An evening with Allen Toussaint   Leave a comment

An evening with Allen Toussaint

Yes, that’s right.
As Fortuna would have it, we received a phone call from our good friend Jessica who’s on the board of the Algiers Riverfest Festival. This festival takes place in April weeks before the mother of all festivals, JazzFest, on the West bank of the Mississippi (actually the south bank of the river but you have to be here to understand, so please don’t ask).

People gather near the ferry landing, on the levee, across the street from the old court house. There is a stage for the artists who perform all weekend long, and an arts and craft fair plus a row of delicious food dispensing stands.

About a month before the festival, which this year takes place on April 17-18, the board of the Algiers Riverfest holds a Preview party for patrons and donors featuring a silent auction and a special guest artist performance. That’s what the phone call from Jessica was all about, “Would you like to be my guests to the party?”

It happened that we had Bed and Tango guests that weekend, Ed and Melanie from New York, so we thanked Jessica and our incredible luck, and the four of us headed for Mardi Gras World, a giant warehouse across the river where the Mardi Gras floats are built year around.

It was a fabulous night as we crossed the Crescent City Connection and made our way to the Blaine Kerns’s Studios where Mardi Gras World stands facing the skyline of the the city of New Orleans across the river. We were very excited because the featured artist was Allen Toussaint, an American musician, composer, record producer, and influential figure in New Orleans R&B.

Please enjoy our evening and chalk one more reason why our Bed and Tango is a favorite for tango dancers with discriminating taste.


Guest comments   Leave a comment

First we want to thank you very much for the hospitality and the high end educational argentine tango training sessions. Magda and I are very appreciative of the great personal attention and skills given to improve our argentine tango.
We hope that soon can meet again. As discussed you are welcome to stay in our apartment in Hackensack NJ. There is very convenient transportation in all directions and we could also assist you if needed.

Magda and Andrei

Please know how much we enjoyed the entire weekend. It was the best! Our friends are so excited about the book/DVD we shared with them. Hopefully some of them will reserve a Tango weekend with you soon. I really have enjoyed the magazines also. We would love to do another tango weekend or at least do a lesson or two on our next visit to New Orleans. Thanks for making our tango experience so wonderful! We will continue working on what you taught us and use the book also.


Linda and I began to study and dance Argentine Tango about 5 years ago, and we have studied with Alberto and Valorie on numerous occasions (they’re our favorite tango instructors in the whole world); our weekend of Tango, bed and breakfast at their lovely home/studio in New Orleans was a wonderful getaway experience, the city was great, and having this couple all to ourselves has taken our dance to another level altogether!!!!!! We recommend this weekend experience to everyone who wants to work on the romance and authenticity of Tango…


I had a wonderful time and I have already begun watching your teaching DVD. I’ll be using it to practice with my friends… Of course I’ll also do my best to spread the word about what a great thing it is to spend a weekend at the Tango B&B and take intensive individual instruction.


What could be better than staying with good friends, sharing in their warm home and garden district environs and honing our tango. It was also great to see you doing well!!! Thank you -we enjoyed our tango week-end immensely.


Tango being a part of my life, Alberto, Valorie, I had an amazing time. I’m still smiling… My poor roommate had to listen to me gush about how great my tango weekend was. I’m sad that we had to leave, but I know that we will be seeing you both again soon. Thank you for the fantastic experience, in an amazing city, with the best tango instructors. I learned so much and gained so much more confidence with my tango.


I traveled to New Orleans for an intensive tango experience. A few of you have asked me about it, and a few have noticed the change in my dancing! I just want to take a moment to share with you an opportunity that you might not realize you have…I made reservations to spend a long weekend with Alberto Paz and Valorie Hart as a guest of their “bed & tango getaway” in New Orleans! Always generous and masterful teachers, I spent hours each day working with them, and practicing in their studio. I even received the two best master classes of my entire tango education from them while I was there! It’s those “aha!” moments that you get with only a world-class teacher that have impacted my dancing so noticeably. On Saturday night, they hosted one of the most delightful milongas I’ve ever attended…beautiful music in a gorgeous venue, the most openhearted and friendly people, and a floor filled with skillful dancers! It was truly refreshing to be embraced by the culture of tango so completely and warmly… and of course, it was also a treat to be surrounded by the colorful culture of New Orleans…jazz and food and architecture… it’s an incredibly generous offer and I’m really excited to share it with you.


Thanks for your hospitality and the use of your comfy home. We really enjoyed the Tango lessons and meeting your friends at the milonga. We are reading your book — so well written — and continue to pracice. Till our paths cross again.

Culest and John

Posted December 1, 2009 by Alberto & Valorie in Bed and tango

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Thelma and Louise   Leave a comment

Thelma and Louise

By their own admission, these girls are so easy… that is when it comes to breakfast. They are both coffee drinkers and they’ll eat anything from fruit and cheese to peanut butter toast. I don’t think there is anything they won’t eat. They also love to keep it simple and easy. For these special guests of the Bed and Tango it was all about the tango, the getaway and good conversation.

Posted November 12, 2009 by Alberto & Valorie in Bed and tango, New Orleans

Wandering New Orleans in the Heart of Oyster Season   Leave a comment

Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal for the private use of our readers



Swizzle Stick Bar, New Orleans

November in New Orleans brings pleasantly cool temperatures and the heart of oyster season. The city’s classic restaurants are doing brisk business, and several new places of note have opened in the business district. With its intriguing collection of one-off shops specializing in everything from toy soldiers to out-of-print cookbooks, the French Quarter has long dominated the city’s shopping scene, but Magazine Street, particularly the stretch between Jackson and Louisiana, has emerged as a pleasant thoroughfare of boutiques and cafés.


Cochon: Chef Donald Link’s latest effort is a proud celebration of the pig. Set in the business district, it is an airy space with rust-colored walls and plenty of wood accents. The menu has many small plates — the wood-fired oyster roast is superb, and a “boucherie” section is devoted to pork dishes that include excellent ribs with a tart watermelon pickle. Main courses include a tender smoked beef brisket with a zippy horseradish potato salad. Groups of six or more can order a whole roast pig, which comes magnificently dressed on a platter before it is whisked away for carving. Average meal per person, excluding beverages, is about $55.
930 Tchoupitoulas Street, Tel. (504) 588-2123;

Cuvée: Another outpost in the business district, Cuvée is a charming, low-key space with brick walls, soft lights and a menu full of inventive Creole dishes. A starter billed as a spiced shrimp Napoleon arrives as a layered construction of shrimp, crisp mirliton (a vegetable also known as chayote) and a remoulade filling. We also enjoyed the beautifully prepared redfish stuffed with jambalaya risotto accompanied by green tomatoes and sauced with a tasty barbecue butter. A wine list of more than 650 bottles features intriguing sections of “alternative” reds and whites, such as an Elk Cove Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Average meal per person, excluding beverages, is $65.
322 Magazine Street, Tel. (504) 587-9001

View Slideshow


Commander's Palac

Mandina’s Restaurant: Easily reached by the Canal Street streetcar, this beloved neighborhood spot has made a comeback over the past several years. It’s a family-friendly, cash-only establishment with a lively bar up front and a generous side dining room. The menu includes one of the best turtle soups in town (boosted with a splash of sherry), a luscious trout amandine and, when in season, impeccably fried soft-shell crab. If you visit on a Saturday, do not miss the special — shrimp Creole. Average meal per person, excluding beverages, is $40.
3800 Canal Street, Tel. (504) 482-9179; mandinasrestaurant.comCasamento’s. Casamento’s on Magazine Street, opened in 1919, is a no-nonsense period piece (the interior is all glazed tiles, small tables and fluorescent lights) that celebrates the monarch of mollusks, the oyster. Whether raw, fried, stewed, or stuffed into po’ boy sandwiches, the oysters here are superb. It’s not a fancy place, but a memorable Uptown institution. It’s closed during the summer months, when the oysters aren’t so good. Average meal per person, excluding beverages, is $30.
4330 Magazine Street, Tel. (504) 895-9761;


Hermes Bar: The stalwart restaurant Antoine’s recently opened this room on St. Louis Street, and it appears to have achieved instant classic status. With a checkered tile floor and dark wood paneling, it is a congenial spot for a drink or for a bite to eat. For the first time in its 169-year history, Antoine’s kitchen is serving po’ boys, having created one just for the Hermes Bar. The Oyster Foch is a feast of fried oysters combined with pâté and Colbert sauce (a meat-based sauce made with wine, butter, shallots, tarragon and lemon juice) on toasted French bread.
725 St. Louis Street, Tel. (504) 581-4422;

The Swizzle Stick Bar: Part of Café Adelaide in the Loews Hotel, this smart, contemporary bar is the domain of Lu Brow, a knowledgeable and effervescent woman who delights in showing patrons how her cocktails are crafted. A fine brandy milk punch was followed by our favorite New Orleans potion, a Sazerac, a bracing mix of sugar, Sazerac rye, Herbsaint (a pastis), Peychaud’s Bitters and lemon. Put yourself in her good hands.
300 Poydras Street, Tel. (504) 595-3305;

Magazine Street Shops

Magazine Antique Mall is a warren of dealers offering a wide array of jewelry, watches, antiques, books, prints, china — the list is almost endless. It’s an engaging spot with a lot of funk and junk. (We walked out with a charming teapot from the renowned Belleek pottery works in Ireland, for which we paid $75 — a very good price.)
3017 Magazine Street. Tel. (504) 896-9994;

Sucré: As its name suggests, this stylish place is devoted to sweets. Aside from the assortment of individual chocolates (absinthe, Port, gianduja crunch, coconut truffles — the list goes on), you will find luscious French-style macaroons in a rainbow of colors and flavors, from the mint-green pistachio to the bright pink strawberry. All are made in the shop’s 4,100-square-foot “Confection Studio” four miles away and delivered fresh daily. They can be packed for shipping (the striped hatbox is particularly fetching), and if you just want a coffee or a gelato, that is also an option.
3025 Magazine Street, Tel. (504) 520-8311;

As You Like It Silver Shop: Here you’ll find an impressive collection of silver objects of every description: decorative pieces, frames, tableware, jewelry and more. Makers include Tiffany, Towle, Reed & Barton and Gorham. All of the pieces are handsomely displayed in wood-and-glass cases. We walked out with a beautiful tea strainer that we certainly didn’t need. If you are missing pieces from a cherished pattern, the staff can offer excellent assistance.
3033 Magazine Street, Tel. (504) 897-6915 or (800) 828-2311;

Wilkerson Row: Artisan Shaun Wilkerson features his own furniture in this handsome shop. It is all handmade, with cypress being his favored wood, and ranges from tables to hutches to bookcases. The overall style is elegant and spare, suggestive of Shaker but with some ornamental moldings. Strolling through the shop is almost like spending time in a museum; the workmanship is remarkable. Prices range from $295 for night tables to $1,495 for queen headboards to $2,250 for consoles. Mr. Wilkerson counts Jude Law, Ron Howard and Anne Rice among his clients.
3137 Magazine Street, Tel. (504) 899-3311;

Perch Foto

Photo and styling by Valorie Hart

perch: Inside this bright house dating to the 1860s you’ll find an eclectic mix of antiques, furniture, decorative objects, lighting fixtures, pillows and fabrics. You will find items as varied as an antique sewing table, a Venetian mirror tray and mercury lamps. In short, all things that would add an eye-catching element or accent to almost any style of interior. Perch also offers a selection of custom furniture.
2844 Magazine Street, Tel. (504) 899-2122;


Commander’s Palace Restaurant: The Commander’s Palace remains in a category of its own. Its luminous Garden Room is one of the prettiest dining venues in the country, and the service is always clockwork efficient and friendly. On our last visit, we enjoyed chef Tory McPhail’s wild shrimp, pan-seared with local Abita beer, followed by a rich bread pudding soufflé. If you are in town on Sunday, the Jazz Brunch is a favorite local tradition. Start with the classic New Orleans eye-opener, a brandy milk punch. Reservations are highly recommended; those in high season should be made several weeks in advance. Average meal per person, excluding beverages, is $60.
1403 Washington Avenue, Tel. (504) 899-8221;

Posted November 10, 2009 by Alberto & Valorie in Bed and tango, New Orleans

Unexpected pleasures of the tastebuds   Leave a comment

It has happened before and it is happening again.
They come because they are convinced that undivided attention and plenty of time to work on ways to improve their understanding of tango dancing is worth the sacrifice of being in a city where distracting temptations come from every corner. Shoo, go away great food, jazz musicians leave us alone!They’re up bright and early sipping their coffee, savoring the breakfast fare and reading the Gambit in the shadowy warmth of the porch, the New Orleans steam bath with a window to see the world pass by.Then it is time for tango lessons when they work very hard before heading out for a sightseeing walk of the French Quarter, a Swamp tour or even a visit to Laura’s Plantation. The routine will repeat with minor variations for three and sometimes four days all the while getting real good at dancing the tango like those who really know. At the end they do.

But then, an unexpected surprise awaits them around dinner time.

Tangomans Eggplant Napoleon

Tangoman's Eggplant Napoleon

Eggplant slices marinated in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano. Then oven at 350 for 30 minutes.
After cooling, the napoleon are assemble stacking eggplant, tomato, basil, eggplant, polenta, mozzarella, basil and eggplant.
Fifteen to twenty minutes of oven do the trick.

Tonight the Napoleons are served on top of onion and mushroom risotto with a side of Alberto’s signature blackened catfish but only after the two hours of private lessons are over and if only they do good. Just kidding!

A real New Orleans treat at the Bed and tango

A real New Orleans treat at the Bed and tango

Posted September 26, 2009 by Alberto & Valorie in Bed and tango

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Photo gallery   Leave a comment

Hone your tango skills and have a taste of the city through the eyes of the locals.

Brad, Ruthie and Domino   Leave a comment

Everyone who comes to New Orleans post Katrina is curious about the flooded areas, like the Ninth Ward.If you have time, we can take you there. This is the house that Brad Pitt, Domino Magazine, and Ruthie Sommers all pitched in on. It’s in the Holy Cross neighborhood right next door to the Ninth Ward.It’s a “green’ house. What cracks me up is that they paint it green inside and out. I guess they want you to really know it’s green. Right now it’s being used as the office for The Global Green Project.

This is the living room. It just doesn’t seem very Ruthie Sommers to me, and really not very Domino either. It looks kind of like a student Ikea deal.

You can visit this house at 409 Andry Street, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11 AM until 4 PM. It’s open Saturdays from 10 AM until 1 PM.

There are plans to build an apartment building too, something that is predicted to be ready for occupancy in 14 months or so.

It’s really just another version of the classic shotgun house footprint, using modern architecture, and green products.