Joining us in New Orleans for Valentine’s Day? You’ll be glad you did! This city didn’t take a spot as one the most romantic cities in the world for no reason. As Lorin Gaudin, George Ingmire and Mikko point out, this is a gorgeous city that paints a beautiful back drop full of romance. From the gorgeous moss trees to beautiful French architecture you can find romantic flare all around the city.
Aside from our landscape, New Orleans’ locals are known for being passionate people who are zealous about nearly every aspect of New Orleans. Our zest for the local music, food and culture plays in to why we are a Valentine’s Day destination. Whether it’s catching John Boutte, dining at Bacchanal or swing dancing in the French Quarter, there’s a way for every couple to celebrate and that’s one of the most beautiful things about this city. So as our hosts recommend, turn off your phone and immerse yourself into everything New Orleans has to offer with your partner. For more ideas for a romantic getaway in New Orleans, listen to this episode of GoNOLA Radio!
GoNOLA Radio is a free New Orleans podcast hosted by Sunpie Barnes, Lorin Gaudin, George Ingmire and Mikko about the food, music and culture of the Crescent City. Subscribe to GoNOLA Radio on iTunes or download to your mobile device on Stitcher. GoNOLA Radio features music by Cale Pellick.
Sanpa Barnes: Welcome to Go NOLA Radio. My name is Sanpa Barnes and I will
be your host of hosts as we explore New Orleans to learn about the city’s
rich cultural heritage, food, and music. We bring you experts, the real
deal experts, who will talk with you about the people who make New Orleans
such a wonderful place to live and visit. it’s Go NOLA Radio.
Lauren: Hi and welcome to Go NOLA Radio. I am food goddess Lauren Goden and
every other week we’re on the air with George Ingmire and Miko, talking
about what’s going on in New Orleans, and this time we’re going to talk
romance. I’ll take romance where I can get it. How about you guys?
George: Oh, yeah.
Miko: Yes, that would be nice.
Lauren: There’s so much-I think New Orleans itself is a romantic city,
filled with passionate, passionate people. It’s like we live the whole
experience of passion 24/7 when you live in New Orleans. Whether it’s a
passion for food or a passion for music or a passion for the culture and
what’s going on in town. There’s just some way that you garner love and
romance, and of course, the month of February. You know what happens in the
middle of the month in February. We have Valentine’s Day.
George: I was going to say Mardi Gras.
Lauren: This year yes, right.
Miko: Very close.
Lauren: Right, we kicked it off, pun sort of intended with the big game and
then followed that really nicely with Mardi Gras, which of course, Fat
Tuesday, February 12th and then two days later Valentine’s Day and we’re
into the Lenten season. So if there isn’t a way to express passion and
romance in our three categories that we tend to specialize in, I don’t know
what else we can do. So let’s talk about the romance and the passion of
music. Mr. Ingmire, what’s happening?
George: Well, if you can see John Boucher anywhere I would
definitely say start off with him, because he’s got a beautiful voice. He
sings kind of like a Louisiana Sam Cooke. Though I think he’d be a little
uncomfortable being compared to him, but he’s got that beautiful voice.
There’s Jeremy Davenport, he may be doing his gig over there at The Lounge,
but we can expand upon this. It’s not just about Valentine’s Day. New
Orleans is a very romantic city all the time, but these are the people I
would recommend immediately John Boucher, Jeremy Davenport.
Lauren: I think they do. They have soulful, sexy voices, those guys.
George: Then Lindsey Zaorski.
Lauren: Oh, Lindsey’s great.
George: Meschiya Lake In fact, Meschiya Lake’s got a regular Friday night
gig at the newly reopened Little Jim Saloon, which is a historic jazz
landmark. They dropped $5.0 million into this building to redo it, and it’s
amazing. There are two floors, stages on each floor, great food.
Lauren: Yeah, by Chef Robert Bruce, whose grandmother or great-grandmother
was a Maylie which is if you’re of an era, I’d say you’d have to be of
really an era by-gone. But nonetheless, you would know of Maylie, and that
whole wonderful group of women, that were very important to the fabric of
food and dining in New Orleans.
And there he is Chef Robert Bruce is absolutely brilliant. The menu is
evocative of that era, that story-filled jazz era and that Jelly Roll
Morton. It is romantic in its own wild way in there, because you’re having
like this weird romance with history, if you will.
Miko: Maylie’s had the best Wisteria plant of all time hanging over the
tables in their outdoor dining room.
Lauren: Love Wisteria.
Miko: It was wonderful. I was lucky enough to eat there, just before the
Poydras Street renovation, I think, and I was actually interested in what
George had to think about this particular band, because I think a wonderful
date on Valentine’s is to get your girl/your guy and get on the ferry, and
go over to the Old Point Bar, which is a romantic trip. And that night,
the Upstarts are playing. Johnny Vidacovich band, it’s going to be brass
and jazz and this is a pretty good, there’s never an expensive cover over
there and he’s one of the watershed musicians in New Orleans.
George: He goes way back. He played Professor Longhair, that’s all you have
Miko: Johnny’s the real deal. He’s going to have a lot of friends playing
that night. And to me, my idea of romance is putting together things that I
enjoy, and I think that my partner would enjoy, but New Orleans is like a
big movie set. So really anywhere you go is going to have that great
background. So I was throwing that one out as a thing where you have a
place to go, but part of the fun is actually getting there. Another idea I
had is maybe take the streetcar up to City Park and walk down to Cafe
Lauren: That’s a beautiful thing to do.
Miko: Yeah, get a cheese plate, some white wine. I like going there. I like
going to Degas when the sun is still just about to set.
Lauren: It’s amazing. I think those places, and part of the allure and the
elan of Cafe Degas is that tree growing in the middle of the restaurant,
and if you’re out on that back porch and if it’s chilly, and they drop the
visqueen, and it’s still lovely anyway, even if you do feel a bit wrapped
But the trees growing, there’s that live and sort of earthiness to the whole
experience. When I think about places like Degas and romance and the
romance of New Orleans through food or music, for me it’s about a tactile
thing. You’re listening to music or you’re eating food and you smell the
food, and I’m a finger food kind of gal and feeding your loved one by hand.
So if you can go someplace where you’re eating a lobster, which you drag
through drawn butter and you can feed those luscious, unctuous pieces of
meat to your loved one, while you’re sitting. I mean there’s just such
beauty in all the food. Now you can’t eat really gumbo by hand, unless you
pull out the pieces of crab.
That’s not a good one to do. But I love the idea of going to Cafe Degas and
having that cheese plate, and feeding your loved one cheese and fruit, and
drinking those beautiful wines. Keeping it light, so that you don’t get too
sleepy, for maybe later, if you know what I mean.
George: And off the beaten path is Bacchanal where you can catch great
music and sit in the backyard of this wine shop that’s a giant back yard.
Hear some live music. Order all kinds of food, including cheese plates.
Lauren: Chef Joaquin, fabulous.
George: It’s a really, really great place. It’s a little off the beaten
Lauren: I love that idea, though. That’s kind of massaging the romance of
the city isn’t it, to go deep.
Miko: That makes it fun, to go into a little corner of the mysterious
Bywater neighborhood. In fact, just a few blocks, if you’re so inclined the
Country Club has their new sauna open.
Lauren: Oh, nice.
Miko: You don’t have to belong to a health club or anything. You can go in
Lauren: Is it still clothing optional in the back?
Lauren: I think that would be only fair to share that information.
Miko: Yes, but you don’t actually have to go all the way to the back. The
sauna is before the pool. So if you’re, how should we put this? Modest, but
not so modest at sharing a sauna with your partner is not an issue. I mean
it’s great-and plus they have a new fine dining area there, as well. So
Bacchanal can be a before or after.
Lauren: I love the way that you guys have talked about tucking yourselves
into these different parts of the city, where you can really find some
interesting romance, whether you’re going on the Point, or you’re in Mid-City
by Saint John area or back into Bywater, which is so beautiful.
Those kinds of things are really- are romantic and they can be romantic
outings, and you can hold hands and actually have a conversation that
doesn’t involve texting. And really explore what that means to be
romantic, and look in someone’s eyes. And I think that’s just a beautiful
thing to be able to do and the music, right.
So that’s what I mean, it’s a whole sensorial experience to be in New
Orleans, and in February when you can really just sort of push the envelope
and do all these things. Most people think in the Uptown area, when you’re
thinking of romance and dining and music, and so on.
You go to Crepe Nanou. They always have Edith Piaf playing in the
background, and there’s lovely wine, and you can have either the cheese
fondue, if you so choose, or even just those incredible crispy fries and
mussels. Again, more finger food and just feeding your loved one and
feeding yourself in a myriad of ways.
Miko: We keep going the French route like Cafe Degas.
Lauren: I know. I can’t help it.
Miko: Here’s a wacky idea. Instead of going downtown or whatever direction
that is down Esplanade, you could go up. You know they have the Morning
Call in City Park now, its 24 hours.
Lauren: Fabulous, too.
Miko: You can just go over there, like old-style New Orleans and being 24
hours, after whatever you do, go to City Park. Instead of trying to park
down in the French Quarter, it’s a nice alternative to Cafe Du Monde, which
is also a great place to go.
Lauren: Exactly, so the whole thing is about beignets and coffee and
Morning Call, with the 24/7 really does, because you could actually watch
the sunrise or the sunset which is incredibly romantic. From those moss-
hung trees and it’s so beautiful, and the art you can sort of peek at and
still see. Even the Paris styles out there and it’s an architectural art
and there is… It’s just magnificent and what I happen to love most about
the beignets and coffee at Morning Call is that the beignets come out
naked, so you can put your own powdered sugar on which is really, really
going old school.
Miko: There’s another place uptown that just opened and it’s a lovely venue
for dancing, called Dance Quarter. It’s on Toledano Street.
Lauren: It sure is. It’s on the other side. It’s an old fire house.
Miko: Yes, it’s beautiful. They have a gorgeous floor and it’s a little out
of the way, but there are some people I know, I’ve had friends/partners in
the old days that said, “Oh, why don’t we just dance?” It doesn’t occur to
me, as a thing to do but I realize that could go a long way to building up
some romantic cred with your loved one, is to take her dancing. They have a
couple of different public-invited free workshops at night.
Lauren: And I believe they also have like a little marble top bar and they
do some coffee stuff. I mean it’s kind of got a real interesting little
kind of wacky vibe there that’s neat.
Miko: And there are lots of places to dance, as George is…
George: Yeah, there’s, if you go to Nolajitterbugs.com you can take swing
dance lessons. There are four different days of the week and four different
Miko: Yeah, it’s unbelievable.
George: Go to their website, keep up with them there. I was thinking in
addition to dancing, drinking coffee, and eating. There’s of course,
drinking adult beverages. We’ve jumped on that train here in New Orleans
finally, drinking craft cocktails.
Lauren: Properly shaken and/or stirred craft cocktail.
George: Yeah, if you go to French 75, that’s a real beautiful place.
Lauren: See Chris Hannah.
George: Just last night I went with my baby to Patrick Bar Vin.
Lauren: I love Patrick’s Bar Vin, yeah, that’s wonderful.
George: Right across the street from Revolution, so if you’re…
Lauren: And speaking of Revolution, the bar there is spectacular. They have
a bartender there who I’m just crazy about, his name is Steven. Absolutely
spectacular old school, attentive, fabulous, and makes a mean Sazerac,
George: There are tons of places, there’s Tonique, there’s Cure. There are
a lot of places where you can really enjoy drinks on a higher level than,
even five years ago in New Orleans.
Lauren: Absolutely. Swizzle Stick, 12 Mile Limit, which is, again diving
into these little parts of town and calling out this really cool cocktail
culture that exists and that too, can be incredibly romantic thing to do,
and fun and maybe you get a little tipsy and that will be okay, too.
So part of the romance of New Orleans is not just the eating, the drinking,
music. Because it’s all so passion-filled and wonderful, there are always
wonderful ways that we can capture the city from different vantage points.
I mean the double-decker buses are one thing. What else have we got going
on? I think of Jackson Square and there’s lots happening down there that
you can jump on.
Miko: And of course there are the carriage rides, which never get old. You
can take it around the Quarter, but you can also hire them to take you
wherever, so if you want to really throw a little money at your date, you
could take a carriage ride up to the Prytania Theater. The single screen
gem we have here. Rene Brunet is a romantic at heart.
Lauren: Is he?
Miko: And he likes to do kind of crazy things. I don’t know what they have
planned this year, but I love going in there, and they always get great
movies. He’s always ahead of the curve, so Prytania Theater…
George: I like just walking around in any of the parks. It’s an amazing
experience. I mean Audubon Park’s beautiful. City Park’s…
Miko: Yeah, the gondola ride in City Park would be a nice thing.
George: Or the Go NOLA ride, we call it that, too.
Miko: The Go NOLA ride, that’s right.
George: Yes, the museum. There are all kinds of things and there’s going up
to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, which has always got some amazing work.
During the day there are tons of things to do, just walking around the
Miko: I’m going to step on Lauren’s toes, and I’m sure you’ll fill in the
blanks on this one, though. I love the Saint James Cheese Company. I love
the owner. I love what he offers there. I think packing a picnic and going
to Audubon Park from his place would be a great idea.
Lauren: Fantastic, and Danielle and Richard who own the place, Sutton. They
are genius and their staff is genius, too, so you never have to worry.
There’s always someone there who will give you guidance and if you don’t like
stinky cheese, and they will hook you up with creamy rich and fatty and
fabulous bries of all different kinds.
Again, more finger food, olives and, Cornichon, there’s crackers or breads.
Yeah, are you kidding me, “I’m not going to step on your toes.” That’s a
genius idea. Well, I don’t know about you guys but I’m certainly hungry,
and now the question is, in the month of February and on that special date,
February 14th what are you hungry for?
Sanpa: Go NOLA radio is a production of New Orleans Tourism and Marketing
Corporation, in conjunction with FSC Interactive, music by Cale Pellet. My
name is Sanpa. Tune in next week by subscribing to Go NOLA radio on iTunes