Feeling the chill in New Orleans -- and digging into superior imperial rolls at Blue Elephant on Cortland
CHEAP EATS It was minus two in Boston when I got on the airplane. I was all bundled up in borrowed and stolen clothing, trying to tap what was left of the warmth from our show there. Between 200 and 300 bodies, and, no, I didn't get laid, but on the other hand I never felt more loved. There may have been one or two dry eyes in the house, but there were not a lot of dry pairs of underpants. Myself, I was completely creamed by the whole thing. I'm still a little shaken.
At the airport, on the weather on the news on TV, they showed a live shot of San Francisco, just before dawn, and said that it was 60 there, that San Franciscans would wake up to a clear, beautiful day.
But that wasn't where I was going. I was going to New Orleans. New Orleans is where I am, and I intend to have a lot to say about the food scene here. Crawdad de la Cooter, who grew up in this neck of the swamp, thinks I'm not going to want to come home. I think it's going to take more than red beans and rice and gumbo to change my life at this point.
Now Kayday, she gave us all a scare. After nine months of not finding a job in San Francisco, she found a job in L.A., and on the day before the big move, she got a call from her new employer saying that she'd been, in effect, laid off. Talk about cutting it close! She called me right afterward.
"I have good news," she said. Then she told me the bad news.
"How are you feeling about this?" I asked.
She was shocked, she said, and also euphoric.
I said, "I'm sorry." I said, "Congratulations!"
This was, unequivocally, bacon for my own musical future. When I come home now, my new band will be all in one piece and place, which is important for things like bands and chandeliers.
Last night while I was sleeping, a curtain rod did not fall on my head. However, almost the whole rest of my household here was of the opinion that one had. New Orleans is like that. It's a haunted city. Things go bump in the night, and clang and crack and "Ow! Goddamn it!"
So far I am charmed. My first meal was a fried oyster po' boy, and the first thing I saw when I left the house this morning was three giraffes — real, live, leafy-toothed giraffes that were not in any way a figment of my imagination, because it turns out there's a zoo just across the park.
Tell you why I'm here: one of the families whose cute little nine-month-old childern I care for just moved from Berkeley to New Orleans, just for the semester. This childern, both his moms are perfessers, one at State, and one — uh oh — at Tulane. I'm here to help, but also to eat myself silly and have scary adventures to write home to you and/or Earl Butter about.
Since the fried oyster po' boy I imbibed last night was, as the saying goes, nothing to write home to you and/or Earl Butter about, I will instead regale you with misinformation about a meal I ate with Kayday before I even left San Fran.
On a cold, cold and windy, windy night, the likes of which you haven't seen and are not likely to see in some time, according to The Weather Channel, Kayday and I ventured our way over to Bernal Heights around dinner time. We were going to squeeze in one last practice at Bambam's house before Kayday moved to the city of Angels and I to the city of Saints.
It all seemed like Not A Bad Idea at the time. To get something to eat first. So we wound up at Blue Elephant on Cortland Avenue. And we ordered imperial rolls, duck curry, and something else that I have forgotten. But the imperial rolls were not forgettable. They were great. And the duck curry, which is of course a red coconut milk curry with tomato, pineapple, and roasted duck, was fantastic.
Kayday told me she was going to make a blog about living in L.A. called "My Year of Living Los Angelesly," and I thought that that was a fairly brilliant idea.
I still think so, but now someone else is going to have to do it.
Daily, Lunch: 10:30 a.m.–3 p.m.;
Dinner: 5 p.m.–10 p.m.
803 Cortland, SF
Beer and wine