Gather round my friends and you will hear the story of a Louisiana couple who persevered. Once upon a time Mindy owned a lingerie shop on Decatur Street in the New Orleans French Quarter. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina the city was in turmoil, and full of construction workers who didn’t need lingerie. Desperate to save her retail space Mindy put the same artistic talent she had used to do the graphic designs on her lingerie to use on handcrafts.
Enter David the limo driver. Katrina also did a number on David. Leaving 10 feet of water in his home and making the need for limo drivers, even 25 year veteran limo drivers, basically non-existent in the Big Easy. It looked like David needed a plan. So with no place to stay and no job David moved to the French Quarter to try to find work. What he found was Mindy. Mindy needed someone to work her table in the French Market and David needed a job. Sounds like a plan to me.
Mindy and David took their plan and a prayer and together turned a floundering lingerie shop into a flourishing business. These guys with camera in hand went around the area taking pictures of NOLA landmarks, hotspots, and businesses. In a 3 day process that demonstrates detailed workmanship they create distinctive works of art in each beautiful glazed tile coaster, magnet and apron that are loved by locals and visitors alike.
Appreciating their efforts to keep intact some of the culture and history of the city, people started bringing in old grocery bags, matchbooks, notebooks, etc. The rest as they say is history, three years worth.
Next time you are in the French Market look for David and let him share some of his wonderfully nostalgic NOLA stories or stop in to see Mindy at the Milk Studio headquarters at 1309 Decatur and check out the new line of soy candles. You can also visit David and Mindy at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am inspired and humbled by the innovative people all over this great state, people like David and Mindy, who have suffered through devastating hurricanes, the aftermath and just rolled up their sleeves, picked up the pieces and kept right on going. Don’t you just love happy endings, it does a body good!
By Sharon Denise Talbot
I have a friend coming down this weekend and she wants to walk through the French Quarter. On my own trips I used to walk from my Dardy’s house but she no longer lives close by. Where can we park that is cheap or atleast safe? We don’t mind having to walk a while.
Anywhere you pay to park will be safe. Cheap isn’t so easy and you will probably have to pay about $10 for “all day”. That is a LOT better than getting a ticket (min $20) or being towed (min $100).
I usually park in the Canal Place parking garage (300 block of Canal Street). There are several parking lots on Decatur Street between Jackson Square and Bienville Street. You can also use the lot on the river side of the flood wall behind Cafe du Monde (go to Saint Peter & Decatur and turn toward the river).
Hope you have a great time!
If you are in New Orleans and you want to try a local favorite then this article “Fiorellas Fabulous Fried Chicken” looks at a great choice. There are additional links below with other great food choices when you are in New Orleans.
People come to New Orleans for all kinds of reasons and for some that reason is food. If you love food there are few places better than N’awlins to indulge that passion. I always get the question, “Where can I get good food in New Orleans?” Now really, how am I supposed to answer that? Just about anywhere you turn are some really great places, but if you are looking for the best fried chicken in the Big Easy it has got to be Fiorella’s. Hands down. If you don’t believe me just ask Southern Living Magazine.
Fiorella’s is located across from the New Orleans French Market at 45 French Market Place, but also has an entrance on Decatur St. The menu is quite extensive and includes some traditional N’awlins fare like over stuffed po’boys and thick, spicy gumbo. It even stretches to things like Liver and Onions, pastas and fried pickles to name but a few. If you don’t feel like getting out, no problem, Fiorella’s delivers in the French Quarter. You really should make the effort to dine in though; the experience is as enjoyable as the chicken and the tab is easy on the wallet .
My suggestion is find a seat and order a big frosted goblet of beer and a plateful of piping hot, crispy fried chicken and prepare to be amazed by this kickin’ chicken. Just another little tip, let the pieces of the crispy golden brown skin crumble into the bowl of warm home-made mashed potatoes covered in brown gravy. Yum. Are you hungry yet? Fiorella’s is a fun, casual place with the feel of being at your Mom’s for a big family meal. Don’t be surprised if you are carrying on a conversation with the whole dining room between mouth watering bites.
This is a favorite hangout for locals, and you never know who might stop in. Fortunate are the New Orleans visitors who find out about Fiorella’s fabulous fried chicken before they leave town. You can bet it will be one of their first stops on the next trip. Steaming hot from the first piece to the last this chicken is worth a return trip all by itself. We are talking a whole new degree of finger-licking!
Practically one of the first people I met when providence brought me back to the Big Easy a few years ago was Jon Guillaume. I imagine a fish must feel a lot like I did that day when he sees that tempting bait dangled in front of him. While strolling through the French Market on a perfect spring day I spotted this fabulous framed black and white of a shrimp boat from way across the Market. Hook, line and sinker, he reeled me in right then and there. I’ll be a fan for life.
Now my Paw-Paw was a shrimper, a fisherman from way back. My Mom actually lived the first several years of her life on a houseboat. Nostalgia could have been what piqued my interest in the beginning, but the closer I got the more enamored I became. The drawing was absolutely stunning in its simplicity. Then I noticed the exquisite, meticulous detail. Jon’s work is done almost solely in pencil, color pencil, pilot pen and black marker. It is phenomenal. The frame, I later learned was made by a friend of his from old re-claimed lumber from the New Orleans area. Jon’s version of the New Orleans Watermeter is also one of my many favorites.
Jon’s personal story is better than any fishing story I ever heard. I can vouch for this one, it is actually true. With a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from LSU, Jon started commuting to the French Market on weekends to sell his art. He could only make the trek on weekends because he was working another job during the week. It wasn’t long before his haul from the Market was bigger than his weekly paycheck. Now he gets to live in New Orleans and pursue his career as an artist full-time.
You can find Jon and his distinctive work in the French Market most Fridays through Mondays. Some of the galleries like Gallery 713 on Royal Street also showcase his work. You can also visit Jon’s website at www.bigezartist.com
By Sharon Denise Talbot
*Update: Congrats to Jon for being chosen the official 2011 Zulu poster artist!!
When you come to the New Orleans French Quarter you can’t help but notice the colorful mule drawn carriages throughout the Quarter streets. A relaxing buggy ride is often just the thing for foot weary sight seers, history buffs or romantic couples who want to snuggle a little closer than walking will allow.
These rides also include a narrated tour of the historic French Quarter and the renowned “Cities of the Dead”. No matter how much I think I know about New Orleans there is always more I don’t know. I love visiting with a particular buggy driver and his sidekick, Knucklehead. A virtual walking history book this guy knows his stuff. With thirty-five years of being a NOLA tour guide under his belt Mr. Carriere is as much a Big Easy attraction as the landmarks people flock to the Crescent City to see.
Twelve bucks for a thirty minute ride with someone who knows the streets and the stories as well as Mr. Carriere and Knucklehead is a hell of a deal. If you have never done the buggy ride thing or even if you have, treat yourself to a half hour with a favorite French Quarter fixture. Let Mr. Carriere take you on a scenic ride and regale you with NOLA tales of the past and present. Look for the lavender colored buggy parked in front of Jackson Square, feed Knucklehead a carrot and take in the sights and sounds of the historic Vieux Carre’ with a master storyteller.
The cadence of Knucklehead’s hoofs and timbre of Mr. Carriere’s voice are perfect compliments to the cacophony of sounds that resonant through the French Quarter. With plenty of tours to choose from this one covers all the bases. Informative but interesting, entertaining and amusing this is definitely one for your New Orleans “To Do” list. Enjoy the ride!
By Sharon Denise Talbot