a first taste of new orleans

For about as long as I’ve known Hal, he’s been telling me stories of Tales of the Cocktail, a week-long cocktail festival held every July in New Orleans. His tales of Tales made it sound about equal parts intriguing (New Orleans gorgeousness! awesome events! deelish drinks!) and daunting (so. much. excess.), but when he asked if I wanted to go along this summer, intriguing won out. I wanted to see New Orleans for the first time, I wanted to watch Hal do his favorite kind of work, and, of course, I wanted to eat.

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As much as I was looking forward to this trip as a total food fest, I also knew it would be somewhat limited in scope. We had a lot of Tales related stuff on the agenda, and I didn’t anticipate traveling too far from the French Quarter. Or even from our hotel, for that matter–I wanted to be easily able to see all of the sites Hal wanted me to see, and to snatch the downtime so necessary to my introverted self in such a hustle bustle. So I considered this visit sort of a first taste, sticking mostly to one neighborhood and doing recon for the return trip I’m already fantasizing about taking with Laura and Ed. We had some great brunches and lunches steps from the hotel, carved out time for two special dinners, and made one very necessary treat stop.

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a good run of bad luck in the kitchen

Have you made anything absolutely delicious lately? Can you please tell me about it? I’d like to live vicariously through your successes because I’m stuck in a vortex of mediocrity. Like, really stuck.

It started a couple of weeks ago when I set out to tinker with a blackberry cornbread. I’d been inspired by a dish at DC’s Iron Gate—a simple salad of corn, basil, and blackberries. I thought cornbread made with fresh corn would be an even better vehicle for the summer-y combination.

a defiantly uncoupled blackberry cornbread

a defiantly uncoupled blackberry cornbread

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simple is best banana bread

I am lucky in my friends for countless reasons, but high up on the list is how much they have taught me about delicious food. Laura and I almost never have a conversation that doesn’t at least touch on a new recipe or restaurant (do we ever, La?). Molly’s family gave me one of my all time most loved recipes, and she’s single handedly responsible for getting me to eat more sauteed Swiss chard. Katie makes the best homemade hummus in the world and handles her grill like a pro. Laureen introduced me to the wonders of halloumi cheese (best on Katie’s grill) and once made a chicken and waffles dinner that I still dream about. Ellen taught me how to make vodka infused gummy bears. And Sarah, among many other fantastic food things, introduced me to what quickly became my favorite banana bread.

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where we eat when we’re in loudoun

We thought it would be fun to do a round-up of the places we frequent when we’re back home in Loudoun County, Virginia. These are the spots we start craving as we pack a bag to visit our parents and the places we’re eager to bring out-of-town guests. Our hometown favorites are a mix of genuinely good food, kitsch, and comfort. Thankfully, we’ve both already had two trips to Virginia this summer, or else writing this post would’ve had us dropping everything and making a beeline for California burritos and blueberry pancakes.

our old stomping grounds has recently been rebranded as dc's wine country (it does have a ton of vineyards). our hangout, magnolia's at the mill, is in the background.

western loudoun county has an ever-expanding roster of vineyards and was recently branded as dc’s wine country. our most frequent hangout spot, magnolia’s at the mill, is in the background.

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