Have a jazzy new year!

I wanted to bring y’all back down South to New Orleans for New Year’s Eve. It seems like a festive way to end the year!

Jackson Square is right in the heart of the French Quarter. A mounted Andrew Jackson rides in the center, surrounded by lush gardens, grand architecture, haunted restaurants, and lively, talented street musicians. As we walked towards the area, we could hear jazz music echoing off the buildings. A small group had gathered to perform for the passing crowds. They were very entertaining!

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After listening (and photographing) a bit, we wandered through the square on our way to dinner. It was a very relaxing area with people scattered about reading on the grass.

Muriel’s is right on a corner overlooking Jackson Square. It was featured on our ghost tour. They set a place for the resident spirit every night.

Have a safe and happy evening and a fabulous new year! Cheers!

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick post to wish you all a Merry Christmas! And/or a joyous happy holiday of your choosing. Here are a few photos of our recent trip to a Dicken’s Christmas in Skaneateles. I didn’t take many photos as I was too busy hugging Heather to keep warm, but it was a splendid display of cheer with caroling, horse and wagon rides, and even a sighting of Scrooge. Looking forward to next year’s event! Enjoy the time with family. Cheers!

Happy Haunting from the Vieux Carré

All Hallows Eve will be filled with hauntings, especially in the Vieux Carré, or French Quarter. But…we will be protected with our voodoo doll for protection from evil spirits and phantoms. While we drink sazeracs (and eat candy.)

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I thought a Halloween post would be the perfect way to introduce the Sazerac, a drink that is as much a part of New Orleans as Halloween celebrations are. Its roots can be traced back to a French Quarter apothecary, Antoine Peychaud, in the early 1800s. But the drink was modified to its current recipe in the early 1900s to feature Rye instead of Cognac. It’s extremely flavorful and highly recommended.

Our voodoo doll came from Marie Laveau’s House Of Voodoo on Bourbon Street. It’s a  great little shop with many voodoo dolls, talismans, and charms.

There are many variations on the Sazerac recipe, but I chose to base mine on Vieux Carré Absinthe Supérieure, an excellent absinthe from Philadelphia Distilling. Start by chilling an old fashioned glass by filling it with ice, then gather your ingredients.

  • 2 oz. rye whiskey. I used Russel’s Reserve small batch.
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • Vieux Carré Absinthe Supérieure
  • lemon

In a separate glass, over ice, mix the rye, simple syrup and bitters. Stir until chilled. Dump the ice from the old fashioned glass and give it an absinth rinse. Pour in enough to coat the entire inside of the glass, dumping if there is a lot of excess. Strain other ingredients into glass. Garnish with some lemon peel twisted over the glass. Sip to appease the spirits (and yourself). Á votre santé!

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Typical French Quarter halloween decorations adorning 2 balconies. The top photo is complete with a bubble machine. The bottom photo is complete with an undead Boston Red Sox fan, which is very fitting for today. Congratulations to the World Champions!

Drink like a local. Welcome to NOLA!

Welcome to New Orleans! Heather and I just had an opportunity to take a quick honeymoon over Columbus Day weekend. So thank you, Mr. Columbus, for discovering our world and providing us with a long weekend!

When we visit somewhere, I really do try to drink in the local culture. Our first day, it was an Abita Amber that fit the bill. It was smooth and malty with a touch of caramel. Excellent! Perfect to sit back, relax and listen to some local jazz at The Spotted Cat on Frenchmen Street. I’m sure there are many great local brews, but this was one of my favorites.

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As we wandered into the colorful little club with tons of character, Rites of Swing was letting it all hang out. Yvette Voelker jumped in for an awesome vocal performance. I highly recommend that you track them down.

More posts from NOLA coming soon. Cheers!

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The Aviation. Purple drinks are cool!

Purple is a cool color….so I think a purple drink is cool too! We were introduced to this cocktail in New Orleans at the Green Goddess. As we sat and watched one being made, we couldn’t help but ask about it. Which led us to try one and realize how good it is! It is perfectly refreshing on a warm evening!

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I did a fair amount of research to find the right recipe for this. There are many variations and theories on when it was invented. But most lead back to the start of the twentieth century and Hugo Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks. Ensslin’s recipe called for 1½ oz. El Bart gin, ¾ oz. lemon juice, 2 dashes maraschino liqueur, and 2 dashes crème de violette. I settled on the NY Times recipe and added a touch of simple syrup to balance out the citrus. I like it both ways, but since I’m generally creating cocktails for Heather this is the official 2eat2drink recipe!

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons maraschino liqueur, preferably Luxardo
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/4 ounce Crème de Violette

FIll a cocktail shaker with ice, gin, lemon juice, Luxardo and simple syrup. Shake to chill, then strain into a martini glass. Slowly pour Crème de Violette into the glass to create a purple swirl that settles near the bottom. Garnish with a twist of lemon or a flamed lemon peel.

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It’s experiment time! I created an animated gif of the pour. It may only work if you click on it, based on my preview. Let’s see what happens…

Click to animate!

Click to animate!

Cheers!

Mirbeau = Indulgence

This week marks the anniversary of our first date! Last year, we commemorated the occasion with a quick getaway to Mirbeau Inn and Spa in Skaneateles. With the French countryside and the works of Monet as its inspiration, Mirbeau provides gorgeous accommodations and excellent cuisine in a soothing, romantic environment. When making a reservation, be sure to mention whether you would like to stay in a cottage, allowing you to stroll through the lovely gardens on your way to the main building, or in the main building itself. We prefer the cottages, but have stayed in the main building during the winter to avoid walking outside for the spa and dining options.

The lovely grounds of Mirbeau.

The lovely grounds of Mirbeau.

As we entered our cottage, classical music was playing softly. We felt any lingering tension start to slip away as we took in the French country décor, complete with a fireplace. The bathroom was like a gorgeous mini-spa with its oversized soaking tub, large walk-in shower, and Mirbeau’s “Essentials” body and hair products.

After settling in, we took a short walk to Spa Mirbeau. Rather than booking a spa treatment, we opted to simply change into our swimsuits, wrap ourselves in thick, soft white robes, and visit the Aqua Terrace. This remarkable outdoor space boasts a large, naturally-shaped Jacuzzi (complete with waterfall and landscaping), a huge stone fireplace, and a small bar. We ordered a lunch of finger sandwiches and wine from the barman, then perched beside the fire to eat. It was a fabulous meal with which to begin our twenty-four hours of indulgence! The sandwiches were delectable, the wine delicious. We lingered by the fire a bit more, then spent a lovely afternoon relaxing in the water.

It was then time to get ready for dinner. Formal attire isn’t required, but I just love any excuse to dress for dinner! We freshened up, changed, and strolled to the Wine Bar. Although we love the Dining Room at Mirbeau, we’d never dined at the Wine Bar, and thought this was an excellent opportunity to do so. The cozy space has its own large fireplace and comfortable seating. You can use the automatic wine machines to sample a variety of vinos, or simply order off the menu. We tried a couple of wines and several small-plate-style appetizers. Everything was delicious, and the atmosphere was enhanced by chatting with our fellow diners at the Wine Bar – Sean and Dee from Buffalo, locals Peggy and Jimmy, and Bill the car guy. Add in the excellent bartenders, Ed and Tim, and it was a lively, fun evening!

The comfortable bed provided for a very good night’s sleep, which was followed by the complimentary European Continental Breakfast. This was so much more than the typical freebie breakfast, both in variety and quality. We particularly loved the almond pastries, so much so that our server obligingly wrapped some up for us for the ride home!

We made the short drive into the charming town of Skaneateles, walking through its downtown area and checking out shops and galleries. Our original thought was to have lunch in town, but we just couldn’t resist one last meal at Mirbeau. So off we went, back to the Dining Room, for a famous Mirbeau Hamburger. This decadent burger is served on a brioche roll with Portobello mushrooms, balsamic red onions, gruyere and spinach, with bistro fries, béarnaise sauce, and bordelaise sauce on the side. It is well deserving of its accolades.

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Behold…the Mirbeau Hamburger.

The Dining Room.

The Dining Room.

We’d put it off as long as we could; it was time to leave our little sanctuary. With one last longing look at the lovely garden, we tore ourselves away and headed back to reality!

Hot Dogs a la Casey

Hi, my name is Heather and I’m a Disney addict. It’s been eight months since my last trip to the World. I was going through some serious withdrawal recently, so Rich helped me out by making us hot dogs in the style of Casey’s Corner, our favorite Magic Kingdom eatery and first-meal-at-Disney tradition.

In addition to the typical dogs and fries, Casey’s Corner offers a few specialty hot dogs. Our favorite is the Barbecue Slaw Dog, which is topped with pulled pork, cole slaw, and barbecue sauce. Casey serves it with fries and a soft drink, but we classed it up a little and had them with brown sugar/bourbon baked beans and gin & tonics. Yeah, that hit the spot.

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Hartmann’s wieners topped with Wegmans pulled pork and cole slaw. Served with a side of Bush’s bourbon and brown sugar grillin’ beans for the happiest meal on earth!

Here are a few pictures from our last Disney World fix. Enjoy!