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On Assignment

With editor Ashley McLellan


Welcome to “On Assignment.” Each week, I’ll let you in on all of the “who, what, where, and why’s” that I am diving into. While this is the first issue, it may look a bit different than those to come in the next few weeks and months, because, well, COVID. Whomp, whomp.

Like so many, my family was struck, merely one day after my youngest received his booster, by the dreaded positive COVID-19 test result. So, while future reports will venture farther than my front porch, this week, I have my quarantine survival guide for the past 10 days. Here are some local, and not-so-local, resources that have kept me going.


We kicked off Carnival season with a king cake from Gracious Bakery, which features a thin ribbon of dark chocolate and is beautifully decorated with icing, along with sprinkle pearls by local confectioners River Road Sprinkle Co. If chocolate isn’t your thing, they also have an almond flavored “Queen Cake,” a pretty and sweet pink “Nectar King Cake,” a traditional French puff pastry “Galette de Rois,” and, new this year, a savory king cake topped with bacon, cracklings and pepper jelly. Truly something for everyone.

I’d like to make a solemn pledge, here and now, to try a different king cake each week until Mardi Gras day. It’s a tough job, but I am up for the challenge. What king cake should I try next week? Let me know!

Next up, I’d like to give a big shout out to all of my friends who offered to drop off groceries, K95 masks (K95 is the new black, dontcha know?) or deliver supplies of any kind. Two snaps to one of the best of the best, my friend Jananne, who jumped in the car with the delivery of a variety of Trader Joe’s finest healthy meals and snacks. The tub o’ mini chocolate cookies? Chef’s kiss.

Brady’s Wine Warehouse and Martin Wine & Spirits both have convenient, downloadable apps and nearly-contactless delivery (I had to show my ID to the delivery driver through the window; we both wore masks and he was able to scan the back of my card from several feet away). Local proprietors are a great way to get all your refreshment needs while supporting neighborhood businesses. Both have a wide selection of beer, wine, spirits, mixers, non-alcoholic sodas and even snacks, like Zapps, pickles and Little Debbie Nutty Buddy wafers! It’s like a one-stop shop for your happy hour nosh needs.

Quarantine is prime time for podcast bingeing. This past week, the nationally acclaimed podcast Smartless (hosted by actors Will Arnett, Jason Batemen and Sean Hayes) had an interview with actress Katherine Hahn (Wandavision) that truly went off the rails, in the very best way. It had me snorting with laughs while diving into yet another slice of king cake.

Back on the home front, I’m also getting into the Carnival spirit by catching up on Season 2 of our own Renaissance Publishing podcast, Beyond the Beads, hosted by Executive Editor Errol Laborde. Each episode is packed with history and insider information that will get you pumped for parades, be they the porch, neutral ground, sidewalk or house float variety. Stay tuned for the premiere of Season 3, coming soon to wherever you get your podcasts (you know the drill.)


What’s next for when I get sprung from quarantine?  The world will be my oyster! Where should I go and what should I do? Speaking of oysters, maybe I should go and find some to feast upon.

In all seriousness, I am so grateful to have had a minor COVID-19 brush for myself and for my family, all thanks to the power of the vaccine and the booster. I know it could have been so much worse. It will feel so good to be able to zip out of the house for a quick errand again, meet up (socially responsibly) with friends and mask up and go out to experience life in the city.

Let me know the next best thing on your list, and maybe I will add it to mine!



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