if you are following along via instagram, you know i was in new orleans aka the big easy this past weekend. the occasion was a special one – my very first girlfriend from undergrad, brittany, was celebrating both her bachelorette party and 30th birthday. not only does she have family ties to new orleans but what a fun city to celebrate two amazing events in?! her little sister, bridgett, the maid of honor, planned the best trip ever for a type a human like me. there were typed booklets that included full fledged itineraries and kits with useful things for the weekend and life thereafter.
let’s first start with the airbnb – it was absolutely gorgeous. there was tons of natural light, beautiful exposed brick and lots of open space – perfect for hosting a large group of women. with it being in the arts/warehouse district, we were within a ten minute ride to wherever we wanted to go.
as soon as i walked into the airbnb, in addition to being obsessed with the huge navy tufted sofas on either side of the living room, i saw these cute, personalized gifts for each of us. at first glance, i thought that the canvas item with our names on them were tote bags but to my surprise, they were aprons!!
little did i know, we would be using them to make beignets with chef syrena johnson, a chopped champion who is a new orleans native! she prepared an amazing dinner that included gumbo, jambalaya, an outstanding salad with fresh berries and goat cheese and of course, beignets with homemade caramel, a berry compote and fresh whipped cream. our starters included a roasted beet and goat cheese bruschetta and catfish fritters. the flavor profiles were UNREAL. she was an absolute pleasure to have around and ridiculously humble. it felt like we were catching up with an old friend who knew how to cook better than all of us.
*pictured here with brittany (the bride) and garnette
**pardon my hair – i had been in a dad cap all day and so it was a little more unruly than usual
*chef syrena and the bride, doing their thang
we stayed in after dinner and played a variety of games and had some in home entertainment. what i can say about this group is that there was never a dull moment. i think we will be 80 years old and still have inside jokes about this weekend.
saturday, we went to brunch at cavan. this place was a dream. i want a chandelier and a bar like this in whatever home i own longterm. the service was great and our waiter was so personable. she answered all of our questions about the menu and was more than willing to make modifications as requested. the things i would recommend for sharing are the biscuits and gravy, the pancake (it is both sweet and spicy) and the rosé sangria (which has bourbon in it). for my entree, i had the salmon cake benedict and it was to die for. there is not a bad cocktail on this menu – we tried several from the bloody mary to the delta pearl – all were flavorful and smooth.
*there was tons of cute outdoor seating but it was far too humid for that
*this is that chandelier/bar combo i was saying i need for my future home
*elisa and i (you might recognize this beauty from my post about spain)
*the salmon cake benedict
after brunch, all eight of us had tarot card readings at the dark lady. while i know this is not everyone’s cup of tea, the eight of us had a wonderful experience and i think each person took something of value from our session.
we went home to rest up/change for dinner and headed out to the commander’s palace. while for the most part, dinner was good, there were a few mishaps but they were properly addressed by management. when making a reservation, ask to sit in brandt’s section – he was honestly one of the best waiters i have ever had in any restaurant. i would highly recommend the pecan crusted fish as an entree and the creme brûlée as a dessert.
*britt and her boos
post dinner, we headed home to play another game before heading out for drinks and dancing on both bourbon street and frenchmen street. while enjoyable, i honestly do not know how anyone braves the outdoors during summer in nola. this frozen little treat definitely helped.
while many of the girls had to leave early sunday morning to catch flights, a few of us were able to enjoy a phenomenal brunch at shaya before heading to the airport. the best advice i could give is to go with other foodies so you can order pretty much everything. this may have been the best meal we had in a restaurant setting throughout the entire trip.
i would definitely go back to the big easy but in the fall or winter when the humidity is a bit less intense.
if you’ve been to nola, what was your favorite part?