We enjoy taking days trip to New Orleans and just bumming around. Usually we’ll try out a new restaurant, stop for beignets and coffee au lait and visit an attraction. On New Year’s Day we planned to eat brunch the Ruby Slipper restaurant and later stop by Audubon Park to see an impressive live oak tree. I’ve included a recipe for mimosas, an orange juice cocktail, which is found on brunch menus in these New Orleans restaurants.
Live Oak Tree
The occasion for our visit was to go sightseeing and show my son’s friend visiting from Germany some of the city’s attractions. Of course we wondered through the French Quarter in New Orleans. But there’s more to the city than Jackson Square and the French Quarter. You are missing much of the city if you don’t venture out. The “Tree of Life” is a beautiful live oak tree, almost 300 years old, in Audubon Park which is in uptown New Orleans. We stopped there for photos.The “Tree of Life” or the Etienne de Boré oak is a majestic and stately live oak tree. Occasionally weddings are held under the tree. Hum? It is located next to the Audubon Zoo and you might see giraffes peaking over the fence at the tourists. We arrived in the late afternoon, heard much squawking and squealing in the distance and assumed it was suppertime at the zoo. No giraffes today.
Audubon Park is located on land which originally was a large sugar cane plantation in the 1700’s. Jean Etienne de Boré was the first French planter to successfully grow sugar cane in Louisiana and process the cane into sugar. The tree was named after this plantation owner.
Live oak trees grow only in the southern states because they don’t tolerate many freezes. They are considered to be evergreen trees and shed their leave only very briefly in the spring. The trees are stately, graceful and spread out rather than up making a large canopy. They may grow to be 500 years old; the oldest documented live oak tree is 1200-years-old. Because of their deep tap roots and spreading roots and branches they withstand hurricanes, floods and high winds.
This tree, almost 300 years old, has lived under the rule of Spain, France, England, the Lone Star flag of the Republic of West Florida, the Confederate States and United States. If it could speak, I wonder what stories and secrets it could tell?
Biscuits and Buns on Banks Restaurant
Our plan for sightseeing on New Year’s Day was to first eat brunch at a local restaurant. The highly acclaimed restaurant, the Ruby Slipper, had a long line so instead we opted to stand in a long line outside in the rain at the restaurant, Biscuits and Buns on Banks. It is located in the Mid-City area of New Orleans. There are so many small, unique restaurants in neighborhoods in New Orleans, I think you could eat in the city for months and never repeat a restaurant.
Biscuits and Buns on Banks serves breakfast and brunch and is located in a old, restored “shotgun” duplex (meaning two residents or businesses reside in the building). It is operated by Owner Yvonne Collazo and Chef Dan O’Keefe. Here is the restaurant on a sunny day in the shadows of a live oak tree.
What is a “shotgun” house? It is an extremely long, very narrow house–one room wide–with doors to the outside on only the front and back of the house. This shotgun building is a duplex with a beauty salon occupying one half of the building (on the left) and the restaurant on the right. New Orleans is full of these shotgun houses.
A shotgun house has no halls so you walk through the house from one room to the next to get to the back of the house. A room in the restaurant has been modified to accommodate the restrooms but this shows how narrow the building is.The kitchen is in the front of the restaurant, so you walked past the kitchen to get to the dining room area. This shows the wait staff, chef, kitchen and entrance to the restaurant.The dining rooms are towards the back of the restaurant. The floor was un-level, so the water glasses slid across the table. This added to the ambiance and made for some entertainment!
The restaurant serves creative breakfast items: waffles with brie, breakfast burrito made with a pancake, french toast sticks made from challah, mini biscuits with pecan and Steen’s syrup butter, crawfish etouffee served over grits, chicken tenders with waffles and roasted potatoes, yogurt-granola-fruit parfaits and various breakfast drinks. There were omelets with vegetables and standard breakfast items, too. Of course there were biscuits. It was worth the wait in the rain! We all enjoyed our menu selections and the upbeat waiter staff.
I didn’t ask the chef to share a recipe and decided not to try to copy one. However, a mimosa, or orange juice cocktail, is representative of a drink served on the menus of breakfast and brunch restaurants in New Orleans.A mimosas is a refreshing orange juice cocktail made with fresh squeezed orange juice and champagne or sparkling wine. Grenadine syrup and triple sec liqueur can be added. I decided to try adding a Meyer lemon from my garden. This didn’t work! Too tart and diminished the orange flavor. And my fresh navel oranges didn’t have alot of flavor–fresh orange juice from a grocery might work just as well.
To make a mimosa, chilled champagne or sparkling wine is added to a tall champagne flute. Then chilled and fresh squeezed orange juice is added. No need to stir, the champagne bubbles up. For a non-alcoholic version–which I made today–chilled club soda is used in place of the champagne. The key here is to keep the ingredients cold, a warm mimosa just doesn’t have the flavor.I added grenadine syrup to the orange juice. This non-alcoholic cocktail mixer is made from pomegranate juice, sugar, and water. It adds color and a nice flavor. Grand Marnier and Cointreau, orange-flavored liqueurs, or triple sec can be added for a very alcoholic version.
Sipping mimosas and sightseeing in New Orleans. A great way to spend the day!
Orange Juice Mimosa
- 1 large navel orange
- 1 tsp grenadine syrup
- 1/3 cup club soda, champagne or dry sparking wine, chilled
- 1/2 oz triple sec, Grand Marnier, Contrieau or other orange flavored liqueur (optional)
- orange wedges for garnish (optional)
Method and Steps:
- Squeeze or juice the orange. This should make about 1/3 to 1/2 cup.
- Add the grenadine syrup and stir. Chill.
- Pour the chilled club soda, champagne or dry sparking wine into a chilled champagne flute.
- Add the orange juice with grenadine syrup.
- If making alcoholic version, add the triple sec, Grand Marnier or Contrieau.
- Serve cold with fresh orange wedges for garnish (optional).
100 Oaks Project. 100oaks.wordpress.com
Old and Magnificant: Top 10 Live Oak Trees in Louisiana myneworleans.com/Louisiana-Life/March-April-2011/Old-and-Magnificent/?cparticle=2
About Louisiana //louisiana.gov/Explore/About_Louisiana/#History