Friday, May 30, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend in New Orleans

Juleps at mid-day
And plantation manors,
Jazz bands on Bourbon
and warm Southern manners,
People named Cooter,
The St. Charles "ding!"--
These are a few of our favorite things....

We spent Memorial Day weekend in New Orleans, partly to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary this week, but also so I (Val) could take the Certified Wine Educator (CWE) exam for kicks and giggles.

The CWE exam is a four-part, four-hour exam sponsored by the Society of Wine Educators (read: Wine Geeks R Us). The test comprises 85 multiple choice questions, an essay, a blind wine identification tasting, and a wine components tasting, where they add things like extra acid, alcohol, tannins, cork taint and other things to 8 glasses of wine, and I had to identify what they added to each glass. I passed that part fine (we saw results for the tastings after each part), but failed the blind tasting miserably. I wasn't alone. There were some serious wine geeks there who scored the same as me on the ID part. We won't know how we did on the multiple choice and essay until mid-July. Earning a CWE designation means I would get to put initials after my name and bug the hell out of the local community college or wine shops to let me put together wine education programs. That's the theory. Mostly, I just wanted to see if I could pass and spend some time with Jon in New Orleans.

We've been to New Orleans together before and have always loved this sultry, mysterious, boisterous town. This time, we took it easy in the Big Easy and just strolled around the French Quarter and along the Mississippi, uptown via the St. Charles streetcar.

Monday afternoon we ended up at Cooter Brown's at the end of the St. Charles line (well, it's the end of the line now. After Katrina, the city had to shut down the rest of the rail line along Carrollton Ave. for repairs). Some of you may know that after our first visit to New Orleans, we dubbed Jon "Cooter" because he likes to take life reeeeaaaal easy. So, Cooter Brown's was a fitting stop for us. Plus, I was starving after the exam and got to chow down a Philly cheesesteak and wash it down with a German double ale (over 100 beers on tap!). I passed on the "Coonass Special--so good you wanna slap yo mamma!", although I usually live by the When-in-Rome rule. It was a fine way to spend a sweltering afternoon, and to shelter ourselves from the thunderstorm outside.

As to be expected, we saw a lot of interesting things in New Orleans. You just can't escape 'em. Mannequins poised on French Quarter balconies (accompanied by a flying pig in a tutu), some leftover Katrina damage--or simply neglected, dilapidated houses and buildings--and, my favorite, a fully decked-out Hello Kitty bike, tire tread and all, which seemed to be following us around the French Quarter as we saw it outside a few stops on one of our afternoon pub crawls. I fell in love with it and had to Google it when we came home. I found it for sale on Amazon/eBay for $299 brand new.


Jennifer said...

OMG! A HELLO KITTY bike! How wonderful!


(You just knew I'd have a comment for that one ...)



Jennifer said...

Welcome back to the land of 4% humidity! You both have such fun. And I'm sooooo glad you didn't have Banana's Foster. Or I might have slapped our secretary just at the mere mention of it ;-)

I want to start a collection. It's called the "Mr. Ashe posing in front of a Western Caricature/Hero" collection. I already have Mr. Ashe and John Wayne.