Love and Olive Oil

Beyond the Kitchen: NOLA Edition

New Orleans in the Rain

Taylor and I recently celebrated our 5-year anniversary. Although we’ve been together for over 13 years, we still felt like 5 was something special, something to be celebrated. And not with stuff, but with experiences.

In a rather spur-of-the-moment decision (we’re the type to plan our trips and book our tickets well in advance), we decided to visit a city that had been luring us from afar for quite some time now: New Orleans. And so, the last week in June we packed up our bags, dropped the cats at the pet resort, and hopped the (surprisingly short) flight to NOLA.

New Orleans Water Meter

In 2 days and 3 nights we ate enough food to count for a week’s worth of vacation time. We planned our days around where we wanted to eat, filling the time between meals with other attractions. Despite the heat and humidity and torrential downpours (clearly we didn’t think through everything in our spontaneous decision-making process), we loved every minute of it, and every bite along the way.

We stayed at The Hotel Modern, a cute little hotel in a perfect location: close to the French Quarter (but not IN the French Quarter), quiet and convenient and right on the trolley line. And the small rooms are clean, tasteful, and, best of all, affordable. And they have a parrot named Scarlett who lives in the lobby and sends you free drink coupons from the swanky hotel bar. I’m sold.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pie at Peche New Orleans

That first night we literally swam the 4 blocks from our hotel to dinner (who wins for remembering to bring her umbrella? ME). Fitting, as we ate more seafood in one meal than we ate all year in landlocked-Nashville. Peche was recently named New Orleans’ best new restaurant, and rightfully so; it didn’t disappoint. Taylor’s ‘I’m-in-NOLA-so-I’m-splurging’ plate of oysters was fresh and salty. I even tried one (if it weren’t for the texture I probably could have enjoyed more). Fried bread and fish sticks and a shrimp roll and flash-fried Brussels sprouts and an out-of-this-world Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pie, topped with caramel and butterfinger crumbles. If this is what our trip was going to be like, I should’ve brought stretchier pants.

Beignets in New Orleans: Cafe du Monde vs Cafe Beignet

In the battle of the beignets we ate our fair share, sitting down for heaping plates of fried dough at the famous Cafe du Monde (right) as well as the lesser known Cafe Beignet (left). The main difference? The crowds. We waited in line at Cafe du Monde, albiet not a long one since it was technically off-season, then waited some more for our table to be cleared and to place our order. Cafe Beignet was literally empty when we walked in mid-morning, and the beignets arrived, hot and chewy, minutes later. The beignets themselves were slightly different, but I wouldn’t say one was noticeable better than the other. Cafe du Monde, however, definitely wins when it comes to sheer quantity of powdered sugar, no contest there.

Classic Muffaletta at Cochon Butcher in New Orleans

Knowing that lunch was imminent, we tried to walk off our beignet binge, to no avail. Still, we could not miss out on the icon that is Cochon Butcher, and had to order one of NOLA’s famous Muffeletta sandwiches. Good god that thing was enormous, I don’t think either of us could have finished it on our own even if we had fasted the entire morning. The homemade chips were thin and crispy and served in quaint paper bags. Needless to say I’m thrilled that we’re getting our own in the coming months. The fact that it’s within walking distance from our house is either a good, or a very dangerous thing.

Homemade Gingerale at Sylvain in New Orleans

Dinner at Sylvain, where the burger came highly recommended, along with a bright Brussels sprout salad (the vegetables much welcome after our day of fried dough). I was also impressed with the house-made gingerale (any restaurant that serves such a thing automatically gets bonus points in my mind).

District Donuts in New Orleans

The following day we ventured to the other side of town, where we headed straight for District Donuts. As far as Nashville has come in the past 7 years since we’ve lived there, what we are severely lacking is a donut shop that dares to make such creative flavors as Vietnamese Iced Coffee and Cinnamon Roll. I did my best to convince the man-in-charge that they should totally open a location in Nashville (clearly we’re trying to steal all of NOLA’s best eats for ourselves).

Blue Crab Beignets from La Petite Grocery in New Orleans

Lunch brought us what was perhaps the best meal of the entire trip (and you’ve seen what we ate, so that’s saying alot) and the single best bite: these blue crab beignets. With malt vinegar aioli. Swoon.

La Petite Grocery in New Orleans Gulf Shrimp Pasta from La Petite Grocery in New Orleans

I ordered the saffron fettuccine, with gulf shrimp and field peas (and some other things that make me wish I had photographed the menu) that was also incredible. Tender, buttery pasta, sweet gulf shrimp, and piles of cheese on top. Who cares if ‘they’ say you shouldn’t mix cheese with seafood because this was spot on.

Above Ground Cemetery in New Orleans

The restaurant was very near the Garden district, full of gorgeous old homes and creepy above-ground cemeteries. Fun to explore between meals.

Macarons & Gelato at Sucre New Orleans

On our way back to the hotel to recover before dinner, we stopped along another strip of cute shops which happened to contain the precious Sucre bakery. Hello, macarons. And gelato. Because it had been, oh, 30 minutes since we’d last eaten? Obviously we were famished.

ROOT Salad at Root Restaurant, New Orleans

For dinner that night, our actual anniversary night, I made reservations at Root. I picked it based on a single item on the menu: beet cured salmon, which, I didn’t end up ordering afterall since this “Root” salad lured me in. I blame the lack of vegetation over the past 2 days. Have you ever seen a prettier salad? For dinner we split the Black Lacquered Duck, which our waiter told us was possibly the best duck in NOLA. He did not lie.

Love & Olive Oil goes to NOLA

After 3 nights, 3 thunderstorms, 7 meals, 11 beginets, 1/2 a sandwich, 2 doughnuts and 8 macarons later, we were so stuffed that we pretty much rolled ourselves back to Nashville. Stuffed and happy and itching to come back and eat explore some more.

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  1. Looks like a fun trip! We did NOLA last year and ate for seven straight days…I think I’m still losing the weight from that trip. :)

  2. Happy anniversary! You’re making me want to jump on a plane to NOLA right now! I love it when trips are centered around food.

  3. Happy anniversary!

  4. Sounds like you two had a great trip! Love the photo of the saffron fettuccine with shrimp, it looks delicious…but being an Italian food fanatic, no cheese please! Also, want those blue crab beignets, OMG, do they every look fantastic…

  5. THIS is why I need to travel with you! I took a day trip one time with my husband, and because I ate at two ice cream shops within an hour I got sick. But I was so friggin happy and still hopping from restaurant to restaurant…he couldn’t take it. Haha. But seriously, I’ve never been to NOLA and it looks like you did it right! Vietnamese Iced Coffee donuts?!?! YES PLEASE

  6. New Orleans is on my to go list – It looks like you had the best (and yummiest) time! Lovely photos, too! Bec 

  7. So love your NOLA blog. I am a BIG NOLA fan. Went there when I was in High school. 40 years ago and left part of heart there. visited many of the places you went to…The food is soooo nice. Miss those beignets at the Cafe du Monde and the Coffee w chicory. Thanks for the memories!

  8. I second Lisa the Kitten: they’re streetcars, not trolleys! So glad you two had such fun in our fair city, and I’m so glad you hit such a variety of places. My brother’s rehearsal dinner was at La Petite; we LOVE that place. Also a huge fan of Sylvain and Butcher. But, as I’m sure you know, there are SO many more places to discover, so y’all come back soon, ya here? :)

  9. Crab beignets!!! That sounds incredible (as does every other thing you ate there)! I’ve never been to New Orleans, but now I MUST go! Happy Anniversary too!

  10. Looks like a delicious time. New Orleans is a city I would love to visit sometime–for food, sights, and the live music. I love that first rain photo!

  11. I have never been to NOLA either…I have a list of great places to try thanks to your blog! Happy 5th anniversary and may you have many more and perhaps more in NOLA where you can stay longer and eat more. I love looking at your pictures you took and the shrimp with saffron fettuccine really got me. I could almost smell it! I had read some other food bloggers experience and they preferred cafe beignet also. The blue crab beignets were also mentioned. I am very full after reading your post. Thank you!

  12. Glad you had a great trip and ate so many wonderful things! I’m getting hungry looking at your photos! 

  13. Another New Orleanian here! I moved from here to Nashville and back home again, so I am so happy you had a wonderful time in the Big Easy! Next time you come down you can eat at a whole new list of places and still have more to try. Happy anniversary!

  14. What were the round, yellow buttons on your salad?

  15. I love that all you did was eat while you were there haha! I don’t see why you would have it any other way. You’ve made me super excited to visit!

  16. You guys are so cute! Happy anniversary!

  17. Happy Anniversary! NOLA is a big load of fun, food and atmosphere. Sounds like you packed a little of it all into your trip.

  18. Happy anniversary! I’ve lived in New Orleans for 11 years now, and I love reading about others enjoying and discovering the little gems in our city. You seem to have hit the right balance of experiences between tourists and locals, and I love that you experienced some of the best places in the city (Butcher, La Petite Grocery, Sylvain, Peche, Sucre) and some of the tried-and-true favorites (Cafe du Monde, Cafe Beignet). Come back and visit again soon! The city is ever-changing these days, and there’s always new and exciting stuff happening in town.

  19. I’m so happy that you took home so many great memories from NOLA, food related and otherwise. As a native New Orleanian, it’s nice to see outsiders truly appreciate the delicacy that is the Crescent City. Honestly, I stalked your Instagram account the entire weekend you were in New Orleans. I couldn’t wait to see where you were dining next. I’ve enjoyed almost all of the places that you visited, but your photos and descriptions were just the motivation I needed to go back. 

  20. I live in NOLA, and you went to some awesome places! I have yet to try Peche. Next time you visit, if on a weekend, don’t forget about brunch! I love Atchafalaya and Dante’s Kitchen. 

  21. Pesche was the first restaurant I went to during my trip to NOLA earlier this year. SOOO good!! Sounds like you had an amazing time, 

  22. Your trip sounds lovely, but I cannot dismiss the thoughts of that chocolate, peanut butter, banana pie! Can you two put your heads together and see if you can recreate a recipe for your blog Thank you I’m sure we all would love to try it !

  23. New Orleans was already on my bucket list, but your post has me fighting the urge to leave work right now and hop on a plane! Beautiful photos – the food looks absolutely spectacular. Thank you for sharing!

  24. Happy anniversary! I love spontaneous trips, and yours to New Orleans sounds amazing and so filled with FOOD. I love it.

  25. We also did the beignet comparison during a recent trip to New Orleans and Cafe Beignet was the winner for us.

    Such an amazing food city!

  26. My daughter is going to Tulane in 13 days as a Freshman and I’ll be there in NOLA to move her in. That saffron fettucine looks like just the thing to comfort my mother’s soul…but what restaurant did you have that in? The Donut place? 

  27. You guys did Nola RIGHT. You’re super smart for not staying inside the French Quarter. We made that mistake, and had a little trouble sleeping with the sound of constant partying. Anyway, you guys hit all the great places-yay! Thanks for sharing your trip. And happy anniversary! 13 years together + 5 years of marriage? Have you ever told the story of how y’all met on your blog? Highschool sweethearts? :)

  28. Happy Anniversary! It looks like you guys had a great time, and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pie, topped with caramel and butterfinger crumbles sounds absolutely amazing! :) 

  29. Happy Anniversary and as a NOLA resident, I’m pleased you enjoyed your visit here – you certainly did it up right! Food here is a national sport – we’ll be eating one fabulous meal, all while talking about where we’re going to eat the next one. ;-)

    Just one tiny correction – they’re streetcars, not trolleys. If you want to get a native New Orleanian’s dander up, that’s one way to do it. That, and ordering a muffaletta sans olives (which I myself discovered as a non-olive eater).

  30. Happy Anniversary to you both! Wow you are making me miss NOLA so much. I went for the food and the jazz last year and stayed in the Garden District… One week was not enough! I’m desperate to go back, and you just increased that desperation! So glad you had such a wonderful, food-eatin’ time!

  31. Happy Anniversary!  I am so excited!  I am going to New Orleans in a couple of weeks.  I am going to take some of your recommendations with me!  Thank you so much!

  32. You are a lovely couple.  I wish you many more wonderful years together.

  33. Happy Anniversary and so glad you guys were able to get away and celebrate!

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