopping $5 and there is an exhibit on Hurricane Katrina and the history of Mardis Gras. After you visit, grab a muffuletta sandwich at Central Grocery, where the secret is in the olive salad and the charm is that you order either a half sandwich or a whole. The whole is big enough for four, the half for two. It’s ridiculously over sized, much like all plates of Southern grub. If you have extra time, eat your sandwich while you walk through the French Quarter Farmer’s Market, aptly called the French Market. It was the only place all week we found frog legs on a stick to eat and were entertained by not a brass band, but a jug band.

French Market, Street Music, French Quarter, Jackson Square, New Orleans

Jug band performs for folks in the New Orleans French Market.

French Market, Farmers Market, French Quarter, Jackson Square, New Orleans, Street Music

They got music
It’s always playin’
Start in the day time, go all through the night

When you hear that music playin’
Hear what I’m saying, it make you feel alright

Grab somebody, come on down
Bring your paintbrush, we’re paintin’ the town
There’s some sweetness goin’ ’round
Catch it down in New Orleans

Museums and Cocktails

Magazine Street, New Orleans

Although we’d been in New Orleans through the weekend, our days had been consumed by Voodoo Music Fest and we really hadn’t had any time to explore the city. We awoke on Monday ready to attack the day.

My favorite meal of the day is breakfast and I really don’t care what time of day it is: breakfast is an all the time food. We were waking up in New Orleans late late late so one of our daily requirements was an all day (or at least most of the day) breakfast joint. We ate at some really fantastic breakfast restaurants, one of them being the Ruby Slipper Cafe, where they buy locally and serve breakfast literally all day. I was tempted to order the migas, which are one of my most favorite breakfast all-the-time-foods, but stuck to my quest to eat only New Orleans soul food while in the city and ordered an The Louisianan: an omelet with boiled gulf shrimp and cheddar cheese, accented with fresh thyme.

New Orleans, Breakfast, Cafe, Ruby Slipper Cafe

The Ruby Slipper Cafe was conveniently located on our ride to the National World War II Museum, located off Magazine St at Andrew Higgins Dr. The museum was founded by historian and author Stephen Ambrose and tells the story of the American Experience in World War II. It is located in New Orleans due to the importance of Andrew Higgins, a New Orleans native who according to Dwight Eisenhower, is “the man who won [World War II] for us.” Higgins and his New Orleans boat company invented and manufactured reliable landing crafts to transport troops from ship to shore and played a crucial part in our success in the war.

The museum campus is creatively designed and stunning to visit. It is a required visit for anyone traveling to New Orleans. Exhibits are open seven days a week from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. They recommend that you allow at least 3 hours to view exhibits.

After the museum, we headed back down to Jackson Square for the essential stop at Cafe Du Monde, which needs little introduction, though I will say that when the waitress mistakenly brought us two orders of beignets, we did not correct her and savored every one.

From Cafe du Monde, it was on to the Napoleon House, famed for it’s Pimm’s Cup. Their recipe claims to be “made to James Pimm’s original recipe, a closely guarded secret known only to six people.” It’s an addicting concoction of a cocktail with lemonade and cucumber that tastes crisp, clean and not to sweet.

Napoleon House, New Orleans, French Quarter

Make your own Pimm’s Cup with

  • 1 1/4 ounces Pimm’s #1
  • 3 ounces homemade lemonade
  • 7-Up
  • Thin slice cucumber

Apparently the secret is in the lemonade, a house recipe that the Napoleon house closely guards.

While the cocktail may be glittering, clean and bright, the Napoleon House is anything but. The building is fabled to have been built to house Napoleon Bonaparte after his exile but the attempt to bring him to New Orleans ended with news of his death. They play classical music upon customer request, but only classical music. It’s a must visit joint: explore a little bit of quirky New Orleans history, the dark ambiance of the bar or the bright sunshine of the courtyard, and have a classic cocktail (or four).

New Orleans, French Quarter, Pimm's Cup

We decided to go on a cocktail tour of the French Quarter and our next stop was the Bombay Club, where it feels like you are sipping martinis in someone’s living room.

Bombay Club, New Orleans, Bourban St, French Quarter, Martinis

They often have live jazz playing, offer a full menu, and are known so well for their historical menu filled with martinis that it often gets stolen and the menus are equipped with locators to prevent theft!

Sazerac, Rob Roy Martini, Bombay Club, New Orleans, Classic Cocktails, Bourban Street, Martinis, French Quarter

I decided to venture out of my comfort zone a bit and ordered a classic New Orleans drink: a Sazerac, the oldest American cocktail and the official drink of New Orleans. It’s made with a rye whiskey, absinthe or Herbsaint, and Peychaud’s Bitters. I’m not normally a fan of whiskey, but it fit the mood of the bar and kept me from slamming it back to quickly: it is a sipping drink.

Bombay Club, New Orleans, Bourban Street, French Quarter

We were starting to get hungry so we staved off dinner with an order of fried quail, which was delicately fried with an exceptionally crispy breading. It was enough to quench our hunger for the bike ride across the French Quarter to our destination for the evening: Frenchman Street in the Marigny. It was time for some more New Orleans music!