Ghosts & Good Eats in New Orleans
To a New Yorker, the South has always been this foreign world filled with tales of mild weather all year round and an incredibly rich history. Coupled with mysticism and endless celebrations, and you have the destination that I travelled to for a bachelorette party. New Orleans, though in the US, is a whole different world that everyone needs to experience at least once in his or her life. Though I was there to celebrate a friend's upcoming nuptials, the entire trip became a historic and culinary exploration of the "most unique city in the US."
Our introduction to the Big Easy began on a Thursday morning. We gathered at local hotspot Deville Coffee & Creperie near our Air BNB on Magazine Street to eat mouth-watering crepes, a New Orleans staple. Who can say no to fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, and Basil wrapped up in a warm pillowy crepe blanket, especially after an early morning flight? And lord were they good. Great first impression by New Orleans.
After, in a post-crepe state of bliss, we explored the boutiques of Magazine Street and found an impressive multi-level antique store that had to have been a mansion at some point. We found everything from handmade local textiles to reclaimed brass fixtures that were so old they had to be sacred. Amidst the bounty of stores and trinkets--I even managed to make some great connections, so stay tuned for some new collaborations (or check the newest additions out here in the mean time)! But, the most interesting thing I gained from the excursion is the appreciation of the hidden beauty of this place. On the outside, the area appeared quite gritty actually. But step inside each store to be transported to a world filled with Southern charm, beauty, and hospitality which all made for a very pleasant experience.
That evening, we marveled in the tastes and history of the famous Napoleon House. Of course, I felt obligated to order a Boulevardier and, keeping true to the New Orleans' way, the Jambalaya; I was not disappointed.
The 200 year old establishment originally belonged to the Mayor of New Orleans, who had offered it to Napoleon as a place of refuge after he was exiled from Europe in 1821. The proprietors that followed were careful to retain the beauty of the era both inside the restaurant and outside in the courtyard.
We also ordered iced coffees to stave off the 85 degree heat (yes, it was dark by now), and may or may not have stopped at a local bar to get Kahlua for our coffees on the way. We may have had to run several blocks in sandals and dresses to make our tour on time, but it was well worth the Kahlua. As a side note, the future city I would retire to, also needs to have such freedoms like being able to legally drink in public.
When we arrived, we found our tour guide incredibly knowledgeable and an enthusiastic history buff. One of our stops was the notoriously haunted LaLaurie Mansion. It's gruesome history was even used as inspiration in the "Coven" season of American Horror Story, but unlike the show, we did not bump into any sadistic witches that were raised from the dead. While LaLaurie, who was rumored to have tortured and killed her slaves, was not a nice person – like at all –, it would've made this story more interesting if we had ran into her. But alas, all we did was get drunk off our Irish coffees and learn about the impressive history of the city.
The only way to start the next morning off, was with more donuts (see lack of self-control above), this time opting for New Orleans' answer to the Cronut: The Kolache. We chose the always innovative District Donuts on Magazine Street, who had created with the only hangover cure you'll ever need. With a savory combination of ingredients wrapped up inside one of their delectable donuts, it is the perfect collaboration of sweet and savory. We arrived around 11 am, amd the only flavor they had left was roasted pork belly, mascarpone, and fall ripened dates, but we were not in the least bit disappointed.
For our next day in NOLA, we decided to get fancy and try the Commander's Palace for a formal lunch in honor of our bachelorette. We took obligatory group photos, and while we waited for our reservation, stumbled upon a wonderfully historic cemetery right across the street
The main event of the weekend, in the true spirit of bachelorette celebration, was a night of bubbles and dancing lessons inside an intimates boutique on Magazine Street. I’ll leave the type of dancing lessons to your imagination. We followed that up with endless Creole specialties at yet another gorgeous restaurant. And then, the real fun began.
NOLA's renowned Bourbon Street was our next stop, and we truly made it ours for the night and into the wee hours of the morning. To say we owned Bourbon Street that night would be an understatement. I wouldn't have been surprised if we'd have wakened the spirits of the LaLaurie Mansion with our loud revelry. We definitely could probably have used a few more of those Kolaches the next morning.
For the last leg of our weekend, we took our time shopping and snacking in the French Quarter while taking in the charming architecture. I knew New Orleans had truly captured my heart, when I was sad to leave, which is something that doesn’t happen when you travel so often. Full disclosure: part of that sadness was probably attributed to the beautiful NOLA weather we experienced which New York City wouldn’t see for several more months.
Between elegant and unique mansions, amazing food and boutiques to live music in the streets, and a warm Southern hospitality, I walked away with truly magical memories and a plethora of recommendations. The food, architecture, culture, and history made NOLA a remarkable and special trip that I look forward to experiencing again. If you haven’t already, check out our past blog posts here!