Nottoway Plantation -- a Marvel of 19th Century Luxury

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 by Debbie Henriksen


Nottoway Plantation, Louisiana vacation, antebellum mansion

As I drive along the Mississippi River Road and turn down the pathway towards Nottoway Plantation, I have to stop for a minute and just stare.  I've seen the photos, but viewing this incredible estate in person takes my breath away. 

Nottoway is located just south of Baton Rouge in Iberville Parish.  An area rich in history, Iberville is known for its magnificent antebellum mansions, mighty oaks and stunning waterways. The mighty Mississippi runs right through the parish, and the stunning Atchafalaya Basin (the largest wetland and swamp in the United States) is right there, waiting to be explored.

Nottoway Plantation, Cajun country, Louisiana, Plantation countryBack in its heyday, Iberville was the state’s leading producer of sugarcane. Wealthy sugar plantation owners built opulent show homes to flaunt their affluence. Completed in 1859, Nottoway’s 53,000 square foot palatial white mansion was a sight to see then, as it is now. The home features 64 rooms and countless extravagant features like 22 massive exterior columns, 12 hand-carved Italian marble fireplaces, exquisitely detailed plaster frieze moldings, enormous 11-foot doors and a lavish pure white oval ballroom, as well as unheard of innovative features, like modern bathrooms with running water and a gas plant providing gas lighting throughout the home. It is the largest and most magnificent remaining antebellum mansion in the South.

Nottoway has survived the Civil War, a variety of owners, and years of decline and disrepair to become a favorite destination for visitors. Lovingly restored to her days of glory, the mansion is now also a fully-functioning luxury hotel, with such accommodations as two elegant ballrooms, a salon, golf and spa packages, basketball and tennis courts, a fitness room and much more. Here you will experience a unique blend of Southern history and hospitality. 

Nottoway Plantation, Tour Louisiana, Louisiana vacationMy visit to Nottoway was truly awe-inspiring as I stepped back into the 19th century. I was struck by the size of this “American Castle” and its breath-taking grounds. I decided to go for the full, immersive experience by staying overnight. There's a wide variety of room choices, including some lovely cottages and a carriage house, all with luxurious amenities. I opted to stay in one of the beautifully renovated private Bed and Breakfast rooms in the main mansion because I wanted a real antebellum experience.

On the ground level is the wonderful Mansion Restaurant, which serves up fresh and delicious Louisiana cuisine daily. I especially liked their breakfast buffet, a great way to start a day of exploring in beautiful Iberville Parish. A tour of the mansion was included in my room rate, and all I can say is realization exceeded expectation! My guide was very knowledgeable and friendly, and learning about the history of the mansion and the plantation was quite fascinating. There’s also a museum, and though it is on the small side, it is still very interesting and well worth seeing.

Besides being a lovely place to stay, Nottoway is open to the public for guided plantation tours and is a much sought after destination for weddings, social and business events, parties and retreats. 

I highly recommend a visit to Iberville Parish, and if you want to experience old-world charm and Southern hospitality at its best, make plans to stay at the amazing Nottoway Plantation.

♦ Top 10 Reasons to visit Nottoway Plantation 


"Go 4th on the River" - A Must-See Fireworks Show in New Orleans

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 by Debbie Henriksen

new orleans, fireworks, louisiana,

If there's one thing New Orleans knows how to do, it's throw a great party. Independence Day is no exception!

new orleans fireworks, louisiana fireworks, july 4th, louisiana travelThere are many places across Louisiana where you can see amazing fireworks displays, but not many where you can see dueling pyrotechnics and floating, exploding shells on the Mississippi River. For that kind of spectacle, you'll have to head to NOLA's “Go 4th on the River” celebration.

Go 4th on the River is ranked by the American Pyrotechnics Association as one of the “Top Five Must-See Fireworks Displays in the U.S." The show features two "dueling barges" over the Mighty Mississippi, each participating in a choreographed fireworks battle that lights up the night sky. You'll also see unique pyrotechnics that, when launched, land in the water and shoot up a towering column of light, sparks and color, creating a show not only in the night sky, but in the water's reflection.

The fireworks display is free and can be viewed from either side of the river. Just bring a blanket or lawn chair, grab a seat by the levy and prepare to be amazed!

Local radio stations Magic 101.9, WWL 870 AM and FM and website will be airing a simulcast of the music which coordinates with the fireworks show so bring your streaming device or a portable radio.

Go 4th and have a great holiday!

> Here are a few more events occurring in NOLA between July 3-6.

fireworks, louisiana, new orleans, independence day, free fireworks









"The Way We Worked" - Smithsonian's Amazing Tribute to American Workers

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 by Debbie Henriksen

Angola prison, Smithsonian institute, museum, Louisiana

Every day, Americans are hard at work doing whatever it takes to keep this great nation of ours thriving. Whether on farms or in factories, offices or classrooms, on the streets or in outer space, work is and always has been a major part of all of our lives.

The Smithsonian Institute recognizes and celebrates the American worker (past and present) through a wonderful traveling exhibit, currently at residence at the Angola Museum just outside the gates of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, located at the end of Louisiana Highway 66 (22 miles Northwest of St. Francisville).  The exhibit, The Way We Worked, is sponsored by the museum and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and runs through June 29th, 2014. 

Angola prison, Smithsonian institute, museum, Louisiana“The Way We Worked” shows the history of Americans working together predominantly through powerful photographs culled from the national archive’s rich collection. They tell a compelling story of our American culture, and show some of the fascinating ways work has changed over the last century and has built our country.

Besides the photos, “The Way We Worked” also features interesting artifacts, presentations by scholars, engaging film and audio presentations, and interesting interactive displays all communicating how work impacts our lives individually and as a community. In an effort to continually grown and enrich their content, the Smithsonian encourages visitors to share their own work stories for their archives. 

Along with “The Way We Worked” exhibit, the Angola Museum will also be presenting “Farming on the Farm, Agricultural Operations at Angola,” an interesting and informative exhibit about agricultural work in Angola Prison. The exhibit includes historic photos of inmates planting and harvesting cotton and sugar cane, along with images of modern-day inmates at work in the fields. (The prison is actually a working farm and produces about 4 million pounds of vegetables which go to feed the inmates at Angola, and 4 nearby state prisons.) There will also be demonstrations of agricultural work at the farm plus old and new world themed music. And to top it off, visitors will be given the opportunity to taste a variety of delicacies prepared by Angola’s culinary program chefs.

I highly recommend that you see this wonderful exhibit…even if you have to take a day off from work to do so!







The Bayou Country Superfest Brings Big Music Stars to Baton Rouge

Friday, May 23, 2014 by Debbie Henriksen

It's one of the biggest festivals in Louisiana - and in a state known as the Festival Capital of America, that's really saying something. The Bayou Country Superfest draws fans from all the over the U.S. to Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge for a three-day Memorial Weekend stadium-sized bash filled with amazing country music, tailgating parties, great food and plenty of fun.

 Bayou Country Superfest, Baton Rouge, LouisianaThe main event at Superfest is the live music.  For three days, from May 23 - 25, BCS will bring together the biggest stars in country music for a series of back-to-back, unforgettable shows.

The party kicks off later today with George Strait, Reba and Chris Young.

Saturday's line-up features Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Lee Brice, Easton Corbin and Gloriana.

Sunday's Superfest concludes with Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Hunter Hayes, Joe Nichols and Big & Rich.

Tailgating is kind of a big deal here too. You're in a football arena after all, so partying, grilling, eating in the parking lot just makes sense.  If you've never tailgated before, it can be as simple as packing yourself some lunch or dinner, setting up some folding chairs by your car and enjoying the company of friendly, like-minded people who are bound to strike up conversation. 

Even if you're not attending the main stage concerts, you can still enjoy Fan Fest, a free festival featuring music, food and fun, located in the stadium's Parking Lot A. A music performance stage will feature bands throughout the day and an "Artist Meet and Greet" area offers fans a chance to meet Superfest performers. There will also be prize giveaways and vendors selling food and merchandise.

Tickets to all shows are still available and can be purchased online here.

Don't miss this star-studded and fun-filled weekend!

Bayou Country Superfest, Baton Rouge, Louisiana


All photos are from Bayou Country Superfest's Facebook page (photo credit: Zack Smith).




Eat Like a Cajun on the Boudin Trail

Friday, May 2, 2014 by Debbie Henriksen

boudin trail, louisiana boudin, louisiana travelBoudin (pronounced BOO-dan) is the savory, squishy, eat-behind-the-steering wheel treat that rivals crawfish as the quintessential food of Acadiana, the Cajun region of south Louisiana. It’s a sausage made of pork, rice, onions and various spices, but there are spirited debates about other ingredients and ingredient proportions.

From gritty convenience stores to upscale charcuteries, boudin markets are more popular than the region’s ubiquitous drive-thru daiquiri bars. Most times, it’s eaten close to where it’s made – very close. Consider this wonderful quote from a Calvin Trillin essay about boudin: “I figure that about 80 percent of the boudin purchased in Louisiana is consumed before the purchaser has left the parking lot, and most of the rest is polished off in the car. In other words, Cajun boudin not only doesn’t get outside the state; it usually doesn’t even get home.” 

Some spots, like the Best Stop Supermarket just off I-10 in Scott or Charlie T’s Specialty Meats in Breaux Bridge, are internationally famous. A University of Louisiana at Lafayette history professor known as Dr. C has sampled and mapped boudin purveyors at, and the Southern Foodways Alliance offers more at

I can't think of a better way for a visitor to experience this area than to follow the boudin trail, see the sights and sample the sausage along the way.

Every good Cajun has a favorite "link".  What's yours?

A New Kingfish Comes to New Orleans and Brings a Great Louisiana Gumbo

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man

Louisiana Gumbo, Louisiana Dining, RestaurantsIf you know anything about Louisiana history, you will know that we have had some interesting governors over the past many years. One of the most interesting was Huey Long, better known as The Kingfish. Here is a website that will give you a better insight to this legendary governor. 

On April Fool’s Day 2013 (the perfect day to open a new restaurant), a new Kingfish made its debut in the French Quarter on the corner of Conti and Chartres Streets.  

Best Gumbo, Louisiana travel, Louisiana vacationKingfish has only one Louisiana Gumbo on its menu and it’s a fantastic one. They serve a Smoked Rabbit Gumbo. Here is what you will find. This is a dark roux gumbo with an excellent Gumboroma. It is filled with smoky pieces of rabbit, homemade smoked sausage and an excellent blend of spices that leaves you with a nice but smoky after burn.  It also comes with dirty basmati rice. As always, I asked for the rice on the side and as you can see in the photo, there was plenty of it and it was almost a meal in itself. By the way, the term “dirty” in dirty rice doesn’t mean what you think it means. It’s a term we use here in Louisiana for white rice that is cooked with pork, seasoning, onion, celery and bell pepper. The gumbo and rice were served hot and the gumbo had a good spice level and got spicier as I got to the bottom of the bowl.


Kingfish's Smoked Rabbit Gumbo

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

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

*Read my Gumbo Rating System*


Kingfish Kitchen & Cocktails
337 Chartres St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
Lunch and Dinner 7 days


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  The Louisiana Travelin' Man



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.

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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
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  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 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
• 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.