Away from Clean ’09, New Orleans Offers Visitors ‘Little Something Extra’ (Part 2 of 2)

Bruce Beggs |

NEW ORLEANS — When the drying tumblers stop tumbling, the garment conveyors stop conveying and the steam hisses no more for the day, it’ll be time for Clean Show attendees to experience what the locals call lagniappe (pronounced lan-yap) — the lingo for “a little something extra.”
Tourism is a driving economic force here, and the city responds with great hospitality, music, food and atmosphere. While other cities may excel in one area or another, no other offers the total package, says Riddle & Associates, the Clean Show’s management firm.CITY OF UNRIVALED CUISINE
The diversity of the people of New Orleans and their music is more than matched by the fare at its many tables — there are even more restaurants than pre-Katrina, Riddle and Associates says.
From sophisticated Creole to stick-to-your-ribs Cajun, the cuisine is unrivaled and takes advantage of the plentiful seafood of the region: shrimp, redfish, crawfish, catfish and oysters. No visit to New Orleans is complete without a sampling of such local staples as red beans and rice, the various gumbos and étouffées, jambalaya, sausages, shrimp rémoulade, and, of course, sugary-sweet pralines.
New Orleans boasts some of the world’s oldest and most famous fine-dining restaurants. Dinner at Antoine’s, established in 1840, is a tradition.
Equally famous are Arnaud’s, Commander’s Palace, Court of Two Sisters, Galatoire’s, K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, and Mr. B’s Bistro, to name just a few. Not to be missed are some of the more recent additions: Nola, Palace Café, GW Fins, Drago, and many more.
Breakfast at Brennan’s, where bananas Foster was made famous, is another tradition, but be ready to savor it over two hours or more, Riddle & Associates warns.
For lighter morning fare, try café au lait (Cajun coffee with milk) and beignets (square sugary doughnuts) at the original Café du Monde in the French Market. They have been served there since 1862, and are available 24 hours a day. Mother’s is the place to find locals having their power breakfast.
For a quick and hearty meal, try an original muffuletta sandwich — marinated olive salad covered with layers of capicola, salami, mortadella, Emmentaler and provolone — where it was invented, at the Central Grocery on Decatur Street.
Mulate’s, across the street from the convention center, offers fine Cajun food, music and dancing. And be sure to stand at the raw bar at Felix’s or Acme Oyster House to sample plump and delicious oysters.SEEK OUT LESSER-KNOWN SITES
But there’s more to New Orleans than the French Quarter, music and great food. A good way to see it is by the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), which boasts the oldest continuously operated street railway system in the world. Fares are reasonable at just $1.25. Passes — $5 for one day, $12 for three days — are good on RTA streetcars and buses, and enable visitors to get on and off to explore at will.
Take the Riverfront trolley along the river from the convention center to the French Market. The St. Charles streetcar is the favored way to tour the lush Garden District with its magnificent mansions that hold so many secrets, the campuses of Loyola and Tulane universities, the “cities of the dead” above-ground cemeteries, and the Audubon Zoo.
Rest at City Park, where you can see Spanish moss hanging gracefully from a 100-year-old live oak tree; or visit the New Orleans Museum of Art, one of the Gulf South’s finest art museums and sculpture gardens, featuring an outstanding collection of world art and an expansive Faberge gallery.
The fascinating story of New Orleans unfolds on concise markers at convenient intervals describing how the city was swapped between the French and Spanish during the 18th-century wars and politics, of Thomas Jefferson’s historic Louisiana Purchase, and of the influx of people from around the globe that gives New Orleans its unique culture.
At Riverwalk, adjacent to Morial Convention Center where Clean ’09 will be held, visitors can stroll along the crescent-shaped bend in the Mississippi that gives the city its other nickname: the Crescent City.
The promenade offers broad vistas of the waterborne commerce that makes New Orleans one of the nation’s leading ports. You can sit outside the shops and restaurants of Riverwalk Marketplace and watch the ships come and go. Or you can take a short Mississippi cruise on the riverboat casino moored there. The Aquarium of the Americas, among the nation’s best, is there also.
Another attraction on many must-see lists is the Louisiana Superdome. Across the street from it are two of the few remnants of Katrina that are visible to most visitors — the Hyatt Regency hotel and the now-closed New Orleans Center Mall.
For those who wish to see how far the city has come since Katrina, take a tour of the still-recovering Lower Ninth Ward or Lakeview areas, Riddle & Associates suggests. These were the hardest-hit areas when the 17th Street Levy breached, flooding 60% of the city. Some homes were saved, while others washed away. The entire infrastructure was destroyed, but many projects are underway to rebuild the areas and to memorialize those who were lost.WORDS TO THE WISE
It’ll be balmy in New Orleans during Clean, with daytime highs around 90, though evening breezes may moderate temperatures somewhat, Riddle & Associates says. Visitors should dress comfortably in light clothing, avoid overexertion, and seek out air-conditioned havens such as cafes, bars and coffee shops.
Foreign visitors who shop while in New Orleans can get a refund of Louisiana sales tax paid on purchases they plan to take home. Save the receipts, which can be redeemed at a “duty-free” station at Riverwalk or at the airport. A passport and airline ticket will be needed to claim a refund.
There will be plenty to see and do on the convention floor during Clean’s four-day run this month, but don’t forget to combine business with sightseeing and fun. As the Cajuns say, “Laissez les bon temps rouler;” let the good times roll!Click here to see Part 1 of this story!

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.


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