New Orleans Day 1 + Navigating the Airport

Greetings from New Orleans. Well, N’awlins, I should say because when in Rome, no?

The last 24 hours of my life have been absolutely insane, to say the least. I am attending a really neat conference in New Orleans, Louisiana from today until Sunday morning for all things student-media and journalism related: the National College Media Convention. I have to admit that I was a little nervous about being a vegan and navigating The Big Easy with its French and Creole backgrounds (synonymous here for creamy, buttery, non-vegan gastronomical adventures). I’m flexible and was determined to make things work…starting with the airport.

Four airports, four cities in one day. Well, the first one was a small airport in my college town with no such luxuries as an in-airport coffee shop. We flew over the booming Kirksville metropolis at 6 a.m. and arrived in St. Louis (my home!) just in time for a four-hour layover. I ate breakfast before our first flight left in my apartment (leftover pumpkin baked oatmeal) so I was pretty hungry after sitting in Lambert for a while. Good thing about airports is that there is nary a Starbucks not too awfully far away.

At this point in my life, coffee is pretty much its own food group.

At this point in my life, coffee is pretty much its own food group.

Starbucks has a great oatmeal medley that comes with little packets so you can build your own steel-cut masterpiece…I threw the brown sugar out and opted for the nuts and the dried berries. With that and a soy latte in hand, I was ready for the next two airports.

After a dash from terminal to terminal in Atlanta and then a quick flight to New Orleans, we touched down and our group was ready for adventure…right after some food. After walking around The [gorgeous] French Quarter for some time and getting a bit turned around, we stumbled into Oceana — an oyster bar and seafood restaurant. I have to admit, I was extremely nervous.

What’s a vegan to do? There were salads but I was so hungry hangry that a few greens just wasn’t going to do it. A New Orleans food staple are Po’Boys (a really dense, carb-ridden sub sandwich, usually with fried seafood). As my vegan luck would have it, the restaurant had an eggplant po’boy on the menu which I put down the hatch without a second thought (albeit after about 50 questions to the poor waitress about what the eggplant was fried in and which dressings had dairy in them. Hold the cole slaw for this girl, please!)

Today kicked off the first day of the conference and our hotel boasts a huge breakfast spread that is made to order. I walked down to see some traditional mini-cereal boxes, eggs, dairy milk, french toast, an omelette bar (a non-vegan’s paradise, I’m sure!) and a vat of oatmeal with toppings to boot. I had found my people!!!

The only thing wrong with this picture is that I don't have a coffee to wash this meal down.

The only thing wrong with this picture is that I don’t have a coffee to wash this meal down.

It worked and held me over until lunch, which I just finished. I had some time in between sessions this morning so I searched for vegan-friendly places near Canal Street…with a good handful of results! I had a hard time choosing because they were all equi-distant and all had stellar reviews, but I opted for a place called City Greens. I have a major complaint.

……….there is none of this deliciousness in St. Louis.

City Greens on Poydras Street

City Greens on Poydras Street

I had a great feeling as soon as I even walked into this place…everything is green and beautiful and bright and everyone is so nice and interactive. You go in and order and the staff puts all of the mixings into a bowl and then wraps them up (or doesn’t if you’re more of a salad person). I got the Avocado Hummus wrap with Tofu on a tomato tortilla and I about died and gone to heaven.

My delicious wrap from City Greens.

My delicious wrap from City Greens.

This place was absolutely phenomenal and I savored every second of this while I ate outside and enjoyed this beautiful New Orleans sunshine. I see another trip back to City Greens in my very near future…I might even duck away there for lunch tomorrow and try some of their delicious butternut squash soup — it seemed to be really popular today.

With the absence of coffee this morning, I was starting to hit a wall (plus I needed wifi to do some work and make this post) so I found a nearby coffee shop, Community Coffee House, to caffeinate and knock a few items off of my to-do list.

Taking life one [soy] latte at a time.

Taking life one [soy] latte at a time.

I am about to step out and leisurely make my way back to the conference center for some more great journalism sessions and dinner is TBD but with the type of day I am having so far, I think it will be just great.

So New Orleans  day 1? Not over yet, but a huge success. I’m a happy, caffeinated, well-fed vegan today.

I’ll keep you guys posted. Have an absolutely awesome day…sending some sunshine to each and every one of you!

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