Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's at Hotel Monteleone

IMG_0869 reunion buffet

Whenever I visit New Orleans I love to stay at the Hotel Monteleone, not just because we are related to the owners, but because it exudes the essence of the city. It is easy to understand how it has earned the title of “Grande Dame of the French Quarter.” Its beaux-art architecture blends in beautifully with the rest of the Vieux Carre.

  DSC06343 Hotel Monteleone front door

It is conveniently located on Royal Street (Rue Royale), home of some of the swankiest antique stores in New Orleans. A lobby display case features collectibles from Moss Antiques… 

IMG_1155 Hotel Monteleone oyster plate display

…showcasing colorful oyster plates… 

IMG_1156 oyster plates

…and fancy epaulettes in the original box.

IMG_1293 gold epaulettes

Another display case boasts of the hotel’s rich literary history… 

IMG_1501 Hotel Monteleone - authors display case 

…including a letter written by Tennessee Williams. 

IMG_1508 Tennessee Williams letter 

The lobby flowers are always spectacular, but the lobby is at its finest in December, with the traditional Christmas tree… 

IMG_0723 Hotel Monteleone Christmas lobby

…and the antique grandfather clock… 

IMG_0732 Hotel Monteleone grandfather clock lobby 

… all gussied up for the holidays. 

IMG_0736 Hotel Monteleone grandfather clock

I like to tag the spot in front of the clock where the years have worn a dip in the marble floor.

  IMG_1506 hotel monteleone lobby

The decorative wood panels by the elevators add a flair of elegance. 

IMG_1151 Hotel Monteleone lobby panel 

IMG_1154 Hotel Monteleone lobby panel 

*** 
One year ago, one hundred of our closest relatives converged upon the Hotel Monteleone for a family reunion. We decided that the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve was the perfect time to gather because all schools, universities, and many businesses are on holiday. 

When my husband and I were getting ready for the reception in our room upstairs, I watched the sun set from our window. I held my breath as I watched a barge make the impossibly tight turn at the bend of the Mississippi.

  IMG_0747 barge going around bend of the mississippi

The reunion gathering was in a downstairs meeting room overlooking Royal Street.

  IMG_0865 reunion

The hotel’s catering staff did a spectacular job preparing and serving a delicious and beautiful buffet of fruits… 

IMG_0868 reunion buffet 

… and crudités. 

IMG_0879 reunion crudite

The soup buffet offered a choice oyster artichoke, white asparagus and brie, and seafood gumbo served in demitasse cups. I can attest that all three soups were fantastic.

  IMG_0876 soup buffet

I can also tell you that the martini glasses with grilled artichoke heart with lump crab and avocado brunoise with radish sprouts and lemon for garnish were scrumptious. As for the shooters with tomato, basil, and dilled watercress pana cotta - my goodness, they were delicious.

  IMG_0908 reunion buffet

I forgot to take photos of the barbecue buffet and I didn’t have room for the sliders, but I did stop to admire the gorgeous jewel-toned floral arrangements by Perfect Presentations.

  IMG_0867 reunion

Most of all, though, I loved catching up with relatives I hadn’t seen in a long time and meeting new ones that I never knew existed. 

 *** 

Two nights later, on New Year’s Eve, my daughter, my sister and I had a cocktail the Carousel Bar, where you can literally feel the room spinning every fifteen minutes.

  IMG_0727 Hotel Monteleone Carousel Bar cropped

IMG_1518 Carousel Bar detail

Earlier in the week, my father-in-law reminisced about his courtship with my mother-in-law when they used to listen to Liberace play here.

IMG_1522 carousel bar piano

After weighing all our options, we chose to bring in 2011 in the comfort of our room upstairs, watching the fireworks across the Mississippi while sipping mango bellinis. 

IMG_1398 fireworks at the bend of the mississippi

Here is a glimpse of the fireworks at Jackson Square about seven blocks away.




From the comfort of my home in Palo Alto, I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays

DSC07161 Four Seasons Christmas bling

Wishing you all a happy holiday season. 

DSC07160 Four Seasons Christmas Lobby

I snapped these photos when I had lunch with my mother and sister at the always-elegant Four Seasons Hotel in Palo Alto.

DSC07162 Four Seasons Lobby Christmas Decorations

DSC07167 Four Seasons Christmas decoration

DSC07165 Four Seasons Fireplace decorations

Even though it's not cold here this Christmas day, this duet by Norah Jones and Willie Nelson reflects the spirit of the season perfectly.

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