Tahoe Family Portraits

Tahoe Family Portraits | Valhalla Estate | Crandall Family

Although our spring temps are lingering in the realm of brisk this week, summer is on the horizon and that means summer vacationers will fill our beaches, campgrounds, rental houses and bike paths.  The welcome change in temperatures will surely pave the way for more outdoor adventures.  I’m personally ready to get on my bike!  Summer vacation is also the perfect time to take your Tahoe family portraits.

The Crandall family hailed from Texas so I felt right at home with this large loving laughing crew.  We did some large and small group shots, as we always do, but then the family trusted me enough to let their kids play and enjoy themselves in some outdoor exploration, which made for great candid photo opportunities, which I love.  Valhalla Estate is always a fantastic choice for your South Lake Tahoe Family portraits session because it offers such a wonderful mix of forest, meadow, lawn, pier and beach.

If you’re looking for Tahoe family portraits for your summer Tahoe vacation, get in touch!

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What to wear to your family portrait

What to Wear in your Family Portraits

I am constantly getting queried by clients on what to wear in your family portraits, so I thought that a handy dandy blog post on the subject matter was required! I promise, you are not the only head of household that’s been stressed by the daunting task of trying to figure out what to pack for your family vacation portrait session. It’s not that hard when you break it down simply, I promise!

What to wear at your family portrait

1.   You want to pick coordinating colors, but not matching!

For family portraits, it’s best if you pick 3 coordinating colors such as two brights and a neutral to work with so that everyone is coordinated but not too matchy-matchy.  This color wheel tool is a great way to choose complimentary coordinating base colors.

what to wear in your family portrait

2.  Use your accessories to add pops of your colors.

With two primary colors and one neutral, you can mix and match your colors as much as you want.  If someone in your family tends to be more subdued, they can still dress without bright colors and bring in that pop of coordinating color through their accessories.

What to wear at your family portrait

3.  Still stuck? Consider placement.

Are you filling space on one of your walls with a print from your session?  Consider the colors in your home (which are probably the ones that make you happy) when picking your color scheme.  If you love your orange and turquoise living room, then  start there!  If you’re a family of Aggies, don’t be hesitant to show off your colors!

What to wear in your family portrait

4.  Jewel tones work great but stay away from greens

Taking photos in the Tahoe forest?  Don’t blend in!  Greens don’t pop very well against our all green forest, but other jewel tones like dark blues, golds, and plums, look great!

what to wear in your family portrait

5.  Limit patterns, logos and branding.

Say no to anything with big logos or branding and limit patterns, especially on adults.  Patterns often tend to read too busy on adults.  That being said, small children in patterns is a great choice to compliment your color scheme!  It adds a mini-dose of fun to any portrait.

What to wear in your family portraits

6.  All white or all black: just say no.

All white?  Sends you straight back to the 90s yo!  This isn’t a Florida beach photo.

What to wear in your family portrait

7.  Keep it classy, San Diego.

Stay away from trends and hip current fashion.  Keep it classy and classic – especially when it comes to high school senior portraits.  It will prevent your photos from looking dated in a few years.

Budapest Hungary

Exploring Budapest

Each year, Fearless Photographers, a world wide professional photography organization that I’m a member of, hosts an annual conference in Europe dedicated to furthering education, inspiration and networking.  Always the prolific traveler that I am, I decided after last year’s successful and memorable conference in Porto, Portugal, that I wouldn’t ever miss a year.  I was overjoyed when Huy announced that this year’s conference was going to be in Budapest, which has been on my travel list for quite some time.  I fell in love with this charming Eastern European city and to be honest, I didn’t plan enough days there, which just means that I’ll have to return.  It’s mind blowingly beautiful, the food is amazing, the people are incredibly generous and it has a hip, vibrant and creative culture.  I feel pretty lucky to have been able to spend a few days exploring Budapest, meeting other Fearless Photographers from around the world, with my good friends Nicky and Ilana.

Here’s a few of my favorite images from the trip, taken by myself mixed in with a selection of our images thanks to Rokolya Photography for Flytographer.

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STAY: Until 1873, Budapest was actually two different cities, Buda on the western bank of the Danube river and Pest on the eastern.  Buda has sweeping vistas, offered from the rolling slopes and tiered streets surrounding the the old Citadella fortress.  We chose to stay in Pest, because of the proximity to our work conference, but didn’t regret it: the busy, bustling streets of the trendy neighborhoods across the river offered an abundance of people watching, gourmet restaurants and underground “ruin” bars to explore.

EAT: have at least one traditional Hungarian dinner, but make sure to explore Budapest’s extensive and varied restaurants as well.

  • Mak Bistro was one of our favorite dinners during our entire trip.  The menu is creative, laden with interesting twists on Hungarian dishes, and the wine list is exceptional.
  • We ended up at Pozsonyi Kisvendeglo for a traditional Hungarian meal on the first night.  It seemed to be mostly frequented by locals, the menu was only in Hungarian, the portions were massive and the goulash was delicious.
  • I would have never expected to find the best bagel of my life in Budapest but I did and we ate there every morning we could.  Inez Bagel Shop, conveniently located across the street from our Airbnb, also had the best coffee I’ve had in a long time!
  • Our meal at Mazi was a stand-out.  Traditional Greek food prepared fresh, in an adorable setting with fantastic service.  The squid ink pasta sent us to the moon.
  • Underneath our Airbnb was an Italian restaurant, Caffe GianMario, that was open from dawn to far past dusk.  It was always packed.  Every day the incredible smells of a garlic red sauce would waft up through the courtyard.  It would overwhelm you as you walked to or from the apartment door.  We knew that eating there at least one night was an absolute must and I’m so glad we did.  The minute you stepped into the restaraunt, you were transported to what I can only imagine Italy is like: an intimate cafe that was loud, boisterous and joyful.  An unexpected surprise in a lobster pasta, a perfect pizza pie and interesting conversation with a Russian sitting next to us really made this night a memorable one.

DRINK:

  • Szimpla Kert might be Budapest’s most famous ruin bar, but with good reason.  It was the first and paved the way to change what folks saw in buildings that would have otherwise been demolished.  What started as an idea for a community art space is now one of Pest’s busiest bars.  The eclectic collection of thrift store finds and bizarre inclusions feels like it would be right at home in Austin, TX and the walls are graced with community art and plants.
  • The Faust Wine Cellar is hard to find but worth the effort: the result is a lesson in Hungarian wine, from a knowledgeable local expert in an underground cellar beneath the Buda Castle.  They guide you through 6 tastings (five different ones and then one repeat).  We loved the experience (and the wine) so much that we ended up taking a few bottles home to the apartment with us.

EXPLORE

  • Get lost in Castle Hill: on the Buda side of the river, the castle and old citadel, a Unesco World Heritage Site, offer unparalleled views of the city and hours of exploration.
  • Shop local: find selections of books, clothes, jewelry, art and other knickknacks from local artisans at Rododendron Art and Design and in the stalls at Paloma, which offers a hidden interior courtyard with a multitude of small quaint stalls hosting anywhere from 1-10 artists and craftsmen in each one.  From leather bags, to shoes, to art, to jewelry, we walked out of there having spent a wonderful afternoon chatting with the designers and artists themselves and with our pocketbooks significantly lighter.  Paloma is cash only so hit up the ATM before you go!
  • Budapest is world reknown for it’s thermal baths and parks and those are two things that I wish I’d had extra days here to explore.  Don’t make the same mistake we did!
  • Hire Flytographer Roky.  It’s no secret that I love to hire professional photographer’s for myself as a souvenir when I travel.  This was Nicky’s first international travel experience as an adult and she was really excited to have it captured professionally as well.  Roky was amazing and we had the best afternoon exploring the quaint steep brick streets and architecture of Buda with him.  He made us feel like a million bucks!
Sugar Pine Point Portrait

Anniversary Portrait | Sugar Pine Point | LeeAnn + Sam

LeaAnn and Sam were in Tahoe on an anniversary getaway: they were celebrating 25 years of marriage!  They had originally honeymooned in Tahoe and were excited to see how the area had changed in their absence.

An anniversary portrait is a great way to celebrate years of marriage together and although Sam was a self-professed portrait disliker, he was nothing but smiles for his beautiful wife during their session at Sugar Pine Point State Park.

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Medellin

3 Days in Medellìn: A Travel Guide

 Medellìn is a beacon of culture and officially one of my most favorite cities ever: the people are generous, enthusiastic and welcoming, the mountains are captivating, the food and coffee is incredible, and the city is incredibly clean and proud.  This city, once famed for it’s violent and storied past, has transformed itself into a star-attraction in a country that has everything going for it.

Medellìn was named the 2013 “City of the Year” by the nonprofit Urban Land Institute for it’s transformation and quick turn-around.  Utilizing revitalized civic spaces, green parks, libraries, art galleries and the creation of a world-class metro system and infastructure that connects the city’s poorest neighborhoods with its center through innovative solutions such as giant escalators and cable cars, Medellìn is now a world-class travel destination thanks to its dedication to the inclusion of all it’s inhabitants.  For those of you who think it’s dangerous: Medellìn isn’t even to be found on the list of the top 50 most dangerous cities in the world anymore, though you will find New Orleans, Baltimore and Detroit on there.

Medellìn is called the “city of eternal spring” by it’s people for it’s permanently pleasant weather.  The people are called Paisas and they are a proud, hopeful culture that loves to talk.  They will serenade you with stories about their city, their past, and their future.  Their pace is a bit slower and they aren’t in a rush.  They are beautiful: everyone in this city is attractive and they dress well.  They have inquisitive natures and they want to talk to you: although we found that Colombians, overall, were incredibly welcoming and generous, this was even more apparent in Medellìn where every person we encountered wanted to know where we were from and why we decided to visit their city. 

Here’s some of my favorite images from our stay and my recommendations on what to do with 3 days in Medellìn.

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STAY: The areas surrounding El Poblado are the most popular with tourists.  This includes the neighborhoods of Manila, which is where we stayed, and Parque Lleras.  The streets are safe to walk at all hours of the day and filled with hip and stylish restaurants and coffee shops.  You can get an entire apartment to yourself for $45-60/nt on Airbnb.  We stayed in a charming apartment in Manila and Al Alma Cafe and Hija Mia both within walking distance.

If Airbnb isn’t your thing, there’s a wealth of mid-range hotels and budget hostels in the area.  If I’d had to pick one, you probably would have found me at the Art Hotel.  If your budget is higher, I’d head to The Charlee Lifestyle Hotel.

EAT:  Medellìn is filled with heavier and more traditional (read: arepas and empanadas) dining options than Cartagena and after a week of travel and eating out, we were ready for some variety and comfort food.

  • Cafe Zorba was our standout favorite in this city. It could have been that two weeks of travel and seafood left us craving fresh salads and something different, or it could just be that it’s exceptional in both it’s food and it’s atmosphere.  Although the cafe is large, it feels warm and cozy thanks to it’s open air upstairs patio filled with small lamps, comfortable pillow topped benches and modest tables that encourage whispered jokes and intimate laughter.  Make sure you order at least one pizza – their brick oven thin crust pies come out crispy and is certainly where they excel.
  • Although we went looking for a vegetarian restaurant that no longer existed, we ended up at the endlessly charming Peruvian fusion restaurant Tal Qual.  Themed around art, the walls are filled with color.  The restaurant is split into a number of small alcoves and rooms that makes it feel both bustling and intimate simultaneously.  Don’t skip the meat skewers or one of their pasta dishes.
  • We should have also eaten at El Cielo, but we didn’t have another three hour dinner experience in us and after a week of eating out already and the incredible eating experiences we had in Cartagena, we weren’t clamoring for food.  El Cielo has made press for it’s gastronomic creativity and is featured on most Best Of lists for both Latin and South America.  If you’re jealous of that time I went to Alinea, this is the budget option.

DRINK:

  • Drinks with a view: head up to the top of the Envy Rooftop Bar to where bartenders fun and tropical cocktails like watermelon basil margaritas while DJ’s spin tunes to accompany one of the best views in Medellìn.
  • Bonhomia is a great place to park yourself for a late afternoon snack and a drink.  The huge patio of outdoor seating and bright lights is attractive and offers great street views while you feast on platters of house-made charcuterie.  There’s a large wine list that also offers half bottles.
  • Viva Italia! had the best wine list we found in the area and although you are welcome to stash yourself on their 2nd story patio and watch the locals cruise by in their fancy shoes, they also offer all their bottles for sale in this hybrid Italian Restaraunt meets wine bar.
  • Established in 2008, 3 Cordilleras offers five craft brews in a happy hour like setting every day after 5 PM.  For about $5, you get 5 beers (beers, not tastings) and an explanation in rapidly spoken spanish about the history of the brewery and the brewing process.  We opted to skip the tour and just stick with the beers.
  • Downtown’s historic Salon Malaga is like stepping back into a time machine.  The walls are covered in memorabilia and old jukeboxes litter the floor.  The tables are filled with locals during the day who stop in to chat and drink tinto.  If you’re lucky, they have a selection of 3 Cordilleras craft brews on hand, but they stock up on Thursdays for the weekend crowds and were mostly sold out the day we were there.

EXPLORE

  • Real City Walking Tour’s free tour of the downtown area of Medellìn is a must do for every traveler.  I’d reccomend doing it on your first day in the city as their expansive four hour tour provides you with scope on the area, it’s troubled history and the Paisa culture.  The tour occurs twice a day and reservations are required.
  • Wander the lush pathways of the Botanical Garden, which feature, in addition to other things, 40 acres of exotic orchids. The entry is free.  When you’re ready for a break, stop for lunch at In Situ, where contemporary dishes are served up while you gaze out through wide open doors that leave you feeling as if you’re in the garden itself.
  • Head to the Plaza Minorista to sample Colombia’s wide range of tropical fruits.  Although you can do this by joining any number of organized tours, there’s really no reason why you can’t go on your own, as we did.  The Colombian people are incredibly kind, generous and inquisitive and they are more than ecstatic to see tourists, and gringos especially, wandering their stalls.  They were eager to chat with us, asking where we were from and why we were there and each vendor we purchased from explained the fruit and cut it open for us to sample.  Our favorite was the pitahaya, similar to an Asian dragon fruit.
  • Ride the cable car.  Medellìn’s people are incredibly proud of their metro system and in fact, it was the cleanest metro system I’ve ever seen in the world.  There wasn’t a speck of trash to be found, people never ate or drank on the subway and the cars themselves were in pristine condition.  As part of a social and economic development strategy to help revitalize the poorer areas of the city, Medellìn installed cable cars to provide connectivity to it’s massive hills.  The views are tremendous and you can get off at various stops and explore the barrios all for less than $2.

WHAT NOT TO DO

  • A Pablo Escobar Tour.  Paisas do not like this man and they do not want him immortalized or paid tribute to.  In fact, during our walking tour of the downtown area, he was the man-who-was-not-named and in discussion, we used code names to reference him as to not incite anger from nearby locals who cannot speak English and may have misinterpreted our discussion as praising him.  Escobar brought years of pain, violence and fear to this city and the memories are both recent and tragic.
One Wilshire, Los Angeles, Visit LA, Travel Photography, Reno Tahoe Photographer

LA Rendezvous

Every few years, my best mate Haley and I start missing each other and plan a little weekend get away to travel together and catch up.  We call them our “Rendezvous'”.  It just so happens that this year, Haley is marrying a wonderful man and she asked me to travel down to LA for a little rendezvous to celebrate her birthday and take engagement photos of them.

I hadn’t been to LA in years and had a blast drinking “rosé all day” with Haley, her fiance, and Anne, whose been staying in So Cal these past few weeks.  We had our toes done, drank wine while watching the sun go down at a gorgeous house in Palos Verdes, caught up with other old friends, and did a lot of daytime drinking, my favorite vacation activity.

My photos of Haley and Dave’s engagement session are still to come, but in the meantime, you can check out their sneak peak.  You can check out all the photos from my weekend in LA via this link.

Standard Hotel, Daytime drinking, Los Angeles Activities, Travel Photography

Dancing on the rooftop at the Standard Hotel.

If you want to visit Los Angeles, here are my recommendations.  In general, I like to stay away from LA and Hollywood and hide out in the coastal towns of Venice and Santa Monica, where you can totally do without a car. 

STAY:  This studio rental on Airbnb for two exudes beachy-ness from it’s pores: clean, comforting, and colorful!  Better yet, the stay includes the use of two cruisers, perfect for avoiding the LA traffic and cruising around Venice, Santa Monica, and the Malibu boardwalk.

EAT:

  • Gjelina is the type of place I could eat at three times in one day and not be tired of spending time there.  It’s overwhelmingly comfortable, yet sophisticated and the food is amazing.  The pizzas all sound so delicious it’s hard to choose and the salads are inventive.  It’s best to go as a group and order plates to share.  Word of warning: trust the chef because there is a very strict no substitutions or changes policy and they mean it, even if you’re a celebrity.
Gjelina, Venice Beach Restaraunts, Food Photoraphy, Travel Photoraphy, Visit Los Angeles, Visit LA

Gjelina’s food is to die for. Just don’t ask to be treated special because you aren’t.

  • Intelligentsia may take their coffee a bit too seriously: the employees are pretentious and over-the-top hipsters but damn, that is a serious latte.  Don’t tell them I said that though, it might go to their heads.

DRINK:

  • It’s a shame that The Tasting Kitchen seems unable to bring the wow factor to their dishes in the same way that their atmosphere and bar does.  Reviews on Yelp for their food are hit and miss, which is exactly how my friends described their menu.  Regardless, skip the overpriced food fare and cozy up to the bar for some killer cocktails or our favorite, a bottle of rosé.
Engagement Sessions, Reno Tahoe Engagement Photographer, Tahoe Portrait Photographer, Tasting Kitchen, Venice Beach,

The Tasting Kitchen’s ambiance is personal, rich in texture, with clean lines with an interesting twist that brings outside, inside.

  • Oscar’s in Venice has a killer happy hour and amazing food and apps to boot.  Sit outside on the deck to take in the SoCal sunshine.
  • Act like you’re richer and cooler than you are and take the rail line to downtown LA and drink on the rooftop by the pool at The Standard Hotel.  There are often DJ’s on the decks on weekends.  With panaramic views of Los Angeles and the mountains beyond, there’s no better way to spend a sunny afternoon than here.  Also, don’t forget your swimsuit: the pool is heated.
Standard Hotel, Travel Blogs, Los Angeles, Things to do in Los Angeles, Travel Photography, Reno Tahoe Photographers

Champagne on the rooftop of The Standard, downtown LA.

  • Areal may not have the most amazing food around but it does have a gorgeous outdoor patio and more importantly, bottomless mimosas with the purchase of a brunch entree on weekends.  Don’t get me wrong: our food was solid and tasty, just not overwhelmingly memorable.  The experience however, was.
bottomless mimosas, brunch at Areal, Areal Restarant, Areal Venice, Los Angeles Travel, Reno Tahoe Photographer

The over-the-top Belgian Waffles at Areal in Venice.

PLAY:

  • The beach and boardwalk shouldn’t even have to be mentioned!
  • Get a glimpse of Hollywood without having to deal with Hollywood and tour Sony Studios in Culver City.  Afterwards, head over to downtown to wander and eat.  Culver City is so quaint and adorable it almost feels like you’re not in Los Angeles.

GET CULTURED:

  • Bergamot Station in Santa Monica was originally a trolley stop, built in 1875 for the Red Line Trolley, which ran from LA to the Santa Monica Pier.  Today, it features art galleries, museums and cafes.

New Orleans: City of Dreams

New Olreans, Street Car, Garden District, St. Charles St

The St. Charles Streetcar

It was our last full day in New Orleans. Unfortunately, the Maple Leaf had given boyfriend the wrong credit card back. It was about a 45 minute bike ride from the Treme. We decided to take advantage of the need to return to that side of town by taking a ride on the iconic St. Charles Streetcar Line.

Bywater, New Orleans, Breakfast, Praline Bacon

Elizabeth’s in the Bywater: breakfast all day.

That being said, we couldn’t be running around town without the most important meal of the day in our bellies so we started with an unbelievable breakfast in the Bywater at Elizabeth’s, where everything is made from scratch and the bloody mary’s are huge and spicy. Elizabeth’s is known for something a little quirky: praline bacon. I was nervous to order it at first, being that I don’t care for sweet things, but the numerous rave reviews on yelp convinced me that I should. It’s a very strange but unbelievably addicting fusion of smoky crispy bacon and cane syrup, brown sugar and pecans. It was perfectly balanced for my discerning taste buds: not too sweet and just salty, peppery and smoky enough to balance it out.

Elizabeths, Bywater, praline bacon, New orleans

The bloody mary at Elizabeth’s in the Bywater – worth the trip!

After venturing all the way back to Oak St, I lamented that we should stop into Snake and Jake’s, a dive bar so divey that it’s Christmas year round and holds residence in a garage, but didn’t. Instead, we choose to participate in another New Orleans tradition: happy hour at the Columns. I dare you to sit on the porch of the Columns sipping wine or Abita and not imagine sitting on that very porch at the turn of the century.

Garden District, New Orleans, Happy Hour, bed and breakfast

The Columns Hotel.

After a quick cheap dinner at Killer Po’Boys, which offers unusual twists on the standard New Orleans fare from their tiny kitchen tucked in the back of the Erin Rose Bar, we hit up Frenchman St for a brief hour to watch the Halloween chaos ensue. It was only 9 pm but the street was already so packed you could hardly walk and there was a street party duel happening between a DJ with a grocery cart and the Red Bull Truck.

New orleans, street party, Halloween, Frenchman Street

Frenchman Street Party on Halloween

We returned to our little house in the Treme early. We’d been in New Orleans one week: we ate, drank, partied, and danced every night. We were tired and filled with fried food and praline bacon and beer and remoulade to the brim. It was one of the most fun weeks of vacation I’ve had in my life and I’ve traveled extensively. Everyone needs to visit New Orleans. It’s my favorite city in the world. It’s a special place where people are happy despite the odds, where life moves at a slower pace, where the fried chicken is crispy and the music goes on all hours of the day. Visit New Orleans and fall in love with the spirit of the city.

You can see all the photos from our trip here.

New Orleans, Marigny, Bywater

Let’s fly down,
or drive down,
to New Orleans.
That city,
‘so pretty,
it’s so extreme.
I’ll take you,
I’ll parade you,
down Bourbon Street.
You’ll see all the hot spots,
you’ll meet all those big shots,
down on New Orleans.

If you want to visit New Orleans, here are my recommendations.

STAY: Rick and Liz in the Treme will make you feel like a local. Their house is wonderful, full of character and conveniently located for all your adventures. They have two private rooms they offer that include cruiser bikes to explore on. I can’t recommend Airbnb enough. A hotel cannot match the charm, comfort, and character of staying in someone’s home, especially in a city like New Orleans.
Choose from the private room we stayed in or the other private room they offer in the same home.

EAT BREAKFAST:

EAT DINNER:

DRINK:

SEE MUSIC:

EXPLORE:

BEST TIMES TO GO

CAN’T GET THERE? WATCH FOR THESE BANDS TO COME THROUGH YOUR TOWN

New Orleans, Marigny, Bywater, Jackson Square, French Quarter

I Feel like Funkin’ it Up

New Orleans, Music, Street Bands, French Quarter, Jackson Square

I feel like funkin’ it up feel like funkin’ it up
I feel like funkin’ it up feel like funkin’ it up
I feel like funkin’ it up feel like funkin’ it up
I feel like funkin’ it up feel like funkin’ it up

We had two days left to explore New Orleans and wanted to make the most of it. Thankfully, it was Tuesday and Tuesday in New Orleans means one thing and one thing only: Rebirth Brass Band plays at the Maple Leaf. The Maple Leaf is just north west of the Garden District on Oak Street. It’s dark, long and narrow. It’s hot and sweaty. And when Rebirth gets the party started up in there, people push to the front, dance on top of each other and climb up on the benches with their hands in the air.

In college, when we used to drive to New Orleans frequently to party, I spent many a Tuesday night at the Maple Leaf. I was thrilled to take Buddy there and give him a taste of a New Orleans tradition.

Rebirth was on tour this week so we were treated to their stand in, the New Birth Brass Band, which features members of the now defunct Olympia Brass Band and includes Tuba player Kerwin James, the younger brother of Philip and Keith Frazier, who are part of Rebirth Brass Band.

New Orleans, Creole Food, Oak St

We started our night on Oak St with dinner at Jacques-Imos, where you walk through the kitchen to get seated in a tiny shotgun house and may get the chance to peek at Samuel L Jackson, a frequenter of the joint. He was there the night we were, wearing a track suit, arriving on foot. Buddy and I, learning from our previous nights dinner where we ordered WAY too much food, split a rabbit appetizer and the smothered chicken entree. All the meals start out with some of the best cornbread I’ve eaten (parsley and garlic in it!) and the restaurant is lively and vivacious. We arrived just before the evening crowd, but if you happen to get there late, you can go drink in the Maple Leaf Bar and they will come find you when your table is ready.

Earlier that day, we also visited the Presbytere, part of the Louisiana State Museum. Admission is a whopping $5 and there is an exhibit on Hurricane Katrina and the history of Mardis Gras. After you visit, grab a muffuletta sandwich at Central Grocery, where the secret is in the olive salad and the charm is that you order either a half sandwich or a whole. The whole is big enough for four, the half for two. It’s ridiculously over sized, much like all plates of Southern grub. If you have extra time, eat your sandwich while you walk through the French Quarter Farmer’s Market, aptly called the French Market. It was the only place all week we found frog legs on a stick to eat and were entertained by not a brass band, but a jug band.

French Market, Street Music, French Quarter, Jackson Square, New Orleans

Jug band performs for folks in the New Orleans French Market.

French Market, Farmers Market, French Quarter, Jackson Square, New Orleans, Street Music

They got music
It’s always playin’
Start in the day time, go all through the night

When you hear that music playin’
Hear what I’m saying, it make you feel alright

Grab somebody, come on down
Bring your paintbrush, we’re paintin’ the town
There’s some sweetness goin’ ’round
Catch it down in New Orleans

Exploring Frenchman Street

Marigny, New Orleans, Frenchman, Brass Bands

Frenchman St in the Marigny

Want to know what Creole-Italian is? Head to Adolpho’s. Dining there is an experience best imagined as a marriage between your Italian Grandmother’s kitchen and a dive bar. Find it by climbing rickety stairs through a bar on Frenchman St to the upstairs room with less than 15 tables. Be adventurous and start off with fried alligator which tastes like a chewy, albeit delicious, chicken. If you’re a pescatarian, any of the fish of the day dishes topped with Ocean Sauce is the way to go. Cash only!

Adolphos, Frenchamn St, New Orleans, Creole-Italian Cuisine

Fried Alligator in Remoulade

Follow it up with a stop into the Spotted Cat Music Club to listen to the sounds of jazz, where there is never a cover and the Abita Amber is cold and cheap.

Frenchman St, Brass Bands, New Orleans, Street Music

Young Fellaz Brass Band gigs for Frenchman St passer-bys.

On your way down the street, you might get derailed by the sounds of the Young Fellaz Brass Band who can often be found gigging on the street corner. Don’t be fooled by the name: the band’s enthusiasm and talent far exceed it. Order their last album here or find them on facebook here.

New Orleans, Street Music, Frenchman, Brass Bands

New Orleans, Street Music, Brass Bands, Frenchman St

New Orleans, Street Music, Brass Bands, Frenchman St

It’s hard to tear yourself away from amazing music, especially when you find it on the street corner, but another act and more Abita is vying for your attention over at d.b.a. where the Stooges Brass Band (or via facebook) is setting up.

d.b.a., Frenchman, new orleans

The Stooges were incredible! They tour nationally so keep an eye on their events page and don’t miss the chance to boogie with one of the most hardworking and talented brass bands in the nation. I am so thrilled we stumbled upon them!

New Orleans, Frenchman St, Marigny, d.b.a., brass bands

These are a few of my favorite photos from the Stooges set at d.b.a., but you can see all of them here.

Stooges Brass Band, New Orleans, Frenchman Street, d.b.a.


I’m gonna show you how to do it
I’m gonna show you how to do it
I’m gonna show you how to do it
You got to wind it up
Like Michael Buck

Brass, New Orleans, Frenchman St, d.b.a., trombone, tuba

Museums and Cocktails

Magazine Street, New Orleans

Although we’d been in New Orleans through the weekend, our days had been consumed by Voodoo Music Fest and we really hadn’t had any time to explore the city. We awoke on Monday ready to attack the day.

My favorite meal of the day is breakfast and I really don’t care what time of day it is: breakfast is an all the time food. We were waking up in New Orleans late late late so one of our daily requirements was an all day (or at least most of the day) breakfast joint. We ate at some really fantastic breakfast restaurants, one of them being the Ruby Slipper Cafe, where they buy locally and serve breakfast literally all day. I was tempted to order the migas, which are one of my most favorite breakfast all-the-time-foods, but stuck to my quest to eat only New Orleans soul food while in the city and ordered an The Louisianan: an omelet with boiled gulf shrimp and cheddar cheese, accented with fresh thyme.

New Orleans, Breakfast, Cafe, Ruby Slipper Cafe

The Ruby Slipper Cafe was conveniently located on our ride to the National World War II Museum, located off Magazine St at Andrew Higgins Dr. The museum was founded by historian and author Stephen Ambrose and tells the story of the American Experience in World War II. It is located in New Orleans due to the importance of Andrew Higgins, a New Orleans native who according to Dwight Eisenhower, is “the man who won [World War II] for us.” Higgins and his New Orleans boat company invented and manufactured reliable landing crafts to transport troops from ship to shore and played a crucial part in our success in the war.

The museum campus is creatively designed and stunning to visit. It is a required visit for anyone traveling to New Orleans. Exhibits are open seven days a week from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. They recommend that you allow at least 3 hours to view exhibits.

After the museum, we headed back down to Jackson Square for the essential stop at Cafe Du Monde, which needs little introduction, though I will say that when the waitress mistakenly brought us two orders of beignets, we did not correct her and savored every one.

From Cafe du Monde, it was on to the Napoleon House, famed for it’s Pimm’s Cup. Their recipe claims to be “made to James Pimm’s original recipe, a closely guarded secret known only to six people.” It’s an addicting concoction of a cocktail with lemonade and cucumber that tastes crisp, clean and not to sweet.

Napoleon House, New Orleans, French Quarter

Make your own Pimm’s Cup with

  • 1 1/4 ounces Pimm’s #1
  • 3 ounces homemade lemonade
  • 7-Up
  • Thin slice cucumber

Apparently the secret is in the lemonade, a house recipe that the Napoleon house closely guards.

While the cocktail may be glittering, clean and bright, the Napoleon House is anything but. The building is fabled to have been built to house Napoleon Bonaparte after his exile but the attempt to bring him to New Orleans ended with news of his death. They play classical music upon customer request, but only classical music. It’s a must visit joint: explore a little bit of quirky New Orleans history, the dark ambiance of the bar or the bright sunshine of the courtyard, and have a classic cocktail (or four).

New Orleans, French Quarter, Pimm's Cup

We decided to go on a cocktail tour of the French Quarter and our next stop was the Bombay Club, where it feels like you are sipping martinis in someone’s living room.

Bombay Club, New Orleans, Bourban St, French Quarter, Martinis

They often have live jazz playing, offer a full menu, and are known so well for their historical menu filled with martinis that it often gets stolen and the menus are equipped with locators to prevent theft!

Sazerac, Rob Roy Martini, Bombay Club, New Orleans, Classic Cocktails, Bourban Street, Martinis, French Quarter

I decided to venture out of my comfort zone a bit and ordered a classic New Orleans drink: a Sazerac, the oldest American cocktail and the official drink of New Orleans. It’s made with a rye whiskey, absinthe or Herbsaint, and Peychaud’s Bitters. I’m not normally a fan of whiskey, but it fit the mood of the bar and kept me from slamming it back to quickly: it is a sipping drink.

Bombay Club, New Orleans, Bourban Street, French Quarter

We were starting to get hungry so we staved off dinner with an order of fried quail, which was delicately fried with an exceptionally crispy breading. It was enough to quench our hunger for the bike ride across the French Quarter to our destination for the evening: Frenchman Street in the Marigny. It was time for some more New Orleans music!