Thursday, August 29, 2013

Stuff Cajun People Like

#34 - Goin’ to Lafayette

“You non-Cajun readers might have the impression that Cajuns are a bunch of barefooted, foul-mouth, uncouth folks who go around shooting and making a gravy out of everything that moves. Well, you pretty much got dat right (just kidding), but every now and then we country (Ed. Note: offensive word deleted) yearn for a taste of civilization. Whenever we’re craving a night out on the town or a little fine dining, we put on our shoes, jump in the pickup truck, and take a trip to town, which for most Cajuns means one thing…we’re goin’ to Lafayette….

“…Lafayette’s a lot like any metro area, just scaled down a bit. Name a chain, and it’s probably got it. One notable exception is a shortage of Starbucks on every corner. Starbucks is replaced by CC’s Community Coffee Houses, though not at every corner. If you’re hungry, there are plenty of dining options, since Lafayette has one of the highest number of restaurants per capita of any US city (at least that’s what someone told me)…” (

Yes, there are some chains in Lafayette. But not all. The two largest national donut franchises steer clear of this city since there are so many small, local, and beloved donut shops. (We consider Meche’s the best, but not everyone agrees.) And the national seafood chain has no presence here. Why would anyone eat at Red Lobster when fresh and local seafood is available almost everywhere. So picky, or should I say discriminating, are the Lafayette residents, that we learned that national chains, when contemplating moving into Louisiana, use Lafayette as a pilot-project. The feeling is that if they can succeed in Lafayette, they can succeed elsewhere. So we end our Lafayette sojourn with return visits to two of our perennial favorites plus a newly discovered favorite.

So we will start with the tale of two good people—Gary Paul Roy and Marilynn Paule Fournet Adams—doing well. We wandered into their restaurant—2Paul's Radically Urban Barbecue—one noon to find only Marilyn in the house while Gary was out overseeing a catering job.
Big things are happening for Marilyn and Gary. They have signed a lease to open a second 2Paul’s in Broussard, LA (pronounced brew-sard) just 7.5 miles south of Lafayette. Gary will, taking some of the Lafayette store’s staff with him, oversee the new location leaving Marilyn to manage the Lafayette store.

But that isn’t all. On the same day they signed that lease, they also signed a lease on the empty storefront immediately next to the current restaurant. Plans are to combine the two spaces, and given the popularity of the current restaurant during our recent two lunches, space is needed.

Since I have described on many occasions the foods sampled, we’ll just show you the photos from our two most recent lunches. We start with Chuck’s Shredhead or pulled pork stuffed baked potato with cole slaw,
onion rings, and green beans
and move along to my pulled pork sandwich with sweet potato fries.
And our lemon cheesecake was the finishing touch to the meal.
And here is Chuck’s pulled pork sandwich that was accompanied by fries and onion rings

and my smoked sausage sandwich.
In our blog on June 2nd, we introduced you to what, along with Buck & Johnny’s (in Breaux Bridge), was one of our culinary finds of this trip—Brick & Spoon.

Like French Press (also in Lafayette), Brick & Spoon also serves lunch, but it is on the breakfast menu that I think the kitchen’s creativity comes through.
On our second visit, Chuck ordered the Stuffed French Toast Sliders—French toast stuffed with mascarpone cheese and whipped cream cheese and topped with strawberry compote.
The bread had an almost custard texture as if the chef had followed Alton Brown’s (Good Eats on the Food Network) recommendation to soak the bread in the egg mixture long enough to saturate it. This was the equal of the French toast that I had eaten at French Press (blog of July 30th).

I had a hard time deciding between the Shrimp and Grits, Shrimp and Tasso Mac N’ Cheese, Soft Shell Crab Benny, Oyster Bed Benedict, and the Korean BBQ Benedict and finally settled on the last.
The dish contained thin and tender strips of beef that had been marinated and/or cooked in a sauce that contained soy sauce and sugar and other unknown ingredients. The hollandaise had just the right touch of lemon to be somewhat piquant without being mouth puckering.

But the real stars were the two perfectly poached eggs. Perhaps the best poached eggs I have ever eaten. The whites were cooked just to the point of doneness which left the yolks so liquid that they poured onto the plate where they pooled with the Korean BBQ sauce and hollandaise and created an outrageously good taste medley. So good that I wanted to pick up the plate and lick it clean. But I resisted.
And we end with the best fried chicken anywhere—Sunny’s in Church Point.
I ordered my usual five whole wings (left in photo below), planning to take two home for later.
Chuck was to order his three-piece white along with a small fries and a small onion rings. So he went to the register and said to the woman taking orders: “I’ll have the ‘three-piece white’, two breasts and a wing.”

While he thought he was clarifying the “three-piece white,” the woman took his statement to mean something else—the “three-piece white” is actually two breasts and a wing, so he got – yes, that’s right – four breasts and two wings.

So after these 5.0 Addie pleasures, we start to make our way west in time to celebrate our Aunt Margaret’s 100th birthday. Everyone say, “Happy Birthday to Margaret!!!”

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Cajun Picasso

Being around creative people, I feel like one who thinks “inside the box.”

Architects can visualize a completed structure, composers can hear a completed compositon, and artists and sculptors can see their completed works long before their projects are actually finished.

And then there are those individuals who can see other uses in everyday objects—and even junk—and create articles and images by combining a variety of these “found objects” (see the two photos below). To me this skill requires even more of the artist because the artist must use the materials—with their fixed shapes, textures, and dimensions—presented to him/her.

Just off Johnston Street in Lafayette, LA, with its typical urban arrangement of shops and eateries is the Cajun Picasso Art and Antiques Gallery—a gallery that is “out of the box” compared to the box stores in the nearby mall.
The artwork spills out of the gallery and into the parking lot and front porch.
The figure in the wheelchair is the work of the Cajun Picasso, Dusty Reed.
In “a gallery like no other gallery”, Dustin “Dusty” Reed “has created an oasis of unconventional, contemporary-folk art. His art, and the art of the other in-house artists, takes a new approach to how art is viewed” (Shanna Perkins,

One of those other artists happened to be in the gallery the day we visited. John Daigre, a retired pediatrician who goes by the name of "Dr. of Folk", had an early interest in collecting the works of primitive artists and then developed an interest in creating similar artworks, such as the scarecrow in the photo below.
Some of the other artists whose work is displayed are Miss Funk Master (Kai D.), Queen of Folk (Ros B.), The Chainsaw Master (Mark G.), Storyteller of the Past (Kip Hayes), The ODD MAN (Jeremy Dugas), and Mr. Trash Revival (Adam Walker), whose banjo player is shown below.
Dusty Reed’s favorite materials aren’t the acrylics, spray paint, mud, moss or sand that he uses in his creations.

“My medium, of course, is Louisiana,” Dusty Reed says. “My medium is Lafayette.”

Reed’s art is reminiscent of works by 19th-century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso with a dash of famed Louisiana artist George Rodrigue mixed in (Megan Wyatt, Shown below is Dusty's work called, I believe, "Family Portrait".
About Dusty himself: “The founder of Colk Art (a bridge between cubism and folk art), Dusty is set to become an artistic powerhouse in the near future. Every piece of his (from the “contemporary fine” to the “festival folk”) is blessed with the rich, Louisiana flare born from the mind of the man known as “The Cajun Picasso”.
"Dusty Reed is set to become an artistic powerhouse in the near future. His unique style is entertaining and vibrant. Every piece is blessed with that rich, Louisiana flare. Just like his namesake, Dusty's art pushes the boundaries of the norm creating a style all his own" (

A unique gallery; a unique artist. The longer we talked and the longer we looked at the works, the more we enjoyed our visit.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

We Visit Our New Old Friends

By that I am not talking about age. I mean that, while we have only known Johnny and Coatney Raymond since mid-May, it seems we have known them for a long time.

Johnny and Coatney, along with David Buck, own Buck & Johnny’s Restaurant in Breaux Bridge (about ten miles east of Lafayette), a restaurant that is a little bit Cajun, a little bit Italian, and a whole lot friendly.

"The ambiance of the old Domigues Motors building has been maintained through oil can light fixtures and old tin signs that hang throughout the two-story building offering a unique dining experience. The addition of a loft, a balcony and a patio adds to the homey atmosphere for a family night out, a special occasion or a romantic dinner for two” (

Following Chuck’s recuperation, we have visited this restaurant three times since our initial visits (blogs of May 21st and 22nd).

On our first post-surgery stop, we arrived just as Johnny and Coatney were leaving for the day. But we were in the more than capable hands of Erin, a young woman that Coatney is grooming to assist her in the restaurant’s day-to-day operations.

Both of us were in a pasta frame of mind on that visit and both of our pasta selections included a small salad. Chuck selected the house green salad with very crisp romaine, tomatoes, red onion rings, grated parmesan cheese, and a delicious house-made ranch dressing.
I ordered the side Caesar made with the same crisp romaine that was topped with shaved parmesan.
This was one of the best versions of Caesar dressing ever. It was very cheesy. It was very garlicky. And was that a touch of heat that I detected? I am looking carefully at each forkful. What was that? Is that a speck of red pepper I see? Yes, it was, as I learned on a later visit. Just enough red pepper to elevate this dressing from the normal to the extraordinary.

I was sure that Chuck was going to order the Fresca (fresh basil, garlic, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, parmesan and, herb butter) over Angel Hair, but he surprised me and chose the Fettuccine Alfredo.
The nicely cooked pasta (a bit past al dente but far from mushy) was tossed with a sauce that was neither too cheesy nor too rich.
My choice was between the Pasta Cecilia over Penne (shrimp, crabmeat, crawfish [in season], spinach, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and, sherry cream sauce) or the Spicy Scampi over Penne. I went with the latter.
This was a large bowl of penne tossed with garlic bacon butter, shrimp, tasso, smoked chaurice, and jalapenos. Lots and lots of jalapenos. They weren’t kidding when they called this Spicy Scampi.

I really don’t know the difference between andouille and chaurice, but I am sure that upon tasting each a Cajun would know which is which. Chaurice is a “very spicy, hot Creole pork sausage. Made with pork butt or shoulder. Seasoned with onion, garlic, cayenne pepper, chili powder, crushed red pepper, salt, ground red pepper, thyme and parsley. It is similar to Spanish ‘chorizo’ sausage” (

Time for dessert. With my mouth ablaze (Did I mention how spicy my pasta was?), I had one of my very occasional brainstorms. If we are having the bread pudding, why not get a scoop of ice cream with it?
This made an already wonderful dessert even better.

A week later we returned. This time Johnny and Coatney were in the house, but since they were involved in a high-level business confab, we only had a few moments to talk with them.

We started with an order of Johnny's Drunken Shrimp which are marinated in Abita Turbo Dog beer.
I have finally decided that these are a cross between the Asian Shrimp served at Asian Noodle Bar in Albuquerque and the Prawns with Honey Walnuts served at Hunan Home’s in San Francisco.

Today was pizza day and we ordered the large cheese (light on the cheese) and sausage pizza.
And we ended with the bread pudding a la mode.
We wanted to make one last visit before leaving Lafayette and this time we were able to have an extended conversation with Coatney. Do you remember that, in my first Buck & Johnny’s blog, I described Coatney as “a dynamo in human form”? Well, Coatney has taken on a new responsibility. She is now the president of the newly formed Breaux Bridge Downtown Merchants Association. She has big plans for events to attract visitors to downtown Breaux Bridge with at least one event each month—if not more. Her pet—pun intended—project is scheduled for November, “Beaucoup Chiens/Beaucoup Vin.” Yes, a dogs and wine extravaganza. And the person who sells the most event tickets has her/his dog crowned Roi Chien or Reine Chien. You know, a lot of neat stuff happens here in the fall. We need to be there.

We began with an order of the Crabmeat Crostini—four toasted bread rounds topped with a crab and breadcrumb mixture. This came with a cup of lemony and peppery remoulade—the remains of which I brought home with me. (These were so good that my photographer forgot he was supposed to take a photo before taking a sample.)

We will soon be bouncing our way west and for most of the trip our layovers will be for one night only which will leave us with not much time to investigate restaurant options. Where will our next pizza come from? Better take advantage of the opportunity presented now.

So we indulged—perhaps even over indulged—in two twelve-inch pies,
one the Classic Margherita
and the other your basic cheese and sausage.
As they came to the table, Chuck turned to Coatney and said “Coatney, we are pizza snobs. Do you realize just how good your pizza is?” It is so good that when talking with a Lafayette businessperson who lives in Cecilia (just north of Breaux Bridge), he replied “The pizza place” when we mentioned Buck & Johnny’s.

Before we left, Coatney introduced us to Kim, an Irish documentary film-maker.
Kim was in Breaux Bridge to make a film about an Irish woman boxer who, when it was illegal for women to box in Ireland, came to the Breaux Bridge area to train and then to box in the United States.

As we left, Kim was interviewing Johnny so we only had the chance to wave our good-byes. We’ll see you next year for more 5.0 Addie eats and more 5.0 Addie hospitality.

To review the role of Adler and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Drums Across Cajun Field - III

We conclude our coverage of the competition in the Drums Across Cajun Field in Lafayette (LA) with photos of the performances of The Cadets of Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Carolina Crown of Ft. Mill, South Carolina.

The Cadets, originally named the Holy Name Cadets when founded in 1934, is the oldest continually operating Division I group in Drum Corps International. The corps is known for pushing the artistic envelope of innovation and has won nine World Championships since 1983, becoming the first corps to win three consecutive titles in 1985. The Cadets have performed at a wide variety of highly public non-drum corps events; including the Statue of Liberty rededication in 1986 and the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta. The Cadets' theme was: "Side by Side: The Music of Samuel Barber."

The Cadets stored the rifles, flags, and other items in movable carts (shown in the photos below), which almost seemed to be part of the routine.

From mid-June to the first week in August, twenty-three World Class corps each compete in about 30-35 of the 100+ competitions around the country. Scheduling these competitions is coordinated by the national organization and presents 7-9 corps at each competition.

The Cadets score: 90.65

These events provide corps with the opportunity to tweak their performance leading up to the national competition involving all the corps. The event summarized here was held in late July, and, as you can tell by the scores, The Cadets finished second, 0.10 points behind the winner, Carolina Crown.

The Carolina Drum Corps Association was founded in 1988 with the desire of its founders to bring a drum corps to the Carolinas. Carolina Crown was founded the following year by that association. The corps won the Drum Corps International Division II World Championship in 1993. "E = mc² was the imaginative title of the Crown's performance.

The corps opened their powerful program with Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss and included, among others, Einstein on the Beach by Philip Glass, The Abyss by Alan Silvestri, and concluded with The Dark Side of the Moon by Paul Lovatt-Cooper.

Carolina Crown score: 90.75

The summer competition concludes with the World Championship, held this year in Indianapolis in early August.

The three-day competition involves 36 corps (World Class, Open Class, and International Class). After the first day of competition, the field was reduced to 25; semifinal competition reduced the field to 12 corps. The finals produced the standings below.

1 CAROLINA CROWN (Ft. Mill, SC)  98.300
2 Blue Devils (Concord, CA)  98.050
3 THE CADETS (Allentown, PA)  96.950
4 Santa Clara Vanguard (Santa Clara, CA)  96.850
5 Bluecoats (N. Canton, OH)  93.350
6 Phantom Regiment (Rockford, IL)  93.250
7 The Cavaliers (Rosemont, IL)  90.500
8 Boston Crusaders (Boston, MA)  90.400
9 MADISON SCOUTS (Madison, WI)  90.100
10 Blue Knights (Denver, CO)  87.750
11 SPIRIT OF ATLANTA (Atlanta, GA)  86.400
12 BLUE STARS (La Crosse, WI)  85.450

We felt fortunate to have seen the eventual world champion on this July evening in Lafayette, Louisiana, and to have seen 5 (shown in all caps) of the 12 best corps in the world.