November 12, 2007
A Streetcar Named St. Charles

IMGP2008_edited.jpgAs reported everywhere over the weekend, the celebrated St. Charles Avenue streetcars in New Orleans again are clattering and swaying from the French Quarter out to Napoleon Avenue, about the midway point of its total 6.5 miles. That's long enough to appreciate the stone and brick mansions that line the broad route and to see plenty of evidence that New Orleans is continuing to heal since Hurrican Katrina more than two years ago.

When the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo International Wine Competition ended Sunday afternoon, I hopped over to New Orleans for a visit with the son who lives here. I got in too late to really want to eat, though a cafe au lait and beignets at Cafe de Monde perked me up for a balmy evening stroll about the French Quarter.

Besides, on the way out of Houston we stopped at Luling City Market for some hot links, brisket and ribs. Luling City Market was the barbecue joint several Houstonians recommended as we left the judging. It specializes in "Central Texas" barbecue, which must mean intensely smoked brisket and ribs not as juicy as I prefer. Thankfully, the joint's mustrard-based barbecue sauce juiced up the meat with welcome tang.

On the other hand, the spicy beef and pork hot links didn't need any seasoning at all, other than some Shiner Bock to tamp down the heat. They're outstanding links, and on the way out the door the bartender said they, along with the sauce, ribs and so forth, can be ordered online.

I'm not sure where I'll be eating in New Orleans, though I'd better decide soon to judge by the crowds I saw last night in Stella!, Bayona and other hot spots. I'd been wanting to check out the city's best-known restaurant for Creole cookery, Dooky Chase, but when I called owner Leah Chase a few days ago she said she isn't likely to open for anything but takeout until around Thanksgiving. The place has been refurbished after being swamped with four feet of water during the hurricane, but she said she's having trouble getting servers of the caliber she prefers. Elsewhere, many of the city's signature restaurants are back in business, so I'm not likely to go hungry.

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