When faced with time off after graduating from Southeastern Louisiana University, Maggie DiMaggio took to baking cake after cake in her own kitchen. Seeing the potential in her baked treats, she soon began taking weekly pilgrimages to the Mandeville farmers' market to sell her cupcakes and fine breads. As the popularity of her creations grew, the special orders began pouring in—so many, in fact, that she had to open a storefront just to manage the demand.
That storefront soon evolved from its humble beginnings into The Chocolate Vine, a European-style bakery that also houses an intimate café. To foster a cozy, inviting atmosphere, Maggie furnishes the small eatery with tables and chairs from local antique stores and regularly applies a fresh coat of buttercream icing to the walls. When not crafting almond-, strawberry-, and chocolate-infused cakes , she cooks light lunches with fruits and vegetables from a local produce stand. Maggie also graciously opens up her wine cellar for regular tastings, during which guests sip on eight glasses of her finest reserves.
The Cove’s taste-bud-boggling array of single malts ensnares both walk-in connoisseurs and private-tasting aesthetes with its caramel-brown mouth velvet. Tasting attendees, in intimate groups no larger than 10, test-drive scotch from each of Scotland’s six producing regions in order to appreciate the peatiness of Islay’s elixir, the deep smokiness of Highlands’ quaffables, and the hair-turn handling of Speyside’s concoctions. Each tasting features a different set of six, plus one bonus scotch, drawn from The Cove’s laundry-list menu. While scotch enthusiasts savor their samples, a staff expert narrates the magical beverage’s rich history, explaining reasons for geographical differences and demonstrating the adhesiveness of the tape from which the drink takes its name. Tastings may be scheduled Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays starting at 7 p.m., and last an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the engagement of guests.
The volunteers at Deutsches Haus have worked since 1928 to celebrate German culture and introduce locals to the country’s music, food, language, and history. The chirp of accordions and the crackle of bratwurst on a grill hint at events, including Oktoberfest and Volksfest festivals. Beers from German breweries such as Paulaner and Warsteiner run in straw-hued rivulets from mugs, and vendors dressed in dirndls and lederhosen sell traditional steins. During weekly meetings of the Schlaraffia, a jovial, international fraternity, guests belt out literary and humorous compositions to entertain one another or try to teach robots to laughs.
O'Henrys has served baskets of complimentary salted peanuts to guests since its founding in 1982, and the floors remain whimsically festooned with shells to this day. Owner Rhonda Conley, with more than 20 years at O'Henry's under her belt, works to keep the tradition of the restaurant alive at both locations. Waiters crunch across dining rooms from midday to midnight, bearing plates of freshly ground filet mignon burgers, hearty steaks, and signature Monica cream sauce dishes. Outside, an outdoor balcony scattered with tabletops wraps around the restaurant. The eatery boasts private dining rooms for parties of up to 25 people. It also treats guests to a free new york strip steak if they can prove it's their birthday with a valid ID or by showing video tapes of them not celebrating their birthday the previous 364 days.
In the Krewe of Kringle pub crawl, revelers dressed as Santas, elves, reindeer, and a multitude of other holiday figures set out to conquer numerous area bars. Participants get free Abita beer at each location, and can take advantage of drink and shot specials.
NOLA stocks nearly 40 varieties of melon, berry, and citrus wines that span from drier drinkables to dessert varieties and lack the bitter taste of tannic acids. The traditional and rare Sinfully Noble dry muscadine wine pairs well with steaks and heavy sauces due to a deeply rich smokiness ($26.99), and the semi-sweet Florida Banana white wine can be enjoyed alone or mixed in a cocktail to entertain visiting Floridians ($25.99). Wine smoothies blended with real fruit range in flavor from a Key Limen and pineapple combo to an Eleganta red raspberry mix, and various wine accessories and gifts bedecked with fleur-de-lis include a chartreuse-colored wine-glass coozie ($6.99) and an adapter that transforms an empty wine bottle into a chic candelabra, an ideal source of light for studying for mid-terms after a night of drinking ($19.99).