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Drop everything, and book a ticket to New Orleans, right now!

If only that was possible, I would do it in a heartbeat. We’ve just returned from a visit to Royal Sonesta New Orleans for my Sonesta Hotels blogging and social media work, and we want to go back ASAP.

As part of our stay, we were treated to a tour of the hotel’s fine dining establishment, Restaurant R’Evolution, followed by a delicious dinner at the restaurant’s bar, always our first option when dining out.

New Orleans fine dining

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Restaurant R’evolution celebrates five years this year, and its creative approach to Cajun and Creole cuisine has made it a New Orleans favorite, in a city that is absolutely teeming with great restaurants. Our behind-the-scenes tour was an incredible glimpse into some of the restaurant’s amazing spaces, including this custom-built wine cellar. Walls of wine went on-and-on, holding 10,000 bottles, 10,000 reasons for Wine Enthusiast  to name the restaurant as one of their top 100 wine restaurants.

Restaurant R’evolution

The entirety of Restaurant R’Evolution is truly special, but they offer some extra special dining areas, including the chef’s table, where all of the seats face the action.

Restaurant R’evolution

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Several private dining areas are available, and we’ve heard they attract some pretty A-list guests. We certainly felt like VIPs the entire time we were at Restaurant R’Evolution, and by taking in everything around us, noticed that every guest was treated that way.

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When it came to our own dining, we were brought to comfy seats at the romantic, dimly lit bar, which was once a carriage way; the floor tiles still match those of the sidewalk outside.

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I loved how special this bar felt, upscale yet super comfortable and relaxed at the same time. Excellent bar staff made us craft cocktails (I love my wine, but when in New Orleans, we were all about trying cocktails.)

We also absolutely had to try the restaurant’s famous “Death by Gumbo” which is made up of Roasted Quail, Andouille, Oysters, Filé Rice and presented beautifully with the broth poured over.

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This was absolutely to-die-for. So rich and flavorful. Note that we shared an order, and they kindly split it for us.

We also shared Beer Battered Crab Beignets and an order of fries, because good fries are my favorite food. These did not disappoint! The beignets were heavenly bites of seafood presented with remoulades.

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We could have easily relaxed at that bar for the whole night, but we had big plans at The Jazz Playhouse right next door. More to come on that, but if you get to New Orleans, I recommend doing exactly what we did and making a night of it at Royal Sonesta New Orleans.

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We were hosted by Royal Sonesta New Orleans, however, I was not required to write about the experience for my own blog. All opinions are my own.

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Tags: cocktails, fine dining, Food, food blog, New Orleans, Restaurants, travel blog, wine

To read about family-friendly fun near the Sonesta ES Suites Andover Boston, head over to the Sonesta Hotels blog!

My recent travel blogging for Sonesta brought me close to home, just up the road from Boston to Andover, Massachusetts and the Sonesta ES Suites Andover Boston. It turned out to be a beautiful, warm fall weekend, and our friends who live in Andover were home for us to visit.

 

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The first order of business was to check into the hotel, which is an extended stay property conveniently located near 93 and a variety of businesses, but set off from the road making it a quiet place to relax.

There’s a real emphasis on guests feeling at home throughout Sonesta ES Suites, with welcoming areas for meeting and breakfast (which is hot, delicious, and included in your stay!) and suites that offer full kitchens and living rooms. Our one bedroom suite was larger than our last apartment! I loved that we had the ability to cook right in the suite or even just to grab a proper wine glass from the cabinet for a glass of wine.

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The setup of the rooms is perfect for family travel; not only can the kids be put to bed and the adults stay up, but two TVs in our room meant no fighting over the remote.

Since Sonesta ES Suites are often the home-away-from-home for many on business travel, a spacious work area is a welcome addition.

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We were excited to get out and explore Andover, which is  beautiful New England town with plenty of our favorite things, including hiking trails and places to eat.

Our first stop was the campus of Phillips Academy, which, on a perfect blue sky fall day, was very pretty and very classic New England. Right on campus is the cozy and historic Samuel’s, and since it was 5:00, we decided on cocktails and a cheese plate.

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My Old Fashioned was delicious, and a well-stocked cheese plate hit the spot and got us ready for exploring some more. The Addison Gallery was already closed for the day, and we decided to add it to our itinerary for our next visit to Andover.

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We took the daylight time to explore more of the campus and decided on the sanctuary for our hike the next day.

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Since we’re always up for a meal, we headed to the downtown of Andover, which is adorable, and again very New England. We’d heard of Elm Square Oyster Co. from a few people, and never ones to pass up oysters, grabbed bar seats and wine specials while we browsed the menu.

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My Gruener Veltliner was perfectly acidic, great pairing with the Pemaquid oysters we slurped down.  A homemade hot sauce made it all more delicious; I am a hot sauce fiend!

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We added the shrimp tacos and chilled lobster, which came in the most incredible lemony sauce, to our feast. The Gruener and the lemon sauce were heavenly together!

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Elm Square Oyster Co. is a definite must-visit if you are in Andover, and there were several other restaurants in the area I also wanted to try.

Andover, while to many thought of as just a Boston suburb, is a destination in itself, and it was nice to get away without driving forever or dealing with airport lines.

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My stay at the Sonesta ES Suites Andover Boston was hosted; all opinions are my own.

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Tags: Andover, Boston, cocktails, getaway, hotels, New England, oysters, Travel, wine

You can find other posts on our recent trip to Tuscany/Umbria below:

Eating Our Way Through Italy: Part 1

Villa Life: A Week in Umbria

Wine Tasting in Tuscany: Avignonesi Winery

When you think Italy, of course food and wine are top of mind, and we did plenty of eating during our trip.

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It was gloriously hot and sunny every single day, and we opted to eat almost every meal outside. When visiting Cortona after a spectacular wine tasting at Baracchi Winery (more to come on that), we were ravenous and tired and happy to find Baracchi’s Cortona restaurant, Bottega Baracchi, was serving a cold lunch and pizza even late in the afternoon when many places close. We shared cheese and meat plates and more wine from Baracchi on their charming patio, but I of course had to take a peek inside and was glad I did.

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While the patio of Bottega Baracchi is beautiful and overlooks bustling Cortona, the interior of the restaurant is spectacular! It just keeps going, and there’s wine and food and art everywhere. I loved the displays of fresh veggies and this rack of rosé. I’ll take it all, please!

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No meal in Italy is really complete without gelato, and we stopped for a dish or cone every chance we got. A scoop of hazelnut and a scoop of chocolate for me!

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Vecchio Molino in the town we were staying in, Tuoro Sul Trasimeno, was a favorite for a late dinner al fresco, complete with fried zucchini blossom heaven.

I’m well aware of the amount of oil that goes into these, which is part of what makes them so delicious.

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Truffles were a regional staple where we were staying, and these raviolis in cream sauce were covered in fragrant truffle. It was amazing.

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And then of course there was the wedding! The whole reason we all gathered for a week in Italy was for my husband’s sister’s wedding, and we ate all night long.

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Course after course of incredible food came out all night and included indulgences like this Umbrian bread salad topped with lobster and prosciutto and cheese crepes with black truffle.

These were just the appetizers. There was a pasta with shrimp and a gnocchi in a rich montalcino wine sauce, followed by a fliet of beef, and the most decadent, cream topped, Nutella filled wedding cake.

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And then after some dancing, there was pizza!

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Our last night in Italy turned into a massive party at the villa, with all of the guests who weren’t staying there over to swim, and everyone brought food or wine to the table for a delicious meal. We had a professional chef in the group, which was amazing, and with his grilling and other cooking, along with everyone else’s culinary talents, we feasted on salads, grilled burgers and spicy sausage, salads, pasta, and so much more. It was the perfect way to end the trip.

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Tags: cheese, Cortona, gelato, Italy, Travel, travel blog, Tuscany, wine, wine tasting, winery

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