New Orleans Eats!

I thought I'd kick off a couple posts on my weekend in New Orleans with the highlight: all that food! After watching Top Chef New Orleans a couple years ago, I was dying to get to some of the spots mentioned and try what NOLA is famous for: po' boys, beignets, gumbo... basically anything Cajun/Creole. I researched spots for dinner reservations mostly through "where to eat in New Orleans" and Yelp.

Our first meal, Saturday lunch, was in Jackson Square at Muriel's. I dove right in with New Orleans eats and had crawfish etouffee. I had never had crawfish before and liked it!  The rice took on all the spices and flavor of the sauce.
New Orleans Crawfish Étouffée

Our "afternoon snack" was beignets and coffee at Cafe Du Monde, of course! It was a delicious treat to hold us over 'til a later dinner. The beignet was the perfect mix of doughy, sugary flavor with a crunch.
Cafe Du Monde New Orleans Beignets and Coffee

Dinner Saturday night was at Cochon. This was top on my list to visit after reading many positive reviews.  I did not want to miss a restaurant named "pig" (in French). First off, the drink menu was very inventive. I had the "mollywop" (foreground drink) and my friend had the "hey, jack" (background drink). Mine tasted like a watered down Jolly Rancher (in a good way, ha!) and hers was margarita-like with a kick. Our appetizers were fried gator bites with chili garlic mayonnaise and seafood gumbo with shrimp deviled egg. I also had never had gator before. It was chewier than I expected; the mayo sauce was delicious, and I probably would eat anything doused in it. The gumbo flavor was bold and sort of dwarfed the deviled egg, but it was delicious none-the-less. I had their signature dish, Louisiana cochon with turnips, cabbage & cracklins. The pork was prepared like a crab cake and was amazing. I wish I could have finished it all! A side of shared mac & cheese (so cheesy) rounded out my entree.
Cochon New Orleans
Not pictured and worth noting if you like chocolate and coconut was their German chocolate cake.

Sunday kicked off with jazz brunch at Arnaud's in the French Quarter. It's a 4-course, prix fixed menu with prices ranging from $30-$40. My favorite parts of the meal were the beginning and the end. I started with the creole cream cheese Evangeline which was fresh fruit in a light, creamy sauce. It was such a pretty dish and the sauce didn't overwhelm the fruit. In the middle was a salad and the eggs Adrienne (eggs Benedict with sausage & creole sauce). The Adrienne Benedict was very good (no picture as it wasn't that pretty looking), and I mixed sauces with the creole and a classic hollandaise.  Dessert was a NOLA classic, bananas foster made table-side. Click for a time-lapse video! The caramelized rum, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter sauce was unreal.
Arnaud's Jazz Brunch in New Orleans

Our last dinner, Sunday night, was at Commander's Palace that was high on my list after the Top Chef episode there. It's been around since 1880 and most recently, Executive Chef Tory McPhail, won the 2013 James Beard award for Best Chef, South. It was fun to get all dressed up for this meal too and the service/experience did not disappoint.  My favorite dish the entire trip was our appetizer here, Louisiana oyster fondue. You dip the crisp oysters in a sauce of goodness (brie, grilled kale, sundries tomatoes, bacon, and more goodness). SO GOOD. My meal was also delicious, shrimp & grits.  For dessert, we had their famous bread pudding souffle and chocolate cherry beignets. Even though souffle is their signature dish, I much preferred the beignets (chocolate, Nutella, and dark cherry, yes please). They wrap their leftovers in a "swan-bag" - so cute!
Commander's Palace New Orleans

Finally, Monday for lunch we sent ourselves off proper with a big lunch at Palace Cafe near our hotel. I had the crab meat cheesecake that totally intrigued me: crab meat, pecan crust, wild mushrooms, creole sauce. It was very good, lighter than I expected and the sauce was unreal (they really know how to do sauces in NOLA). For my entree, I had a Cobb salad with fried oysters. The oysters were the perfect light fry and there was a house-made sausage too. Needless to say I didn't need dinner that night.
Palace Cafe New Orleans

Well, that was a lot! Thanks for reading if you made it to the end! We really left no food stone unturned, and I was very happy with our choices. A few other spots on my list that we missed, like Coquette and La Petite Grocery, will wait till next time!

All photos by me.


Spring Backpacks

The backpack is back, people. I noticed the style popping up last year with the Elizabeth and James hybrid bucket bag & backpack. I like the ones that work as shoulder or handheld bags and convert, more practical for everyday use, from work to weekend. What is better than walking around your neighborhood or traveling and having your hands free?! Here are a few of my faves at various price points.
Spring backpacks

Elizabeth and James metallic backpack $645
Clare V. Agnes backpack $594
Botkier Warren backpack $298
Tory Burch striped canvas backpack $275
POVERTY FLATS by rian faux leather backpack $98
Target mini backpack $35

Do you like the new and improved backpack style?


Friday Faves of February

snowy south boston

Oh, February, I am so happy to wish you goodbye and welcome in the beginnings of spring (hopefully sooner rather than later). I am off to New Orleans tonight for a fun weekend getaway! Here are some faves from around the web this month. See you back here next week and follow my NOLA travels on Instagram.

Photo of snowy South Boston by me.


Oscars Red Carpet and Vanity Fair After-Party Best Dressed

I found myself being more excited by the dresses at the Vanity Fair After-Party than the Oscars red carpet looks themselves, so I decided to do some best dressed from both!  A few red carpet stunners stood out for me: Reese Witherspoon (simple & elegant), Jenna Dewan-Tatum (she and stylist Brad Goreski are killing it lately), Rosamund Pike (gorgeous and redeemed from Golden Globes), and Rita Ora (best & classiest she's ever looked).

At the VF After Party, I liked Diane Kruger (unique- and included Pacey here for good measure), Sofia Vergara (gorgeous color), Mindy Kaling (I love how she wears The Mindy Project costume designer's dresses to big events), and Jane Fonda (SHE IS 77!).

A couple others to note. I thought Meryl looked great in this tuxedo inspired Lanvin. I am back and forth on Emma Stone. Her face/hair are beautiful and the dress itself is beautiful but the color... at first it looked like algae to me. It seems to change in every photo I see!

So that's a wrap for this year's big awards! Who were your best dressed?


Inspirational Things

My mood recently can best be described as cranky with a size of red wine (insert red wine emoji here). After 4 years at Syracuse, I thought I had seen bad winters, but this, this winter takes the cake.  I've been trying to look on the bright side, despite the forecast of bitter cold and more snow.  Spring is starting to fill the stores, my monthly magazines and Pinterest feed.  It's just 32 days away, and with a trip to New Orleans (where it's 60+ degrees there - YES) in between, I can do this! There is a light at the end of the (frozen) tunnel! And if not, there is always more wine... ;)

So a few things that have been keeping me inspired:
Cute dresses from Kate Spade's F/W 2015 presentation and Splendid (ah, bare legs)

D'orsay flats from J.Crew and AERIN. I cannot wait to not wear snow boots!

Pretty spring styling at Terrain.

Starting to plan our tropical vacation in December. Options right now are looking to be Aruba or Barbados... give me palm trees!

What is inspiring you right now?