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Our trip to New Orleans to stay (and eat!) at Royal Sonesta New Orleans was easily one of the travel highlights of 2017. We got to experience the magical Lighting of the Balconies to kick off the holiday season, and I have so much more food and fun to share on the blog in the coming weeks.

One of the absolute highlights of our visit was an evening at The Jazz Playhouse, located right at Royal Sonesta, making dinner at Restaurant R’evolution or Desire Oyster Bar, followed by a show, the perfect way to spend a New Orleans night.

We were spoiled with stage-side seats, but it looked like there wasn’t a bad seat in the room, and the acoustics were fantastic. The cocktails at The Jazz Playhouse, like everywhere else at the hotel, were amazing.

The Jazz Playhouse

We got lucky as the famous Brass-A-Holics were playing while we were in New Orleans, and they were incredible. We can’t stop talking about them, looking for show dates, and watching videos on YouTube.

A bit about the Brass-A-Holics

Since 2010, the Brass-a-Holics have been taking their unique sound around the world. Steeped in the deep musical culture of New Orleans, the band brings a heavy dose of go-go funk to the New Orleans brass sound. In a blending of musical cultures stemming from cities separated by more than a thousand miles, a Brass-a-Holics live show takes the New Orleans brass band culture and infuses it with the electricity of Washington D.C.’s go-go. The resulting sound is both captivating and unique. The band consists of core New Orleans brass elements- trumpet, trombone, saxophone- and adds a full drum set, percussion, keyboard, bass and electric guitar, giving the band limitless options to explore new sonic territory. Whether performing their original music or using the framework of hit pop songs as springboards for fiery improvisations, there is something in the set to appeal to every music fan. Once the music starts, the demographics blend and a brand new experience is created- one that leaves one-of-a-kind memories that live on long after the last note.

New Orleans music

By the end of the night, everyone in the room was dancing to their music, a mix of original tunes and covers of popular songs that had everyone singing along. We didn’t want the night to end, but when it did, we got to go back up to our cozy room right upstairs, a huge perk to having the club in our hotel!

You can check out a couple of my videos on my YouTube Channel. . . which I definitely need to be more active on!

New Orleans is known for its great music and food, and we found both at Royal Sonesta New Orleans, gravitating back to the hotel even when meals weren’t planned for us. This Creole Trio at Desire Oyster Bar had a bit of everything, including gumbo, red beans and rice, jambalaya, and smoked sausage. Washed down with a French 75 and surrounded by warm and friendly service (and those NOLA accents!), this was one of my best meals of 2017. We also devoured breakfast at Desire on our last day. I can vouch for the biscuits and gravy. . . and another French 75, which became another New Orleans go-to.

Desire Oyster

While New Orleans has a ton to offer all over the city, it was also nice to have so much of our trip centered around our hotel, giving us the option to stay in or venture out. It felt like an oasis in the middle of the busy city, and we absolutely loved everything about it!

Experience Mardi Gras from a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street at Royal Sonesta New Orleans.

Royal Sonesta New Orleans hosted our evening at The Jazz Playhouse and breakfast at Desire Oyster Bar. As mentioned above, we loved the food at Royal Sonesta and opted to come back a few times on our own for drinks and meals.

All opinions are my own.

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Tags: cocktails, Food, hotels, music, New Orleans, Travel, travel blog

Did you discover any favorite new restaurants in 2017? With an ever-changing and growing restaurant scene in Boston, it’s hard to keep up, and while we definitely tried some amazing new spots (Yellow Door Taqueria, The Industry, and Reel House were all big hits!) we were also repeat visitors at established favorites.

I also rediscovered spots I hadn’t been to in a while like Doretta Taverna in Boston’s Park Square area.

I recently got together with a group of friends at Doretta to sample some of their most popular menu items, and I was reminded that I could eat there everyday and be perfectly happy.

Doretta has GREAT cocktails, and I regret that a work call came in as I was enjoying a beautiful and spicy Medusa’s Locks gin cocktail. I never got a chance to take a photo!

Doretta Boston

Everything I have eaten at Doretta is incredible, but as a big chip and dip fan, I could eat their zucchini chips and tzatziki all day long.

Doretta Boston

Of course, I would save room for their perfectly cooked, tender and lemony grilled octopus and a tasting of yummy spreads like my favorite Beet Pantzarosalata, a heavenly beet and yogurt blend. . . a healthy dip!

Doretta Boston

I normally pass on lamb, but even I had to have a bite of these lamb meatballs which are a big hit with Doretta guests. The cumin tomato sauce is definitely something you want to save and savor with your extra pita!

Doretta Boston

Lobster is obviously a New England favorite, and the Lobster Loukomades take it to a whole new level, with herb donuts, brown butter, and pops of flavor in the form of caviar. Yum.

Doretta Boston

I was *almost* too full to try this beautiful shrimp dish, which had hints of sweetness from honey and shredded pastry kattaifi. I loved the crunch that it added too!

From the presentation down to the last bite, each plate we were served was perfect.

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Doretta also has a really impressive and different wine list, especially for wines by the glass. I love that the list includes wines from Greece, in addition to places like Austria and Mendocino County California. It’s definitely not your standard wine list, and for someone who loves to try new wines, this is a huge selling point.

Since Doretta is consistently excellent and a sort of central location for friends coming from all areas around Boston, it’s the perfect place to meet.

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Tags: Boston, cocktails, Dining out, Food, food blog, Greek, Restaurants, wine

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

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