A Quick Hola to New Orleans, Louisiana

A few weeks ago I mentioned that work travel brought me down south to Alabama. Although we flew into Mobile, Alabama, my boss and I decided to fly out New Orleans, tacking on one night to the end of our trip in good ol’ Louisiana! We got into New Orleans late and ate at a nearby bar recommended by our hotel concierge. We spent the next morning working in the hotel lobby (you know, that glamorous business-travel lifestyle) and found ourselves with about three hours to kill in the afternoon before our flight back to Amsterdam. IMG_3909And so we strolled around the streets of New Orleans, stopping to eat oysters, listen to buskers, have lunch at a New Orleans institution (or so I am told!) and admire the stunning French Quarter architecture.
IMG_3694Where we stayedAs we were only in town for one night, my boss offhandedly booked two rooms at Loft 523. Although it was central (just two streets from the French Quarter) it was a bitch to find, with zero signposting outside the hotel. Somehow, I was the lucky soul nominated to drive our tiny rental car from Alabama to Louisiana (to be fair, my boss had a conference call and elected himself passenger) and spotting the Loft was perhaps the most difficult task on the trip! Six or seven loops around the block later, I spotted the discrete Loft 523 door. Surprise! They don’t have a traditional sign out front because they prefer to be seen as a luxury apartment complex as opposed to a hotel.IMG_4004Lack of signposting aside, this was one phenomenal hotel . . . . erm, luxury apartment! The concierge was a knowledgable sweetheart and recommended some wonderful sights and dining spots nearby. And the rooms, ohh my goodness the rooms were so sexy! I probably would have seen another three hours of New Orleans if it weren’t for this stunning limestone bathroom and luxuriously huge soaking tub. IMG_3698It was a total time warp and by far the BEST tub I have ever had the pleasure of soaking in (and I’ve soaked in a LOT of tubs).  IMG_3699 heavenThe bed was simple, placed low to the ground on a cool cement floor. Overall the decor was minimal, and somewhat industrial with a light Japanese touch. IMG_3705Would I stay here again? Abso-freakin-lutely! Where we ateAlthough we were only in New Orleans for less than 24 hours, we did manage to EAT. On Sunday night not many restaurants were open late but alas, our stomachs were rumbling, and so our lovely hotel concierge directed us down the road to Kingfish, where pulled pork nachos were ordered immediately.IMG_3716These were probably the most heart-attack inducing nachos I have ever consumed. Instead of tortilla chips, pimento cheese, tomatoes, bread and butter pickles, sour cream, and tender pulled pork were towered on top of cracklin’ (aka pork rinds). I’m not a pork rind kinda gal, but goodness if you smother them with cheese and pulled pork I can be found lapping at the bowl with my tongue. Although these aren’t the best photos (below), they represent some of the best southern food I’ve ever had! output_vLcmw6In addition to the nachos, we sprung for the blackened BBQ shrimp and crispy grit cake, a seared Gulf fish with smoked creole tomato, and a quartet sampler of seafood gumbo, jambalaya, crayfish salad, and an alligator stew. I would honestly go back to New Orleans for just the food alone!IMG_3723IMG_3711^ ^ I love the combination of neon lights, Victorian architecture, and palm trees. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.IMG_3712The next morning, following our hotel lobby work binge, we hit the streets of NOLA once again in search of sustenance. My boss and I are both seafood fanatics, and after a long week of round-the-clock travel, we decided to treat ourselves to a big platter of oysters.IMG_3993We landed at Luke’s which had a charming bistro vibe and seafood bar to boot. We were starving, and while the fries looked fantastic, we opted for a huge platter of oysters to share. IMG_3812They ranged from gargantuan to itty-bitty, my favorite ones being sized somewhere in the middle.IMG_3805To be honest, I’m kind of scared of huge oysters! I like slurping them back in one sip, loaded with lots of lemon, horseradish, and my my favorite – hot sauce! I find oysters that require lots of chewing somewhat unsavory (not to mention intimidating!)IMG_3809That said, we easily demolished the entire platter (alongside some bubbles) celebrating a successful shoot and the end of a hectic work week! Our next stop was Commander’s Palace, a New Orleans institution recommended to us by a few New Orleans veterans. They described it as an institution, saying we HAD to try it if we landed in NOLA. And so we booked in lunch, which was silly . . .  IMG_3832 . . . as clearly there were enough seats!IMG_3829Commander’s Palace was our last meal in the US, and so we went all out, southern-style! We started with a turtle soup (ah-maz-ing!) and a crispy island rock shrimp crab fritter salad, followed by two mains which we shared – a seared gulf fish (again!) with oyster mushrooms, crowder peas, barbecued collard greens and local tomatoes, and an 18-hour smoked pork shoulder with pickled vegetables and salsa verde.
IMG_3824 IMG_3823Ohh, and a creole bread pudding soufflé with warm whiskey cream for dessert!IMG_3827And if that weren’t enough, we made one final food pit-stop . . . for hot beignets! Deep fried dough balls coated in powdered sugar, that were so good I brought a bag all the way back to Amsterdam :)IMG_4006what we didAs we were tight on time (and duh, it was a work trip!) we didn’t do much in the realm of sight seeing. We did go for a stroll after lunch, through a stunning old southern cemetery, and then along the French Quarter. The cemeteries were hauntingly beautiful, a historic relic in their own right. In the French Quarter, buskers lined the streets, attracting crowds of locals and tourists alike.
IMG_3843IMG_3839 IMG_3833IMG_3835
output_8bzu1N IMG_3846IMG_3852 IMG_3857^ ^ This photo came out blue for some reason. While the filter wasn’t intentional, I love the look and vibe it produced!IMG_3866 IMG_3871 IMG_3902IMG_3888IMG_3884IMG_3909 IMG_3914IMG_3952 IMG_4001I know I say this all the time, but I HAVE to go back to New Orleans. It’s now one of my new favorite cities in the US, and I can just imagine how awesome it would be to explore again with girlfriends over a long weekend, or a lover based out of a romantic boutique hotel in the French Quarter. The food alone is a huge draw, but the mild weather, nightlife, music scene, and stunning architecture combined make a city that is worth visiting again and again. NOLA, I know we will cross paths again very soon! :)

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