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When planning our recent visit to Royal Sonesta New Orleans, we asked for and received TONS of recommendations on where to eat and things to do in the city. We were appreciative and a bit overwhelmed! One of the best pieces of advice we got was to just get a feel for the city and to go with it, and armed with plenty of recommendations and our own research, we set off to explore new Orleans.

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I tend to obsess over reading menus and looking places up on Google Maps prior to travel, and Café Amelie was actually one of my own finds and the place we chose for our first meal in New Orleans.

We had a rough night before we traveled, with our cat in the vet emergency room until 2:30 am and an Uber to the airport scheduled for 6:45 am. Café Amelie turned out to be the perfect spot to take a breath and exhale deeply while enjoying the quiet of their tucked-away courtyard and the glorious New Orleans heat.

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The vibe was so relaxed, and my shoulders started to drop a little, especially after my first “Sparring with Bubbles” cocktail, a new favorite cocktail, a blend of Ford’s Gin, Averna, grapefruit and pink bubbly. It was so delicious and absolutely perfect for the setting.

Ahhh. . .

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Café Amelie specializes in Louisiana fare, which is just what we were looking for, and we shared a few plates for lunch.

We of course had to try the local baked oysters, which were in a yummy spinach and artichoke sauce with a heaping side of crunchy crostini. We learned we are not huge fans of Southern oysters (Give me tiny, briny New England oysters everyday!) but we were huge fans of the addictive bread and sauce.

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Whenever we travel and know that decadent dining and drinking are on the cards, we sit down at a meal and both say “We need a vegetable”. At this lunch, it was a scrumptious, huge beet salad. I felt a bit healthier after eating it!

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Our third dish is one you must get if you visit Café Amelie. Chef Jerry’s Shrimp and Grits had the perfect bit of spice and the creamiest most devour-able grits. Good grits are pure heaven, and these were beyond.

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The pace of our meal was so lovely, as was the pace of everyone around us. We got chatting to another couple, locals, who call Café Amelie one of their favorite New Orleans restaurants, which we loved to hear.

I grabbed another cocktail to-go, because they were delicious and because I could. As frigid temps set in, I am craving New Orleans sunshine and humidity and some of the incredible food and warm hospitality we enjoyed on this trip.

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Tags: cocktail, cocktails, dining, Food, food blog, gin, New Orleans, NOLA, Travel, travel blog

Snugly nestled in Boston’s bustling North End sits Parla, an Italian speakeasy that opened in April. I got to check it out on a recent girls’ night out, and it is the perfect place for such an occasion.

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The cocktail list at Parla is a ton of fun; classics like the margarita are mixed up with rye; I am a huge fan of rye and was excited to see this. To start off, I went with the Bee Sting Julep, a slightly spicy, slightly sweet blend of habanero honey infused whiskey with mint and lemon. It had a nice kick while also being refreshing!

 

bee sting julep cocktailAs it often happens when I am out with these ladies (which is not often enough!) we ordered lots of things to share. Parla’s menu is perfect for sharing, especially since you’ll have a hard time choosing what to order. What did we have?

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Braised Oxtail Arancini – These were one of my favorites of the night. I loved the bit of meat in the hot and chewy arancini, and the sauce that came alongside would be perfect for mopping up with bread or just about anything.

quail egg carbonaraWe also had the Quail Egg Carbonara, which was topped with a runny quail egg just waiting to be mixed in with the hot pasta and salty bacon.

lobster ravioliThe Lobster and Uni Ravioli was as beautiful as it was delicious. Out of all of the pasta dishes (We had four, but my photos didn’t come out great.), this was my favorite. I loved the creamy pink sauce, and the addition of fava beans was nice for texture.

Secco You can’t have a dinner outing with the ladies without a bottle of bubbles, and we enjoyed a bottle of Secco Prosecco with the meal. Italian bubbly certainly goes well with Italian dishes and lots of chatter!

I would recommend Parla heartily; I sent some friends there the following night, and they loved it too. It’s a great spot in the heart of the North End, doing food that is fun, creative, and delicious!

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Tags: Boston, cocktail, Dining out, dinner, food blog, Italian food, North End, prosecco, restaurant, Restaurants, wine

As we settle into our new home, we are marveling at our location and excited about warmer weather, longer days, and more time to explore. Life in the new house hasn’t been perfect; it’s been cold, there’s work to be done, and our shower is the coldest I have ever used. Still, we know we hit the jackpot with this home, and we stop almost daily to say how much we love the house.

I love that we were able to stay in Dorchester. Everyone is so friendly, and there are great restaurants and  some beautiful scenery within walking distance from our house.

We’re technically in Lower Mills in Dorchester, close to the Milton line, but we are also very close to Ashmont, making commuting into downtown Boston and Cambridge pretty easy. . . as easy as life on the MBTA can be.

Baker Chocolate Factory

Lower Mills has some beautiful spots, including the Baker Chocolate complex. I love the old mill and mill-style architecture. It always makes me wonder what life was like when the chocolate factory dominated Lower Mills. I bet it smelled great, but I am fairly certain life was not easy for anyone back then!

The shops and restaurants around Lower Mills are adorable. When we were in the process of buying our house, we stumbled upon the Lower Mills holiday stroll, and it was so charming, right out of a holiday movie.

The Ice Creamsmith is currently closed for the winter, but it’s old fashioned exterior adds to the charm of the village, and the promise of homemade ice cream will get us through to March when they reopen.

Ice Creamsmith

The Ledge Kitchen and Drinks is one of our absolute favorites. We have been fans a long time, especially of the Ledge patio. The Ledge is a short walk from our house, and we have been enjoying dollar oysters and their flatbreads. Sadly, the restaurant has been sold, and a new one will take its place, only no one, including the staff, knows when.

Until they close we will continue to stop in. The food and staff are so great, and we will be sad to see them go.

Ledge Kitchen and Drinks

Just down from the Ledge is the sweetest little bakery, Sweet Life. Their cookies and pastries and breads are SO good. Their coffee is also great, and I am pretty sure that Sweet Life will be our fuel-up stop on the way to the boat on summer weekends. I am imagining that everything we love in our neighborhood now will be that much better when it’s light and warm.

Sweet Life Bakery

Then there is one of my favorite features of our new house’s location: we can walk to Steel and Rye.

Steel & Rye

Steel and Rye recently started serving brunch, and we have already been twice. With a serious brunch cocktail list, oysters, house-made donuts, and other incredible treats, their brunch is one of the best in the Boston area.

Steel & Rye

Last, but certainly not least, are Chris Douglass’ Ashmont area restaurants Tavolo and Ashmont Grill. Tavolo is perfect for pizza and wine, while Ashmont Grill is just perfect for everything.

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We especially love to wander over to Ashmont Grill for cocktails and apps. What’s even better is how, with these restaurants, Douglass really added to positive change in the Ashmont area. Many other businesses followed him into the area, resulting in a vibrant neighborhood.

Bee's Knees Cocktail

So there you have it; our little corner of the world, and all of the fun and food that we are looking forward to being part of our lives. It’s an exciting time; now if it would just get warmer so we can actually spend some time outdoors, it would be perfect.

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Tags: Boston, cocktail, Dining out, Dorchester, Food, pizza, Restaurants

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