Friday, September 14, 2018


Y not.

Our recent adventures lead us less than an hour west of Baton Rouge to Lafayette, LA. Our main purpose was the 2nd Saturday ArtWalk. The 6:00pm start meant that we had plenty of time to explore on our way there. Everything starts with food, so lunch was up first. 

Olde Tyme Grocery Goodness

A co-worker of Eric's, who is from Lafayette, once took him to Olde Tyme Grocery. He remembered getting a really good roast beef po-boy there, so we decided it would be the perfect stop. You enter to find coolers of drinks and stocked shelves of chips, candy and snacks. You order from the at the counter, grab your drinks, give them your name, pay and find a seat. The place is really popular, so finding a table can sometimes be a challenge. We lucked up to snag the last one (in a back corner). A worker walks around with orders, calling names. 

Please call my name next!

I went traditional south Louisiana style with the fried shrimp po-boy. Eric had the Old Tyme Special (ham/turkey/roast beef/swiss). They did not disappoint. Delicious. And a word to the wise on the size: order the half and not the whole. Though, the other half would be a good idea for leftovers. Nevermind, get the whole and bring the other half home. 

This is what it's all about!

Bellies full, we stumbled back outside into the Louisiana heat to think up our next stop. We were kinda winging things on this trip. We decided on the local university's Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum. I'm a big fan of architecture, so I was excited that they had an exhibit of famed Louisiana architect A. Hays Town. The exhibit included photos, drawings, models, and so much more. 

Museum waterfall y'all!

Eric's favorite exhibit was Salvador Dalí's Stairway to Heaven. The museum is first stop of the exhibitions U.S. tour. Dalí's works are inspired by Dante's "The Divine Comedy" and Comte de Lautréamont's "Les Chants de Maldoror". The works are much different than the surreal artwork for which he's most famous. If you can't make it to Lafayette then try to make one of the exhibitions other seven stops.

Is he trying to touch it with his nose?

Feeling properly cultured, we decided to go for a drive. We ended up going south to nearby New Iberia. We really had no specific destination in mind. It turns out that the town's historic district contains a replica of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, France. New Iberia's is much smaller in scale and just really popped out of nowhere on us. 

Not France.

The historic district also surprised us with the Sliman Theater for the Performing Arts. Its best years behind it, the theater was donated to the city, restored and now serves as a music and performing arts theater. Unfortunately, it was closed when we arrived, so we had to settle with peeks inside to the lobby and pictures of the fantastic exterior.

Historic charm.

A previous stop in the area lead us to a restaurant that was serving some really good sausage. When we asked about it, we were told it came from Nunu's Market. So of course, knowing it was nearby, we had to stop. They have all kinds of specialty meats. We passed on the (intriguing) low-carb cauliflower boudin. We left with their smoked boudin, smoked pork and Steens sausage (a little sweet thanks to that Steens) and shrimp stuffed chicken breasts. Oh, and a styrofoam cooler, because we did not come prepared for Eric's meaty shopping spree. 

Stuffed with anything and everything!

Cooler packed with goodies, we headed back to downtown Lafayette for the art walk. But of course we ran into something else that made us stop. We're suckers for murals. We grabbed pics of a couple here and there. Then we stumbled into graffiti at the abandoned Charles Boldt Paper Mill. It is popular enough that, next to the keep out sign, is a sign for the website to book your photo shoot. 

Where'd everybody go?

Not creepy at all.

Creepy abandoned paper mill checked off my bucket list, we finally made it back to downtown Lafayette. We started at the Wurst Biergarten. This was a pretty cool open air market for local artists that had large choice of beers. Eric grabbed a one of the local beers on tap and we strolled the grounds. Now if only Baton Rouge could get their act together and not just talk about beer gardens.

Graffiti Love!

More Graffiti Love!

More Graffiti?

Yes. More Graffiti.

The time of the walk had come, and the Acadiana Center for the Arts was open to the public, so we started there. From there, we walked up and down the street to visit the nearby businesses that were hosting local artists. Now here's where I have to be honest. It wasn't really living up to what we hoped. I think the long day just had us a little worn out, so we were only there for about an hour. We sometimes pack too much into our days. Maybe one day we'll learn. Maybe.

Eyes closed. Not drunk.

Friday, August 17, 2018

soup's on

What do you do when a coworker brings you a squash the size of a small child? First you (kindly) ask, "What on God's green Earth is that?" Next you better find something to do with it, because you know they're going to ask. Kidding. It was a fantastic surprise. It turns out that I was gifted a Vietnamese Opo Squash.

Work squash delivery.

An image search of that makes it pretty obvious what is mostly used for. Soup! Off to Pintrest we go! We decided on this recipe. We made a few adjustments based on personal taste and unintended grocery purchases. When you visit and Asian market and English isn't on many of the packages, well, you learn that Eric sees a picture of a roasted bird as a chicken. Even if it is actually, you find out later, is actually duck. So when you see 'duck' in our recipe, feel free to substitute the word 'chicken'. Though, I will say, I don't know that we made a wrong choice.

Garlic. I know you can smell this picture.

I-don! Udon! We all don for Udon!
That one's giving me the side-eye.

Cut-o the opo.

Presenting the Adventures with Eric Canh Bau Tom (aka. Vietnamese Opo Squash & Shrimp Soup). Note that this will feed you for a week. There will be leftovers. 

Vietnamese Opo Squash & Shrimp Soup

  • 1 Opo Squash (about 1 lb, peel, remove seeds, and cut into thick matchsticks
  • 1 lb. fresh shrimp (peeled, devained, and save peeled shelves for broth)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stewed duck broth cube
  • 1 package Udon noodles
  • 1 green onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • In a small pan, heat up vegetable oil. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 3 minutes).
  • In a medium-size pot add water, duck broth cube, salt, shrimp peels, garlic and bring to a boil.
  • Once water starts boiling, use a slotted spoon to remove the shrimp peels.
  • Add opo squash to the pot and cook until the squash turns translucent.
  • Add shrimp and noodles to the boiling pot and cook for two minutes.
  • Garnish with green onions and black pepper before serving.

It's looking ready!

You will find that the flavor is light, but satisfying and filling. The recipe could probably be tweaked a bit, but this was our first attempt at this. We didn't want to stray to far from the original recipe. Please give it a try and let us know if you added anything to the recipe that made it even better. We would love to try your take on the soup!

Get in my belly!

Monday, August 6, 2018

biloxi, part II - the adventures

If you haven't read part one of our Biloxi trip then please take a few minutes to give it a look. I'll wait...Now that we're all caught up with the food, onto Biloxi, Part Deux: The Revenge! Also referred to as the stuff we did in Biloxi. 

I captain my ship like a proper lady.

Torrential rains slowed us down on our drive, but we reached Biloxi a couple of hours before our scheduled sailing trip (cue the Christopher Cross). Those rains that we drove through, however, were following us. We stopped by Biloxi Schooners to speak with the captain. We wanted to know whether it looked like the weather would hold out and be clear for sailing. Did we need to come up with a plan B for our afternoon? The outlook was not good. We still had a chance to sail the following day, so we decided to try sailing the next day.

Picture this...

We returned to the beach after dinner (see part one) to walk along the beach and catch some pictures. You know what else we caught? A nice view of the schooner sailing by that we should have been on, because guess what? It didn't rain. Off they went sailing toward what was sure to be a picturesque sunset. I'm sure they passed around champagne flutes and gasped at the beauty of a sky one only sees in portraits. Whatever. I'm not bitter. 

A pelican glides over gulf waters.

We made the best of our good weather and beach time. It was early evening and we had the small section of beach practically to ourselves. Brown pelicans perched on remnants of what was probably a dock at one time. We're partial to the brown pelican, because it is our state bird. We snapped pictures of the pelicans and the other birds gathered at the shoreline. We watched shrimp boats coming into dock and hoped tomorrow would bring nice sailing weather.

Shrimp boat swarmed.

Feet dried and sand (mostly) swept away we called it a day and headed to our hotel. We stayed about thirty minutes east of Biloxi in Moss Point. Staying outside of Biloxi wasn't our first choice, but like things tend to do, they worked out. We were able to discover things that we would have otherwise missed. More on that later. After a late breakfast Saturday morning (seriously, check out part one for possibly the best donuts ever) we visited Biloxi's Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum. It's three floors of boats and history. In the early twentieth century, Biloxi was the seafood capitol of the world. Millions of pounds of shrimp and oysters were caught and canned. Entire families worked in the industry. Children included! It was a fascinating place to visit. 

Outside the Museum (Eric for scale).

The post-lunch shining sun outside meant that we were going to get our sailing trip! Unfortunately, Eric wore his "sailing outfit" the day before, but we would not be deterred. We arrived at the dock with our water and sunscreen. The two must-have staples if you go. And sunglasses. Three must-haves. Biloxi Schooners offers charters and walk on sails. The walk on sail means you don't need to charter. Whoever shows up goes out. They have boats that hold up to about forty people. There were eight of us and three crew members on our trip (a walk on sail). There was plenty of room for a dozen more. Our captain was as young as a captain was legally allowed; he was all of nineteen years old. His two deckhands were even younger. Combined, maybe they were the age of the captain we met the day before. Don't let that deter you. Our trusty captain knew his stuff and we felt very comfortable going out with him and his junior varsity crew. 

Totally sailing this ship.

Volunteers were requested for raising the sails as we headed out. I, of course, volunteered. More specifically, I volunteered Eric. He was a good sport about it and (eventually) hoisted the mast. Finished, he plopped down next to me out of breath and wheezed something about his shoulders burning and wondering if that's what crossfit is like. Catching his breath, we began our two hour adventure on the (not so) high seas. 

We lucked out in that we chose a spot that shaded us from the summer sun. Coupled with the wind, it was dare I say pleasant. We watched pelicans fly by and the crew work the sails their fancy knots. We passed the weekenders who pull their boats up to a long strip of beach a few hundred yards out from shore. Music blaring and drinks flowing. Everyone is out enjoying the sun and water. 

Captaining the vessel. No hands required.

When we get out a bit, our captain offers up the wheel for picture time. We were all about that. Once picture time was over, the captain ask for volunteers to steer the boat.  I once again volunteered...Eric. Eric took the wheel and managed not to sink us. No one else wanted a turn, so Eric steered for nearly twenty minutes. I think he's under the impression that he is now a captain. He mentioned needing to stop and get his license to make it official. The legend he must be in his own mind. 

The captain took back over as storms began looming in the distance. After checking the radar, he decided we would have to cut the trip a little short. We headed back a little quicker than we went out, but it was still so much fun. We docked before the storm arrived. We were out for about two hours of the scheduled two and a half hours, so no complaints. It was a great time. And we didn't burn! Yay, sunscreen! 

She's a lady. Whoa, whoa, whoa. She's a lady.

Our Sunday drive out included a few extra stops of those places we discovered between Biloxi and our hotel in Moss Point. Just off the main highway to Biloxi, in Pascagoula, the Jackson Country Port Authority and a couple of ship yards provided us photo opportunities. Unfortunately, we couldn't get very close, but a nearby boat launch and dock gave us some clear looks. Then we drove to the real reason we stopped. The Round Island Lighthouse

A lighthouse relocated.

The lighthouse is literally right next to the highway. Strange place for a light house. Next to a highway and not water. What? It was built in 1833, but was mostly destroyed by Hurricane Georges in 1998. As much of the original structure as possible was recovered. These remnants were to be used to reconstruct the lighthouse at the original site, but then Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. The lighthouse was eventually relocated and the light switch finally flipped on in 2015. So much history in a lighthouse on the side of a highway. 

Don't see everything from the highway. Next time, pull over and go see that thing you want to see. Whatever it is. You never know what you'll discover.

Until next time!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

biloxi, part I - the food

Here we come Biloxi!

Who goes to the beach, but doesn't really go to the beach? Apparently, we do. We headed out to explore different parts of the Biloxi, Mississippi area. Things outside of the beach and casino scene. Sorta. Biloxi is pretty much a straight two hour drive from our home base of Baton Rouge. It's an easy drive if you don't hit a couple of downpours that slow traffic to a virtual halt.

This will be the first of a two-part blog. We'll do things a bit different this time. We're covering the food stuff first with our adventure spots to follow. Let's dig in.

Two Pigs

Friday, day one in Biloxi, started with an early dinner not in Biloxi. We hit up The Shed Barbeque & Blues Joint. It is located in nearby Ocean Springs, MS. It was featured on The Food Network and has a menu of award winning BBQ. The Shed is exactly how it sounds. It's informal, mostly covered outdoor eating (with giant fans to keep things comfortable). We placed our order at the counter and found a spot in the line of picnic tables, just close enough to one of the fans so our things wouldn't blow away, and I grabbed a variety of their available sauces.

Lot of available real estate on those plates.

We both went with the pulled pork. Eric's in sandwich form, mine straight pile o' meat. We also had the potato salad (good stuff), coleslaw (basic stuff) and baked beans (sweet but not savory stuff). So was the BBQ award winning? Meh. It was decent, but the portion sizes were disappointing. Comparing this with the BBQ that we can get in Baton Rouge, we were underwhelmed. We didn't grab a variety of things, so that was our mistake. We can't give a fully accurate review, but the portion size was our main complaint. Perhaps you will have (or had) better luck.

The not-so-secret recipe?

Late Saturday morning we once again found ourselves in Ocean Springs. Downtown Ocean Springs is a quaint spot lined with shops and restaurants. It was a nice discovery (that we'll revisit later) on our way to our true destination: The Tatonut Shop. I can already hear you, "What the heck is a tatonut?" We're talking donuts, but made with mashed potatoes. What? That's weird, right? Wrong. That's delicious! There's no arguing with the popularity of the place. The line was out the door. People leaving with dozens upon dozens of these things! 

You have to eat this to understand the glory.

We made it to the counter after about a twenty minute wait. We ordered a couple of plain and a couple of chocolate covered. First things first: No, it does not taste like potatoes. I'll argue that it is better. It is similar to a fried donut, but not weighed down by the oil. It's lighter, but still just the right about of density. The taste is slightly off from what we're used to. We studied them after every bight. First couple of bites: Something a little different here. Do I like it? A few bites later: These are pretty good. Different, but good. Last bites: These may be the best things I've ever eaten! Why are these not everywhere?! If you are ever in Biloxi then drive the ten minutes to Ocean Springs, wait in line, doubt what I'm telling you and then send me your thank you notes later. Don't limit yourself to a couple. Get a couple of dozen, so you don't regret that choice like we did. 

Entrance to Mary Mahoney's courtyard!

Late breakfast meant a late lunch at a place recommended by a friend, Mary Mahoney's. This is in Biloxi and is such a nice place. You enter through a beautiful courtyard that includes an oak tree that is over two thousand year old. It's a big tree. The restaurant is centered around one of America's oldest homes. This means that you aren't sitting in one giant dining room with everyone else. The are multiple rooms for dining, so it gives you a quieter intimate atmosphere. Pictures of presidents and celebrities hang all around. It's kinda fancy, but not overly so. 

The lunch menu is a steal for what you get. Quality stuff here gang. Eighteen dollars will get you a three course meal. Salad, entree with the vegetable of the day and dessert. You will not leave hungry. Eric went with a snapper stuffed with shrimp and crab sauce. I had shrimp stuffed with crabmeat dressing. We both had the bread pudding in rum sauce. Everything was good, but the highlight, as it should be, was the main course. Eric couldn't stop talking about how good his was. It was starting to get a little uncomfortable. We get, Eric. Stop moaning. 

Perfectly cooked stuffed snapper and crawfish etouffee.

After a fun-filled day on the water, you'll have to wait for part II of blog to read about that, we headed back to downtown Ocean Springs. On the way to tatornut town, it looked like such a charming spot that we had to go back. We walked along Government Street scouting the restaurants and checking their reviews on Yelp. All I knew is that I wanted shrimp and somewhere quiet. No live music beating my eardrums. Turns out that limited our choices a bit. 

We ultimately chose Mosaic Tapas Restaurant and Bar. There was a jazz band at one end of the large patio, so we sat inside. The food was a mixed bag. Eric enjoyed his giant bowl of chorizo and shrimp paella. He should not have eaten it all, but he did and he paid for it. I had the shrimp scampi. It was just meh. The service was also slow. Especially since we were practically the only people eating inside. There were more staff than inside diners. And the staff was more into their own conversations than anything else. Then there is the restaurant itself. It just looked like it didn't know what it was trying to be. There was a small disco ball on the ceiling that made it feel like we were dining on a dance floor. The six inch stage that was ten feet from us suggests that I'm not far off. If you look at the menu then you'll see what I mean. There is a little of everything on there. Bit of a warning sign if you ask me. We gave it a shot, so you don't have to.

Cool treats from the Pop Shot.

We hopped across the street for dessert from Pop Brothers. It's a small place with a giant chalk board menu. You step up, order at the window and enjoy your dessert while walking the downtown streets. They have everything from your standard popsicle flavors to your more exotic mashups. From fresh fruit strawberry to lavender milk and honey. My pineapple jalapeño pop helped pick me up from dinner disco.

Our final Biloxi spot was again not a Biloxi spot. It was, again, an Ocean Springs spot. A late start had us landing at Woody's Roadside. There is a location in Biloxi, but we decided on this one, since it seemed crowded every time we came and went from Biloxi and Ocean Springs. The Biloxi location appeared to be a bit of a tourist trap. It just had that look. This location was a bit low key, but still the same name. So we weren't really sure, but gave it a go. This ended up being a bit of a surprise. 

Fried green tomatoes straight out the fryer. Scorched taste buds alert!

We started with the fried green tomatoes. These were straight out the fryer. We all know the feeling. You take a bite of food only to be hit with the feeling that the food is cooking your mouth, breathing in and out, desperately trying to cool it. Wanting to spit it out so bad, but know table manners is all that separates us from the animals. Or something like that. Anyway, back to the (cooled off) tomatoes. Paired with a spicy remoulade sauce, this was pretty good. Eric had spicy sweet chili shrimp tacos. They were messy, but he really liked them. I went with a shrimp poboy. I could not get enough shrimp on this trip. Something about being on the coast and seeing shrimp boats, I suppose.

Our food choices were hit and miss. Tatonut heaven to dinner on the dance floor. I suppose we caught a little bit of everything. If you're in the area then definitely consider Mary Mahoney's for lunch. Dinner if you're fancy. Woody's isn't an expensive tourist trap. You'll find some nice seafood options. The Shed wasn't our bag, but maybe it was just not for us. I wouldn't dissuade anyone from going. You may like it. Just didn't quite hit the mark for us. If Mosaics has a 'Under New Management' sign when you visit then consider it. No sign, no go. There are plenty of options in downtown Ocean Springs. Pop Brothers is a nice grab and go dessert. And of course, The Tatonut Shop. Just go. This is not optional. If you go to Biloxi and don't drive over to Ocean Springs for tatonut then I'm not sure this blog is for you. We'll just have to agree to disagree on the level of how wrong you are. Tatonuts are life.

Blog Part II, Straight Ahead!

Friday, June 29, 2018

food truck round-up

Local brewery, Tin Roof Brewery, recently hosted a food truck round-up. The location has plenty of lawn space and a covered outdoor patio to accommodate everything and everyone. Each food truck offered something different, so there was a variety of food, and the beer was flowing in the tap room. There was even a stand for gourmet frozen pops and ice cream. 

Eric says, "hello"!

Eric prefers darker beer, so he stuck with their Parade Ground Coffee Porter. He enjoyed it enough to have a few, so it must have been good. We parked ourselves on the covered outdoor patio. The fans were humming over-head, but this is South Louisiana. It was still plenty hot. There were a number of picnic tables out on the lawn, but we weren't giving up our shade. 

That is one dark beer. Looks like coffee.

Our Spot on the patio was good and bad news. Good in that were were in the shade. Bad, however, because there was suppose to be live music. The bands usually set up on the patio, so we would have been baking out in the sun if the band was there. Apparently, the planner and band couldn't come to terms in time, so the advertised live music was a no-go. That was a disappointment, but it kept our pale skin from burning, so there's that. 


Like I mentioned, the food trucks offered a variety, but there were only three. A couple of more could help make it more of a must-go event. The available options were Rice and GravyRock Paper Taco and Mr. Ronnie's Famous Hot Donuts. The line the Rock Paper Taco truck was evidence of both everyone's (correct) desire for tacos and the need for more options. Like everyone else in line, we wanted tacos. The line was long and Eric wasn't having that. We later heard someone say the wait was an hour even after you ordered. Again, we needed more trucks there.

That is one long taco line.

We opted for the much shorter line at Rice and Gravy. Eric and I both went with the Swamp Hawg:  smoked pulled pork, boudin, pepper jack cheese on garlic toast with a side of pepper jelly. Eric apparently ordered the last ones, because subsequent orders were denied. They were out. Again, need more trucks. The weight of the sandwich felt like we were getting our nine dollar's worth. It was heavy, but really good. The side of pepper jelly was a little odd. It was like a spicy strawberry Jello. I can't say it was bad, but I can't say it was good either. To the sandwich's credit, it made us (mostly) forget about tacos.

The Swamp Hawg

To Tin Roof's credit, there is also a Family Friday event on the first Friday of the month. That is an afternoon/early evening affair. It is similar to the round-up. There are food trucks and musical entertainment, but also inflatable bounce houses and face painting. Still though, summer in Baton Rouge is hot. Even when the sun goes down. But no sun helps.

Stay Classy!

I think the round-up is a good idea. The space at Tin Roof is a good spot for it. If a band had been on the patio and we were out on the lawn then it may have turned into a borderline miserable experience. The humidity is too high here, so even the patio doesn't keep you from sweating through your shirt. It only delays it. The tap room doesn't offer much of a reprieve, since people are constantly going in and out (as well as being a little cramped). If they want to continue and improve on the experience then I think it is best suited for a nighttime affair. At least between May and October. We want to go back...but at night.