Coming back to New Orleans after a long absence is like getting reacquainted with an old friend--a vibrant, stylish, irreverent, food-loving, foot-stomping, good-times-rolling friend.
Cuisine in Cajun Country
"Welcome to my restaurant!" came the lively French-accented voice from behind a screened door in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. We were taking snapshots of Chez Jacqueline when Jacqueline herself spotted us. The next thing we knew, we were salivating over her homemade biscuits, which were light, airy, and as big as MoonPies. Her Cajun omelet was enough food for three, but I did my best.
Jacqueline typifies the spirit of Cajun Country. These folks love to cook for people who love to eat. Dave and I started our boudin sweep in Prairieville, Louisiana, near Baton Rouge, where we had an amazing breakfast at Frank's Restaurant & Smokehouse. Then we made our way to a down-home restaurant called Thibodeaux's in Duson, just outside of Lafayette, where we could've eaten a No. 3 washtub full of the potato salad, and the seafood gumbo held a good day's catch smothered in a chocolate-brown roux. The next day we drove down State 31 through two beautiful towns, St. Martinville and Breaux Bridge, enjoying our visit with Jacqueline before moseying on to Houma for chicken-and-andouille gumbo at Boudreau & Thibodeau's, "open 24 hours in a row."
There's a huge list of places we couldn't get to--and we're more than willing to have another go at it.
What's New On Alabama's Coast
Drive along Beach Boulevard in Gulf Shores these days, and you're sure to notice one thing: several cranes towering over the seashore, erecting new condos and hotels.
The construction boom here reflects the growth and change on this 32-mile stretch of white-sand beaches. The towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, and the bays and beaches extending out from them, remain as family-oriented and casual as ever, but more options are coming online all the time. The Wharf, a tremendous new development in Orange Beach, boasts the largest Ferris wheel in the South, a 10,000-seat amphitheater, restaurants, shops, and a marina. Plans call for hotel rooms, condos, and a golf course. Bama Bayou, a development across the waterway from The Wharf, plans a full water park, dolphin swims, a resort and conference center, and more. Lulu's, the recently relocated restaurant owned by Jimmy Buffet's sister, serves fish sandwiches and shrimp in a setting that resembles a cross between Disneyland and a Florida Keys hideaway.
Alabama's Gulf Coast does not always get the recognition of Florida's, but the sand is as white, the water as pleasant, the days as sunny. With a little digging, you can plan a family vacation you'll remember for a lifetime.