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Twenty Four Hours in New Orleans

Where To Eat During A Quick Trip To NOLA with Atlanta Food & Wine
Filed Under > Everyday

Where To Eat New Orleans , Balise Where To Eat New Orleans , Cafe Du Monde(C) www.haleysheffield.com© www.haleysheffield.com© www.haleysheffield.com(C) www.haleysheffield.com© www.haleysheffield.comWhere To Eat New Orleans , Willa Jean. Get the FROSE!Where To Eat New Orleans , St. James CheeseWhere To Eat New Orleans , Cane & Table

I’m sure you saw that we had quite the adventure in Louisiana a few weeks ago.  We teamed up with Atlanta Food & Wine Festival and Louisiana Travel on a 3-day road trip to get a taste of the best Louisiana food and drink.  Last week, we shared our recap of Baton Rouge and Lafayette and today we’re all hungry again reminiscing over our stop in New Orleans.  

We kicked off the 3-day trip with a bang in NOLA, hurricane in-hand the second we stepped off the plane.  First stop, NOLA Distillery. Opened just last month, we were lucky enough to get a little behind-the-scenes tour and tasting.  We all loved the craft vodka made from only Louisiana-grown sweet potatoes (the state is known to be the home of the best sweet potatoes, FYI).   We saw first-hand how NOLA’s vodka is distilled twice and filtered, giving it a hint of sweetness and a touch of earthy flavor.  The vodka went perfectly in what the team joked as their “Kale-Gate” cocktail (more on that backstory here) and their take on a Cosmopolitan.  

After we sipped a few cocktails and talked plans for the tasting room (opening soon) with the lovely NOLA team, we scooted over to St. James Cheese Company.  This local shop would definitely become my go-to for an easy lunch with the girls; think cheeses on cheeses, wines and drool-worthy sandwiches.  We were thrilled to have the queen of cheese herself, Liz Thorpe, with us to introduce us to some pretty fantastic pairings with our wine.  Liz published The Cheese Chronicles back in 2009, and her immense knowledge about the many variations of cheese was downright inspirational.  Her newest book, The Book of Cheese, breaks down cheese into nine “gateways” of flavor, rather than by country, milk type, etc.  Her take on enjoying cheese, finding flavors and kinds you love, and understanding the wide varieties in this unique way is refreshing.  It’s approachable.  And with over 400 pages in The Book of Cheese, there’s something for everyone.  Seriously cannot wait to get our hands on this “cheese bible”

We could have stopped there; bellies and hearts SO full.  But alas, we were in New Orleans, and there was more goodness to taste.  Next up: Willa Jean.  And oh, let me tell you: Willa Jean is an absolute MUST when you’re in NOLA.  This contemporary bakery was opened by Chef John Besh, Chef Kelly Fields and Chef Lisa White in the Central Business District, and it celebrates the best of the best Southern comfort food with fresh, local ingredients.  We loved chatting with Chef Kelly Fields; she was incredibly welcoming, hilarious and to say that she blew us away with her cornbread, frosé and homemade chocolate chip cookies (a recipe that includes 5 different kinds of chocolate and one she took two years perfecting!) is an understatement.  COME HERE with your girlfriends for a boozy brunch on your next trip; you won’t regret it. 

Next, (no we’re not done yet), we downed a quick dozen raw oysters with wine at Borgne, another gem by Chef John Besh and Chef Brian Landry.  Borgne is known to be one of the best spots for fresh seafood in the area, and it did not disappoint.  Its menu is a true celebration of Louisiana coastal fare, with everything from Oysters on the Half Shell to Pan Roasted Lemonfish with brown butter turnips and Shrimp Toast with pork belly and sweet chili sambal.  Its ultra cool, modern vibe in the bottom of the Hyatt makes it a hotspot (and easy locale in the Central Business District) for visitors and locals alike.  

It was a big day, but we (somehow?!?) left room for dinner at Balise.   Balise, manned by 2016 James Beard winner Chef Justin Devillier (also with La Petit Grocery), was named after the first French settlement at the mouth of the Mississippi River.  And the place is clearly steeped in its history; located in a 19th century Creole townhouse that’s expertly decorated, and irresistibly intimate in its ambiance. On our prix fixe menu, we enjoyed fare like Fried smoked oysters, chilled Roasted Beets with Lemon, Mint and Brown Butter, Roasted Lamb Shoulder, Pan Roasted Gulf Shrimp and Chicken & Ricotta Dumplings…I mean my mouth is watering just recounting it here now.  And to top it all off, Walnut Cake, Apple Crisp and Sticky Toffee Pudding (the table’s favorite).  

Lastly, we (somehow) made it to Cane & Table because who could say no to Hurricanes.  Located in the heart of The French Quarter, Cane & Table is a gem of a restaurant and bar where Chef & Mixologist Nick Detrich mixes up the best hurricanes I’ve ever had.  Truthfully, when I looked at our itinerary and hurricanes where on the menu I wasn’t impressed, but that’s because I was used to the cheesy spring break, overally sugared hurricanes in neon plastic cups.  Chef Nick sticks to the original recipe; refreshing, crisp, and goes down like water Hurricane. Cane & Table deservedly tops the list for where to drink in town, being featured on Vogue and The New York Times.  The vibe here was second-to-none (string lights out back, drippy candles and palms), and the company was even better.  Nick was the warmest guy, welcoming us into his tiki-inspired world and teaching us a bit of history along the way. 

After that whirlwind of the day I rolled myself into bed and woke up the next morning still full from one of the best days I’ve had in awhile.  A big thank you to all of the chefs for welcoming us into their worlds, and make sure to check out the entire photo gallery below!  Truly, MKR

Photography, Haley Sheffield for Waiting on Martha | This post is in collaboration with Atlanta Food & Wine Festival,  Louisiana Travel and Lexus.  All opinions are 100% our own. 

A Few Days on the Road in Baton Rouge & Lafayette

Eating our way through Louisiana with Atlanta Food & Wine
Filed Under > Everyday

We recently set out on a feast-filled road trip throughout Louisiana (twist our arms, right?!) in partnership with Atlanta Food & Wine Festival and Louisiana Travel.  During our three day excursion we spent time in New Orleans, Lafyette, and Baton Rouge and I’m sure you saw via Snapchat (username WAITINGONMARTHA) and Instagram that we just had a terrible, terrible time.  Ha! Our goal during these three days; eat our way through the cities making sure to stop in to all of the familiar faces of Food & Wine Festivals of the past and maybe stumble on a few new fresh faces and places of our own.

First stop Baton Rouge, home of the LSU Tigers and Louisiana’s largest seafood market, Tony’s Seafood.  We had heard from some locals and not-so locals that this was the place to stop if you wanted no-fuss, no-muss, just great seafood.  The minute we walked through the front door, we knew that there was a reason Tony’s has been around for so long.   Tony and his team knew what they were doing.  We arrived around lunch, so there were at least 15+ team members ready to help you pick out a plate, from what seemed like a never-ending menu.  Honestly, I just stared at it all for awhile before being completely “basic” and going with fried catfish and shrimp.  The rest of Team WOM was a little more adventurous, diving into crab fingers and gumbo, all with sides of hush puppies, cole slaw, french fries and plenty of tarter and hot sauce of course.  It was the perfect low-key lunch to nosh on after our short drive.  Just know that before you go, there are no tables, so either grab it as takeout, or be prepared to eat it in your car.

After filling ourself to the brim, we were thankful our hotel was waiting and ready with open arms.  If you are going to Baton Rouge, I highly suggest staying at the beautiful Watermark Hotel.  The epitome of modern glamour, the Watermark was a bank back in the day that has very recently been restored.  But so much of the stunning old pieces remain, with every corner begged to be ‘grammed.  The elevator, the vault, the mail box…it’s gorgeous!

Having checked into our hotel, we had a chance to reset before dinner at City Pork Brasserie & Bar, Executive Chef Ryan Andre’s award-winning full-scale restaurant has an elevated take on Louisiana cuisine, with a refreshingly approachable vibe.  We were all blown away by Chef Ryan’s Pork Debris Spring Rolls (BLOWN AWAY, MUST GET) as a starter, which included an asian slaw and peanut sauce that was out-of-this-world.  That was followed up by a restaurant week prix fix menu that included a spicy shrimp salad, waygu steak and frites, an Asian inspired porkbelly, and one of the best banana desserts I’ve ever had, that was, of course, Chef Ryan’s mother’s recipe.   All of our meals put us into a comfortable food coma, but it was the drinks that also were something to write home about.  Kat joked about the dangers of the City Pork Tea, which went down a little too easy; think Cathead honeysuckle vodka, simple syrup, lemon and sweet tea.  It tasted just like the sweet tea you dream about.  We closed the place down, laughing and chatting with Chef Ryan and team (even taking pictures in the kitchen with the whole crew).  The culture at this place was inspiring; a bell would occasionally ring as diners bought the kitchen a 6-pack of beer many times throughout the night (it’s listed on the menu), and we, of course, followed suit. 

The next day, we had Lafayette in our sights, and set off to see its charming streets and yummy hotspots for Day 3. Only a quick hour drive from Baton Rouge, Lafayette was a great addition to our Louisiana itinerary.  If you ask anyone for recs on the place, you’ll hear The French Press more often than not.  This French-Quarter style brunch spot was right up our alley; cool vibe and absolutely incredible food by Chef Justin Girouard.  We were in heaven with its Sweet Baby Breesus and Cajun Benedict.  Seriously….YUM.

Lafayette certainly charmed us with its easy walkable streets and cheery restaurant awnings.  It’s actually known as ‘America’s Happiest City’ thanks to a recent Harvard study, and we could see why Lafayette residents were so happy; they were living in a place that’s rich in history and local culture, has great food, and good tunes.  We all kept saying how we wish we had more time in this great town.  

For our final culinary stop, we popped into Pamplona, a gorgeous tapas bar that immediately transported us to Spain with its vintage bullfighting posters, Mediterranean tile entryway, and its dark, dramatic decor.  While Lafayette is known as being the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun & Creole Country, we heard great things about this little tapas bar and we were thrilled to get a taste of old-world Spain here in the South. Pamplona‘s team was incredibly gracious, welcoming us in for a late lunch, inviting us to try Chef Kris Allen’s favorite dishes. I know what you’re thinking by now, how are they still eating?!  I’d say the table’s favorite was definitely the Arugula & Manchego Salad which was irresistibly fresh and flavorful.  But of course, I won’t pretend that we didn’t devour the Garlic Shrimp, Andalucian Lamb Sliders, Ceviche, Catalan Spinach, Morcilla-Quail Eggs and more because that’s what you do when you go eat tapas! 

The road trip was definitely a whirlwind, but one that we were so fortunate to enjoy.  A big thank you to Atlanta Food & Wine Festival and Louisiana Travel for showing us the way around Louisiana to find such culinary delights and memorable moments with these talented chefs.  Hearing their stories and visiting them in their restaurants and seeing them in action was such a treat…let’s just say that we have a lot of faces (read: new friends) to look for at this year’s Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. Check out the gallery below to find more captures from our great time in Baton Rouge and Lafayette.  Stay tuned for our recap of our day in New Orleans!  Truly, MKR

P.S. Next time we go?  We’re definitely making time for Avery Island to explore and visit where one of my favorite sauces, Tabasco is made.  The island is one big, huge salt dome (one of five in LA, sitting juuuust above sea level), and is about 140 miles west of NOLA.  I’d say it would make an easy day-time trip if you’re a hot-sauce lover like I am.  What else would you add to the list?! xo

Photography, Haley Sheffield for Waiting on Martha | This post is in collaboration with Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, Louisiana Travel and Lexus.  All opinions are 100% our own. 

5 Travel Companies Changing the Jetset Game

Bespoke Approaches to Planning Your Next Adventure
Filed Under > Everyday

Blog-Travel-CB25

I know we’re in the midst of all of the holiday craziness, but I always get a wanderlust itch this time of year.  I amount it to the cold weather; after Christmas and NYE, I’m usually dying to see the electric blue water somewhere tropical instead.  

Thanks to my travel bug, I recently found myself poking around on Instagram (as I laid down to fall asleep probably), falling down a rabbit hole as I discovered a few intriguing travel startup companies.  Of course, I know the routine with these travel startups though; a lot of the unique, bespoke approaches to traveling almost seem to good to be true.  Some, too, sound like they’re mainly geared to millenials, and I have my doubts if they’ll be around forever. BUT, that said, I can’t help but be intrigued with some of these offerings. 

As I read about several of these travel companies and travel startups’ missions, I realized that the common thread was obvious: they’re all putting the control back in the traveler’s hands to create truly memorable trips in the most authentic way.  No, seriously.  With customized itineraries, unique and intimate experiences and chances to find the true hidden gems and hang with locals, you can finally say hello to the trip you’ve always dreamed of. 

El Camino Travel, for example, got my attention a few months ago.  They send a professional photographer with a group of 12 (max) to Colombia, Cuba, Nicaragua or Trinidad and Tobago.  Sounds silly at first, but get this…you can leave your phone at the hotel and truly experience the authentic side of the countries with extensively planned itineraries by the pros.  I mean it IS a little intriguing, isn’t it?!

So if you’ve got the travel bug like I do, check out the five companies below.  I’d love to know what you think…are they too good to be true?!  Too out-there for you?!  I don’t know if I’d be brave enough for Night Swapping.  Regardless, I’m rooting for them to be everything they say they are…and I’m saving up for my next adventure in the meantime.  Cheers, Kat

P.S. If you’ve got a trip on the books (lucky duck!), check out these 11 tips to travel like a pro, and don’t miss the best airport outfit you can wear. xo 

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El Camino Travel

"Be a traveler, not a tourist"

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El Camino Travel‘s philosophy is for “curated travel, unique experiences.” With extensively planned itineraries that focus on making a memorable trip that truly discovers the gems of the destination. All itineraries are planned by El Camino Travel’s founder, who has traveled to all of the countries available for your trip. 

What’s more: each group is accompanied by a talented photographer with a creative eye ready to capture the whole experience. That’s right, you can leave your phone at the door and live in the moment.  Every morning, the photog shares 20+ images of the group so you can share on Instagram for all your friends back home to swoon over. 

Another great part about El Camino Travel is that a percentage of the profits of each trip go to a local social entrepreneur who is radically changing the face of their country. The group will meet this inspiring individual, and partake in an intimate dinner or activity with the social entrepreneur to get a unique and personal perspective of the current surroundings. You’ll also be able to support local vendors and businesses throughout the many aspects of the trip, ensuring that your tourism dollars go directly back into the local economy.

Finally! The chance to see a country the way it should be seen, without the tourist traps and wrong turns. All groups are capped at 12 travelers, so you know you’ll have an intimate experience. Not to mention, it’s a great chance to meet some awesome new friends if you’re planning to travel solo. 

Book your trip now to: Colombia, Cuba, Nicaragua, or Trinadad and Tobago. 

Absolute Travel

One-of-a-kind luxury travel experiences

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Absolute Travel should be a household name for a true jetsetter.  The company has won countless awards and gained recognition by Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, National Geographic Traveler & More for being a top world tour operator. 

Absolute Travel is perfect for the experienced traveler who is past packaged trips and set dates.  Instead, the trips are designed and scheduled around your interests and needs, with a customized luxury itinerary just for you.

You come to them with a broad idea, and Absolute Travel will build your trip and shape it by suggesting additional destinations and sites and ensuring you only stay in the most incredible hotels. They arrange unique luxury travel experiences based around your interests, and connect you with chefs, yoga gurus, expert guides, and gallery owners so you have a truly personalized and enriching luxury travel experience. 

WithLocals

Connecting people & cultures through food & unique experiences

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Imagine joining an intimate dinner in a family’s home, or going on a mountain hike to hidden places or even trying your hand at a traditional stone-carving workshop. 

Through WithLocals, you can book food experiences and things-to-do experiences in countries like Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, India and more. 

To admit their approach to travel is novel to me would be an understatement, as they focus directly on Asian locals that have something to offer travelers in terms of knowledge and culture, rather than on the consumer-driven tourism industry. They cut out the “middle man” or the booking/travel agency, and connect hosts and locals for truly authentic and memorable experiences. It’s also a great way to encourage sustainable income to the local communities that we want to preserve. 

You can apply to be a host or traveler on their website here

Nightswapping

"Swap nights, not money"

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Nightswapping is another unique idea; it’s a community of people that host each other to travel for free. This new, friendlier way to travel involves no money exchanged between members, and guests can therefore experience a truly authentic look at your city.  

Here’s how it works: whenever you host members in your guest room or entire home, you earn Nights credits that you can then use to travel later on. 

Nightswapping moderates every listing, they verify members and then collect review by guests.  They also cover your home up to a certain amount with an international insurance company. 

They suggest trying the program as a traveler first, before hosting someone in your home.  To do so, you’ll simply buy Nights directly from the website for a low cost, no matter how many travelers and whatever the destination.

Boutique Travel

"Expert Advice...At No Extra Cost"

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Boutique Travel is another company that is putting the power in the travelers’ hands. With professional custom designed itineraries offered by their friendly, specialist consultants, your luxury travel desires can come true. 

Boutique Travel lists destinations like Argentina, Tahiti, the Caribbean, New Zealand and so many more places that are on my bucket list. The testimonials make it sound like they really know their stuff, too. When it comes to a lot of the nitty-gritty logistical details of a major trip, Boutique Travel would definitely come in handy. 

I’m bookmarking them on my list for hopeful honeymoon adventures! 

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