I was invited (by Ogilvy marketers representing Harrah's NOLA) to fly out to New Orleans,
spend a couple of nights at Harrah's and sample some local culture.
Travel, hotel and meals would be paid for – I would enjoy, experience, have the opportunity to do a reader giveaway ( yay!) and… if it went well, perhaps possibly if I want talk about it online. Uhmmmm… it was too good NOT to share online, so here we go.
I have this to say about the amazing weekend experience I just had – I gained about 5 pounds and am TOTALLY and completely okay with that. It was a completely expected outcome of spending a few days playing with a gaggle of awesome foodie bloggers in NOLA at the invitation of Harrah's New Orleans.
It was posh. So so so so so so posh. There was never any doubt in my mind that we would have a great time and enjoy the famous New Orleans hospitality, but I really had no idea of the pampering that was to come.
Our trip was planned to re-introduce Houston bloggers to New Orleans through our stomachs (and our livers). The majority of the group hadn't been to NOLA in years (except for Chris, who is cool like that) so it was a great opportunity to get to know the city better after our prolonged absence(s).
My N'awlins comrades in… errr… forks:
- Chris (Houston Foodie)
- Dana (Homesteading Housewife)
- Jenny (I'm Never Full)
- Dr. Ricky (Dude, You Going To Eat That?)
- Amy and Joe (Another Wine Blog)
- Erica (Reinventing Erica + Twilight & Tea)
- Irfan (Twitter and his blog here) of Ogilvy
- Tanya (Twitter) of Ogilvy
- Landon (Twitter) of Harrah's
- Stacy of Harrah's
- Kelly of New Orleans CVB (Twitter)
- Mary Lacoste – the bestest tour guide of all times
I landed in New Orleans early Friday morning, ready to get my walking boots on and go eat and shop the city. Just as I was about to call the hotel for a shuttle, I notice a guy holding a sign with my name on it (yay!) who then leads me out to a limo to whisk me off to Harrah's.
We get to the hotel and, lo and behold, there is a welcome committee standing wait for me with blinking lighted beads, hugs and a mimosa. If there had been glitter and marzipan somehow involved I probably would've passed out with the perfection going on around me.
The hotel is lovely – a modern and clean space with fantastically comfortable rooms. I'm a big judge of hotels based on how I feel when I first walk in and how badly I want to get a bath in their bathtubs (it makes sense in my brain somehow) and yeah… it's a great one.
Our hosts left a beautiful gift basket and welcome note in our rooms – just gorgeous:
I visited with Erica who had landed before me and then took off to take in the sights. It was chilly, so I wrapped up in my ever-present pashmina and headed for the nearest cup of Community Coffee on my way towards a heavenly po'boy.
As usual, I got lost on the way because I am pathetic with directions and map reading (iPhone Google Maps be damned, it still happens regularly) – but there are very few cities that are more fun to wander than New Orleans, so I really wasn't too worried about it. The journey is quite frequently the best part, after all.
I spent about an hour in Jackson Square and in the St. Louis Cathedral – great people watching and a wonderful way to kick off a visit in NOLA. It feels like the heart of the city and cathedrals always feel very home-y in their own ways.
It was at this point that the culinary adventure began – I found my po'boy at Johnny's and let the weekend of extravagant eating begin! This is a great time to give you fair warning on the meatiness ahead – typically you'll read me talking about veggie, vegan or even raw food topics and experiences.
But this NOLA trip was a no-holds barred culinary adventure, so I reverted back to a much more dairy and meat based diet (not that I'm veggie, but this usually doesn't happen quite so extreme). That's all the best stuff in New Orleans and there's just no going around it.
Plus I was with some food and wine bloggers that I thought were pretty snazzy and was hungry to experience what they do and how they do it. I loved it and I loved them – there's is NOTHING more connective and satisfying than breaking bread with a group of fun and interesting people. They love to eat just as much (if not more) as I do — and their more sensitive and trained palates made them fantastic guides through our courses and samplings.
I'll be back over the next few days to share more adventures – do keep an eye on the (still brand new and needing some lovin') happykatieeats blog for far more culinary detail.
Thanks for (virtually) traveling with me. And to you, Harrah's, I say: Mon amour pour toi est aussi grand que le monde! We got the good times rolling for sure.