About a month ago, I met up with my friend, Laura, for a vacation in New Orleans. I’d been meaning to go for years and finally followed through. Years ago, while still living in Charlotte, I won free airfare to New Orleans at a charity event. But due to a flight problem, we were bumped from our flight and had to get vouchers. We decided to trade in our vouchers to go to Las Vegas instead. No regrets on that! I knew that I’d get to New Orleans eventually.
Cut to 5 years later….
One thing I learned, everyone and their neighbor has a recommendation on where you should eat, drink, go in New Orleans. I can’t do it all people! There’s only so many meals to eat during a few days. So, if blah blah blah is better than where we picked, oh well I still had a blast & it was delicious!
Oysters & turtle soup at Felix’s.
Taking a walking break to listen to jazz at the Maison Bourbon.
The St. Louis cathedral…so lovely. It was great walking around there at night too with all the fortune tellers out. I got my palm read for the first time.
Beignets & cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde. I was sweating my ass off, but still had to get cafe au lait too. It was the experience of it!!
Drinks & dinner at NOLA. My meal was great! I had the cauliflower soup & the garlic crusted drum.
Besides eating some great food, I was most excited to go to the cemeteries. The history of them…so many unknown stories…the pain of them but also the beauty…the peacefulness. I felt calm there.
Smoked Pork Eggs Benedict
Listened to music at Pat O’Brien’s piano bar & drank hurricanes.
We took a bus tour around the city, which was nice. We also took a steamboat cruise along the river, which was pretty darn boring. Not recommended. It did give me a chance to rest up for more drinking though.
Hand grenades. Love love love, I wish I’d started drinking them the first night.
At dinner, I drank wine though. I’m classy at dinner.
Not a good picture, but this coconut cake at Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse was the best!!! So tasty. And how confusing is it with all the Brennan stuff! We made the mistake of going into Brennan’s Bourbon House first and they had to redirect us. And don’t mistake Dickie Brennan’s with Brennan’s—because that’s closed now.
And PS they also own previously mentioned Commander’s Palace. (I listened on my bus tour of the city. )
We took a trip over to the Oak Alley Plantation as well. The trees were amazing and would have loved to have just sat under a tree and read a book. The house was underwhelming for me. It’s hard to get excited about exploring an old house when you’ve been to the Biltmore. They don’t compare! At Oak Alley, they did make a good mint julep though!
It was a fun trip and my stomach feels full just from writing this wrap-up, whew!
In October 2014, I’ll be vacationing with Laura again…but this time in Key West!
Where was your last vacation? Where’s your next vacation destination?? I know where Linda is going!!
Shortly after I got back from Cleveland, I was off to Omaha to spend the weekend with my BFF Chris. I wanted to visit Chris in Omaha before he moved (back to Charlotte). And it didn’t hurt that Bryan Adams was in town for an acoustic concert. I love me some BA!!
It was a weekend filled with food, drink, shopping, and music. My favorites things! We checked out DJ’s Dugout Sports Bar, The Zin Room (yum!), and Upstream Brewing Company. I know we also went to an Irish bar that was in a basement and it kind of freaked me out…like I could see a random fight breaking out at any moment! So, it must have been an authentic Irish bar.
Chris lived right by the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, which is also known as the Iowa/Nebraska bridge. I loved this bridge and part of town. This was the view from Chris’ balcony. Of course, I made him walk the bridge with me. Wait, I’m in Iowa…no I’m in Nebraska!
After our walk, we went to Aksarben Village to walk around the art festival. Aksarben = Nebraska spelled backwards…Google is a wonderful thing. The first thing on my agenda though was coffee!
I was immediately drawn to Jones Bros. Cupcakes. This place was a-jumpin’ too!
My favorite piece from the art festival.
My favorite stop in the Aksarben Village was by far the Luvbird Boutique. It was so cute!! I could have done a lot more damage in that store.
After trying & failing to get donuts on Saturday night, I still had donuts on the brain come Monday morning. So immediately after Chris got up on Monday morning, I said…let’s go get donuts!!
My last day in Omaha was spent shopping and gambling at the casino. We didn’t win any money. :/
Happy Hour at Roja Mexican Grill before the concert
En route to the concert
6th row for the concert! It was a great show…acoustic is the way to see Bryan Adams. It was my 3rd time seeing him and the best yet. And can’t wait to visit Chris again in Charlotte this time in 2013!
With this being election day and Ohio being a battleground state, it reminded me… I never blogged about my trip to Cleveland! I went to Cleveland in September for a work trip. I came to town 2 days early to meet up with friends.
There was beautiful weather when I visited! I couldn’t get enough of the sky!
The night I arrived, I met up with Anita, Amy, and Angie for dinner and drinks at Paladar. If you’re a mojito fan, you’ll enjoy Paladar.
The next day, I put on my tourist hat and hit the town with Angie and her husband, Dave. Angie had told me that we definitely had to have brunch at her favorite place, Lucky’s. Lucky’s is a great, quaint farm-to-table restaurant.
Lucky’s has a small garden on-site. Items not harvested there are from local Ohio farmers.
I couldn’t decide between a hot or cold drink. So I got both…hey, I was on vacation! I had the Hazelnut Mocha Shaker and the Ginger, Peach, and Grape smoothie. They were both fantastic!!!
Omelet with sausage, Ohio sweet corn, and white cheddar…served with strawberry coffee cake on the side. Lucky’s was so delicious! If it were in Austin, I’m sure I’d be there every weekend.
After brunch, we walked around the Tremont area to see the sights and shop.
After walking around for awhile, we headed over to tour the A Christmas Story house!
Angie & I
P.S. I’m short.
Angie & Dave
The infamous leg lamp…..fra-gil-e—-must be French.
Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.
After leaving the A Christmas Story house, we did some more sightseeing downtown. Then we dropped Dave off so he could watch football. Angie and I headed over to Little Italy to explore.
We stopped at Presti’s Bakery for some caffeine and sugar. Yay for chocolate dipped macaroons!
My day of exploring Cleveland ended with dinner at Melt. I was told by several people to go to Melt. A restaurant devoted to grilled cheese!? Yes, please. I love the random Halloween & Easter decor. Even more than the grilled cheese, I was exposed to my first banana bread beer!! I was skeptical of ordering this beer, but SO glad I did! It’s so great. Try it if you haven’t!
I opted for the Big Popper: fresh jalapeño peppers, cheddar & herbed cream cheese, crispy battered & deep fried, mixed berry preserves
Yeah, you’ll want to change into your fat pants after eating this sandwich!! You certainly won’t be able to finish it all in one sitting.
Angie got the Falafel grilled cheese, which was a special item. Dang, I wish that I’d have gotten that one!!
I had a great time in Cleveland and Angie was an awesome tour guide!
And if I’m ever in the market to buy a leg lamp, I know where to go now.
Before I went to Dean & Deluca in Charlotte, I had brunch at Cafe Monte. Cafe Monte is located in Philips Place, but it’s a bit hidden behind the Hampton Inn & Suites. Sarah and I had to drive around twice to find it. We went into this restaurant blindly as neither of us had been there. I just knew I wanted brunch and I knew we were seeing a movie at Philips Place later (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close).
I was so pleased with Cafe Monte! It’s a quaint French bakery and bistro. The decor is very clean; loved the wood floors and yellow walls. It was bright and inviting, which is always great for a brunch place.
For brunch, I always go with some egg dish, whether it’s a scramble, omelet, or in this case…Benedict Monte.
I love eggs Benedict so much. For Cafe Monte’s version, it was croissant, smoked ham, two eggs, tomato, asparagus, and Hollandaise sauce. YES! Let’s all get on board with serving eggs Benedict on top of CROISSANTS! So much better than English muffins! It’s tastier and easier to cut. Success!!!!
My Benedict Monte was also served with a hash brown potato patty. This potato was a bit bland to me, so I passed on it.
After devouring my brunch, I patiently waited 10 more minutes for noon to arrive!!
Mimosa time!! A tip that I learned from my friend, Kat…order your Sunday brunch cocktail well before noon! Pre-ordering your cocktail for noon lets you beat the rush. If you wait until noon to tell your server you want a drink, you’ll have to wait forever for the bartender to get through the rush of orders.
The early bird gets drunk.
Happy Saturday, folks!!
Last month, I went to Dean & Deluca in Charlotte. For the 4 years that I lived there, I never went to Dean & Deluca. OMG, I was an idiot!! I was missing out! I really thought Dean & Deluca was just a coffee/wine shop. I had NO IDEA that it’s like a mini-Whole Foods!
Tons of different kinds of pepper jelly.
An abundance of roasted red peppers & artichoke hearts.
Love the colorful pasta!
Not all vanilla extract is the same…so I’ve been told…is it worth the price??
Somehow I managed to resist the cupcakes.
These maltballs were my favorite find!! I bought the pumpkin spice and the mint chip maltballs. The pumpkin spice were good, but I could take them or leave them. The mint chip maltballs were bonkers good!! I put them in the refrigerator for awhile and then they tasted like Girl Scouts Thin Mint cookies!!!!
Have a wonderful weekend!
After my dinner at Soul during my vacation in Charlotte, Sarah took me to Amelie’s French Bakery for dessert. I’d heard about Amelie’s when I lived in Charlotte, but sadly never went there. Sarah had recently raved about the salted caramel brownie and said I HAD to go.
Salted caramel brownie. Are there 3 better words in the world??
Amelie’s is in the NoDa area and was only a few minutes from Soul. It’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
I was seriously experiencing foodie visual overload. Oh to be young again! Wouldn’t it have been awesome to WORK there and learn how to make all of these things?
I wish that I would have had more time to make a decision of what to order. It was 10 pm on a Thursday night and it was still PACKED and there was a line, so I had to hurry.
After we ordered, I looked around a bit. Amelie’s is so fun and eclectic. There were no seats in the front room, nor in the room to the left. I figured that we may just have to eat our treats at home. Amelie’s is actually HUGE though. So many small, cozy areas with a few seats for romantic conversation…a quiet place to read/blog….or most likely…a place with tables for students to stay up all night, caffeinated & sugared up to study.
Oh I wish that there had a place like this when I was in college! My studying was just done at the Borders coffee shop. I want to study in a French bakery!!
So what did we order??
Sarah went the (award winning) salted caramel brownie:
And I went with…..
Wait for it…..
Hazelnut Chocolate Tart!
It was simply….perfection.
Happy Friday everyone!
A few weeks ago, I went to Charlotte, NC for my birthday and to visit friends.
And to meet this little guy.
My friends, Kelly & John, had their son, Conley, in November. He’s so cute! And Kelly’s already lost all her baby weight plus some. Whaaaaat?!
First up, after a SIX HOUR delay, I finally arrived in Charlotte. My bestie, Sarah, picked me up at the airport and we immediately head to Soul Gastolounge for dinner.
Soul is a very chill, tapas restaurant in the Plaza Midwood area. It’s been voted one of the best restaurants in Charlotte. It was such a nice night out (in January even!) that we were able to eat outside at 8 pm. I immediately needed a drink after being in airports since 5 am.
Sweet Heat cocktail: tequila, jalapeno simple syrup, fresh squeezed lime juice.
Jalapeno simple syrup!!!!!! This cocktail was so rocking! I need to figure out how to recreate it. Ah-mazing.
I also ordered the white bean & goat cheese dip. It was good, but not worth giving up the stomach space.
That was reserved for:
Pork belly tacos topped with watermelon & balsamic vinegar.
I’d never ordered pork belly before. But they talk about it on Top Chef all the time, so I knew I needed to try it.
DELICIOUS!! If you haven’t tried pork belly before, go for it. Immediately.
Sarah ordered another complete winner too:
Polenta & mushrooms. I was skeptical of this one. I’ve never been a fan of polenta/grits. But maybe I’ve just always had them cooked poorly. This dish was so creamy and yummy. I could have licked the bowl clean!!
Finally, Sarah and I split some sushi. I really can’t remember which roll we got. I believe it was the Crunch roll. A+ for presentation on it!
If you’re in Charlotte, rush out to eat at Soul!
And don’t forget to Cheers! me with your Sweet Heat cocktail for telling you about this place.
1. I had to get up at 4 am on Thursday for a 6:20 am flight to Charlotte. How come it’s so easy to leap out of bed at 4 am for a flight, but it’s virtually impossible for me to drag myself out of bed to workout?
2. The 6:20 am flight didn’t leave until 12:15 pm! Hello 6 hour delay in the airport. At least I had plenty of time to catch up on blog reading. And I got a free round-trip flight voucher out of it. Score!
3. After making it to Charlotte, Sarah immediately took me out to dinner. I got a Sweet Heat cocktail made with jalapeno simple syrup. Ah-maz-ing.
4. I’m finally getting with it and reading The Hunger Games trilogy! I’m half through the first book and LOVING it!
5. One benefit of visiting a friend, perusing her iTunes library for new music. How did I not already know SafetySuit had a new CD!?
If you missed the last installment, click here!
I’m finally wrapping up the last day of my Austin vacation recaps! And I saved the BEST for last….foodie wise.
On my last day of vacation, I went down to San Antonio to see my friend, Ben. I told Ben that it was too bad he’d been out of town that weekend. It would have been fun for him to come up to Austin for us to do the Austin Eats Food Tours to go to 7 restaurants/bars, like a bar crawl for foodies.
When I arrived in San Antonio at 10 am, Ben had a plan! He’d come with his own version of the San Antonio Four Tour for us! And we were going to at least 8 places to show Austin what’s up. How awesome is Ben!!?!
So the gluttony and good times began…with a few hiccups since this was a Monday. Why are a lot of restaurants closed on Mondays??!?! (Note to self: remember to go to that car wash/laundromat/restaurant place & that martini bar on the Riverwalk…on a non-Monday!)
San Antonio Food Tour Stop # 1: Lulu’s
Lulu’s has been featured on Man vs. Food, so I was already stoked about going. And since it was still early, breakfast was in order. Breakfast in the form of coffee and their famous 3 POUND cinnamon roll. What?!
We dominated that 3 lb roll! Ha…no, we barely made a dent in it. We had to pace ourselves, people!
This part was the BEST part of the cinnamon roll. Do you see that frosting OOZING out?! Sugar heaven!!
San Antonio Food Tour Stop # 2: Rosario’s
Rosario’s a Mexican restaurant in the Blue Star Arts district. It’s said to have some of the best Mexican food in the city. I loved the vibe there! It was also my first time having a prickly pear margarita! (Oh yeah it was after 11 am by then, so it was okay to start drinking….and drinking….and drinking. )
For our lunch…or 1st lunch, Ben & I split an order of ceviche and the pork tip tacos in a chile cascabel sauce. (My stomach just growled.)
I’d never tried ceviche before. And I probably won’t again. No, it wasn’t bad…just not my thing. There was a lot of cilantro on it and I’m not a fan of cilantro.
These pork tacos though……OH.MY.GOD. Love! I wanted to lick the remaining sauce off of the foil. I didn’t though. I’m classy.
San Antonio Food Tour Stop #3: Madhatters Tea House
After Rosario’s, we needed a non-food destination. Well, that and the next two places we tried were closed. So, we walked over to Madhatters.
It’s a quaint place. I was excited about the variety of teas.
J: I’ll have the cinnamon plum tea!
Cashier: We’re out of that one.
J: Okay, I’ll have the Blackberry Sage.
Cashier: Out of that too.
J: Wow…the Raspberry Quince?
Cashier: We’re out of all of the black teas.
What the heck!? Are tea delivery trucks closed on Mondays too?
I do love the individual pots that the tea came in. They have a hodge podge of different cups to chose from too.
San Antonio Food Tour Stop #4: Paesano’s
After tea time, we were off to go down to the Riverwalk.
Hey the Alamo! See, we didn’t just eat & drink all day. No, we totally did but I figured that I should take a picture of the Alamo at least. (I’ve already been to San Antonio and been to the Alamo, etc. I’m not completely uncultured.)
Some important corner that Ben pointed out…..? The original border of the missions in San Antonio…? Let’s go with that one.
We walked around a bit and then we headed to Paesano’s Riverwalk. We sat outside and enjoyed the weather and the Riverwalk. Loved Paesano’s! Our waiter was super nice.
We had the antipasto sampler of giant calamari, shrimp, and Parmesan crusted artichoke hearts. We also split a bottle of red wine.
Okay, see the food in the middle that looks similar to chicken strips. That’s the GIANT CALAMARI! I never even heard of giant calamari. I’ve only had the little bits with tentacles. Giant calamari is amazingly delicious!!!! I need more now. My favorite of the sauces was the basil aioli.
We stayed at Paesano’s for quite awhile since we had a bottle of wine to get through and it was very chill there.
At some point throughout the day, I admitted to Ben that I didn’t like cilantro, olives, guacamole, and scallops. Bleck to all of those. I think Ben was ready to revoke my foodie card…especially after I told him that I didn’t know what Kolaches were. (It’s just a danish, Ben!)
After wine, you need to power up with a double espresso.
San Antonio Food Tour Stop #5: Mi Tierra Restaurant & Bakery
Next up, we left the Riverwalk to head to the Market Square. The Market Square is the largest Mexican market in the US with a 3 block outdoor plaza of restaurants, shops, and produce stands. (source)
Mi Tierra is open 24 hours a day and hangs Christmas lights all year round. They have strolling musicians in the restaurant/bar.
And the bakery counter was always jumping with a line of customers.
At Mi Tierra, we were still so full from Paesano’s. Our food tour turned into more of a drinking tour for awhile. I had a margarita at Mi Tierra and Ben had a beer.
San Antonio Food Tour Stop #6: Stonewerks
After Mi Tierra, we were off again…top down this time.
Whilst riding in a convertible as a tourist, always have your ponytail holder handy. And have your camera ready to take random pictures of things as you whiz by them.
The Emily Morgan Hotel….it’s haunted I can’t believe that I even remember what this picture was of!
We headed over to the Quarry to have drinks at Stonewerks. There’s not to much to relay on this one. We sat on the patio and had a beer or two. By this point, I couldn’t hang with margaritas or wine anymore.
Stonewerks seemed like a nice patio for an after-work happy hour if you lived/worked in the area.
San Antonio Food Tour Stop #7: The Friendly Spot
We tried to go to The Friendly Spot earlier in the afternoon, but they don’t open to 3 pm. So we headed back over there around 7 pm to have another beer. Amstel Light for me…and I have no clue what Ben had! Some sort of fancy pants IPA, I’m sure.
I loved the vibe of The Friendly Spot. It’s super chill. They had one of those inflatable big screen TV’s on so you could sit outside and watch sports while having a beer. And oddly, there’s a playground inside the gates so your kids can play while you get plastered. Brilliant.
I especially loved the chairs. My grandpa used to have chairs like this outside in his backyard.
San Antonio Food Tour Stop #8: Tomatillo’s
Can I just say that I was beat by this point? But I HAD to rally go to to Tomatillo’s. Ben said they have the best queso. And there is always room for queso….even at 9 pm at night when you started at 10 am.
We split a chicken quesadilla and ordered a bowl of queso/chips. Holy crap!!!!! BEST.QUESO.EVER. I wanted to bathe in it. It was SO flippin’ good. I don’t know if they just add a bunch of butter to it or what, but it was so creamy & delicious. Love love love love!!! I’m so happy that we powered through and ended on a high note.
I had an awesome day with Ben! It was a great way for him to show me the city.
To recap, we went from the Blue Star Arts district, to the Riverwalk, to the Market Square, to the Quarry, back to the Arts district, and finally Downtown. It was a day of devouring: cinnamon roll, ceviche, pork tacos, GIANT calamari, artichoke hearts, shrimp, chips & queso, and a chicken quesadilla. Washed down with: coffee, tea, 2 glasses of red wine, 2 margaritas, 3 beers….and some water.
I can’t decide if I’m really hungry after writing all this or full from thinking about it!!
If you missed part one, click here!
After our Whole Foods gawking, my aunt & uncle and I headed off on a 90 minute tour of Austin courtesy of Austin Overtures.
Some of the highlights you get to learn about on the tour:
- Austin City Limits, The W Hotel
- Restaurant Row
- The Driskill Hotel
- Camp Mabry
- Congress Avenue Bridge and the Bat Colony
- French Legation
- Hill Country Views
- Lake Austin
- LBJ Presidential Library
- Mayfield Park
- Texas Capitol
- Lady Bird lake
- Auditorium Shores
- The University of Texas at Austin
- 6th Street
- The Warehouse District
- Wild Basin Preserve
- Zilker Park
Later that night, my aunt Jill & uncle Carl and I ventured back up to the Congress Ave area to go on a sunset boat tour on Lady Bird Lake to see Austin at night skyline and to see the BATS!
People lining up on the Congress Avenue Bridge to see the bats come out at sunset.
An estimated 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats live under the Congress Avenue Bridge. It is the largest urban colony in North America.
1.5 MILLION BATS! How do they all fit under this bridge?
Those aren’t birds flying south for the winter…
Any more bats in there??
Two great tours and a great day!!!