New Orleans Sojourn

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Our second Sojourn in New Orleans has come to an end, and we are heading back to Boise. One of the things I will miss the most, once we’ve returned to our landlocked home in Idaho, is…the fish.

NOLA Aquarium

New Orleans has the wonderful Audubon Aquarium of the Americas on the River Walk, which runs along the Mississippi right next to where the Algiers Ferry docks.

It features a variety of water environments, ocean, gulf, bayou, and river, as well as a rain forest with a waterfall, and parrots, who have lived there since it opened in 1990. We had taken Lina to visit as a toddler, so it was fun to return with her this trip. And see old friends.

Lina and the parrot at the Audubon Aquarium

And of course lots and lots of fish.

Audubon Aquarium tank

Aquarium tank at Audbon Aquarium

Ocean tank at Audubon Aquarium

Lina at the Audubon Aquarium

You really do see fish everywhere in New Orleans.

Like on the sidewalk,


or at the Hong Kong Market, where you not only get to see them, but eat them too.


Tilapia at Hong Kong Market

You can buy your fish fresh there, and take it home to make your own Vietnamese Crispy Fish with Cilantro,

Vietnamese Crispy Fish with Cilantro

or you can have your fish as a poboy,

Catfish poboy

or at Mandina’s, as Gulf Fish Meunière.

Mandina's Fish Meunière


I’m really, really going to miss you, fish.

"Fin" the end

Fish fin

Dieting? Read at Your Own Risk!

This, our second New Orleans Sojurn, was a little bit shorter than our first, and in a location slightly less convenient to our favorite restaurants, coffee shops, and other re-filling stations. But, we did NOT starve. Oooh no, far from it. We will be heading home quite fat and happy.

Want to know where, and what, we ate? Well, here’s a pretty comprehensive list with many hot links (Get it? I crack myself up).

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I have no idea if that is true or not, but if you want to eat 3 meals and a coffee per day like we do when we are in New Orleans, then you better start eating before lunch time, and that’s important!

We like to start at Surrey’s.

I like the Costa Rican breakfast…
Costa Rican Breakfast at Surrey'S

and Mike likes the Corned Beef Andouille hash…

Corned beef hash at Surrey's

In our neighborhood in Algiers Point we have Tout de suite . I had the “Katrina” Huevos Rancheros, and Mike had the “Poche” with boudin…

"Katrina" at toute de suite

If we happen to be in the French Quarter at breakfast time we like Croissant d’Or where I had a small cafe au lait and the quiche Lorraine…

Quiche at Croissant d'Or

Once you have breakfast out of the way there are literally thousands of choices for lunch, supper, dinner, just appetizers and drinks, just drinks, and/or dessert. Here are just some of the places we ate at, and the meals we ate at them…

At Primitivo I had the Beef Coulette with Pimento-cheese grits…

Beef at Primitivo


Cochon Restaurant

Butcher, where I always have the Carolina pulled pork and the Brussels sprouts…

Pulled pork at Butcher

Casamentos, Napoleon House, Central Grocery, Katie’s, and Liuzza’s — all of which I have written about, and hot linked to in past posts, though I can give you a peek at what we ate this time…

Charbroiled oysters…

Char grilled oysters

Red beans, rice and hot sausage; and the Shrimp remoulade salad…

Red beans and Shrimp remoulade at Liuzza's

Muffelatta, and Oyster poboy…


Italian salad (basically a Muffelatta without the bread)…

Italian salad at Katie's

Red beans and rice, and fried chicken…


And more Chargrilled Oysters at Drago’s.

Char grilled oysters at Drago's

Da Wabbit

Cafe Maspero

Canal St. Bistro

In addition to the New Orleans classics, we also had some terrific Mexican food — on both sides of the Mississippi.

On the West Bank we went to El Paso Mexican Grill and had the fajitas…

Fajitas at El Paso on the West Bank

Fajitas at El Paso Mexican Grill

On the East Bank we ate at El Pavo Real, and at Taqueria Corona (a couple of times)…

At El Pavo Real we had Empanadas and Chimichurri sauce…
Empanadas at El Pavo Real

and Hanger steak tacos…
Hanger steak tacos at El Pavo Real

and were happy fat people…
El Pavo Real with the gang

I had a Cheese enchilada on a very rainy day at Taqueria Corona…
Taqueria Corona cheese enchilada

And yummy Gipsy Fajitas at the Santa Fe Restaurant

Gipsy Fajitas and Sangria at Santa Fe Restaurant


Stein’s Deli

the Joint

Hamburgers are always high on our list and Mike did not miss out on having another Kim Chi Burger at the Mint Modern Vietnamese

Kim Chi Burger

while I had the sizzling steak and sunny side up eggs…
Steak and eggs at Modern Mint

and a tiny bite of Mike’s Kim Chi burger…

Melissa eats a Kim chi burger

We added a new favorite burger to our list — the Pimento-cheese Burger, which we had at both High Hat Cafe and at Brown Butter Bistro (two new favorite restaurants)…

Pimento-cheese burger at High Hat

This sojourn had more emphasis on Vietnamese cuisine because there is a huge Vietnamese community in New Orleans with many living on the West Bank. In addition to shopping at the Hong Kong Market, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. We ate at Pho Bang, and Rice Paper Pho

Rice Paper Pho

and had Bahn Mi and Avocado Bubble smoothies at Mr. Bubbles

Mr. Bubbles Bahn mi and avocado bubble smoothie

Thanks to Joy’s influence I also had a few salads here and there.

With a beet, carrot and orange juice at Satsuma in the Bywater…

Satsuma's salad

and after seeing “Hello, My Name is Doris” with Joy, at the St. James Cheese Co. on Prytania…

St. James Cheese shop salad

and at Liberty’s Kitchen at the Whole Foods on Broad…

LIberty salad at Whole Foods on Broad

Make no mistake, there were plenty of opportunities to go seriously off track at a bunch of places specializing in sugar.

District Donuts

Sasi at District Donuts

District Donuts

District Donuts

Not that I was always the one going off track…

Lina and Mike at District Donuts

Pie at High Hat…

Pie at High Hat


Sweets at Brocato's

Creole Creamery

Mike at Creole Creamery

And let’s not forget any excuse to have Doberge cake…

Doberge cake

No idea what Doberge cake is? Click here to read all about it!

Tomorrow we are getting on the road and heading home to Idaho. Guess I’d better go get something to eat. It’s going to be a long drive!

Sasi at Stein's

House Ghosts

Mike’s exhibition “House Ghosts” opened on May 7th at the Carol Robinson Gallery in New Orleans.

That’s Carol, with Mike at the Opening…

Mike Chambers with Carol Robinson at House Ghosts Opening

We brought most of Mike’s new work for the show with us on our drive down, but we arrived in New Orleans with a few paintings left unfinished. Mike worked on them in the evenings, at his French easel which he set up on the kitchen table.

Mike Chambers painting at the kitchen table

Go ahead, try this at home!

Mike Chambers painting

Carol always hangs a beautiful show, and “House Ghosts” was no exception.

Mike Chambers' House Ghosts

Mike Chambers' House Ghosts

Mike Chambers' House Ghosts at Carol Robinson Gallery

Mike Chambers' House Ghosts

Lina Chambers and House Ghost by her dad, Mike Chambers

There was a great turn out for the opening, and it was wonderful to catch up with friends, both old, and new.

Moseley Sonier family at House Ghosts Opening

Marilyn & Morris Brum with Lina and Melissa Chambers

House Ghosts Opening at Carol Robinson Gallery

The show will be up during the month of May, and you can see all of Mike’s available work on the Carol Robinson Gallery website, as well at at .

Michael Chambers with his painting "All the Light "

Good job Mikey! 👍👍❤️🍷🎉

Jazz Fest, Just the Way WE Like It

I know we are probably a huge disappointment to our rabid musicaholic friends in NOLA — yes, I’m talking about you: Joy and Ed — because we are content with just the tiniest taste of Jazz Fest.

As in one day only, for just a few hours, dropping by only two or three tents, eating and drinking one or two offerings among the hundreds to choose from, and then heading home long before all of Mid City becomes one big grid-lock. Sorrynotsorry.

Watch this and tell me you think we missed out:

It is literally impossible to see it all, and because I am less and less encumbered by any FOMO (that’s “fear of missing out” for all my old school friends) and more and more content with enjoying what I’ve got, doing it our way works for us.

We arrived late afternoon on Saturday, April 23rd and went straight to the Art Tents to visit Rebecca Rebouche. She’s a busy girl, just back from Napa Valley where she was painting a family tree. (Something I would love to have her do for us one day.)

Rebecca Rebouche and Melissa "Sasi" Chambers at Jazz Fest 2016

It’s Happy Hour all day long at Jazz Fest, so with our cold white wines in hand we wandered over to the food booths and enjoyed an oyster poboy…

Oyster poboy at Jazz Fest 2016

then lingered a while at the Gospel Tent, where Glen David Andrews and the Treme Choir were raising the roof.

Glen David Andrews and the Treme Choir at Jazz Fest 2016

Our Spirits (and spirits) refreshed, we then headed over to the Gentilly Tent, stopping only to buy a present for Logan (sorry buddy, Mom and Dad went to New Orleans and all they’re bringing you back is this t-shirt),

Jazz Fest 2016 T-shirt

and to watch this band which was playing for the Second Line in the video above….

Band at Jazz Fest 2016

Van Morrison was the headliner we were interested in seeing, so we snuggled in to wait for him — along with one-bazillion other fans, under a cloud of ganja smoke and the stylings of a “Peace, Love, and Prince” adoring sky writer.

"Prince" sky writing at Jazz Fest 2016

Crowd waiting for Van Morisson Jazz Fest 2016

After “Van the Man” we stopped by for a listen to the Pocket Aces Brass Band at the Jazz & Heritage Stage,

Mike and Melissa at Jazz Fest 2016

and then (pretty proud of ourselves, as you can tell from that picture), we headed out early — along with a few other people doing it their way.

Jazz Fest 2016

Apparently ther are over one-bazillion great minds thinking alike in New Orleans. And that’s just the way WE like it.

Over the Moon

And the good juju just keeps a coming!

Mike and Melissa @ "Night Flying"

Last night was the Opening at Antieau Gallery of Chris Roberts-Antieau’s latest exhibition: Night Flying.

Chris Roberts-Antieau's "Night Flying"
“Night Flying”

I’ve mentioned Chris’s gallery and her work several times in my blog, so you will remember that in addition to her gorgeous embroideries and appliqués being among my very most favorite artwork in New Orleans, Chris is also the mama of Noah Antieau whose gallery Red Truck is one of my very most favorite galleries in New Orleans. It’s a small world, y’all.

Melissa, Lula and Mike Chambers at Antieau Gallery

Here are some pieces from Chris’s new series:

"My Brother's Boat" by Chris Roberts-Antieau
“My Brother’s Boat”

"Albino Fawn" by Chris Roberts-Antieau
“Albino Fawn”

"The Seamstress" by Chris Roberts-Antieau
“The Seamstress”

"Deer Head" by Chris Roberts-Antieau
“Deer Head”

"Ad Lucem" by Chris Roberts-Antieau
“Ad Lucem”

Though we’ve visited the Antieau Gallery many times, the Opening last night was the first time that Chris herself was there at the same time that we were. I was over the moon, and a little bit star-struck to be able to actually meet her and talk with her about her work, and my work — I gave her a copy of my Tarpestry book which she seemed to like very much.

Chris Roberts-Antieau, Melissa "Sasi" Chambers and Lula

Of course it never hurts to have Lula “Ice Breaker” Chambers with me on these adventures!

"When My Dog Was Here" by Chris Roberts-Antieau
“When My Dog Was Here”

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

It is POURING rain today.

So, Joy and I have decided not to try our luck out and about as we had planned to do, but to stick close to our respective arks instead.

Noah's Ark -- googled image

No problem. Instead of heading out on a new adventure, I guess I’ll share some photos with you from last week’s adventures.

Zack Smith --French Quarter Fest 2016

French Quarter Fest dominated our weekend.

Zack Smith, the Official FQF Photographer, took these terrific photos of several of the horn players who performed at the festival. You can see all of his FQF photos here on his blog.

Zack Smith Photography -- French Quarter Fest 2016

Zack Smith Photography -- French Quarter Fest 2016

Zack Smith Photography -- French Quarter Fest 2016

Mike’s and my favorite French Quarter Festival photo by Zack Smith is this one…

Zack Smith Photography -- French Quarter Fest 2016

which we will soon be adding to our art collection. Thank you, Zack!

Last week we were lucky to catch the tail end of the Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane exhibition of Kate Clark‘s “Mysterious Presence.”

Dana viewing Kate Clark exhibition

Kate Clark's "Choosing Her Words"
“Choosing Her Words”

Kate Clark's "Ceremony"

Kate Clark's "She Gets What She Wants"
“She Gets What She Wants”

Kate Clark's "Fortitude"

Kate Clark's "Galant"

Kate Clark's "Preoccupied"

Across the hall from the Kate Clark exhibition was the Andrea Dezso exhibition “I Wonder.”

Dezso is a multimedia artist working with embroidery, illustration, ceramics, pencil and marker drawings, and tunnel books. I absolutely relate to her approach, described in the catalog of her work as “revisiting traditional ‘female’ applied arts in an often irreverent and humorous manner.”

Andrea Dezso, Embroidery
“My Mother Claimed…” Embroidery

Andrea Dezso, Brother's Grimm illustration
“Brothers Grimm Complete First Edition” Illustration

Andrea Dezso, Embroidery
“My Mother Claimed…” Embroidery

Andrea Dezso, Brothers Grimm illustration
“Brothers Grimm Complete First Edition” Ilustration

Andrea Dezso, Ceramics
“Sketchbook Plate” Ceramics

Andrea Dezso, detail of "All the Beings"
“All the Beings” Detail of Pencil and Marker Drawing

Andrea Dezso, detail of "All the Beings"
“All the Beings” Detail of Pencil and Marker Drawing

Andrea Dezso, detail of "Krewe of Intergalactic Women Travelers Reach a Cave in Outer Space"
“Krewe of Intergalactic Women Travelers Reach a Cave in Outer Space” Tunnel Book

Melissa "Sasi" Chambers posing with Andrea Dezso's Tunnel Book
“Krewe of Intergalactic Women…” Tunnel Book

Ok rain. Go away. I’m ready to adventure another day!

It’s Always a Wild Rumpus in NOLA

I am pretty sure there is a celebration of something, of some sort going on in New Orleans every day of the year. Any holiday you can think of is celebrated to excess — often with parades which include holiday appropriate throws (carrots, along with the ubiquitous beads in the Easter parade, and cabbages on St. Patrick’s Day). As well as any number of festivals highlighting the music, the food, and the art of New Orleans and Louisiana — usually all at the same time.

It’s a year round non-stop Wild Rumpus.

Zack Smith photo from French Quarter Fest

This past weekend it was French Quarter Festival featuring a ridiculous 23 stages, 1,700 musicians, and 400 hours of live music — all for free.

There was a ton of food and drink too — not for free. That would be ridiculous!

Living only a short ferry ride away from the French Quarter made going to this year’s festival a no-brainier. We wandered all along the Riverfront and into the Quarter winding up as we so often do on Royal Street — which was packed with people enjoying the music,

Royal Street during French Quarter Fest

and the creative buskers — like the very talented painting puppet….

Sasi with Ed Moseley at FQF

We found our friend Ed (Joy’s husband) on Royal Street too. (Ed attended all four days of FQF from start to finish. That is serious dedication.)

Mike and I were more FQF fair weather friends, only going on Saturday and Sunday, which left us time to head to a less crowded part of town for dinner Saturday night at the High Hat Cafe. (Catfish for Mike, Pimento Cheese Burger for me, both with the green beans and applewood smoked bacon. Oh yeah.)

Dinner at High Hat in New Orleans

Then, on Sunday morning when we returned to the fest, we had another one of those serendipitous NOLA OMG moments.

Mike found a cell phone.

I won’t bore you with all the steps we took to determine who the phone belonged to, until we managed to find its owner (…look up Favorites…call “Dad”…find out phone belongs to Zack Smith, a photographer…find security guard to help us find the Headquarters tent…yada yada yada) — but once we did find Zack, and return his phone, and he realized he hadn’t just left it in the Headquarters tent to begin with, but that we had found it and were returning it to him he gave us his card with a big smile and said “Email me, I owe you!”

Zack doesn’t owe us a thing — though we are hoping he’ll come to Mike’s Opening in May — because…and this is the part I love…Zach Smith is not just a photographer, he’s the Official Photographer for French Quarter Fest (he took the photo at the very top of this post) and, if you visit his website you will see that he has a project called “My Louisiana Muse” featuring artists of many stripes. He’s also taken some wonderful portraits of the local talent, including one of my favorites who you will remember from last year, Rebecca Rebouche.

Portrait of Rebecca Rebouche by Zack Smith

I love these constant reminders of how small this world really is, and especially of how closely we are all connected.

Kate Clark's "She Gets What She Wants"  with Melissa "Sasi" Chambers
(That’s me with Kate Clark’s “She Gets What She Wants.”)

Let the Wild Rumpus continue!

And Another Week Down…

Time flies. Even when you’re not “having fun.” Which is not to say we are NOT having fun, we are, but we are also just living “normal” life, which believe it or not is about work, and laundry, and “making groceries,” even in New Orleans where your work schedule may vary.

Melissa Chambers by the Daigle Grocery hours sign

I do love having the luxury of two months here though because we don’t feel like we’re missing out on anything when we have days like Friday which we spent keeping cosy and dry in our little hideaway.


The day before the deluge I’d taken the ferry across the Mississippi to the foot of canal:

Riding the ferry to the foot of canal

and hung out with Joy — having “True Blood” juice at the Canal Street Bistro:

True Blood juice at Canal St. Bistro

and coffee at Monkey Monkey Coffee & Tea.

Painting at Monkey Monkey Coffee & Tea in New Orleans

The sun came out again for the weekend, just in time for First Saturday. First Saturdays in New Orleans are like First Thursdays in Boise, with art walks in all the gallery districts and many openings of new exhibitions. (Well, Boise X 1,000.)

We spent our evening in the Warehouse District on Julia St., and as the storm of synchronicity which keeps raining down on me would have it, Karen Bubb and Rachel Reichart (of Boise City Department of Arts & History fame) were in town too. So we visited the galleries together.

Karen Bubb and Melissa "Sasi" Chambers together in New Orleans

Here’s a little of what we saw at the Arthur Roger Gallery:

Viewing art at Arthur Roger Gallery

Mike viewing a Chihuly @ Arthur Roger

Art at Arthur Roger

But my favorites were the amazing embroidered portraits “Friends & Neighbors” by Gina Phillips at the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery:

Melissa Chambers talking to model for embroidered artwork behind her

Artwork and model at Jonathan Ferrara gallery

Portrait model at <a href=

It would seem that little dogs showing up with their people at art galleries and openings, and even in the artwork itself is the new thang round here.


Are you ready for your close-up?

Lula, ready for her close-up

One Week Down the Hatch

Dozen oysters at Casamentos

An entire week of “normal” life in New Orleans has already been gobbled up.

Kinda like the oysters I enjoyed at Casamentos on Saturday.

Half dozen oysters eaten at Casamentos

It took no time at all falling back into our NOLA routine — meaning getting back to eating all that great food we’ve been missing for the past year.

We’ve had muffalettas from Central Grocery.

Central Grocery in New Orleans

Central Grocery muffaletta

And char grilled oysters (in addition to those raw bad boys pictured above) at Casamentos.

Char grilled oysters at Casamentos

And yesterday for Easter we went to the Napoleon House for Pimm’s Cups and Reuben Sandwiches. According to Joy, New Orleans actually makes some crazy good Reuben’s and we intend to taste test as many as humanly possible.

Reuben's and Pimm's Cups at Napoleon House

View of courtyard at Napoleon House in New Orleans
(We sat in the two red chairs at the right end of the long table in that picture.)

Now that you know we aren’t starving you’re probably interested in what’s been happening art-wise.


Mike’s “Annunciation” painting was featured in an exhibition and concert on Maundy Thursday at the Marigny Opera House.

Mike Chambers "Annunciation" at Marigny Opera House
(That’s his “Annunciation” on the far right. By the way, it has already sold!)

We’ve been by the Carol Robbinson Gallery, where Mike will have his solo show in May, and we’ve already visited several of our (other) favorite galleries, and I have had one of those crazy-there-IS-a-God-because-I’ve-just-been-slapped-up-side-the-head-by-the-Universe moments related to my most favorite gallery in New Orleans, the Red Truck Gallery.

Red Truck Gallery in New Orleans

You may remember that last year in my quest to find a gallery in New Orleans which would show my tarpestries, I was directed to Red Truck. I won’t bore you with all the details, but it turned into (I thought at the time) a dead end as I was never able to connect with Noah Antieau, the Red Truck big guy.

So we returned to Boise, only slightly dejected, and I went into Tarpestry Overdrive, had my solo show, etc., etc., and have had so much new work generated by my Boise opportunities that I decided this trip to New Orleans would be about getting rested and reinvigorated and ready to jump back into another session of Overdrive in 2016. To be more specific, I didn’t bring any of my tarpestries with me this time because I wasn’t planning on shopping them around. You know that saying — We make plans, and God laughs? Yep.

Meanwhile Red Truck was featured in the latest issue of JUXTZPOZ(an art magazine we subscribe to), and this is important because Mike was wearing his JUXTAPOZ t-shirt as he and I were walking through the French Quarter, and this really tall man points at Mike’s t-shirt and says “JUXTAPOZ is a great magazine. They just did a feature on my gallery!” And Mike says “Oh yeah? What’s the name of your gallery?” And tall man says “Red Truck.” Yep. The tall man was Noah Antieau.

Then Mike says (for my benefit of course, being a bit of a button pusher) “So, if someone wanted to get their work into your gallery what would they need to do?” And Noah starts to say the usual stuff we’ve all heard a hundred times (knowing Noah’s been asked that question a Zillion times) and then Mike says, pointing at me, “She already did that!” Where upon I rush in to introduce myself and begin to describe my tarpestries, and Noah says “Oh my god, I love your work, and I remember you contacting me — but literally right at that time I fell through the cracks because I was headed back to San Francisco, where I spend most of my time now.”

So then, because at this point everything was moving in that slow motion that happens when you need to have all your wits about you — like when your car has just plunged off the bridge and the river is rushing up at you — I said, with just a hint of petulance “So? What am I supposed to do now?”

And Noah says “If you’re interested in Red Truck, talk to Gabe. If you’re interested in San Fransciso, talk to me. But if you want to show your work in New Orleans, Gabe’s the big guy.” And then, as swiftly as he had appeared, he disappeared again.

Meet Gabe.
And Boo.

Melissa "Sasi" Chambers, Gabe Shaffer and Boo, at Red Truck Gallery in New Orleans

Let the talking begin!