How to make a Mardi Gras King Cake (John Besh recipe)

What better way to say/eat Mardi Gras than with a home-baked king cake, that delicate pastry with the purple, gold and green sprinkled icing. Some folks fill it with a sweet cream cheese or fruit or boudin, but this one’s the traditional king cake from New Orleans’ favorite chef (well, mine) John Besh.

If you want the praline-topped, banana-stuffed, gold-flecked king cake from Besh Chef Lisa White, here’s that recipe. Warning – it’s not for king cake wimps.

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Farewell, 2015 (and why we’ve been MIA this year)

Merry Christmas and happy new year! Thanks for going on this journey with us. My apologies for being MIA on this site and late in responding to your emails for the past few months. My husband and I moved from an apartment to a house, sprained a foot (mine), broke a foot (his) and switched jobs twice. And, we had a baby. It’s been a good year of life changes in our adopted city.

While I’ve lapsed in posting here, our Instagram account continues to be fairly active. Make sure you check out us out (@newinNOLA) for #newinNOLA tips and pictures of pretty houses, sunrises and, of course, food.

Hope you had a wonderful year. Here are the moments you liked best on our Instagram account (via #2015bestnine):

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Must-do things in New Orleans for first-time visitors

First time in New Orleans? Hosting friends/family who have never been to New Orleans before? We’ve got you covered. The city is jam-packed with things to do, but there are a few classics you need to hit. These are the places everyone is going to ask you about when you get home. This list should keep you busy for a two or three-day weekend trip. And, please bring your appetite.

This is the Louisiana Welcome Center on I-10 near the Mississippi state line. There's free Community Coffee inside if you stop by. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells, New in NOLA)

This is the Louisiana Welcome Center on I-10 near the Mississippi state line. There’s free Community Coffee inside if you stop by. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells, New in NOLA)

BASIC ADVICE

Wear comfortable shoes. You are going to do a lot of walking and our sidewalks are uneven. Skip the fashion show and wear something you can walk several miles in. No one cares if you are wearing sneakers, slip-ons or flip-flops. Most places don’t have a dress code and won’t care what your footwear looks like.

In the summer, grab a hat if you are going to be outside. We have plenty of hat stores here if you want to buy one. Here’s more advice about picking a hat and where to get one in New Orleans.

Leave your big purse at home. Minimize what you are carrying around. Get a small, crossbody purse, small clutch or a wallet in your front pocket. Big purses are easy to grab on the street and you don’t want to juggle it in a crowded bar. Continue reading

2015 New Orleans Mardi Gras parade schedule (and parade suggestions)

Happy Carnival season! One of the biggest misconceptions we’ve run into with new residents about this time of year is that Mardi Gras is a single day. Technically, it’s true – “Mardi Gras” is Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. However, Carnival season – which ends with Mardi Gras – is several weeks. That means multiple days of parades, king cakes and Mardi Gras festivities. This year, we are getting a good three weeks of parades.

Things kicked off last week with the very lewd (and creative) Krewe du Vieux in the French Quarter. Check out our Instagram page for photos or swing on over to LA to NOLA for more pix from that night. Here’s a relatively tamed snippet from it:

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Christmas 2014 in New Orleans (photo highlights)

Happy New Year! Tonight (Jan. 5) wraps up the Christmas season in New Orleans. Tomorrow (Jan. 6) is the twelfth night of Christmas and officially starts the carnival season, which ends with Mardi Gras. There are two parades Tuesday – Joan of Arc and the Phunny Phorty Fellows.

It’s a nice tradition – extending Christmas and taking more time to enjoy the festivities. Towns, businesses and residents leave their trees and lights up until Jan. 6. Then, the Mardi Gras decor comes out. Some people even transition their Christmas trees to Mardi Gras trees.

Santa visited the fish at Audubon Aquarium. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/NewinNOLA.com)

Santa visited the fish at Audubon Aquarium. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/NewinNOLA.com)

Before we dive into the carnival season, we wanted to take a moment to say farewell to Christmas and New Year’s. New Orleans, you sure do know how to do the holidays.

We’ve highlighted some of our favorite holiday events and moments below. What were your favorite holidays moments in New Orleans? Suggestions for what we should do next year?

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Caroling in Jackson Square – what you need to know

We’re caroling in Jackson Square tonight (Dec. 21) with a thousand or so of our closest friends.  It’s a free, magical event in New Orleans. Open to everyone. And again, 100 percent free.

The event starts at 7. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.

French Quarter Festivals Inc. hosts Caroling in Jackson Square. (photo via FQF Inc.)

French Quarter Festivals Inc. hosts Caroling in Jackson Square. (photo via FQF Inc.)

Song sheets and lights are provided. Arrive early because this is a popular event and you want to get inside the gates. Christmas attire is encouraged. Think sweaters, Santa hats, bells, etc.

You stand while you carol so wear comfortable shoes. Don’t bring chairs unless you physically need one.

If it is raining, the event will be moved inside the cathedral. Seats/pews are available on a first come, first serve basis.

Plenty of places to park:
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LUNA Fete: must-see New Orleans event this week

We love free events and LUNA Fete is a spectacular one. It’s a dazzling light show this week only (ends Saturday, Dec. 6).

LUNA fete at Gallier Hall in New Orleans, Dec. 3, 2014 (Carlie Kollath Wells, New in NOLA)

LUNA fete at Gallier Hall in New Orleans, Dec. 3, 2014 (Carlie Kollath Wells, New in NOLA)

The show is projected on the front of Gallier Hall, which is near the corner of Poydras and St. Charles. It’s show at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Lasts 9 minutes and is a mini history of New Orleans. It’s beautiful and good for all ages.

The show is put on by the Arts Council of New Orleans. Read more about the show here.

Street parking is available, but go early if you want to score free parking. We went last night and fed quarters into one of the street meters.

Here are some of our pictures from Wednesday’s show:

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Thanksgiving in New Orleans

Happy Thanksgiving! Will this be your first Turkey Day in New Orleans? You are in for a treat. Here are some options from our Instagram friends and other people we’ve asked.

• Grab your friends and cook a meal for Friendsgiving. Here are our foolproof recipes for a Southern Thanksgiving, including cornbread dressing.

• Head to a restaurant. These 5 places are cooking a classic spread. Don’t want turkey? All of these other restaurants are open.

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Meetup: Louisiana Seafood Festival this Saturday (Oct. 11)

We love seafood! How about you? If you’re like us, The Louisiana Seafood Festival is perfect for you. Free admission and tons of seafood vendors. You pay for what you eat so you control how much you spend.

Mr. B's served bacon-wrapped shrimp and grits at the 2013 Louisiana Seafood Festival. So good. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells, New in NOLA)

Mr. B’s served bacon-wrapped shrimp and grits at the 2013 Louisiana Seafood Festival. So good. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells, New in NOLA)

#NewinNOLA tip: It’s cash only so bring your money.

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Advice for tailgating in Champions Square

Who dat!! That, my New in NOLA friends, is a phrase you should get used to in New Orleans. It is the rallying cry for Saints fans. Here’s the song to get you in the mood:

One of the best places to hear the cheer – and watch the Saints game – is inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. However, the majority of Saints fans don’t have gameday tickets so we find other options. Your next best bet for home games – free tailgating at Champions Square next to the Superdome. (Here are sports bar suggestions from Eater if you want to go that route)

Champions Square is an event space connected to the Superdome. It’s free to get in, there’s entertainment before the game and the game is shown on a big screen in the square.

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