N'awlins

There is something magical about this place.  New Orleans has always been on my list as one of those cities that was calling me.  From the food, to the culture to the history, Nola is a place of wonder.  

Ferns and Balconies on Royal Street

I will preface by saying that deciding to go in the middle of July is not for the faint of heart.  It's HOT.  I mean so hot that the rain steams off the street and you start to sweat the minute you step outside, but boy is this place cool. 

Beads Bourbon Street 

I mean, Everybody needs a quest. Gandalf is one of the many characters on Bourbon.

On Bourbon Street, it was only 5pm and happy hour started 6 hours ago.  People were walking and drinking, dancing and talking, with to-go cups in hand. This was intoxicating...literallyOur hotel ( Royal Sonesta New Orleans) was lovely boasting a jazz club, outdoor swimming pool, and two restaurants. It's best to opt for a room on the interior of the hotel overlooking the pool so you are protected from the noise, and debauchery of Bourbon Street late night. After dropping the bags in the room, we were eager to get down to the action for prime people watching and soak up all that Bourbon had to offer. The street is closed off to cars and it is a walking party with brass bands on the corners and live music pumping out of the bars. Coming from New York I quickly realized that this was Louisiana's Time Square.  Nothing was genuine, but everything was authentic. Each place offered the same thing, booze, live music and probably a hangover--actually definitely a hangover. After speaking with one of our cab drivers I learned that all the craziness on Bourbon kept the city afloat after Hurricane Katrina. There are "no locks and no clocks" on Bourbon, and that makes it a destination cash cow.  

Carousel Bar 

I learned early on that Bourbon Street is just the beginning of places to eat and drink in NOLA.  In the French Quarter there is the  Hotel Monteleone which boast the famous Carousel Bar.  I had my first ever Vieux Carre (what they are known for) a brandy based cocktail from the 1930's that packs a punch with rye whiskey, benedictine and bitters. This bar is a real life merry-go-round that gives the customers a slow rotating ride around the bartender.  Three times around that thing (moving at about 30 minutes for one full rotation) and two cocktails later, it was time for dinner. 

Peche was one of my most memorable meals in New Orleans and one of the best I have had in a long time.  The service was impeccable, and the casual decor encouraged me to indulge in the refined seafood based menu. Standout dishes include the baked Drum (a local meaty whitefish), and the crab and jalapeno capellini. 

Another great restaurant was Sylvain.  We stumbled upon this gastro pub while walking to another reservation and decided that the menu and romantic atmosphere suited us more than the empty restaurant we were headed to.  *Insider tip: NEVER eat somewhere that's empty.  Sylvain, located in an old carriage house has delicious American fare but what made the place memorable was the experience. The staff was knowledgeable and charming which made us feel welcome. 

Parts of the city also have a hipster vibe and with Tales of the Cocktail being a annual event the craft cocktail culture is alive and well. We visited Cane and Table which is a restaurant and craft cocktail bar known to have a focus on tiki drinks. The menu is extensive with a dairy free milk punch made with corn milk, and a rum punch served out of a whole pineapple. The bartenders look too cool for school, but are knowledgeable and care about a good cocktail.

Visited the Goorin Bros Hat Shop and got my Reformation Beyonce look 

Before I left I made of list of what I wanted to see, eat and drink and managed to tick all the boxes.  Po Boys at Parkway Bakery (the turtle gumbo is a must), beignets at Cafe du Monde (go late to avoid the crowd, and get entertained by the crazies), and a little east of the Quarter is Frenchman's Street that has great bars with live music and a market with local artists that is open until 2am. 

New Orleans is more than drinking on Bourbon Street.  There is wealth of great food and culture and an energy that is incomparable to other American cities. Go for the booze, stay for the food, and fall in love with the culture. 

<3 Love, Camille...

Labor Day Loves

I always find myself dreading Labor Day.  It's like the last hurrah - the unofficial end of summer.  Whomp, Whomp! This year, instead of moping about the imminent winter weather, and the busy Fall season, let's savor the last of what summer in city has to offer - Hurricane Hermine or not... 

The city is is always spectacular during holiday weekends. Most everyone is out of the city, traffic is non-existent, and UBER is giving rides away (50% off all rides through Labor Day Monday, and $5 UBER pool rides all throughout Brooklyn--Holler!!). 

So, what to do this weekend? Go to the U.S. Open.  A short ride on the 7 train gets you to Arthur Ashe stadium where a full day of good tennis, food and drink awaits. The main matches are not dependent on the weather as this is the first year the stadium has a retractable roof. 

Look I'm In Queens! Entrance to the Open and Arthur Ashe Stadium is in the background.

I found the perfect balance of "Luxe-Americana" (yes, I'm coining that term) with an official Pat La Freida hot dog and glass of Moet Brut Imperial.  

My #MoetMoment at The Open. 

I also love partaking of the last of the outdoor busy summer offerings.  Grab some oysters and a great drink at Grand Banks.  This is a super cute hangout on the Hudson River that is always busy, and now with the city so quiet, it is much easier to grab some seats at the bar.  

My all time favorite outdoor resto is  Barbuto.  Boy, does Chef Jonathan Waxman know how to roast a chicken. Every table is great at this open air eatery with large garage doors that make you feel as though you are dining outside. Take that Hurricane Hermine! 

 

As a New Yorker, I love roof-topping.  Le Bain and Top of the Standard have some of the best views of the city's sunset. It's a little scene-y but it gives me a good reason to grab some friends and make our own party over a bottle of Champs. 

Although I am always one for a getaway, sometimes staying in the city over a long weekend is even better.  Enjoy!

<3 Love, Camille... 

PS: If you are jones-ing for some good BBQ this Labor Day, I have some spots for you...Pig Beach, The Smoke Joint, and Fette Sau. Also, you can never go wrong with Danny Meyer's Blue Smoke

PPS: As usual, all photo credit is yours truly :) 

Cam's Kitchen

Dinner at my house is the best.  There is nothing more that I love than going to my local shop seeing what looks fresh and delicious and coming up with what's for dinner. 

Recently I was in the mood for pasta, which is rare for me as I do my best to stay away from gluten and those pesky simple carbohydrates, but sometimes a girl needs a noodle. So after going to my very charming local market (The Greene Grape Provisions), I decided on gluten free (quinoa and rice) spaghetti, lump crab, homemade puttanesca sauce, and I threw in a few large gulf shrimp for good measure. 

I got home cracked open a bottle of Mersault (a delicious white Burgundy), turned on Nina Simone, and got to work.  Nina gets me every time with 'Who am I?'...

I'm not one for recipes as I usually throw in a little bit of this and little bit of that, but this would be my best attempt: 

Cam's Kitchen in Fort Greene, Brooklyn

One package gluten free spaghetti (the regular stuff will work fine too)
1 jar jumbo lump crab meat (12 oz)
6-8 large gulf shrimp peeled and de-veined. (tip: leave tails on as they add flavor)
1 small bunch of fresh tarragon
1 small bunch fresh chives (reserve ¼ for garnish)
1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (tip: you can cheat and nix the capers, and olives and just buy a good puttanesca sauce)
1 tsp capers
1 cup kalamata olives (sliced in half)
1 tsp chili flake (I like it HOT!)
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 medium size shallot finely chopped
2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp sea salt
1 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp butter
A couple of shakes of Old Bay
1 bottle good white wine for drinking and you are welcome to add a glug or two around the pan

Spaghetti with Lump Crab, Gulf Shrimp, Capers and Olives

• Fill a large pot with water and salt and heat covered on high. Chop your garlic, shallots, chives, olives and tarragon if you haven’t already
• In a large skillet heat olive oil (enough to cover the pan); half the garlic, shallots, and chili flake on medium heat
• Once shallots are translucent add shrimp and zest one lemon into pan—a little salt and pepper doesn’t hurt either…
• When shrimp start to turn pink and curl, flip to the other side and squeeze juice of ½ lemon
• After 2 min take the shrimp out of pan and let cool on separate plate. Save those bad boys for later
• Once water starts to boil add pasta and a dash olive oil and stir. Let cook according to package uncovered
• In the same large skillet remove any crispy shallots/garlic and add a little more olive oil (eyeball it--about 1 tbsp) and 1 tbsp butter
• Add crab, Old Bay, chives, 1 tsp tarragon, capers and olives. Let cook in medium to low heat for 3 minutes while stirring
• Add tomato sauce and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 4-6 minutes and add a ¼ cup of pasta water to skillet (this will help sauce bind to pasta once combined) This is also the point where you add the wine if you wish…let simmer another 7-8 minutes to burn off the alcohol
• Drain cooked pasta and add to crab sauce in skillet add cooked shrimp as well. Cover and let simmer for another 2-3 minutes.

Garnish with left over chives, et VOILA!

<3 Love, Camille...