springing into action

theresa cassagne Photograph

It’s hard to top the season we just had, starting in the autumn with the Saints’ winning streak and culminating in a frenzied February with what some people called “Lombardi Gras,” the joyous coincidence of the Saints’ Super Bowl win and Carnival.

But as incredible as that was, I’m definitely looking forward to the months ahead: the warmer temperatures, French Quarter Fest, Jazz Fest, seersucker suits, the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, Tales of the Cocktail, Fourth of July cookouts, White Linen Night.

To get you in the proper spirit, we have some amazing recipes for a fast and easy meal that will get you out in the sunshine and won’t heat up the kitchen: lamb chops, couscous, zucchini and grilled peaches. To make things even more festive, we included a classic cocktail with a seasonal twist: the always-refreshing Pimm’s Cup, jazzed up with ginger syrup and garnished with fresh seasonal fruit. Testing those recipes — especially the Pimm’s Cup, to make sure we had it just right — reminded me that I have one of the best jobs ever, and I’d like to extend special thanks to Beverly Church, the executive editor of St. Charles Avenue, for graciously letting us use her backyard for the shoot.
With warmer weather coming on, it’s definitely a great time to get out and grill, but that doesn’t mean we love our indoor kitchens any less. In the same way that food isn’t just food in New Orleans, kitchens aren’t just kitchens: They are the true centers of our homes, and the fabulous kitchens on this year’s Junior League of New Orleans Kitchen Tour show us just how versatile this room can be. From tumbled-edge travertine floors to exposed brick walls to custom cabinets and paint colors, these kitchens are all elegant, functional and uniquely tailored to their owners’ needs and tastes. Anyone who is planning a kitchen remodel or just wants to live vicariously should check out the kitchens in these pages and then go see them in person on Saturday, March 27.

Another sure sign that spring is upon us is the return of The Secret Gardens Tour. These glorious gardens inspired even me — notorious for killing such low-maintenance plants as cactus and mint. The tour this year, Friday, March 12 and Saturday, March 13, will take you through some of the loveliest gardens in the city and leave you ready to return home, find your garden gloves and get to weeding.

Also inspiring is Bruce and Robin Benton Crutcher’s modern home, which we showcase as an example of new construction done right. With boxy beige cookie-cutter homes springing up all across America, it is delightful to see a new home thoughtfully erected in a historic neighborhood. Rather than try to make new construction look old — which always comes off as inauthentic — the Crutchers and architect Wayne Troyer, one of our 2008 Design Masters, created a fresh and innovative building that is sensitive to its surroundings without pretending to be something it’s not. Open, airy and full of bright colors, the Crutchers’ home will make you re-examine your biases about new construction.

The arrival of warmer weather also means it’s time for spring cleaning, and whether that means just simple dusting and scrubbing or tackling bigger home improvement projects, our Resource Directory has you covered.

From big things, like Jazz Fest, to little things, like lamb chops and Pimm’s Cups for dinner, a good time in this city is never far away. 

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