Wednesday, February 26, 2014

thing i love: pharrell "happy" lipdub videos

an elementary school classmate posted a video on facebook the other day, set in my (original) hometown of syracuse NY. it featured people dancing and lip-syncing in the snow to pharrell williams' song "happy." in the related videos, i discovered that this trend has apparently gone global, with people from all over the world creating their own "happy" videos.

i LOVE lipdubs to begin with, so watching all of these has been making me ridiculously joyful. hopefully they add a little more happiness to your day, as well!

here's that syracuse one i was talking about:

and then there's one from my favorite city in the world (thus far) ... nice, france:

and i basically just want to be friends with everyone in this clip from vienna, austria:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

laissez les bons temps rouler: new orleans!

take me back to new orleans, please. the third city in our southern travel series, gleni and i decided upon NOLA back in the fall when we were trying to figure out which locale to conquer after austin and nashville. neither of us had been, and we were both intrigued by everything we'd heard. it turned out to be not only our best trip, but probably the greatest trip i've ever taken. legit!

before i get into the good stuff, i HIGHLY recommend staying at the prince conti hotel. i was so pleasantly surprised at how cozy, cute, and well-kept our room and the whole property was. it's only half a block from bourbon street, but on the quiet end of the french quarter, so noise wasn't an issue for us. the staff was so friendly, and there's also a great little cafe attached to the hotel that's open for breakfast and lunch.


central grocery

this famous muffuletta was the perfect first meal, because neither of us had eaten since before our early AM flights and needed sustenance in the form of large quantities of italian meats. we split half of one, and it was more than enough. i am literally still dreaming about it. the olive salad and dressing really just sealed the deal. order the zapp's dill chips with it if you go.

acme oyster

chargrilled oysters all day. we made friends with our second retired couple of the trip here.

praline connection

no frills soul food. check out my stewed quarter chicken, mac and cheese and collard greens. i also got a praline to go and learned from the waiter that in nawlins, you say "prahhhline." whatever.

commander's palace

hands down, the most insane, upscale dining experience of my life. we escaped into this southern culinary landmark (emeril is among the chef alumni, and james beard winner tory mcphail is currently cooking there) after we abandoned our walking tour of the garden district. our tour guide had mentioned for the 100th time that nicolas cage has been arrested 4 times in new orleans (twice with his wife), and other dumb facts we didn't really care about, and we'd had enough. anyways, the hostess talked us into making reservations for later that evening, and i literally had to call a reservation hotline from the lobby of the restaurant. fancy, huh? we got dolled up, came back, and were greeted by at least 10 smiling servers who said "welcome" on the way to our table. it was like "be our guest" up in there. things that happened:
  • we got "mardi gras sidecars" (pictured above) that came with free beads
  • the waiter walked each of us to the bathroom.
  • the waiter gave gleni a NEW GLASS when the ice started to melt in her water. wait what?
  • the waiter shined a little flashlight into my purse when i couldn't find my umbrella as we were leaving. WHY DID HE HAVE A FLASHLIGHT?
  • we got to see the kitchen when we accidentally started going down the wrong staircase to leave, and the hostess swooped in to let us know that it was totally fine because it was an open kitchen. cool.
soup trio: turtle (BEST), butternut squash/sweet potato, and gumbo
seared gulf fish with vegetable succotash 
bread pudding soufflé with whiskey cream sauce omggggg

cafe du monde

we HAD to, and it was so worth it. who doesn't love fried dough? we lucked out with no line since we went on a monday morning. i was fully prepared to hate the chicory-infused coffee, but i found it completely delicious, and nowhere close to starbucks in terms of bitterness. the beignets were a revelation as expected. powdered sugar errywhere.


carousel bar

located in the hotel monteleone, this bar almost rivals the place with a hot tub in the middle of the dance floor as the most unique bar i've ever been to. true to its name, it looks like a carousel (no horses, though), and you revolve sloooowly around it as you drink. cool at first, probably not the more you imbibe.

arnaud's french 75 bar

stopped for a nightcap at this cocktail bar on our first evening, and met this adorable older couple from mississippi who were absolutely hilarious. the guy ordered us each the signature drink (the french 75, duh) and couldn't stop laughing at us when he said that he'd known his lady for 30 years and gleni responded, "we haven't been alive for 30 years!" then we took a picture with them where i'm in a headlock for reasons unknown:


oldest bar in the country! for some reason, the bartender was like, berating me for not being done with my drink 10 minutes after i ordered it. step off, bruh. so we ran away from him and sat around a piano on the other side of the bar and sang beatles songs with this weird hippie lady. cool vibes though.

pat o'brien's

we tried the notorious hurricane drinks, which led to drunk shopping at 1pm on sunday afternoon. i actually had to throw mine out 80% of the way through because i was ALL SET.


celebrity sightings:

sorry, but i'm still not really over randomly meeting josh homme in the street and i need to discuss it for a minute. i picked a queens of the stone age song as one of my favorites from last year. i posted a semi-raunchy tweet about mr. homme a couple weeks ago during his grammy performance with dave grohl and trent reznor. he may or may not be on one of my pinterest boards. and he's one of anthony bourdain's close buddies. so ... PRETTY big deal for me. i credit this destined moment to the lucky penny i picked up about 4 hours earlier at the muffaletta place, since it was complete chance that we got lost en route to our destination and walked down the street where the magic happened.

the best part is that he's been in the news twice in the past week for being surly/salty, and here i am just touching his arm and acting like his new BFF. he was nothing but nice to me, and even complimented my phone case (which is hot pink with houses on it??? no idea). he sent us on our way with a "cheers. have a great night, ladies," and i died. i think he was under the influence of at least one thing. loved aaaaall of it.

we also saw matt smith from doctor who. i wouldn't have recognized him but gleni did, so that was fun.

cat's meow

we went to this karaoke bar twice in one night and didn't even drink either time. that's how entertaining it was. at one point we couldn't stop laughing at these drunk hos that were up on stage smoking cigarettes and singing like dying cats to miley cyrus' "we can't stop." i even took a video of it because it will forever make me laugh when i feel sad. i also developed a weird crush on the karaoke host's hype man, who was kind of a lil' jon doppelganger but in a hot way (gleni captured both he and the host in the video below). they gave some random birthday girl a lap dance to ginuwine's "pony" and it was genius.


speaking of felines, we received some of the most verbose catcalls ever during this trip, mostly from gutter punks. among them:

"i just want you to know that you're both beautiful, each in your own individual way."
"hey, i told my mom about you. she wants to meet you."
"go get 'em, girls! you ladies are looking lovely."


2nd saturday gallery crawl and whiskey tasting

gleni's old roommate lives in the marigny area, a hip neighborhood right outside of the french quarter. we got to see his apartment, which is this huge "shotgun" house (we northerners know it as railroad-style, where you have to walk through one room to get to another). very cool to see. he took a bunch of us around to these art galleries where i ate king cake. i also made myself a saucy letterpress souvenir:

before we parted ways with our hosts for the evening, we stopped into this wine place that hasn't officially opened yet. the owner cracked open some alabama whiskey he just got in, and we had ourselves a little private tasting. it was pretty badass.

jazz at preservation hall

after our fancy dinner on the final night, we decided to keep it classy by taking in some live jazz at the legendary preservation hall. we grabbed old fashioneds next door at pat o'brien's (where i had to dougie in order to leave) and grabbed some seats on the benches in the dimly-lit room. it was a really nice, relaxing, and fitting end to the trip. highly recommended.

all in all, best vacation everrr. seriously. 'til next time, NOLA!