NOLA // THE BIG EASY
“In the spring of 1988, I returned to New Orleans, and as soon as I smelled the air, I knew I was home.
It was rich, almost sweet, like the scent of jasmine and roses around our old courtyard.
I walked the streets, savoring that long lost perfume.”
Andi Eaton has been named one of the most stylish people in the South by Southern Living Magazine; She's the founder of The Southern Coalition of Fashion and Design, (an organization dedicated to building a resource network for independent southern designers), Nola Fashion Week, the designer of Hazel & Florange...(a women's wear clothing line and celebration of southern charm inspired by the city of New Orleans), the author of New Orleans Style, and is a very dear friend of mine whom I have known now for many many years! So when Andi announced that she would be showing her Hazel & Florange collection for NOFW 2014,I obviously told Lin we had to go!! We met another couple there who know Andi very well and made a long weekend of it!! (I was quite familiar with the city where a past job was headquartered in Hammond, La. Lin was not familiar at all so it was the perfect time to scratch this off his bucket list.)
(my fave images from Andi's book.) Order it at the link here.
The drive is long so we decide to stop in Vicksburg, Mississippi along the way and visit Lin's son and wife for a night. The drive is beautiful through Lake Village. Like seriously someone give me a hammock and a Vogue. We arrive in Vicksburg and it's the cutest place ever. We have dinner at Walnut Hills Restaurant and I am still swooning over our fabulous very Southern supper. Collard greens and creamed corn were involved and the best coconut pie I have ever tasted. (Lin's mom reads my blog... so Jan..don't you worry..nobody will ever beat you're chocolate creme pie.) We were serenaded by Bud Carson and Mark Doyle who played fantastic blues (you have to look them up...incredible duo). It was such a nice Southern welcome (minus the mosquito bites I was already getting)! We then crossed the river into Louisiana and had to get a drive through daiquiri just because that is the first order of business in Louisiana. The next morning we woke up and did a latte run at 61 Coffee Shop in downtown Vicksburg...Such a charming little place and a charming little street! Then it was time to get to NOLA to meet Andi, Jen, and Ian !!
We check into The Hotel Modern... (This trendy hotel is a 2-minute walk from The National World War II Museum and multiple streetcar stops surrounding Lee Circle.) And first things first...a nice cold refreshing cocktail at Tivoli & Lee. (it's adorable) and I spot a brunch chalkboard and am suddenly even more excited. (We have brunch reservations there with Andi and her Nola fashion week team the next morning). Then we unpack and get settled... (not sure why I felt compelled to bring so much nail polish this trip...good thing I have now embraced the gel mani which you can find out more about in the live section of my blog.)
We freshen up and take a taxi to the Bywater area of Nola. (The Bywater is a portion of New Orleans down from The Mississippi River from The French Quarter and the Faubourg Marigny.) I think this area is one of New Orlean's best kept secrets. I am intrigued by the diverse communities and love how the area combines old-time New Orleans culture with a hip, contemporary bohemianism.
We meet Andi at a fabulous inventive, farm-focused restaurant called Maurepas Foods . The menu features a variety of global flavors and creative drinks in a chic space. We all ordered something different and just sampled everyone's dishes. I am so sad to learn that this gem closed it's doors since my last visit. So I can't guide you there loves but Andi assures me you will be well taken care of at Mariza. It's a modern Italian restaurant alive with youthful energy but fit for serious grown up dining. Recommended dishes are the red snapper crudo, anchovy and pig ear salad, and short ribs rigatoni. After dinner we head down the street and have a little nightcap at Oxalis Bywater. (whiskey focused restaurant and rated of the top 10 bourbon bars in the U.S!) The cocktail list is lengthy, and the whiskey is the preferred based spirit in originals like Doyenne, a Negroni variation with High West's Son of Bourye whiskey, Braulio Amaro and Cocchi Rosa vermouth. For straight sipping on a budget, Oxalis includes a list of "plastic cap" whiskey, named for the low priced brands sold with a twist-off plastic top. First night=success.
Day two and we wake up incredibly early for a jog (in the rain none the less) and find a delicious coffee shop close to the hotel called Merchant. The espresso hits the spot and Lin appreciates the design of the space. We race back to the hotel and get ready for our brunch with Andi and her fashion week team. Brunch is divine and everyone is just the sweetest! We cheers to #nolafw over mimosas and send Andi off with hugs.
Lin, Jen, and Ian and I are ready to do some NOLA exploring. And everyone agrees that they want to do the French Quarter. So first things first...A hurricane at Pat O' Brien's Bar. We of course do some serious shopping and score some great pieces. I even convince the others to join me at The Marie Laveau House Of Voodoo! (of course i bought a spell kit and a voodoo doll) love the energy of this city and adore the street jazz and all the scenery you see along the way. (There are definitely daiquiri breaks in-between.)
And now it's show time for NOLA FASHION WEEK. We did get word that they moved Andi's show to the day after we all departed New Orleans which was a huge huge bummer but we were so excited to attend as her VIP guests and check out the emerging designers showcases. The venue was crazy good and the collections were really fabulous and wearable! We had such an amazing time and left feeling incredibly inspired. So many cities including Tulsa should attend NOLA Fashion Week (which is now called Southern Design Week to incorporate designers from all over!). Lots of great ideas here!
New Day and it is Saint Patty's Day! We head straight to District Donuts and celebrate with Irish Car Bomb Donuts and the most delicious nitro cold brew! They all look so divine though and I love how they take holidays seriously. It's a beautiful day for a stroll along Magazine Street. Lots of great shopping! I contemplated a blow out but with the Nola humidity who was I kidding?!
We meet Andi in Bywater for lunch at Booty's Street Food. (Small plates of global street food, craft cocktails & coffee in a hip gastropub lit by Edison bulbs) Everything is amazing!!! Love the street tacos and the kimchi rice bowl. Everything is designed to be eaten out of a cone, with your hands, or from a stick! And you have to get a Bywater Bomber and a Hashtag Blessed. TRUST ME!!!
We need a long walk after that delish lunch so we explore Bywater and I am so in love!
We then tour Crescent Park . Part of the French Market District, Crescent Park is a 1.4 mile, 20 acre urban linear park that connects the community and visitors to the riverfront. This unique public space provides breathtaking views of New Orleans, native landscaping, bike paths, a dog run and multi-use pavilions for all to enjoy. This was one of my favorite afternoons in Nola. The sky was super moody and grey and we got some relief from that southern heat!
We then try to go pay Marie Laveau a visit but the Saint Louis Cemetery was closed. Decades ago, someone started a rumor that if people wanted Laveau to grant them a wish they should draw an X on the tomb, turn around three times, knock on the tomb, and yell out their wish. If it was granted they had to return to the tomb, circle their X, and leave her an offering.
But we do go take a look at one of the most haunted homes in Nola...The Lalaurie House ....feel free to google Delphine Lalaurie when you have some free time. Eeek. This story is not for the faint of heart and not for the weak of stomach either. Rumor has it you should stay on the opposite side of the street ...but did I do that...well...I can't say. We also go by Madame John's Legacy. In the Interview with the Vampire movie, this is the house from which the caskets are being carried as Brad Pitt’s voiceover describes Lestat and the little vampire Claudia going out on the town: “An infant prodigy with a lust for killing that matched his own. Together, they finished off whole families.” Anyone with an eye for architecture will want to check it out too because it's one of the finest 18th century building complexes in Louisiana and one of the best examples of French colonial architecture in N. America.
I have to run Lin by my favorite little hole in the wall back from my Aveda days for a hurricane. They do have the best cheeseburgers too! Do not miss Port Of Call. It's delicious and hilarious!
Do make it a point to go to Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop. It's the oldest bar on Bourbon!
We spent our last NOLA dinner at Domenica (inside the Roosevelt Hotel) and I have not been able to stop thinking about it to this day. Highly recommend the roasted cauliflower with sea salt and whipped goat feta. And get the roasted carrot pizza...it has goat cheese, red onion, brussel sprouts, beets, and hazelnuts. I want to marry it!! Do pop over to the Sazerac Bar for a night cap!
Next morning was departure day...snuck in a breakfast trip to Cafe Du Monde...Lin had to experience it after all. So the chicory coffee and beignets were a must do this trip. Sooo much fun but it was time to get back to puppy snuggles!!
From my various Nola trips...these are my other recommendations...
Emeril's Demonico // NOLA Emeril's // Casamento's // Parkway Bakery & Tavern (shrimp po-boy is divine)
(if you get a chance and are driving through Hammond...you must go to Tommy's pizza. The secret is in the sweet pizza sauce)
And Andi would recommend oysters and white bean toast from Cavan, beignets from Morning Call: City Park, sweet treats from Sucre, oysters from Peche Seafood Grill.
Until next time NOLA,
Here is everything you need for your Nola getaway!