Swirl Wine Bar & Market – 3143 Ponce de Leon Street, New Orleans
If I was going to open a wine bar/store it would have all the trimmings of Swirl. I step inside and for once I don’t get carded. I tell Erin that I’m into biodynamic and fresh wines–turns out the people who run Swirl are too. The type of wine strore that satisfies the wine-geek looking for rare grape varieties or regions. Croatina as a monovarietal! Rosé from Vallée d’Aosta, 100% nebbiolo! The space allows to drink a glass while you shop. You have also a great selection of artisanal cheeses from Spain, Italy and France. It was the only wine shop I went to and it felt like home.
Community Book Center – 2523 Bayou Rd, New Orleans
« More Than a Book Store : Learn about Black History 365 days a year » the credo says it all. I was looking for books about black incarceration and the U.S. penal state, I left with a feeling of community because of Vera and Mama Jen. On the left side were bleachers for community gatherings, behind on the walls t-shirts proclaiming “Kaepernick is the truth” and “Black Lives Matter”. No comprehension of American history is possible without appreciating the central role of African-Americans. There was no shortage of books to quench my thirst but more importantly, Jen and Vera, sensing I wanted to dig deeper, told me about the numerous community initiatives and goings on. I won’t forget this place or its educative and mobilizing role, a positive constructive force to be reckoned with.
Commander’s Palace – 1403 Washington Avenue, New Orleans
The website spoke of a dress code. I’m wearing jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers and trying to look as dignified as possible. So if you order the turtle soup, do accept the waiter’s offer of drizzling some brandy on top! The suckling pig, bang on! The fish, crispy skin and moist flesh. The wine list, probably the best I have ever seen…but would require a few hours to go through it. Commander’s Palace is every bit the Southern gem of nobility it is made out to be, with the friendly attentive service that leads to another visit whenever you are in town again.
Cochon – 930 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans
The style of having small plates to share and sample is all the rage in Montreal. When it is well executed and the wine list is exciting you have a winning combination. The classic collared greens with jus de porc is the type of rustic dish that I fall for every time. Although Cochon does meat well, vegetables are far from being an afterthought. Great selection of Washington and Oregon wines,.
The Half Shelf On The Bayou – 2517 Bayou Rd, New Orleans
We were told to go go for the happy hour oyster and margherita special : A dozen oysters gets you a half dozen free and the cocktails are two for one! Here is where the locals come after work to eat po boys, sip a beer and watch the game. The charcoal oysters are a must.
The Spotted Cat Music Club – 623 Frenchmen Street, New Orleans
From show to show, word of mouth is everything in a city with such a vibrant music scene. I went here four nights in a row. One band plays three sets starting at 2pm until 6pm. People walk in, have a drink, clap their hands, do a little dance and run out again. The stuffy intimate atmosphere is what makes The Spotted Cat a real treasure. Places like this tend to attract some really great human beings. Chances are you are sitting to one at the bar and before you know you are deep in conversation over a few bottles of Nola.