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International Trip Checklist: What You Need To Do

International Trip Checklist: What You Need To Do

So you’ve got your tickets booked for an exciting international trip! Now what? This international trip checklist is the fancy way of saying “here’s what runs through my head in the run-up to a trip”. Most of the bullet points listed below are truly 5 […]

Compère Lapin: New Orleans Food

Compère Lapin: New Orleans Food

My hubby and I sneaked away this spring for an overnight anniversary getaway in New Orleans (basically a staycation, but it was loverly). While we had the evening to ourselves we splurged on a nice dinner out at Compère Lapin (it was our anniversary, after […]

Restaurants in Slidell, LA (Where to Eat After a Swamp Tour)

Restaurants in Slidell, LA (Where to Eat After a Swamp Tour)

If you’re coming to visit New Orleans, you’ve quite likely got a swamp tour on your list of things to do. Deservedly so; it’s a unique glimpse into an unusual ecosystem, and an activity we often do with friends who visit us. Several companies based in Slidell, LA offer swamp tours, but that’s not actually the focus of today’s post. Do the swamp tour; it’s great and enjoyable. Then let us point you in the direction of our favorite restaurants in Slidell, as well as treats both hot and cold. All the restaurants listed are locally-owned, and serve awesome regional food (with the exception of the Thai place. It’s just delicious Thai food. ;)). They’re all also family-friendly and moderately priced. And last but not least, one of the advantages of a small town is that the very longest drive to any of these restaurants from the swamp tours is about 15 minutes. . . and some would be just 5 minutes away. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the best restaurants in Slidell, LA!


TLeblanc’s Creole Kitchenbest restaurants in slidell T Leblanc's

If you’re looking for authentic Creole down-home cooking, TLeblanc’s is the place to go. Run by long-time friends of ours, all their food is cooked in-house by two to three generations of the LeBlanc family, and is just plain delicious. Personal favorites are their fried green tomatoes with crabmeat remoulade sauce, killer roast beef po-boys, the BEST fried chicken (Tuesday’s lunch special, but you can always ask), crab and corn bisque, creamy mac’n’cheese, and excellent bread pudding. They also have delicious salads if people in your party are looking for a lighter option, ha! Food pacing is very important in New Orleans. . . Check out their website for more menu items, plus they update their Facebook and Instagram pages regularly with specials. Heads up: they’re only open for lunch most days, and closed on the weekends, so time your visit for weekday lunch! (Even better if it’s a Tuesday for fried chicken day. . .)



best restaurants in slidell beignets

Beignet au Lait

Literally just down the road from TLeblanc’s are the best beignets around. If you’re not from here, beignets are square donuts that come buried under a mound of powdered sugar. If you’ve come to the New Orleans area to visit, I’m sure they’re already on your list to eat. Beignet au Lait is tucked into a little strip mall off of Robert Rd., and, truth be told, does not have the atmosphere of the iconic Cafe du Monde. But iconic or not, Beignet au Lait’s version is way better! Beignet au Lait offers both classic beignets and those with flavored glazes, as well as cafe au lait (coffee with milk). They do also serve breakfast and lunch items, but we’ve never made it past the beignets.



Southside Café

Owned by a retired Marine, and filled with military memorabilia, Southside Café serves up some of my favorite sandwiches ever. All the food we’ve ever gotten has been delicious, but somehow I always come back to the sandwiches. Equally memorable is their excellent fried eggplant appetizer; long wedges of crisp eggplant are served with marinara sauce and dusted in Parmesan cheese. My hubby’s favorite meal there is a Reuben with a side of fries (great fries!) and honey mustard sauce to dip the fries in. I love both their Ponchartrain Pig (bbq pork with crisp coleslaw) and Honey Island Chicken sandwiches.

best restaurants slidell southside cafe eggplant          best restaurants in slidell southside reuben



Old Town Soda Shop

Slidell’s Old Town Soda Shop offers not only an enjoyable retro atmosphere but also the best ice cream on the Northshore! (The honor of the Southshore’s best goes to Creole Creamery.) Get a scoop of their rotating flavors and enjoy it in a vintage booth. Bonus for families with little kids: they offer “half scoops” which are plenty big to make kids happy, but go easy on the wallet. You can find even more info on their Facebook page.



Southern Delights Snoballs

Best snoball restaurant in Slidell

Also a must when in the New Orleans area, snoballs are unlike anything you’ve had elsewhere. Silky smooth shaved ice is topped with one of a hundred flavors for a cold pick-me-up on a hot day. Locals often get theirs “stuffed” (soft serve ice cream in the middle) or topped with condensed milk (surprisingly delicious). The “Blue House” does them well, and serves up many other treats to please every palate. Check out their Facebook page for seasonal hours.



Vera’s Seafood

If you’re in the mood for fried seafood, Vera’s is one of THE best seafood restaurants in Slidell! Their fried shrimp are ginormous and tender, and you can get platters that let you mix and match a variety of seafood. Don’t miss their soup of the day either; it’s usually a cream-based soup with a creamed vegetable pureed in it and seafood mixed in. Past favorites have been artichoke and crab or asparagus and crab. But whatever it is, it will be delicious! It also has a bayou-esque atmosphere, if you wish to continue the swamp tour theme.




Okay, so Thai isn’t Southern cuisine (at least, not this continent’s. . . ), but we have a delicious Thai restaurant in Slidell if that’s what you’re craving! My personal favorites are their panang curry and fresh spring rolls with a peanut sauce, but my mother’s is their pad woodsen. Check our Thailicious’ menu and info on their website.



I hope I’ve convinced you that the restaurants in Slidell are worth a stop! Check some of these places out and let me know what you think.

Top photo from T Leblanc’s Facebook page. Other photo creds and thanks go to my sister and mother-in-love, who humored me by taking pictures of their food for me. We aren’t the only ones who love these places!!

Pensacola Children’s Museum

Pensacola Children’s Museum

There’s no doubt that when we gather in Pensacola, the main event is the beach. Also, eating, boating, and definitely coffee. But as we’ve added more and more kiddoes to our families, it’s occasionally nice to take a day off from all the sand and […]

Gulfport Kids’ Train Museum Two-Fer

Gulfport Kids’ Train Museum Two-Fer

Of all the adventures Melissa’s and my kids had over early summer break, the Mississippi Coast Model Railroad Museum was the surprise favorite. Sure, when we told the kids we were headed to the beach or the Pensacola Children’s Museum, or the Airplane Museum, they […]

Favorite France Blogs and Podcasts

Favorite France Blogs and Podcasts

Perhaps you’ve read enough posts around here to figure out that I (Melissa) love France. And France blogs and books. What’s not to love? The language is poetic, the French approach to food is almost reverent (creating meals that make you swoon), and the topography and history are rich and varied with much to discover.

The France blogs and podcasts listed below are ones that I have on my blog feed, and reference time and again. Whether I’m looking for cultural insights, travel tips, or food recommendations, these sites always deliver delightful and useful information! Usually I’m sighing over the pictures, or reading for fun, but they are also where I usually begin research when a trip is on the horizon. Worth noting is that these blogs are all written by American expats (with the exception of Annie at Join Us in France, who is French, but she has lived for many years in the US). I think that’s part of why I find their cultural articles helpful; as Americans or those who understand American culture, they spot where French culture is different from American culture and help explain how to navigate those differences. Allons-y! Let’s go!

Château de Chenonceau France Blog

David Lebovitz

I’m leading with the good stuff, y’all. A one-stop resource for recipes, culture, restaurants, boulangeries, and more, American pastry chef David Lebovitz chronicles his life in Paris (and around France) on his eponymous blog. His writing on the vagaries of life in France is always humorous and entertaining in a droll, dry sort of way. Since food is his livelihood, delectable recipes make regular appearances. But he also has comprehensive (and invaluable!) pages listing restaurant recommendations and pastry shops. (Once upon a time this pastry shop list existed on an app where you could see them all on a map, plus listed by arrondissment. I ADORED it. And gleefully put it into overdrive on my first trip to Paris. But the app is, alas, no longer available, and iCloud removed my copy from my phone and it’s not yet something I can contemplate without grieving, even if it wasn’t totally up to date. Me, bitter? Never. . . I am indebted to it –rather, to David! — for the majority of my most memorable food memories in Paris.) For now, I suggest reading his food recommendation pages all the way through to what piques your appetite, and also using the search function on your browser to find them by arrondissment. I’ve got a new (to me) chocolat chaud spot to try that I found on his chocolat chaud page!

Château de Chenonceau

Join Us in France Podcast

I’ve previously referenced this marvelous travel resource when I talked about driving in France. The Join Us in France Travel Podcast is hosted by jolly Frenchwoman Annie, and she (along with her guests) conversationally cover vast expanses of France with all sorts of practical information. From what to see where and how to see it, and what to do or not to do, put these episodes on play and get informed and inspired!

The podcasts are listed both by topic and by region, making it easy to find the subjects that are most interesting and helpful to you.

Secrets of Paris

This is a new find for me, but a find indeed! Secrets of Paris is a blog written only by people who live at least part-time in Paris, creating what does indeed feel like a peek into a secret (local) side of Paris. They cover everything from when to visit (jackpot! I’m going then!), to where to find the best pistachio ice cream (bookmarked), and if you’ve wondered how gauche it is to wear shorts in Paris (I sure have), they have given the best answer I’ve ever read on the subject! They also cover local Parisian subjects such as disposing of Christmas trees after the season, so there is nothing touristy about it. Personally, I like feeling like a non-touristy tourist, so sign me up. My only complaint is that I could not find any sort of search function on the site, so it may take a while to find a specific topic you’re interested in. But you’ll certainly have fun looking.

Château de Chenonceau France Blog

Aspiring Kennedy

Expat Lauren is based in London, and somehow reading her blog makes you feel like she’s a friend. (I mean, we share a passion for grocery shopping in France, not to mention a love for travel with adorable kiddos.) Much of her blog centers around London, but part of her job is planning and conducting international college trips, and she’s collected lots of tips along the way, including travel with small children. (I recommend her tips for pacing meals with small ones all. the. time.) You can find her Paris posts here, and her tips for the rest of France here (making notes for Provence!!).

Coffee Break French

So, this is neither food nor culture, per se, but if you’re looking for a convenient and practical introduction to the French language, I have thoroughly enjoyed the Coffee Break French series. Even if you’d just like to pick up a few phrases to get by on a trip it’s helpful, but they have more advanced lessons as well. I have linked to the beginning season, but their intermediate series have been enriching and informative. Heads up: it’s hosted by a Scotsman, but as he’s lived and worked in France, his accent will not lead you astray. 😉 They have also put out series for Spanish, German, Chinese, and Italian, so you’re not limited to French, either.

Château de Chenonceau

Dorie Greenspan

I should also mention Dorie Greenspan, who releases recipes and musings at She doesn’t write prolifically on France, but she releases little gems like this ode to the cafe in France that worth keeping an eye out for. She also periodically releases a Paris newsletter if you subscribe. (You should.)

I’ve been having a grand time researching and dreaming over all these pages! Anticipation makes a trip that much more exciting. What France blogs and podcasts are your favorites? I’d love to hear about what other resources you love!


All pictures are from our visit to Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley. Just because they make me happy. Oh, and I used Join Us in France to help select which chateaux to visit, so that’s relevant, right?

How to Find a Foreign Language Teacher or Conversational Group

How to Find a Foreign Language Teacher or Conversational Group

Though the idea of being able to speak in a secret language with your friends has appealed since childhood, I think I really got the foreign language bug when we moved to Germany several years ago. We immediately enrolled our four year old in a […]

Maïs Arepas Colombian Food: New Orleans

Maïs Arepas Colombian Food: New Orleans

My hubby and I had a marvelous (nice) date night out in New Orleans last week, and we finally made it to a Colombian restaurant I’ve been dying to try. Mexican/South American food is not a passion of my dear husband’s like it is mine, […]

Naval Aviation Museum: Pensacola

Naval Aviation Museum: Pensacola

Today we’re delighted to talk about one of our family’s long-standing and favorite traditions in Pensacola! Colloquially known as the Aviation Museum, at our house even more informally called The Airplane Museum, its official title is the National Naval Aviation Museum. Due to the Naval flight school being located on Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Pensacola has been known for decades as the “Cradle of Naval Aviation”. Even if you’re not necessarily a huge fan of airplanes, the museum is packed enough with history and science alone to make it worth the visit (and c’mon, the airplanes are really cool!) Plan on spending an entire morning or afternoon visiting, even for the casual visitor. More die-hard buffs could probably spend the entire day at the museum. We’ve been visiting Pensacola’s Aviation Museum for more than 20 years, and its expansion over the years has been amazing to watch.


Aviation Museum Entrance

When you first drive up, the entrance to the National Naval Aviation Museum is graced by an F-14 Tomcat (the greatest airplane ever invented). Parking is plentiful, though if you don’t get there early you may have a bit of a walk ahead of you.

Pensacola Aviation Museum Tours

When you enter, all the adults should be prepared to show ID, and open up bags and purses for a quick inspection. The visitor’s kiosk will be immediately past the entrance on the right; it is manned with friendly and enthusiastic volunteers who are happy to answer any questions you may have!  There are information and times of the free tours throughout the day. We’ve never taken one simply because we have our own in-house tour guide, but I would highly recommend it if you’d like some background information and stories on the planes.


Aviation Museum Pensacola Kiddie HawkDownstairs houses the IMAX theatre (tickets are extra), the gift shop (that’s actually worth visiting), a play area for the children (the USS Kiddie Hawk…USS Kitty Hawk, get it?? ;)), short (free) films about carrier training, a Prisoner of War display, oodles of planes, and many other things to explore. One of our favorite things to get from the gift shop when we were young was astronaut ice cream, I think mostly for the novelty.




Upstairs the Aviation Museum gives you a close-up view of the Blue Angels, a simulators to ride in (for an extra fee), cockpits of various planes to climb in, weather learning, space displays, an aircraft carrier interior replica (that my father says even captures its unique scent — not a bad one, just authentic!), and a recreation of a WWII suburban street, to name just a few things.

Blue Angels Pensacola Aviation Museum

The museum expanded to two building in the past few years; the second building houses Coast Guard aviation, more Navy aviation and military history, a presidential helicopter, as well as more free short films about significant events.Aviation Museum Pensacola Ready Room


It’s hard to fully describe just how much the museum houses in terms of memorabilia and experiences and history! It has something for everyone of every age, and you can soak in as much or as little of it as you care to at any one time. We would have to add a few dozen pictures to the post to really capture it, so can I just say that you really must go visit it??


Aviation Museum Pensacola Cubi Bay The Cubi Bar Cafe is a piece of history itself — it’s a preservation of the Officer’s Club on the now-defunct NAS Cubi Point in the Philippines. Tradition was that every time a squadron on an aircraft carrier passed through, they commissioned a plaque with the squadron’s logo, slogan, and a list of all the officers’ names. (Our father is in there!) If I’m being honest, the food is just average, but it’s worth stopping for a snack or a drink just to enjoy the atmosphere. If the cafe isn’t full, I suggest requesting to be seated in the back of the cafe, where you can see many more of the plaques — some of them are quite entertaining to look at! We brought the gang in for a little cup of affordable $1.50 ice cream and a snack.

If you’d like some great food after your trip to the Aviation Museum, just outside of the West Gate, our favorite Greek food is literally about 2 minutes away from the entrance to the base.

Important to Know

You can find all the information you need to know here, but the important stuff is:

  • You can only get on the base via the West Gate (1878 S Blue Angel Pkwy.). You will need to show ID to enter.
  • Admission is free, but once again, you must show ID and open bags for a brief search to enter. Don’t worry, they keep the line moving!
  • The museum is open from 9am-5pm every day.
  • It it’s a sunny week day, it’s likely not to be too crowded, but if it’s a rainy day or a holiday, plan to enter the gate at 8:45 to be at the museum when the doors open to avoid crowds.
  • Food may not be consumed inside the museum, but there are picnic tables outside. (But get a snack at the Cubi Cafe!)
  • It is mostly very stroller-friendly, with an elevator available, and only a couple steps here and there.

Aviation Museum Helicopter

Armchair Travel: Kids’ Italy Books

Armchair Travel: Kids’ Italy Books

Well, with Michelle and her crew gearing up to travel to Italy this fall, all things Italy are dancing through her head! So we decided to round up some of our favorite books for kids that are set in Italy. We own a couple of […]