Friday, November 3, 2017

Stumped on what to get each other for Christmas last year, B and I decided to take a trip to New Orleans together instead (a city he loves but I had never been to). We booked it early this year, before any of our other trips, and didn't realize it'd be Halloween weekend (NOLA's second busiest weekend, after Mardi Gras), or that a big music festival and home football game would be going on. Whoops! Despite the craziness it was such a relaxing, fun time. I couldn't get enough of the jazz, colorful streets and authentic po' boys. I left wanting to move there, of course. 

We're not big fans of Halloween (our first date was on October 30 seven years ago, and I remember discussing how it was a good excuse to get out of costume parties that night), but we couldn't help getting into the spirit in New Orleans. They do Halloween so well. B said he wished he had dressed up as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which had me cracking up! Ha! 

We gathered a long list of recommendations from friends before heading down and tried to avoid the typical tourist spots or any duds, but I couldn't resist getting a hand grenade cocktail on Bourbon Street. I ended up being given two, which I'd recommend to no one because those things are sneaky strong and everyone on the street was judging me for having two in my hand! Rightfully so.

We had the most delicious muffuletta sandwiches at Central Grocery, a recommendation from my friend Mary who was born and raised in New Orleans. I've always liked the one at L'Appetito in the city, but this one was so much better.

Every street seemed to have something new to make us stop and stare. Belligerently drunk people on one, and beautiful, multi-million dollar homes with lemon trees outside on the next.

Cafe Du Monde for beignets because duh. I actually ended up coming to New Orleans for work in June, and while I didn't get to see much, I did make a stop at Cafe Du Monde and was so happy to be back.

Standing outside this church I told Brian I truly felt like I was in France. That I had to keep reminding myself we were in the States. He kept disagreeing. The next day we had a man named Jean Xavier take our photo outside the church, and he told us he was from Marseille, France, but has been living in New Orleans for 17 years. He told me I was very wrong, that there's not much European about the city, and we laughed. We ended up talking for a while, and he recommended I buy this book, which I am loving (and joined my movement for us to move to Provence).

We totally, totally get why everyone recommended Cochon and would gladly eat nothing but their oysters and fried alligator for the rest of our lives.

We started our next morning walking around City Park, in awe of the Spanish moss on the trees and so many swans hanging out. There's lots to do in that park (it's twice the size of Central Park in New York), but so much of it was blocked off for the music festival, we didn't venture to the amusement park, putt-putt, horse stables, museum or lake, where you can rent bikes and paddle boats. We also didn't make it here, which we had heard has great beignets.

We left the park to have shrimp po' boys at Parkway Bakery & Tavern because that's where the Obamas ate shrimp po' boys when they visited, and we take their recommendations very seriously. Two big thumbs up, Obamas. So, so good.

As delicious as the frozen daiquiris we had were, they're a big reason I've given up alcohol and sweets this month. As if we weren't indulgent enough, each one of these was a big (super tasty) cherry on top.

Loved seeing these streetcars everywhere. We hit up a few markets and antique stores around the French Quarter throughout the weekend, and these cars conveniently went to all those spots (that said, we walked everywhere, haha).

I had been looking forward to our reservation at Peche for weeks, and that whole fish did not disappoint. The only time we could get in was at 5, which bummed us out at first, but it was nice to spend an easy afternoon drinking cocktails and picking at our meal for a few hours.

Our French friend we met earlier in our trip suggested we grab dessert at Sucre for an authentic French experience, and so we did, of course :)

New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, and I've never seen a greater city for live music in any genre. Music has a way of just oozing everywhere! We loved the band at d.b.a., which we snuck into because there was no cover but were pleasantly surprised.

On our last full day we ditched the free hotel breakfast and went to District Donuts, which, I know I've said this about everything we ate, was seriously out of this world. I think it was my favorite treat all weekend (well worth the looooooooooong line).

We spent the rest of the day walking around the Garden District, looking at fancy houses. We had looked up a walking tour to do by ourselves, and Brian was pointing out celebrity houses left and right. We stood outside Sandra Bullock and John Goodman's houses for 15 minutes, but no luck.

I wore my new Yala Designs hooded coat and Sandgren Brett clogs that day, which I was sent by Yala and Sandgren before the trip. I've wanted a pair of wooden clogs for as long as I remember, and the coat is my new travel staple. If you're looking for easy travel outfits this fall and winter, I'd check these brands out. They've been on heavy rotation for me the past few weeks :)

I was hesitant to get Middle Eastern food in New Orleans (a city known for po' boys and red beans), but Shaya has been getting a lot of buzz (and was recommended by multiple people), so we decided to give it a chance. Our friends weren't wrong, we want to bathe in the baba ganoush, and if veggies always tasted as good as theirs, we'd go vegan.

Our final treat (with the exception of massive pizza slices in bed that night) was a snow cone at Imperial Woodpecker. The condensed milk on top is a GAME CHANGER, and we're seriously missing out by not having one of these stands in Chicago. And, again, I need to hold off on desserts for at least a month.

Oh, New Orleans, we loved you and can't wait to be back someday soon. Thank you so much for reading! xoxo

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