Baby, You’re So Classic

It’s lunchtime, and I am driving the I-55 overpass in southeast Louisiana, between LaPlace and Hammond. Lake Maurepas is below me, old fish camps on slender stilts and moss-covered cypress trees dot the sparkling noonday water–a gorgeous, classic Louisiana photo-op, if you are willing to risk your life and pull over to snap a picture while the 18 wheelers roar by!

Instead, I take the Manchac exit to another Louisiana classic, its cheerful white and red exterior visible from the interstate–Middendorf’s Seafood Restaurant.

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Delicious Detours: Getting Our Fill of Old School, Cooked Down Goodness at Glenda’s Creole Kitchen

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When you are preparing for a road trip, are you the kind of person who leaves the packing until the morning of, instead spending a week in advance weighing the strategic options for finding the quintessential food experience along your chosen route?  The place only the locals know about, the one at the epicenter of “IT,” “IT” being whatever type of regional cooking is the specialty of the area through which you will be driving?

Then you and I share the love of road food conquest! In my pursuit of the most authentic local eateries, I have dragged my husband and kids off the beaten interstate path to uncharted territory more times than they’d like to remember, sometimes adding 2-3 hours to our total drive time.

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2014 Wine & Food Week Tasting in The Woodlands

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The setting sun cast a warm glow over a sea of Chardonnay as we celebrated Wine and Food Week in The Woodlands, Texas. The vertical tasting of Jordan Winery Chardonnays and Cabernets at Refuge Bar & Bistro was hosted by Houston wine expert, Denman Moody.

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Rhone-some Love

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A trip to Lyon meant that I was within striking distance of a Rhone valley wine tour.  What luck!  Southern Rhone wines had become some of our very favorites back at home in Houston, where lately we were discovering the world of Cotes du Rhone, Vacqueyras, Gigondas and Chateauneuf du Pape at our neighborhood Spec’s in The Woodlands, which has a very well-rounded selection of French wines.  I emailed Kanpai Wine Tours, a recommended, Lyon-based tour service, headed by Lyon native Olivier Delalande.

“It would be a pleasure for me to give you the tour to the NORTHERN Rhone Valley,” was the email reply from Olivier.

My jam-packed travel itinerary would only allow for a half day of touring, so the southern Rhone was not logistically possible.  Bummer!  I was not very familiar with wines from the northern Rhone.  Ecstatic to be tasting wine anywhere in France, I made the necessary arrangements. Continue reading

Eating Lyon

If you are planning a trip to Paris, consider making a side excursion to Lyon.  Adding a couple of nights to your travel itinerary is well worth the effort in order to experience this unique French city. Reserve a seat on the TGV, France’s high speed train, and you’ll zip through picturesque country villages and fields of bright yellow canola, making the 465 km trip in two hours.

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Lyon is located southwest of Paris and is part of the Rhone-Alpes region.  The heart of Lyon, Presqu’ile, which literally means “almost an island,” is nestled between the Rhone and Saone Rivers.  Lyon is a vibrant city–an important banking center for France, the headquarters for INTERPOL, and a hub for the pharmaceutical, chemical and technology industries.

An official UNESCO heritage site, Lyon’s ancient Roman ruins and Old Town are two of many historic areas to explore.  Just as important to me, though, is the city’s unofficial title–gastronomy capital of France! Continue reading

Paris Wine & Dine

 

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Springtime in Paris–everything in bloom!  Including my appetite for French cuisine.  Yes, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Notre Dame Cathedral are obligatory and awe-inspiring, so visit these, of course.  But do a little homework before you leave the States, and you will have some of the most satisfying meal experiences in the world without spending a fortune. Continue reading

Strawberry Fields Forever

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Last month my dad drove in from Louisiana with a special surprise for me–a flat of Louisiana strawberries!  I call them “small batch” strawberries, because they mostly come from family farms that have been growing strawberries for generations. Unlike the jumbo berries you buy in the produce department at H-E-B and Kroger that are super sweet, but somehow flavorless, Louisiana berries are delicately sweet and dewy.  Just as terroir (climate, soil, topography) affects the taste of a wine, the mild fall and winter and the rich organic content of the Tangipahoa and Livingston Parish soil make all the difference to the taste of a strawberry. Continue reading

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