events

Garden District stunners shine bright this holiday season

PRC New Orleans Holiday Home Tour, Photo Courtesy Sarah Essex Bradley It's baaaaaack!  Each year, one of my favorite New Orleans events is the Preservation Resource Center's Holiday Home Tour.

This weekend, tourists and locals alike will grab their lattes and get their exercise, walking through the historic Garden District neighborhood, where 8 homes open their doors to the public.

If you're looking for a taste of the good life, the mansions decked out in holiday decor, will have you daydreaming in no time!

Money raised from ticket sales benefits the PRC's wide range of community programs.

Winding Down in Wine Country

Chandelier hanging in tree at Viansa Winery Summer is finally over and Joe and I just returned from our last trip of the year to sunny California.  We visited family in Sacramento and fêted our dear friends Mike and Maggie in Sonoma.  Living in New Orleans, we don't get many chances to go wine tasting, so we packed as many stops as possible into a sliver of free time!

Our wine country tour focused around the Carneros Region of Sonoma Valley.  The area is just south of the town of Sonoma, off Highway 121, and makes some of the most delicious sparkling wines you've tasted.  We began our day early at Viansa, where for $10 a person, we sampled their reserve offerings and for $45, brought home a bottle of Cabernet.  The winery is impeccably landscaped and offers sweeping views from the rustic terrace dotted with tables, chairs, strings of lights and chandeliers in the trees.  We sipped, shopped, relaxed and strolled through the vineyards before moving on.

10 minutes up the road you'll find Gloria Ferrer- an expansive estate of the famed Ferrer family, who's been wine-making in Spain since the 16th century!  You may be familiar with their largest brand, Freixenet.  Much like the family she married into, Gloria has a knack for sparkling wine.  Her Pinot Noir-based bubbly, Blanc de Noirs is their most award-winning variety and offered a tasty start to our tour of the facility.  The $20 per person tour lasted roughly an hour and explored different varieties of sparkling wine as well as the wine-making process.

Last, but certainly not least, we made our way to Cornerstone Winery for Mike and Maggie's wedding.  It was a drastic departure from our previous stops.  In lieu of Tuscan architecture, Cornerstone boasts modern art and labyrinth-like gardens.  Everywhere you look there's a sculpture or art installation, intricately woven between shrub-lined walkways.  The ceremony overlooked a modern lily pond, dinner took place inside a tent filled with farm tables, and dancing spilled out of the barn and into windmills on the large lawn.

By the time Joe and I stumbled back to our hotel room, our heads were spinning from all the excitement of the fabulous day... and maybe all that wine as well!

La Provence: Fine Dining on the Farm

There are few things I enjoy in life more than a delicious meal on the town... except maybe a delicious meal on the farm!  I'd been dying to check out famous New Orleans chef John Besh's restaurant "La Provence."  However, it's about an hour outside of town, so Joe's birthday was the perfect excuse to finally make it happen!

I splurged and borrowed a Rolls Royce from a VERY generous neighbor and hired a driver to take us there!  We felt like royalty sipping champagne on the drive across Lake Pontchartrain and were blissfully blown away by the magical setting once we arrived.  Tucked away behind the quaint building is a small farm with an herb garden, chickens, pigs and geese (which you'll find on the restaurant's Christmas menu)!  I kicked off my heels as we strolled through the grass, took pictures under the live oaks draped in Spanish moss and made friends with all the animals.  Then, we headed inside to eat...

If you're expecting a formal affair at La Provence, turn right around.  The ambiance transports you into a comfortable and rustic, French chateau.  We noshed on the most amazing pate and crostini, sipped a farm version of the classic French 75 cocktail (complete with sprigs of fresh lavender) and ordered the surprisingly affordable 3-course "market menu."  The wait staff was fabulous, the food was delicious and as we stepped back into our luxurious ride, I couldn't think of a more perfect way to celebrate my amazing husband.

New Orleanians Paint the Town Red

Red Dress Run There's never a shortage of fun things to do in New Orleans... even in the height of our hot and humid summer!

This weekend, the French Quarter played host to an annual event called the Red Dress Run.  Man, woman and child all donned their fanciest red frocks to run for charity.  Inevitably, the revelry spills onto the streets (and into the bars).  Organizers expected 15,000 people at this year's event (although most of those folks are just watching, not running) and I heard rumors that as many as 25,000 took part!

Here are a few pictures and videos for your enjoyment.  They're sure to give you a whole new perspective on the Chris De Burgh classic, "Lady in Red!"

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFcuN2zI3u0

WGNO: Sights and Sounds From 2014 Red Dress Run

 

 

 

Kingsway House: Contemporary Design With Rich History

Kingsway House Chandelier- Studio WTA A while back my neighbor told me he found his dream home.  Since his house is MY dream house, I figured this place must be amazing.  He was working on a movie that was being filmed at the Kingsway House, on New Orleans' historic Esplanade Avenue.  It's a 12,000 sq ft private residence that's rented out for movies, weddings and parties (my friend Kenny went to a party put on by Solange Knowles there)!

The home began as two separate residences in the 1860's and was combined into one in the 1930's.  Back then, it was owned by Count Leon Arnaud Cazenave, owner of the famous Arnaud's Restaurant.  In the early 1990's, the property was transformed into Kingsway Studios, which recorded the likes of Pearl Jam, Peter Gabriel, R.E.M. and Sheryl Crow.  In 2002, it was sold to Nicholas Cage.  Studio WTA worked on renovations for Cage and again for Sean Cummings, the current owner.

The Kingsway House boasts a floor-to-ceiling crystal chandelier- apparently one of only two in the world.  The decor blends modern minimalism with traditional New Orleans warmth. I think its absolutely stunning, but take a look at the pictures from Studio WTA's website and decide for yourself!