I don’t know about you guys, but the last few months have given me quite a bit of time to sit and think, some things more serious than others. One of the many, many things going through my head right now is all of the places that I haven’t been. Places that aren’t all that far away, places I could perhaps drive to for a long weekend. Places like New Orleans, LA.
New Orleans has always been on Andy’s and my list of places we planned on visiting, but the timing never seemed to work out – there was always one reason or another to postpone. I decided that even though it isn’t safe to travel right now, it couldn’t hurt to do a little research, just so I could get an idea of what I’d like to do when all of this insanity is behind us and things find whatever the new balance will be. That little bit of research turned into me planning an imaginary trip, and I decided to share some of my findings with you guys. So let’s jump in.
Beignets – You can’t go to New Orleans and not sample the cities signature pastry. Andy and I had a bit of an argument over which establishment we would visit on our ficticious trip, and ultimately narrowed the list down to three:
Cafe Du Monde (Andy’s Top Choice) – Operating since 1862, this is the place to get beignets in New Orleans. Seriously, if you google “beignets” and “New Orleans” this place with be at the top of every single list. Deep fried squares of dough covered in a mountain of powdered sugar; this is where you want to go for a truly authentic treat. Beignets & Coffee, that’s it.
Cafe Beignet – This is another establishment (well technically four establishments) that came up under every search for “best beignets.” Cafe Beignet looks like the perfect place to indulge in powdered sugar covered pillows while also grabbing a quick meal. This option was included since it is perfect for people who may not have the time for a beignet only stop but still want to get their fix, and with their four locations, you will likely find one near other things on your vacation itinerary.
The Vintage (My Top Choice) – This is where Andy and I disagreed about the way to obtain beignets. I am all for tradition, but as a baker and an artist, I really enjoy seeing recipes modified and twisted to create something fun and new. Along with the tried and true beignet recipe, this cafe offers what they call “fancy beignets” that are filled, dipped and sprinkled with all manner of delightful additions (the selection changes regularly). It’s like it was custom made for me.
Places to See – there are more of these than I can list in a single post, but I did want to highlight a few of the places at the top of my list.
Century Girl Vintage – I saw this place featured in a Buzzfeed video and it immediately went onto my bucket list. I couldn’t get over the stunning vintage clothing, the beautifully appointed shop, and the overall glamour of the entire experience! It was everything my giddy sparkle loving heart desired. Even better, they endeavor to be size inclusive and that completely blew my mind.
The Pharmacy Museum – Located in the Vieux Carre Historic District, this museum looks like something straight out of Harry Potter. Antique wooden shelves and cases are stocked with all manner of tonics and bottled remedies from the past. The museum provides a wonderful peak into the rich history of pharmacy and healthcare in Louisiana.
Royal Street – As I am not much of a drinker, I was interested in touring areas apart from the famous Bourbon Street. One post I found had this piece of advice “While the younger generation converged on Bourbon Street, I found magic on Royal Street – one of New Orleans’ more artsy areas. The street is lined with galleries, antique shops, estate stores and boutiques. For beads and “Who Dat” t-shirts, head one street over; for authentic New Orleans gems, stop into the stores on Royal Street and find what you’re looking for.” While I am no where near the “get off my lawn” age, the rest of the sentiment seemed applicable. I would now also like a “Who Dat” shirt to wear ironically.
The Garden District – Where the Mansions live. While doing research on this stunning neighborhood, I stumbled upon a listing for the Henry Howard Hotel . The house was originally built in 1867 and has been renovated into a stylish boutique hotel that honors the homes original charm while providing modern amenities. I decided that this will be where we stay on our imaginary trip. Bonus, it’s a short walk away from the trolley!
Voodoo Cemetery Tour – While this might seem a little cheesy, I’ve always been fascinated by the much misunderstood and maligned history of voodoo in New Orleans. This tour includes a guide to take you through the Historic Voodoo Museum, Congo Square, St. Louis Cemetery, and Marie Laveau’s house. I want to hear ALL of the stories!
Where to Eat – No matter where I looked, food was a huge part of any list of recommendations for New Orleans. And not just the French and Cajun restaurants you’d expect. Creative, modern places that sound like a foodies fantasy. Frankly I could probably have done multiple posts about the places I’d like to try, but for this post I narrowed it down to three.
Saffron NOLA – Nominated for James Beard Best New Restaurant in 2018, this family owned business has been kicking ass and creating delicious entrees for two years now. The family has blended New Orleans traditions and ingredients with their heritage to create a menu that has landed this restaurant on my bucket list.
Coquette – “Contemporary Southern Cuisine” This eatery located in the Garden district is popular with locals as well as tourists. They focus on locally sourced products and draw global inspiration for their take on southern food. The menu is on the smaller side, but everything sounds incredible.
Peche – This seafood restaurant is focuses on working with local fisherman and farmers who harvest sustainably, and they also use “live-fire” cooking techniques. This made this list because I grew up with good seafood, and I am always interested in trying dishes that highlight quality ingredients and creative parings.
It was at this point I looked up and realized I had spent hours pouring through websites and itineraries, I had two screens full of tabs for fun potential hotel, food, and site seeing options. I realized I was getting really jazzed (pun intended) about this trip that I wasn’t actually taking. It felt like it might be time to save my progress and set the planning aside for now. Do I regret falling down the rabbit hole? Not one bit. Things won’t be like this forever, and when they’re not, I’ll be ready.