Great travel article by SFPRN Member Lahoma Scarlette

SFPRN Member, Lahoma Scarlette’s day job is looking out for the citizens of Broward County as administrator with Vice Mayor of Broward County Dale Holness (District 9).

But it’s no secret…. she is also a TERRIFIC writer both for the office and wears a reporter hat when she travels.

Please visit the link for the entire story…


One time in New Orleans

· Lahoma Scarlette Special to The Miami Times

The Big Easy, Crescent City, Birthplace of Jazz, Paris of the South, NOLA. There are plenty of nicknames for New Orleans, whatever you may call it, once you go, you’ll understand it’s an American City unlike any other.

“You’re gonna love the food,” was the first thing I heard when I told people I was heading to NOLA for a quick birthday trip with my Favorite Son. I had always heard great things about Louisiana cooking and have eaten Cajun and Creole dishes here in South Florida, so I knew my taste buds were in for a real awakening.

The first order of the day after landing was to get to eating and we wasted no time going to Surrey’s Café and Juice Bar on Magazine Street, in the Lower Garden District. Before I left for my trip, I told my hairstylist friends at my salon that I was finally going to New Orleans, and they were so happy I would finally get to experience the city. They go every year for the Essence Festival, so they have come to learn about the good spots for authentic NOLA food and experiences. We went to Surrey’s, and I ordered the highly recommended Shrimp and Grits while my Favorite Son ordered the Bananas Foster French Toast. That was the best tasting shrimp and grits I ever had in my life! The grits were fluffy and thick at the same time, the shrimp was well seasoned and cooked just right. They make their French toast with real French bread, stuffed with banana cream cheese. It had rum, brown sugar, and was topped off with powdered sugar.

After a filling brunch what does one do? Walk it off of course, and that’s exactly what we did. We returned to the hotel, and walked to the French Quarter, which is a must, for a first time New Orleans visit. We walked along Canal Street, went to Jackson Square, which is very lively on a Saturday afternoon, and got to hear some funky jazz music being played by some teenagers. A long line of tarot card readers and psychics set up their tables right across from St. Louis Cathedral. Even more peculiar to me was the fact they were busy with a long line of customers wanting to be told or sold what their future holds.

Later that night we decided to try another highly recommended restaurant by my salon, Neyow’s Creole Café. I was told to order the Shrimp Etouffee and that my Son Julian would love the fried chicken. At Neyow’s, a crowd was waiting outside, and the large glass front window showed a packed restaurant. I opted for the shrimp creole, while Son went for the fried chicken. I also ordered the carrot souffle, which people raved about online. My shrimp creole was good, but the carrot souffle was supreme; it did not taste like carrots at all. I would put it more along the line of sweet potatoes. I also took a little dib of my Son’s fried chicken. It was probably the most flavorful, moist fried chicken I ever had.

On Sunday we went to the Big3 Basketball Playoffs at the Smoothie King Center. After the game, we went on the hunt for street art, which I love to discover when I visit a new city. New Orleans’ art scene is huge, and its street art adds soul to the already vibrant city. We found some beautiful art at Studio BE, owned by Brandan “Bmike” Odums, on Royal Street. We saw more stunning art by other artists along St. Claude Avenue. I would say this is a must if you are into street art. You’ll see all types of murals, everything from Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill (what’s happening with that?), scenes from a Jazz jam session, to a mural of Big Freedia, née Freddie Ross, Queen of New Orleans Bounce Music.

Later that evening for dinner we went to another recommended spot Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar in Uptown New Orleans, which is a historic part of the city. I started off with a cup of the chicken and andouille gumbo, because I had to taste gumbo while in its birthplace. I was told to order the crawfish cornbread, which is listed as an appetizer on the menu, but the serving is huge. The cornbread was warm and soft, and sat atop some type of stew, in addition to crawfish; there was some type of shrimp mixed in. I smiled the whole time I ate this dish, and nary a morsel was left on my plate.

On Monday we took the streetcar along St. Charles Avenue, which is a residential area in New Orleans. St. Charles avenue is lined with oak trees and beautiful mansions built in the 19th and 20th century and is a great place to take a leisurely stroll. Tulane and Loyola universities are in this area, so it was interesting to see a mixture of students and old-world New Orleans coexisting.

When we were leaving NOLA, we experienced rain, which impacts the city in a way I never thought of before. Living in South Florida when it rains heavy, we go about our business, but in New Orleans sudden rain can bring flooded streets, which heavily impact traffic, homes, and businesses. Thanks to our wonderful Lyft driver Allen, we were able to make it to the airport on time, because as a native New Orleanian he knew which roads to avoid because of the flooding. Allen also shared charming stories about his city while he navigated the flooded streets. I couldn’t help but think about Hurricane Katrina while en route to the airport, even more so when we passed by the famous cemeteries and their above-ground tombs.

All in all, it was a great 72 hours of Laissez les bon tiemps rouler, which is French for Let the good times roll, the motto of New Orleans, and, after visiting, I can attest is 100% true.

There is so much to see and do in NOLA, here are a few tips:

• NOLA is known for its cuisine; it’s a reflection of the mashup of ethnicities that founded and now live in the city. Avoid the chain restaurants and eat at local eateries.

• Desserts are a serous thing here. You can go to Café DuMonde and try the beignets, but there are so many sweet shops offering all types of treats. Many will let you try a sample. Try a New Orleans praline (made from butter, evaporated milk, sugar and homegrown pecans), for which the city is known.

• Take a streetcar to see other parts of the city. The fare is $1.25 (exact change) or $3 for an all-day Jazzy Pass. The street cars are charming and convenient.