I am a food “elitist”. At least that’s what my dean at culinary school called me. I guess it’s true. When I’m on a road trip (like last week, we made a trip to do a show in Austin) I generally shun fast food stops. Often I’ll bring my own fine sandwich or a tupperware container filled with something tasty. This time, since we were going through Lafayette (recently voted best food town in the US), we stopped for lunch. No, not at Prejeans (more on that later), but at a really really great (but not so well known) spot I’d eaten at a couple of years ago. No website, no advertising, no frills. Just really great food. The Creole Lunch House is a little off the beaten track, and looks just like any other house in the neighborhood. It’s in a black neighborhood, but the lunch crowd is both black and white. I love it when good food breaks stupid boundaries. Miss Merline’s claim to fame is “stuffed bread”. Stuffed with meat, sausage, cheese and “just enough” jalapeno spice. It’s so popular, they have a drive through window just for the bread. (Louisiana is famous for their drive through Daiquiri windows too, but we didn’t stop at any of those). There’s a steam table, cafeteria style, offering red beans & rice, baked stuffed chicken, BBQ ribs, mustard greens and a few other items. All beautifully seasoned and delicious. Lunch will set you back less than 10 bucks.
I know this is supposed to be a jewelry blog, but this week was spent doing everything else but making jewelry, and I would like to present myself as a curious, well rounded human being.
But what the hell. Here’s a personal favorite from my new “Wanga” line:
Wanga means “magical charm” or spell in Haitian Creole. There is a huge Morganite, which is a powerful stone for divine love, an Oregon sunstone set in 18K gold which represents protection, healing and success, Labradorite briolettes and beads on the chain which bring power, helps intuition and seeing through illusions. Plus the orthoceras of course. A fossil, that I like to think of as a representation of our ancestors.
The show was actually in suburban Austin. No weirdness here. It was held in a brand new, manufactured neighborhood filled with restaurants and boutiques. All upscale well known chains. Neat, clean and perfect. If you like that kind of thing. I like things a little more messed up and tilted. I would have enjoyed doing the show a little more, if a few more people than my three friends knew about it. Here’s a shot of two of them with my husband:
But the weather was perfect, and there were some wonderful artists, and we made some new friends. Plus I have to share this photograph of Sue. She was one of the organizers of the show, and bought a pair of my earrings and a pendant just to match her blouse. Thanks Sue!
The food in the neighborhood was “meh”. Except for the pizza at North. It was the best pizza I’ve had in a long time. There is no good (never mind “great”) pizza in New Orleans, I don’t care what anyone says. I lived in Toronto for 18 years, I have had great pizza – there is no great pizza or Italian food in New Orleans. Period. End of story.
On our last night we went downtown (hoping for some of that weirdness they’re trying to keep) and met up with our friends Linda & Steven for fancy shmancy cocktails (I ordered a Mustache Gun: Bulleit bourbon, yellow chartreuse, sugar & Fernet Branca) and dinner at a place call “Peche”. Nothing to complain about, it was all good. But nothing to swoon over like Miss Merline’s cooking. Dinner/drinks will set you back way more than 10 bucks.
The next morning, I said to my husband “I want some real authentic Austin food! We need to at least have a breakfast taco before we go”. This is where I love google and yelp. I lucked out. If you are ever in Austin you must go to Mi Madre’s. Must.
I had a breakfast taco called “Barbacoa with pico de gallo”. It was made with beef cheeks and served with a fantastic salsa. It was the best thing I think I’ve ever eaten. Swoon. Plus we had a wonderful waitress, Emily, who was very helpful in menu navigation.
OK, so on the way back we end up at Prejeans. I need to explain: My husband and I spent our honeymoon in Lafayette, and had lunch at Prejeans the next day before we left (this is 6½ years ago, right after the flood and I wasn’t thinking clearly). It was mostly for romantic nostalgia, plus they do make a terrific smoked duck gumbo.
For those who don’t know: Prejeans is perhaps Lafayettes most famous restaurant. It serves busloads of tourists everyday. They have a great menu. Too bad they can’t execute it. All my seafood was overcooked. I know, I know, I could have sent it back, but the wait for the food was already soooo long, and we wanted to go home – we still had a couple of hours of driving to do. Dinner for 2 = $80.
Here’s a shot of a typical table of 30 something people (they do this all day long). We did buy a quart of smoked duck gumbo to go.
Back in New Orleans, I get to cook my own food again. Shrimp & okra were first on the list. I’m almost a Southerner now.