Friday, January 31, 2014

Hartford Home Show and #RHONJ Kathy Wakile in Hartford CT

This weekend my friend Gayle and I headed to Hartford CT to the XL Center for the Hartford Home Show. Real Housewife of New Jersey, Kathy Wakile, was going to be there, giving a live demonstration on the fine art of cannoli making.

Kathy was super sweet and entertained us with some behind the scenes stories of the Real Housewives franchise. She started by introducing herself as a REAL "real housewife", who enjoys cooking and baking and raising her family. If you're familiar with the show and Kathy's story line, then you know that Kathy is ALL about family, and is a super-mom to daughter Victoria and son Joseph. She's also a super-patient-wife to wise cracking husband Richie.

She explained her background is actually in hairdressing, but she always enjoyed cooking and baking. You can tell that her love for cooking is part of her strong Italian heritage, and being in the kitchen and preparing family favorites for those she loves, is what she's all about!

Kathy explained that she always preferred preparing smaller sweet treats, like cannolis and cookies. Being on the show offered her the opportunity and exposure to  launch her love of preparing desserts into a full-time culinary entrepreneurship, with her own line of cannoli kits and a soon to be released cookbook.

Kathy demonstrates her cannoli kit

She also shared some great tips on decorating cannolis, using pearled sugar to dip the open ends of the cannoli in, and suggested white pearled sugar drops for weddings and formal events, pink and blues for baby showers, and of course, the traditional chocolate sprinkles for anytime. Kathy is the consummate hostess, and enjoys entertaining and preparing beautiful foods for those she cares about. Her plating and presentation skills are phenomenal.

Kathy Wakile's Cannolis

Some other decorating tips were to drizzle chocolate sauce in a zig zag manner over the finished plate, and to sprinkle confectionery sugar over the plate for  a 'snow' effect.

Kathy invited members of the audience up to try their hand at piping the ricotta mixture from a pastry bag into her cannoli shells.  Her filling consists of ricotta with confectionery sugar, vanilla, and she sometimes adds miniature chocolate chips, as well.

Kathy shares hints and treats with Hartford Home Show attendees

My niece, Charlene, another RHONJ fan was also there, and joined the fun on stage by piping her own cannoli with Kathy, and decorating it with pink and blue. Charlene is expecting twins, and while one is definitely a boy...we're still waiting for the big reveal of his brother/sister. Hmmmm. Could the pink be a hint??? Guess we'll have to wait and see!!

Charlene decorates her own cannoli with Kathy Wakile

After the demo, Kathy chatted with her fans, and signed autographs. Here's Charlene and her sister-in-law Kelly with Kathy.

Charlene, Kelly, and Kathy

Kathy's book, Indulge, is set to be published and released in September 2014. You can pre-order an advance copy HERE. The book promises to be a cookbook full of "Delicious Little Desserts that Keep Life Real Sweet (from St. Martin's Press) and features great recipes for the whole family."

Her cannoli kits, launched under the name  Dolci della Dea (Goddess Sweets) are available on her website HERE.

I also enjoyed chatting with Kathy's husband Richie, whose love and pride for his wife is apparent. A lovely in love couple!

Meeting the Wakiles

And what's the best part about a cannoli demonstration? Why eating them afterwards, of course! Here Charlene's brother-in-law tries some of Kathy's samples!

The best part of cannoli making?  ---   The cannoli tasting!

Kathy often tours the country at home shows and culinary events. Her appearance dates are available on her website Take a look and see if she's coming to a city near you!

Prior to Kathy's demo we did a quick round of the XL Center Exhibition Hall for the Hartford Home Show. Here's a sample of some of the vendors that were there.

We had a great time meeting the Wakiles at the Hartford Home Show!

Try the cannoli kit and look for Kathy's book in September 2014!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Vinoteca Restaurant and Wine Bar Opens in Greenwich CT

Press Release: January 2014

There's a new restaurant and wine bar in Greenwich CT!

The Vinoteca Restaurant and Wine Bar!

UPDATE:  Read my recap of the Vinoteca HERE

Photo provided by MaxEx, LLC

Located at 33 Lewis Street, right off Greenwich Avenue in downtown Greenwich CT, there’s a new restaurant serving contemporary  Italian cuisine. The restaurant will soon be known for more than their  exceptional food, as they feature creative cocktails, exceptional wine, and funky array of great music.

Photo provided by MaxEx, LLC

Upon entering the restaurant, an intimate wine bar and high top communal tables set the tone for the 85-seat dining room and gathering space which transitions into club-like atmosphere later in the evening. Large "Old Hollywood" half-moon banquette and booth seating, round cocktail ottomans and comfy sofas are covered in rich deep red fabrics and gray leather and paired with dark wood furnishings. Subtle light accents throughout the room keep things relaxed and warm.

The Vinoteca menu, as with the space, stays true to Groove’s overall philosophy of good food and good times. Chef Jesus Alarez brings out the best in regional Italian cuisine while incorporating global influences from as far as Asia and as familiar as California, keeping it fresh and simple, while not holding back on flavor. The wood-fired oven and display kitchen are situated in the center of the space for all to see, adding to the energy of the room.

Here's a preview of their opening menu: Vinoteca Menu Greenwich CT

Appetizer highlights include; Arancini, deep fried arborio rice balls with mozzarella and fontina cheese served with San Marzano tomato sauce; Creamy Polenta with braised short ribs, maitake mushrooms and a Barolo wine reduction; and “Spiedini Cucho”, filet mignon skewers with shishito peppers and a spicy Peruvian aji pancad.

Photo provided by MaxEx, LLC

Lighter fare options feature; Burrata with heirloom tomatoes, fruity olive oil and micro greens; Bruschetta Trio of poached lobster, tuna tartare and heirloom tomato; Crispy Artichoke Salad with organic greens, Italian parsley, lemon and chili oil; and a vibrant Kale Salad topped with sweet bosc pears, toasted walnuts and pecorino cheese.  In addition to a traditional assortment of “salumeria” items such as domestic and imported cheese, dry and cured meats and grilled vegetables, Vinoteca offers a wonderful and vibrant selection of crudo including; Tuna with blood orange olive oil, sake, jalapeno and sea salt; Salmon Tartare prepared with fennel, jalapeno and lemon zest; Hamachi with Meyer lemon, serrano chile and a balsamic ponzu; and Hand Cut Beef with artichoke, truffle oil and mostarda.

 Fresh pasta standouts include; Chitarra with house made meatballs and fresh tomato; Garganelli tossed with chipolata sausage and broccoli rabe; and Risotto with wild mushrooms, sweet peas and garlic chips. Wood-fired Neapolitan style pizza is topped with everyone’s favorite ingredients, as well as more creative combinations as seen with the spicy lobster and mascarpone with habanero and corn and the Mediterraneo of ground beef, red onions, harissa and lemon. Entrées include; Veal Milanese, a bone-in veal chop topped with arugula and tomato; Sea Scallops served over cauliflower puree with  crispy prosciutto and mustard; and Pollo Scarpariello with hot cherry peppers, sautéed spinach and spicy sausage.

Photo provided by MaxEx, LLC

House made desserts are of the creamy tiramisu and Italian cheesecake variety, in addition to large selections of port wine, cordials and spirits. The beverage program is in keeping with the fun and accessible menu and includes 60 wines by the glass, craft beer, and top shelf cocktails prepared with fresh juices, aromatics and house made infusions such as a delicious fig infused vodka.

Vinoteca offers a “Pronto Lunch” consisting of panini, pizzette or soup and salad combinations, plus a beverage, for only $12. Sunday Brunch ($ 15 a la carte or $33 with bottomless Mimosas, Bloody Marys or Bellinis) specials include: hanger steak & eggs, crème brulle French toast, eggs benedict with smoked salmon, eggs benedict with prosciutto di parma and pancakes with Tuscan orange maple syrup and Sambuca cream.

Guests can expect a revolving schedule of some of best DJs from the New York Metropolitan area, providing a break from the norm. From “Burger and Barolo” to “Ciao” Ladies Night, Vinoteca Restaurant & Wine Bar is a gathering destination for today’s modern dining and music culture.

Photo provided by MaxEx, LLC

Lunch and dinner – 7 days a week, including Sunday Brunch

Vinoteca Restaurant and Wine Bar
33 Lewis Street
Greenwich, CT
(203) 661-2354

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Chocolate Lovers' Spring Expo 2014 to Benefit Easter Seals at the Crowne Plaza Hotel

21st Annual Chocolate Lovers' Spring Expo for 2014
The 21st Annual Chocolate Lovers' Spring Expo to benefit Easter Seals will be held on Sunday, April 6 from 11:00a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Southbury.
A fun-filled choco-licious day is planned for everyone - with plenty of chocolaty treats of all shapes, sizes, and flavors, as well as delicious specialty foods. 

Other exhibitors will be showcasing their unique gift items, products and services.

Event:       21st Annual Chocolate Lovers’ Spring Expo to benefit Easter Seals
When:      Sunday, April 6 from 11a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where:     Crowne Plaza Hotel in Southbury.

The event has been moved from February to April this year. Come and sample the finest chocolate delights and specialty food items from a wide variety of exhibitors and students from surrounding culinary schools.

Enjoy a silent auction, door prizes, special drawings, and demonstrations as well as music by Excite Disc Jockey Entertainment and Bella Winds Woodwind Ensemble as you shop for chocolate masterpieces, unique gifts, products & services.

Guests will enjoy festivities including; door prizes, music, special drawings, entertainment, and chocolate demonstrations.

Click HERE to access the Easter Seals Event Site for links to exhibitor and vendor information also found below?

Easter Seals Chocolate Lovers' Spring Expo 2014 - Ticket - Bag Stuffer
Chocolate Lovers' Spring Expo 2014 - Exhibitor-Sponsor form
Chocolate Lovers' Spring Expo 2014 - Culinary Arts School Exhibitor Application

Proceeds benefit the programs and services of Easter Seals, serving the special needs of infants, children, and adults with disabilities in greater Waterbury, central, and northwestern Connecticut. Easter Seals helps individuals and families achieve maximum functional independence in the community through developmental, educational, medical and employment services. To learn more about Easter Seals click HERE.

Ticket Information: Tickets are $25 in advance ($30 at the door). Children's tickets (ages 5-12) are $5. For tickets or exhibitor information please call 203-754-5141 Faith Hull (ext. 251) or Carolee Kalita, (ext. 243).

Directions: Crowne Plaza Hotel is located at 1284 Strongtown Road   Southbury ,  Connecticut   06488

For more information on Easter Seals log on at .

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Taste of Hartford at ON20 Restaurant - Winter 2014

Media Promotional Event

The city of Hartford CT rolls out the carpet twice a year to celebrate Restaurant Week - better known as:

Taste of Hartford runs January 20th 2014 through February 2nd 2014

This winter we attended a small media launch for the winter version of Taste of Hartford at ON20 Restaurant. It was such a pleasure to return to this beautiful restaurant that, without a doubt, has the best view in Hartford. 

Located on the 20th floor of the Hartford Steam Boiler Insurance Building, looking to the left (east?) there is a gorgeous view of the meandering Connecticut River, and to the right (west?) there is an incredible view of downtown Hartford and the city skyline.

I love that the city of Hartford features a WINTER restaurant week! It's just what we need to shake the winter doldrums out and enjoy some of the great food Hartford has to offer. Especially after the arctic blast of weather and snow that has decided to settle in Connecticut.

A holiday day off during the week, as well as snow day at work gave me the opportunity to visit some of  my favorite Hartford Restaurants for a Taste of Hartford! We started at one of my all-time favorites, the ON20 Restaurant for a weekday late lunch.

ON20's special menu for Taste of Hartford's prix fixe lunch features some of their traditional seasonal fare, and some new and exciting options. 

We decided to each have different prix fixe offerings so that we could sample a wide variety of offerings. For our first course of appetizers, we had soup and salad, a Clam Chowder and a Kale Salad.

The Chowder:
Creamy clam and celery root, Bayonne ham, herb oil

The Clam Chowder was the perfect blend of light broth, sweet baby clams, and salted ham. The hint of herb oil drizzled on top added a ever so subtle addition of seasoning. So delicious and satisfying!

The Salad: 
Kale Salad
Trio of Tuscan kale, granny smith apples, candied walnuts, ricotta salata

The Kale Salad was a hearty offering of al dente kale, crisp thinly sliced apples, and candied walnuts. The shaved ricotta salata added a nice contrast to the tart apples and sweet walnuts with its mildly salty, nutty and milk-like flavor.

We moved on to our main courses, sampling the Duck Confit "Hash" and Coalfish.

The Duck:
Crispy confit “hash” poached egg, parsley vinaigrette

The Duck was perfect. Crispy, rich morsels nestled in with the tender young potatoes and herbs. I gently broke the egg open and let the thick creamy yolk penetrate the dish with an additional layer of sumptuousness. My only regret about this dish is that I didn't pack what was left on the plate to take home to enjoy later. Not that there was much left after we dug in...but right now I'm craving that crispy duck goodness!

The Coalfish:
Mushroom ragout, sauce bourguignon

This was my first time sampling Coalfish, and it certainly won't be my last. I thoroughly enjoyed the firm texture, mild flavor, and the slightly salty crust created by the perfect sear. The silky bourguignon sauce and mushrooms added an earthy element to the dish.

For dessert, we shared the carrot cake and a citrus lemon curd plate:

Carrot Cake:
Carrot Cake
Warm cake, walnut streusel, cream cheese ice cream

The carrot cake was wonderful. The walnut streusel topping reminded me of a crumble, and while I thought I might miss the traditional sugary cream cheese frosting, the cream cheese ice cream provided a playful change. When a spoonful of cream cheese ice cream scooped up a bit of struesel - it was the same familiar sweet cream cheese taste. Delightful - but with so much less of that granular sugary taste. Now, where can I find some more cream cheese ice cream??

Citrus Lemon Curd:
Citrus Curd
Meyer lemon curd, caramelized meringue

The citrus lemon curd dessert was amazing, and I'm so glad I saved it for one of my last bites! Meyer lemons offered this dish a less tart and more sweet profile, but a subtly rich sweetness, tempered by the lemon flavor.

Plating for each dish throughout our lunch was beautiful, detailed, and whimsical.

Staff members are equally attentive to detail. The team approach at ON20 is apparent. Restaurant manager Brent Bushong, maitre d' Mike McGarrity, and our gracious and friendly server Dawn, were all available to answer our questions on preparation and ingredients.

Executive Chef Lizotte, recently voted "Best New Chef" in Connecticut Magazine's "Best of 2013" joined us for a few minutes between courses to explain his menu inspirations, and we discussed thoughts on ON20's  upcoming spring menu (he's not quite as ready as I am for spring!), his close relationship with local farmers, and commitment to the farm to table movement.

Following our menu selections, we were also treated to Chef Lizotte's pastry skills, as we indulged in some sweet treats to accompany coffee at the end of our meal. In October 2012 Chef Lizotte competed in the  international culinary competition Trophée Passion, where he was awarded Valrhona Best Pastry. These bite sized treats were oh so good!!
Happy Endings at ON20

What a great start to Hartford Restaurant Week and A Taste of Hartford at ON20 Restaurant! 

Be sure YOU take advantage of this wonderful week and enjoy their beautiful view!

See ON20's A Taste of Hartford Lunch Menu HERE

Their daily ala carte menu is available HERE

Remember, Taste of Hartford runs January 20th 2014 through February 2nd 2014!

In closing, as you all know, I'm a HUGE Top Chef fan (BravoTV) so I asked Chef Lizotte one of the questions posed to recent contestants:

Question:    One "bite", two ingredients, what's on the fork? 
His reply?   Foie Gras and Pâté
ON20 Restaurant provides a professional setting for a business lunch with clients or colleagues, and has small, private dining areas and rooms for conferences and small meetings. 

In the evening, the twinkling lights from the Hartford skyline offers just the right backdrop for a romantic dinner for two. In addition, it's simply a GREAT DESTINATION to meet up with friends and family for food, fun, and drinks. 

Address: 1 State St, Hartford, CT 06103 
(Enter 380 Columbus Boulevard in your GPS for best directions directly to their parking garage)
Phone:(860) 722-5161

Monday11:30 am – 1:30 pm
Tuesday11:30 am – 1:30 pm
Wednesday11:30 am – 1:30 pm
Thursday11:30 am – 1:30 pm, 5:00 – 10:15 pm
Friday11:30 am – 1:30 pm, 5:00 – 10:15 pm

Parking is available in the One State Street garage. ON20 will validate.

Follow ON20 on: 
twitter:       @ONtwenty
instagram:  @ONtwenty

Disclaimer: We were invited to this promotional  sampling event for "A Taste of Hartford" Restaurant Week at ON20 Restaurant by members of ON20's management and marketing team, however, the views and opinions expressed herein are our own.

The Restaurant ON20 on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Indoor Winter Farmers Market in New Haven CT

Buy Connecticut Grown!

Here is your opportunity to visit an Indoor Farmer's Market in the Winter Season!

Dates: January 11 – April 26 (Saturdays only)

Day & Hours: Saturdays, 10:00am – 1:00pm

Location: Metropolitan Business Academy, 115 Water Street (corner or Water and Brewery Streets)

Parking: Parking is available at the Metropolitan Business Academy Lot as well as Unger’s Auto Body Shop at 105 Water Street. PLEASE DO NOT park in the Avantus Lot or your car will be towed.

For more information contact the City Seed Org at 203.773.3736

Darien Restaurant Week - Winter 2014

Press Release: January 21, 2014

It's time to shake off the winter doldrums and step out for some restaurant specials in beautiful Darien CT!

Darien Restaurant Week runs Sunday, February 2 thru Thursday, February 6, 2014

Also happening that week ==> Darien’s Indoor Sidewalk Sale Days, Feb 1-8

Two great events that compliment one another!

Darien Restaurant Week will offer consumers great deals, the opportunity to experience some new restaurants, and re-visit a few of their favorites throughout the next installment of Darien Restaurant Week, Sunday, February 2 through Thursday, February 6, 2014.

“This is great way of keeping our town active and supporting our businesses during  the cold days of winter,” says Darien Chamber of Commerce President Carol Wilder-Tamme of the Restaurant Week and Indoor Sidewalk Sale days promotion, “This is a fun way for locals and surrounding towns to experience dining and shopping in Darien.”

Participating restaurants will offer a special prix-fixe lunch and/or dinner menu throughout Restaurant Week.

Number of courses to be offered is a minimum of 3 and excludes tax and gratuity.

Mid-range: Lunch $12.14 Dinner $18.14
High-end: Lunch $20.14 Dinner $30.14

Participating restaurants include:

Anthony's Coal Fire pizza
Bodega Taco Bar
Chuck's Steakhouse
Darien Social
Estia's American
Jimmy's Southside Tavern
Meatball & Company
Rory's Restaurant
Scena Wine Bar
The Goose
The Melting Pot

Details and participating restaurant updates:

Chocolate World Expo 2014

The Chocolate World Expo is coming to New England in 2014!

Are you a serious chocolate lover? 

Can't get enough of the creamy cocoa goodness?

Come to the Chocolate World Expo!


Connecticut: Sunday, January 26, 2014 at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk CT
Sunday, January 26, 2014, 10am-7pm
Admission:  Adults/$15 & Children/$10 (Ages 3-12)
Tickets for Chocolate World Expo can be purchased online via and at the Maritime Aquarium’s Box Office during regular business hours (10am-5pm everyday).
Ticket prices for Chocolate World Expo include both admission to the event itself and full admission to the Aquarium’s fascinating exhibits (regularly $19.95/adults and $12.95/children ages 3-12).  Tickets are non-refundable. 

New York: Sunday, March 2, 2014 at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City NY
Sunday, March 2, 2014, 10am-7pm
Admission:  Adults/$15 & Children/$10 (Ages 2-12)
Tickets for Chocolate World Expo can be purchased online via and at the Cradle of Aviation’s Box Office during regular business hours (10am-5pm everyday).
Ticket prices for Chocolate World Expo include both admission to the show and full admission to the Museum’s fascinating exhibits, which would otherwise regularly cost $14 for adults and $12 for children ages 2-12.  In addition, admission to the Nassau County Firefighters Museum is included at no charge (reg. $5/adult and $4/child), making CWE Cradle of Aviation an exceptional value.Tickets are non-refundable.
Tickets purchased online will incur a small “convenience fee” from
Tastings of wines, beers and other alcoholic beverages will be available for adults 21 and over only (ID required).  Please drink responsibly.  Do not drink & drive. Designate a driver, take public transit, take a taxi or plan to stay one of the nearby hotels.

Celebrate your love of all things chocolate… and have some fun! Chocolate is one of life’s simple pleasures. And quite frankly, who doesn't love chocolate?

Chocolate World Expo, also known as CWE, has become the area's largest chocolate-themed event. CWE offers tastings & sales of chocolates, baked goods, specialty foods, gelato, cheeses and much more from local and regional vendors. For a list of participating vendors, click HERE..

Each regional event combines chocolate and food with a dash of fun such as unique exhibits, performances, demonstrations and/or celebrity appearances. Whether its touring a world-class air & space museum on Long Island, touching live sharks in Connecticut, a magical Beatles tribute concert in NYC or an appearance by “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro in New Jersey, CWE is unlike any other chocolate event in the United States!

If you’re attending CWE for the first time, take a look at the FAQs page HERE, which answers many questions and will help you to plan your visit.

For more information visit the Chocolate World Expo website at

What's your favorite chocolate treat? 

Have you attended a chocolate festival?

I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Taste of Hartford - Winter 2014 - CT Restaurant Week

Taste of Hartford - Restaurant Week returns for Winter 2014 and it's better than ever!

It's coming!!! January 20 – February 2nd, 2014.

This winter, over 20 participating restaurants across Hartford will offer special multi-course, price-fixed tasting menus featuring some of their signature dishes, for this winter's Taste of Hartford Restaurant Week! #TasteOfHartford
Participating Restaurants and Restaurant Week Menus, where available, below:

Make your reservations now!

Agave Grill – RW Menu – (860) 882-1557
bin228 - RW Menu – (860) 244-9463
Black-Eyed Sally’s– RW Menu – (860) 278-7427
Carbone’s - $28.14 RW Menu – (860) 296-9646
Casona – RW Menu – (860) 519-5590
City Steam Brewery - RW Menu - (860) 525-1600
Costa Del Sol – RW Menu – (860) 296-1714
Coyote Flaco – RW Menu – (860) 953-1299
Dish – RW Menu – (860) 249-3474 
Feng Asian Bistro – RW Menu – (860)549-3364 
Ficara’s Restaurant – RW Menu – (860) 296-3238
Firebox – RW Menu – (860) 246-1222 
First & Last Tavern – RW Menu – (860) 956-6000
Francesco’s Ristorante & Lounge – RW Menu – (860) 296-3024
Front Street Bistro – RW Menu – (860) 422-7711
Hot Tomato’s – RW Menu – (860) 249.5100 
J Restaurant & Bar – RW Menu – (860) 527-7764
La Fonda - RW Menu – (860) 296-8256
Max Downtown – $28.14 RW Menu – (860) 522-2530 
Morton’s The Steakhouse – $20. 14 Lunch RW Menu & $28.14 Dinner RW Menu – (860) 724-0044 
Nutshell Cafe – RW Menu – (860) 956-2836
On20 - RW Menu ($20.14 menu is available for lunch only)- (860) 722-5161 Read my review HERE
O’Porto - RW Menu – (860) 233-3184
Peppercorns – RW Menu – (860) 547-1714 
Salute  – RW Menu – (860) 899-1350
Sorella – RW Menu – (860) 244-9084
Trumbull Kitchen – RW Menu – (860) 493-7412 
Vito’s by the Park – RW Menu – (860) 244-2200 
VIVO – RW Menu – (860) 760.2333 
Wood-N-Tap – RW Menu – (860) 232-8277

Taste of Hartford restaurant week is presented by the Greater Hartford Arts Council in partnership with the Hartford Advocate.

Be sure to make reservations as early as possible. Don’t wait because restaurants fill quickly

See more at:

Where are you planning to visit? 

I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Muriel's Jackson Square Restaurant in New Orleans LA

The freezing temperatures brought in by an unprecedented arctic blast has made this New Englander reminisce about her summer travels to the Big Easy. That's right New Orleans Louisiana, or NOLA for short!

I had the pleasure of traveling to New Orleans for a conference in June 2013 and spent my "off conference" time soaking up some of the local sights and sampling some of the amazing Creole fare.

While most of my meals were at the banquet facility in our hotel, I was able to venture out on our 'off conference' days to a few of the local restaurants, the Orleans Grapevine Wine Bar and Bistro, and the historic Muriel's Jackson Square Restaurant, both located in the picturesque French Quarter.

A visit to New Orleans wouldn't be complete without a visit to the legendary Muriel's Jackson Square Restaurant and sampling some of the great food and drink, and taking in the panoramic views from the balcony.
Muriel's Jackson Square Restaurant

Before heading over to the restaurant I toured Jackson Square. What a wonderful area filled with amazing shops, street vendors and acts, and some of the nicest people you'll ever meet!

Jackson Square Sights
After walking around the square and soaking up the local history, we headed over to Muriel's to meet up with colleagues before dinner.

We started at the bar where I ordered a delicious Espresso Martini.

Espresso Martini and good"cheer" with colleagues at Muriel's NOLA

We were then treated to a tour of Muriel's upstairs rooms. Usually reserved for private parties, we were able to explore in between their reservations. Below you'll see a great interior view of the lounge from the upstairs balcony.

Interior View of the Lounge

Then we moved on to the inner and outer seance rooms. The Outer Seance Room marks the era in New Orleans, when Muriel's Jackson Square was a part of the French Quarter's best bordellos along the Mississippi.

The Inner Seance Room is where the resident ghost, Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, spends his time reminiscing about days of yesteryear. It’s a great place for casual conversation and drink while exploring your metaphysical side in the French Quarter.

The Seance Rooms

And here I am having my own casual conversation with a mummy and enjoying the artifacts. 

Me, clowning around! Oh goodness...why did I wear that bulky top?

And then we feasted on the view of Jackson Square, from the exterior wrought iron balcony of Muriel's, decorated with luscious window boxes. The balcony offers arguably one of the best views in all of New Orleans!

The Balcony overlooking Jackson Square

Time to move on to dinner.  Our group menu allowed us to order a great variety of NOLA standards.

I started with the Gorgonzola Tart, a wedge of tart with Meilhenny Farms honeyed pecans, garnished with crispy prosciutto, fresh blackberries and sliced apple. It was wonderfully seductive, with creamy richness, sweet nutty goodness, and crisp fresh fruits.

Gorgonzola Tart
For my entree,  I selected a beautiful Seafood Bouillabaisse, with Gulf Shrimp and Louisiana Crab meat lightly sauteed with fennel, tomato, oyster mushrooms and leeks, then simmered in a rich veloute sauce with tarragon. So good, and a perfect balance of velvety sauce, seasoning and spices that allowed the fresh seafood flavors to shine through.

 Seafood Bouillabaisse

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of my delicious dessert, a Vanilla Bean Cream Brulee! But suffice it to say, it was wonderful!

On our way out we paid our respects to resident ghost, Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, the former owner who in 1814 lost the building in a poker game, and hung himself. Management saves a space for eternity for him at his own reserved table, always set with bread and wine, awaiting his return.

Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan's Table

I had a great time in New Orleans sampling some of the best restaurants in the French Quarter. 

Muriel's Jackson Square Restaurant #NOLA

If you're traveling to New Orleans, Muriel's Jackson Square Restaurant is a MUST STOP! 

801 Chartres Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
Phone: 504.568.1885
Fax: 504.568.9795 

For more pictures from this trip click HERE

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Have you traveled to New Orleans? Do you have some 'must stops' of your own? 
I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!

Muriel's Jackson Square on Urbanspoon
Real Time Web Analytics