New Orleans Attractions New Orleans Events New Orleans Traditions

History of Mardi Gras

MardiGras2smWhile Mardi Gras has become a fixture of New Orleans culture, the holiday does not have its earliest roots in the city. The Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday tradition began centuries before in Rome as a religious holiday that marked the last day before Lent, or Ash Wednesday.

The custom spread to France where it then traveled to the French American colonies at the tail end of the 17th century. On March 2, 1699, French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville set up camp about 60 miles south of New Orleans. Knowing that March 3 was being celebrated as a major holiday back in France, Bienville named the spot “Pointe du Mardi Gras.”

In 1703, the first Mardi Gras in America was celebrated in what is now Mobile. In 1704, the secret society Masque de la Mobile was founded as a precursor to today’s Mardi Gras krewes. In 1710, the Boeuf Gras Society was established and paraded from 1711 through 1861.

New Orleans was founded in 1718, and by the 1730s, Mardi Gras was celebrated openly in the form of elegant society balls, which became the basis of today’s Mardi Gras ball tradition. In 1781, the Perseverance Benevolent & Mutual Aid Association was the first of hundreds of New Orleans’ carnival organizations.

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New Orleans Dining

5 Most Romantic Spots in New Orleans for Valentine’s Day

bigstock-Red-rose-closeup-isolated-on-w-16085681New Orleans has often been named one of the most romantic cities in the country—and for good reason. The city has endless restaurants, bars, historic locales and scenery to take in—so much of which is perfect for a romantic evening like Valentine’s Day. Here are a few of the best spots you can try this year.

Columns Hotel (Uptown – 3811 St. Charles Ave)

With the Columns Hotel, you have two options for enjoying each other’s company and the atmosphere around you. Outside is an expansive, picturesque porch that overlooks St. Charles Ave, and you can enjoy not only each other but the quaint scenery and sound of the streetcar as it whirrs by. Inside is a dimly lit bar and room of candlelit tables perfect for cozying up and feeling the intimate vibes passing between you both. Either setting you choose, you can enjoy decadent classic New Orleans cocktails, such as a fantastic Pimm’s Cup or to-die-for Sazerac, and a delightful bistro menu with tasty options that are perfect for sharing.

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New Orleans Dining

New Restaurants in New Orleans for 2014

John Besh Pizza

 

 

 

New restaurants are constantly opening up throughout New Orleans. In 2011, 89 restaurants opened in the city, and in 2012, there were 43 grand openings. This year, at least 25 new restaurants already have planned openings. Here are a few exciting choices.

Mopho (514 City Park Ave)

Just opened in January, Mopho is the creation of former August chef Michael Gulotta. This greatly anticipated spot for “Vietnamese meets Louisiana cuisine” has a wide variety of foods on its menu, including appetizers like Banh Xeo Battered Shrimp and Grilled Shrimp or Pork Shoulder Spring Roll, specials like Pepper Jelly Braised Cedar Key Clams and Slow Roast Lamb Neck and Beet in Green Curry, customizable vermicelli, po-boys and, of course, pho. The opening was a great success, and this restaurant has significant potential to provide quality Vietnamese food to both New Orleans’ Vietnamese population and fans of Southeast Asian cuisine. read more »

New Orleans Dining

The Best of Besh: John Besh’s Restaurants in New Orleans

John BeshNever heard of John Besh? He’s an extremely popular chef the world over, and he’s one of New Orleans’ favorite and most famous chefs and frequent TV personalities. Naturally, he owns more than half a dozen restaurants in and around the city, all of which are held in high esteem. If you’re looking for a high-quality meal in New Orleans, consider one of these Besh eateries.

Restaurant August (301 Tchoupitoulas St)

August is one of Besh’s newer restaurants, and it’s perhaps his most highly rated in the city. It has a smaller menu of dishes that are of the highest class and quality, including agnolotti, grilled octopus and red beans, Gulf dorado, pompano, courtbouillon, duckling dirty rice and Berkshire-duroc pork. August also has a five-course degustation menu and a tasting of farmers market vegetables, both with the additional option of a sommelier’s pairing.

Lüke (333 St. Charles Ave)

Lüke has been featured in a variety of media, such as Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and The Times Picayune, for its brilliant menu and fantastic fare, particularly its seafood bar and famous Lüke burger. The menu includes a charcuterie selection, a wide range of seafood, including a plethora of oysters, shrimp, clams and mussels, and other delicious entrees, such as etouffe, roasted duck breast, fresh Gulf fish, paneed pork and homemade sausages.

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New Orleans Dining New Orleans Saints

Snug Harbor

Snug HarborIf you’re looking for a classic New Orleans music experience, catch a contemporary jazz set at the genre’s famed local destination, Snug Harbor. Snug Harbor (626 Frenchmen St) is located at the edge of Frenchmen St, the popular strip of New Orleans music clubs in the Marigny neighborhood to the east of the French Quarter. A smaller, more intimate venue—a perfect setting for the music it hosts—Snug Harbor is one of the most famous music venues in the city.

Snug Harbor hosts two sets of music (8 and 10pm) seven nights a week. The music calendar has some performers in regular slots and a hearty mix of other local artists on most other days of the week. Mondays are often hosted by singer Charmaine Neville, and Wednesdays, the Uptown Jazz Orchestra. The rest of the week is open to a wide range of contemporary jazz artists, though you can often find Ellis Marsalis taking over the Friday sets.

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New Orleans Dining

Restaurant Spotlight: Coquette

DSC_0343If you’re looking for a hidden gem in the New Orleans restaurant industry, head over to Coquette on Magazine St at Washington Ave in the Irish Channel, just a few blocks from famed local restaurant Commander’s Palace. The restaurant is housed in a building notorious for its short-lived businesses’ comings and goings, but with a stellar chef, menu and service, it is doubtful that Coquette will be going anywhere.

Having moved to New Orleans from the eastern shore of Maryland about two years ago, chef Mike Stoltzfus began as a sous chef at Restaurant August before deciding to open up his own fine dining establishment. He dedicates himself to the finest food, cocktails and ingredients, and that dedication shows in Coquette’s high ratings across the board, both locally and nationally.

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New Year’s Travel Resolutions

Southern Comfort exterior

 

 

In the hustle and bustle of the passing year, it can be easy to get caught up in the day to day and forget to take some time to do a little traveling. Unless finances are keeping you from it, there’s really no need to forgo traveling—even if it means a quick weekend getaway to somewhere close by. Traveling gives you the opportunity to recharge your batteries, to see and experience new places, to try new foods and create memories that can last a lifetime. Here are a few New Year’s travel resolutions for 2014 that you can add to your list.

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