Catch a wish. Dreams come true on Esplanade Avenue. Days unfold in garden bouquets on Esplanade Avenue. Take a deep breath. That’s New Orleans you’re smelling, a whiff of Heaven on earth.
I am having lunch today at Café Degas, right up the street from our boutique experience inn. What a beautiful day it is! Every day is a beautiful day in New Orleans, of course, especially on Esplanade Avenue, but today is really exceptional. Today is exquisite. I wish you were here.
A leisurely lunch is a New Orleans tradition.
New Orleans is unlike anyplace else in America. Some people say New Orleans is French in its love of fine dining and the art of conversation. The pace and the climate leads other people to claim that New Orleans is the northernmost Caribbean city. Days unfold without hurry or worry. New Orleans really is The City That Care Forgot.
What was I talking about?
The windows are all wide open at Café Degas this afternoon and the lightest of breezes is wafting through the dining room. The kitchen aromas are mingling with the perfume of the flowers planted in front of the café. Everyone who walks by looks at those of us sitting inside. We smile at each other and, sometimes, we wave to each other. Look, there goes Charlie!
New Orleans isn’t lazy. New Orleans is relaxed. When you are ready to come, relax, take a sniff of a whiff of Heaven on earth. New Orleans waits for you. The middle of the day is the most pleasant time of day, a time to sip a sazerac and ponder life’s more easygoing mysteries in New Orleans while the party of six seated closest to the street melodiously chatters in French as they toast each other in French, and while two tables of paired blonde and brunette ladies, separated by an empty table in between them, and by about thirty years, catch up on the news about their careers, about their husbands and boyfriends, about their plans for Mardi Gras (which will fall on the second weekend in February next year), and about which of the specials sounds better today, the braised rabbit or the foie de veau.
The waitress is carrying a small tart with a lit candle to the elder of the two blond women. The French people are singing Happy Birthday in English: “Happy birthday, dear mademoiselle, happy birthday to you.” We all clap when the cake is delivered.
It is hard to make a wish in New Orleans because the best thing you can imagine has already come true. What else is there to wish for?
I am having the crab and mirlliton bisque garnished with two crab claws. The waiter asks if I would like anything else. What else is there to want beyond a leisurely lunch at Café Degas on a sunny New Orleans day that smells so good that I wish I could bottle the air and sell it in New York City or Los Angeles? I’d be rich.
I sometimes imagine what it would be like to be rich with money. I am content to be rich with good memories. New Orleans is a city in which good memories are hatched and they are nurtured to immortality. The best memories made in New Orleans are made to last forever. The best New Orleans memories aren’t made in the French Quarter. For visitors to our fair city, the best New Orleans memories are made on Esplanade Avenue. I can pinpoint the exact location.
I’m done with lunch now. I am headed home. My home is just a fifteen-minute picturesque stroll from Café Degas, along shaded and colorful Esplanade Avenue. My home is one of the most colorful houses on our street. It can be your home for a short while, too. La Belle Esplanade is the orange house in the middle.
La Belle Esplanade: a small hotel unlike any other you’ve ever stayed in. Good memories are made on our street. We only have five suites. The time to make a reservation is now. Think about visiting New Orleans soon so that you can fill your lungs with a whiff of Heaven on earth and have a nice leisurely lunch of your own without a care in the world. Ah, New Orleans! Why isn’t there any other place like you?
It is the same reason there is no other hotel like La Belle Esplanade. Perfection and conviviality are hard models to imitate, let alone replicate. There is only one New Orleans. There is only one Esplanade Avenue.
À votre santé
La Belle Esplanade
…Where every day starts with a curated breakfast salon of good food, good company, and good conversation.
Thursday, October 27, 2017: I jotted down the above essay in my Field Notes pocket notebook while I had a leisurely lunch at Café Degas today. I didn’t edit my notes for publication here, I just transcribed what I wrote over lunch, mispellings, poor grammar, and all. I’m a much better raconteur in person than I am in print. Come see for yourself and stay at La Belle Esplanade when you visit New Orleans. You’ll get to meet me, your humble narrator, and you’ll get to meet Frau Schmitt, who is the better half of this operation. We look forward to meeting you and sharing what we know about this wonderful kaleidoscope of a city we call home.