Monday, November 09, 2015

72 Hours in NOLA: Day 1

Today is an exciting day for two reasons: one, I'm heading out to Grand Cayman tomorrow morning so I just have to endure one day of work this week and two, I'm finally sharing photos from my trip to New Orleans.

I flew down on Saturday morning with H and we had a glorious 72 hours in the Crescent City. The weather was a little uncooperative and we had to deal with some annoying bouts of rain which meant we didn't accomplish quite as much as we wanted to. However, we managed to eat everything we wanted to eat and I definitely boozed up more than expected so it still qualifies as a completely successful trip in my eyes. I should mention that we made lunch and dinner reservations for each day and we made it to each and every one.

The only big bummer for me was that I left my hat at the restaurant where we had our final meal. But, looking at it with a glass-half-full perspective, at least I didn't lose it at the beginning of the trip, right?
I'm going to warn you now that this (and the subsequent NOLA-related posts) will be photo heavy, especially in the food department. But I also feel like this is an announcement I make before every photo diary; I'm really predictable, aren't I?

72 hours in nola
We had an easy flight down (it was a little less than 3 hours) and I was really excited because our flight was offering free entertainment through the United app. I finally saw American Sniper and got to laugh at the fake baby scene.
(Almost every time I travel, I get a comment - which I see as a compliment - that I've packed really light. This particular trip, I was extra complimented because I honestly felt like I was overpacking. If you see in my outfit collage above, I packed six outfits for a three day trip which is really unlike me. However, I managed to squeeze it all into my little plaid weekender thanks to my pink packing cube. Packing cubes really work!)
In preparation for the indulgent meals I knew we'd be gorging ourselves on, I went for a green smoothie and a cacao and goji berry oatmeal for my breakfast at the airport. The idea was to eat light so that we could stuff our faces at brunch.
Q&C HOTEL
Once we landed, my friend J and her boyfriend picked us up from the airport and dropped us off at our hotel. We booked the Q&C which is in the CBD and just a few blocks from the French Quarter. It's been recently remodeled and refurbished and it was gorgeous. I would describe the decor as a rustic hipster vibe and totally Instagram-worthy.

I booked the hotel through hotels.com and managed to score a rate cheaper than what was shown on the hotel website. It ended up being close to $200/night but I chalk that up mostly to the fact that we were there for the Krewe of Boo weekend (Halloween parade) and rates at all of the hotels were elevated.
The bed was insanely comfortable and we managed to get a room on the top floor but the CBD isn't exactly the most picturesque of places so our view was a bit lackluster. My only major complaint was that the shower was a little unpredictable. I think that the water pressure changed with whatever our neighbors might have been doing in their bathrooms. But overall, I'd highly recommend this hotel. And even if you don't stay here, come by and have a drink at the bar.
CANE & TABLE
For our inaugural meal, we ate at Cane & Table with J, her boyfriend, and her two out-of-town friends. The main reason we picked this place was because they offered a bottomless booze brunch (from a list of specific cocktails) for $35.

H and I shared the yucca root and duck confit hash and the poached eggs with sofrito pork on coconut bread.
And because we hadn't eaten in several hours and our stomachs were bellowing in protest, we also ordered a side of peas and rice.

Everything was really delicious, though the portion sizes were a little smaller than expected. The yucca hash was awesome - the yucca was crisp on the outside and deliciously soft and mealy on the inside, the duck was tender and smoky, and the seasoning had a nice spice. The poached eggs were perfectly cooked with a perfectly runny egg (as you can see in the photo above) and the salsa was bright and flavorful. And the beans and rice - I don't have anything to compare them to - but seeing as this was a traditional NOLA dish, I tend to think it was made classically and it was great. There were huge chunks of andouille sausage scattered throughout the beans and though I wish there was a bit more rice, it still hit the spot.
As far as the cocktails were concerned, us three girls collectively managed to make our way through the entire list. My favorite was definitely La Paloma, which was made with tequila, lime, grapefruit soda, and salt. It was bright and refreshing.
FRENCH MARKET
After brunch, the group split off to do our own things. H and I decided to take a stroll through the French Quarter before returning to the hotel. We decided to walk through the market, which had an overwhelming number of vendors with various wares on sale.
JACKSON SQUARE
We also stopped by the iconic Jackson Square to watch a few street performers and to take a photo with the gorgeous St. Louis Cathedral.
We offered to take a photo for another couple so that we could cheekily ask that they return the favor.
CAROUSEL BAR
We also stopped by the Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone (reportedly haunted) on our way back. It was too crowded so we couldn't snag a seat, but we helped ourselves to a few photos of the gorgeous space and also used the elegant restrooms before heading back out.
Q&C BAR
Not wanting to go back to our room just yet, we decided to stop by our hotel bar for a cocktail.
I got the French 75 with french fries happy hour special (only $7!). French 75 is a NOLA cocktail made with either gin or cognac, lemon, simple syrup, and sparkling wine. It's super fresh and sweet.
KREWE OF BOO
After our happy hour cocktails, we got ready and headed out to watch the Halloween parade, a.k.a. Krewe of Boo. It was a lot of fun to see the elaborate floats and all of the creepy and fun costumes.
COCHON
We showed up to dinner in our costumes and received zero weird looks because it's NOLA. Apprehensively, I had called earlier to ask if it was okay that we would be in costume and the hostess replied with a chuckle, "Yeah, it's fine. This is New Orleans."
We were given parkerhouse style rolls to start.
For libations, H went with her classic dirty martini while I opted for some Crispin hard cider.
For our meal, we shared five small plates: fried boudin balls with pickled peppers, pan roasted shrimp, pork cheeks, grits, and fried alligator with chili garlic mayo.
Everything was superb but the pork cheeks were the standout winner. They were crisp on the outside but fall-apart tender as soon as you poked it with a fork.
MONSTER MASH
After dinner, we walked down to the Port of New Orleans for the Monster Mash party, which was the official after party for Krewe of Boo.
We saw a lot of fun costumes but the music was not our style at all so we left around midnight.
We managed to find a cab waiting right outside and hopped in to head home to rest up for our next two days in the Big Easy.
I have two more days worth of posts so come back!

xoxo.

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