Weekend Trip to New Orleans

May is such a joyous month for me. I love that I get to celebrate my anniversary, my birthday, and Mother’s Day all within 2 weeks of each other. All of these delightful things to celebrate was the perfect reason for a quick trip to New Orleans!

Ben and I took our first trip without the girls and spent a couple of nights in the Big Easy drinking, eating, and laughing to excess.

We go into New Orleans early Friday morning and headed straight for Cafe Du Monde. I can’t be in New Orleans for more than four hours without getting my beignet fix and this trip was no different. I was on a serious mission to eat!

We killed some time walking around the French Quarter before heading over to Tujuague’s to meet up with Eric from NOLA Beer Tours. Before heading to New Orleans, I browsed Groupon to see if there were any good deals worth checking out. I sent Ben a link to the beer tour and asked if he’d be interested and of course he was! So we booked it and looked forward to taking the tour.

Our tour guide Eric was super nice and informative and gave us a lot of information about the beers we were drinking, history of craft beers in New Orleans, and general history of New Orleans. I actually learned a few things I didn’t know previously. Aside from Tujuague’s, we also visited Crescent City Brewhouse, Evangeline, and Beer Fest. The highlight of the tour was most definitely Evangeline with their beautiful courtyard and great beer selection. We went back again on Saturday for a couple of beers before our dinner reservation.

Saturday was the day I had been waiting for for weeks! I had been planning to eat and drink my way through New Orleans on Saturday, and we did just that!

We kicked the day off by having breakfast at Red Gravy. I read the Yelp reviews and it seemed as though the chicken and waffles were a popular choice. I am all for some delicious chicken and waffles, so that was the obvious option for me. They were good! The waffles were delicious and the cranberry habenero jam that came with them was out of this world! I thought the chicken was just okay, but I would order the dish again just for that jam.

We left the restaurant absolutely stuffed and waddled our way to the streetcar to head out to my mom’s house. After spending an hour visiting with family, everyone wanted to go eat lunch. I honestly couldn’t imagine eating anything else, but we went along for fun. We ended up going to Mahony’s Po-Boy Shop and after looking over their menu, Ben and I decided to split one of their award winning small fried chicken livers and slaw po-boy. I don’t even have any pictures of it because we demolished that thing and it was delicious!

We headed back to the quarter a few hours later and went out for drinks. I was still so full from breakfast and lunch that I couldn’t even imagine drinking, but we did it! Then, if you can even believe it, we went back to our condo to get ready to go out for dinner. As if I wasn’t excited enough about everything I’d eaten so far, I was most excited about our plan to eat dinner at Restaurant R’evolution.

Even though we called weeks ahead of time, we weren’t able to get a reservation for dinner on Saturday night, but we had plans to eat dinner at the bar to celebrate our anniversary. We got seats at the bar upon arriving and excitedly perused the cocktail menu. I got the Strawberry Smash which was a bourbon drink with muddled strawberries, mint, and lemon and it was phenomenal! Every single bit of our meal was amazing. I’m not going into all of the details but we had the Beer Battered Crab Beignets, the Black Truffle Beef Tartare, the Oysters on the Half Shell, the Death by Gumbo, the Goat Cheese Tortelli (pictured below), and finished with the Carrot Cake Beignets.

We rolled ourselves out of R’evolution and headed to Harrah’s to try our luck at a little roulette. We didn’t spend much time there, but we left a few dollars richer! We decided to spend our money on some cocktails and headed over to one of my favorite spots: the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone. If you’ve never been, the Carousel Bar is the city’s only revolving bar. It only seats 25 people and late at night it’s almost impossible to grab a seat, but we somehow managed to grab two seats! We settled in and I ordered a Sazerac (pictured below) that I sipped on for the duration of our time there. We met a few interesting characters, but overall enjoyed our time alone together.

Of course, come Sunday morning, I was in desperate need of a detox. I didn’t want to eat another deliciously large meal or drink any more cocktails. I was ready to be home in my pajamas snuggled up on the couch with my sweet baby girls and my puppy. However, I did meet up with my family for breakfast at Surrey’s to celebrate Mother’s Day. Everyone else had amazingly decadent breakfasts, but I went the plain route and ordered a bagel. I wasn’t kidding when I said I didn’t want another big meal. We spent a few more hours in the Garden District before heading to the airport.

I was so happy to get home to my little babies and love on them. I had an amazing weekend away filled with delicious food, strong drinks, and much-needed alone time with Ben, but the best part about my weekend was getting to snuggle my girls on Mother’s Day.

 

Pitigliano

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I’ve had a lot of fun experiences traveling, and through those experiences I have seen some amazing things. From vast oceans that were crystal clear all the way to the bottom to enormous evergreen trees towering high above me, I’ve seen a few of the most gorgeous things our lovely earth has to offer. The best thing that I’ve ever seen on a trip, however, has to have been Pitigliano.

In October of 2012 we traveled to Italy with Ben’s family for a 10 day vacation filled with countless amazing meals and a never-ending supply of delicious wine and breathtaking views. For most of our vacation, we stayed at Podere Palazzo, a beautiful villa on the border of Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio. I could write one hundred blog posts about how amazing our stay was at Podere Palazzo. I encourage you, if you are ever presented with the opportunity, to stay there.

Driving through the Italian countryside was a breathtaking experience: both in terms of the beauty…and the crazy drivers. I thought Florida was filled with crazy drivers, but we’ve got nothing on Italy! We narrowly escaped multiple car accidents, but that made it even more memorable, right? One night on our way back to the villa we came around a corner and almost hit a dog. We couldn’t believe this stray dog was running around in this area, but then we realized he was herding sheep! The next day we were driving with family and warned them of the sheep in the area. We rounded the corner and encountered this:

We saw lots of things we’d never seen before while in Italy, but as I originally mentioned, the gem of the trip was Pitigliano. Pitigliano is a medieval town in the Maremma of Tuscany, built atop a tufa ridge. Pitigliano is also known as Piccola Gerusalemme, which means Little Jerusalem, due to both the landscape and for the historical presence of the Jewish community. According to Wikipedia, “Pitigliano and its area were inhabited in Etruscan times, but the first extant written mention of Pitigliano dates only to 1061.”

http://alexgutkin.deviantart.com/art/Pitigliano-367756574

I have searched through all of the images on Google of Pitigliano, and none of them can do this town justice. It truly is a sight that must be experienced. This fascinating town is full of  narrow streets, secret alleys, and dark cellars. Its unique architecture has preserved an ancient time that will forever be ingrained in my memory.

 

What’s the best thing you’ve ever seen on a trip? Tell me in the comments or share a link with me to one of your blog posts about it!

Vero Beach Babymoon

It took us a while to decide on where we wanted to go for our 2nd anniversary/babymoon trip. We knew we wanted to stay in Florida to make things easier. We heavily considered both Fernandina Beach and Key West, but ultimately decided on Vero Beach. I’d heard great things about the Costa d’Este Beach Resort and ended up getting a good deal on a weekend stay there. So, we booked it!

We had a room with sliding glass doors that opened up to a view of the beach and the sounds of the roaring ocean. The picture above was taken from our balcony and the picture below was taken from our bed. Beautiful, right?

Neither of us had ever spent much time in Vero Beach so we were sure to do our fair amount of exploring the area when we weren’t enjoying the beach, pool, and the hotel spa.

Our most outstanding meal was definitely at Blue Star Wine Bar. This charming spot was right up our alley and we enjoyed every moment of it. We had a cheese plate consisting of five cheeses – each more flavorful than the last. We then tried the salmon bites and the tuna noodle casserole. I didn’t even taste Ben’s salmon, because I was in heaven with my tuna noodle casserole. That casserole will haunt my dreams until I go back and have it again! We finished our meals with mini desserts, pictured above, that were small in size, but huge in taste and enjoyment. Yum yum yum!

Overall we had a really relaxing and enjoyable weekend. It was fun to have such a great weekend and not even be that far from home! We would definitely return to Vero Beach again and I’d recommend the Costa d’Este resort to friends looking for a really outstanding resort experience. We look forward to going back to Vero in the future with friends and possibly Sully too!