The birthplace of jazz, the capital of food and fun, New Orleans, “the Big Easy,” is one of the truly unique cities in the world. As local chair, I encourage AAOS members attending the Annual Meeting to relax and have fun outside the Morial Convention Center, while advancing knowledge and skills inside.
New Orleans treated the orthopaedic community royally when last we gathered here in 2010, in what was the first convention of its size since Hurricane Katrina. This meeting now promises to treat us to rich educational opportunities, with 29 symposia on exciting and timely topics, 840 scientific presentations, 560 posters, and 200 instructional course lectures (ICLs) by world-renowned faculty.
New this year are four interactive case-based ICLs, featuring roundtables of 10 people with a moderator. Courses will cover shoulder, cartilage replacement therapy of the knee, complex primary hip arthroplasty, and trauma. Attendance is limited, so sign up now!
Do plan on staying for Specialty Day, where 14 societies will present the latest research in their fields.
Let the good times roll!
Outside the convention center, a fascinating city awaits attendees. New Orleans has been under French, Spanish, and U.S. rule in its history, and its style, flavor, architecture, and social life reflect this varied heritage. A streetcar trip from downtown to Audubon Park to visit the zoo passes homes and buildings of almost every architectural style and color along the way. A carriage ride in the French Quarter (where much of the architecture is actually Spanish) is a trip back in time, while NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility prepares to blast us into the future.
Then there is food. It has been said that one could eat at a different restaurant every night for three years, never have the same meal, and every bite would be awesome. In recent years, a number of new restaurants have opened, so there are more choices than ever. From café au lait and beignets for breakfast, po-boys and muffulettas for lunch, to our own delicious Creole cuisine for dinner (gumbo, anyone?), to cutting-edge cuisine from innovative chefs, New Orleans food is an epicurean’s delight.
The many tourists who visit New Orleans tend to swarm the French Quarter, but going where the locals go will reveal new delights. There are restaurants tucked away in the Garden District and Uptown areas that are easily reached by cab, or—better yet—by a scenic trip on the historic St. Charles streetcar (just $1.25 each way).
A cozy spot for mulling over restaurant choices is the front porch of the Columns Hotel, right on the St. Charles streetcar line in the Garden District. The streetcars will rumble by and locals will stop in for a predinner cocktail.
Not far away, just off St. Charles, is the Upperline, beloved by locals for both its rich Creole cuisine and its famously friendly proprietress. An even cozier restaurant in the same area is Gautreau’s, where locals go for elegant modern takes on Creole dishes. Gautreau’s does not even have a sign; people just know where it is.
A completely different sort of spot in the neighborhood is the oddly named Pascal’s Manale, which is celebrating 100 years in the Garden District. It is an old-fashioned Creole Italian place, with a stand-up oyster bar ably manned by the same shucker for 25 years. But what Manale’s—as we locals call it—shines on is its barbecue shrimp, a lusciously messy dish that bears no relation to barbecue as it is normally known.
Heading farther away from the French Quarter on the St. Charles streetcar is Uptown. Three restaurants to consider there are Vincent’s, Clancy’s, and Brigtsen’s. Vincent’s is the kind of Italian restaurant that might exist in New York, if a Creole colony had somehow been planted there. Clancy’s is a Creole restaurant with food so good that locals keep it packed on weekends, so come on a weeknight. And Brigtsen’s is the kind of place where the owner is always there, checking at each table to make sure the diners are enjoying his imaginative Creole dishes.
Freret Street near Tulane University has many moderately priced restaurants offering oven-baked pizza, gourmet hamburgers, and “meat and three” plates.
Back in the French Quarter are two classics, Galatoire’s and Arnaud’s. Galatoire’s is on flashy Bourbon Street and Arnaud’s just off it. And if I had to pick my favorites, they would include Domenica in the Roosevelt Hotel, Clancy’s, Franky and Johnny’s, Irene’s Cuisine, and two of Dickie Brennan’s places, Palace Café, and and Bourbon House, which is all about local seafood. Scope out these places and many more at www.nomenu.com
And all that jazz!
For the music lovers, shows of all genres are available. It is true that jazz started in New Orleans (after all, the local airport is named after Louis Armstrong), but many different sounds and talented musicians originated in our city. Clubs throughout the French Quarter, Frenchmen Street, and Treme offer live music of undeniable quality, each with its own, original sound. Jazz, progressive, bluegrass, or whatever a listener desires is available on most street corners.
Music may be best heard at one of the clubs on Frenchmen Street, in the area called Faubourg Marigny. That early French settlement is at the opposite end of the French Quarter from Canal Street, across Esplanade Avenue, the street that borders the Quarter on that side. Although it’s within walking distance of the Quarter, taking a cab would be preferable at night. Visitors with time for only one jazz club should try to make it to Snug Harbor, with the caveat that it is often so crowded, getting in can be dicey. On the same street, though, are The Spotted Cat, Blue Nile, and d.b.a., all popular with local jazz lovers.
Our 40 museums dedicated to art, music, sculpture, and history promise something to satisfy every curiosity. The National World War II Museum, built to honor the Higgins boats that carried our troops to the beaches of Normandy and served in the entire conflict, is a treasure. We even have museums dedicated to wine (WINO, the Wine Institute of New Orleans) and food (SoFAB, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum), as well as the Pharmacy Museum in the French Quarter—not to mention vampire, voodoo, haunted house, cemetery tours, and one of my favorites, the swamp tours showing off the nation’s largest wetlands.
The New Orleans Historic Collection on Royal Street has great exhibits and a novel gift shop. The Cabildo off Jackson Square has a Mardi Gras museum and right by the convention center is Mardi Gras World, where parade floats are built and stored.
The New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park has an interesting collection, though it is a ways from the center of the city. More easily visited are two house museums in the French Quarter: Hermann-Grima House and Gallier House. Hermann-Grima is particularly well preserved, offering a look at Creole life before the Civil War. The French Quarter also contains numerous art galleries and antique galleries, some of which could be easily mistaken for museums.
In and around the Crescent City, the uniqueness of Louisiana beckons. We would love for visitors to see some of the antebellum homes along the river, bike or jog along the world’s longest levee system beside the mighty Mississippi River, play golf on one of our many courses, sample the best food and beverages in the world, or just kick back and unwind to some of the best musicians in the world. New Orleans and all of us here welcome AAOS members to our home. We are glad you are here! In local parlance, I hope you “pass a good time” in the greatest city in the world!
Felix H. “Buddy” Savoie, MD, is the Local Chair for the 2014 AAOS Annual Meeting.