New Orleans Vacation 2016

New Orleans was our best travel experience of 2016.  We stayed at a cute hotel in the French Quarter and had enough time to really get to know the area.  It was a great way to finish up the year.

dsc08432

dsc08450

This was my first trip to Louisiana and I think we managed to pack a lot in.  We visited three local breweries, walked around Loyola and Tulane, explored the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, went to the World War II Museum….

dsc08524

dsc08404

We also tasted tons of local (or at least Southern) flavors – pralines, divinity, snowballs, beignets, pimento cheese, etouffe, grits, chicory coffee, milk punch, and hurricanes.

Here were some of our best bites…

♥Pralines.  They were everywhere and the smell was amazing.

dsc08439

dsc08485

♥Hurricanes.  We went to Pat O’Brien’s (<– yuck!) and Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop.

img_20161206_163222

♥Frozen daiquiris, this one was eggnog!

dsc08441

dsc08446

♥This pecan pie soda was actually horribly disgusting, but it was fun to try!

dsc08464

♥Snowballs.  NOLA served me the best snow-cones of my life, I had one every day.  This was wedding cake (a blend of vanilla and almond) and egg custard topped with sweetened condensed milk.

dsc08478

dsc08460

♥Breakfast at Café Du Monde.  This was a must-stop for us, it was actually the only activity I had planned when I booked our tickets.  The beignets did not disappoint and neither did the chicory coffee café au lait (served on crushed ice).

dsc08436

♥Breakfast at District Doughnut.  We got a Nutella doughnut and a biscuit with pimento cheese.

dsc08505

Plus yummy Vietnamese coffee and an iced coffee with cola and chocolate milk (<– delicious and infinitely better than it sounds).

dsc08501

♥Brunch at Willa Jean.

dsc08395

I had the shrimp and grits – gulf shrimp, etouffee gravy, grits, and slow poached eggs with cheddar biscuits on the side.

dsc08398

Cookies and milk for dessert.  With a beater of dough and vanilla-infused milk.

img_20161205_115928

dsc08467

♥Flights at Abita.  <– one of our very favorite breweries  They had our old favorites and some fantastic limited edition flavors including vanilla Turbo Dog and a key lime gose.  We had beers, Zapps chips, and a root beer on draught and were in absolute heaven.

img_20161207_170123

♥Lunch at Cochon.  They had house-made eggnog.

dsc08468

We split a variety of small plates – a roasted carrot special with mint, Louisiana blue crab rice, and whole fried shrimp with pickled mustard seed hot sauce.  The fried herbs were aromatic and wonderful and the best bites were a mix of everything at once.

dsc08472

dsc08480

♥Dinner at Brennan’s.

dsc08493

Insanely creamy Caribbean milk punch with Buffalo Trace bourbon, Mt Gay black barrel rum, cream, and vanilla bean.

dsc08495

Ridiculous foie gras “sweet potato casserole,” with sweet potato puree and candied pecans.

img_20161206_194227

I had the cheddar risotto for dinner.  With Cherokee Rose cheddar, smoked maitake mushrooms, collard green puree, and a brown butter sauce.

dsc08496

♥Dinner at SHAYA.  <– best meal of the trip and also best meal of the year

dsc08425

That’s a halvah cappuccino.  I also had a Pearl Diver – vodka, labneh, vanilla, and lavender bitters.

dsc08410

We shared a trio of appetizers – Moroccan carrots with chermoula and mint / baba ganoush with green garlic / tershi = a creamy pumpkin spread with crispy garlic and chili oil.  All with fantasmic pita bread and herbed olive oil.

dsc08412

Also foie gras with rose tahini and carob molasses on challah toast (omg).

dsc08418

I had the matzoh ball soup for my entrée.  With slowed cooked duck, dill, charred leaks, lemon oil, and a cinnamon-scented broth.  Best matzoh balls of my life!  Adam had slow cooked lamb and the bites I stole were truly the best thing I’ve ever tasted (fyi I don’t typically eat mammals but I’ll have a taste occasionally if I know the meat is humanely-sourced and Adam says the flavor is worth it).

dsc08424

Dessert(s).  We basically rolled away from the table!  Chocolate babka with halva ice cream and labneh cheese cake with burnt honey ice cream.

dsc08427

It was a wonderful trip!

dsc08457

dsc08522

P.S. No post coming from this weekend, it was the husband’s birthday and I was in celebration-mode versus blogger-mode.  And now we’re both back at work.. womp wah.  Have a great week!

Vacation Part 1/3

We’re on vacation!  Friday through next Sunday Adam and I have 10 glorious days off together!!  We’re spending time in New Orleans and next weekend we’re doing a staycation in the city.

You can tell we’re in vacation-mode because we ate 90% of our meals out of the house and with drinks and dessert and have been purchasing all of the coffees.

Espresso at Variety.

dsc08314

New Orleans cold brew at Blue Bottle.

dsc08337

Espresso at Mixtape.

dsc08380

Iced coffee and a chocolate croissant at L’imprimerie.

dsc08377

Drinking chocolate at Devocion.

dsc08360

Dinner at Sally Roots.  Booze face.

dsc08306

I got jerk chicken ramen!  Chicken broth, yummy jerk chicken, noodles, fish cakes, bamboo, spinach, and wood ear mushroom.

dsc08309

We did dessert at Guadalupe Inn.  Drinks with meh chocolate tres leche cakes and churros stuffed with fabulous goat milk caramel.

dsc08322

Best brunch of the year at Rider.  Safe Word of the Day and Covet Thy Neighbor’s Drink.

dsc08340

The Cure = crispy rice and lentil cakes, duck confit, cilantro, hoisin, sriracha, and poached egg.  Adam had lox and fries, a combo you didn’t know how much you needed.

dsc08341

Dessert at Odd Fellows.  Crème brulee and banofee ice creams with brown butter cake crumbs on top.

dsc08346

Pretty damn good brunch at Forrest Point.  This drink was named “Fancy Pants,” Flor de Cana, Wild Turkey, Pedro Ximenez sherry, pineapple, lemon, Lapsang Souchong, star anise, cinnamon, and demerara sugar!

dsc08383

Chilaquiles!

dsc08386

Skillet s’mores with Fernet.

dsc08389

I did manage to make some dinners at home – chicken enchilada casserole.  I loosely followed this recipe from Jo Cooks, with brown rice and the addition of green chilis.  With roasted zucchini on the side and chips for dipping.

dsc08372

Other things that are making me happy… this assortment of cola-flavored goodies.  The gum was great the seltzer was too plain.

dsc08363

We found (freshly made) coquito at a bar in Bushwick!  It tastes like coconut eggnog and joy.

dsc08392

The Body Shop sent me this sweet holiday gift.  Fantastic eyeshadow and delightful smelling things.  FYI – they are offering a bunch of gift sets that will contribute to rainforest conservation, I recommend everything strawberry.

dsc08327

dsc08331

Happiest thing of all?  I’m on vacation!

Best Of The Weekend

dsc07332

Best coffee – The Voodoo Child at Sweetleaf.

dsc07344

dsc07345

Iced (super strong) coffee concentrate with condensed milk and housemade sweet cream.

dsc07350

Best new restaurant – Butler Bake Shop and Espresso Bar.

dsc07320

dsc07324

The infinitely Instagramable new Williamsburg coffee spot boasts a Michelin-starred pastry chef.

dsc07327

We got a caramel sea salt cookie next to an Intelligentsia Americano.

dsc07318

Best beer – Wick for Brains was a great first pumpkin sip of the season.

dsc07359

dsc07361

Enjoyed at Barcade while Adam and I teamed up to kick butt at the seasonally appropriate Golly Ghost game.

dsc07314

Best dessert – scoops from OddFellows‘ new “Passport Program.”  October’s flavor inspiration is Asia.

dsc07334

We tried Thai Iced Tea and Ube with miso butterscotch.

dsc07353

Best dinner – a Jewish-Japanese feast at Shalom Japan.

dsc07385

Forget best dinner of the weekend, this was one of the best meals of the year!

dsc07370

We shared three different appetizers because we couldn’t narrow down our choices any more.  Roasted cauliflower with anchovy and pickled raisins.

dsc07379

Tuna belly toasts that were the best bites of the night.

dsc07377

And Sake Kasu challah with raisin butter.

dsc07372

For dinner I ordered the dish that got us in the door – Matzoh ball ramen topped with a foie gras dumpling and soft-boiled egg.  The ramen was 10/10 fantastic and the matzoh ball ended up being the best I’ve ever eaten.

dsc07386

Dessert was chocolate banana challah bread pudding with crème fraiche and whiskey caramel.

dsc07393

The service was almost as good as the food, which was so good I swear we would have ordered another round of every dish if we hadn’t been so full!

dsc07349

It’s Pumpkin Month!

Pumpkin Month is here!  On the Emily calendar September is for apples, October and November are for pumpkin, November and December are for eggnog and gingerbread, and December is for peppermint.  This month’s on-theme stash is especially bountiful.

dsc07186

dsc07183

dsc07177

dsc07164

dsc07162

dsc07170

dsc07154

xzibit

Here are some highlights from the weekend…

My favorite coffee combo – espresso and chocolate milk.  I hate “mochas” because the syrup is gross but this iteration of chocolate and coffee is the best.

dsc07140

Brunch at Benchmark.

dsc07130

I had a roasted vanilla lemonade with vodka.

dsc07128

This unassuming omelette was actually stuffed with duck confit and goat cheese.

dsc07133

 

My best lunch came from the Starbuck’s refrigerator case.

dsc07223

We cooked two tasty dinners.  Broccoli salad based on this recipe from Cooking Light.  We roasted the broccoli and sauteed the onion and served the salad warm, which I highly recommend.  I also swapped maple for honey and rice vinegar for cider vinegar.

dsc07203

Served with white bean and basil dip with orange bell peppers and potato chips.

dsc07194

Plus a disappointing cider.

dsc07208

And I loosely followed Rachel Ray’s recipe for pumpkin and sausage pasta.

dsc07228

Served on butternut squash pasta shaped like tiny pumpkins!!

dsc07239

With roasted honey sriracha smoked paprika cauliflower.

dsc07242

And our last and favorite cider, just in time for pumpkin beers.

dsc07245

Non-food wins included…

I started reading One More Thing, Stories and Other Stories and now I’m completely obsessed with B.J. Novak.  The collection of stories fits together in ways that are surprising, moving, and sidesplittingly wry.

dsc07221

Watching the dog put himself to bed, complete with covers and his head on a pillow.

img_20161001_230900

He’s the best.

Semi-Vacation

DSC06616

Adam has been on vacation for the past two weeks which means that, even though I’ve been at work most of the days, it feels like I’ve been on vacation for the past two weeks.  Nice!  Husband time is the best and getting to see him immediately before and after work (versus him going in while I’m asleep and coming home after dinner is made) is better than any white sand beach.

I mostly spent the past week making googly eyes at Adam.  But also, per usual, we walked and ate a ton when I wasn’t busy at work.  Here were the top ten eats for the week/end…

{1} Caramel coffee at home.

DSC06582

{2} Coconut coffee from Konditori.

DSC06615

{3} Brunch at Colonie.  Duck hash for two.

IMG_20160903_135935

With aioli, a poached egg, and the best fried potatoes.

{4} Drinks at Grand Army.

IMG_20160903_145502

The best round included this Under the Sea – Batavia Arrak agricole rum, navy-strength rum, absinthe, cinnamon, coconut, lime, and blue curacao.

{5} Fruity beers at home.

DSC06559

We recently discovered that we adore New Belgium and their watermelon lime ale did not disappoint.

{6} Key lime pie.

DSC06607

Adam explored the North Fork one day – and loved it – and brought me home some of the best pie.

{7} Mamey ice cream.

DSC06554

DSC06545

I made a sundae with maple peanut butter, granola, and sprinkles.

{8} Ice cream with apple cider caramel.  Ample Hills is celebrating Roald Dahl this month.

IMG_20160901_174542

Enjoyed September 1st to celebrate the first day of Apple Month.

{9} Buffalo chicken quinoa bowls.

DSC06564

DSC06602

I stirred sautéed onion, carrots, and celery into quinoa and topped it with fancy blue cheese and buffalo chicken dip.

{10} Seafood extravaganza at Littleneck.  We shared lobster and crab rolls.

IMG_20160901_184818

The very best dish of the night was this charred broccolini.

DSC06608

With anchovy, lemon, and chili flakes.

{bonus} Dinner at Oiji.  I didn’t take a single picture but Adam and I enjoyed one of our favorite meals of all time there.  Among other things, we had a transcendent mushroom salad and honey butter chips that blew our minds.

IMG_20160903_162227

Road Trip Adventure

Two of our favorite people recently moved out of Brooklyn for Traverse City, MI and our last three days were spent on an epic journey road tripping to their gorgeous wedding.  We spent two full days in the car and only one day in Michigan but it was totally worth it to see one of my oldest childhood friends get married.

We were a bit worried about the 30+ hours we had to spend driving but it honestly ended up flying by.  We had my fully-stocked i-pod, a funny book on tape, and brand new scenery outside our windows.  Plus we are stupid in love with each other and probably could have just talked for 28 hours (I definitely fell asleep towards the end!) and had a good time.

Five out of six meals Friday and Sunday were eaten in our car, mostly junk food.  Here were a few of the culinary highpoints…

Apples with peanut butter.

DSC06501

Carrots and dip.

DSC06492

Not one, but two, marshmallow flavored lattes!!

DSC06500

DSC06511

Cola gummies.

DSC06507

This total throwback.

IMG_20160828_103937

The gas station cashier got such a kick over how excited we were to find Surge.  Unsurprisingly, it didn’t taste as good as I thought it did as a kid.

We ate very well in Traverse City too.  Breakaway for coffees.

DSC06516

Espresso that actually happened to be roasted in Brooklyn!

Lunch and drinks at Rare Bird Brewery.

DSC06531

Adam and I split macaroni and cheese with roasted duck and salad with roasted beets and spiced pepitas.

DSC06533

DSC06535

The food was good but the drinks were better, I had a locally brewed ale that tasted like key lime pie!  Plus an apple sour beer.

Ice cream at Moomers.

DSC06528

DSC06524

IMG_20160827_112012

White chocolate Oreo and black cherry.  We actually had this twice in one day because our friends did an ice cream cake for the wedding.

Late bar food dinner at Workshop Brewery our first night in town.

IMG_20160826_214707

Nachos with beans and ancho chicken.

I’m off to spend the day with my husband!

IMG_20160827_211354

Working Weekend Wrap-Up

No traditional weekend for me, my only day off was Thursday.  I’m actually working straight through this Thursday – 7 days in a row – which means next weekend will be a three-day extravaganza!  It’s hard to complain about 7 days anyway, my last year at Buff State when I was doing school/internship/part-time job there were a few stretches where I went 30 days plus without a true day off.

The past 4 days in numbers –

  • glasses of iced coffee – 7
  • packed lunches – 0
  • product reviews* – 2
  • desserts – 10 billion
  • books read start to finish** – 1

notes: *the products were both sent to me free of charge and neither company gave me additional compensation for this post; **the book was a murder mystery that I actually hated but needed to know the ending to

Here are the highlights…

Key lime cookie from Schmackary’s.

DSC06197

With white chocolate, pistachios, and cream cheese icing.  The middle is the best part.

Three new dark chocolate flavors of Nonni’s Almond THINaddictives* – Dark Chocolate Banana Almond, Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond, and Double Dark Chocolate Almond.  FYI – hit up their Facebook page for a new flavors giveaway.

DSC06150

They are 70-80 calories per pack (2 thins) and crisp but not too crumbly.  I though the double chocolate flavor was a bit plain but the cherry and banana had great notes of tart and sweet.  This week I paired them with my coffee but I’m also looking forward to crumbling them into yogurts.

DSC06210

DSC06233

DSC06202

That combo is killer, Grady’s is thick and sweet and it makes my heart sing.

Traditional breakfast.

DSC06238

Potatoes, scrambled eggs, and (turkey) bacon.  Covered in ketchup because I grew up in St. Thomas and we put ketchup on everything.  <– real talk, I didn’t know that ketchup wasn’t an automatic pairing for chicken wings until I went to college; now I mostly use other condiments but scrambled eggs always get ketchup

The cafeteria is pretty grim over the weekend but Friday I did eat this seafood feast.

DSC06214

Fried shrimp, potato wedges, and vinegar-based cole slaw.  We had leftover ice cream from our birthday party and I taught my coworkers about Australian iced coffees.

DSC06219

They loved it!

Since I didn’t have my yogurt lunches I got my probiotics in the form of Health-Ade Kombucha*.

DSC06160

Their small-batch (2.5 gallons) fizz is organic, vegan, kosher, and gluten-free.  They do their fermenting in glass containers only and the bottles are fantastic and just begging to house a handful of wildflowers.  Health-Ade generously sent me a case of Ginger Lemon.

DSC06177

I have to confess here that I actually kind of hate ginger.  Nonetheless, I found the kombucha to be very enjoyable.  The flavor behind the spice was very “clean” and just sweet enough.  I still wouldn’t buy this flavor once I finish my samples but I will damn sure scoop up Pink Lady Apple or California Grape the minute I spot them.  P.S. I brought a bottle to a ginger loving friend and she said it was hands down the best kombucha she’s ever tasted.

Date night in Hell’s Kitchen.  My NCIS obsession finally paid off for Adam – I took us to Donna Bella Bake Shop because it’s co-owned by Pauley Perrette (aka lab tech Abby).  We had a dreamy lemon bar and this delectable brownie with a cookie crust and ganache on top.

DSC06183

We walked past Room Service and decided to do Thai for dinner.

DSC06187

That guava mojito was terrible and weak.  But the crispy duck salad wasn’t half bad.

DSC06189

I ordered the Pad Noh Mai for dinner, shrimps, minced chicken, fresh basils, Thai chili, and bamboo shoots with herbs chili paste garlic sauce.

DSC06193

The menu promised spice and it delivered.  I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant though, Hell’s Kitchen is a bastion of excellent, authentic Thai restaurants and you can do better.

I cooked!  A real dinner, a stew, made of vegetables no less.  I put the crock pot to work for me, filled to its brim.  Onion / garlic / carrot / kale / red bell pepper / white beans / red lentils / diced tomato / veggie broth.

DSC06224

I didn’t bother to season or brown anything so the end result was a little bland, but topped with melted cheese it was hearty and satisfying.

Three down, four to go.