Friday Favorites {NOLA edition}

We’re shaking up Friday Favorites again.  It is absolutely impossible to tell you my favorite restaurant or my favorite bite – there are so many favorites for different reasons. Here goes nothing…

Favorite Tourist Moment:  The Carousel Bar.  I mean, how could you not want to go on a ride around the only spinning bar in the city?  There are 25-seats at the bar and there are always people waiting for you to jump off.  It takes about 15 minutes to go around and I giggled multiple times as we went round and round.

carouselbar

Favorite Unexpected Plate:  My second course at lunch at Coquette.  I was torn about what to order and the waitress thankfully steered me in the right direction.  I ordered the cobia with english peas, mint, basil and cherry tomatoes and it was amazing.  The fish was cooked to perfection and I loved the freshness of the herb and pea puree.  This bright and light plate of food was a breathe of fresh air in the midst of a lot of heavy food.

cobia

Favorite Unexpected Sip:  Akakies Sparking Rosé.  While at Coquette, I noticed a sparking wine from Greece on the wine list.  The lady beside me was just as curious and ordered a glass so I asked the waitress for a taste.  After one sip, I had to have a glass.  It was amazing!  I am going to try my hardest to find a way to get a bottle or two in my house.

Favorite Fried:  Fried Chicken with Whipped Honey from Coquette.  Clearly I loved our lunch at Coquette.  But I can’t bring myself to have a favorite lunch.  This fried chicken was so succulent and juicy but perfectly crunchy on the outside.  It was sweet, salty, savory and just down right perfect.  (Second place goes to the fried oysters that were on our salad at R’evolution.)

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Favorite Restaurant Service:  Overall, I was blown away by the hospitality of New Orleans.  But I have to say that R’evolution took the cake.  They were professional yet not stiff, they catered to our needs but weren’t overbearing.

Favorite Lick Your Plate:  At R’evolution I ordered the gnocchi special as my entree.  It was homemade ricotta gnocchi with lobster and the most beautiful lemon sauce.  I could not get enough of the sauce.  It was sweet but savory and made me want to lick my plate.

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Favorite Epic:  The Grand Ambition.  I’ve never had a meat and cheese plate quite as elaborate as the one we had at Root on our first night in New Orleans.  I couldn’t even begin to tell you what each of the meats were.  But every bite was different and unique.  One of my favorite parts of the board – the little squeeze bottle of homemade mustard that give you with each board.  Oh, and I can guarantee I’m going to try to pickle my own apples soon.

epic

Favorite Pickle:  Almost every restaurant featured something pickled on the menu and my favorite would have to be the cucumbers and herbs in vinegar from Cochon.  Crisp and crunchy and just the right amount of punch from the vinegar.

Favorite Oyster:  Also from Cochon, the wood-fired oysters with chili garlic butter.  They were insane.  (And I can’t lie, a adored the alligator bites, too.)

cochon

Favorite Cocktail:  The bartender at Cure made me a riff on a French 75 and it was perfection.  I now wish I had a bartender at home.  To make me one now.

cure

Favorite Thankful:  I’m thankful for the three years of marriage that we’ve had and I’m thankful for every memory we make – whether it’s while traveling or just being our “boring” selves at home.  Thank you, Big Guy, for an amazing weekend away and I can’t wait to make a million more memories with you.

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(p.s. I know I missed something and I also didn’t take pictures of everything we ate…but this is a pretty good snapshot.)

 

 

 

New Orleans Itinerary

When we decided two months ago that we were going to spend our anniversary weekend in New Orleans, I immediately started working on our itinerary.  Some may call us crazy but it’s how we function optimally.  I’m actually glad we started securing reservations so far in advance because it turns out that this past weekend (and coming weekend) is Jazz Fest in New Orleans.  New Orleans is somewhere you want to go in the Spring or late Fall because it gets HOT down there.  We were there for four nights and I wish we would have had one more full day to get everything in.  I’m going to be honest – New Orleans is not my favorite city in America but it’s a fun one and somewhere I would return – the food is outrageous.

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We arrived in New Orleans around 5:30pm on Friday and headed straight to our hotel, the Ritz Carlton.  Our hotel was beautiful and in a great spot for getting around the city.  Once we freshened up and got ourselves situated, we went downstairs for a cocktail before heading to dinner at Root.   We found the restaurant quite empty and were completely caught off guard – but this is when we realizing being in New Orleans during Jazz Fest isn’t the worst thing – the restaurant and town is empty during the day and doesn’t get busy until after Jazz Fest, around 9pm.  At root we shared The Grand Ambition which is the Chef’s choice of house-made sausages, cheeses and seasonal accoutrements.    We also each had a “Foielly Pop” : Foie Gras Mousse, Seasonal Pop-Rocks, Foie Gras Cotton Candy.  It was quite possibly the weirdest bite of the trip.

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We were lucky enough to get the opportunity to chat with the Chef for a little while post-dinner.  After that we returned to the hotel for some drinks and jazz music.  We stayed up a little too late but we were still up and early on Saturday ready to tackle the town.

Saturday morning started with a long, long walk {including a stroll through Bourbon Street} until we stumbled across Merchant where I grabbed a coffee and yogurt bowl.

After breakfast and a quick change out of our walking clothes, we grabbed a cab to Magazine Street and then walked until it was time for our reservation at La Petite Grocery.   We opted to share a bunch of plates instead of ordering a lunch of our own.  We shared the Blue Crab Beignets, Burrata, the Pickle Jar, Charred Cucumbers,and  a Braised Beef Short Rib.  The plates were small so it was fun to taste a lot of what the restaurant had to offer.

lapetite

After lunch, more walking!  We explored so much of New Orleans – which is my favorite part of traveling.  And then we finally headed to The Carousel Bar.  We took a few (or more) spins around the Carousel where we made friends and ended up talking and laughing for longer than expecting.  Before we knew it, it was time to get cleaned up for dinner.

Saturday night we had reservations at R’evolution.   We were sat as the most amazing table in the house where we had fantastic kitchen views and literally saw everything and anything that came out of the kitchen.  I originally thought we would go for the tasting menu but we ended up sharing a few appetizers before ordering separate entrees.

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Our dinner at R’evolution lasted well into the evening but we did make one more stop after dinner – the oldest structure used as a bar in America: Lafitte’s.  

Sunday morning we did more walking – but this time we walked along Magazine Street and checked out a few shops before grabbing coffee.  If I could change things, we would have definitely checked out one of the cemeteries on this morning.

Lunch on Sunday was at Coquette which was a happening place.  It’s quite tiny (and like most of my recommendations) and it pretty much requires a reservation.  Coquette has a 3-course brunch but we couldn’t pass up the fried chicken to share.  The menu is ever-changing based on what’s available and we both had an incredible meal.  I also had an apricot bellini (or two) that was amazing.

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Post-lunch, we knew we needed to do more walking and before we knew it we were back in the French Quarter, ready for another cocktail before we needed to get ready for dinner.

Cane & Table is located in the heart of the French Quarter and offers specially curated cocktails.  The restaurant is super cool and I would have loved to have had food here but I was just way too full.  Maybe next time, right?

caneandtable

Sunday night we had reservations at Commander’s Palace, one of the most well-known restaurants in all of New Orleans.  And while I don’t regret going – it’s somewhere I only need to go once.  The food was amazing but the service was less than expected.  We obviously had to try the turtle soup (so good!) and the bread pudding souffle (a must have – and you must order at the beginning of the meal).  For dinner I had the lamb and Big Guy had the filet.  I would also highly recommend a side of cheese grits.  Trust me.

commanders

Dinner didn’t last as long as expected so we found ourselves with time to venture around town a little more.  We headed to Cure where we enjoyed some of the best cocktails I’ve ever had.  We were able to grab a place at the bar and found ourselves chatting late into the evening with our bartender.

We ended the night on a sweet note – beignets from Cafe Du Monde. 

cafe

Monday morning came too soon and I found myself a little under the weather (and it wasn’t just a hangover).  Thankfully I was able to turn myself around by late morning but I still feel like the morning was totally wasted and that’s the biggest disappointment of the trip.  We decided that since we lost our long walk in the morning we would walk to lunch at Cochon.  I was a little disappointment in the service (worst of the trip) but the food was incredible.  Once again, we found ourselves sharing an assortment of food.  Oysters, fried alligator, smoked pork ribs, cucumbers and herbs, a brussels salad and macaroni and cheese.

After lunch we walked along the river and after about 3 miles (not even kidding) we arrived at Bacchanal.  This wine bar is located in the area of NOLA that was hit the worst by the hurricane and it is an up and coming part of town.  We shared a bottle of wine and people watched for much of the afternoon.

bacc

Post-wine, we caught a ride back to the French Quarter and regrouped.  We didn’t have reservations for dinner which is unusual for us but we ended up at Domenica where there was a place for us at the bar.  The food was incredible but I was honestly a little over food and drink at this point – sad but true.  We ended the evening by sharing the burrata appetizer and a fried kale salad along with a pizza.

domenica

Tuesday morning I woke up sad.  Sad that the long weekend was over and sad that there was a flight to catch a little later on.  We made the most of our morning and ventured back in to the Quarter to walk and hunt down a t-shirt for my dad (it’s amazing) and grabbed some coffee before having to say “goodbye” to the city.

So there you have it…all my eats!  Tomorrow I’ll share my absolute favorites of the trip.

And since I know you’ll wonder, I wish we had a couple more days for the following:  more walking through the Garden District; a visit to French 75 for a pre-dinner drink; and a visit to one of the cemeteries.

 

3 Years

I cannot believe it’s been three years since we said “I Do.”

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We spent a long weekend in New Orleans to celebrate and I can’t wait to share with you my favorites from the trip.

Today I’m getting back to real life…laundry, emails, grocery shopping.

But I promise that the next two days will include our itinerary as well as my favorites.

Friday Favorites {third anniversary edition}

Good morning!!!  It’s hard to believe (well, sometimes) that in a matter of days we’ll be celebrating our third anniversary.  It’s amazing looking back how fast this third year of marriage flew by.  I thought I’d do a little something different today and look back on the past year and share some of my favorite memories.  I’m sure I forgot something and this is no way inclusive of the past 365(ish) days but it’s my way of celebrating the adventures from the past year.  I hope you have the most amazing weekend and I can’t share our long weekend with you later next week.

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Favorite Morning:  My perfect morning with Big Guy happens when we’re at Ocean Isle Beach.  Sleep in a little (past 6am), a long walk, and breakfast at Drift.  We’ve had several of these mornings over the past year and they’re the best – especially during the “off” season at the beach.

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Favorite Repeat Offenders:  Oh, Mura, we love you.  We try and go at least once a month and we’ve gotten to know the employees along with the Chef quite well.  It’s a short drive away from home and we can’t help going back over and over again.

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Favorite All Dolled Up:  I love dressing up – and so does Big Guy.  We had a great time getting fancy and spending time with his family this past September.

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Favorite Bucket List:  We checked homemade pasta off the bucket list a month or so ago and I’m looking forward to checking off more items in the coming year.

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Favorite Day Date:  For my birthday, we had brunch at a new spot in town,Joule, and it was one of my favorite dates during the day (and a Sunday).

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Favorite Laugh:  I seriously can’t help but laugh when I look at this.  I always knew I was married to an old soul.

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Favorite Sunset:  Another weekend at Ocean Isle Beach – but this was in October.  It was so calm and quiet and absolutely perfect.

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Favorite Meal:  This past year we had the opportunity to dine at ONE Restaurant in Chapel Hill.  The restaurant actually closed this month so I am so glad we were able to enjoy a phenomenal dinner complete with tasting menu.  A seriously amazing meal.

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Favorite Travel with Friends:  Asheville wasn’t quite as far as Sonoma and we didn’t drink nearly as much wine, but it was the most perfect weekend getaway.  We ate, we laughed and we ate some more.

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Favorite Sunday Tradition:  PIZZA!  It doesn’t happen every Sunday but it happens more often than not if we’re home on a Sunday.  Oh, and sharing a bottle of wine only makes the tradition better.

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Favorite Weekend:  The truth is, we have a lot of amazing memories.  But the other truth is that we spend a lot of time apart.  Our weekends are so sacred to us both.  But my favorite weekend of our third year of marriage would have to be our late summer long beach weekend.  School had started back, so there weren’t a lot of “tourist.”  The weather was amazing.  And we spent the entire weekend enjoying each other’s company.  Long walks, sleeping in, Drift dates, cocktail time, cannonballs, corn hole, home cooked meals with no set bed time…

Cheers to the weekend!!!!

 

Sweet Potato Bread

By now most of you know that when I have company coming into town I bake muffins.  But did you know that most Fridays if we’re planning to be home for the weekend I bake bread?

It’s true.  I think it’s nice to have a little something to nibble on in the morning (or as a snack) and it’s a change of pace from the normal Monday through Friday routine.

But seriously – what isn’t too love about homemade bread?  Or any other baked goodie for that matter?

This sweet potato bread is inspired by carrot cake (Big Guy’s favorite) and I knew he would flip over a slice of this raisin-studded, pecan-filled loaf that also included some homegrown sweet potato.

The loaf of bread is then topped with a light cream cheese frosting that has a fresh lemon zing.

It’s perfection.  And I can already tell you that this recipe immediately got filed in the “make again” folder.

sweetpotatobread

 

Green Pea and Asparagus Soup

Despite the fact that it was in the 90s yesterday, I’m sharing a soup recipe.  I know, I know.  So unlike me.  But this warm soup is everything Spring is.

Bright.

Lush.

Light.

Green.

Simply lovely.

Besides, if the 90s stick around, we officially had a 3 day Spring.

The soup is a basically a puree of vegetable broth, sautéed leek that was seasoned with fresh thyme, fresh chopped asparagus and frozen peas along with a little parsley.

The soup is then topped with a poached egg (3 minutes = perfection) plus a little drizzle of EVOO and some extra parsley plus S&P and served with a side of crackers (or toast or anything your heart desires).

soup

 

Skillet Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Carrots

Some recipes fall in the category of “weeknight” dinner while others fall in the category of “weekend” meal.  And while this chicken dinner would typically be something I would make on a Tuesday, it ended up being the perfect Friday night dinner.  The difference – a glass of wine on Friday which made the whole dinner prep “thing” so much more fun.

prep

This dinner is quite simple and the key is quality ingredients.  How gorgeous are those homegrown carrots?

The chicken is seared on the stovetop followed by the veggies (carrots and potatoes) along with fresh thyme and then the entire skillet is placed in the oven.  I used our Dutch oven to avoid having to cover the handles and/or switch skillets. The veggies cook for 10 minutes in the oven before adding the chicken back to the skillet along with lemon slices and then cooks for 12 more minutes.

The veggies and chicken are removed from the pan and it’s time to make the pan sauce.  Use the same pan because there is SO much flavor hidden on the bottom.  Milk and stock, along with a little flour (I used brown rice flour) are cooked down while scraping the bottom of the skillet.  Season with salt and pepper and then serve the sauce with the meat, potatoes and carrots.

And a sprinkle of parsley for a pop of freshness.

chicken

Unfortunately this sauce isn’t the prettiest to photograph and purple potatoes end up turning other items purple in the pot but it was delicious.

The thyme and lemon are the perfect pair while the sear on the stovetop provided a little crust.  Oh, those potatoes were dreamy.

So whether you make this on Tuesday or Friday, it’s worth the glass of wine.