Skip to content
Advertisements

8 Days in Louisiana

May 4, 2018

By Kath Dedon

.

(Print the list of our favorite New Orleans and Louisiana places)

.

This is a long post about our recent trip to Louisiana. I wrote it primarily for Bob and myself so we can relive the trip when we read it. All of the things mentioned are restaurants and places that we truly enjoyed, so if you have vacation plans in Louisiana you may find it helpful. If you’re only interested in the recipes on the blog, I promise I’ll be back with a new one soon!

************************

Bob moved to Seattle from New Orleans in May, 1980. He had lived there for 2 years, long enough to make many life-long friends. I also have 3 first cousins who live in Louisiana with their families. Bob and I got married in 1983, and we now have a lot of favorite people to visit when we go to Louisiana.

We have traveled to Louisiana several times, but we hadn’t been there since 2007 which was before I started this blog. That year we visited New Orleans in early May to go to Jazz Fest with friends from Seattle. Our plan was to have BBQ Shrimp for lunch at Pascal’s Manale on Friday before heading to Jazz Fest. While we were there it started to rain. It rained, and it RAINED! New Orleans had 4.2 inches of rain that afternoon! As we were finishing our lunch, we watched the street fill with water and the TV in the restaurant was showing live video of the rain and mud at Jazz Fest. We ordered another bottle of wine and decided to wait until Saturday to go to Jazz Fest.

 

Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral, 2005

March 2005 photo of St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square

 

2018

We couldn’t believe that it’s been 11 years since we had been to New Orleans. We were long overdue.

We planned this trip around the Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette. One of my cousins, Maggie, lives in Lafayette with her family. She has long told us that we need to go to this special music festival. We had been to New Orleans Jazz Fest several times, but this was the year to go to the Festival in Lafayette.

On Monday, April 23, we flew to New Orleans. We stayed with our good friends, John and Ann, at their beautiful home near Magazine Street. They really enjoy being able to walk to all of the shops and restaurants that are so close to them. It was so great to see them and we were really glad they were in town. They have grandchildren in Boston and Atlanta, so they are often out of town. 😉

When we flew in, John and Ann met us at Meg’s house and the five of us went out for dinner. Dinner was at Brisbi’s. We feasted on raw oysters and Basin Debris Fries (“slow roasted beef debris over cheese fries topped with horseradish cream”) for appetizers and then ordered dinner. I enjoyed their wedge salad with fried shrimp. The  food and service were both great. We were enjoying catching up with each other so much that we didn’t realize that the restaurant had closed. When we left, every other table was empty and the chairs had been put up. We were never once rushed to leave! Amazing!

On Tuesday, Bob and I went to Audubon Park and the zoo. We love the Louisiana Swamp exhibit where they not only exhibit local wildlife, but they also post recipes for many of them. It’s an education about the culture of the Cajun people who live in Southern Louisiana.

.

Spanish moss on some, but not all, of the oak trees in Audubon Park

Audubon park, oak tree with Spanish moss

.

As seen in the Louisiana Swamp Exhibit at the Audubon Zoo

At Audubon zoo

 

Other meal highlights in New Orleans included lunch at Guys Po-Boys, where we had fried shrimp po-boys, and a steak dinner at the classic Crescent City Steaks.

On Wednesday morning we went to the National World War II Museum, which is most definitely a must-see museum in New Orleans. It’s rated by Trip Advisor as the #1 museum in New Orleans, the #2 museum in the US, and the #2 museum in the world!

We couldn’t believe how much it has grown since we were last there over 11 years ago. When we first visited, the Museum was housed in just one building, the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion. Today there are 5 buildings on 6 acres and there are new buildings planned for the future.

We didn’t have much time before we had to leave for Covington. Our friend, Meg, who works at the Museum, told us that the first thing to do is to see the movie, Beyond All Boundaries, which is narrated by the Executive Producer, Tom Hanks. It is really excellent and gives you a great perspective on what the world was like at the time. The rest of the exhibits are more meaningful after having seen the movie. We left after the movie but decided we had to go back when we returned to New Orleans in five days.

We left the WWII Museum to drive across Lake Pontchartrain on the causeway to visit my cousin, Marty and his wife, Mary Thomas in Covington. It was so great to spend some time with them. Their beautiful home has a park-like backyard and you can walk down to the East Fork Little Bogue Falaya with its white sand beach. We had lunch at the Money Hill Golf Course. Dinner that night was a fantastic Spicy Shrimp Creole that Marty and Mary Thomas made. They said it was adapted from a recipe in Donald Link’s Real Cajun, a cookbook that is a favorite of theirs. (I just got it and I’m looking forward to exploring its recipes.)

 

Bob and Marty and I walked down to the East Fork Little Bogue Falaya

Marty and Bob - East Fork Little Bogue Falaya

.

Marty and Mary Thomas’ peaceful backyard

Peaceful backyard

.

Lunch the next day was at Acme Oyster House in Covington. We had both raw and chargrilled oysters. Both were delicious, but the chargrilled ones (“sizzling, chargrilled oysters saturated in an herb butter sauce, topped with a special blend of cheese.”) were especially good. I had the Fried Oyster Salad. Bob ordered, and ate, an oyster po-boy, gumbo, and red beans and rice. He didn’t want to miss out on any Louisiana delicacies.

.

Acme Oyster House in Covington

 

My fried oyster salad with balsamic vinaigrette

Fried Oyster Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette at Acme Oyster House

.

Bob enjoyed his oyster po-boy, gumbo, and red beans and rice!

Bob's Oyster Po-Boy, Seafood Gumbo, and Red Beans and Rice

.

That afternoon we cruised a bit of the Tchefuncte River on a 32-foot Grand Banks power boat with some friends of Marty and Mary Thomas. It was just a beautiful afternoon. We sipped wine and enjoyed cheese, salami, and pate.

 

Cruising down the Tchefuncte River near Madisonville, LA

.

After docking the boat we headed for dinner at Crabby Shack in nearby Madisonville. I tried a grilled fish that was new to me, Sheepshead. It was delicious served over a salad with remoulade dressing. Bob had crawfish and a small hot sausage po-boy. I tasted the crawfish and they were great. The po-boy featured sausage patties instead of links. Bob really enjoyed it! My big surprise was when I tasted Marty’s fried catfish. I didn’t think I liked catfish, but here it was fresh, thinly sliced, battered lightly, and fried. It was delicious!

We hit the road on Friday to travel to Lafayette. On the way we stopped in Baton Rouge to see our friends, Julia and Stewart & Becky. It was great to see them. We had lunch with Stewart and Becky at Heads & Tails. I had their Shrimp Remoulade Salad. Bob ordered the Fried Oyster BLT. It was a like a club sandwich with 3 slices of bread. The fried oysters were on one side and the BLT was on the other. The waitress said you just have to squish it down to get it in your mouth. Bob removed the middle slice of bread to reduce it a bit.

Bob’s Fried Oyster BLT

Bob's triple decker Fried Oyster BLT at Heads & Tails Seafood in Baton Rouge

 

My Shrimp Remoulade Salad, with the Remoulade Sauce on the side

Shrimp Remoulade Salad with the Remoulade sauce on the side

.

We got to Maggie and Rick’s house in Lafayette at about 5:00. Rick was already at the Festival International de Louisiane, so we took an Uber with Maggie to the Festival grounds to meet him.

Bob expected the Festival to be a lot like Jazz Fest, but it’s really quite different. As their website says, it’s “a non-profit organization that produces the largest international music and arts festival in the United States with a special emphasis on the connection between Acadiana and the Francophone world”. There were musicians from all over the world performing on 5 different stages. We saw musicians from Gambia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Quebec, Ireland, Jamaica, Iran, New Brunswick, Haiti, and Louisiana.

 

On Friday night we saw Mydy Rabycad, a group from the Czech Republic

Mydy Rabycad from the Czech Republic

.

Unlike Jazz Fest, the Festival is free, and it is strongly supported by the Lafayette community. 2600 people volunteer in various roles to make it all happen. The food and drinks are reasonably priced ($4 beers). The food was really good! Over the course of 3 days we enjoyed shrimp po-boys, pulled pork, crab cakes, jambalaya, and grilled gator. My favorite meal in Lafayette, though, was Maggie’s homemade crawfish pie that we had for dinner Sunday night. It was fabulous!

.

Bob and Kath making the “Y” in Lafayette at the Festival

Making the Y in Lafayette.jpg

 

Besides music, The Festival features many artists and they are quite good. 

.

Alligators represented in art at The Festival

Alligators painted on a screen.jpg

.

Bob doing his best alligator imitation

Bob making his best alligator face

.

We even bought a couple of pieces and had them shipped to Seattle.

.

Our mask by Calvin Walton 

Mask by Calvin Walton

 

Our flying fish sculpture by Mitch Landry

Fling fish sculpture by Mitch Landry.jpg

 

On Saturday we enjoyed 6 different musical performances.

.

Frigg, from Finland

Frigg on stage.jpg

 

Socks in the Frying Pan, from Ireland, as seen from our shaded seats

Socks in the Frying Pan from Ireland.jpg

.

The Festival is indeed free, but you can buy a “Bons Temps Pass” and Maggie and Rick treated us to that perk. You wear a wrist band each day, and it entitles you to front row viewing right in front of the stages, shaded seating with chairs, and private air-conditioned restroom trailers which were kept spotlessly clean throughout the festival. It was very nice to have that pass. (Thank you, Maggie and Rick!)

s

We had the Bons Temps Pass

Festival pass

Pass benefits

.

On Sunday, before the Festival opened at noon, we went to Mass at The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. In honor of the Festival, the Mass was in French and the choir was Les Jeunes Chanteurs d’Acadie from New Brunswick, Canada. The acoustics in the Cathedral are wonderful and the music was just beautiful. We saw the choir again later in the day at the Festival.

 

Inside the Cathedral

The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

.

VERY large oak tree at the Cathedral

Oak at St. John's

About the St. John's oak.jpg

.

After Mass we enjoyed another afternoon of great music at The Festival!

On Monday, April 30, we returned to New Orleans via US 90 so we could stop at Avery Island to tour the Tabasco factory. I had purchased tickets for the self-guided tour online. I don’t know if it’s necessary to purchase tickets in advance, but it seemed like a good idea. The tour is very well done. Each area is numbered so you know where to go next. There are brief videos at each section that describe what you’re seeing.

.

Barrels of Tabasco

Barrels of Tabasco.jpg

.

Caps being put on the bottles

Putting the caps on Tabasco.jpg

 

Bob actually did not plan his outfit to match the Tabasco bottles. The Original Tabasco Sauce is his very favorite hot sauce.

Bob at the Tabasco Sauce Factory

.

The Tabasco Gift Shop had an amazing assortment of all things Tabasco! They provide pretzel sticks to use for tasting the different flavors of the sauce. One product that was new to us was Tabasco Sriracha sauce. We loved that one. We didn’t want to carry it home; I trusted that I would be able to order it online. Sure enough, I found Tabasco Sriracha on Amazon. It’s being delivered today.

After our tour, we continued on US 90 through the Acadiana Region of Louisiana toward New Orleans. We were driving along and Bob mentioned a great seafood place, Spahr’s, which he had visited near Des Allemands about 40 years ago. He said they had a giant stuffed turtle.

Not long after our conversation we drove past Spahr’s on the highway! We were ready for lunch so Bob pulled off the highway and we drove back to the restaurant. Bob looked around for the turtle, but it wasn’t there. He asked about it and was told that the restaurant he remembered had burned due to a kitchen fire. They opened another restaurant in Thibodaux and then rebuilt at the original location in 2006.

The stuffed turtle may have been lost, but they had a photo of a huge turtle right by our table. Spahr’s is known for their Wild Caught Des Allemands Catfish” so, naturally, that’s what we had. I had a half order of their “original” Catfish Chips with French fries. Bob had the Monday special, Catfish Chips with red beans and rice. The catfish was fantastic! I can no longer say that I don’t like catfish. I’m just picky about the source of the catfish and how it’s prepared!

 

Spahrs Seafood Restaurant on Hwy 90 just west of Des Allemandes.jpg

 

Really delicious catfish!

Catfish chips at Spahrs

.

When we got back to New Orleans we went back to the WWII Museum. The first thing we did was to go to the interactive Final Mission: USS Tang Experience. It’s a submarine experience that places visitors aboard the most successful submarine in WWII for its fifth and final war patrol. Each person is given a card with a picture of one of the men on the submarine and your assigned station. I was 28-year-old Pete Narowanski from Baltimore, MD. I was assigned to station 13, the Torpedo Data Computer. The presentation is very moving and it gives you a feeling for what it would have been like to have been on that mission.

That night we had dinner at Juan’s Flying Burrito at the Uptown location (5538 Magazine Street), not to be confused with their Lower Garden District location at 2018 Magazine Street. Our friend, Meg, joined us as did my New Orleans cousin, Maureen, and her family. Maureen and Steve’s college-aged daughters were home for a brief visit before heading off for internships. It was wonderful to have the chance to see the whole family!

To celebrate crawfish season, Juan’s featured Crawfish Enchiladas and that’s exactly what Bob and I enjoyed. We may have some great Mexican restaurants at home, but none of them serve crawfish enchiladas!

We had a full day on May 1, our last day in New Orleans. We met our friends, Berkley and Susan, for breakfast at Riccobono’s Panola Street Café. I was excited to see liver and onions on the breakfast menu, so that’s what I had with grits. Bob chose eggs, bacon, and a biscuit that he declared to be really good. Susan had to leave early to teach a ceramics class, and we learned from Berkley that she is quite the accomplished artist. Besides teaching classes, her ceramics are featured in the gift shop at the New Orleans Museum of Art!

 

Riccobono’s Panola Street Cafe

Riccobono's Panola Street Cafe.jpg

 

My liver and onions with grits! 🙂

Liver and Onions and grits at Riccobono's Panola Street Cafe.jpg

 

After breakfast we drove out to the art museum to see Susan’s art. It is truly beautiful. As Susan says on her website, “The Shop carries a range of my work from tiny boxes and pitchers to floral bowls and large curious animals.” It was fun to see these creations made by our talented friend.

 

New Orleans Museum of Art

New Orleans Art Museum.jpg

 

Ceramics by Susan Bergman

By Susan Bergman.jpg

Ceramics by Susan Bergman.jpg

.

We met our friends, Victor and Bunny, for lunch at Mandina’s, “New Orleans’ favorite restaurant for Italian and seafood home-style cooking for more than eight decades.” They were featuring soft shell crab, so I had fried soft shell crab with French fries. Fantastic! And it was wonderful to see Victor and Bunny. It had been too long.

 

Soft Shell Crab at Mandina’s

Softshell crab at Mandina's.jpg

.

After lunch we still had some time before our evening flight home, so we drove out to the Southern Yacht Club to see its new building. We had visited the old clubhouse prior to Hurricane Katrina. The clubhouse was flooded, but it was a fire after the storm that destroyed it. With online coverage of the destruction in New Orleans, we watched live videos of the building fully engulfed in flames. It was surrounded by flood waters and it was impossible for fire fighters to reach it.

We visited New Orleans in 2006, 8 months after Katrina. We went out to SYC and they were back in business, but they were operating out of trailers. There were still boats under water at the destroyed docks, including a sailboat that Bob had raced on in the late ‘70s. Most of their trophies and memorabilia had been lost. We took a burgee from our SYC (Seattle Yacht Club) to help them rebuild their collection. When we visited the new building on Tuesday, they had a fine collection of burgees displayed in the bar, including one from the Seattle Yacht Club. Perhaps it is the one we gave them.

 

Some of the burgees in the bar at the Southern Yacht Club, including one from the Seattle Yacht Club

Burgees at SYC

.

After touring the yacht club we headed out to the airport for our flight home. It was a fabulous 8-day vacation in Louisiana. Amazingly, we visited for 8 days without ever going to the French Quarter. That was a first! The best part of this trip was seeing our Louisiana family and friends. We can’t let another 11 years go by before we see them again.

.

 

 

 

Advertisements
8 Comments leave one →
  1. Artak Kalantarian permalink
    May 4, 2018 6:28 pm

    Wow, seems to be such an amazing trip!

    • May 4, 2018 9:42 pm

      It was amazing, Artak! I highly recommend it. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  2. AmyA permalink
    May 6, 2018 1:12 am

    Loved reading your adventures in Louisiana. Never been there. Makes me want to visit some day.

  3. May 6, 2018 6:47 am

    Sounds like a fantastic trip, Kath. Both the food and the wonderful sites (including your friends’ gorgeous backyard!) New Orleans has been on my bucket list for years. One day I’ll finally get there…

  4. May 6, 2018 7:20 am

    Acme Oyster Bar in Quarter is my all time favorite. No body can do a fried oyster po-boy better than them. And, the red beans and rice, yum.
    Really enjoyed the read. Having lived in NOLA for a few and traveling through the cajun bayous for more years, your post brought back fond memories.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s