The City With Soul .. and a cup of Chai

A memorable trip would be a gross understatement for the weekend I just experienced in a city that has left tattoo on my heart within 4 days of visiting, a city with a vibrant soul, New Orleans. My boyfriend, Aaron, and I traveled to New Orleans to celebrate my 31st birthday. Little did we know by the time we left we would be feigning for more ... more music, more art, more history, more of EVERYTHING the N.O. has to offer. 

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I wish I could pinpoint my favorite part about this trip, but that would literally be impossible. We arrived at our Air BnB, and met our host, Baba Ken. He was THE ABSOLUTE BEST! We found out shortly after meeting Baba Ken that he is an activist in the city, working and fighting to hold the regentrification of the city back. The home he shares with his lady, Mama Dee, is in a historically black neighborhood, called Pontacharian Park. The home is very afrocentric with African art decor on the walls and in every place you look. Baba Ken, being a true Rastafarian, provided intellectual conversation and gave us a history lesson and the ins and outs of the black activism movements in the N.O., (of course in between the puff puff pass). He even took us around and gave us a tour of the REAL New Orleans. We ventured to an area that had a number of shops owned exclusively by black women. He showed us where the locals partied, Frenchman Street; and even took us around to the vintage shops in town. Our stay would not have been anywhere close to as amazing as it was if it wasn't for Baba Ken. 

My birthday was THE BEST!!! Thanks to some good friends of ours I got a birthday photo shoot in New Orleans, for the free :) Thanks G and Court! My birthday was filled with art, laughs, and love ... basically the only things you ever really need in life. We shopped at some vintage shops, because what are you really doing in New Orleans if you don't visit the thrifts shops. We made a stop in a cute record store and a black owned book store. One of the art highlights was Studio BE, which is a MUST SEE!!! The best thing about New Orleans is the readily available artwork;  street art, street music, fashion, architecture.

I would say one of Aaron's favorite parts about the city is the food (of course), but more specifically the beignets!! Seriously though y'all, beignets might be the best dessert ever created and since we were in the Big Easy, we HAD to get some authentic ones. There are cafes on literally every block in the French Quarter. When you step inside the intoxicating smell of roasting coffee hits your nostrils like the marching bands in the street hits your ears. Unfortunately I have to try my best to pass on every cup of coffee offered to me (a health decision I've made for my body),  instead I opted for a cup of chai to eat along with my beignets. Sooooo ... in honor of New Orleans and everything it taught me this weekend, here's a recipe to make yourself a cup of chai to go along with your dessert as well =)

 

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THE BIG EASY 

CHAI, CHAI, CHAI

 

INGREDIENTS:

winter apple bliss ( 4 teabags or 6 teaspoons)

2 inch piece fresh ginger, cut into thin rounds

2 teaspoons black peppercorn

10 whole cloves

6 cardamom pods

6 cups cold water

2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup golden brown sugar

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

COMBINE GINGER, PEPPERCORN, CLOVES, CARDAMOM INTO A MEDIUM SAUCEPAN. USING A LARGE SPOON OR MALLET, LIGHTLY CRUSH (OR BRUISE) SPICES. ADD 6 CUPS OF WATER, BRING TO A BOIL OVER HIGH HEAT. REDUCE HEAT TO SIMMER GENTLY 10 MINUTES. REMOVE FROM HEAT. ADD TEABAGS AND STEEP 5 MINUTES. DISCARD TEA BAGS. ADD MILK AND SUGAR. BRING TEA JUST TO SIMMER OVER HIGH HEAT, WHISKING SUGAR UNTIL DISSOLVED. STRAIN CHAI INTO TEAPOT AND SERVE.