Browsing Tag

new orleans

14 In food/ lifestyle/ travel

new orleans neutrals

stella-and-dot-necklace cape-shirt-3

Man, oh man, it was good to be home in New Orleans.  The official excuse for the trip was a wedding, for one of my college roommates and sorority sisters. But we always want to spend time with David’s mom, have friends and family to love on, new babies to meet and kiss, so our weekend in NOLA was a long and busy one. Continue Reading →

1 In style/ travel

one nation under chic: a striped sweater for fall

saint-louis-st-sign walking

On Wednesdays, we wear pink… or black-and-white stripes, rather. I’m the furthest thing possible from a mean girl, but my squad game’s real strong, and I’m introducing y’all to some of my favorite blogger babes and our fun collaboration today.

Continue Reading →

0 In food/ travel

new-to-us nola eats 

If we weren’t socializing or exploring New Orleans during our visit, we were in pursuit of delicious eats. I doubt that’s shocking-  y’all know how passionate I am about food, and we needed to make our first visits to some yummy new spots.

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John Besh and Aaron Sanchez’s bromance is behind the aptly-named Johnny Sanchez, a farm-to-table taqueria in the CBD. We headed there for a hair of the dog and brunch before the Saints game, and it was scrumptious. The smoked pork grillades on jalapeno grits were tender and flavorful, ceviche was perfectly balanced, and we had multiple bowls of queso. Ordering every taco on the menu led to the discovery that there are no bad options there, and the bartender was on point as well.

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The St. Roch Market was renovated and opened after we moved away, so I was excited to check it out for lunch. So many eatery options exist in this Marigny food hall, it was hard to narrow it down and order. An adorable cat-puccino from Coast Coffee was good browsing fuel, and I considered sweet Louisiana satsumas from St Roch Forage excellent souvenirs.

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The food didn’t disappoint either! I was so pleased with a bowl of duck gumbo, a scrumptious charcuterie plate, and a gigantic pulled pork sandwich.  The blue crab and persimmon salad from Elysian Seafood was fresh and flavorful, the perfect counterbalance to the richness of the rest of the meal.

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As soon as we booked our flight, I made our reservation at Shaya.  I’m obsessed with Israeli food, and  Alon Shaya is racking in the accolades as he modernizes and honors the foods of our forefathers.  We ordered most of the items on the menu, which was an excellent life choice, and tore through mounds of pillowy steaming pita alongside.

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We got an assortment of delicious dips: a trio of hummus topped with lamb ragu, fried chickpeas, and curried cauliflower,  smoky baba ganoush, lutenitsa, tabouleh,  and ikra, a caviar and shallot spread I simply adore. Ever the  avo toast lover, I had to try Shaya’s version, topped with smoked whitefish and pink peppercorn. The crispy halloumi and falafel were crunchy and light, the  shakshouka spicy and delicious, and the duck matzo ball soup downright incredible.  David practically had to roll me and my best girlfriend Shelly out… such a magnificent meal.

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And I may love a fancy meal, but celeb chefs don’t have anything over decades of friendship.  My friend Mike was one of the first I met at Tulane, and he’s killing it at his restaurant on Freret Street, Liberty Cheesesteaks. It was bustling and it just made me so proud of him, his hard work, and success.

liberty cheesesteaks nola new orleans-3 liberty cheesesteaks nola new orleans pepper tasting liberty cheesesteaks nola new orleans faceNo shocker that all the eats were excellent. I’m not normally a cheez-wiz girl, but it just works with the provolone and steak. Italian subs are my deli go-to, and Mikey is making some killer overstuffed ones, but the personal heat index option is clutch.  With an assortment of locally grown peppers sorted by spiciness, you can turn up the heat perfectly- Padrons are my jam, but I had a taste of all of them!

If you’re headed to New Orleans soon (lucky!), don’t hesitate to try any of these good eats, and make sure and let me know what you think!
loveRavayna

 

0 In travel

honey island swamp tour 

While in New Orleans, we made a point of having a little swamp adventure.  So we crawled out of bed just after sunrise to caffeinate and head out of the city. It was chilly and early, and we were a bit on the struggle bus as we entered Slidell and arrived at Honey Island Swamp Tours.

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We motored off into the swamp, and quickly saw a gorgeous pelican. We stopped to admire it, and it preened for a bit before taking flight.

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We spotted a blue egret as well, but it was more stubborn. I was snapping away [👻: loveRavayna], especially all the different camps.  Families have owned these spots in the swamp since the 40’s (Noah’s Ark is the oldest) and have built and rebuilt their camps over the years (and hurricane seasons.) I was intrigued to see how greatly their repair and luxury levels vary.

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David and I’ve been out in the swamp dozens of times, but this was a first for our couple friends. I’d always heard from guides that swamp cypress is special because it manages to live in varying standing water, and sends roots and knuckles up through the the swamp’s surface. I think they’re beautiful, especially draped with Spanish moss.

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We were all excited to spot an alligator! It was so cold that morning that we didn’t expect any to be awake and out, so it was cool to see his beady eyes breaking the surface of the murky water.  He was a big one, too.

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We saw the cutest raccoons, and stopped to watch them frolic.  I could not stop thinking of Meeko and singing ‘Just Around the Riverbend’ like a big dork. I know they are rabies infested and all that jazz, but they are just really stinkin cute up close.

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We also ran into a family of swamp pigs- Papa approached first, and was rather daring, swimming right up to our boat.  We fed him a few treats, and Momma and Baby oreo piglet came along in quick succession.

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We loved getting out into the fresh air and were glad to get up close with so many varieties of Louisiana creatures. I don’t love group tours, but Honey Island did a good job of keeping it personal, and the swamp’s a pretty big place, so we only saw one or two other boats. It was a lovely nature escape… there’s really no place like the Atchafalaya Swamp.

honey island swamp girls

loveRavayna

1 In food/ travel

new orleans eats: old faithfuls

new orleans nola water meter

New Orleans is practically a foodie’s fantasyland. Especially on our busy trips, there are never enough mealtimes to eat all the things I want…. what a first world problem! I sometimes have crazy cravings for distinctly NOLA food experiences, so we made a point of making it back to some long-term loved eateries.

nola new orleans la crepe nanou

We ate fondue and mussels at Le Crepe Nanou on our first date a dozen years ago, and celebrated our engagement there as well. There’s nothing like a glass of rosé and a little French bistro romance, and they consistently bring both to the table, along with delicious food.

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Creole Creamery is just up the block, and I couldn’t help but answer the siren’s call. The darling little boy I made friends with would insist you try the Cookie Monster, creamy vanilla crammed with Oreos and chocolate chip cookies. They mix a whole red velvet cake into their ice cream of the same name, and it is unreasonably good, but they offer a sampler of four mini scoops, and that’s where the party’s at.  Banana cane malt, roasted pistachio, creole cream cheese, brown butter pecan- those are just a few of the yums on offer, but my favorite flavors are seasonal. I devoured my cone of black-and-gold crunch- the French vanilla and chicory ice cream with Oreos and chocolate chips is only available during Saints season.  I’d argue that my artisan ice cream obsession was honed in this old-timey scoop shop… I for sure ate way too much Creole Creamery in college!

nola new orleans la boulangerie nola new orleans la boulangerie-2

Our apartment was conveniently located in the Garden district, perfectly placed for morning walks  toLa Boulangerie.  It’s been revitalized by Donald Link and his restaurant group since we moved away, so it’s no surprise there were lines for their fantastic French pastries and breads. It wasn’t yet king cake season, but the decadent Paris brest, glossy croissants, and bountiful fruit tarts more than made up for it.

the cure bar cocktail nola new orleans the cure bar cocktail sazerac nola new orleans

The Cure really focuses on their mixology- that’s why they make some of the best and most creative drinks in New Orleans. I always suggest some flavors I enjoy to my bartender, and am rewarded with the perfect custom cocktail creation. I can’t be that brave most places, but they nail it every time.

Before heading out for drinks, we had a little take-out dinner party at our house.  We picked up Creole-Italian from Vincent’s, which was a frequent date-night spot in college,  just around the corner from David’s apartment. The corn-and-crab bisque, canneloni,  and Parmesan crusted chicken were all as incredible as I remembered.

crabby jack's nola menu crabby jack's nola crabby jack's

Like every good New Orleans girl, I love me some po-boys. Out near the parish line, Crabby Jack’s makes some of the best in town. Like a blast from the past in the building by the train tracks, the fanciest thing is the display of local art for sale. You order at the counter and serve your own fountain drinks, but who needs fancy service when the food is this good?

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Keeping it classic, my typical poboy order is a half and half of fried gulf oysters and shrimp, dressed with extra hot sauce, but I also have a weakness for the smoked duck. The cochon de lait was juicy and tender and messy and scrumptious, like always. We also got a fried green tomato with shrimp remoulade- old school New Orleans, but for good reason-  the flavors are on point together.

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In all seriousness, I sometimes dream of Middendorf’s thin fried catfish. You might not think fried fish could be that amazing, but that just tells me you’ve never eaten there. They’ve been serving it along the water in Manchac since the 1930’s, and along with a deep, dark, sausage-and-seafood gumbo and a Dixie beer, the goodness feeds my appetite and my soul.

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Growing up, David and his family used to boat across Lake Maurepas and dock out back for supper. it looks much different now- there were major repairs and renovations post-Katrina, but the lake is ever-lovely. We love relaxing out by the water, with a full belly and a fresh beer… even when the mosquitos are out, the bayou is a truly gorgeous place.

lake maurepas middendorfs fuel dock off the freeway

 

loveRavayna

0 In travel

a New Orleans homecoming 

Back before the holidays, we rented a cute little apartment in uptown New Orleans for a long weekend with another couple.  It had been altogether too long since we’d been home, and it was such a good time!

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We packed a million things into our time in New Orleans. We didn’t photograph some parts, but we treasured our time visiting David’s mom, having a sleepover at my bestie Leah’s farm, loving on her family and babies, and  trying to get face time with as many of our long-distance loves as possible.

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Tulane facilitated that- it was homecoming weekend, and there was a surprising amount of our old friends back in town for the weekend. Torrential rains, reminiscent of my first undergrad homecoming, couldn’t hide that fact that Tulane has gotten all gussied up, and the new construction looks amazing.

nola new orleans girlsfriends birthday party

It was my best friend Maille’s birthday that weekend, so I blew her mind a bit by surprising her on her doorstep- I’m a pretty good present, if I do say so myself. I third-wheeled her birthday dinner with her darling boyfriend at Saffron, and we made time for both a low key girls’ night and a super fun house party celebrating the beautiful birthday girl.

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We couldn’t go home for the weekend and not get tickets to the Saints game…. the last home game we attended was the day after our wedding! We lost in overtime to the Tennessee Titans and it was agonizing, not gonna lie. But I bleed black and gold, regardless.

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Post game, we walked down the familiar streets to the Boot, to honor one of my oldest friends at our old on-campus bar.  I met Brian McKenna the first week of college, and we shared a birthday and core group of friends- he’s always been one of the good guys.  Last summer, a mountain biking accident rendered him a quadriplegic, but in typical Brian style, he’s recovering astonishingly- with incredible spirits and the encouragement of people like Drew Brees and Ellen Degeneres. It was good to visit with lots old friends while raising funds for Brian’s care and recovery … he’s so often in my thoughts.

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And no trip to New Orleans is complete without visiting The Columns.  We went for cocktails with friends, but I always get all misty on the steps where we got married.

 

“I returned to New Orleans, and as soon as I smelled the air, I knew I was home. It was rich, almost sweet, like the scent of jasmine and roses around our old courtyard. I walked the streets, savoring that long lost perfume.”

― Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire

 
loveRavayna

 

1 In food/ recipes

galette des rois: french king cake

full-french-king-cake king-cake-plated

Carnival season is hands-down my favorite time of year, and king cake is one of those confections I just can’t say no to. Whether classic cinnamon swirl, cream-cheese-filled king cake or a traditional French galette des rois, it’s probably having a date with my mouth.

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We were fortunate enough to have a dear friend ship us a king cake from the legendary Manny Randazzo’s, and it totally hit the spot.  Most years, I wind up making several king cakes throughout carnival season- this recipe from Sucré, on Magazine Street,  is my go to, and Randazzo’s and Sucré are by far the best king cakes available by mail.  but i have a serious affinity for the French king cake, or galette des rois… la Boulangerie makes my favorite in town.

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But, according to #12 of my #16in16, this is the year of taking on those intimidating cookery projects. So after a brief foray of pricing out having galettes de rois shipped, it was game on. As luscious as this pistachio-and-citron version from Gontran Cherrier (who makes my very favorite croissants in Paris) looks, I decided to save that and focus on the traditional French almond frangipane filled confection. I worked with Clotilde and David Lebovitz‘s recipes, adapting them and making the frangipane from scratch.

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I didn’t trust myself and my limited artistic talent to provide even decorative cut work, so lots of overlapping salad plate tracings did the job with style.  It’s super important to flute and seal the edges properly so that the frangipane doesn’t bubble out. And make sure your egg wash doesn’t drip down the sides- it will inhibit the pastry’s puffing.  With traditional king cakes, you’d bake in a ceramic fève, or insert a plastic baby into the baked king cake.  Here though, I went super old-school and baked in a whole almond  (and was a total five-year old and stole it from David’s slice to claim the carnival queen title.)

king-cake-cutting

Ingredients

  • 1 package all-butter puff pastry, thawed.
  • 1 whole almond, piece of  candied fruit, or oven-safe fève
  • 1 cup (100 g) sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • pinch salt
  • zest of one orange
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100g) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons good rum
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with one tablespoon milk

Preparation 

  1. Working with one half of pastry at a time, roll out and trace a large dinner plate with a sharp knife.  Stack large pastry circles between peices of parchment paper, and refrigerate for at least a half hour.
  2. Meanwhile, make almond filling.  Pulse almonds with a few tablespoons of sugar until all finely ground.
  3. Move sweetened almond flour to bowl of stand mixer. Add rest of sugar, salt, orange zest.
  4. On medium speed, mix in butter  until completely incorporated. Add whole eggs one at a time, then rum and almond extract. (The mixture may not look smooth- totally okay.) Cover and chill.
  5. Preheat over to 375 Line baking sheet with parchment, and center one chilled pastry circle.
  6. Spread the almond filling evenly over pastry, leaving a 1-inch (3cm) border. Place almond,  candied fruit, or fève (prize) somewhere in the almond filling.
  7. Brush water generously around pastry edges.  Place the other pastry circle on top of the galette and press down to seal the edges very well. (At this point, you can chill the galette for ten minutes or so to make it a bit more workable.)
  8. Flute the sides of the dough (as shown in the photo) and use a sharp knife to create a design on top. Brush yolk-and-milk mixture carefully and evenly over the top. Use a knife to poke a few holes in the top, to allow steam to escape.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes, or until well-browned. Remove from oven and cool (galette will deflate). Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

king-cake-flakey-piece

 

loveRavayna

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