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Big Easy assignmentworth a huge ‘Harrah’

Feb 26, 2008 3:47 AM

This past week from Thursday through Sunday I was lucky enough to be on assignment in New Orleans. That’s right, the Big Easy. And, what an assignment it was.

Sometimes you can reflect back to your younger days when you went somewhere and it was that perfect trip. You always remembered how great it was. Well this was just that kind of trip, except it’s my older days now.

I enjoy a much more diversified kind of entertainment, mostly horses, wine and good food. Maybe not in that order, but just about.

This was my first venture to New Orleans and I checked out Harrah’s Casino and, of course, Fair Grounds race track. Syl Friedman, a very good friend of GamingToday lives in Metairie just up the street from New Orleans. Syl has been supplying me with good info on all the teams in that area and invited me down for a little tour.

Going into Harrah’s was like walking into a casino in Vegas. The place was jammed packed. Next day it was the Fairgrounds and up to the clubhouse, where we were greeted by Mark (Maitre’D-Clubhouse) who seated us right on the finish line. Mark was the real deal and took care of us like we were movie stars.

The food and service at the Fairgrounds was excellent and the facility spectacular. My problem was I could not get enough gumbo. It was great, but about to get better if possible as I went down to the paddock and met up with a friend of Syl’s, trainer Sam David.

We talked with Sam and asked if he wanted to have a drink with us. He said his horse (Suzy Zip) was running in the next race. After having our pictures taken in the winners circle he would later join us for a drink. I took that very seriously and called my boss Eileen. I told her my expense money was going on Suzy Zip. The sport that Eileen is, she told me to get down a little for her.

Suzy won for fun, and I have a wonderful winner’s circle picture to frame. It’s a great memory to tuck away not to mention some fresh cash in my pocket.

As for the accommodations, if you are ever in New Orleans you can stay at Homewood Suite hotel managed by Dimension Development. Sam Friedman (Syl’s cousin) is in the process of opening the new Waldorf Astoria in New Orleans next year, I just may give it a shot.

Getting back to Homewood Suite, our stay there was 5-star all the way and Allie Sabla (director of front office, food and beverage) was just incredible. Allie really knows how to throw out the red carpet. A huge thanks to Sam Friedman for setting up our stay. The only place to stay in New Orleans is Homewood Suite, but next year it just may be the new Waldorf Astoria. I hope Sam will invite the entire GT crew for a little visit. I also want to thank Sam’s assistant Tammy Fulton for taking care of all our reservations. Give her a little raise Sam.

As for the food in New Orleans, wow! Many great spots, but I want to mention a few top notch under the radar locales. Fury’s in Metairie has the greatest seafood I have ever eaten, especially the broiled trout and catfish. The bread pudding was just another story. If you get there, ask for Marie, maybe the best waitress I have ever had.

Next is Crazy Johnnie’s, known for its steak and shrimp. I can’t explain how good the shrimp was, but if I had a picture of my bib you would understand. We had another one of those great New Orleans waiters Carmen. If you can get to Crazy Johnnie ask for Carmen. Say Richard from Vegas sent you.

What makes a good gambling trip are the great food, weather, wine, service, and a super host in Mr. Sylvan Friedman. It’s also nice to come home with more money than you left with.