NOLA {the self defined New Year's Resolution}

I live all of 75ish miles from New Orleans. New Orleans is home to my go to airport, which puts me here at least once a month BUT I never actually make it into the city. Ever. My how THAT has changed in the past few months. It started with the Joy the Baker class... have I mentioned that I took a pie making class with Joy Wilson? No? Yes? Ok, I'll stop.

ANYWAY. Since that class I've come to NOLA 4x NOT including an airport trip. That's four times in ONE month. I'm LOVING me some NOLA these days. The initial driver in these excursions was an annual pass to the Audubon Zoo and Aquarium which makes for a fun daylong distraction with my toddler. Along the way, though, I have discovered some really great food and coffee in this fair town. (yes, I'm in NOLA as we speak) So, I am going to go ahead and declare a retro-fitted New Year's Resolution to go to New Orleans more often and to try one new thing each trip! Look at me keeping my resolutions so well!!

But on to the important part. Coffee. We all know that New Orleans is a foodie place to be, but because my trips used to be so infrequent I always ended up back at the same "usual" spots. In the past few trips that has changed, and it's been AWESOME. So, if you are looking for some places to explore around the city here is my short-ish first installment of things to enjoy in NOLA focusing on: Coffee!!!

Cherry Espresso. This place gets top billing for a few reasons, mostly cause I'm sitting here RIGHT NOW AS WE SPEAK (type). This place is a great work spot/neighborhood coffee shop/they have bagels. It's slightly larger than the other coffee shops I'll mention which means there is almost ALWAYS a spot to sit and enjoy your coffee. Bonus: they have outside space AND there is playground across the street. I'm honestly sad it took me so long to discover this place. Location: Uptown

 

Mammoth Espresso. This place is a fav for many reasons, one of which is that it draws a direct connection back to DC. One of the managers at Mammoth used to work at The Coffee Bar in DC and is friends with a lot of my old friends... so it's a cappuccino by association! This space is a bit smaller and far more of a "stop in on the way somewhere" coffee shop. Location: CBD

 

Spitfire Coffee. This place has one of the best cortados I have ever had. And I can be SUPER picky about my cortados. This place is TINY (and barely stroller friendly). It's the perfect cure for all of the chicory coffee that is rampant around the area. BTW, it's so small that I feel weird stopping to take a picture of my coffee. So you will just have to use your imagination and guess what the coffee looks like. Location: French Quarter

Solo. Ok, I'll be honest. The first time I went here I walked in and ordered my capp, and it was AMAZING; BUT I definitely felt NOT cool enough to be in there. Like felt SUPER out of place. It was like accidentally showing up to the senior class party as a freshman... Like cool stylish older kids with edgy hair all hanging out together and I walk in wearing a sweater vest (not ironically) with a French braid sort of not cool. BUT THE COFFEE WAS SO GOOD. Go, try it. You're probably cooler than me so it'll be just fine. Location: Bywater

 

Do you like to travel? Do you use coffee as your guide in new cities? Do you live in or near a city worth exploring more? Or maybe you've found a good, retro-fitting New Year's Resolution to continue to pursue? Tell me how you explore and what you're up to in 2017!

How We Redeemed 2016 {all it took was pie}

2016. Dumpster. Fire. Amirite? Hell, leave the election out of the picture and it was still a pretty bleak year... the massive flooding, kidney stones 3x over, getting stuck in a hurricane while on Disney vacation... it's been a bit of letdown.

But today might have undone all of the sad/weird/unfun bits of 2016 in a short 5 hour baking class. Today I had the pure delight of taking a class from one of my favorite cookbook authors/bloggers: Joy the Baker. Joy moved to New Orleans a couple of years ago to continue to expand her work as a novice baker turned fo' real baker (btw, I would love details on that transition so I have something to work towards). Today she opened her home, for the first time ever, to teach some of her skills to me and five others. When the opportunity to take the class appeared, I didn't doubt anything for one second. I signed up immediately, paid for a ticket, and THEN considered what I would do with my toddler for five hours....

Boy was it worth it! Not only was Joy lovely and one of the best hostesses I have ever encountered, my classmates were equally delightful! There was even another event planner in the mix!! The class started with quick intros then we dove right in! Joy taught by example then we would follow suit with each step, and it was hugely helpful! Like having an interactive cookbook... and lemme tell ya, I took every chance I could to ask questions of Joy and her helpers! 

She communicated details of crust and butter and pie liquid with such ease and grace (and humility!!), and I swear to you I produced the best pie crust I ever have in MAH LIFE. No cracks AND it was a large enough circle for the pie plate NOR did it rip when pouring in the filling. ALL kinds of victories today!

While the pies baked, we had the chance to interrogate her more, er, I mean, sit with her and eat lunch and have casual conversation... We covered a host of topics from how to raise good little humans, the joy of receiving cards in the mail, and all of the undergrad majors that had little to nothing to do with our current career. FYI, Joy studied broadcast journalism, so there could be hope for me to make a leap into fo' real baking with my communications degree!

Lunch ended with a most lovely surprise of hot chocolate in espresso cups and topped with homemade curry marshmallows that she featured in a facebook live tutorial yesterday! What. A. Treat. She then lead us through some tips on staging so we could get some profesh looking shots of our handy work before we all left to finish out our days. 

This class was not only educational, but it reminded me of so many things that I love outside of baking! It was an opportunity to be with a small group of people who have one shared interest, but otherwise diverse backgrounds and opinions and life stories. Friendships were made today, and a little bit of my faith in our ability as a community to be neighborly and uplifting was restored! Y'all, we really can get along. And one bad year doesn't have to define anything. Let pie define things. Ya heard?! Pie, y'all!

And now I want to thank, not only Joy for providing the opportunity and opening her home, but to all of the kind folks who enabled this! First, my dear friend who entertained my child so I could take the class; King Arthur Flour and Bellegarde Bakery for providing amazingly WONDERFUL ingredients; Jon and Britt who managed to make me feel like I was on the set of a real live cooking show by making things appear and disappear without ever being in the way; and to my classmates who encouraged me to pursue my creative side a little extra!

2016, you had some rough moments that I easily let define the whole year, but I'm excited to point to this fun day before throwing ALL 365 days out the window as a loss!