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‘Tis the Season to be jolly and celebrate Noel in NOLA – Yep! That’s New Orleans, Louisiana.  Fantasy has the perfect plan for you to add more joy, more fun and more food on the Culinary Christmas RV Rally where guests ‘make merry’ with holiday treats and festivities.

FoodEver tried a muffuletta?  Nibbled a beignet? Savored on Étouffée?  From Po-Boys to Gumbo, and of course Jambalaya — the tastes of New Orleans are both unique, delicious and unlike food anywhere else in the world.  The mixture of diverse cultures blending their traditions and culinary tastes together is what makes up the tasty foods of New Orleans.  New Orleanians love to eat and have fun, their cuisine brings out the exquisite tastes and cultivates some of the best chefs in the world.  This RV Rally visits and enjoys some of the world’s most renowned restaurants …decked out in Christmas decor to boot.

‘Laissez les bons temps rouler’ – in other words, ‘Let the good times roll’ …and we do.  It’s a beautiful time of year in New Orleans – before the craziness of Mardi Gras, but a time when the locals still go all out to celebrate the holiday.

DelmonicosOne of our first and finest dining experiences is a stop at Emeril’s Delmonico where you will enjoy a delicious Welcome Dinner.  Located in New Orleans’ historic Garden District, Emeril Lagasse reopened the historic Delmonico restaurant in 1998.  Continuing the legendary, century-old traditions, Delmonico’s is now serving a modern style of Creole cuisine along with Emeril’s warm style of service.

Though rooted in the culinary delights of NOLA, your meals are surrounded in activities, tours and events. An early stop is at the National World War II Museum which tells the story of America’s participation in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won and what it means today.  The visit is highlighted by the Victory Belles Holiday Show – singing the songs that inspired the Allies to victory.  It’s all followed by a delicious luncheon feast from John Besh, chef and native son to the south is dedicated to the culinary riches of southern Louisiana.

City-of-the-DeadOn our city motor coach tour the following day, we discover New Orleans’ true beauty through the elegant antebellum homes of the Garden District; the trees lining St. Charles Avenue; the hallowed halls of Tulane and Loyola Universities; the mysterious City of the Dead with above ground tombs and decorative ironwork; the Old Ursuline Convent, built in 1752 and the oldest building in the Mississippi River Valley; Lake Ponchartrain Causeway, the world’s longest bridge; the open air artist colony at Jackson Square; the collection of crude drugs, medicines and pharmaceutical equipment at the Pharmacy Museum; and the legendary Washington Artillery.  We relive the history of the Bayou St. John neighborhood and enjoy its beautiful holiday decorations and lighting.

Antoines-DishThe Vieux Carré, more commonly known as the French Quarter, is the largest and best preserved district of 19th century architecture in the United States.  And the best way to see it is on our pre-arranged, guided walking tour, experiencing the city’s music and cuisine at the same time.  After experiencing some of these well known Quarter’s, we lunch at Antoine’s Restaurant – now owned and operated by fifth generation relatives of the original Antoine Alciatore.  Antoine’s is Louisiana’s Creole cuisine restaurant. Here we enjoy some of the finest French-Creole cuisine and impeccable service – after all, they’ve been cooking and serving since 1840!

You will be swept away one evening aboard a bus through the city to marvel at the twinkling Christmas illuminations, lighting our way to blazing bonfire pyres along the levee to celebrate Cajun Christmas and to illuminate Papa Noel’s Lighted Path and finishing the night with a stop at Café Du Monde for their famous roasted coffee and beignets.

Mardi-ChristmasIt’s Christmas – not yet time for Mardi Gras, but you’ll be checking it out on an arranged insiders’ tour of Mardi Gras Headquarters where you will witness the beginnings of float decorating, the Krewe warehouse and other Mardi Gras novelties in the works.  After this exploration you will lunch at K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, serving both Cajun and Creole dishes.  This legendary restaurant features open kitchens, a beautiful courtyard …and even a balcony overlooking the French Quarter.   The late Chef Paul Prudhomme opened K-Paul’s in 1979 and the restaurant became a sensation with diners lined up nightly to eat at the small establishment. A couple of years later, Chef Paul Miller rejoined Chef Prudhomme in the K-Paul’s kitchen — today, Chef Paul continues to run this iconic restaurant. 

Oak-Ally-PlantationThere is a day dedicated to the life, style and food found along the plantations of the riverbanks. Traveling up the west bank on Mississippi River, Plantation Road, to soak in the Southern charm of both Oak Alley and Laura Plantation homes, decked out in their holiday finery and a bountiful Cajun/Creole plantation feast served up on the side.  Your evening concludes in a tradition unique to the Cajun style of Christmas – the lighting of sky-high bonfire pyres which light the way for Papa Noel to find the homes of the children. This is a century-old celebration of the traditional Cajun Christmas.

Brennans-DishOn your last day of the Rally you will begin your day with breakfast at Brennan’s.  Acclaimed Chef Slade Rushing’s dishes are rooted in Creole traditions but bolstered with contemporary New Orleans influences.  Signature dishes such as Bananas Foster, Eggs Sardou and Grouper Amandine line the menu. Along with the old-world elegance, fanciful décor and pampering service this may be your most memorable meal!  No worries, you can work off those calories with some Christmas shopping in the French Quarter.  Then it’s time to kick-up your heals at a traditional New Orleans-style outdoor concert, and perhaps a genuine, impromptu Second Line Parade might take place through the neighborhood.

Tujague'sFantasy’s Farewell Dinners are always special, but none could be as spectacular as this evening’s – taking place at Tujague’s Restaurant.  This classic neighborhood French Quarter restaurant has been in business for more than 150 years, originally serving the dock workers and seamen who crowded the riverfront.  Tujague’s has since become a recognized local institution that has continued to serve their traditional specialties – shrimp remoulade, beef brisket with horseradish, ‘cap’ bread (a Tujague’s original) and rich, dark coffee in a shot glass.

All is calm …all is bright.  On our final night together, we open our hearts and our voices for some traditional Christmas carols.  The beauty of this New Orleans Christmas will remain with you for many seasons to come.