Now for a disclaimer: As a visiting journalist in a city where tourism has become the life's blood, I was treated royally. The Convention and Visitors Bureau and no fewer than 10 restaurants rolled out the gold, green and purple carpet.
So if you want to take my review with a grain of cayenne pepper, you're entitled. But I can report with clear conscience that my breakfast at Brennan's, lunch at Antoine's and dinner at Arnaud's were among the best meals I've ever been served.
So, thanks to Bonnie Warren, our hostess at Brennan's, for sharing tales of ghosts and other local celebs over the poached eggs and bananas Foster; to Collete Guste, a fifth-generation Alciatore, for the tour of the 15-room, 163-year-old Antoine's, oldest restaurant in the country continuously operated by one family. And for the shrimp and avocado salad and baked Alaska; and to Susan and Lee Hennessey for guiding us through the four-course menu at Arnaud's and sending us on our way in time for Patti Austin's concert. (I vow to return to finish my bread pudding!)
Thanks also to Rachel Collier Vella at Hard Rock Cafe, where the Satchmo Room's memorabilia includes a horn he once played (ask Rachel how she tracked this artifact down); to the gracious hosts at Bella Luna, where pianist Tom McDermott and clarinetist Tim Laughlin serenaded us with conversation-stopping renditions of old New Orleans classics over lunch; to Mother's, the po-boy capital; to the Crescent City Brewhouse for fine local beer; and finally to Richard and Ulla at the Funky Butt, where the food was as great as the music.