Quick Trip to New Orleans

I recently had the chance to spend a long weekend in New Orleans for a bachelorette party. It was my first time visiting the city and Mother Nature was on our side with sunny skies and perfect temperatures. Our group had a great time celebrating the bride to be, Becca!

Three of us arrived in town one night before the others and we spent our first night in The Saint Hotel, a boutique hotel in The French Quarter. For our second two nights in town, we stayed in a great rental house off of Magazine Street that was full of character and perfect for nine girls. We managed to fit in good amount of sightseeing over the course of just a few days. I’ve included a few of the weekend’s highlights below.

Gumbo Shop

quick trip to new orleans
We arrived into town around dinnertime on Thursday evening, and we decided to check out some classic New Orleans cuisine. We landed on the Gumbo Shop, a spot on Saint Peter Street that according to the restaurant’s website has won the Best Gumbo category in the Best of New Orleans poll every year since 1999. My favorite thing I tasted here was the chicken andouille gumbo, a combination of chicken, andouille sausage, okra and seasonings simmered in chicken stock. Our meals were served with a warm and fresh baguette, and dipping the crusty bread into the flavorful gumbo was a winning combination. I’ve never tried making gumbo at home before, but you can bet I’ll be giving it a shot sometime in the next few weeks with this recipe as my guide.

Brunch at Josephine Estelle

quick trip to new orleans
One of our first meals of the weekend was brunch at Josephine Estelle, a new restaurant housed inside the Ace Hotel. The atmosphere was a great combination of chic and comfortable, and brunch here was the perfect way to kick off an action packed day. Our side of the table started off our meal by ordering a delicious pastry board which came with a delicious compilation of treats that included a massive cinnamon roll, a croissant, and a savory shortbread.

Per usual, I had a hard time deciding what I was going to order for my main course from the menu and was lucky that Laura, the bride’s sister, was having the same problem and deciding between the same two things. We ended up sharing the Canestri pasta, the restaurant’s take on cacio e pepe, and the hoe cakes, which came served with ham, creamed spinach,  a poached egg and calabrian hollandaise. Our dishes were on point – perfectly flavorful and generous portions.

Cafe du Monde

I couldn’t visit New Orleans without building in a stop to the famous Cafe du Monde, and it was so good, I actually managed to go there twice! As you might recall, I’m not a coffee fan so I can’t speak for the cafe’ au lait, but I could talk ALL day long about those beignets. Good thing I was with friends or I could have easily scarfed down an entire order by myself, which would have been especially easy to do considering an order of three of the french doughnuts only puts you back $2.73.

If you go, don’t be discouraged by the long line, as it moves quickly and the service is pretty efficient once you’re seated. Pro tip: wear clothes that you don’t mind getting powdered sugar all over. When they say the beignets come covered with powdered sugar, they aren’t kidding, and there’s really no avoiding it so I recommend just embracing it!

The original location at 800 Decatur Street is open 24-hours a day for your beignet eating pleasure. There’s a great gift shop across the street where you can pick up some goodies to take home, and you know I had to snag a box of beignet mix to stuff inside my suitcase!

Garden District/ Lafayette Cemetery tour

quick trip to new orleans
We did a self-guided version of the Garden District / Lafayette Cemetery tour (shout out to Sarah who acted as our tour guide!) and it was one of my favorite parts of the weekend. It was a great chance to get a feel for the history of the city while ogling at all of the beautiful homes, including quite a few with Hollywood connections, like the residence of Sandra Bullock. The great thing about doing a self-guided tour is that we could call it quits when we were tired, but this was a great way to spend a sunny day.

Piano Bar at Pat O’ Brien’s

Located on Saint Peter Street, Pat O’ Brien’s is one of the most famous bars in New Orleans. When we first arrived we enjoyed a few drinks in their courtyard area before making our way to the piano bar. The piano bar at Pat O’Brien’s is well known for its two copper pianos and the dueling piano players that guide the crowd in signing throughout the night. Our group had a blast enjoying classic tunes and this is definitely a place I would revisit on another trip to the area.

Those are just a few of the highlights of a quick trip to New Orleans. Next time, I’m going to make sure I get to ride on a streetcar!

If you’ve been to New Orleans, I’d love to hear your favorite places to eat and see in the comments below so I can make sure to include them on my next visit!


What’s Happenin’ Wednesday

How is it already the end of October?! I cannot believe that Halloween is next week. I’m so excited for the fall weather that has finally made its way down to Richmond, but I know that also means that soon we’ll be looking at temperatures in the thirties and I’ll be wishing it was summer again.

What’s Happenin’ Wednesday

  • November kicks off next week which means it’s time to start planning for Thanksgiving. If you want to impress your entire family and also all of your Instagram followers you need to order one of these picture perfect tarts from Whisk. Hurry, before they’re sold out.

    A photo posted by Whisk (@whiskrva) on

  • Speaking of Thanksgiving planning, Bon Appetit has an entire command center devoted to Thanksgiving recipes. They’ve got you covered from turkey to sweet potato pie. My favorite Thanksgiving dish? Dressing (aka stuffing).
  • Week night meal planning is always a pain, but I’m sold on this recipe because of all the delicious, melty mozzarella cheese. It also doesn’t hurt that someone’s finally found a way to make making lasagna 100 times less time consuming.
  • Mornings are getting colder and darker which means (sometimes) I need something to get me out of bed. Early Bird Biscuit just happens to be my incentive. In addition to the newly released fall menu, including a country ham sliders and a pulled pork biscuit, they’ve also introduced a Tuesday deal to satisfy biscuit and coffee lovers — Tuesday before 10 a.m. you can snag a biscuit sandwich and 12 oz coffee for $5.50!
  • A couple of restaurant openings happened earlIer this week including Sally Bell’s new location across from the Science Museum and Goatocado’s first brick and mortar location on Main Street in the Fan.
  • And finally, in genius food hack news, you’ve probably been making pita sandwiches all wrong.

What to add to your calendar

  • Chicken biscuits, Bloody Mary’s, chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy. Do I have your attention yet? Mean Bird and Isley Brewing Company are teaming up for brunch on November 13th. I’m giving you a heads up more than two weeks in advance so you have no excuse to miss this. P.S. bring your vegetarian friends because Mean Bird makes a mean vegan bird option too.
  • The hidden gem that is Cask Cafe is celebrating its third Birthday next week! Join them on November 5th and 6th for celebrations that will surely include lots of beer and sausage craft sausage.
  • If puzzle and beer are your thing, sign up for the Halloween Pubs and Puzzles event organized by Ravenchase Adventures on Sunday. Five puzzles and five pubs and tacky prizes for the top three teams. Register by Friday to reserve your spot.
  • Need something to do on election night? Join RVA Comedy for RVA Tonight’s Election Night Special. Regardless of political leaning, I think we’ll all need a stiff drink on the evening of November 8th and here you won’t have to drink alone.

Meal kits — Little House Green Grocery

If making a decision about what to make for dinner is a constant struggle, finding a meal kit service that fits your needs can be a great way to try new recipes without breaking the bank and creating a lot of food waste.

I think we’ve all been there, you find an awesome sounding, somewhat adventurous recipe online (on Pinterest perhaps?) and those recipes always call for very small amounts of very specific ingredients, that are mysteriously sold only in large quantities — meaning they just sit in my cabinets taking up space never to be used again. Because of that, my favorite meal kits have been the ones that individually portion out ingredients for each recipe meaning you are only given what you actually need.

My one issue with many of the online meal kit services is that they aren’t great for people cooking for one. I love HelloFresh, but I typically don’t need three meals that serve two people all at once — its always a struggle finding a way to fit all of the meats and produce into my tiny fridge. Luckily Little House Green Grocery on the Northside has created a local option that you don’t have to subscribe or commit to on a weekly or monthly basis. Its just a pick up whenever you need one and go kind of thing, no advance ordering necessary.

Little House Green Grocery Meal Kits

I recently picked up my first meal kit from Little House Green Grocery when I saw a post on Facebook about a new kit that sounded fantastic — sweet potato gnocchi with spinach and mushroom.

Little House Green Grocery Sweet Potato Gnocchi Meal Kit

Inside each box you’ll find the ingredients you need for the meal, which are often locally sourced, and a card with the recipe. This particular kit came with refrigerated sweet potato gnocchi, Crimini mushrooms, spinach, shallots, Parmesan cheese, butter and thyme from Hummingbird Gardens.

Each meal kit includes two servings and costs $20. For the quality of the ingredients included, I’d argue that these meal kits are a steal. And from start to finish it probably took about 35 minutes to put this meal together and much of that time was spent waiting for the water to boil.

I cheated a little bit and picked up some delicious face bacon (yes, I said it, face bacon) to make this comforting dish even more indulgent. This simple meal was incredibly flavorful and I could definitely see myself adding this into my regular dinner rotation as we head into winter.

Sweet potato gnocchi with mushrooms and spinach

If you’re interested in trying out a Little House Green Grocery Meal Kit, check its Facebook page for seasonal updates on recipes (the meal kits change frequently) or give them a quick call before you go. And if you’re too lazy busy to drive over to the Northside you can have meal kits like The Weekend Breakfast, Taco Night or Curry Dinner delivered to your door via Quickness RVA. If you have a favorite meal kit service, let me know in the comments below.


What’s Happenin’ Wednesday

What’s Happenin’ Wednesday

  • Richmond has seen a lot of love from The Washington Post in recent days! Check out this article on the exploding beer scene in Scott’s Addition and this one on the diverse restaurant offerings in RVA.
  • I only recently learned about the Momfuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, a museum dedicated to instant noodles and their creator and founder. The museum offers a number of exhibitions and attractions, including a tasting room. Anyone want to plan a trip to Japan?
  • In the kitchen: Shout out to my coworker Lindsay for sharing this delicious recipe for sausage, kale and white bean soup. I made it this Sunday and it’s now one of my favorite fall recipes. I used local Sausage Craft sausage and it made the dish all the better. If you like leftovers, you’ll be happy to know it’s even better the next day.
  • Planning a visit to Manhattan? If you’re a Moscow Mule fan, you’re in luck. At PHD Terrace, you can order a Moscow Mule cocktail that weighs over 10 pounds. It costs $185 and it’s perfectly shareable, as you probably imagined!
  • Talley’s Meat and Three is celebrating kid’s appreciation month during the month of October. With every adult meal, they are offering a free little kid’s meal or $5 off a little adult meal.
  • It isn’t too early to start thinking about Thanksgiving. Little House Green Grocery is now accepting pre-orders for local, pastured turkeys. Deposits are $35 and quantities are limited, so reserve one today.
  • Picture perfect: The below sandwich made with rye bread with Idle Hands Bread Company on Tim Vidra’s Instagram feed had me drooling yesterday. Doesn’t it look so good?!

What to add to your calendar

  • CURRENT Art Fair, a new contemporary art fair in Richmond, kicks off this Thursday, October 20 and runs through October 23. The fair is free and open to the public from Friday through Sunday, with a ticketed VIP preview taking place on Thursday. If you’re in the market for a new art, the event promises to be accessible for new and seasoned collectors alike.
  • Ginger Juice is celebrating their first anniversary on Saturday, October 29 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. They will be offering free ginger shots to anyone who wishes them a happy anniversary, raffle prizes, and a special anniversary juice: chocolate almond milk.
  • A pop up by the name of Sloppy Sandwiches? Count me in. Taking place on Sunday, October 30 from 7 p.m – 1:30 p.m. at Lucy’s Jackson Ward, the pop up will feature local chefs making you guessed it: sloppy sandwiches. Sounds like a good way to end the weekend to me.
  • Save the date for Sunday, November 6 when Slow Food RVA will present Slow Fish 2016 at Ardent Craft Ales. From 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., attendees will be able to enjoy  an oyster garden, chef demos, a shucking contest, educational events and much more.

Sunday at the Shell-Raiser’s Shindig

Kelsey and I spent a few hours this past Sunday enjoying the beautiful weather at the 2nd Annual Shell-Raiser’s Shindig, an event benefiting the Virginia Oyster Shell Recycling Program. The program is a joint effort lead by the VCU Rice Rivers Center where volunteers collect oyster shells from a number of participating restaurants and work to return them to the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay, an act that brings with it a number of benefits for the environment.

In addition to being for great cause, the event had all the makings of an afternoon well spent: food, drinks, live music and of course, lots and lots of oysters! The event took place at Libbie Mill-Midtown in a beautiful spot overlooking some water. Shell-Raiser’s Shindig featured oysters from Virginia’s various oyster regions, dishes from a number of different chefs and a number of beverage options from across the state including beer, wine, cider and non-alcoholic beverages. Everything was included in the cost of a ticket, and you can rest assured that we took full advantage! We started off with some wine and decided to take a lap to survey all of our options before getting any food. If we know anything about food events, we know it’s good to have a game plan!

Our plan to not get any food until we got our bearings didn’t last long because we quickly stumbled upon Shagbark’s table, where Chef Walter Bundy had created a delicious bisque that included jumbo lump crab, Virginia smoked slab bacon, corn and fermented hot sauce. This dish was probably our favorite from the event, and we agreed that we would not complain one bit if this made an appearance on the regular menu at Shagbark.

Shagbark Crab Soup
Another dish we tried was from Chef Ian Robbins of Cafe Provencal at the Williamsburg Winery, a butternut squash puree topped with roasted carrot, a sage marshmallow and granola. This was a great mix of fall flavors and my favorite part was the unique addition of the sage marshmallow.

Squash Puree
Of course, we had to enjoy some oysters and we sampled some of both the raw and roasted variety topped with a variety of accroutments. As any good party that involves oysters should be, the event was well stocked with cocktail sauce, horseradish, lemons, mignonette and crackers.

We enjoyed chatting with the team at Tangier Island Oysters, sampling their oysters and learning more about the island that is the most recent addition to the Virginia Oyster Trail.

Tangier Oysters

We also tried roasted Cedar Pointe Oysters with a citrus herb butter and aged parmesan cheese from Chef Mike Ledesma of East Coast Provisions, The Daily and The Hill Café. I’m a big fan of roasted oysters so was happy to see these on the menu in addition to all of the raw oysters.

Roasted Oysters

We ended the event on a sweet note with a taste of foie apple fritters with cinnamon sugar and foie-anglaise prepared by Chef Kevin Church of Postbellum. These treats were every bit as good as they sound.

Postbellum Dessert

All in all, the event was a fun way to spend a few hours outside tasting a number of different items from talented chefs!  What’s your favorite food event in Richmond?

Tell us in the comments below!


What’s Happenin’ Wednesday

Things have been a little crazy since we returned from New York! So please bear with us as we attempt to get back on our normal blogging schedule here in the near future. We’re almost back to being normal people and we can’t wait to get back to telling you about our favorite restaurants here in Richmond.

What’s Happenin’ Wednesday

  • Okay Richmond, time to start putting together your game plan for Richmond Restaurant Week! If you’ve never participated in RRW (where have you been?!) here are the basics: $29.16 gets you a three course meal at 40 Richmond Restaurants and a portion of proceeds ($4.16 per meal) will be donated to FeedMore — a nonprofit dedicated to fighting hunger in our region. Richmond Restaurant Week starts on October 24 and menus are being updated as quickly as they come in.
  • If I had a magic wand and could turn the Main Street Station train shed into something awesome, I would pick a Food Hall. I mean how cool would it be if you could grab a cupcake from Pearl’s and a savory pie from Proper Pie all in the same place?! I’m loving the concept behind the Revival Food Hall in Chicago as a place to grab lunch from local restaurants that have established themselves in other neighborhoods. Let’s. Get. It. Done. Richmond.
  • The cold weather earlier this week have me craving a comforting cup of soup. Here’s a recipe for a French Onion Soup from the New  York Times that’s best served with bubbling Gruyère cheese on top.
  • Sadly some of our favorite Stroop’s hot dogs are on hiatus until next summer, but that means the fall menu is back! My personal favorite is the Turporken, a hot dog topped with duck confit stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, mayo (and because I’m a difficult customer I leave the mayo off). After visiting on Saturday to savor my last taste of summer, how long do I have to wait before it is socially acceptable to return. P.S. The Floral Pork dog (which I’m hoping will make it’s triumphant return next summer) is what’s pictured above.
  • So last week everyone was fangirling over Netflix’s Gilmore Girl promotion where coffee shops across the country turned into Luke’s Diner. While I wasn’t ever into Gilmore Girls, Netflix does have me fangirling today with the release of the Justin Timberlake concert/movie. Did I already watch it this morning? I plead the fifth.

What to add to your calendar

  • This Sunday at Libbie Mill-Midtown Chefs Walter Bundy of Shagbark, Mike Ledesma of EAT Restaurant Group and more will be serving up some delicious small plates along side a TON of oysters at the Shell-Raiser’s Shindig to benefit the Virginia Oyster Shell Recycling Program. The event runs from 2 to 5 p.m. and tickets ($75 for individuals, $135 for couples) are still available online.
  • Friday through Sunday, Blue Bee Cider will be celebrating the grand opening of its new cidery in Scott’s Addition. There will be cider, beer collaborations, live music and food from Rappahannock River Oysters, Goatocado, Camden’s Dogtown Market and King Of Pops.
  • Who doesn’t love free events? Especially free events that include tastings from Idle Hands and Nightingale Ice Cream Sandwiches. To celebrate its third anniversary, Stock Provisions is hosting its Meat your Makers Fest on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.
  • Puppies and beer, I cannot think of a more perfect event. And that’s just what you’ll get at Strangeway’s BARK-toberfest this weekend. Advance tickets are $5 (and $7 at the door) and proceeds will benefit Bandit’s Adoption and Rescue of K9s (BARK). The event is dog friendly and there will be a pet costume contest, pet parade and a blessing of the pets.