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
504-525-8676
Lunch and Dinner 7 days
 

   

    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

 

 

 

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!
 
 
 
 
 

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

 

 

 
 

 

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
 
  

Louisiana Gumbo in the Capitol City

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man
 
Downtown Baton Rouge continues to transform itself into a vibrant cultural center with new restaurants, hotels, museums and, of course the Capitol. In fact, the Hampton Inn is the latest hotel to open in early May. The Hotel Indigo and the Hilton are the other hotels that have opened in the past several years.
 
Stroubes (Stroo-beas) is an upscale but casual restaurant serving Downsouth food. They have great, reasonably-priced specials, and on Friday their special is a Louisiana Seafood Gumbo with Creole Potato Salad, garlic bread and a green salad. The cost is only $10.95. Since I’m searching for the Best Gumbo in Louisiana, I always try to go to a restaurant that has gumbo. Stroubes has a Duck and Oyster Gumbo which is not that common. In fact, this is the first one I’ve seen in the past year. Here is the recipe: the Gumbo was a dark color with a reddish tone. Even though it had a dark roux color, it didn’t taste or smell like it had a roux, in fact if you look at the picture, you can see the grease it left around the bowl. Now, that being said, the Duck and Oyster Gumbo was good. It had plenty of stuff, more duck than oysters, had a good afterburn and had good seasoning. The gumbo was more soupy than I prefer. The rice actually tasted very good. It had a buttery taste and it was served hot. As you can see, the presentation was excellent.
 
“And Now for Something Completely Different” (it’s my homage to Monty Python). Stroubes serves a “Gumbo Salad" for lunch. No it doesn’t have a roux, but it looked very refreshing. Here is what you get: Mixed Greens, Corn, Okra, Grape Tomatoes, Crawfish and Shrimp, tossed in a Steen’s & Sherry Vinaigrette.
 

Stroubes Duck and Oyster Gumbo

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

*Read my Gumbo Rating System*
Stroubes
107 Third St.
Baton Rouge, LA 70801
225-448-2830
M-F 11am – 10pm; Sat 4pm-10pm; Closed Sun
 
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  The Louisiana Travelin' Man

 

 

 
 
 

 

Follow Louisiana's African American Heritage Trail

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 by Debbie Henriksen
 
The state of Louisiana has a very distinct personality, different from any of our other 49 states.  One of the key reasons is the widely diverse nationalities and races that call LA home, now and throughout history. Louisiana is a melting pot of Indian, French, Spanish, Cajun, and so many more, each one adding a distinct flavor to the stew…or should I say gumbo!
 
Today, I want to focus on one of these groups. African Americans have played such an important role in shaping Louisiana’s iconic image; their culture, food, language, and, needless to say, their music have all been vital in defining the Louisiana we all know and love. Many famous and important people of African descent have been born and raised here, and many consider New Orleans to be our country’s most African-American city.
 
A wonderful way to learn about the African-American contribution here in LA is to experience the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail. The trail begins in New Orleans and winds its way north along The Mississippi River to Baton Rouge and Shreveport with many stops in between. In New Orleans, you can walk to most of the sites, which makes it quite convenient. But to take it all in, you’ll need the use of a car or other transportation.  Download the free iPhone app and you'll have a complete guide to the trail with directions, maps, photos, stories, and more.
 
What will you experience? Well, there are a variety of museums, art galleries, exhibits, fascinating plantation complexes, historic cemeteries and the first 2 churches founded by free people of color. You’ll learn about the fascinating history behind the Mardi Gras Indians, sample some delicious delights from local chefs and so much more.
 
There are so many places to explore along the trail and too many to list here, but these are some of my favorites:
 
  • Tangipahoa African American Heritage Museum -features artwork depicting the history of African people in the U.S., starting with the sometimes-shocking images of the Middle Passage slave trades and continuing through to the Civil Rights Movement.  Website.
     
  • Providence Park Cemetery - visit the grave of legendary gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, who was born, raised and laid to rest here in New Orleans. 
     
  • Melrose Plantation - a beautiful location, significant because it is home to the oldest buildings of African design built by freed slaves for the use of Black people. Website
For more information about the path of the African American Heritage Trail, visit "A Story Like No Other", a multimedia website packed with information about the various sites along the trail.
 
I highly recommend taking a trip on Louisiana’s African American Heritage Trail. It’s a great way to experience this amazingly rich culture and to see why they have been, and continue to be, such an integral ingredient in the makeup of the great state of Louisiana!
 

Star-Spangled Celebration in Baton Rouge

Thursday, June 27, 2013 by Debbie Henriksen
 
Situated on the east bank of the majestic Mississippi River, Baton Rouge is always a great place to visit.  The city boasts southern hospitality laced with French savoir faire and a dash of zesty Cajun fun. And even though Baton Rouge is the state capitol and Louisiana's second largest city, it still has a nice, easy-going, “sleepy” feel to it.
 
But Baton Rouge is an especially great place to visit on the Fourth of July. Besides all of the other cool things this thriving city has to offer, they host the annual "Star-Spangled Celebration", an amazing, all-day event!  Head downtown to the Baton Rouge riverfront area and begin the day by touring the USS Kidd, a Fletcher-class destroyer nicknamed the “Pirate of the Pacific”. The USS Kidd was an outstanding destroyer; she received eight battle stars for her service in World War II and four for her actions during the Korean War.  The ship is the centerpiece of the Veteran’s Memorial Museum, a great place to learn about some of the sacrifices our veterans made to insure our freedom. What a perfect way to celebrate Independence Day, don’t you think? You can also just visit the museum, if you’d like. But I would highly recommend doing both; it really is a very moving experience and well worth the extra charge. (Check website for tour info and pricing).
 
July 4th in Baton Rouge, LA LouisianaThe festivities officially commence at noon, when the vendors open up their booths offering a variety of delicious local food and drinks. And if you overdo it, you can dance away some of the calories because a variety of musical performances will be going on all day! Make sure you’re in the area at 6:10 p.m.. because you don’t want to miss “Air Raid Baton Rouge!” This is when you get to see the mighty USS Kidd defend herself from “attacking” warplanes! Quite a thrilling experience! View the full schedule of events here.
 
At 9:00 pm, WBRZ Channel 2 & The Advocate present “Fireworks on the Mississippi” - a spectacular fireworks display over the river. You can also watch the display from the decks of the USS Kidd, but the $10 tickets are limited so get a move on if that’s something you’d like to do.
 
The Star-Spangled Celebration is also the largest fundraising event of the year for the USS Kidd Veterans Memorial, so come on down and not only will you have a blast celebrating our independence, you’ll also help keep one of America’s best veterans' memorials alive and thriving!  
 
Happy 4th of July!
 
Planning a trip to Baton Rouge, LA?  Visit TourLouisiana.com for more information. Order your free brochure here.
 

Shreveport, LA is Mad for Mudbugs

Friday, May 10, 2013 by Debbie Henriksen

Accordions and fiddles belt out a lively Zydeco rhythm and the smell of boiled crawfish fills the air.

It's the annual Mudbug Madness Festival in Shreveport, LA and you don't want to miss it!

On May 23-26, this northern Louisiana city takes on a south LA flavor and celebrates the crawfish or "mudbug" with Cajun food and music that define its southern traditions.

Beginning in the eighties as a two-day street festival in downtown Shreveport, Mudbug Madness has become one of Louisiana’s largest and most popular festivals, featuring well-known Cajun, Zydeco, Blues and Jazz artists, fantastic authentic Cajun cuisine, crazy and quirky contests, and fun for all ages. Now a Shreveport institution, Mudbug Madness is nationally recognized as one of the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events. 

Hundreds of people will line up to buy their box o’ bugs, brimming with boiled crawfish, red potatoes and corn on the cob. The crawfish are cooked with a zesty blend of spices, a little bit hot and a little bit sweet. If you've never eaten a crawfish, friendly “natives” are quick to tell you how: twist, peel and bite! For those who don't desire a mess of mudbugs, the festival features some of the best jambalaya, crawfish étoufee, poboys, alligator, dirty rice and other dishes unique to the region.

After you’ve sampled all the food, the infectious beat of the music will likely draw you over to one of the three stages of live entertainment to clap, dance and sing along. This year’s event will feature performances by Louisiana favorites such as Grammy-winner Wayne Toups & ZyDeCajun and Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers.

While the crawfish is the star of this festival, the weekend is really about celebrating Louisiana’s rich cultural heritage and the people of Shreveport are proud to bring a little bit of south Louisiana up north.

>> Mudbug Madness Festival website

>> Plan your travel to Shreveport, LA

>> Visit Tour Louisiana for free brochures and information on where to go and what to see across the state

 

 

 

Cajun-Brewed Beer and Louisiana Gumbo, the Real Cajun Two Step

Friday, April 19, 2013 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man

 

 
The Little Big Cup
149 Fuselier Rd
Arnaudville, LA 70512
337-754-7147
 
 
 
Bayou Teche Brewing
1002 Noth Lane
Arnaudville, LA 70512
 
 
 
 
The search for who has the Best Gumbo in Louisiana continues and on this trip I visited a small Cajun town that straddles two Cajun Parishes, St. Landry Parish and St. Martin Parish. Arnaudville lies on Bayou Teche and Bayou Fuselier in the heart of Cajun Country. 
 
My first stop was at Bayou Teche Brewing. Bayou Teche Brewing brews “cultural” beers in small batches and has just opened a new tasting room where you can sample these one-of-a-kind beers. Karlos Knodt is the brew master and he has a great selection with many more to come. During my visit, I sampled Saison d'ecrevisses (perfect with crawfish), Mardi Gras, Biere Noire and the Boucanee, a smoked wheat beer.
 
Now for the Gumbo. The Little Big Cup is very unassuming from the outside and very funky on the inside. You go up to the counter to order from the two chalk boards, pay and have a seat. They will call your name or, if it’s not too busy, they will bring you your food. They have a Louisiana Chicken and Sausage gumbo every day except Friday when they serve Louisiana Seafood Gumbo. The price for a cup of the Louisiana Chicken and Sausage Gumbo is $3.50 and $5.25 for a bowl. The Louisiana Seafood Gumbo is $1.00 more.
 
Here’s the recipe: as soon as they brought over the gumbo, the aroma hit me right between the eyes. I knew I was in for a great gumbo. It had a medium to light roux and a spiciness that put a smile on my face. This was one of the first gumbos I’ve tasted that had the same spiciness from first to last spoonful. It left me with a perfect after burn.  They use small shrimp, crawfish and crab meat. They were very small but there was plenty in every spoonful. As you can see in the photo, there was plenty of rice. It was served hot but didn’t add to the taste.  In addition to the restaurant, they have a large catering business and they are opening a reception hall next door with a deck that overlooks Bayou Teche. If you are anywhere near Arnaudville (pronounced Arno Ville), make sure you leave time for a great Louisiana Gumbo and some great locally brewed “cultural” beer.
 
 
 
 

 

The Little Big Cup's Seafood 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: Very Good
Price: Excellent

*Read my Gumbo Rating System*

 

 

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  The Louisiana Travelin' Man

 

Fore a Great Time, Swing by the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man

 


Zurich Classic of New Orleans
April 22-28, 2013
TPC Louisiana
Avondale, Louisiana
www.zurichgolfclassic.com
504-342-3000

 

 

Where can you find more clubs than on Bourbon St.?  The Zurich Classic of New Orleans!

Fore the best PGA golf tournament this spring, drive on over to the Zurich Golf Classic at the TPC Louisiana course in Avondale, which is also one of the 10 golf courses on the Audubon Golf Trail. 156 of the best golfers in the world will be trying to chip their way to the lead. Here is the big challenge for these pro golfers: with all of the great food in New Orleans and on the course, it’s going to be difficult for them to not partake in Charbroiled Oysters from Drago’s, or the great food from Arnaud’s, Galatoires, The Bourbon House and Mr. B’s Bistro to name just a few.  These and several other restaurants will be cooking their specialties on the golf course as well as in their restaurants. Get one of Drago’s Charbroiled Oysters, let it cool off a bit, open your mouth and let it slide in. That’s a hole in one here in New Orleans.

Here are the specifics:
Monday and Tuesday: Free admission for the Practice Rounds (a fairway to watch golf)
Wednesday: $25.00 Pro-Am
Thursday – Sunday: $25/day for the Tournament Rounds (or $75 for the entire week -- not much green for a whole week of great golf!)

There are also specialty packages that you can take advantage of. Click here for details.

I will be there to sample as much food as possible. It’s a rough assignment, but I hope to wedge in a few Charbroiled Oysters. I guarantee you the food will be above par (and hopefully the golf below par). As you know, I’m searching for the best gumbo in Louisiana, but I hope they are not serving eagle gumbo, and I plan to trap myself in the food tent until I am asked to bogey on home.

This may have been one of my cornier blogs, but trust me, even if you are not a golf fan, you will have a great time at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, and you will be helping a great charity, Fore Kids Foundation.

 

   

    The Louisiana Travelin' Man

 

 

 

 

How to Enjoy Louisiana Gumbo at Court

Friday, April 12, 2013 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man

 

Court Tavern Po-Boy
614 Bourbon St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
504-522-7273
 

 
I have a confession to make...
 
I have been in New Orleans since 1974, lived in the French Quarter for 14 years, have passed the Court Tavern a thousand times, looked in, but never went in. That changed recently.  The Court Tavern Po Boy is owned and operated by the World Famous Court of Two Sisters Restaurant which dates back to 1940. The Court Tavern Po-Boy used to be a Jazz Club called “All That Jazz”.
New Orleans diningI have to talk about the Court of Two Sisters before I tell you about the two Louisiana Gumbos I ate at the Tavern. What is New Orleans known for? Correct. Food and Jazz Music. New Orleans is also known for beautiful courtyards. Well, you have just described the Court of Two Sisters. Every time I walk through their courtyard, hear the Jazz music, see the foliage and see all the people, (mostly out-of-towners) enjoying a bountiful array of Louisiana foods, it puts a smile on my face.
 
I also have to confess, it’s been years since I’ve enjoyed their Jazz Brunch, but from what I have heard from those who have, it has gotten better over the years. By the way, it’s a steal of a deal. $29.00 for adults and $12.50 for children 5-12. The brunch also includes their Chicken and Andouille GumboNew Orleans travel (see below), coffee, tea, juices and all you can eat. Now, I have eaten dinner at the Court of Two Sisters which is first class and the surroundings in the restaurant are elegant, but casual. Even though I am searching for the Best Gumbo in Louisiana, I can tell you The Court of Two Sisters has one of the best Turtle Soups in Louisiana. This is a must.
 
Okay, now for my Louisiana Gumbo experience at the Court Tavern Po Boy. They have two Louisiana Gumbos, both priced at $9.00. Louisiana Creole Seafood Gumbo (right photo), and Chicken and Andouille Gumbo (left photo). If you want to have one of their Gumbos and half of any of their Po Boys, it’s only $13.00. Let’s start with the Chicken and Andouille. It was served hot, had plenty of stuff and a very nicely spiced Louisiana Andouille. It did have okra but it did not have a slimy look or taste as some okra gumbos have. It was a medium roux gumbo and left a very pleasant after burn. The rice was hot and as you can see, there is plenty of French bread. 
The Creole Louisiana Seafood Gumbo also had okra but no slime factor. It had a light to medium roux, a very pleasant seafood stock base and a good amount of small shrimp. It had a very good amount of seasoning and also left a pleasant after burn. The rice was also served hot. 
 
If I had to choose one over the other, it would be a tough decision, but I would choose the Chicken and Andouille Gumbo, probably for the Louisiana Andouille.
 
 
 
 
 

Seafood Gumbo

    Croux says “I’ll give it a 3 Spoon Rating” 

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

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

   Croux says “I’ll give it a 3 Spoon Rating”

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

 

*Read my Gumbo Rating System*

 

 

   

    The Louisiana Travelin' Man

 

 

 

Come Chew the Fat at the 37th Annual Parks Cracklin’ Cook-off in Parks, LA

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

37th Annual Parks Cracklin’ Cook-off

Cecile Rousseau Poche’ Memorial Park

Parks, Louisiana

April 5 and 6, 2013

 

Parks, Louisiana is in St. Martin Parish, 10 miles from St. Martinville in Cajun Country and you can bet, the Cajuns know how to cook Gumbo, but they also know how to cook Cracklin’. If you’re not familiar with Cracklin’, you haven’t been reading my blog.

What is Cracklin’? It’s good. Cracklin’ is fried pork skin with the fat attached and in some cases a little piece of meat. It’s deep fried usually in a cast iron pot. It’s a long process, but well worth it. After its been fried, it’s time for the seasoning. That’s what really distinguishes one cracklin’ from another.  Cracklin’ is high in fat and cholesterol. So? Make believe you are on the Atkins diet and enjoy.

I will be in Parks, Louisiana on April 6, 2013 to judge the 37th annual Cracklin’ Cook-off. This is a serious cook-off, not only for bragging rights, but for cash prizes. The cook-off is only one aspect of this unique Cajun Festival. Cajun music is continuous from the time the gates open until it’s time to say goodbye.  The gates open Friday April 5th at 6pm til midnight and then on Saturday April 6 from 10am til? The Cracklin’ Cook-off will begin at 11am with approx. 30 teams and the judging begins at 3pm, with the winners announced at 4:30pm (these are approx. times).

So, head to Parks in Cajun Country, enjoy some great Cajun music, great Cajun food and some of the best Cracklin’ in the world.

For more information, click here: http://parkscracklincookoff.com/

>> More about St. Martin Parish.

 

 

 

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  The Louisiana Travelin' Man

 

 

 

 

Need plans for this March? Here are a few choices...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man

 

This is Spring Festival Season in Louisiana and there are sooooo many events happening the weekend of March 22-24 that I thought I would talk about a few of them to hopefully give you that get-up-and-go spirit to get up and go to one or more of them.

 

March 20-24

Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival

Literary sessions, walking tours, food and music events. Held all around the French Quarter

 

 

March 21-23

Iowa Rabbit Festival, Iowa

Held at the Lawrence Toups, Jr. Memorial Park. This is one of the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events.

 

 

 

 

March 21-24

Louisiana Crawfish Festival/Redfish Cup, Chalmette

Kids amusement area, carnival games, music and plenty of crawfish.

 

 

 

 

March 22-23 

Hammond Smokin' Blues & BBQ Challenge Hammond

Plenty of music and BBQ with a BBQ cook-off

 

 

 

 

  

March 22-24

Hogs for the CauseNew Orleans City Park

**I will be a judge at this great event featuring some of the great BBQ’ers, and great Louisiana music, plus if you come, you will be helping a great cause.

 

 

March 22-24

New Orleans Home and Garden Show Mercedes Benz Superdome

This is one of the biggest home shows in one of the great facilities in New Orleans.

 

 

 

 

March 22-24  

Louisiana Swamp Stomp Nichols State University Thidodaux

Plenty of food, music and crafts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 23

Southdown Marketplace Arts & Crafts Festival Houma

Over 300 local and national crafters at this family friendly festival.

 

 

 

March 23

Fete Francaise New Orleans

This celebrates the French heritage and culture with plenty of music and food.

 

 

 

 

March 23 

Bloomin’ On The Bricks Natchitoches

Vendors, music, food and plants for sale.

 

 

March 23-24 

Congo Square Rhythms Festival New Orleans

International and local music stars

 

 

 

March 24

28th Annual World Championship Crawfish Etouffee Cook-off, Eunice

Cajun music and plenty of crawfish with your chance to choose the winner.

 

 

 

 

 

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  The Louisiana Travelin' Man

 

 

 

Here come da Judge. Here come da Judge.

Monday, March 4, 2013 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man

 

March will be a busy month for The Louisiana Travelin’ Man. I’ll be traveling around Louisiana as the Spring Festival Season begins and I’ll be judging several different cook-offs in several different categories. Why not join me at the following events or the many others you’ll find on TourLouisiana.com.
 
 
10th Annual Frisco Fest: Arts & Crafts – Music – Creole & Cajun Food
March 9th & 10th, 2013
San Francisco Plantation, Garyville
9am - 5pm each day. $5.00 admission. Kids 12 and under free with adult.
 
San Francisco Plantation, one of the great plantations along River Road, will host the 10th Annual Frisco Fest that will feature two days of cook-offs. Saturday will be the 4th annual Cracklin’ Cook-off in which I will be one of the judges. If you don’t know what Cracklin’ is, I guess you can call it Cajun Potato Chips, but instead of potatoes you use pork fat with a little meat and skin on it and fry it in a cast iron skillet (black pot). After it’s fried, the seasoning is added to give that individual taste. 
 
Sunday will be the Chef’s Choice Cook-off. There are three categories which include Soup, Salad, Gumbo and Appetizer as one category, Meat entree and Seafood entree are the other categories. 
 
In addition to the cook-offs, there will be over 100 craft booths, music, lots to eat and plenty of games to keep the kids busy including pony rides and a petting zoo.
 
 
Jumbo Gumbo Cook-off
March 16th, 2013
Nicholls State University, Thibodaux
12:30pm – 4:30pm. $5.00 for Gumbo tastings (Gumbo servings begin at 1:30pm)
1:30pm Judging begins
4pm Awards
 
Cajun country is known for its great food and I am expecting to taste some great gumbos. When I started searching for the best Gumbo in Louisiana, I was told by a lot of people “the best gumbo in Louisiana is my Momma’s Gumbo.” I have a feeling I’m going to taste lots of “Momma’s Gumbos” in Thibodaux and so can you. 
This all leads up to the 5th Annual Louisiana Swamp Stomp Festival, March 22nd – 24th , on the campus of Nicholls State University in Thibodaux. You’ll find plenty of music, food and craft booths. Admission is $10.  Louisiana Swamp Stomp has been selected by the Southeast Tourism Society as one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast for March, 2013.  > More information.
 
 
Hogs for the Cause: BBQ cook-off, music and plenty of food
March 22nd & 23rd, 2013
New Orleans City Park
Friday: 4:30pm – 11pm $5.00 admission.
Saturday: 11am – 10pm $15.00 admission in advance/$20.00 at the gate
 
Not only are you in for a great BBQ feast and great Louisiana music, you will also be helping a great cause. The purpose of Hogs for the Cause is to provide aid and relief for various expenses and economic burdens families face while their child is being treated for pediatric brain cancer. 
 
This event keeps growing and growing. Last year they had 58 teams competing in the BBQ cook-off and over 12,000 people came to experience the event. This year, the event has moved to City Park and it will be even bigger and better than last year. I will be a judge at this year’s BBQ cook-off. Even though I’ve been searching for the Best Gumbo in Louisiana, I have judged other BBQ cook-offs. So, why not join The Louisiana Travelin’ Man for a great cause and great BBQ at Hogs for the Cause.
 
 

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   The Louisiana Travelin' Man

Mardi Gras Celebrations All Around Louisiana

Friday, February 8, 2013 by Debbie Henriksen

For many people, Mardi Gras is synonymous with New Orleans. Mardi Gras beyond New OrleansThat's not surprising since the biggest and most well-known celebrations happen there and international media coverage of Carnival events seem to focus on the wild revelry in NOLA. If you are not from Louisiana, you may not even realize that all Louisianians love to celebrate Carnival season and there are some major Mardi Gras parades and parties happening all across the state. The various regions of LA like to put their own unique spin on the festivities. Most are good, clean, family-friendly fun and feature activities for children and even pets. Carnival season generally starts in late January/early February and the celebrations culminate on the day of Fat Tuesday, which falls on Feb. 12 this year. Look for plenty of parades and parties this weekend through Tuesday.

Below are just a few of the places featuring fun Mardi Gras events across Louisiana:

Shreveport/Minden
Shreveport (the biggest metropolitan area in north Louisiana), has a busy Carnival schedule. There are more than a dozen krewes that hold balls, and nearly as many that parade the streets. On the Shreveport riverfront, dogs and cats become royalty for a day thanks to the Krewe of Barkus and Meoux. Across the river in Bossier City, the Ark-La-Tex Mardi Gras Museum tells the story of Mardi Gras in this part of Louisiana and is definitely worth a visit if you are new to the celebration. An interesting tradition in Minden is the chicken run, when townspeople catch a chicken to prepare gumbo.  In this part of Louisiana, tradition dictates dressing in “chicken colors” of reds, greens and yellows, unlike the purples, greens and golds of other cities. (See below for more on the Chicken Run).
> Shreveport Mardi Gras events

AlexandriaMardi Gras Beyond New Orleans
Experience “Mardi Gras au Coeur de la Louisiane” (Mardi Gras in the Heart of Louisiana).  While Alexandria is a relative newcomer to Carnival parading, having only begun celebrations in the mid-1990s, they've grown quickly and now feature a full-blown parade with multiple krewes.  This year's parade features a special guest:  the world-famous, eight-horse Budweiser Clydesdales.
> Alexandria Mardi Gras events

Monroe-West Monroe
In the twin cities of Monroe and West Monroe, the Krewe of Janus continues their almost 20 year tradition of parading and partying. Activities abound for children and pets, too.  Don't miss this year's "Souper Catch", a soup-tasting competition where local restaurants compete for the title of "Souper Chef".
> Monroe-West Monroe Mardi Gras events

St. Tammany/Northshore
St. Tammany in the Northshore area does Mardi Gras on both land and sea. Look for the big trucks parade or the quirky Krewe of Push Mow in Abita, with humorous homemade floats based on lawn equipment. St. Tammany also adds a twist to the carnival season with two boat parades on the water, one in Slidell and one in Madisonville. And, just when you think the party's over, the Mystic Krewe of Mardi Paws lets the dogs out with its canine parade on Feb. 17. 
> Northshore Mardi Gras events

Baton Rouge
Louisiana's capitol brings its own big-city spin on the festivities, with several different krewes which host their own parade and other events.  Unique spectacles include the whimsical Krewe of Spanish Town (you can't miss them - just look for the pink flamingos!) While watching the parades is fun, how about joining in?  The Beauregard Town Walking Parade invites everyone to join in and march in this "people-powered parade" on foot,on bicycle or other pedaled rides.
> Baton Rouge Mardi Gras events

 

Cajun Country

Leave it to Cajun folks to add their own spin to the Mardi Gras revelry. Many towns in the southwest celebrate a more Cajun style rural Mardi Gras, where you're just as likely to find parades of pick up trucks and a fais do-dos as you are to find extravagant floats and fancy gala balls. Based on early medieval traditions, Cajun Mardi Gras celebrations commemorate the "Courir de Mardi Gras" (The Run of Fat Tuesday) where bands of masked and costumed horseback riders go from house to house singing and dancing for the owners in order to get different ingredients, all of which are used to make a communal gumbo at a celebration later that night. The last ingredient, and the highlight of the entire celebration, is the chicken.

You can experience the traditions of a Cajun Mardi Gras throughout Acadiana, including these locales:

Houma
Houma, Louisiana boasts the second-largest Mardi Gras celebration in the state. It’s a truly authentic Cajun Mardi Gras celebration with colorful floats, countless marching bands, masked balls, costumed revelers and plenty of King Cake for everyone!
> Houma Mardi Gras events

Lafayette
In Lafayette, you can view parades and catch throws, as well as witness a long-standing but little recognized tradition of masking and Mardi Gras Indians.  Lafayette features a Carnival midway, native Cajun foods and an outstanding line-up of live entertainment. To make the festival a complete Mardi Gras experience, all of Lafayette’s parades roll through the festival grounds.
> Lafayette Mardi Gras events

Lake Charles
Food is a big part of any celebration in Lake Charles and Mardi Gras is no exception.  They host the "World Famous Cajun Extravaganza and Gumbo Cook-off" and "Taste de la Louisiane" where the best in traditional Cajun cuisine is offered.  Don't miss the Lighted Boat Parade on the lake.  Lake Charles is also home to the "Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu", where visitors can see some of the most outrageous Mardi Gras costumes, climb aboard a real parade float and learn about the heritage of the celebration.
> Lake Charles Mardi Gras events 

Mardi Gras is a holiday for all of Louisiana. Beyond New Orleans, you'll find plenty of places to party, parade and "laissez les bons temps rouler".

Louisiana Gumbo: Charlie's Restaurant in Violet, LA

Thursday, February 7, 2013 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man

 

6129 E. St. Bernard Hwy
Violet, LA 70092
504-682-9057
CASH ONLY
 
Charlie’s Restaurant has won the New Orleans Gumbo Cook-off for the past three years and it was time for me to experience it for myself.
 
First let’s talk about where the restaurant is located. Violet, Louisiana is located in St. Bernard Parish, a neighbor to the east of New Orleans. It’s on the east bank of the Mississippi River and less than 14 miles from the French Quarter.  While you’re in the area, why not visit the Los Islenos Village & Museum Complex, just 4 miles from Charlie’s Restaurant. Also, make a stop at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve - Chalmette Battlefield. Another stop to make, in fact this should be the first stop, the St. Bernard Parish Tourist Commission where you can get maps, brochures and some southern hospitality to get you around the Parish.  
 
Now back to Charlie’s Restaurant. This is a very family friendly restaurant that serves good local food and plenty of it. Their menu has 300 items to choose from. As you guessed, I ordered their Louisiana Seafood Gumbo. They have three sizes: Cup at $4.95, Bowl at $7.95 and a Quart at $13.95. The Louisiana Seafood Gumbo had plenty of stuff and had a great gumbo aroma. The stuff was mostly smoked sausage and shrimp with a small crab finger and some chunks of okra. There was a taste I couldn’t figure out. I asked the owner and he said “it’s a secret.” It had a sweet acidic taste so if I had to guess, I would say it was a Balsamic Vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce combination. I asked where his sausage came from and he said it was Hillshire. I didn’t question why, but there are so many other local options to use. The Louisiana Seafood Gumbo had a medium roux with a good blend of seasoning and good body. It left a very good after burn as I got to the bottom of the cup. The rice was warm, but didn’t add anything to the gumbo.

So, if you go to Charlie’s in Violet and find out what the mystery spice is, let me know. Enjoy.
 
 

Charlie's Louisiana Seafood Gumbo

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

*Read my Gumbo Rating System*

 

 

Louisiana Gumbo: Speckled T's in Slidell, LA

Friday, February 1, 2013 by The Louisiana Travelin' Man

 

Speckled T’s
158 S. Military Rd.
Slidell, LA
985-646-1728
www.speckledts.com

 

The Louisiana Northshore has some great restaurants that I’m sure serve great Louisiana Gumbo, but unfortunately Speckled T’s is not one of them. Now, they have good food, but the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo I ate on a recent visit needed a complete makeover.

When a waiter serves you Louisiana Gumbo, the first thing that hits you is the aroma. It’s usually the roux that hits your nose first. When this Louisiana Gumbo was placed in front of me, there was no aroma. Even when I went in for a closer smell, not much there. More about the Gumbo specifics later.  Speckled T’s has two Louisiana Gumbos on their menu. They have a Louisiana Seafood Gumbo and a Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. Both are priced the same: $4.95 for a cup and $6.50 for a bowl. I had the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. It had a dark roux that was very thick.  As you can see in the first photo, there was plenty of stuff, what you will see in the second photo is most of it was sausage. We are talking about sausage pieces that were bigger than my spoon, and the sausage did not taste like a good Louisiana smoked sausage. It tasted more like a Kielbasa that you can buy anywhere in the USA. Now for the worst part of the gumbo: it was so salty that I couldn’t eat it. When I tasted the rice, it was ice cold. This is the first time I was served rice that was taken directly out of the walk-in cooler and served.

As you have read in my previous Louisiana Gumbo blogs, the spiciness of the gumbo gets more intense as you get to the bottom of the bowl. Since the only spice I could taste was salt, this gumbo failed on that part. It also failed on the after-burn.

I can give you some good news. Their Po’boys are very good. Stay with the fried shrimp, fried oyster or roast beef Po’boys and you can’t go wrong. They also have a Sunday Champagne Brunch for $18.95 that’s served from 11am – 2pm. You get several hot entrées to choose from but the big thing is their seafood. They had boiled shrimp, raw and charbroiled oysters on the half shell.

 

Speckled T's Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

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

*Read my Gumbo Rating System*