Taking Back My Twenties

Posts Tagged "Bourbon"

New Orleans: The Food

Posted on Jan 3, 2014 | 10 comments

I’m home from New Orleans, and already missing the incredible food. Exploring new places through restaurants is a huge part of travel for me, and New Orleans is one of the most unique food cities in the US! I was in heaven the whole time! I ate some traditional dishes as well as modern interpretations of classics too.

Our first stop was an adorable little bar/music venue on Frenchmen St. called The Three Muses. It’s no secret that Matt and I love small plates, so when I read about this spot, I knew we had to try it. Little did I know that everyone else knew about it as well and there was a 2 hour wait on a Sunday night! We decided to stick it out and I definitely think it was worth it in the end.

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We shared the yucca fries with Cuban mojo dipping sauce (fries were kinda cold, but the sauce was amazing),

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the Angry Orchard cider braised pork belly with apple chutney and potato pancakes,

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the fried oysters with grits, wilted spinach, and a bloody mary sauce,

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and the seared scallops topped with grapefruit and a vanilla citrus reduction served over swiss chard, butternut squash, and mussel risotto. All three dishes were absolutely divine (this may have been my favorite food of the trip!) and most items were between $9-$12. For a city that has surprisingly expensive restaurants, The Three Muses is a gem!

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Of course we had to try the famous Commander’s Palace!! We decided to go for lunch to save money and because there were so many other places we wanted to try in the French Quarter. I think this was a great call because the atmosphere was a bit more relaxed (but sill quite fancy!) and the food was as delicious as I imagine it is at dinner time.

We started with the shrimp & tasso henican: wild Louisiana shrimp, tasso ham, pickled okra, sweet onions (they forgot to remove these!), pepper jelly, and Crystal hot sauce. The flavor combination of the hot sauce and the sweetness of the pepper jelly was so incredible!

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Both of our entrees came with soup, so I tried the gumbo and Matt got the turtle soup. The gumbo was pretty typical, but Matt’s soup was something special. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of eating turtle, but I got over it and was happy I tried it.

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I ordered the seafood cakes as my entree – they were made with crab, shrimp, and fish and were a tad spicy. I loved them, although I didn’t get the full entree experience because they were served with something cheesy and I got vegetables instead. I was so full though, that I didn’t really mind.

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Matt’s pork, sausage, and white bean cassoulet was really tasty too.

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I’m glad we fit in Commander’s Palace because I’d say it lived up to its reputation and it was a great place to get a taste of classic Louisiana food.

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Despite our fullness, Matt and I had a long walk home from lunch and couldn’t resist when we saw a donut shop.

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Just look at all those flavors and they change every day! We went with the butterscotch pecan and it was perfection.

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While we were working out in the hotel gym on the last day, Matt started having visions and cravings for more donuts on the treadmill, so we gave in and stopped by on our way home:) This time we tried the salted caramel and Japanese yuzu fruit. These really helped to sweeten the almost 8 hour drive home!

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The NOLA food tour continued at Jaques-Imos on our second night! My brother-in-law’s little brother, Andrew, is my age and lives in New Orleans. He took us out in his neighborhood and we had a blast.

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The restaurants were crazy because of the tourists in town for the Sugar Bowl, so we faced a two hour wait at this famous nook. We passed the time drinking local beers at the dive bar next door! Then we moved over to the restaurant and I got a watermelon mojito. So summery!

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Jacques-Imos is super casual and serves all the classics in giant portions. We all wolfed down the cornbread and fried green tomatoes the minute we sat down:

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Matt and I shared the duck and andouille sausage gumbo, the pan fried drum with pecan sauce, and red beans and rice and mashed sweet potatoes on the side. The gumbo was standard and pretty similar to the one I had at lunch (can’t remember why I ordered this again), but the fish was wonderful and the sides were fantastic too.

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And that brings me to New Year’s Eve! We wanted to do something low-key and didn’t feel like making a reservation for a big dinner, so we bar hopped and tried some of the city’s famous cocktails.

Our first stop was at the Bourbon O bar on Bourbon St. I had a twist on the Sazerac (rye whisky, peychaud’s bitters, simple syrup, absinthe rinsed glass, lemon), which included benedictine and vermouth in addition to the classic combination. It was hands down one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had – best sweet-to-alcohol ratio ever!

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Our second stop was the French 75 bar at the famous Arnaud’s restaurant. I ordered a rum drink with Mount Gay and a few different bitters and juices and it was pretty similar to a dark n stormy. I loved the old timey vibe of this bar, but it was smoky:(

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Our third stop was at a restaurant that had a good-lookin’ menu, so we snagged seats at the bar and had dinner at SoBou.

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My cocktail here was ridiculous, but I can’t remember what was in it because it was a special drink. It was a twist on King’s Cake though, so imagine liquid cake batter with bourbon!!!

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We started with the shrimp and tasso pinchos served with grilled pineapple and pickled ghost pepper jelly – I really loved how this was presented and I’m a huge pineapple fan.

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Next, were the sweet potato beignets with chicory coffee ganache – loved these fried balls, but they weren’t as savory as were described, so we saved them for dessert:)

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We also had the rich girl po-boy, which was a savory Maine lobster lady finger layered with champagne lobster mousse, bowfin, paddle-fish and ghost pepper catfish caviars served with a shooter of drunken lobster bisque. This was so cool, but just a little too out-there for me. Caviar is just kinda scary.

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The best thing we ordered at SoBou was the simplest – just pan-fried fish with apple cider and braised greens with creole beer nuts. A couple of different bartenders recommended this dish – it was perfectly seasoned and cooked.

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It was raining when we left the restaurant, so we quickly found a spot to ring in 2014. We landed at the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone!!

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The bar stools rotate around the bar – so cool! We ordered two Kir Royale’s while we made one rotation and then headed to the dance floor about 10 minutes before midnight.

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There was a great live band, but we were too tired to stick around for more than a few songs and called it a night.

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On New Year’s Day, we had a really hard time finding any place serving brunch, but managed to find some pancakes for a sweet start to the year – these had a bananas foster syrup on top!

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Our final dinner was at a new restaurant called Kingfish. I was happy that it was on the casual side – at this point I was tired and ready to be in bed after another day of cold, rainy weather and miles of walking. There was a festive wrap-around bar in the front of the restaurant and a cozy back dining room.

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We shared another favorite small plate of the trip – a sweet potato waffle pirogue filled with New Orleans style bbq shrimp,

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and then shared two entrees: boneless duck tossed in ramen noodles, roasted peppers, mushrooms and preserved lemon sauce (above) and the shredded slow roasted pork pot pie with crab boil potatoes, english peas, and carrots (below). The duck ramen was a clear favorite, although both were great and different from anything else we’d already had in New Orleans. The portions were huge and reasonably priced and we ended up brining both home.

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The not-so-grand but incredibly tasty finale was a muffuletta from Central Grocery. I had mine on the car ride home and was in heaven. Since the honeymoon, I’ve come to love olives and enjoyed the sandwich much more than I was expecting. I wish I had ordered the giant size!

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There ya have it, my tastes of New Orleans! I promise we did more than just eat while we were there, but I’ll have to share the rest in another post. See ya.

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Cauliflower Pizza, The Porch, & Gatsby

Posted on Sep 24, 2013 | 5 comments

Hope yall had a pleasant weekend.

Matt and I stayed in on Friday night and popped open a bottle of wine from our last visit to Charlottesville wine country.

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I really love sipping wine while cooking. And Friday’s dinner took quite a while to prepare…I finally got around to trying the famous cauliflower pizza crust that’s been floating around the web. There are tons of recipes out there, but I used this one (with real eggs) so I could use my almond meal instead of cheese.

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While it was pretty time-consuming, I thought the crust turned out great! I loved the nutty flavor. The texture wasn’t that different from a flatbread or thin crust pizza, but wasn’t doughy at all like a hand tossed or thicker crust.

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Since I already had my food processor out, I decided to make a spicy cashew crema to go with the pizza, which I topped with ground beef, bacon, mushrooms, and peppers. Sadly, I didn’t really like the crema (just too weird). I think the combination of a veggie crust, too much tomato sauce (which I don’t really love on any pizza), and the lack of cheese just made this pizza tooo heathy! Don’t worry, I made up for it on Saturday night:)

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A friend gave Matt and I a giftcard to The Porch as a wedding gift, so we checked it out for dinner. But first, we stopped at a cute bar called Victor Tangos for a cocktail. I had an apricot mint julep!!

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The menu at The Porch features a lot of classic, comfort food so I switched to beer with dinner because it seemed more appropriate. We started with the brisket sliders, which were simply amazing. The meat to bun ratio was ideal and the sauce was delicious.

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For my entree, I ordered the salmon with tomato marmalade, horseradish spaetzle, mushrooms, and salsa verde. The fish was perfectly cooked and I loved the flavors – especially the wild mushrooms!

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Matt got the pork tenderloin special served with apples and figs, which was also excellent – perfect for fall and we actually had some fall-ish temps this weekend!

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I also finally watched The Great Gatsby. I wasn’t expecting the modern touches, but I really liked the movie. We received this fancy bourbon as a house-warming gift, and made sure to make mini cocktails to sip on during all the party scenes:)

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Cheers to a productive week.

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Jujube

Posted on Mar 31, 2013 | 3 comments

Happy Easter!!

I thought I was beating Matt’s cold, but it has gotten the best of me today:( I wasn’t able to go to church or brunch, but my parents were nice enough to order us a pizza and come over for the Duke game.

I really thought I was on the up-and-up Saturday, and attempted a date night. I figured beer is the best medicine (only in the moment…)

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Matt and I stopped at Milltown in Chapel Hill and had a drink at the bar – this dubbel was fantastic!!!

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I hate how having a stuffy nose affects your taste buds! I figured Asian food might stand out, so we checked out the bar at Jujube, a fusion restaurant with Chinese and Vietnamese influences in Chapel Hill. We decided just to share a cocktail and were blown away by the Hot Date – jujube [date] preserves, bourbon, cayenne, and lemon. Hot and sweet and oh so perfect.

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We stayed at the bar and shared a few small plates as our dinner. First, the bqq pork belly dumplings with the most amazing sweet chili dipping sauce – we decided the sauces were what took all the dishes from good to awesome.
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Second, we enjoyed sweet potato fritters with a black vinegar sauce.

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These were melt-in-your-mouth pillows, and again, the sauce made this dish outstanding.

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Crispy beef short rib and goat cheese wontons with hot pepper-basil jam arrived next, and while the insides of these were good, I tasted just a little too much of the fried shell and didn’t ever taste any goat cheese Can’t complain about the hot pepper sauce though!

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The service, by the way, was great, and our bartender was very informative and attentive. At one point, we couldn’t decide between two plates so he brought us a taste of the rice noodle salad for free! I’m not a cucumber or shallot person, but the sweet dressing was so good that I hardly noticed.
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Our last dish was spring rolls, served lettuce-wrap style. I guess I got confused and thought we were getting lettuce wraps with just pork and shrimp as the filling, but they were tasty nonetheless. It was refreshing to have the crunchy lettuce outside of the fried shell.

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Everything we tried was so unique and flavorful that we decided to just look at the dessert menu. Yeah right. We simply had to try the fried apple-goat cheese dumplings with vanilla-bourbon ice cream and black vinegar caramel. Basically my dream, fried into a pocket.

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There were four dumplings under there, and we quickly discovered that the goat cheese was lurking in the corners. Absolutely to-die-for!

I’m so glad we tried something off the beaten path!

And now, my friends, I’m not gonna go to bed; because even though I feel lousy I’m on spring break and I’m gonna stay up past my bedtime watching random tv!!

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Dinner Date, Breakfast Date

Posted on Feb 18, 2013 | 2 comments

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of dining at the lovely Guglhupf, thanks to a Christmas gift from Matt’s parents. We’ve celebrated at this cute cafe before, so it felt special to return:) We settled into our two-top on the second floor, amidst the funky hanging lanterns and chandeliers.

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However, we couldn’t quite settle because Duke was in the final minutes of a heated match with Maryland. We shared a bourbon with a splash of maple syrup and secretly watched Matt’s phone for updates. Sadly, we lost the game. Matt was a die-hard Maryland fan in his past life, so he just didn’t know how to feel about the final result!

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Once we had a chance to take-in the menu, we were hungry! We started with the mussels steamed in riesling with tomato confit, new potatoes, garlic, and fresh herbs. We got a big ole bread basket and enjoyed soaking up every last bit of broth with it. The mussels were awesome.

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I went away from my usual pork or fish entrees and tried the cabbage rolls stuffed with french lentils and sweet potatoes, topped with queso fresco and a local honey tomato sauce. I’ve gotten more into vegetarian dishes lately, so I thought I’d really like this, but I just didn’t love the combination of tomato sauce and steamed cabbage. The flavors were really unique, but I think I was craving a heartier dish…

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aka, Matt’s braised short ribs with gnocchi! He was nice enough to share. This dish was just as good as it looks.

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Given that we were celebrating Valentine’s Day, which to me is a desert holiday, we ordered dessert! This was a salted caramel tart with a chocolate crust. It was surprisingly on the lighter side, but very good.

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A perfect date night:)

I ended my weekend with another date on Sunday – a breakfast date with a high school friend who was in town.

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My friend is getting married as well, so we talked all things wedding and honeymoon! I ordered an english muffin with fried eggs, tomato jam, and pimento cheese. It was kinda small, but soooo good! I need to get out and order breakfast sandwiches more often. And go on more friend dates.

I’m getting really into these relaxing weekends. The next two are going to be busy, so I’m glad to fit in some really lazy weekends this month. Back to work. See ya.

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Iced In

Posted on Jan 27, 2013 | 2 comments

A holiday and a half day due to ice made last week fly by…and now we’re almost in February. I can’t say I’m too sad that January is almost over:)

We had plans to head to Duke for our weekly Fuqua Friday, but because of the icy conditions, it was cancelled. Matt swung by the grocery store and picked up a package of bacon and a hunk of pizza dough and a beautiful pie was born. We declared this the best pizza we’ve ever made! Dates, blue cheese, white cheddar, olive oil, and bacon. We pre-cooked the dough so it was perfect and the dates got crispy and caramelized.

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We also popped open these two monsters:

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The bourbon barrel porter was fabulous, but the barley wine was a bit too hoppy for my taste.

Since Netflix appeared to be down, we dug into my very small dvd collection and watched Notting Hill – such a nice movie.

Since I got the laundry out of the way on Friday, I didn’t do much of anything on Saturday. The morning classes were cancelled at the gym, so I just took a mile walk and later browsed some stores, and called it a day. It was nice.

Matt and I had grand plans to meet friends in Chapel Hill for drinks, and try a new restaurant, but when it came time to get off the couch, we were too cozy! I’m such a wuss when the weather is cold. We made bourbon + bitters instead, and then finally ventured out to the local bar around the corner for dinner.

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Black bean veggie sliders for me.

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Duck confit poutine for Matt!

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Don’t worry, he couldn’t finish that pile.

And because there had been some confusion earlier about a pork belly taco special that we really wanted and was no longer available, our waitress sent us home with a mysterious peanut butter dessert. We never asked what it was, but it involved heavenly crust, peanut butter fluff, a possible cream cheese icing, and chocolate sauce. Needless to say, I was quite happy with this end to our evening.

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Today? Sunday brunch!

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We met friends at the Nasher Cafe and I had a lovely Asian shrimp salad with cashews. Brunch is always such a great way to catch up with friends. I think because restaurants are generally quieter during the day and no drinking is involved, it makes for good conversation:)

Tonight was the free community class at the Sync studio and my legs are still aching!

PS: Just found out we are on a three hour delay due to freezing rain in the AM. Hooray for sleep!!

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