As the lethargy of summer settles over New Orleans, the seduction begins.
How do those of us who run B&Bs or restaurants or museums or swamp tours, convince folks that despite the heat and humidity, the city is still alluring? Just like getting ready for a big date, you stand in front of a mirror and ask, “What can I do to emphasize my best features?”
So, of course, we start with food. The annual COOLinary Festival is set for August and September this year, during which Bayona, Galatoire’s, several of the many restaurants owned by the Brennan’s family, and a host of other luminary local dining establishments, will offer prix fixe multi-course dinner menus for $34. It’s a great way to sample the fare at those places you’ve always wanted to try, but were afraid you’d leave with a happy stomach but a sad wallet. We’ll be glad to share our picks for best dinner for your dollars. And there are other dining deals that pop up throughout the summer. The stunning Ralph’s on the Park overlooking the ancient Live Oaks in City Park has a $25 “Grilling ‘n Chilling Menu” all summer. And what do you get for $25? Bacon wrapped shrimp brochette, with pineapple and red onion, grilled over hickory and served with a chilled watermelon salad and pineapple coulis, as an appetizer. Then a fresh fillet of catfish baked with a sweet potato crust served with braised turnip greens and topped with an andouille cream drizzle. For dessert a layered Key Lime tart. Among several choices. Not bad eh?
Our many museums have some pretty cool exhibits this summer as well, not to mention they are cool thanks to air-conditioning. As a segue from the subject of food, I’m just back from my second visit to the Museum of Southern Food and Beverage. This is a terrific small museum at the end of the Riverwalk shopping center, packed with detailed background stories and exhibitions on the food that made us famous. The National World War II Museum is mounting an ambitious special exhibit entitled “June 1944: One Month in the War that Changed the World.” The exhibit will explore pivotal events occurring worldwide in June 1944, such as the liberation of Rome, the landings at Normandy, the landings at Saipan, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Operation Bagration, the lifting of the Siege of Imphal, the Battle of Kohima and the signing of the G.I. Bill of Rights. It’s a 3,000 square-foot exhibit with artifacts large and small from around the world. Sounds pretty amazing. The museum also offers Swing Dances on Sundays this summer, with free live music and free lessons.
The New Orleans Museum of Art has a bunch of new exhibits going up in July. I’m particularly intrigued by “FLOATULENTS: Inflatable Photographs.” Martin von Haselberg’s first American museum show, his latest photographic experiments are presented as inflatable works, which instead of rising into the air, rest upon the floor as sculptures.
Just a few blocks away from us, the state-operated museum at The Mint is reopening in July with an exhibit that sounds really intriguing. During the Cold War years America sent her great jazz musicians touring the world for the State Department from the mid 1950s to the early 1970s. “Jam Session: America’s Jazz Ambassadors Embrace the World,” is an exhibit with more than ninety photographs, posters and other materials, that traces the journeys of jazz icons like Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, and Sarah Vaughan to more than thirty-five countries on four continents. I’ve seen a preview and there are some amazing images.
And it’s the perfect exhibit to have going on inside, while the summer’s big music festival Satchmo Fest, takes place outside on the museum grounds as July turns into August. It’s a weekend packed with performances from the city’s best musicians, performed on six stages that surround the museum. And the clubs all up and down our neighborhood’s Frenchmen Street entertainment district put on a “Club Strut” that weekend as well with even more music.
So there’s plenty to arouse all the senses this summer in New Orleans. We’re happy to offer advice on other stuff to do, just give us a call. Our rates now at the Sweet Olive are the best of the year, $65 everyday through the summer, $85 for the Courtyard Suite. And of course there are no taxes or parking fees.
Despite the midday heat, early morning walks through the neighborhood are still very pleasant, and we’re finally getting some afternoon showers again to cool down the evenings. And if the sultry summer starts to make you “glisten,” just whip out your hankie Satchmo-style, and wipe it away.