Dickie Brennan’s "Tableau" Restaurant Takes Center Stage

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man

Louisiana restaurant review, gumbo review, louisiana travelTableau is the newest of Dickie Brennan’s restaurants and it’s become an instant hit. Its sister restaurants are: Bourbon House Seafood and Oyster Bar, Palace Café and Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse. 

This is more than a great restaurant. It’s part of New Orleans history. Le Petit Theatre Du Vieux Carre, located on the corner of St Peter & Chartres Streets, was founded in 1916 and is one of the oldest community-based theatre organizations. Click Le Petit above to read how the theatre and restaurant came about.

Now, let’s talk Gumbo. Tableau’s Louisiana Seafood Gumbo has more stuff in it than any gumbo I’ve had and we are talking about high quality seafood. Just look at the photo. There was lump crabmeat, big shrimp and plump oysters. This light-medium roux seafood gumbo has an excellent Gumboroma and was seasoned to perfection. Yes, as you got to the bottom of the bowl it was even more powerful. What a great after burn. This was my first gumbo that had eggplant. Not big chunks, it was pureed. Even the rice was great. They use popcorn rice which is also called Cajun rice. It is a gourmet rice that has a hint of popcorn flavor. If you look at the price on the menu ($9.50) you may think it’s on the expensive side, but with the amount of fresh seafood you get and it’s in a good size bowl, it’s a steal (don’t tell that to Dickie as he may increase the price).


Tableau's Seafood Gumbo

Croux says “I’ll give it a 5 Spoon Rating”

Taste:  The Best
Texture: Excellent
Spiciness: Excellent
Serving Temperature: Excellent
Enough Stuff: The Best
Presentation: The Best
Price: The Best

*Read my Gumbo Rating System*


Dickie Brennan’s Tableau Restaurant
616 St. Peter St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
Lunch & Dinner 7 days 

     The Louisiana Travelin' Man

A Visit to NOLA's Jackson Square Park

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 by Debbie Henriksen

Jackson Square Park, Visit New OrleansAndrew Jackson, the 7th president of the United States of America, wasn't born in Louisiana but he is still revered here for being the hero of the Battle of New Orleans. The American forces under the command of General Andrew Jackson defeated the invading British army who were hell-bent on capturing New Orleans and the vast territory the United States had acquired during the Louisiana Purchase. The Battle of New Orleans was the final major battle of the war of 1812 and is regarded as the greatest American land victory of the war.
New Orleans pays tribute to the hero of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans in a big way with a 14-foot equestrian statue of General Andrew Jackson. The one-third-larger-than-life bronze statue, created by sculptor Clark Mills, is the first equestrian statue in the United States and is one of the most photographed landmarks in the city. The commemorative statue is located in Jackson Square, a lively park in the French Quarter of New Orleans. 

I love visiting Jackson Square; it's a beautiful park located near many of the must-see locations in New Orleans. This is the place to be to watch street performers, magicians, fortune-tellers, and artists displaying their work on the outside of the impressive wrought iron fence. 

Visit New Orleans, Jackson Square, Louisiana vacation

After you've worn yourself out sightseeing and shopping, it’s time to grab a Café au Lait and a beignet or 2 from legendary Café du Monde and relax on one of the many beautiful wrought iron benches in the park. Make sure you don’t forget to bring along your camera because taking a photo of the statue with the iconic St. Louis Cathedral in the background is a must! This historic and stunning NOLA landmark is the oldest active Catholic cathedral in the United States and was visited by Pope John Paul II. It is a gorgeous building with its painted ceilings and lovely stained glass, and well worth a visit.
Hollywood has also discovered the charms of Jackson Square. It has been filmed in numerous TV shows and movies, including “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and the HBO series, “Treme”. But seeing it on screen doesn't do it justice; Jackson Square is the type of place that has to be experienced firsthand...and that is something I highly recommend!

Read more about New Orleans.

Top photo creditBottom photo credit

Metairie Scores with a Great Bistro and a Great New Orleans Gumbo

Thursday, April 3, 2014 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man

restaurant review, gumbo reviews, louisiana travelAndy’s Bistro is at home in Metairie, LA, which is a suburb of New Orleans, at a location that has housed several other restaurants since the 1970s, but this one should be around for a long time.  It’s only been open approximately one year, but the regulars keep coming back and the newcomers like me will become regulars.

Andy’s Bistro only serves one gumbo and, as the menu says, it’s a Gumbo of the Day. The cost for a bowl is $8.50.  I have a feeling that the Gumbo of the Day is pretty much New Orleans Style Gumbo on most days, which is what I had.  The waiter said it was a shrimp, crab, chicken and sausage gumbo. Here is the recipe: it is a medium-dark roux gumbo with small pieces of shrimp, smaller pieces of chicken and tiny pieces of sausage. As you know from other Gumbo blogs I've posted, I don’t like okra in my gumbo. This one has okra which did give it a slight slime factor.  As you can see by the photo, there are crab shells in the gumbo. I can never understand why they leave these in the gumbo when it’s served because you can’t get any meat out of it. The crab flavor has already gone into the gumbo. Some chefs must think it makes for a better presentation, but it doesn't. I also found small pieces of crab shells in the gumbo.

Okay, now I can get off my soapbox and tell you the rest of the story. This was a very good gumbo. The Gumboroma was perfect as was the spice level which got spicier as I got to the bottom of the bowl. The rice was served warm but added nothing to the gumbo.

If you find yourself in Metairie and are looking for a very good restaurant with great service, place Andy’s Bistro on your list.

Andy's Bistro New Orleans Gumbo       

Croux says “I’ll give it a 3 Spoon Rating”
Taste:  Very Good
Texture: Very Good
Spiciness: Very Good
Serving Temperature: Good
Enough Stuff: Good
Presentation: Very Good
Price: Excellent

*Read my Gumbo Rating System*
Andy’s Bistro
3322 N. Turnbull Dr.
Metairie, LA 70002
Dinner Mon-Sat and Lunch Fri


    The Louisiana Travelin' Man


Creole Goodness Overlooking the French Market

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man
Creole food, creole cuisine, gumbo, Louisiana gumbo
The second-oldest restaurant in New Orleans is also one of my favorites: Tujague’s (pronounced too-jax).
Tujague’s is over 150 years young and they are still serving great Creole food and one of the best Louisiana Gumbos around. I learned something while dining there recently.  They serve a Seafood Gumbo at lunch in a cup for $5 or a bowl for $7. At dinner, they have a bowl of Seafood and Andouille Gumbo which is a different gumbo than at lunch, prepared by different chefs. “Now let me told you sometin” (an homage to Justin Wilson). The Louisiana Gumbo I ate at lunch was fantastic. I guess I will have to taste the one at dinner soon.
Here are the details: the Gumboroma was perfect. It hit me as the waiter was bringing it to the table. Tujague’s Louisiana Seafood Gumbo had a darker roux than most and was on the thick side. gumbo, creole food, creole cuisine, creole, gumboIt was served hot and had plenty of sausage and large shrimp (not the tiny shrimp that many restaurants serve). It had a good bit of seasoning from the first spoonful to the last and I enjoyed a pleasant after burn that lasted all the way home. The rice was hot but didn’t add anything to the Gumbo. Definitely put this on your culinary bucket list and make sure you order the bowl (or try to get a bucket to go).
I must mention a few more of my favorite items on Tujague’s menu. They have a boiled brisket that is served with a horseradish sauce. The brisket is so tasty and tender and the horseradish sauce will open your clogged nasal passages and bring a (good) tear to your eyes. Now for my favorite chicken dish, Chicken Bonne Femme. If you like garlic, you will love this dish. It’s pieces of chicken fried (no batter) in a cast iron pan with garlic, parsley and fried potatoes. The chicken is crisp, garlicky and I guarantee you will even want to eat the chicken bones (but don’t). You also have to make sure the person or people you are dining with eat it as well. The other good thing about the Chicken Bonne Femme is that it keeps vampires away and since New Orleans is one of the most haunted cities in the country, that’s a plus.

Tujague's Seafood Gumbo       

Croux says “I’ll give it a 3 Spoon Rating”
Taste:  Very Good
Texture: Very Good
Spiciness: Very Good
Serving Temperature: Good
Enough Stuff: Excellent
Presentation: Very Good
Price: The Best

*Read my Gumbo Rating System*
Tujague’s Restaurant
823 Decatur St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
Lunch and Dinner 7 days


    The Louisiana Travelin' Man




Louisiana Plantations and Louisiana Gumbo Make a Great Combo

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man
Louisiana travel, gumbo reviewThis is as local as local gets. I have said in past blogs that some of the best Louisiana Gumbos are served in places that don’t look like much from the outside, okay hole-in-the-wall looking places, but in most cases they have the best gumbo. This is the case with B&C Seafood Restaurant.
B&C Seafood Restaurant has two Louisiana Gumbos. A Chicken & Andouille Gumbo and a Seafood Gumbo. I had to have them both and I did. Here is what I found:
Louisiana gumbo, andouille sausage, seafood gumbo
Chicken & Andouille Gumbo
PLENTY of Andouille and chicken, medium roux, excellent Gumboroma and nicely seasoned with an excellent after burn. The rice was hot and did add something to the gumbo. By the way, B&C makes their own Andouille. 
$5.95 cup, $9.95 bowl.  
Seafood Gumbo 
Also a medium roux, excellent (seafood) Gumboroma, it had okra but it blended in well without the slime factor, nicely seasoned, a good amount of small shrimp and small pieces of crab meat. Excellent after burn.  $7.95 cup and $11.95 bowl. 
B&C is also a market so if you want to buy smoked, stuffed, boiled, fresh or whatever, they have it. I had a little "Lagniappe" (a Louisiana word meaning "something extra") during my Gumbo feast. Live music was playing in the back room. I asked how often they have live music and they said “whenever the musicians show up”.
B&C is located right next to Laura Plantation on LA Hwy 18, so here is a great way to spend your day. Start out at Oak Alley Plantation which is approximately four miles from B&C. After a great tour, go just a few blocks away to St. Joseph Plantation. After another great tour, have lunch at B&C and hopefully listen to some live music. You have to order either one of the gumbos. After lunch, walk next door (actually drive your car next door) to Laura Plantation for another wonderful plantation tour. Now, that is a day in Louisiana that will have great memories.

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

    Croux says “I’ll give it a 4 Spoon Rating” 

Taste: Excellent
Texture: Excellent
Spiciness: Excellent
Serving Temperature: Excellent
Stuff: Excellent
Presentation: Very Good
Price: Excellent

Seafood Gumbo

   Croux says “I’ll give it a 4 Spoon Rating”
Taste: Excellent
Texture: Excellent
Spiciness: Excellent
Serving Temperature: Excellent
Stuff: Very Good
Presentation: Very Good
Price: Excellent

*Read my Gumbo Rating System*


B&C Seafood Restaurant
2155 Hwy 18
Vacherie, LA 70090
Lunch: Mon-Sat 11am – 4pm 


    The Louisiana Travelin' Man




Louisiana’s Crossroads Serve an Excellent Seafood Gumbo

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man
Seafood gumbo, Louisiana Gumbo
Tunks has been serving great food and a fantastic Seafood Gumbo since 1978. Tunks is located right outside Alexandria, The Crossroads of Louisiana, on Kincaid Lake. The restaurant has a large indoor seating area and a big patio that wraps around the restaurant with outdoor seating. Try to get one of the outdoor tables, especially at sunset. The picture below gives you an idea of what you’ll see. 
Louisiana travel, Louisiana vacation
There is only one gumbo that’s served at Tunks, and that’s Miss Mayme’s Louisiana Seafood Gumbo. Who is Miss Mayme? Jimbo and Sandy Thiels are the owners of Tunks and Miss Mayme is Sandy’s grandmother. Thank you Miss Mayme for creating such a masterpiece and thank you Tunks for not changing it over the past 35 years.
Here is the recipe: they serve Miss Mayme’s Louisiana Seafood Gumbo in a cup for $5.95 or in a bowl for $12.95 which also comes with a salad bar and hush puppies. Please do yourself a favor. Order the bowl. You can thank me later. Miss Mayme’s Louisiana Seafood Gumbo has a brownish/reddish color and has a good body to it. The Gumboroma is just perfect, as is the spiciness. You’ll find plenty of small shrimp and little bits of crabmeat. I was told that they also use fresh fish, but you won’t find chunks of it in the gumbo. They do use a combination of chicken stock, crab stock and fish stock as the seafood gumbo base (that’s where the fish comes in). Louisiana travel, Louisiana vacation, Louisiana dining, Louisiana gumboThis is a spicier gumbo than most. You won’t find it spicy after a few spoonful’s, but just wait until you get to the bottom of your cup or bowl. Just sit back and enjoy a fantastic after burn. The rice was served warm, but didn’t add anything to this perfect gumbo.
Here is a suggestion to get the best of Tunks: get their Seafood Platter. It comes with a cup of Miss Mayme’s Seafood Gumbo, fried shrimp, fried catfish, stuffed shrimp, a frog leg, fried oysters, shrimp casserole and choice of a side. The cost is only $22.95. This will be a meal to remember.
If you are travelling through Central Louisiana, this is worth a stop. In fact, just spend the night in Alexandria and enjoy all it has to offer.

Miss Mayme's Seafood Gumbo

Croux says “I’ll give it a 4 Spoon Rating”
Taste:  Excellent
Texture: Excellent
Spiciness: Excellent
Serving Temperature: Excellent
Stuff: Very Good
Presentation: Very Good
Price: Excellent

*Read my Gumbo Rating System*
>> Read more about things to do and see in Alexandria on Tour Louisiana.
Tunks Cypress Inn
9507 LA Hwy 28 West 
Boyce, LA 71409
(318) 487- 4014
Mon-Sat 5pm – 10pm; Sun 11am -2pm
stu avatar


  The Louisiana Travelin' Man




March is Spring Cook-off Season. The Louisiana Travelin’ Man will be the judge of that.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man

I have the pleasure and honor to be a judge at the following Cook-offs this March and you can join in on the fun and, in many cases, support great causes. Here are the details: 

Louisiana gumbo cook-off, gumbo cookoff, gumbo cook off






March 13: United Way’s 14th Annual "Got Gumbo?" Cook-Off
New Orleans

Hours: 5pm - 9pm; Admission: $25 in advance and $30 at the door

Okay, who likes Gumbo? Raise your hands. Even better go to the United Way of Southeast Louisiana and buy tickets to a great Gumbo Cook-Off on March 13, 2014 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in the French Quarter. You all know that I love gumbo (well most gumbos) and I will be there with several other professional foodies judging these New Orleans Gumbos. What will you find at the United Way’s 14th Annual Gumbo Cook-Off? As of this post, there are 16 teams competing for the gold. Some of them are returning to defend their title from last year. They are:  

  • Desire Oyster Bar: Best Traditional Gumbo 2013
  • Charlie’s Restaurant: Best Seafood Gumbo 2013
  • Restaurant R’evolution: Best Exotic Gumbo 2013

The cost to sample all the gumbos and other items such as desserts is only $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Please don’t wait to buy your tickets at the door as they may be sold out.

So get your tickets today, support the United Way of Southeast Louisiana and enjoy some award winning New Orleans Gumbo. See you there.

>> "Got Gumbo?" Cook-Off website


Louisiana travel, things to do in Louisina, Louisiana festivals





March 15: Frisco Fest at San Francisco Plantation's Cracklin' Cook-off

Hours: 9am - 5pm; Admission: Free

This is a return visit for me and this is a must for you, especially if you like cracklin’ and want to experience a Louisiana plantation. There is so much to do and see at Frisco Fest and you can even sample the cracklin’ we will be judging. The judging takes place at 11:30am. 

This cool video will give you a taste of all the fun events happening at Frisco Fest!

>> Get all the Festival details here.

>> Read more about the beautiful San Francisco Plantation







March 22: The Louisiana Swamp Stomp Jumbo Gumbo & Bayou Best Cook-off

Hours: 9:30 am  – 10:30 pm; Admission: $10

This is another repeat performance for me but there is a big change this year.  The cook-off is now held the same weekend of the Louisiana Swamp Stomp on the grounds of Nicholls State University. 

A little bit about Thibodaux and Nicholls State University. Even though it’s only about an hour’s drive from New Orleans, it’s truly in Cajun Country. Thibodaux is in Lafourche Parish and Bayou Lafourche runs through Thibodaux.  >> Read more about Lafourche Parish. As for Nicholls State University and its connection to the Hospitality Industry, you will find one of the best culinary institutes in the country here, the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.

Now for the Louisiana Swamp Stomp: you will hear some great music and can taste all the gumbos being cooked. So come visit, do a little dancing and eat some great gumbo.

>> Check the Swamp Stomp website for more information.







March 29: Hogs for the Cause BBQ Cook-off
New Orleans City Park

Hours: 11am – 9:30pm; Admission: $15 online or $25 at gate

This is another return visit for the Louisiana Travelin’ Man.

What will you find at Hogs for the Cause?  Some of the top New Orleans musicians and approximately 90 professional and amateur BBQ teams. These teams will compete for the title of “Ben Sarrat Jr. ‘High on the Hog’ Grand Champion.” The prize is named after the young victim of a brain tumor who died at the age of 6 in 2010.
The BBQ Teams will also be crowned in a variety of categories including, Whole Hog, Ribs, Pork Butt/Shoulder, “Porkpourri” (anything pork) and Beans which is a new category added this year and sponsored by New Orleans-based Camellia Beans. There are also awards for Best Sauce, Fundraising Champion and the patron's pick for Fan Favorite.  The only way to choose the Fan Favorite is to sample the teams' BBQ creations and vote for your favorite.

>> Visit the Hogs for the Cause website to see the great music lineup and to get your tickets.



    The Louisiana Travelin' Man



The Other River Road

Friday, February 21, 2014 by Debbie Henriksen

Stately plantations once spread from the banks of the mighty, muddy Mississippi out from New Orleans. These River Road grand dames have become the stuff of legend, Greek Louisiana travel, Louisiana plantationsRevival mansions nestled among live oaks with shaggy arms hanging gray Spanish moss.  You can wander along the road today to tour these architectural wonders and contemplate the Creole culture that sprang from the people who lived and worked on them.

Louisiana travel, Plantation homes, Louisiana vacationOne mansion, far from most tourists’ radar, still stands along the river about 40 minutes south of New Orleans. The 1830 Woodland Plantation has survived almost two centuries of devastating hurricanes and still welcomes guests with gracious living in Louisiana’s Deep Delta. At one time, more than 60 plantations stood along the river between the Crescent City and the Gulf of Mexico. 

Woodland Planation, Southern Comfort, travel Louisiana

If the Woodland looks familiar to you, that’s not surprising. An 1871 lithograph of the main house was licensed by Southern Comfort whiskey to use as its label after Prohibition ended.  (View large "Southern Comfort" label).

Today, you can lodge here amid burnished antiques in historic rooms (rates from $125). The adjacent Spirit Hall, a restored 1883 Catholic chapel transplanted here, hosts elegant dinners of fresh fish and oysters, steak and game – all with traditional Creole and Cajun flavors.

This part of Louisiana offers some of the best fishing in the state. Many guests come to explore the low-lying waters between the levees and the Gulf. Others come for the excellent birding and nature tours. All find comfort in this hospitable style of Southern living.


Looking for More?

Here’s a selection of other River Road plantation homes, listed south to north above New Orleans. All welcome exploration, some serve memorable Southern meals and some welcome overnight guests.

Destrehan Plantation

San Francisco Plantation

Houmas House Plantation

Magnolia Mound Plantation

Nottoway Plantation

Oak Alley Plantation

Laura Plantation

Evergreen Plantation

St. Joseph  Plantation

A Gumbo Worthy of a Southern Plantation

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man
Nottoway Plantation, Louisiana travel, gumbo,
Nottoway Plantation, one of the great plantations located on River Road in White Castle, is approximately 75 miles west of New Orleans and 22 miles south of Baton Rouge.
A new chef brings in a new gumbo. They serve a Chicken and Sausage Gumbo in two sizes. The small is in a large bowl for $8 and the large is in a massive bowl for $11.  If you have been reading my Louisiana Gumbo blogs, you will notice that I prefer a darker roux as the base and a gumbo that doesn’t include okra. Nottoway Plantations Gumbo is a dark roux gumbo (ya-ya style) that does not have okra. This is a great start.
The Gumboroma hit me immediately and it set the tone for a great gumbo. The next thing that hit me was the size of the small portion. I don’t want to discourage you to get the large portion, but trust me the small size is perfect and it leaves plenty of room for you to enjoy the rest of their menu. Since you asked, I had their barbecued shrimp and grits with Andouille sausage. Wow. This was fantastic. There were about seven other items that caught my eye, but I will come back for those. 

Now back to the gumbo. The thick gumbo had plenty of chicken (breast meat) and a Louisiana smoked sausage from Creole Country Sausage. Creole Country Sausage is based in New Orleans but the recipe is from a retired sausage maker from Church Point, Louisiana, which is in Cajun Country. The sausage was very smoky, but was also a little salty for my taste (but I did eat it all). All Louisiana Gumbos start with a roux and then they add the "trinity" (onions, bell pepper and celery) but some chop them up so fine that they disappear. Not at Nottoway Plantation. I could see and taste the trinity. The rice was served hot as was the gumbo, but the rice didn’t add much to the taste (it didn’t need it). After I finished, I sat there for a few minutes enjoying the wonderful after burn and the view outside my window.

If you’ve always wanted to stay at a plantation, Nottoway is a good one. You have several different types of accommodations to choose from. So enjoy an excellent Louisiana Gumbo, walk the beautiful grounds and spend a night or two.
   >> Read more about Nottoway Plantation on Tour Louisiana.
   >> Top Ten Reasons to visit Nottoway Plantation

Nottoway Plantation's Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

Croux says “I’ll give it a 4 Spoon Rating”
Taste:  Excellent
Texture: Excellent
Spiciness: Excellent
Serving Temperature: Very Good
Stuff: Very Good
Presentation: Excellent
Price: The Best

*Read my Gumbo Rating System*
Nottoway Plantation
31025 Louisiana Hwy. 1
White Castle, LA 70788
Sunday Brunch: 11 am - 2 pm
Breakfast:  7 - 10 am
Lunch:  11 am - 2 pm
Dinner:  5 - 9 pm
stu avatar


  The Louisiana Travelin' Man




Willie's Duck Diner Takes Flight in West Monroe

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 by Debbie Henriksen
Duck Dynasty, Willie's Duck Diner
Willie's Duck Diner, Duck Dynasty, Willie Robertson, Phil RobertsonWest Monroe, LA is home to many great attractions, museums, festivals… and to the Robertson family, stars of A&E's "Duck Dynasty". The popularity of the show has been a boon to tourism in the Monroe-West Monroe area as visitors try to catch a glimpse of one of the celebrity family members or stop by their Duck Commander business. Although recent scandals have cost the family some fans, the people of West Monroe and beyond stand by their bearded heroes.
The latest addition to the dynasty is a new restaurant that opened in October, “Willie's Duck Diner”, owned by Duck Commander's CEO, Willie Robertson and business partner Bucky Newell. In case you're wondering, yes, duck is on the menu. Willie Robertson felt that the diner would provide an opportunity for visitors and fans of the show to sample some typical Louisiana foods they have never tried before" says Robertson.
Willie's Duck Diner, Willies Duck Diner menuThe diner offers a menu of southern country comfort foods, Cajun seafood dishes and local specialties like frog legs and duck and andouille gumbo. Some items are right out of the kitchen of the family matriarch, such as Miss Kay's meatloaf and mac and cheese. Fans that eat in the restaurant are anxious to try the food and are also hoping for a Robertson sighting. And while your diner experience does not guarantee a brush with duck fame, many customers have gotten to chat with the hometown celebrities and even gotten a great photo opp.
Duck and Dressing, Duck & Dressing, Duck DynastyStill another expansion of the dynasty is “Duck and Dressing”, a Monroe clothing and accessory boutique shop recently opened by Robertson's wife Korie and daughter Rebecca.  They call themselves a “lifestyle boutique” with a brand that’s simple, edgy, southern chic.
Want to create your own Duck Dynasty adventure? Visit Monroe-West Monroe’s “Duck Commander Hometown Tour”, which reveals the locations of many of the sites and scenes featured on episodes of the show.
For more information about North Louisiana and the Monroe-West Monroe area, visit Tour Lousiana
Willie's Duck Diner
125 Constitution Dr.
West Monroe, LA
Tel: (318) 807-3825


Experience the Christmas Eve Bonfire Tradition in St. James Parish

Saturday, December 21, 2013 by Debbie Henriksen
St. James Parish, Louisiana, LA
Leave it to the Cajuns to redefine the meaning of "Christmas lights".
For miles along the levees of the Mississippi River, Christmas Eve in St. James Parish is ushered in by over a hundred enormous bonfires. Although not everyone agrees on how the Christmas bonfire tradition began, most people do agree that there's a real beauty to the 20-foot flames that light up the night sky.
Some believe it began as a way to light the path for those attending Christmas Eve Mass after dark. Others think it was started as a beacon to help Papa Noel (the Cajun Santa Claus) find his way to children's homes. Whatever the origin of the tradition, the "feux de joie" (fires of joy) bring many families and friends together each year on Christmas Eve. 
Preparations for the bonfires begins soon after Thanksgiving as people in the community build extravagant wooden pyramids along the river. While bonfires can be found in many parts of Louisiana, the Parish of St. James has really embraced the tradition, particularly the small riverside communities of Lutcher, Gramercy and Paulina, along Highway 44.
On Christmas Eve, the festivities begin at around 7 pm, when the fire department gives the "go" sign and the pyramids are set ablaze. Fireworks are usually part of the celebration too. The fires line the levee for miles and attract thousands of visitors. It's no wonder, as the long line of fires reflecting on the water is a spectacular sight.  
If you'd like to be a part of this tradition, there are a few ways you can participate. You can walk along the levee and experience the many different celebrations taking place around the fires. Each one is typically surrounded by family members who built the fire. Stop and chat with these friendly folks along the way. You can also opt to get there before dark, scope out a parking place and "tailgate". Many people bring their own food, but there are usually vendors out selling delicious gumbos and other authentic Cajun foods. (Driving directions and parking advice can be found here).  Another option is to leave the transportation to someone else by taking a bus tour.
If you go, you're sure to enjoy this this unique Louisiana take on "Christmas lights" and perhaps even make it part of your annual celebration.
Wishing y'all a very Merry Cajun Christmas!

Extreme Tremé: the Historic Neighborhood Behind the HBO Series

Thursday, December 5, 2013 by Debbie Henriksen


As any Louisianan can tell you, "Tremé" is not just an acclaimed HBO television series that follows residents of a New Orleans neighborhood as they attempt to rebuild their lives and unique culture after Hurricane Katrina. No, Faubourg Tremé (Faubourg meaning "suburb" in French) is a real place! It is one of the oldest black neighborhoods in America and, among other things, is considered to be the birthplace of the New Orleans brass band tradition. It's beautifully depicted in the TV show, which has just started its fourth and final season.

When Tremé was constructed, it had the largest number of free people of color in the South. In later years, they (and slaves who had acquired their freedom) were able to purchase their own property in the neighborhood, a remarkable feat when you realize that this was when the rest of the South was entrenched in slavery. The district grew up around Congo Square, an open meeting area where African American commerce flourished and a unique Creole culture emerged. Black people used this area to market goods, socialize, and participate in drumming, music making, and dancing.
Today, visitors and natives alike come to Tremé to celebrate the achievements of African Americans. It is home to several fascinating museums (dedicated to African American life, art, and history), Armstrong Park (a memorial to jazz great Louis Armstrong), St. Augustine’s Church (the oldest predominantly black Catholic parish in the country), and many other fascinating sights.
The next time you’re in the New Orleans area, make sure you pay a visit to Tremé. I would highly recommend that you take a walking tour like this one for an in-depth look at the city and its people as well as some of the areas featured in the TV series. You’ll see how black and white, free and enslaved, rich and poor all lived together and created much of what defines New Orleans culture today.
Planning a trip to New Orleans?  Be sure to visit TourLouisiana.com for more information!

Southern Discomfort: Experience a Paranormal Hotspot

Sunday, October 27, 2013 by Debbie Henriksen


With Halloween just around the corner, you'll most likely be seeing lots of ghosts in the next few days. But there are places in Louisiana where you can see ghosts year round. If that’s your thing, then you absolutely must pay a visit toThe Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, about 30 miles north of Baton Rouge. It has been hailed as "one of America's most haunted homes" by many magazines (including the NY Times, Forbes, and Travel and Leisure), and on TV (The Oprah Show, the History channel, the Travel channel, to name just a few.)  In fact, Oprah's producer came to research the place for a story and ran out in the middle of the night, refusing to return the plantation. 

There are many intriguing stories of this Antebellum home's past, describing the lives of the people who have lived here. The real history of The Myrtles is woven around two wars, romantic loves, untimely deaths and tragic murders, the perfect backdrop for restless souls. Part of what makes the Myrtles Plantation so special is the frequency and variety of the hauntings reported here. Many people are convinced that this one is the real deal. It's even been the subject of a book about the paranormal happenings that have become almost common here.

Today, the Myrtles is a full service B&B, and it is said that there are 12 spirits who call Myrtles Plantation their home!  According to what recent visitors have reported, here are a few of the otherworldly occurrences that may be in store for an overnight visitor:

  • Feeling as if someone is tucking you in when you are in bed…
  • Hearing laughter late into the night, usually from the room that used to be the children’s nursery. 
  • Seeing orbs -- bright ball shaped lights.
  • Hearing a chord played on the grand piano when no one is in the room.

And of course, there are the usual things you’d expect to experience in a haunted house: hearing footsteps, doors opening and closing, seeing shadowy images and odd reflections in mirrors, etc.

To learn more about the things that go bump in the night, take the Mystery Tour, which details the legends and the spirits that seem to live on in the home. The stories have been passed down for generations to help explain the many apparitions seen andhaunted Louisiana photographed in and around the house. The Mystery Tour is only on Friday and Saturday nights, so take that into consideration when planning your trip. (The cost is $10.00 per person, and they strongly advise that you make a reservation.)

West Feliciana Parish is home to many beautiful and historic plantation era homes.  While they are not all haunted, they each have their own stories and history. If you plan a visit, leave yourself plenty of time to tour a few of these gorgeous antebellum homes.

>> Visit Tour Louisiana for more information about St. Francisville in West Feliciana Parish.

6 Uniquely New Orleans Things to Do For Halloween

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 by Debbie Henriksen


Right around now, people across the U.S. are doing typical Halloween activities like pumpkin picking and hay rides, costume parties, haunted house attractions, etc. But here in New Orleans, things are FAR from typical.  With a flair for the macabre and a close connection to the spirit world, NOLA is a city that celebrates the haunted, the spooky, the mysterious all year long. That's why there's just no better place to visit this time of year!

Here are just a few uniquely New Orleans ways to celebrate Halloween:


1. Experience a "Mourning" at Hermann-Grima House
Hermann-Grima House is a historic Federal mansion in the French Quarter of New Orleans. A fascinating tour any time of year, the home takes a dark turn every October to reenact the funeral of the widow Grima. With rooms in the house draped in black, tours will focus on the many "rules and regulations" of death and mourning in the 19th century.
"Sacred to the Memory" Mourning Customs Tour

2.  Purchase a "Spell Kit" at Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo
Named for the 18th century Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau's has what you need to cast a spell, perform a seance ritual or beckon the spirit world.  The store offers a great selection of Voodoo Dolls, Skeleton Keys, various animal bones and claws and much more. Even if you're not looking to cast any spells, it's a very intriguing (and somewhat creepy) store to browse through, whether in October or any other time of year.
Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo


3.  Prepare to be Scared on the Ghost Tour of the French Quarter
With so many haunted sites, cemeteries and ghost tours in and around NOLA, which one do you choose?  Depends whether you want to get REALLY scared or not.  If you're after the real deal, sign up for the New Orleans Ghost Tour of the French Quarter. Visit sites with actual, documented paranormal activity. 90% of tour participants capture spirits in their photographs! This tour is offered year-round but it's a perfect addition to your New Orleans Halloween revelry! The company also offers several other spooky, creepy tours focused on Voodoo and Withcraft Rituals, Vampires, or Cemeteries.
Tour Details and Reservations.


4. Get Bitten at the 25th Annual Vampire Ball
October 25th -- Hosted by the Vampire Lestat Fan Club, a group that pays homage to author Anne Rice and other writers of the horror/supernatural genre.  If you're a fan of the "undead"in general or Anne Rice specifically, you'll want to join the mayhem. Entertainment by suitably-named acts like "The Ghost Project", Tempest and Evil Sarah. And, Anne Rice herself will be there, in the flesh!
Vampire Ball Tickets and Info


5. Go on a Haunted Pub Crawl with Bloody Mary 
Throughout history, the local pub has been a place where nefarious plans have been laid and scandalous deeds, fueled by whiskey and beer, have been carried out. Do the spirits of murdered pirates, politicians and prostitutes still inhabit the pubs where they died? Bloody Mary takes you on this fascinating walk through some of New Orleans' legendary pubs. Don't think of this as a bar-hopping, drinking pub crawl.  It's a history tour with a paranormal twist. Having said that, a few cocktails may be served (at extra cost) so guests must be 21+.
Tour Details and Reservations


6. ...and speaking of Bloody Marys 
It's typically thought of as a brunch drink, but the name is just so perfect for Halloween imbibing. If you enjoy that mixture of tomato juice, vodka and hot sauce, here are a few of the best places in New Orleans to get a "killer" Bloody Mary (from Eater.com)
• Cafe Atchafalaya -  Their garnish-your-own-Bloody-Mary bar lets you build a meal in a glass.  Plenty of creative add-ins you'd never expect make for a unique experience.
• Dante's Kitchen - Everything's better with bacon, including Dante's special bacon-infused Bloody Mary.
• Cafe Adelaide - try the perfectly-spicy secret recipe, garnished with okra, green beans and olives.
Read the entire article "New Orleans 10 Killer Bloody Marys to Drink Now"  

One more thing....  this event is not in New Orleans, but about an hour southwest in Houma.  But it's such a unique event, something you would ONLY see in Louisiana, that I thought it deserved special mention on the list:
Party Like a Beast at the 2nd Annual Rougarou Fest
October 26th in Houma -- Anyone who's Louisiana born and bred knows someone who knows someone who has actually seen the Rougarou, the legendary, half-human, half-wolf swamp creature. The Rougarou Fest is a family-friendly festival with a spooky flair that celebrates the rich folklore that exists along the bayous of Southeast Louisiana. Expect great music, a costume contest, a parade, charity run and much more. Proceeds go to a great cause: South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center.
More info on the Rougarou Fest
Do you know of any unique ways to get into the "spirit" of Halloween in New Orleans?  
Please let me know by leaving a comment.

Here Come Da Judge. Here Come Da Judge...Again

Friday, October 18, 2013 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man
The Louisiana Travelin’ Man (that’s me) will be hitting the road, wearing my favorite judge's robe (actually I’ll be wearing my straw hat) and carrying my gavel (camera) to judge three different cook-offs. So why not join me?
Saturday, October 26, 2013
10th Annual Shop-Rite Championship Gumbo Cook-Off
Historic Downtown Crowley
There will be great Cajun Music beginning at 11:30 am and the Gumbo Contest will begin at 12 noon.
Would you believe, for only $5 you can sample all the different Gumbos and enjoy all the festivities?
Believe it!
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Black Pot Festival
Acadian Village in Lafayette
I was a judge at this festival last year and the event was fantastic. Great Louisiana Music, a great location and great Louisiana food. The cost of admission on Saturday is $30 and you get to taste all the dishes that are being judged (last year we judged over 50 different dishes). The music begins at 11:30 am and goes to midnight.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
St. Bernard Parish Battle for the Paddle Jambalaya Cook-off
Docville Farm – Oak Grove, Violet
The Louisiana Travelin’ Man can’t just eat Gumbo (well, he can) and with all the great Louisiana foods, Jambalaya is at the top of the list. There will be several teams cooking their favorite Jambalaya recipe in order to receive “The Paddle”.  Violet is less than 13 miles from the French Quarter and for $10 (children under 12 free), you can taste all the contestants' Jambalaya and listen to some local music.
Details on the winners will be posted mid-November.
Hope to see you there.


  The Louisiana Travelin' Man





Big bowl of Louisiana Seafood Gumbo….Little flavor

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man
Old Metairie has several great restaurants and Porter & Luke’s (a fairly new restaurant) is one of them. Now I can’t say that they have a great Louisiana Gumbo, but they sure give you a lot. The gumbo photo is what they call a cup. Their bowl is almost twice the size. A cup of Louisiana Seafood Gumbo goes for $6.25 and their bowl is $8.75. 
Their menu says Gumbo du jour, so when I asked what the Gumbo du jour was; the waiter said it was seafood gumbo. Then he said it’s seafood gumbo every day. Go figure.
If I was judging a Louisiana Gumbo only by the looks of it, this would be one of the best. But, since I’m not, here is what I found. Their Louisiana Seafood Gumbo did have okra in it, but it wasn’t slimy. There was a minor after burn but it disappeared fairly quickly. There was a fair amount of small shrimp and a large chunk of crab in its shell. This is the style of an old fashioned restaurant. A great Louisiana Gumbo also has a great Gumboroma. You should be able to smell it as it’s being placed in front of you. This was not one of those. The rice had no taste but was served hot. I can’t say the same for the gumbo. The first cup was served a little less than warm. I brought it to the waiter's attention who apologized and brought me a new one. The 2nd one had the perfect temperature. I’m hoping this was an off day for the restaurant because the rest of my meal was great. You have to try their Northern White Beans which has a smoky taste and large pieces of Andouille. It also comes with a choice of a meat.

Porter and Luke's Seafood Gumbo       

Croux says “I’ll give it a 3 Spoon Rating”
Taste:  Good
Texture: Good
Spiciness: Good
Serving Temperature: Bad, then Excellent
Enough Stuff: Very Good
Presentation: Very Good
Price: The Best

*Read my Gumbo Rating System*
Porter & Luke’s
1517 Metairie
Metairie, LA 70005
Open 7 days/week for lunch and dinner


    The Louisiana Travelin' Man




A Sweet Festival in Old Arabi

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man
St Bernard Parish, Old ArabiI was lucky enough to attend the 5th annual Old Arabi Sugar Fest in St. Bernard Parish, held September 29, 2013. Not only did I attend the Sugar Fest, but I was a judge (The Louisiana Travelin’ Man can’t just eat gumbo). This was my first visit to the Sugar Fest and I was impressed by the vendors, the music, the food and the 14 entries in the Sugar Fest Baker-rama contest. They also had a doughnut eating contest which I did not participate in.
St. Bernard Parish is just a few miles away from the French Quarter and has so much to offer. (More info on St. Bernard Parish Tourism). The Old Arabi Sugar Fest was held on the grounds of the LeBeau Plantation which is just a stone’s throw from the Domino Sugar Refinery. Unfortunately, the plantation is in need of lots of love and care to bring it back to its glory. Here is a link to info on the plantation.  
Now for the best part of my job: the judging. There were 14 entries and, as I found out, one person entered four different items. There were lemon cookies, gingerbread cookies, a double chocolate brownie and a pecan pie to name a few. But, it turns out that the person who entered the four different baked goods won 1st Place and 2nd Place. Her name is Elena Hodges and she is a culinary student at Nunez Community College in Chalmette and when you see the photo of her cake, you will know why she won. It tasted even better than it looked. In fact, we had to ask the organizer if this was a store bought cake. It wasn’t. Elena has a great future in desserts.


    The Louisiana Travelin' Man





Germany in the Heart of South Louisiana

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 by Debbie Henriksen
Fall has officially arrived, and that means it’s time once again for Oktoberfest, the annual celebration of German culture and heritage. And if you head on down to Kenner, Louisiana, just outside of New Orleans, you’ll get to experience one of the most authentic celebrations that I have ever been to, the Deutsches Haus Oktoberfest.
Deutsches Haus is a non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating and fostering everything German: the culture, history, heritage, etc. Their annual Oktoberfest (which runs the last three weekends in October) is their major fund raiser, and a much anticipated autumn event in the New Orleans area.
The Deutsches Haus Oktoberfest attracts a wide variety of folks, all united in their quest for a great time! And that usually involves good German music, which you’ll find plenty of at this Oktoberfest. There’s something for everyone: polkas, marches, waltzes, and even a tuba that travels through the crowd!  >> Check out the band list and schedule.
And the food is absolutely amazing! You’ll get to indulge in a large selection of Bavarian favorites such as sauerbraten, bratwurst, spatzel noodles, German potato salad, giant Bavarian pretzels, strudel and so much more! And yes, there’s plenty of beer!  You can savor over 20 different types of brews, and if that’s not your fancy you can enjoy a nice glass of wine or schnapps.
But what makes the Deutsches Haus Oktoberfest extra special is that not only can you can eat as many wieners as your stomach can handle, you also get to watch them race! Weiner dogs, that is! One of the most popular events here is their dachshund races. It’s such a popular event that they had to divide the races up into categories, from puppies all the way up to seniors. (They even have a category for handicapped dogs with carts!) The pups really seem to enjoy the love and attention from the adoring crowds, which usually includes plenty of dachshund spectators, too, many dressed up in adorable costumes. The races will be on Saturday, October 12, and the proceeds go to a worthy (and appropriate) cause, the Nola Dachshund Rescue.
The festivities begin soon, so make your plans now!
3 weekends: October 11-12, 18-19, 25-26

Jack Dempsey’s Seafood Gumbo: It’s not a knockout.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man
This is one of the few restaurants that doesn’t list gumbo on their menu. They call it soup. You have a choice of a cup for $4.50 or a bowl for $8.95. If you’re really in the mood for a Louisiana Seafood Gumbo, order it. If not try something else. They make great seafood platters, great onion rings and great po-boys.
I took a little liberty with the title above as the restaurant is not named after the prize fighter, but after a New Orleans newspaper reporter. The restaurant is considered a hole in the wall, but to me it’s the kind of place that wreaks casual dining in Louisiana.
Now for their Louisiana Seafood Gumbo. It was served warm, not the way a good gumbo should be served. One look and you could see that it was full of okra and that it was going to have a high slime factor. NOT the way I like it. This was one of the thickest gumbos I’ve had. A lot of that had to do with the (slimy) okra. Another problem for me was there was no Gumboroma.  When you are served a great Louisiana Gumbo, you want the aroma to hit you first. This didn’t. The rice was hot but, as usual, didn’t add anything to the gumbo. There was a good after burn but it didn’t last long. There was a fair amount of small shrimp.

Jack Dempsey's Seafood Gumbo

Croux says “I’ll give it a 2 Spoon Rating”
Taste:  Good
Texture: Just Okay
Spiciness: Good
Serving Temperature: Just Okay
Enough Stuff: Good
Presentation: Good
Price: Very Good

*Read my Gumbo Rating System*
Jack Dempsey's
738 Poland Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70117
Open Tue-Sat for lunch and dinner

stu avatar


  The Louisiana Travelin' Man




The Meat Pie Capital of the World also has some Great Gumbo

Tuesday, October 1, 2013 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man
The Landing Restaurant is one of Natchitoches’ well established restaurants located in Historic Downtown Natchitoches overlooking the Cane River. Natchitoches is located in Central Louisiana and is the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase. They will be celebrating their Tricentennial in 2014 and just opened the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
>> More information on Natchitoches.
The menu at The Landing states Gumbo $6.00. That’s true. But, they actually have five different Louisiana Gumbos and they have a bowl for $9.00. Here are the different Louisiana Gumbos served at The Landing: Shrimp, Crab, Crawfish, Seafood (a combination of the first three) and a Chicken and Alligator Sausage Gumbo. Which one do you think I ordered? If you said the Chicken and Alligator Sausage Gumbo, you are correct. Here is what I found. The first thing I noticed was a ring of grease around the cup. The second thing I noticed was the Gumboroma was not as prominent as (in my opinion) it should have been. But, once I took my first spoonful, it didn’t matter. The taste was wonderful. I asked the waiter if they used a roux for the gumbo. He said he thought so, but went to check. The gumbo looked more like a soup than a gumbo and since it didn’t have a great Gumboroma (aroma that comes from the roux, seasoning and other ingredients in a gumbo), I wanted to make sure. He said they do use a roux but it’s a very light roux. The seasoning was perfect with BIG chunks of spicy alligator sausage and chicken which left a wonderful after burn. The rice was served hot, but didn’t add anything to the gumbo.  
The Landing has always been one of my favorite restaurants in Louisiana. Make sure the next time you visit Natchitoches, land a reservation at The Landing.

The Landing's Chicken and Alligator Sausage Gumbo       

Croux says “I’ll give it a 3 Spoon Rating”
Taste:  Very Good
Texture: Very Good
Spiciness: Very Good
Serving Temperature: Good
Enough Stuff: Excellent
Presentation: Very Good
Price: Very Good

*Read my Gumbo Rating System*
The Landing
530 Front St.
Natchitoches, LA 71457
(318) 352-1579
Open for lunch and dinner Tue-Sun



    The Louisiana Travelin' Man