Friday, April 30, 2010

Inside the French Quarter

Last month, my boyfriend and I had the privilege of visiting New Orleans, LA.

Unfortunately, I don't have an abundance of photographs from this trip, simply because I knew that the pictures wouldn't do it justice. You cannot truly capture the lively atmosphere and experience with photographs or words, but below I will give you a snapshot of my experience inside the French Quarter.

Friday 03/12/10

We got into the city around 8:00 pm on Friday night, and called for directions to the place we were staying. My boyfriend's boss lives inside the French Quarter and invited us to stay in his guest room. Austin's boss met us on one of the main streets on his bicycle so we could follow him thru the twists and turns of all the one-way streets leading up to his house.

After navigating through the hectic New Orleans traffic, we finally got parked and settled in. We took a tour of our host's luxurious million-dollar home and sipped on some red wine before leaving for dinner.

We literally walked down the street with my boyfriend's boss and his wife to a great little Japanese Dim Sum restaurant, Yuki Izakaya, located on the corner of Frenchmen St. and Decatur St.
This was my first time to try Dim Sum and I loved it!

A heads-up about dim sum, if you've never had it - you should order several items off the menu because the portions are very small! This meal consisted of many firsts for me! I had never drank sake or eaten edamame before. We also ordered curry fries, spring rolls, shiitake mushrooms, fried chicken, seared tuna, and a few other items that I couldn't eat because of my shellfish allergy. Everything was amazing - I was surprised with how tasty the curry fries were.

The atmosphere of the restaurant was very upbeat. As the night went on, it turned into more of a club than a restaurant. There was loud music playing and you could hear the chaos of Frenchmen street in the background. As we were eating dinner, a parade passed by. In New Orleans, there's always something to celebrate!

After dinner, we took a stroll down Frenchmen Street and stepped into a couple bars along the way. We visited The Spotted Cat, which is a very popular and famous music club.

Since we had driven over 6 hours that day, we were pretty tired, so we called it a night.

Saturday 03/13/10

On Saturday, we got up around 9:30 and took Dozer for a walk. I'm sure he was wondering where all the grass was. We had to walk half a mile to find even a few square inches of grass. There is no grass inside the French Quarter! It's all sidewalks and pavement. Not that I was expecting big lawns or backyards like I see in Texas, but I was surprised by the fact that there was no grass whatsoever! Instead, residents and restaurants alike have courtyards, with great landscaping of course!

For breakfast, we walked down the street a couple of blocks to a bakery called Croissant D'Or Patisserie. Once again, my taste buds were very pleased. I can still taste the sweetness of the carrot-cake muffin.

We came back and relaxed in the courtyard for a little while before taking another walk around the French Quarter.

Royal Street is filled with little art galleries and shops. We passed by a gallery window and spotted this monkey art.

We continued down Royal Street, passing by Cornstalk Fence Hotel.

We stepped inside of a fancy hotel to see this Carousel Bar. The entire bar spins as you sit and drink. Be careful not drink too much, or the entire room will be spinning faster than you can handle!

We made our way down Bourbon Street until it intersected with Canal Street.

Canal Street is one of the main streets bordering the French Quarter, so from here we turned and walked towards the river.
Everywhere we went, the famous Blue Dog Paintings made their appearance.

Next, we turned and walked down Decatur Street. We saw magicians, musicians, and entertainers of all sorts along the way.

Jackson Square was one of the coolest places we saw on our walk. It was filled with people enjoying the wonderful weather and gorgeous day.

We walked back to our host's house and relaxed in the courtyard for a while before heading back out again for lunch.

Along the way, we decided to take a tour of St. Mary's Church and the Old Ursuline Convent. For an admission price of $5/person, we were able to take a self-guided tour of the grounds.

Inside the courtyard, we found a satsuma tree, where we were encouraged to endulge in our first taste of this delicious citrus. Satsumas are essentially tiny little oranges that do not have to be peeled - you can eat the entire fruit in one bite.

We admired the gorgeous church.

And then our stomachs started to growl. Those little satsumas were a great snack, but we needed to find some lunch!

We ate lunch at Desire Oyster Bar, where Austin and I shared catfish nuggets and a spinach & oyster salad (I didn't eat the oysters).

After lunch, we met some of our host's friends at the oldest bar in the world - Jean Lafittes Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street.

As we conversed, one of the ladies mentioned she'd found a great shoe sale at a nearby store called Shoe Be Do. Needless to say, the women took off and left the men to fend for themselves. Not that they had any trouble, since they were already sitting in a bar.

I stepped out of my comfort zone and bought a pair of thigh-high snakeskin boots for $20!

After our shopping excursion, we stepped into Muriel's for another drink before meeting back up with the men.

We walked home and got ready to go out for the night. I wore my new boots!

We walked to a local jazz club, Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro, to hear a stellar performance by John Boutte.

For dinner, we met up with a couple of our host's friends at The Marigny Brasserie.

We ordered a couple bottles of wine and some appetizers. For starters, I had fried green tomatoes. I also ordered the catch of the day, which happened to be delicious, but I've forgotten what type of fish it was. Austin ordered blackened alligator sausage, which was also quite tasty.

After dinner, we went straight to bed, realizing that we'd have to sleep fast since the time change occurred that night. Time to spring forward for Daylight Savings!

Sunday 03/14/10

We woke up and took Dozer on another walk in the City of No Grass. At this point, I was slightly worried that Dozer's successful potty-training was in jeopardy, as we were pretty much encouraging him to do his business on the sidewalk (cleaning up after him of course).

After the dog-duties were taken care of, Austin and I grabbed a cup of tea and started walking towards Cafe Du Monde for breakfast. Appartently that is what every other tourist had in mind for their breakfast.

Upon discovering that the line wrapped around Decatur Street and appeared to represent at least 2 hours of waiting, we decided we would try our luck elsewhere.

We walked a little further and found Cafe' Beignet. The line was still over 45 minutes long, but that was better than the alternative. After all, you can't exactly go to New Orleans without trying the beignets.

I do have to admit, I spoiled my appetite before I even had the chance to try the beignets. Austin and I split a piece of carrot cake while waiting on our breakfast to be delivered to our table. Not to worry, that didn't stop me from devouring almost an entire order of 3 beignets. We also purchased the beignet mix so that we could make them again at home.

Thankfully, we only bought one box of the mix, or else I would need to go shopping for an entire new wardrobe - hello, plus size!

Speaking of a new wardrobe, I did manage to squeeze in a shopping trip while Austin helped his boss move some furniture. I bought two cute dresses for this summer!

Before we knew it, the afternoon was gone. We ate a couple of sandwiches for a quick lunch, and then we headed back to Houston.

I had such a great time in New Orleans! I can't wait to go back. We were so fortunate to have wonderful hosts that showed us around the best of the city.

My best travel advice is to stay inside the French Quarter, go while the weather is moderately cool to avoid the heat and humidity, bring comfortable shoes for walking, and try the beignets while you're there!

Have you ever been to New Orleans? If so, what was your experience like?

The only part of the city that we visited was the French Quarter. I am sure that the rest of New Orleans is a completely different experience.

Boyfriend's Birthday

TGIF! Today is my boyfriend's 25th birthday! He requested that I make him breakfast pizza this morning.

My mom used to make this for my brother and I when we were kids. We would request it for a special event such as the day of a big test, Christmas, or a birthday. I thought I'd share this childhood favorite with you.

Breakfast Pizza

  • 7 Eggs
  • 1/3 cup Milk
  • 1 pkg crescent rolls
  • 2 cups Hash Browns, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups Shredded Cheese
  • 1 lb. Breakfast Sausage, fully cooked
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & Pepper
First, I gathered all of the ingredients together. I set the oven to pre-heat at 350 degrees.

Then I spread out the crescent rolls on the bottom of a 9x13 dish. On top of the crust, I sprinkled fully-cooked breakfast turkey sausage.

Next, I sprinkled a layer of hash browns followed by a layer of shredded cheese.

In a separate bowl, I beat together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. I gradually poured this mixture on top as the last layer.
Into the oven to bake 35-40 minutes.

I removed the dish from the oven and sprinkled a layer of parmesan cheese on top.

The first bite immediately took me back to my childhood. Only instead of preparing to take a standardized test after this delicious breakfast, I'm headed to work today. I can't decide which is better - tests or work? I vote neither!

What were your favorite meals as a kid? Do you still enjoy them as an adult?

I always loved my mom's breakfast pizza, chicken parmesan, and white enchiladas; I still enjoy all of these meals!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pizza Snob

Today at work, someone offered to take us out to lunch. They chose a little Italian place called Verona's Flying Pizza.  On my last trip, I ordered the Eggplant Parmesan, which was a disappoinment. So this time, I opted for a pizza, since that is supposedly their specialty. Unfortunately, the only toppings available were cheese and mushrooms (aside from a pile of greasy-meat, which always sounds repulsive to me for a pizza topping). Sadly, even their pizza was less than impressive. The mushrooms came straight from a can, and there was hardly any sauce. The crust? Plain ole white flour.

I was thankful for the free meal, but I would probably not choose to eat at this restaurant again.  I am a pizza snob; I don't typically crave it, but if I do, I want it to be loaded down with delicious toppings.

I realize that I may come off as a bit pretentious by saying this, but after my latest creation in the kitchen, I don't know if I can ever look at pizza the same. So let's talk about a pizza that leaves me truly satisfied. Beware, this could cause you to have greater expectations out of the pizza you consume in the future.

Pesto Pizza

Whole wheat crust
3/4 c. Pesto sauce
1/2 c. Mushrooms
2 thinly-sliced Roma Tomatoes
1/4 c. Artichoke Hearts
2 sliced Green Onions
1/2 c. Mozerrella Cheese
2 tbsp Parmesan Cheese

Prepare whole wheat crust as desired. Generously spread pesto sauce onto crust. Place a layer of sliced tomatoes on top of sauce. Follow with layers of sliced mushrooms and artichoke hearts. Sprinkle with mozzerella cheese. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, or until bubbly. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chopped green onions and parmesan cheese.

If I could eat this everyday for a week, I'd be happy.

How do you like your pizza? Homemade or from a restaurant?

I prefer homemade pizza with a thin crust, a moderate amount of sauce, and lots of veggie toppings!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Howdy Y'all!

My name is Ali, and I live in Houston, Texas.  I am a recent college graduate enjoying a balanced, healthy life.

I have a 2-year old Jack Russell Terrier named Dozer.  He is an extremely friendly, energetic dog.  I often take Dozer on my walks and jogs around the neighborhood.

I love writing and photography. I started this blog as an outlet for my creativity, a way of challenging myself to continue to grow and learn.

I plan to write reviews on good eats, travelling experiences, fitness, and much more!  I enjoy reading books and frequently watch movies, so you can expect to see reports on those as well.

Do you have any pets? What's your favorite animal?
My favorite animal is a pig; I had a pot-bellied pig named Charlotte when I was a kid.