eating new orleans / mississippi wins, finally.

Something I’m trying to do as a fresh 27 year old is try new things. So I christened my inching towards 30 voyage this past weekend in New Orleans, eating only at new restaurants. There may not seem like a lot of daring in that decision. I can understand if you’re not amazed at my bravery. However, when I spend my hard earned money on food, I want it to be delicious. I would really like to be blown away. I can cook a lot of things in my own house, and if it’s not better than something I can make myself, why not just stay home and make it? (I’m not a snob or anything, cough.)

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So we trekked south to eat and drink our way through a couple of days off. New Orleans is a weird, crazy, strangely lovable city packed with good music, great food, and every kind of personality you can imagine. It’s one of my favorite food cities, I rarely have a bad meal when we are there. If all you hear is “Bourbon Street” whenever someone mentions New Orleans, I promise there is so much more to this fascinating place packed with history and culture. Once you’ve eaten at a few of the great restaurants, stayed in one of the lovely hotels and visited the garden district and zoo, you’ll understand. Here is a rundown of where we ate and what we got, how I felt about it, and a few other random ratings that don’t matter to anyone other than myself. For interested parties, I will be throwing out some ratings on a scale of 1-5, 1 being absolutely horrible, 5 being so amazing I couldn’t find fault.

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lemoniest lemon cake / rachel getting married

finished lemon cake

When I was 22 years old, I was engaged to be married. I was also a senior in college, frantically trying to graduate from nursing school and look for a job and buy a house and plan a wedding all at the same time. Basically I was a train wreck. I remember looking at the wedding budget I had and the enormous guest list of friends and family and thinking This is not going to work! There’s not enough money! There won’t be enough food and everything will be UGLY!! I remember sitting on the floor of my brother’s apartment, sharing my sorrows and generally freaking out, and there were lots and lots of tears. Through what must have been a mixture of love, pity, and a strange desire to fill their limited spare time, my brother and sister-in-law volunteered to participate in my hand-made wedding. They would create two of the main wedding components themselves: David would screen-print the invitations by hand, and Jennifer would bake the cakes, and it would be so much cheaper. It will all work out they soothed, and that was that. I’m not sure they realized what they were taking on, because there ended up being 600+ (!!) invitations hand printed and hundreds of cakes baked. Maybe not hundreds of cakes, but I’m sure it felt like it at the time.

wedding cake 1

wedding cake 2(photo credit for the above two images: W + E Photographie)

The cakes (and the invites) turned out to be perfect and exactly the way I wanted them to be. It was truly a labor of love, helping two people celebrate their new marriage and their commitment to one another.

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Almost four years later, and The Lemon Cake is still talked about in hushed, reverent tones. Multiple people, relatives and friends, have admitted to me that it was the best cake they’ve ever had. “Share The Lemon Cake recipe with me!” they ask. “Bake The Lemon Cake for me!” they plead. “Tell me how to make The Lemon Cake or I’m writing you straight out of my will” they threaten.

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