Notice anything different about this blog post? First, look at the URL. That’s right! We bought a domain! Cooktraveleat.com. Now, if you have the old website name saved, it will still take you here. But, this is a simpler URL to remember. Plus, it describes this blog perfectly. Second, this isn’t a blog post by Kurt, it’s by Cristina! Okay, okay, stop the cheering. You knew this day was coming, you just didn’t realize it would be so soon, did you?
On Saturday, we went to the Audubon Zoo for Earth Fest. At my work, I help out with the ecology club, who works with the Wetland Watchers, a group dedicated to wetland conservation. They presented a booth at Earth Fest to help teach kids about why wetland conservation is so important, and also to do small arts and crafts, look at various Louisiana animal fossils and skins, play a wonderful game about knowing your animal poo, and also receive a free baby cypress tree. It is really cool to witness all these middle and high school students volunteering their time and energy to engage all the people that stopped by, especially the little kids wanting to do the little crafts. Many booths were there besides ours, not to mention some delicious food and a stage for bands.
For lunch, I tried the chicken, waffles, and fries. Those little waffles are fluffy and simply wonderful to eat. The chicken wings were cooked to a nice golden brown, though I found them a little unflavorful. The fries were just what I expected…fries. In all, it was a decent meal. I really wanted to try the Cajun crawfish pasta and the bread pudding, but never managed to go back and get some. The bands that played were local and small, but the music was pleasant and people could bring their own chairs and listen
and relax. All of the booths were either ecology-based and educational (like the Sierra Club) or entrepreneurs looking to sell their wares (handmade wooden bowls and cutting boards). Over 7000 people turned out to come and experience the sights and sounds of Mother Nature and enjoy everything the zoo has to offer.
Kurt and I took a stroll through the Asian Domain of the zoo when we wrapped up the booth. We were exhausted after spending the day in the hot sun, our first really hot day of the year, so we people watched by the beautiful elephant fountain for awhile before leaving. I wish we would have felt up to experiencing the whole zoo, because it really is quite beautiful and remarkable to see all the wonderful animals they have. The zoo tries really hard to give them ample space relating closely to their natural habitat. It really is an exquisite place.
Afterward, both Kurt and I were finishing a tad over-heated, so we decided to head to Plum Street for a snowball. When we went to the Palmer Park Art Market a couple of weeks ago, Kurt had one and said how yummy it was. We park a block away and as we walked closer, we realized how incredibly long the line of people were. They had a picnic bench out with some patio cheers and a nice cheery umbrella. The actually little
shop itself was very small, only a counter with about 5 or 6 people working behind it and enough room for maybe 8 to 10 people to pack in tightly as they ordered. They had a large variety of flavors in so many sizes, some even in Chinese take-out buckets. I’m really not much of a snowball eater, so I opted for the smallest size possible, the kid size. I chose a Strawberry Cheesecake cream flavor that was actually quite delicious. The ice was shaved so finely and the flavor was spot-on. Kurt chose a medium size Blackberry cream flavor, which he says was equally delicious. For the line being so long, we honestly did not wait any
longer than 10 or 15 minutes. The efficiency in which the workers worked together to smoothly get your size, put in the ice, add the flavor, and take your payment was remarkable. Even though it was a very tasty snowball, I do not think I would personally get a size any bigger than a kid’s size. I do not really like ice, never using it in any drinks, and never eating snowballs. I will say I would go back to Plum Street Snowballs and try another kid’s size flavor, because that’s exactly the amount of cold ice I can handle before I’m sick of it. Kurt thoroughly enjoyed his medium and I saw people was humongous sizes, so if you love snowballs, I highly recommended taking the drive. It’s right off of South Carrollton, the side away from the river.
We then drove around the city for a bit. Sometimes the architecture and the beauty of New Orleans still inspires and amazes me. I think Jay-Z and Alicia Keys have it wrong, it’s New Orleans, not New York. We drove past some of the beautiful old cemeteries, and I realized how much I wanted to visit my great-grandmother, Mimi. I couldn’t remember which cemetery she was buried in, but somewhere in my head I thought of St. Mary’s Cemetery. We used our iPhones to google where it was located. Turns out, it was only a few blocks down from Plum Street, where we got our snowballs! We laughed at the irony of driving back over there, and made the trip to Spruce St. As soon as we pulled up to the tiny cemetery, it just felt wrong. There was a rackety chain link fence around the area, EVERYTHING was overgrown and weeds were in some places five feet tall, on pathways, on top of graves, just everywhere. Some headstones were completely knocked over, while others were invisible behind the weeds. It was so sad, so very, very sad. We didn’t even go look around, because I couldn’t fathom that this could be where she was buried. Eventually, we gave up and decided to go to dinner.
Phil’s Grill is one of those places that isn’t exactly the most remarkable looking places in the world, but the burgers are simply out of this world. It is a build-your-own small, local burger joint that really has high quality ingredients with a plethora of options from which to choose. When we returned from our month long journey in Europe, the very first place we chose to eat at when we came back was Phil’s Grill. Whenever we have family or friends that come in from out of town, we take them to Phil’s. And in a city where repeat business does not have to occur because of the wide variety of places, that’s a big compliment to Phil. The place was surprisingly slow when we first got there; usually, we have to park across the street at Lakeside Mall because the parking lot is completely full. From the moment we walked in and sat at a dirty table, I knew things wouldn’t go well during this dining experience. Even though my chicken sandwich and fries tasted just as wonderful as always, the rest of the encounter just simply was not up to par. Kurt ordered the Burger of the Month, which was an oyster slider trio. On two of the sliders, the oysters were so small and there were only two of them. At $12.99, he expected a little bit better. Then, it did not even come with a side, which we did not find out about until we received the check and saw an extra $2.49 for fries. Now, he originally wanted potato salad, which they told him they were out of before they brought out the sliders, so he ordered fries. When they brought the oyster sliders, they did not bring the fries. When the waiter finally came to check on us, we told him about the missing fries. When the fries finally arrived, I was almost finished my sandwich and Kurt had been holding on to his last slider, letting it get cold, waiting for the fries. It was very disappointing. Then, when the check came, Kurt and I decided to split it. My one sandwich on mine credit card, and Kurt’s drink, sliders, and surprisingly charged fries on his. When they receipts came back, I was charged $17 and Kurt was charged $13. Not even remotely close to being right! We were so frustrated by bad service and an unpleasant feel about the whole place, we left in an aggravated state. I almost never tip less than 18%, but the waiter was to blame for a lot of the problems, so even though Kurt wanted to tip nothing, a begrudgingly left a $1 bill. Kurt tweeted his displeasure over the whole incident, and Phil, the owner, tweeted him back within a few hours asking him to contact him about the situation. Kurt composed a long email explaining the situation in very amiable words, explaining how much we love the place and how disappointed we are, and how we are not after anything “free,” we just wanted all those issues addressed. He responded how sorry he was, and how he hopes this will be an isolated incident, and how the waiter will personally receive a talking to. This isn’t a deal-breaker with the restaurant, but it is nice to know that the owner does such an upstanding job when it comes to his company and that he honestly cares about making his customers happy.
We ended the night by going to the Bonnebal boat launch on Lake Ponchatrain to watch the Super Moon! Of course, when we got there, on this beautiful dusk, there is one lonely, big cloud in the sky. And this singular cloud was covering the only thing that almost everyone at the lake wanted to see: the Super Moon. Oh, the irony! Eventually, the cloud made its slow journey past the moon, and we were able to see it in all its glory. We took some pictures that look like they belonged on a painting, with the reflecting lights and big moon. We sat on a little hill by the lake and just watched the sky, talked, and cuddled. Such a beautiful end to an interesting, very New Orleansy day.