It’s incredible, really, how much things can change in a short period of time. When Erin and I first got together, I began the tradition of marking each of our visits with one another with a photoblog, first on my old LiveJournal, and now here. But thanks to Twitter, Facebook, and FourSquare, it seems likely that most of you actually followed along with us as the events happened. But Erin and I love having this sort of record of our time together, so I hope you’ll all indulge me as I talk about how we spent last week, the week of Thanksgiving, together.
Erin came in on Sunday and, as you may imagine, immediately wanted to see my sister Heather and her new baby, Maggie. Erin has of course been following the Keller family online, but she was anxious to see the baby in person. And really, who can blame her? The kid is damned cute. She’s already mastered the art of picking up her head and looking at you. She has not, however, gotten the hang of putting her head back down again. Fortunately, neither Erin nor I, nor Maggie’s parents, typically wear sharp objects, so there’s little danger of her hurting herself when her little head invariably flops down on whoever is lucky enough to be holding her at the moment. We went out for dinner with the family Sunday night, where Heather and Will joined Erin and I, plus my parents, as we sat down for a meal at a restaurant and proved that we were all perfectly damn happy watching the baby sleep in her car seat at the end of the table.
The next day, Erin and I went out for lunch at Izzo’s Illegal Burrito, a delicious little place I’ve been telling her about for some months, then caught a screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. Erin was seeing the movie for the second time, but I was going in fresh. We both enjoyed the movie quite a bit. Afterwards, we did a little shopping and headed home. We weren’t looking for a busy night, since the next day was supposed to be packed. On Tuesday, we loaded up and drove across Lake Pontchartrain so Erin and I could do something we’ve been planning for quite some time — a tour of the Abita Brewing Company in Abita Springs, Louisiana. Erin loves this Louisiana-based beer, and in fact the only commercially-available beer I’ve ever found that I actually like is an Abita product (their seasonal Strawberry Harvest blend, which typically means I can only drink beer for a brief window between March and June). We had a great lunch at the Abita Brew Pub (their original facility, now a restaurant) before going to the factory, where we made a startling discovery. Erin claims that I didn’t read the website properly before we left home that morning, but my version of the story is a little different. I believe that we suffered a sudden, spontaneous power surge which briefly allowed our wireless router to actually pierce the internet veil of a parallel universe — one almost identical to our own but with one crucial difference: in this parallel universe, unlike our own, the Abita Brewing Company offers tours of its facility on Tuesdays. In our dimension, however, it does not. We decided to return on Friday.
Wednesday was a big day for us, thanks to some smart thinking by my buddy Jason. He and his wife Andrea asked us to accompany them on the New Orleans Cocktail Tour, a great afternoon featured by Gray Line tours. This is a walking tour of the French Quarter, where the guide takes you to several notable bars and restaurants and tells you the history of the building and the company, as well as some of their signature drinks. He also stops at various places along the way, giving you more great information. What makes the tour even better is the fact that there are so many places in New Orleans that are a part of it — the tour is pretty much never the same four stops twice, making it the sort of thing you can do over and over again and not get bored. Our little group visited the following spots:
Muriel’s French Quarter, a lovely restaurant that we’ve sworn to come to some time for lunch. The place is gorgeous and has a really interesting history, including one of New Orleans’ legendary ghosts. It also has two really good drinks, the Pimm’s Cup and the Fleur De Lis:
Next was the Court of Two Sisters…
…another fantastic establishment which supposedly features a famous brunch buffet that Erin and I, again, have sworn to partake of in the future. Here, I tasted a traditional Mint Julep, while Erin got (what I think we both agreed was) the best drink on the tour, the Bayou Blast:
Next was Arnaud’s, the sort of restaurant I’d love to visit, but I wouldn’t want to spend the money on. It’s a bit more highbrow than my usual fare. It does, however, have a more reasonably-priced adjoining restaurant, Remoulade’s, which is where the four of his had dinner after the tour ended. And the food was great.
We had drinks at their bar, the French 75. Our drinks included, appropriately, the French 75 and the New Orleans standard Sazerac:
I was still feeling the Sazerac when we made our last stop at the Bombay Club, a great Martini Bar that featured a live jazz band and an array of dessert-based martinis.
I didn’t want to drink anymore, but I tasted both of Erin’s Martinis, and I approved of both the German Chocolate and the Mistress (a non-cream based sweet with a Hershey’s Kiss at the bottom):
With the tour over, we walked back to Remoulade’s for dinner then continued walking New Orleans for a while, Jason showing Erin places she missed and eventually taking us back to a place he’d gone to on a previous tour, Tony Seville’s Pirate Alley Cafe:
This quaint little place was right next door to St. Louis Cathedral and embraced its Pirate theme wholeheartedly. I got Erin the book our tour guide had written about New Orleans bars, History With a Twist, Lemon and Lime, and Jason treated her to her first drink of real (and, may I add, totally legal in Louisiana) Absinthe:
I tasted this one too, and may I say, Oh my GOD, what the HELL are you people thinking sweet mother of God I understand now why this drink was illegal until three years ago! In other words, it was kind of strong.
Thursday, of course, was Thanksgiving. We watched the parade together, while Erin sweetly allowed me to catch up on the NaNoWriMo writing I didn’t get to do the previous day, and then it was off to spend the day with family. As always, we spent the afternoon with the Petit clan, including my father’s brothers and sisters and their children, then in the evening we went on to my mother’s family, the Faucheux clan. In both cases, most of the photo opportunities mainly involved passing around my niece like a hot potato nobody wanted to get rid of…
Perhaps the crowning achievement of the night, photographically, was getting my grandmother, mother, sister and niece together for a picture of four generations of Faucheux women:
Friday was take two on our effort to visit the Abita Brewery. This time, my internet browser was functioning properly and we got there on a day which actually did feature a tour. Or, as my cousin Jennifer remarked, “an excuse to drink free beer.” When you arrive for the tour, which is free, you’re escorted to the bar, where you can taste Abita’s regular brews for free. Again, not being much of a beer drinker, I opted for their fantastic root beer.
Once everybody was checked in — and I do mean everbody, this tour was packed — we were shown an informative video about how beer is made before the tour began. Now I want to reiterate, I really did have fun, so the snarkiness inherent in my description of the tour should not be misinterpreted as a warning not to attend. Basically, all that happens on the tour is that you’re taken into a room full of vats of various liquids that are on their way to turning into beer. Then, the guide tells you how beer is made, which of course was also explained to you in the video you just watched. You then return to the bar for more samples. Fun? Yes. But in terms of expediency, the guide could simply have said, “Remember that video you just watched? This is where we do that stuff.”
The tour over, we returned to New Orleans for dinner at Star Steak and Lobster house, a fantastic little place Erin found on Restaurants.com, and a little more shopping, before heading home. Saturday again featured family/Maggie time, as we watched the little one while Heather and Will had lunch. It was during this time that I took the greatest photograph I, or anybody else, has ever taken:
It’s the face Maggie is making, I think. I mean, look at that face. Every time I see this picture I start giggling. Is it just because I’m a new uncle? Because if that’s the case, I’m okay with that. Seriously, guys, I totally recommend becoming an uncle, provided that your niece is as cute as mine, which I’m sorry to tell you probably isn’t possible.
Oh, and just in case you think Uncle Blake didn’t sneak in some time holding Maggie…
After lunch, we met up again with Jason and Andrea, as well as Mike and Nicole, Daniel and Lauren, and a last-minute addition (as he just got in from working offshore that afternoon) Kenny for a screening of Disney’s Tangled. The general consensus was that the movie was pretty good. If you want more details, may I recommend that you check out the review we recorded of this film and Harry Potter for the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast?
After the film, we all headed out to Christmas in the Oaks at New Orleans City Park. You may recall that Erin and I went there back in January, shortly after New Year’s, which gives us the distinct pleasure of having attended the event twice in 2010, neither of which was in December. If you don’t know what this event is, it’s the NOLA version of the grand outdoor Christmas Lighting display. The lights take up a large section of the park, although sadly, still not as large a section as it did before Hurricane Katrina. Still, we all had a great time, especially Kenny, who in this photograph looks like he’s standing in the front because he’s hired all of us to be his top-secret squad of Ninja Assassins. This is silly, of course, as I am the only certified Ninja in the group.
On Sunday, as sadly happens, Erin went home and I went back to missing her. I think sometimes that the rarity of our time together makes it more precious, and I think that’s fair. But I’m still looking forward to the day (the approaching day, I should add) where our time together isn’t limited to short trips, and instead becomes a way of life. I love you, sweetheart.
Kenny, I just think you’re nice.
These are, of course, only a few of the pictures we took last week. If you want to see the rest of them, they’re all uploaded to my Flickr album: Thanksgiving Week 2010.