Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sights to See: Creole Nature Trail, near Lake Charles, Louisiana


Creole Nature Trail   
All-American Road  Driving this popular National Scenic Byway takes about 10 hours, but you can be satisfied with shorter portions.  The road stretches for 200 miles through Louisiana’s Outback, passing through bird rookeries and two migratory flyways.  It is a birding hotspot, with a protected area featuring extensive marshes and 26 miles of sandy beaches.  In addition to numerous trails, it features a variety of aquatic activities, including swimming and fishing.  Holly Beach was once dubbed the Cajun Riviera, but due to hurricane damage is now more rustic and tranquil but still perfect for lounging, taking long walks, and collecting sea shells.

Adventure Point  2740 Ruth St., in Sulphur, (800) 456-7952, (337) 502-4358.  Free.  Through hands-on displays at this visitor center, you learn about the best places to spot alligators and migrating songbirds, take a peek at wildlife found in bayous and marshes, and sniff the mouthwatering aromas of Cajun and Creole cooking.  You can even play the instruments in a Zydeco band and learn the differences between Cajun and Zydeco music.  And out front awaits a fishing boat photo op.

Adventure Point visitor center in Sulphur, Louisiana
Adventure Point visitor center in Sulphur, Louisiana

photo op at Adventure Point visitor center in Sulphur, Louisiana
photo op at Adventure Point visitor center in Sulphur, Louisiana

Sabine National Wildlife Refuge Wetland Walkway  In Hackberry.  This 1.5 mile loop path is partially over fully accessible boardwalk, providing access into and over saltwater marshes. Plant life includes cattails (they look like corn dogs at the top) and myriad tall grasses, and you will also see a variety of birds—herons, egrets, ducks--and maybe a few alligators.  Viewing scopes, observation decks and a two story observation tower, plus five rest shelters offer exceptional views. 


welcome sign at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge Wetland Walkway in Louisiana
welcome sign at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge Wetland Walkway in Louisiana


boardwalk at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge Wetland Walkway in Louisiana
boardwalk at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge Wetland Walkway in Louisiana


observation tower at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge Wetland Walkway in Louisiana
observation tower at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge Wetland Walkway in Louisiana


observation deck at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge Wetland Walkway in Louisiana
observation deck at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge Wetland Walkway in Louisiana


waterside-path at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge Wetland Walkway in Louisiana
waterside-path at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge Wetland Walkway in Louisiana

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers  

 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Things to Do: Red Stick Spice Co., Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Red Stick Spice Co.  660 Jefferson Hwy., (225) 930-9967.  This heavenly-smelling shop sells all the spices used in local cooking--including blends—as well as for many other styles of cooking.  Flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars from California and loose teas are also stocked.  Cooking demonstrations enhance a visit and leave you inspired to try making the featured items at home.  When I visited, the demo was for a quick and tasty black drum fish sautéed in local pecan oil and butter, plus a delicious bread pudding that was almost as good as my Mom’s.  It was here that I learned about Red Bean Monday—referring to a past time when women put on beans in the morning so they could have their hands free all day to do laundry.  A great idea any day!   

interior of Red Stick Spice Co. in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
interior of Red Stick Spice Co. in Baton Rouge, Louisiana


spice packets at Red Stick Spice Co. in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
spice packets at Red Stick Spice Co. in Baton Rouge, Louisiana


vinegars and olive oils at Red Stick Spice Co. in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
vinegars and olive oils at Red Stick Spice Co. in Baton Rouge, Louisiana


demo of spiced black drum fish at Red Stick Spice Co. in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
demo of spiced black drum fish at Red Stick Spice Co. in Baton Rouge, Louisiana


sample of finished black drum fish at Red Stick Spice Co. in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
sample of finished black drum fish at Red Stick Spice Co. in Baton Rouge, Louisiana


bread pudding at Red Stick Spice Co. in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
bread pudding at Red Stick Spice Co. in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

More things to do in Baton Rouge.

More things to do in Louisiana.

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 



Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sights to See: Old State Capitol, Louisiana State Capitol, Capitol Park Museum; Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Old State Capitol  100 North Blvd., (225) 342-0500.  This exquisite castellated building tells the story of Baton Rouge's colorful political history.  It is filled with grand spaces and interesting architectural features--the piece de resistance being a majestic 1880 iron spiral staircase in the center.  The historic building’s very own ghost, Sarah Morgan, who speaks in the well-done “Ghost of the Castle” film, which provides a brief history of the building.  Here you’ll learn about the long legacy of assassinated governor Huey Long, and you’ll also have the opportunity to see the desk used by every governor and to stand at a podium where you can see actual speeches on teleprompters.

exterior of Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
exterior of Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

iron spiral staircase at Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
iron spiral staircase at Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

stained-glass dome at Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
stained-glass dome at Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Louisiana State Capitol  900 N. Third Street, (225) 342-7317.  Daily 8am-4:30pm.  At 34 stories and 450-feet high, this is the tallest state capitol in the United States.  Its 27th floor observation deck provides a panoramic bird’s eye view of Baton Rouge, the Mississippi River, and the Exxon mobile refinery—the largest in the U.S.  Governor Huey P. Long, who was assassinated inside, made it happen during the 1930s.  He is now buried on the grounds under his statue, which faces this working capitol.  Inside, you can also view the ornate Senate and House Chambers.

exterior of Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
exterior of Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
view of Huey P. Long statue from top of Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
view of Huey P. Long statue from top of Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
interior of Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
interior of Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Capitol Park Museum  660 N. Fourth Street, (225) 342-5428.  Tu-Sat 9am-5pm.  $6, seniors $5, under 13 free.  This Louisiana State Museum highlights the state’s colorful history and lively culture.  You can step aboard a two-story shrimp boat, see a full-size bright yellow cotton gin, and view an authentic voodoo altar, and a walk through the Dance Hall treats your ears to the sounds of Louisiana’s musicians. 


shrimp boat at Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
shrimp boat at Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana


cotton gin at Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
cotton gin at Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

display at Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
display at Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

More things to do in Baton Rouge.

More things to do in Louisiana.

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Good Eats: Shopsin's General Store, NYC


Shopsin's General Store  120 Essex St./betw. Rivington & Delancey sts., in Essex Street Market at southwest end, stall #16, (212) 924-5160.  W-Sat 9am-2pm, Sun 10am-2pm; $$-$$$.  No reservations.  Cash only.  A while back at the Jewish Film Festival in San Francisco I happened to see a quirky little film titled “I Like Killing Flies,” which was about this very small NYC coffee shop with a very large menu (and many vegetarian options).  My daughter lived around the corner of the second location on Bedford Street, so we had a blast visiting the restaurant in person, even though it wasn’t at the same location as in the movie.  Owner Kenny hid there in the tiny kitchen, irritated to be recognized and asked for an autograph (you need to see the movie to understand how he cooks such a gigantic menu in such a small space).  Now, at his third location, he usually still enforces the rules like something right out of a Seinfeld episode (think soup nazi):  no talking on cell phones (I did get away with keeping my phone out on silent to take pictures--this former no-no seems to be ok now--but I did also get looks from the waiter); no groups larger than four; minimum one meal per person; no outside beverages; no substitutions; no take-out.  Bottom line is portions are huge and the food is always exceptional, but don’t you be in a hurry.
interior at Shopsin's in NYC
interior at Shopsin's in NYC

interior at Shopsin's in NYC
interior at Shopsin's in NYC

About that menu with 900+ items--study my photo of the menu before you dine here, and try to at least come close to knowing what you want to order.  Remember, people line up and wait a long time to get in, so you are taking up prime NYC real estate.  And don’t forget your reading glasses--the menu is squeezed onto two sides of a legal size page.
menu at Shopsin's in NYC
menu at Shopsin's in NYC

But when ordering, it’s hard to go wrong.  Last time, I had the spectacularly delicious vegetarian #N, the Jaffa sandwich, which is really a gyro with crispy chickpea curry fritters, avocado, and tahina sauce.  Soooo good.
Jaffa sandwich at Shopsin's in NYC
Jaffa sandwich at Shopsin's in NYC

buttermilk biscuit with fried artichoke hearts at Shopsin's in NYC
buttermilk biscuit with fried artichoke hearts at Shopsin's in NYC

scrambled eggs at Shopsin's in NYC
scrambled eggs at Shopsin's in NYC

I hear the mac ‘n cheese pancakes, chocolate ebleskivers/aebleskivers, or blisters on my sisters (I haven’t been able to figure out just exactly what this is) are all highly recommended.  And then there are "Wiggly Pete" with jalapeno-infused crispy cheese on top of garlic bread, Huevos Rancheros with extremely flavorful Short Ribs, and the monster Cap N J--panko-coated fried chicken on scrambled eggs inside two mac ‘n cheese pancakes.  Next time I’m trying the S'more milkshake and ordering another side of the super-good cheese grits.  
cheese grits at Shopsin's in NYC
cheese grits at Shopsin's in NYC

Portions are generous.  And there is plenty of attitude.  The staff is quintessentially New York, with little interest in explaining the menu or offering recommendations--and people do get thrown out.  All this plus a rack of seven different hot sauces,
hot sauce selection at Shopsin's in NYC
hot sauce selection at Shopsin's in NYC

and our 2-year-old was provided with a high chair and given an animal figurine to entertain her and to keep as a souvenir.
child in highchair at Shopsin's in NYC
child in highchair at Shopsin's in NYC

child with Toas-tite cheese sandwich at Shopsin's in NYC
child with Toas-tite cheese sandwich at Shopsin's in NYC
Shopsin's General Store Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


The indoor Essex Street Market was constructed in the 1940s.  It is a public market made up of many smaller merchants from around the world who specialize in gourmet cheeses, premium cuts of meat, fresh fish, and general grocery items.
exterior of Essex Street Market in NYC
exterior of Essex Street Market in NYC


produce shop at Essex Street Market in NYC
produce shop at Essex Street Market in NYC


Goya canned pigeon peas at Essex Street Market in NYC
Goya canned pigeon peas at Essex Street Market in NYC


homemade desserts at Essex Street Market in NYC
homemade desserts at Essex Street Market in NYC


juice to cure what ails you at Essex Street Market in NYC
juice to cure what ails you at Essex Street Market in NYC

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Good Eats: Clinton St. Baking Co., NYC


Clinton St. Baking Co.  4 Clinton St., Lower East Side, (646) 602-6263.  No reservations.  Cash only.
exterior of Clinton St. Baking Co. in NYC
exterior of Clinton St. Baking Co. in NYC

Set within a large open room with big windows that let in plenty of cheery light and provide views out to the sidewalk action, this very popular spot often requires a wait to get in.  Note that you can give the hostess your cell number if you’d like to be texted you when your table is ready.  Be patient--it is worth it--but be aware you’ll be waiting a little bit longer once you order.  Once seated, we passed the wait time sipping iced lattes.
line at Clinton St. Baking Co. in NYC
line at Clinton St. Baking Co. in NYC

interior of Clinton St. Baking Co. in NYC
interior of Clinton St. Baking Co. in NYC

Optionally, you can get some pastries to go from their bakery next door.
interior of bakery next door to Clinton St. Baking Co. in NYC
interior of bakery next door to Clinton St. Baking Co. in NYC

Pancakes with warm maple syrup seem to top the list of what to order, and the blueberry version is delish.
blueberry pancakes at Clinton St. Baking Co. in NYC
blueberry pancakes at Clinton St. Baking Co. in NYC

I ordered the Country Breakfast--scrambled eggs, hashed browns (boring), cured ham (very dry and not worthy of eating), and a buttermilk muffin, which I adored. and the main reason I ordered this meal in the first place.  Though the plating was nondescript, it came with spectacular raspberry jam with the big, bright berries still intact.
Country Breakfast at Clinton St. Baking Co. in NYC
Country Breakfast at Clinton St. Baking Co. in NYC

Though the cheese grits were not as good as at Shopsin’s, I hear the eggs Benedict with smoked salmon and the cherry pie are both delicious and have plans to try them next time.  
Clinton Street Baking Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers