After a day of staying indoors with a heavy dose of museum, we decided to dial back our ambition on Friday and take advantage of a beautiful day weather wise with a first stop at Lafayette Cemetery #1. Located in the heart of the Garden District, it is the oldest of the seven city-operated cemeteries in New Orleans. It is a non-segregated, non-denominational cemetery, with immigrants from over 25 different countries and natives of 26 states as identified on the closure tablets.
We were lucky to find on street parking on Coliseum around the corner from the entrance to the cemetery and as we made the turn noticed that the famous Commanders Palace Restaurant sits across the street. It was a bit early for us to stop in and wearing shorts, I wasn’t properly attired, a disappointment as we’d been advised that their lunch pricing is the best deal in the city for this level of food.
We entered the cemetery and spent a leisurely hour or so walking the grounds, viewing the tombstones, sometimes dropping in on one of the many guided tours taking place. Many, if not most of the tombs are privately owned, but in these city cemeteries, instead of purchasing a plot, a person purchases a servitude right of use of space. Basically, this is a private right to use the property owned by another, and it can be passed down to successors under the right circumstances.
The servitude gives the person the ability to construct a tomb and bury within that structure, and it must be renewed every 10 years. If someone does not renew his servitude, the City has the right to assume ownership, which includes relocating any interments and altering or demolishing any existing structures. Efforts to allow the resale of abandoned or neglected tombs have been slow to take effect, and have been met with some resistance. An 1850s law states a family can be fined $50 for not maintaining a family-owned tomb, but that law has not been routinely enforced.
After our time with the long dead, I was feeling a bit peckish and we decided to walk around the neighborhood, this being the Garden District and its many fine residences. After three blocks we made it to Magazine street with a Starbucks on the corner and as I had a reward coming my way, stopped there to get a cup of coffee and one of their pretty decent breakfast sandwiches.
We then killed another hour or so walking up and down Magazine, checking out the many antique and consignment shops lining both sides of the street. Finished with our browsing, we drove to City Park to visit the Besthoff Sculpture Garden. Home to over 60 pieces of art, it sits in a lovely five acre setting that brilliantly highlights each individual piece. I initially wasn’t that interested in visiting as art isn’t a passion of mine, but soon found myself captured by the beauty of the locale and unique nature of the sculptures.
Done with culture and historical spelunking for the day, we drove back over towards the house to stop in for some refreshment at one of the places recommended by our Airbnb hosts, Bacchanal. An older two story building on the corner of Poland Ave and Chartres St., they feature an extensive selection of wines in bottles and by the glass, a small but well thought out menu, and a shaded patio where various local music acts perform every day.
Over the course of a few hours we would go through two bottles of wine and an excellent charcuterie plate, unique in that you select the cheeses you want (we chose two) from a refrigerated case and then the staff builds out the rest of the plate with meat and other complimentary items. It was a pleasant afternoon weather wise, warm but not too hot and time seemed to drift by as we soaked up the sun, drank our wine, and listened to the music.
We found ourselves in a bit of a quandary, the cheese plate enough to get us through the afternoon, but not enough to make it through the rest of the day, and we decided to walk up river on Chartres St. to another recommendation of our hosts, Elizabeth’s. Founded in 1996 and known for their Praline Bacon (a combination of pecan candy and salty pork), we’d leave sorry that we weren’t hungrier and not able to fully explore the menu.
With a robust and reasonably priced drink menu, I opted for a Old Fashioned (Maker’s Mark, Simple Syrup, Angostura Bitters) while Joanna chose a Negroni (Bombay Gin, Campari, and Sweet Vermouth), both at eight dollars. She and I split the Panned Rabbit with Brandy-Peppercorn Sauce and Lyndsay chose the Dream Burger with Praline Bacon and Blue Cheese. As with her large portion of food from Emeril’s the night before, much of this larger burger would get taken back to the house and form the basis for a delicious breakfast egg scramble the next morning for all of us.
We finished our meal, settled the bill and walked across the street to the levee, up and over and down into a park alongside the river. The sun was setting providing us with a gorgeous view, downtown New Orleans in the background, the river filling the lower portion of the shot throughout the frame. It had been another full day in the city with just the right mixture of culture, food, and alcohol. With one more day left to go where would our muse lead us?
Lafayette Cemetery #1: http://goneworleans.about.com/od/cemeteries/a/Lafayette.htm
Commanders Palace: http://www.commanderspalace.com/
Besthoff Sculpture Garden: https://noma.org/sculpture-garden/