Jingle, Jangle, Jingle, here comes Mr. Bingle … with another message from Kris Kringle

To quote Don Draper of “Mad Men,” nostalgia is powerful; it’s delicate but potent. Mr. Bingle, New Orleans’ Christmas snowman, turns 76 this year. And New Orleans is still as infatuated with the little fella as when he was first created in 1947 — perhaps more so. Mr. Bingle, flying above Canal Street on Maison Blanche, was an iconic symbol of New Orleans’s childhood past: ours, our parents, and even our grandparents. When local children saw Mr. Bingle on WDSU-TV after school, they knew it was getting close to Christmas.

The New Orleans Thanksgiving table: Oyster dressing, rice, bread stuffing or mac ‘n’ cheese?

By Kristine Froeba, Uptown Messenger

Our New Orleans elders and those who respect the old guard serve oyster dressing with their roast turkey. I wouldn’t dream of Thanksgiving without it. However, an influx of newcomers might be changing the menu. In old New Orleans, as in the present, gumbo, turtle soup or oyster soup is served first, followed by the roast turkey and oyster dressing. A myriad of dishes follow, but another expected dish is rice dressing.

Casamento’s Creole Oyster Soup

Oysters are the star of local Thanksgiving tables (with recipes)

Before and since the Americans purchased New Orleans from the French, New Orleans has remained unique and distinct, nearly 220 years later, we still spurn convention. Thanksgiving is no exception. We celebrate with oysters: Oyster Soup or Stew and Oyster Dressing (you’ll find the recipes below). Not just oysters, oysters seasoned in whole or in part with our “holy trinity” — bell pepper, onion, and celery, the divine secret of New Orleans’ cuisine and even our Thanksgiving menu. We then double-down and add garlic, green onion, fresh herbs and a dash of cayenne.

Entrepreneur battles neighbors to open Daiquiri World restaurant

An old Church’s Chicken building on Louisiana Avenue has turned into a battleground for a neighborhood association and a fledgling entrepreneur who is renovating it into a full-service restaurant with alcohol sales. The Delachaise Neighborhood Association filed an appeal with the Board of Zoning Adjustments to stop work on the building two blocks from St. Charles Avenue. It alleges that the planned Daiquiri World will be a bar disguised as a restaurant and that the layout resembles a fast-food operation. The BZA staff recommended denying the appeal, stating that the plans show a standard restaurant. But the BZA board said those plans are incomplete and are not stamped by a licensed architect.

Uptown VFW breaking ground to help support veterans in need

New Orleans’ sole remaining Veterans of Foreign Wars post is breaking the mold. In a city where every neighborhood once had a VFW hall, VFW 8973 on Lyons and Annunciation streets is New Orleans’ last. However, it may end up being a role-model for the organization’s national headquarters. Once nearly abandoned, the Uptown post, Nola VFW, has been revived by post-9/11 membership. Now it is growing so quickly it may require a second branch.

Free HIV test center plans to open in former Garden District day spa

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, or AHF, has plans to open an HIV testing center, health care center, pharmacy and Out of the Closet thrift store on Magazine Street. 

The Los Angeles-based foundation has purchased the building on Magazine and Sixth streets, the former location of the Belladonna Day Spa. The health care center is tentatively set to open in August, an AHF spokesperson said. AHF is the world’s largest provider of HIV/AIDS medical care, according to the foundation’s website, operating in 45 countries. In the U.S., its medical centers are in 17 states, including Louisiana, with a clinic in Baton Rouge. 

The foundation plans to the entire space of the 19th century building at 2900 Magazine St. The first floor will be used as a thrift store and likely a donation center; the second floor will be used for testing and a medical clinic.

City Planning Commission approves Italian restaurant on Magazine Street

The City Planning Commission approved Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts’ latest venture on Magazine Street. An Italian-themed restaurant and bar with balcony service could inhabit the former space of their short-lived Bayou Burger & Sports Co. concept on the corner of Magazine and Pleasant streets. A zoning request by the building’s owner, T.H.P of New Orleans, and the restaurant’s owner, Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts, was unanimously approved by the Planning Commission, minus one absent vote. The commissioners recommended permitting a standard restaurant in the HU-B1 neighborhood business district and the Magazine Street Use Restriction Overlay District.

The Uptown neighborhood no one knew about, revealed by author and ‘river rat’ Macon Fry

Macon Fry sat on his deck on a spring afternoon, above the swirling waters of the Mississippi River. Fry is weathered, composed and about to share an amusing find stumbled upon while researching his book — but he’s interrupted by a goat. Actually, two. Both goats have the run of the front porch and plank bridge that leads from the levee, over the water, to his front door. The goats begged for a snack, which Fry attended to.

Merry, merry New Orleans holiday cocktails

Sugar cookie and candy cane martinis top the drinks menu at The Roosevelt. Hot toddies and mulled wine are the beverages of choice in holiday movies. And polls place good old-fashioned egg nog as the most popular drink of the holiday season. I concur that homemade egg nog — spiked with a good whiskey, topped with meringue, and dusted with freshly grated nutmeg — is Christmas personified. That said, I’ve recently spiked gallons of the store-bought variety. However, no matter the amount of Woodford’s, Maker’s Mark or Basil Hayden consumed via la nog, sometimes this gal needs a real cocktail, minus the cream.

Uptown’s modern Réveillon chefs take on a classic New Orleans feast

New Orleans’ decadent holiday feast, le Réveillon, is traditionally served on both Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Now it has expanded to include the entire month of December. The Réveillon tradition descends from the French Catholics of the colonial New Orleans period under France’s rule. There were once two Réveillons: le Réveillon de Noël, enjoyed before sunrise on Christmas Day, and le Réveillon du premier de l’an’s, enjoyed early on New Year’s Day. After Creole families strolled home from Midnight Mass or “la Messe de Minuit” at the St.