Kat’s Kibbles and Bits

Good day Travelers!

We are just back from an AWESOME time in New Orleans and in checking my upcoming groups,  I see my numbers are low for MOTHERS DAY WEEK IN NEGRIL.  Believe me when I say that one week on that white, sandy beach will make you feel like a million dollars.  You will be eating fresh, healthy food, and relaxing like you’ve never relaxed before.

This special time is especially good for those not fortunate to have their mothers with them, like myself.  I miss mine dearly and sometimes it hurts a bit when others are celebrating this Hallmark day.  Just feeling the calmness and serenity of the crystal clear turquoise water steps away from your room will make all the difference in the world.  If you are blessed to still have your mother with you; then show her some love and bring her or that special lady along.

Here’s my love:  For a limited time only,  like a few days… I will discount the standard Garden View Package by $150.  The new land Package rate is $760pp dbl.  This promo applies only to those not booked.   FYI:  There is still an OceanFront 1 bedroom suite available (sleeps 4) No discount but trust me, it’s the sweetest thing since sliced bread. There is nothing to block your view from the sand and sea.

 

The Culmination To Our Culinary Tour

 

As our time was winding down, everyone was trying to get in the last bit of what was on their personal agenda.  Kattrax gave them a well rounded itinerary and they still had time to do their own thing.  Shout out to Luchan Baker and Janice Manuel (Bay Area transplants here in NOLA part time) on hand to offer their helpful hints and suggestions  to the group. So happy to have y’all hangin with us. Big up to Jess Peters, NOLA resident who worked closely with me on this project. I can’t thank you enough.  What a guy!!

The Whitney Plantation, about an hour way, was high on everybody’s list and all thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon, even though it’s  a very emotional experience.  12 Years of Slavery and other slave movies have been filmed here.  The Plantation Tour is definitely a “must see and do” when visiting NOLA.

Jean Perignon and I had to check out the Praline Connection, located on Frenchmen Street for lunch.  They have some of the best, freshly prepared soul food around.   The collard greens, red beans, and fried chicken were all seasoned to perfection and their bread pudding gets my vote for the best I tasted here.  We got boxes of Pralines to take home and they have more varieties than you can shake a stick at.

Our strategically located hotel in the French Quarter (Vieux Carre’) gave participants the ease of moving about and being walking distance to most of what we were doing without worrying about ridiculous parking rates and congested streets in the Quarter; this location only made the best sense… Bourbon Street, Canal Street, Deanies, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, Mr. B’s Bistro, Court of Two Sisters,  Brennan’s, Cafe du Monde, etc. all steps away from our wonderful HOTEL MONTELEONE. Other places in the city are a short Uber ride away so when coming make sure you download the Uber app.

If you missed this tour and want to join the next one; follow my blog for upcoming details or else you will miss it again.  Keep in mind, there will be a cap on the number of participants.

Next up: CRUISING ANTARCTICA – Feb 16- March 4th…..Our 7th Continent!

 

Saturday Jazz Brunch..Yummy!

We walked a few blocks to the COURT OF TWO SISTERS for our scrumptious all you can eat  brunch. It was ever so wonderfully, delightfully delicious. I started with sliced beef that was so tender it practically melted in my mouth. Moving down the line, a cup of gumbo, some soft bacon, a couple bbq ribs, red beans and rice and the softest, fluffiest homemade buttermilk biscuit you can imagine. I swear I haven’t tasted such a heavenly delight since I was a kid.

Lucille loves their Turtle Soup with Sherry and since I have never been a fan of turtle; was hesitant to give it a try but then there was Darlene seated not far from me . Ooh-ing and ahh-ing over it so I gave it a shot.  Much to my surprise…..I could really dig it. It was nice.  KATTRAX included a Mimosa  or Bloody Mary for everybody and all loved that little treat.  I went back for the Apple Cobbler and grabbed another fluffy biscuit on my way. Damn, those biscuits were off the richter!!

As usual, I made my early departure, left them enjoying to the max.  I finalized the bill and made my way back to the comfort of my hotel.  The Carousel Bar is off the lobby and no matter the time of day or night, it’s always poppin.  It attracts folks that aren’t even guests here hoping to get a ride on the carousel.     This hotel is quite the Kat’s Meow, a Grand legend and I love it.

So, everyone is on their own now to enjoy the city…..some will do the Whitney Plantation tour or City Tour tomorrow.  This is the beginning of the Mardi Gras Celebration and there will be a parade tonight plus some Zulu parties, all leading up to February 13th.      As for me, I’m chillin like a west coast villain ….I’m off til we fly home Monday. I had my charbroiled oysters yesterday at DRAGOS,  will hit NEYOW’S CREOLE CAFE tonight and DEANIES SEAFOOD tomorrow.

Will I do this again?  Absolutely!  Maybe in June, maybe in August. Stay tuned for details.

 

 

NEW ORLEANS 101

I must say Kat, PhD (Professor of Hot Destinations, tied it all in on this Friday in the Crescent City.  New Orleans is steeped in and so rich in Culture, Cuisine, History and Music.  Our day started at the NEW ORLEANS SCHOOL OF COOKING, a short 7 mins walk from our hotel. The menu was Crawfish Etouffe (translated smothered), Shrimp and Artichoke Soup, King Cake Bread Pudding, and Pralines.  We learned a few ways to make the infamous roux, the trinity, and that you can etouffe anything among so many other helpful cooking hints.  Everything was so very tasty. My favorite was the soup. Our instructor for the day was a 75 yo retired school teacher who kept the class lively with her humor. After the class I picked up a few items in the General Store; Joe’s Stuff (a creole seasoning), Cajun Power Garlic Sauce and some Slap Ya Mama Pepper Sauce.  Joe’s Stuff was on the tables and everybody was on it.

Next up was the FREE PEOPLE OF COLOR MUSEUM. Sitting at the corner of Esplanade and N. Rocheblave St. Is housed some of the most interesting historical facts. Our guide, Kim, a 28 yo historian who is working on her PhD in a single word is AWESOME.  The museum takes visitors through the history of the F.P.C. beginning in 1708 with the arrival of Frenchman, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville with 2 enslaved Africans named George and Marie.  Bienville brought men and women from Senegal and Gambia to sell as slaves, and those people brought with them okra and rice as well as local customs, f.p.c. who made up 60% of the city before the Louisiana Purchase, left an indelible fingerprint on music, cuisine and architecture.

As late as 1840, these French speaking mixed race people made up 20% of the city’s population.  They were largely the freed Descendants of enslaved women and their white owners or refugees from the Haitian slave revolts. Although they did not have all the rights of their white counterparts, many F.P.C. prospered in 19th century New Orleans.  As of the 1850s Free People of Color owned more than 2 million dollars worth of property, mostly in the Faubourg Treme and Marigny. Some even owned slaves. By 1855 nearly 85% of black creoles were classified as doctors, clerks, teachers and skilled workers. They also thrived in trades like carpentry, masonry, and cigar making.  Much of the ironwork on the balconies of French Quarter properties and in the old cemeteries is the work of those skilled artisans.

Owners, Beverly and Dr Dwight McKenna have amassed a number of paintings, artifacts and furniture in the museum —-even a 100 lb ball and chain from slavery times. Amongst the many documents is a reminder that these people were early civil Rights Activists. There is a petition signed by 1000 local free men of color and delivered to President Lincoln requesting the right to vote, over 100 years before the Voting Rights Act.  In the petition which is so powerfully and beautifully worded, they say we pay taxes on 15 million dollars of property, we’ve fought in all your military battles, we are business people, we are educated but yet still 2nd class citizens.  This museum visit was an emotionally charged experience  I urge all visitors to this city to pay a visit.

Later in the evening we had a date at the Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro on the lively Frenchmen Street.  Kattrax had reserved seating in this very intimate jazz venue for the 2nd set.  We were treated to the stylings of Dr Michael White, a jazz clarinetist, bandleader, composer, jazz historian and musical instructor.  He is instrumental in keeping alive the New Orleans jazz tradition.  It rounded out a very full day in a most spectacular way.

 

 

 

NICE AND EASY IN THE BIG EASY!

Last week it was freezing here but today we were greeted with Pleasant shirt sleeve weather. Our airport pick up by Luxe Transportation was on hit.  The service and the vehicle set the stage for Kattrax perfectly.  13 of 23 flew nonstop from Oakland. Tony Jackson and Jean Eason kept it lively on the flight….clowning of course.   After arriving we connected with the Sacramento folks; Della Casey and Herman and Mary Walton at baggage claim. Our courteous and experienced driver, Antoinette was there waiting for us and soon we were on our way

Upon arriving at the legendary HOTEL MONTELEONE in the French Quarter we had a small private reception on the mezzanine in the Queen Anne’s Parlor where I distributed key packets.  Of course it was like a mini reunion with so many from past tours happy to see their friends:  Nicole Robinson-Hamilton of Tennessee, Lucille Johnson, Audrey Kay, Darlene Daevu, Debra Sledge, Sonya Lucas-Harris, Luchan Baker, Janice Manuel, Mary Jacobs of North Carolina, Sandra Phillips, Georgene Roberts, Sue Allison, Lateshia Irving of Monterey and new comers; Sonya Coleman, Sharon Longworth of Gainesville and Tara Nichols of North Carolina.  After settling in, Sandra and I headed down to the Carousel Bar where we ran into Jean.  It seats 26 and revolves slowly.  Me and my best friend, Tonic Water could easily survive but I doubt if me and my old pals Grey Goose Cosmo  or a couple glasses of champagne could manage this and still maintain decent composure.

My dear friend,  Jess Peters;  Wine Broker and Cigar aficionado and New Orleans resident worked closely with me on this project and it has been a real pleasure.  He met us in the lobby at 540p and we walked 5 mins to the world famous Brennan’s Restaurant, sophisticated creole cuisine since 1946.  Everything was to my satisfaction from the place settings, the plating and presentation, to the food and service.  I chose the seafood file’ gumbo, the braised shortribs with wilted kale, pickled green tomato in red wine sauce and for dessert; the praline Leidenheimer bread pudding with rye whiskey anglaise and chantilly cream.  Here in New Orleans everyone has their own variation of bread pudding so I’m sure we’ll sample a few while here.  There are so many wonderful restaurants and dining experiences here; 4 Days is just not enough to get it all in.  I’ve got to get to Dragos for my delightful charbroiled oysters. No, not raw on the half shell but charbroiled.  I can’t get down with the raw no matter how much horseradish or Tabasco there is.   Another must will be Deanie’s  Seafood Restaurant and then I will be on a mission to find the best fried catfish in town.  As we enjoyed our meal,  one of our servers gave us a bit of history on the restaurant and the building which has been standing since 1791.  We also learned the story of the $75,000 dress in the display case in our private room. Overall, a very nice dining experience was had at Brennan’s and it did not disappoint.

Shout out to my mentor, Rev Eltyna McCree who worked tirelessly on flight and hotel contracts.  Merci  beaucoup! We are here to “laissez les bon temps rouler”  Let the good times roll.

Tomorrow we visit the NEW ORLEANS SCHOOL OF COOKING where our lunch will be what we prepare.  On the menu will be:  Crawfish Etouffee, Shrimp and Artichoke Soup, Bread Pudding, Pralines.  I look forward to another wonderful meal.

Afro Brazil Aug 14-22, 2018

Here’s another opportunity for you to experience the SOUL OF BRAZIL 🇧🇷; the culture, the music, the culinary delights straight from our African roots.  So join us as we samba our way through this beautiful country.   The January 8th flash sale is off but $2800pp from San Francisco – AIR AND LAND, including tours and meals just cannot be beat.  We have space for 2.

If interested, dont sleep on it…. call the Kat – a – lyst to your travel happiness….

Kat StThomas 925-732-3606

Last Minute Deals: Afro Brazil and Paris

GREETINGS TRAVELERS!

AFRO BRAZIl —— PRICE SLASHED.  We have a double room with 2 air seats from SFO Aug 14-23, 2018. $2500pp.  Call Kat the Kat-a-lyst to your travel happiness.   510-499-5909 for details.   This tour just isn’t Rio de Janeiro, it’s BAHIA too, “The Soul of Brazil”.  This tour is steeped with unbelievable Afro history and culture.  Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity.

PARIS Vets…..You know the city already, I’ve shown you. NOW DO IT  YOUR WAY. ITS YOUR THING, DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO, STAY WHERE YOU WANT TO STAY… get an inexpensive apartment or Airbnb –   Live like a local.  Airfare on American $675 r/t. May 8-15, 2018. Deposit $150, Final due March 20th. Call Kat 510-499-5909 – A few seats available.

Kat’s Kibbles and Bits

Greetings my friends,

We have seriously “Kat-a- Pulted’ into 2019 with a fierceness.  Thanks to my webmaster  Kattraxonline.com has been updated with what so many of you have been waiting for..  our Italy tour by private motor coach in July 2019…. LA DOLCE VITA!   Yes, the Sweet life, the good life, a life that is full of pleasure and luxury.  We are offering two 10 day tours back to back. Both are sold out but things do change. We’ll see.   The paperwork will go out in a few days to those on the list.

Those that missed Colombia so many times, I’m bringing it to you once again… April 11-20, 2019 but this time MEDELLÍN (medda jeen) CARTAGENA, PALENQUE and then we’ll kick back on the island of SAN ANDRES.  See more details on the website.

New Orleans is in a couple weeks, Antarctica, our 7th Continent Feb 16 for 2 weeks, then Vietnam a week later in March and  then April in Black Paris.  Can’t stop…then celebrate Mother’s Day week on the beach at Negril Tree House Resort…  come on and treat your mama. We still have space available.  For more destinations, check the KATTRAX 2018 WORLD TOUR SCHEDULE.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018!