Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Our FL Panhandle & New Orleans Trip Review, July 2011...Part 1

This is Part 1 of 4  in my series of reviews of our trip to New Orleans and the south.

Link to Part 2,3 & 4 ...

View from our room...WaterColor Resort, Santa Rosa Beach, FL

Sometimes you need a vacation after coming back from a vacation...lol  I've been dragging since we got back from our mini vacation in the Florida Panhandle and New Orleans and have been slow about posting about our trip.  We were invited to a wedding in Grayton Beach, FL.  I had no idea where this place was, but after looking it up on the map I saw that it wasn't too far away from New Orleans, so I talked Hubby into going there afterwards.  I love going to New Orleans, it's all about food and cocktails...my kinda town!  We figured it would be about a 6 hour drive, not that much different than driving from LA to San Francisco.  

This would be our 3rd trip to New Orleans and this time our couple friends, K&D joined us there. This would be his 1st time and her 2nd time.  I thought it would be fun to show them around the town that I love so much!  K is in her early months of pregnancy and was a good sport watching us eat and drink the days & nights away in the heat and humidity.  She mostly feasted on Gumbo, Salad, Bread & Butter...lol


Another View from our room...

This area of FL was beautiful, but unfortunately, it rained the whole time we were there which was a good thing for the area since they've been having drought conditions. We were only there for 2 nights and it basically only cleared up the morning that we left.  This was our first visit to the Panhandle too.  The wedding was in a beautiful house right on the beach and was supposed to be an outdoor wedding, but everything had to be brought inside.  It still was a fabulous soiree!  

The Hotel's Boardwalk to the Beach...

Hotel's Rental Chairs & Umbrellas...

As soon as there was some clear weather, some people rushed right out to the water!

Grouper w/all kinds of corn...

**Sorry for low quality of photos, some are taken w/iPhone w/no flash**
This area is definitely NOT an eating town.  I came up with a short list of restaurants and none looked too promising, so we decided to play it safe and for convenience dined in the hotel's restaurant...Fish Out of Water.  It was good, not great, but I had low expectations, so it was better than expected ;o)  They had an artichoke soup that sounded good to me, but they ran out.  We had an early reservation of 6:30pm and I commented to the waiter that they ran out really early.  He replied it's because the soup was from the night before and they didn't make anymore!!

We started out with local shucked oysters which were surprisingly good for July!  They were only a $1 a piece too!! My entree was the Grouper w/roasted corn, corn puree, and some other kind of corn.  I couldn't resist getting it since I LOVE corn!!  The grouper was cooked perfectly, but the rest of it was a little salty for me.  It seems like everything is a little salty in the south...lol


Pappardelle w/Tuna Sashimi Cubes

This was Hubby's dish, it seems like an odd combo, but it was really good!  The waiter warned him that the dish may be too light for him as an entree.  I guess they are all big eaters in the south ;o)  

After dinner we hung out with all the other wedding guests at a bar/restaurant called The Red Bar in Grayton Beach. Wow, talk about bringing back young, drunken memories from dive bars...lol  The place was packed with children, families & all other ages and people wait for hours to get a table to eat at, I think that I heard that they are known for their crab cakes on Fridays. I thought it odd that people would bring their kids there, just doesn't seem very appropriate. There was no wait to get a drink and Hubby fanagled a free round of drinks for our group too!!  When we left the bar it was lightly raining, but when some of our other friends left after us, there was a down pour and it flooded the street, so they had to wade in a foot of water to get out of there!  I'm sure glad that we left in the nick of time...lol


The next day we got a late start for lunch and ended up at a place called Hurricane Oysters which was about 5 mins away from the hotel.  This was another divey bar kind of place that people bring their children! I originally wanted to go to another place that served crab and their internet site said they were open for lunch, but when we drove the 15 mins to it, we found that it was closed :o(

Hurricane's is located on a little pond (?) and they have some outdoor seating that overlooks it.  We got there around 2pm and the place was packed!  We ended up sitting at the bar and had some more shucked oysters that were just ok.  I ordered a Bloody Mary and told the bartender that it was really good and he said "Thanks, that's the first Bloody Mary I've ever made, I'm usually just a waiter."...lol  It's always fun sitting at the bar and meeting the people around you.  (We were at Spago the other night in Beverly Hills and the woman sitting next to me at that bar tipped me off that Oprah was in the house;o)  I had their gumbo which was pretty good.  I love gumbo!!  I got my fill of it this trip :o)  I also got the fried oyster plate w/hush puppies which were pretty bad and Hubby got a burger which was delicious!  They must form their own patties there.


The Shed BBQ, Ocean Springs, MS

The drive was clear for only about the first hour then we hit rain almost all the way to New Orleans.  Parts were an absolute downpour!  When we reached our lunch destination, The Shed, luckily, it was just sprinkling for the entire time we were there.  They have several locations and this is their original one.  When we reached the restaurant we learned that it was featured by Guy on DDD :o)  


The Decor...

To say the least, it was interesting...

Pulled Pork & Spare Ribs

On our flight out we stopped in Dallas for a connection and I had the worst bbq at the airport!  I mean I know it's airport food, but still, you'd think that they'd get the bbq right at an independent restaurant, not one of the typical chains that you usually find.  It was a place called Cousins BBQ.  I love Pulled Pork, so ordered that...it was mushy and bland, bland, bland!  A friend pointed out that TX is known for Beef bbq, not pork...lol  Her statement made sense, Hubby's Brisket was much better than my dish!

Served w/Beans, Cole Slaw & White Bread and just love how they add the 1 onion;o)

My favorite bbq's are Pulled Pork & Spare Ribs.  I like how Spare Ribs are fattier than Baby Backs.  This pork was way better than the airport one, but I still thought that it was mushy, but at least it had flavor!  Maybe I just don't know what good pulled pork is...lol  I really don't eat that much bbq since it's so hard to find good places around our neighborhood or maybe I just have too high expectations! The ribs were pretty good, but they are known for their sweet sauce and I don't really care for sweet.  They did have an option for a spicier one, but it was too late by the time we figured that out.

My Concoction...Mini Open Faced Sandwich;o)

I guess I just like playing with my food...lol

Should I be Offended, is this Racist...lol

When Hubby pointed this marinade out to me, I thought it was hilarious and posted it immediately on Facebook and got some interesting comments on it!  The things that people come up with...both my friends and the restaurant...lol

Virgin Hurricane for Mrs. Preggers @Sazerac Bar

Since most of our drive was rain drenched it wasn't very scenic. When we were close to New Orleans the rain stopped for a bit and we drove through swamp areas which were pretty interesting to see!  We love staying at the W in the French Quarter.  It's gotten a little worn since our first stay about 3 years ago, but the location is perfect!  It's walking distance to so much stuff, but away from the hubbub of Bourbon Street, so it's a quiet hotel.  

We picked up our friends at the airport then checked-in to the hotel then our first stop was The Sazerac Bar @ The Roosevelt Hotel.  It was brand new when we first visited it about a year and a half ago and we just loved the old school feel of it.  


I posted in the past about our last trip to NOLA, so some of the stuff are repeats since I'm a creature of habit;o)



Love drinking Sazerac's, it's so NOLA :o)  It has...Rye Whiskey, Simple Syrup, Peychaud Bitters & Lemon Twist for Garnish.

This is absolutely my favorite restaurant in New Orleans!  I don't think our friends were as enamored by it as I was. There isn't any other restaurant like this anywhere in the world!  It's relaxing, the people are friendly and they just make you feel at home and it's just so New Orleans!  The food isn't the best in the city, but the ambience is.  I also love the fact that you have to "dress" for dinner...men have to wear jackets and shorts aren't allowed.

Souffle Potatoes & Fried Eggplant

I just love this combo of the fried foods! They double or triple fry the potatoes and they puff up...

Potatoes w/Bernaise & Eggplant w/Powdered Sugar & Tabasco;o)

Oysters Rockefeller

These were just ok.  Really liked the oysters in FL, but our waiter recommended not eating the ones at Galatoire's raw.

Salad w/Bibb Lettuce, Creole Dressing, Hearts of Palm & Asparagus

My salad...loved it!  It was so simple and refreshing.  The dressing was made with Creole Mustard, I picked up some mustard for home, so I could make it again ;o)

Garnish for our Martinis...

The small ones were stuffed with anchovies, but weren't fishy...so delicious!  We gobbled them up like appetizers!  I like a twist in my martini :o)

Crab Gratin

This was my dish...oh, so good!  It was great dipping the bread into it or topping the bread with it!

Shrimp Etouffee

D's dish, very yummy and flavorful!

Crab Salad w/Garlic Dressing

K's Dish, she said that it was a little too salty...

Drum Fish w/Crab

Hubby's Dish...Drum is a very common fish in New Orleans, I've never seen it anywhere else.  This one was served w/artichokes, mushrooms & crab...they sure don't skimp on the crab!!

The Room...

It was pretty busy for a Sunday night, this is around 10 pm.

The Carousel Bar

The Carousel Bar is one of our favorites in the French Quarter.  They are in the Hotel Monteleone and are open late!  


The Carousel...

The bar itself actually rotates in a circle like a carousel :o)

The Carousel...

The decor is a little cheesy, but it fits the theme...

Ramos Gin Fizz

I love having the Ramos Gin Fizz, but this one was just ok.  It has Lemon Juice, Lime Juice, Orange Flower Water, Gin, Powdered Sugar, Milk & Egg White in it.

Vieux Carre

It reminds me of the Sazarac, but this has....Brandy, Rye, Sweet Vermouth, Benedictine, & Peychaud's.  My first one I ever had was in San Francisco...lol


  1. Wow! You ate well! I didn't see anything i wouldn't eat. Twice ;)

  2. A vacation is not a vacation without lots of food involved. You had a great one apparently. Kinky Asian...am honoured (hahaha).

  3. Thank you for such a cool tour. You would be really shocked if you visited Ireland people bring children into bars all the time even ones that do not serve food.
    The panhandle looks interesting but New Orleans is high up on my must visit list. The food looks fantastic. I hope that carousel does not spin too fast

  4. Holy Smokes!!! It looks like a good time was had by all :)

  5. I dream of going back to NOLA all the time. I went to Galatoire's when i was there. I had the crab gratin too. That place is amazing. I wish I had been to the shed though! Is that the place from the food network BBQ challenge? Get Fed at the Shed? Your trip looks perfect! Im so jealous :)

  6. WOW once you switched the NOLA pictures my tummy got excited! Where to start those souffle potatoes and fried eggplant look so good. And that Gin Fizz looks so refreshing! I've never been to NOLA and now I am dying to go.
    Did you buy some of the Kinky Asian BBQ sauce? I kinda feel like you would have to if you saw it! LOL

  7. Looks like a great time! I live in Florida - an amazing place to get some good BBQ

  8. Thanks Rosemary, we really did have a great trip...I have a lot more to write about :o)

    Adora, most of my vacations are about food! That Kinky Asian was way too funny!!

    CL, you really need to go to NO, it is just the best in dining! If I ever get a chance to go to Ireland, I'll be asking you for alot of pointers :o) Yeah, I just don't get kids & bars...lol

    Thanks, Rachel!

    Michelle, I wish that I could go to NOLA at least once a month. I'm glad you enjoyed Galatoire's too...I think it's one of those places that you either love or hate it. I wouldn't be surprised if The Shed was in the BBQ challenge, I think they are a pretty popular place.

    Thanks, Lindsey, you really have to go there some day! Pick a time when it is cooler, but not rainy. We got rain & humidity...yuck! I think we are spoiled with LA weather ;o) I didn't buy the Kinky Asian because I didn't think it would be very good, but not thinking about it, I should have gotten it to display it...lol

    Ann, where in FL do you live? Next time I need to get pointers from you. We are planning on going on a cruise with Hubby's parents in Jan and will probably spend a few days in Ft Lauderdale/Miami area. I really want to go to Joe's Stone Crab :o)

  9. Every picture of the food that I just saw was more mouthwatering than the other..I love it, and it looks like you had so much fun!!!

  10. Awesome trip! That BBQ joint looks fantastic and super fun :) I'm hella jealous :) Buzzed

  11. Wow! You really made me miss the flavors of home...the South! :-) If you are ever in the Seaside/Grayton Beach area again, be sure to eat at the Red Barn...it won't disappoint. The fish is always prepared fresh. Their breakfast is always good too, and not expensive.

  12. My goodness! Look at those comfort food! The heartiness! The awesomeness! I am sooo jealous!!! I hope really had a great time eating and travel, cos I am just so envious right now.

  13. WOW! Kayo, takusan tabetane.... LOL!!! Sounds like you had a great trip including eating all these yummy food! I love ribs. I don't care about the name, I want the sauce! ;-)

  14. Thanks, Sandra, I always have the best time when I go to New Orleans, that's why I love it so much :o)

    Thanks, Parsley!

    Thanks for the tip for the Grayton Beach area, Why Rome. You are lucky that you grew up in the south :o)

    Pierre, hope that you are having a eating fest in Melbourne!

    Nami, honto ni ippai tabeta...lol I know, that sauce is too funny!!

  15. Wow! This post really gets me so envious with all the beautiful places and the foods! These are the best luxuries for me! Haha :D
    Glad you're having such a great time! ^.^