No matter where we wander, it’s a given that we will be sampling some local cuisine when we arrive. During the planning of our Louisiana River Parishes excursion, we made sure to mix in a collection of flavors that would allow us to truly experience the cuisine options found in the region. I can tell you that this type of planning can leave a person with a high level of anticipation. While food may not be the only draw for us, checking out the local foodie scene is a bonus that we always enjoy. The flavors of the parishes embrace the local ingredients that come from the land and sea.
We want to thank Louisiana River Parishes and all of the local businesses that hosted our visit. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
Being from the Midwest, we had a lot to learn about the native cuisines. In the River Parishes, Andouille is a word that we heard frequently. This flavorful pork product uses coarser ground and special seasonings than Midwest sausage. It has the unique flavor of the French and German cultures that permeate this region. La Bon Boucon is home to some of these fabulous smoked meats. We stopped in and chatted with the owner about what makes a great Andouille. It begins with lean meat, which is combined with savory ingredients and seasonings. This mixture is stuffed into casings and then hung to cure out in a smokehouse setting. The combination of ingredients and choice of woods for smoking make a huge impact on the finished products. We decided to grab a variety of options to use for gumbo and jambalaya back at home.
The River Parishes have a long history that includes many ethnic cuisines. Creole and Cajun are often mistaken as the same thing. In reality, they are titles for the descendants of people who came from different areas. Creole refers to a person born in this region even though their family origins may be French, African American, Native American, or European. Cajun people originated as French immigrants from Nova Scotia. Both cultures have retained many of their traditions, especially with the foods they prepare. Creole cuisine could be likened to “city cooking”, which embraces native ingredients. Cajun meals are usually heartier, one-pot dishes that could be considered homestyle cooking. When we arrived at Nobile’s Restaurant, we could tell that there was a lot of history held within their walls.
Mile High Flavor
To say that Nobile’s has history is really an understatement. The beginning of their story goes way back to 1894 when Lawrence Nobile first arrived in Lutcher, Louisiana. Finding a busy logging town, he saw the opportunity for a bustling business. While the building has served a multitude of purposes, it has always been based on hospitality. That is exactly what we found during our visit. We decided to sample some local favorites, like the Shrimp PoBoy, which is served with Zapp’s Chips (made in nearby Gramercy, La.). A mixed plate of fried catfish, rice, and creamy gumbo added another collection of flavors. Dessert was a mile-high slice of Ba Ba, a sweet yellow cake. This historic treat is stacked with layers of cake, custard, coconut, and a meringue topping. Every bite was light and fluffy and tasted like heaven on earth.
Bounty of the Sea
Our visit to the River Parishes wouldn’t be complete without sampling the bounty of the nearby waters. There is no doubt that the people of this region are proud of their native recipes. At every place we dined, we were treated to an assortment of local flavors. A stop at B&C Cajun Restaurant would provide plenty of the flavors that have come to be a local legend. The chef wanted to serve up a collection of flavors that included alligator, rabbit, crab, shrimp, and crawdads. Toss in Boudin balls, hush puppies, oyster, and clam strips to make the meal protein-packed. It seemed like each bite brought a deeper appreciation for the tastes of the region
While the flavors of the Gulf abound, it isn’t limited to Creole and Cajun cuisines. Just about every restaurant has found a way to incorporate local ingredients into its menu. One of our dinners landed us at Petra Restaurant, in the Louisiana River Parishes. This fine-dining eatery is tucked away in a strip mall and proves that good things can be found in out-of-the-way locations. Here again, we explored some of the coastal tastes. An appetizer of Fried Calamari got our taste buds revved up for the main courses. I sampled the Pasta St. John, which is filled with chicken, andouille, mushrooms, and peppers all served up in a cream sauce. Crystal selected the Shrimp Scampi that is concocted with fresh herbs in a brandy butter sauce. There was no hiding the huge gulf shrimp that gave this dish its name.
It would have been easy to sleep in, especially with all of these heavy meals. We didn’t want to miss a moment of exploring, and knew that we could rest when we returned home. Mornings are made for coffee, so on one of them, we shot off to The Donut Hole. This local favorite has spent the last 30 years serving up their fried confections to locals and tourists alike. We were saddened to find out that the latest hurricane caused damage that was beyond belief to this site. They have closed their doors, but we couldn’t let our experience pass without mention. The sugary cakes that they would serve up rivaled any we have enjoyed throughout our travels. We want to wish the family and friends the best as they move on to new adventures. Their cheerful faces and sweet starts to the day will be missed.
We were finding that the collection of flavors available in the River Parishes cover a vast array of cuisines. Our preconceived notions were that everything would revolve around the Andouille Trail. It didn’t take long for us to realize that there is a myriad of tastes to be found in this region. The traditional dishes are plentiful, but we also added in a few eclectic eats to the mix. One such stop landed us at Truck Farm Tavern. This newer eatery has a different take on farm-to-table by incorporating the flavors of fresh ingredients in common dishes. Whether it’s a colorful summer salad or their twist on a Cuban sandwich, their dishes are delectable and artistic, to boot.
Being from the self-proclaimed “Barbecue Capital of the World”, there was a 100% chance we would find some smoked meats during our visit. Sure enough, when we spotted Wayne Jacobs Smokehouse, it was a given that we would be visiting. When we showed up for lunch, we knew it was going to be good. The tell-tale sign was an overloaded parking lot. Stepping out of our car, we could smell the smoky goodness hanging in the air. Our meal ended up being a collection of flavors that represented a cross-section of the menu. Each bite led to more and more taste bud satisfaction. The meats were so delicious that we had to get some for our “take-home” cooler.
Collection of Flavors
It goes without saying, but I will anyway, that we were well-fed during our Louisiana River Parishes excursion. The collection of flavors that are available in this region are unbelievable. We only scratched the surface, but hopefully, we gave you some ideas for your own Gulf Coast visit. Besides the amazing tastes that await you, you will also find friendly people willing to help guide you to even more options. Be sure to make a couple of stops along the Andouille Trail and pick up the meats for making some southern dishes when you get home. We are betting you will be glad you did.