[:(] Yes. I’ve been going there for over 40 years and have watched with sadness its gradual slide form roguish to still-fun raunchiness to its current just plain nastiness. I simply don’t go any more, which is sad: the Quarter was a huge part of my courtship of my wife of thirty-seven years.
A Roadfood.com Journey OR to FL 10
One of my prime avocations these days is horticulture, and frankly, I d give up a few non-functioning parts of my body to have some of this Louisiana dirt to grow my garden. And today, I m going get the chance to see plenty of evidence what these farmers can do with perfection. BTW, if you want a real good picture of the life of the Cajun sharecropper in the 50 s and 60 s, Paul Prudhomme s, The Prudhomme Family Cookbook is a good read. I find it more interesting as a tale of cultural uniqueness than for its recipes, and I love the hell out of the recipes these are a whole lot simpler dishes than in Paul s other books. Good book!
With full bellies and great anticipation, we find Route 90 and head south. We soon come to St. Martinville and are drawn to a stop by its evident historical ambiance. We in America are not so moved by our own history as say the Europeans, I think mostly because our history is so young by comparison. But this area of Louisiana smacks us in the face with its history and it s just hard to ignore. The St. Martin of Tours church on the town square is just awesome, and was established in 1765 this is the original church! Another glimpse into our early ties with our European roots was the somewhat unique, semi-feudal arrangement between the church and the town property owners whereby they paid an annual and perpetual rent to the church. Wonder how long that went on?
St. Martinville is also home to the Longfellow-Evangeline Historical Park, which, although developed around Longfellow s fictional account of the misfortunes of the early Acadian migrations, is still an insightful look into the roots of Cajun traditions, etc. And if you love live oaks draped with moss, you must check this place out if nothing else, it s a beautiful setting, but much more as well. I found the very early plantation home of the site s original residents to be especially interesting. When compared to later representations of plantation mansions, such as Shadows On The Teche just down the road in New Iberia, this one has none of the luxury or even comfort of the more familiar perception of the southern plantation home. It is very true to those earliest settlers and their way of life interesting.
On to New Iberia and our eventual goal of McIlhenny s Tabasco operation on Avery Island. We stop at Shadows On The Teche and take a walk around the compound. We find only one place where one could get the tiniest peak at the house, but otherwise the house is efficiently hidden behind thick vegetation. I have an inherent mistrust of such secrets for a price , and in this case the price is $7 per we pass.
It s a short drive out to Avery Island and McIlhenny s. I m suspicious of how islands in this area get their designations you cross bridges over streams, creeks, and just plain wet lands every mile or so. But on crossing another small stream, you find yourself on Avery Island and my roadmap shows no water here! You also find yourself at a toll booth. The man says, 50 cents, please. I say we re just going in to see the Tabasco plant. He says, Yeah, I know, that s the only place you can go, unless you live here. I ask why the 50 cent toll? He responds that it goes toward the road maintenance. We pay and drive 100 yards, down a dirt road, to the Tabasco parking lot. We pass a large sign which states, IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that we are not permitted to enter the residential compound beyond the Tabasco plant. The thought creeps into my brain that if the sizable crowd visiting the plant each day were to pay a 5 cent toll, the road leading up to the parking lot could easily surpass Bill Gates driveway in elegance! My mind races on I envision the discussion between the Avery Island sales crew and their customers in the marketing of the home sites, OK, so there might be an occasional smell from the pepper processing, but hey, the trade-off,20,46548.024,1,15223,184.108.40.206
46571,46548,46548,2003-12-05 13:24:22,RE: A roadfood.com journey – OR to FL 4″
As am I looking forward to more! I’ve done some writing like this during my many-year career as Resident Roadfooder at Flagpole Magazine here in Athens. You can find a few examples of my ramblings and bleatings at http://www.flagpole.com – just wander through, or ask for me by name: Ort.
Keep up the ramblings and the writings. I await what you find en route to Florida, as well as there.
Staying Home Myself For The Nonce, Ort. Carlton in Athens, Georgia.
I’ve been waiting for the report of your Texas leg. I agree that the Market area in SA isn’t as fun as it used to be, but I still think Mi Tierra puts out some good food.
And yes, as you discovered, most of the "real" BBQ places are closed on Sunday. Glad you were able to find something good, though.
And, I also see that you discovered those Texas maps can be deceiving! I’ve had people say that many times before. [:D]
Looking forward to more…
A roadfood journey – OR to FL 8
Our schedule for the next several days will take down to Carlsbad, through Roswell, to see the caves, and then on to west Texas and into San Antonio for a couple of days. As we reach the caves, I get a bit irritated at their policy re using my Golden Age Pass. Seems the pass is good for general admission and the loooong walk down, but if we want to take the elevator down, we need to pay $4 more each. We walk. Our companions in this poor choice of an alternative are two other old folks, who actually know how long the descent is, but are looking forward to it. The walk down is one of those serpentine, switchback, experiences in which you use the muscles in the front of your legs for the first time in more that 35 years. An hour later, we arrive at the bottom, only to discover that the path through the big room is more than a mile around. Luckily, they will allow us a free trip up via the elevator, and I think seriously about going up prematurely, but decide it wouldn t look good in front of the other old couple. Actually, it was all worth it, it just took two days to recuperate physically.
We have no good eating experiences in Carlsbad, partially our own fault by not trying either of the two noted roadfood.com recs, but one was just a fast food pickup window, and the Dairy Queen (and its lauded BBQ) had no customers at 7pm I got scared. Besides, we were soon to be in BBQ heaven, so why the rush? In hindsight, it probably would have been better to do BBQ in Carlsbad than try to find some other alternative.
The next morning, as we head south, we get a passing view of the Guadalupe Mountains from the car. Sort of the Yosemite experience again; you just don t get close enough to do more than recognize that you should have allowed more time for this. And I didn t even get a chance to use my pass again!
We miss the shortcut turnoff to I-10, and are halfway to El Paso before we realize our error. This necessitates a 60 mile detour across a Texas Farm Road, fortunately paved. Actually, it was quite interesting. It was 60 miles of almost totally barren pasture land, with fence on both sides, broken only by an occasional side road to nowhere. Never saw a cow, house, barn, truck, or another human along the way. Strangely interesting.
We arrive late (6 ish) in San Antonio in the driving rain on a Saturday night. Although I ve been to San Antonio several times before for conventions, I ve never driven into town, and I have trouble getting my bearings in the downtown area. I try to find Mi Tierra, a Mexican restaurant where I ve had some really good times in the past, but my little map is just not helpful. And we re not ready for the hordes of tourists that have flooded into town there are so many on the downtown streets that driving is almost impossible! I take a rather fatalistic approach to travel, and seldom do reservations, etc. Some of our best experiences have come via this approach, but this time it fails us. After a long, fruitless search for Mi Tierra and/or lodging, we retreat to the western fringe of the city to get an available room, and even then it takes some time. A long day of travel plus bad weather plus fighting the crowds equal frayed nerves and a loss of enthusiasm for finding good food. Our motel clerk has no idea where Mi Tierra is, and we opt for an established diner type place in the neighborhood, with unspectacular results. Maybe a good night s sleep will make things right.
Sunday morning dawns drizzly, but at least the tourists choose to stay in bed. The weather is a true deterrent, because so much of what I want to show San is outdoors and really is enhanced by a sunny, warm day. A real downer. We search out Mi Tierra for breakfast we were probably within a block or two the night before. We find all the tourists who are up early! Mi Tierra has changed quite a bit from my memory of it, as has the entire Market Square ,20,46548.019,1,15223,220.127.116.11
46566,46548,46548,2003-11-22 08:09:42,RE: A roadfood.com journey – OR to FL 4″
LOVING this travelogue, DC! [;)]
A Roadfood.com Journey OR to FL 7
Our five days in Albuquerque are wet and windy; just the kind of weather that keeps balloons on the ground. We only really get one good day in, and even that is limited by strong winds. We never do get an opportunity to see a mass ascension, which is, in my estimation, the very best balloon experience of all. However, this is an experience I would recommend for all. I ll go to my grave with the strong memory of that ethereal experience some 15 years ago of arriving at the balloon field at the first light of day and being dumbstruck by the view of 300 balloons aglow in the misty morning. I had hoped to share that with Sandee, but it was not to be. All the more reason to put an increased emphasis on finding some good meals.
We have a pretty good handful of roadfood.com recommendations for Albuquerque, and we do fairly well on visiting many of those. I think I ll do some consolidation here, and give you a report on our general findings, pro or con. As you read through my list below, I ve starred (*) any places that were roadfood.com recommendations. Having said that, I don t know that we visited any place worth mentioning, with one exception, that wasn t a roadfood recommendation.
The Frontier*, 2400 Central SE (Rt.66): This place is well documented on roadfood.com, and well it should be. We ate here twice, and in retrospect, should have done so more. It s a big, noisy, serve yourself and find an open table place. It s not putting on airs, just putting out good food. More than half of the customers are students from UNM across the street, and frankly, the service model they use looks a lot like the college cafeteria model, only with much better food. For the quality of the food, the prices are about as good as you ll find. I don t know how Michael got his pic of the empty dining room in his review, we were there at about that same time and it was buzzin . Go!
Flying Star*, Various locations around Albuquerque: OK, it s a chain, but it s a small, high quality chain. Is it better than most non-chains? you bet! Here s another busy, noisy, serve yourself and find an open table place, but the clientele is totally different from The Frontier. Here you ll find more of Albuquerque s elite who know how to get a bang for the buck. Their bakery items are huge and simply delicious. You wouldn t call
them cheap, but huge and delicious count for something, right? As you move down the line you realize this is more than a bakery; you can get a full meal if you wish, and I noticed that many were doing just that. And there are two other things I love about this place, super good coffee, and a rack full of current magazines which you may buy or simply read while sitting at your table. How nice is that?
Duran Central Pharmacy*, 1815 Central NW (Rt. 66): A legend in it s own time, and the 50 s model of drug store/luncheonette that is almost gone today. What gives this combo life still is that the luncheonette took on a life of its own, and the drug store hangs for what it s worth. Locals are the primary customers, and it was still full at 1:30 pm. We had a bowl of tortilla soup and a beef burrito. The tortilla soup was among the best I ve ever had, and looked even better clear broth, bright, distinct pieces of vegetable and chicken, and delicious as well. The beef burrito, on the other hand, was filled with a strangely over ground beef reminded me of soft coffee grounds and didn t have a lot of taste either. Given all the positive indicators, and our small sampling, it would appear that Duran is still worthy of our support, and should provide that solid roadfood experience when in Albuquerque.
Los Cuates*, 4901 Lomas Blvd.: We dined here one rainy evening, and for the only time during our stay, felt the effect of the balloon crowd on Albuquerque s finite restaurant resources. The apparent attitude of the hostess was tha,20,46548.016,1,15223,18.104.22.168
46563,46548,46548,2003-11-19 21:13:35,RE: A roadfood.com journey – OR to FL 4″
Seafarer John, Having learned the hard way, if we ever try this again (a BIG if) we would only consider (1) getting to the field at 4am, or (2) going on the shuttle bus again. The shuttle was the best $5 we spent all week. jm
Mayor Al, I think I’ve learned the lesson of judging someone else’s sense of values and beauty – I remember moving to Florida in my 30’s and thinking it was pretty ugly. When I left in my late 50’s, I thought it was pretty damn beautiful. Still, it’s pretty god-awful place, and I bet those 40 acre ranchettes don’t come with mineral rights either! jm
Dr C: Last Fall we were headed to Alburquerque and spent the night in Belem intending to drive the 30 or so miles into the city to see the balloons. We turned on our TV and were startled to see nothing but snarled traffic and dire warnings that nothing was moving in town – too many people – too few parking spaces, too few roads. We asked around at breakfast and were asured it was even worse during Balloon Fest than the TV let on – "Dont even think of going to the Fest" was the consensus. That day we had a great drive east out of Belem to some very old missions and the magnificent scenery along Rt 60 and the best chile I’ve ever had for lunch and dinner at unknown joints along the road.
You’ve found the secret to keeping me coming back…Just throw a train story in somewhere and make me find it. I’ll save you the concern about the Harvey House in Winslow, I did a Rant on rail stops and food on another thread a while back, so I won’t prattle on here. Thanks for the description though, it brings back a lot of fond memories of the desert rail towns.
As an aside as one drives that Eastern Arizona stretch of desert road, Have any of you ever wondered who is buying those 40 acre "Ranchettes" that the billboards along the Interstate advertise so often? I lived many years on the Mojave 100plus miles out of L A, and for years that was considered "beyond the end of the world…but today it is a bedroom community for thousands of L A workers… Are those desolete desert acres 100 and more miles east of Flagstaff the suburbs of some future Megapolis?[?]
A roadfood.com journey OR to FL 6
Our first real roadfood find of the trip happens by accident on the morning we leave Flagstaff. Our major interest is in finding something open at 6:30 am, and of course, coffee. Within 2 blocks of the motel, we see a small caf� with a loaded parking lot. We enter Miz Zips (2924 East Route 66) into a noisy room full of worker types catching up on local gossip. To the right is a quieter, more cutsie dinning room, which is more inviting at least for us.
I notice from the menu that this place may be a notch or two above the usual breakfast place (I ve felt for some time that I could tell the quality of a restaurant by the menu alone). The special of the day is Waffle with Bacon or Sausage for $4.99, but I see the first reference to green chiles and I order a green chile with cheese omelet. Very nice. Sandee has oatmeal it s OK. Unfortunately, she is burdened with the memory of the oatmeal she used to get each Friday when she and her teacher buddies would breakfast together. But that stuff was the result of a long, slow cooking with milk, not water. She s never found it anywhere else like that, but she keeps trying.
Apparently, Miz Zips dates back to Route 66 prime, and the dinning room is filled with appropriate memorabilia. A good candidate for inclusion in the roadfood.com recommendations good food, good prices, and good local ambiance. And oh yeah, good coffee too.
Our destination today is Albuquerque and the Balloon Fiesta. This was our initial single destination; the family stuff just started adding on as an afterthought. We quickly arrive in Winslow, and make a stop to take a look at The Corner and La Posada, so poetically recommended for breakfast to us by Sundancer7. At the risk of getting The Mayor started again, one is first awed at the grandeur and beauty, even today, of La Posada, and then saddened by the history of its magnificent glory and eventual decline as victim of change. In its prime, La Posada served as a dining oasis for those enduring coast to coast rail travel. Apparently, the trains would make scheduled meal stops, similar to stage coach roadhouse stops. That it remains an important landmark today is testament to its historical significance and the efforts of those who refused to let it die. The line awaiting a dining room table for Sunday Brunch made us sorry we hadn t held up our usual breakfast for an even more personal La Posada experience. This may not be your usual roadfood fare, but it s certainly a nostalgic dining experience we d all enjoy.
Our arrival time in Albuquerque is perfect for catching one of the scheduled evening glows . For 15 years, I ve been promising to take Sandee to this event, and it s a glow that sticks so vividly in my mind, specifically, my first daybreak approach of the balloon field while 300+ balloons fired up. It was, and still is, one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, and unfortunately, not duplicated in this trip. We hurry out to the balloon field, but we re not ready for the parking chaos we encounter. We re later told that if we didn t like that, we shouldn t try the day time version. We don t; choosing the shuttle instead Better.
We re not impressed with The Glow. Not only are there only a hundred or so balloons, but they all start firing up before it starts getting dark. Some 45 minutes later, and just as the sky turns dark, the glow is over. We won t do anymore evening glows!
There s still fireworks to come, but we decide to go. Fortunately, most stay for the fireworks and we have a relatively quick exit. We head back into town and dinner at The Owl Caf�. The Owl (800 Eubank Blvd, NE) has been mentioned several times in the archives of roadfood.com, so we re eager to give it a try. Looks like an oversized diner, which it is. Food is good, at least what we had. The Owl is famous for its Green Chile Burgers, so, that s what we had a superior creation,,20,46548.010,1,15223,22.214.171.124
46557,46548,46548,2003-11-18 12:52:25,RE: A roadfood.com journey – OR to FL 4″
Mr. Mayor, I am not sure but I think I saw it. There was a place that appeared it had been active, but was now closed.
From Vegas to Death Valley, there is not a lot of options.
Paul E. Smith
Last year we stayed a couple of nights in Ocean Springs Mississippi. The motel was pretty full so the only room available was on the ‘Back-side’ which faced the Southern Pacific RR track (The Route of the soon-to-be-gone SUNSET LIMITED) The manager apologized for the "racket" the trains made and gave us a 50% discount for staying multiple nights. Little did he know that I was in Hog-Heaven. I pulled one of the chairs out to the balcony and sipped my Southern Comfort while watching the parade of trains well into the night.!
OK…Some of you have unusual hobbies also. You just don’t share your weirdness!! Where are our License Plate Collectors and Doily-makers???
BTW Sundancer…Did you stop for a "bite" at theCottonPatch Ranch at the Junction of Rt 95 and the Death Valley Jct. road?? Now that would be an interesting review.[:D]
Mr. Mayor, Whew! I guess I don’t have to wonder where those trains are going anymore. Thanks for your comments. But at the end of the day, whether I love ’em or hate ’em, I’m left with one thought – How can I get this night’s sleep I paid for?
And thanks to all who responded; it makes it more fun. jm
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