This post is a tribute to our dear friends Jeff and Doris, who have just reached 30 years of marital bliss! Their marriage is one for the record books – loving, respectful and adventurous.
From a woman’s point of view, Doris, you’re a saint! Just kidding, Jeff!
Jeff and Doris’ tradition is to celebrate their anniversary at Sunday Brunch at Brennan’s in Houston. Unfortunately, Hurricane Ike caused a fire which still has Brennan’s Houston location closed. That of course, left only one alternative: go to Brennan’s in New Orleans for brunch or, heaven forbid, b r e a k w i t h t r a d i t i o n !
Our wine and dinner group was privileged to be invited to celebrate this momentous occasion. Laissez les bons temps roulez!!! Cher, you know it doesn’t take much prodding for us to skip town and enjoy a fancy outing! After a nine hour drive from Houston (during which I was able to knit two complete scarves!), including a lunch stop in Henderson at Pat's Fisherman's Wharf and two traffic jams, we arrived in NOLA! That’s New Orleans LouisiAna - for those of you unfamiliar with that acronym.
The Hotel Monteleone on Rue Royal, is situated in the heart of the French Quarter, just a few easy blocks from Jackson Square and the Mighty Mississippi. The hotel is a literary landmark (bestowed by the Friends of Libraries, USA) because it was often frequented by Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, Eudora Welty, Anne Rice, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams and Rebecca Wells (Ya-Yas!). Our room was elegantly decorated and the bathroom was spacious, modern and sparkling.
It was an exciting time to visit NOLA. Mardi Gras season was in full swing and many parades were scheduled for the weekend. There were police and sanitation crews everywhere.
The most charming parade was small - no fancy floats but several groups of local kids and a few horse drawn carriages. It wound its way down Bourbon Street through the narrow streets of the Quarter. Leading it was the Warren Easton Senior High School Marching Band. I’ll bet some of these kids have horrific post Katrina stories to tell. Their school is now a charter National Blue Ribbon School and was closed for a year after the hurricane. Look at them now!
The first evening of our visit, we dined in the wine cellar of a restaurant called August. We feasted on scallops, gnocchi with blue crab and Perigord truffle to die for!, sweetbreads and duckling. We were highly entertained by our oft-mistaken-for Antonio Banderas waiter from Venezuela who imitated Mandy Patinkin perfectly: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!” from the entertaining comedy The Princess Bride. If you haven’t already seen it, go rent it NOW!
We started the evening with Pomegranate Martinis. Doris especially loves Martinis, she even named a cat after the drink! I am a relative newcomer to the drink, but I especially enjoy it if it includes my favorite spirit - vodka. It’s clean and bright, and gives this martini the perfect boost without compromising the tart body of the pomegranate. Here’s my version:
Serves 2, generously
Because of the absence of simple syrup (sugar and water) this martini is not very sweet, but the sugar on the rim of the glasses adds a touch.
1 cup pure pomegranate juice
2 ounces vodka (I used unflavored vodka, but feel free to use a citrus infused vodka if you wish)
3 ounces PAMA pomegranate liqueur (the ruby red color is exquisite)
crushed ice or ice cubes
a few drops of fresh lime juice, optional
sugar, a lime wedge, thin slices of lime peel, for the rims of the glasses
Combine pomegranate juice, vodka, pomegranate liqueur, ice and lime juice (if using) in a stainless steel shaker and shake vigorously until well-chilled.
Moisten the rim of two martini glasses with the lime wedge and dip rims in sugar to coat. Pour chilled martini in glasses and serve with lime peel.
After several poignant toasts at Bayona (more about this innovative restaurant in a later post) and a wonderful traditional brunch at Brennan’s we headed home. Here’s to another 30 years of wedded bliss and our next trip to NOLA!