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Her Name Is NOLA…

… she is a show girl! New Orleans, Louisiana — known affectionately to locals and friends as NOLA — certainly is a city that knows how to put on a show. And one of the most vivid displays happens this week, with tomorrow’s Mardi Gras celebration.

To describe the New Orleans Mardi Gras as “colourful” is something of an understatement. The three colours most associated with the annual Mardi Gras celebration are purple, gold and green. It is interesting to me that many people don’t realize the meanings behind these bold shades, seen everywhere from the shiny, brightly coloured beads to the large flags waving from balconies along Bourbon Street during the annual festivities. These are strong, regal and symbolic colours that lend the event in New Orleans an aura of regality (albeit amidst all that hedonism and frivolity). 

Purple represents Justice
Gold represents Power

Green represents Faith

Of course, long before it became associated with the inebriated antics of college students, the history of Mardi Gras was deeply rooted in religion, with Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday” marking the start of the Catholic season of Lent. But while purple, gold and green are all colours that have been used throughout the history of the Catholic Church, there is believed to be another origin. It is said that the colours were officially “chosen” to represent the Mardi Gras parade in 1872, in honour of the visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexis Alexis Alexandrovich Romanoff, whose house colors were purple, green and gold.

These colours are seen everywhere during the weeks preceding and on the big day of the Tuesday Mardi Gras celebrations. The French Quarter of New Orleans is already a colourful area — with vibrantly painted storefronts, restaurants, bars and other establishments. But it is truly covered with purple, green and gold as far as the eye can see during the weeks of Mardi Gras. Everything from cocktails and smoothies to cupcakes and the region’s famous King Cake is bedecked in these three strong colours.

Of course, there is so much more to New Orleans than just the Mardi Gras festivities. Long after the colourful confetti has washed away and the last strand of those ubiquitous beads has been removed from fenceposts — there is plenty of vibrant colour to be found here, both literally and figuratively. The way the city and the region has thrived in the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina is testament to the courage and strength of the local community.

Of course — I am interested, on a personal and professional level, in the design scene in New Orleans. The city is home to many talented designers, such as New Orleans based Ann Holden and Ann Dupuy. I am also interested in the city’s incredible dining and art scenes. So, I have enlisted recommendations from some of my favourite New Orleans locals, to help uncover NOLA’s most colourful haunts, be it galleries, stores, restaurants or places to buy sweet treats …

WHERE TO GO IN NOLA

Gallery 3954
3954 Magazine Street, NOLA
T: 828.273.2935
W: www.gallery3954.com
One of the big trends we are seeing design wise is showcased perfectly in one of my favourite New Orleans spots, Gallery 3954. Located in the art, design and antiques hub of Magazine Street, this gallery is a pitch-perfect blend of art, furniture, lighting, and interior design. This is the first of it’s kind of these “mixed-use” type galleries in the NOLA neighbourhood it calls home — and is receiving rave reviews from clientele, artists and designers alike. Visitors can browse merchandise and displays from a wide variety of exhibitors, with works including the textured photographic installations and stunning totem poles by multi-genre artist, the locally born and raised Adele Sypesteyn.

Perch Home
2844 Magazine Street, NOLA
T: (504) 899-2122
W: www.perch-home.com
Also found in the design and antiques-centric neighbourhood of Magazine Street, this shop showcases an always elegant and well-curated selection of antiques and vintage design pieces, as well as contemporary seating, tables, lighting, art, textiles and accessories. A must-stop shop for lovers of classic design with a contemporary edge.

Holden & Dupuy
T: 504.568.1101
W: www.holdenanddupuy.com
Interior designers Ann Holden and Ann Dupuy, known to fans and locals as “Ann & Ann” have a beautiful, aesthetic that is very New Orleans — romantic yet contemporary and always very refined.

Boucherie
8115 Jeannette Street, NOLA
T: 504.862.5514
W: boucherie-nola.com
This high-end dining spot is a prime example of some of the incredible contemporary Southern cuisine coming out of NOLA. Think dishes such as poached oyster and caramelized ramp stew with Andouille sausage and a wild rice potato, pulled pork cake with potato confit and purple cabbage coleslaw, or, for the less meat-inclined, perhaps an eggplant and kale moussaka with a mustard green and Louisiana citrus salad. Peckish yet?

Domilise’s Sandwich Shop & Bar
5240 Annunciation Street, NOLA
T: 504.899.9126
No trip to NOLA would be complete without a Po’Boy sandwich, and this place is an institution that has been around for what seems like forever. Not a tourist trap — this is where the locals go for their made-to-order shrimp or oyster (or both!) Po’Boys.

La Petite Grocery
4238 Magazine Street, NOLA
T: 504.891.3377
W: www.lapetitegrocery.com
While a relative newcomer to the thriving NOLA dining scene, La Petite Grocery’s history is impressive. The eatery is housed in a building that dates back to the late 1800’s. The small Creole-style cottage on the corner of Magazine and Berlin was once home to the Central Tea, Coffee and Butter Depot, a local store that did everything (as the name suggests) from roast coffee beans to sell fresh butter from a creamery, import teas from across the globe, and much more. Today the restaurant is home to delectably clean, modern cuisine, such as ricotta dumplings with field peas and oregano, braised beef short-ribs with herbs and fried peanuts, or the perfect-sounding savory NOLA specialty, the blue crab beignet served with malt vinegar aioli.

Sucre Bakery
3025 Magazine Street, NOLA
T: 504.520.8311
W: www.shopsucre.com
For those hoping to add a touch of elegance to what can be a cavalcade of tackiness over Mardi Gras, look no further than this beautiful bakery. With beautiful windows brimming with baked goods that look almost too lovely to eat, it’s an ideal spot, right in the heart of Magazine Street, to pick up a perfect King Cake or some stylish Mardi Gras boxed macarons in purple, gold and green.

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