Even though it’s tropically hot here, we decided to take some time in the morning to visit City Park’s playground. It was definitely an “earlier rather than later” excursion simply to avoid heatstroke. We got sunblocked and packed a lovely, healthy lunch of fruit, granola bars, hummus, and juices (most of which was ignored, of course) and hit the road.
The playground next to the peristyle was jam-packed with kids, which was surprising until we saw the buses from NORD. It was a summer program for the inner-city kids who rarely get out of their neighborhoods. Even though it was crowded, Holland barreled right on in, full speed ahead. She played hard for a good hour, all the while with me chasing her and shoving water at her and making her drink it. She looked like she had just gone swimming she was so drenched with sweat! There was another little girl about her age, and the two of them became fast friends and chased each other in circles for a while.
I finally convinced her to take a breather and have a snack, and we watched a few kids playing football in their Saints jerseys. I have to say, it was a sight that made my heart happy. After resting in the shade of a live oak for a while, we walked over to the peristyle to visit the ducks. There was a personal trainer there with her client, and as she guided him through exercises, Holland started marching and counting along with her, interrupting their session but giving us all a good laugh.
Although I really wanted to bring her to Storyland and the sculpture garden, we were both sun-drunk and exhausted, so those will have to wait until another day. We went home for an afternoon nap and a shower.
PawPaw came home from offshore later with a surprise – Braiden was coming to spend the night! Holland woke up and the two of them played hard all night long (so I heard) with only a short dinner break. I went out for dinner and a beverage with Jeff, so I unfortunately missed the shenanigans at the house.
Camellia Grill was, in the words of Richard Collin (hilarious NOLA food critic), “platonic,” meaning “the best imaginable realization of a dish…perfect.” It wasn’t just the food, though. It was the entire atmosphere. There are only about 30 seats around a counter with a completely open kitchen. The menu is elegantly simple (sandwiches, breakfasts, red beans on Monday and gumbo the rest of the week). My gumbo arrived in a grandma’s house-patterned Corningware bowl and was filled to the brim. A thick dark roux, lots of file’, sausage, chicken, and shredded pork with fluffy rice was placed in front of me by Leon, our server. The smell alone is enough to make you look to the heavens and whisper a “thank you.” Even though it was getting more crowded, they didn’t rush us to leave, and when we did get up to pay, Leon gathered our plates, gave us fist bumps, and told us to make sure to come back.
In need of post-dinner sweets, we went to Puccino’s Coffee to visit Lauren and indulge in something caffeinated and chocolatey. It’s actually in Metairie, but well worth the drive. Funky, fun atmosphere, great drinks and pastries, and the best barista in the world! We had a great visit with her, and decided it was time for a more “grown-up” sort of drink, which led us back Uptown.
Igor’s. Igor’s Lounge, Game Room, and Laundromat, actually. Everything I’d heard about the place said it was “sketchy” and “the perfect dive bar.” This, of course, meant it was a must-visit place. We were strangely disappointed when we got there and realized that it was decidedly non-sketchy, but the disappointment quickly changed to happiness when we saw the tacky Christmas decorations, the checkerboard tables, the Tide detergent vending machine, and the scruffy patrons bellied up to the bar. Before we knew it, we had been there for hours, indulging in Abita Amber and crispy french fries with hot sauce. Prime people-watching and super-friendly bartenders mean a return trip is an absolute necessity!
From there, it was time to go home and get rested for a full Saturday of grilling and playing with Holland and Braiden.