Sunday 4 January
We haven't been to New Orleans since 2007, so it was a pleasure to return to the friendly and gracious Mandevilla B&B, right on St. Charles Street not far from Tulane.
When dinner time rolled around, so did Susann and Bert, and swept us off to West Bank to Tan Dinh. It isn't a prepossessing place - an echoing brick-walled room with TVs in each corner. But it's the best Vietnamese food in New Orleans, which now has a LOT of Vietnamese restaurants.
We started out sharing appetizers: spring rolls so transparent you could see the plump shrimp inside, with peanut dipping sauce, and a platter of spicy chicken wings on surprisingly tasty pickled carrot slices.
Our main dishes were chewy goat in curry sauce with cashews and peanuts, and two perfectly-roasted quail with salad and more pickled carrots. Both came with mounds of rice and frosty mugs of Abita amber.
We also had tastes of Bert's tamarind squid - he meant to have shrimp, but this was what came, and proved to be delicious - and Susann's noodle bowl with grilled pork and egg rolls.
There was so much food that, by the time we had nibbled our little quail down to the last bone, the staff was noisily hosing down the kitchen floor.
Cost: just over $20 per person. The next day, we'd pay about the same for two small plates - wood-roasted oysters (as pictured) and pork ribs with watermelon pickle - at lunch at Cochon, and be grateful. Not to say that the oysters and ribs were not delicious.And that's another thing we love about New Orleans; you can have fabulous high-end food, or fabulous low-cost food, but it's generally just...fabulous food.