I’m back from the race! New Orleans was so much fun! The weather was gorgeous, the race was a blast, and the food was awesome! Will and I met up with a bunch of friends from college to run the race, a few of which this was their first half marathon!
We got to New Orleans on Thursday night, planned out our weekend at the hotel, and hit the sack. We stayed right on Canal street only a few blocks from the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. We started Friday off riding the St. Charles street car.
For only a buck we were able to ride the entire street car route from Canal street, past Loyola and Tulane and through the neighborhoods of New Orleans beautiful old mansions.
We stopped for lunch at St. James Cheese Company – a place recommended by a friend. This quaint little sandwich shop had tons of delicious cheeses, cured meats, wines, and even Belgian chocolate
Will and I split a cheese plate which included a classic Blue Cheese, a Wisconsin Manchego, a Prosecco champagne infused cheese, and 2 Triple Cream cheeses (one coated with mustard seeds). The Triple Cream cheese were 75% fat and almost closer to butter than cheese, but delicious nonetheless! My favorite was the Prosecco champagne infused cheese with its fruity sweet flavor to compliment the cheese. The cheese platter was paired with honey soaked walnuts (these were to die for), corn salsa, candied fruit, grapes and a baguette. St. James Cheese Company was definitely one of my favorite stops on the trip!
Oh yeah, and I also couldn’t pass up this NewTree Belgian dark chocolate with cranberries, pomegranate, grape and papaya!
Later that evening we went to Yo Mama’s for dinner, a well-known burger joint in the French Quarter. We stopped there to try their famous Peanut Butter Burger (yes, a hamburger with peanut butter) and to grab a beer. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the peanut butter burger due to the poor lighting at the bar, but it was extremely interesting and strangely delicious!
Saturday we hit up the Health and Fitness Expo to get our race information followed by more sightseeing. We stopped at Faulkner House Books, the famous (but tiny) used bookstore where William Faulkner wrote his first novel located in Pirates Alley of the French Quarter.
We also made our way over to the St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square.
We called it an early night on Saturday to prepare for the race Sunday morning! The race started at 7am Sunday. The weather was quite chilly in the morning but warmed up for a gorgeous 65 degrees and sunny as the race progressed. I finished with a time of 2 hours and 17 minutes (20 minutes faster than my Chicago time!). Everyone finished strong with great times! (Note that the sunny day caused a bit of a glare in our photography)
After returning to the hotel and enjoying a nice shower and nap we all went out looking for some authentic New Orleans cuisine. For lunch I indulged in the traditional jambalaya, red beans and rice, and gumbo!
For dessert we headed over to Café du Monde for their famous Beignets. I had been dying to try these the whole trip and what better way to indulge after a half marathon than to eat Beignets! Started up in 1862, Café Du Monde is the original French Market coffee stand and is a busy hotspot 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
We watched the bakers in the window while we waited as they made the Beignets by frying pieces of dough and coating them generously with powdered sugar. We waited in line for about 20 minutes just to get our Beignets, but it was well worth the wait!
I enjoyed my Beignets with a classic Café Au Lait. I even bought a can of Café Du Monde to take home with me!
Outside the café the streets were swarming with pedestrians and mule-drawn carriages. As we were leaving the café I shared a nibble of my Beignet with a mule who gladly accepted my kind offer by sucking the powdered sugar off my entire hand and looking for seconds.
Our trip to New Orleans was a nice break away from the snowy streets of Chicago. The Mardi Gras Half Marathon was nothing but amazing! With the delicious food, crazy nightlife and joyful spirit of the city, New Orleans is definitely one of a kind!