Now there’s one more way to enjoy my beloved NOLA: a chicken-fried festival of flavors. A plethora of plentiful poultry done right. A cache of crunchy chicken goodness.
Shoofly Magazine, the pride of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, did the world a public service by sampling the best of the best of the chicken-fried offerings in nearby New Orleans, and published a great article about it: The Grand New Orleans Fried Chicken Pilgrimage.
A simple story about a food festival grows to epic proportions when it kicks off the search for some of the city’s best fried chicken.
– Shoofly story by Ellis Anderson
We’re a little obsessive about New Orleans here at Glover Gardens and are revving up for another Jazz Fest jaunt later this year. Shoofly’s tribute to fried chicken adds complexity to our journey, because we are already stressed by the “so little time, so many great meals to choose from!” dichotomy. But we’ll figure it out, and if we have to make extra trips to NOLA to sample the crispy chicken delights highlighted in the magazine, we’ll do it.
Give the article from Shoofly a read, and think about joining us at Jazz Fest later this year when we’ll be tasting the chicken and jamming to the tunes. Thanks to the folks at Shoofly Magazine for adding to the never-ending lure of NOLA.
Road trip time! Halfway between Glover Gardens and Little House in the Rockies lies the west Texas town of Amarillo. I’ve never done much there but sleep during our overnight stops, but its holiday vibe charmed me from my hotel window on Thursday night, and again in a different way on Friday morning. It was haiku-worthy.
at night all sparkly Amarillo by morning was muted by snow
After an anniversary trip to New Orleans this summer, I waxed long and poetic in this postabout Suire’s, a tiny, quirky, wonderful and welcoming cafe and grocery in Kaplan, Louisiana that serves spectacular Cajun food.
Now I have to rave about Suire’s again – this time, it’s about the Crawfish Fettuccini. Wow!!!
If you read the original post(and I hope you did – or will), you’ll know the story about the generous stranger who insisted on buying us a frozen container of the Crawfish Fettuccini.
The Crawfish Fettuccini Katlyn gifted us with has been sitting in our freezer waiting for the right time for us to savor it slowly and remember what a great time we had at Suire’s. Last night was the night. I’m messing around with crab cakes, trying to create the perfect Glover Gardens version. The taste is all that (according to my Official Taster, the Grill-Meister), but the texture isn’t right yet, so I’m not ready to share the recipe. Stay tuned. Anyway, I needed a side dish.
The Suire’s Crawfish Fettuccini was the perfect complement to our crab cake experiment. And it was just that: perfect. Creamy, spicy, homey, with tasty little morsels of crawfish. Oh my goodness!
So Katlyn, thank you so much for the gift of the frozen Crawfish Fettuccini. You were absolutely right about it. Wow.
I’m excited because we still have two frozen entrees from Suire’s – Red Beans and Sausage and Crawfish Étouffée. When they’re gone, it’s time for a road trip! Wanna come?
Looking for lunch on a recent trek home from New Orleans, we took the long way along the coast and found a treasure (and I do mean treasure) in the backroads of southern Louisiana. Suire’s Grocery and Restaurant has been serving delicious Cajun food to hungry travelers, locals and hunters since 1976. It was magic: the food, the ambience and especially the people. The Grill-Meister and I were enchanted.
An Experience, Not a Pit Stop
You know it’s going to be a memorable experience instead of a quick bite right when you pull up to the unassuming white building. The menu is painted on the outside, along with a faded but very friendly-looking alligator to welcome you.
Inside, the feeling that you’re in a unique place is immediately reinforced. The walls are crowded with a fascinating collection of Louisiana kitsch, safety awards, family and local memorabilia, and articles from publications ranging from the New York Times to the Houston Chronicle. Referencing the authenticity of the food and the popularity of Suire’s with hunters and locals, the articles point out different dishes and dining experiences from the individual viewpoints of the writers, but they all have one thing in common: glowing reviews.
Menu Choices Galore
We didn’t stop to read the articles at first, though. The menu above the counter where you order at the back of the store draws you in and amplifies your hunger. And that’s only a portion of what’s on offer: there’s also a printed menu with so many choices! There are selections that you rarely find outside of Cajun Country, like turtle sauce picante and three kinds of pistolettes (deep-fried rolls stuff with crawfish, shrimp or crab), and just about every Cajun menu staple you can imagine: alligator, boudin balls, shrimp or crawfish étouffée, twelve different po-boys, multiple fried seafood platters, red beans and sausage…you get the idea. And then there are salads, burgers, sandwiches and sides like Cajun fries, potato salad. Oh my goodness!
A Very Satisfying Meal
It was difficult, but we finally made our selections. The Grill-Meister and I had been in New Orleans for 3 days celebrating a milestone anniversary and had enjoyed numerous Cajun and Creole dishes, but we were happy to continue the trend at Suire’s. He chose the shrimp poboy, and I had the shrimp and crabmeat gumbo plate. They were both spectacular: fresh, delicious, perfectly balanced. Humble ingredients transformed into permanent taste memories.
The Sweet Smell of Baked Goods
House-made baked goods are everywhere, tempting you while you wait for your meal. This is NOT fast food. There’s time to take in the abundant ambience and ponder your dessert choices while the Suire’s kitchen prepares your order. A huge selection of old-fashioned favorites make it really hard to choose. Peanut butter balls or fig cake? Heavenly hash or rice krispy treats? Brownies, cookies or fruit-filled tarts? And who can resist homemade pecan pie??? After some soul-searching, the Grill-Meister chose the fig cake. I know that he loves me, because he gave me a bite.
A Freezer Full
A further temptation is the freezer full of Suire’s specialties, fulfilling the promise painted on the front door:
Don’t feel like cooking? … Frozen Foods – Ready to Eat – Just Heat and Serve
We just happened to have an ice chest with us. (No self-respecting foodies would go on a road trip to Louisiana without a way to bring some of the goodness home.) The ice chest got a little fuller.
Dry Goods and Groceries, Too
I’ve been gushing about the restaurant and the ambience, but shouldn’t ignore the other side of Suire’s – the grocery store. I’m from a very small town in Southeast Texas, and I know that the local grocery store can be the center of a small community, the place where people go to chat and get news, and the source of that one missing ingredient for the big dinner you planned to make.
Saving the Best for Last: the People of Suire’s
The most enchanting thing about Suire’s was the people. We had the great fortune to meet and chat with Joan Suire, who co-owns and runs the business with her sister, Lisa. Happy to chat, she pointed out some of the more interesting articles and photos on the walls and provided backstories. For example: behind the signed celebrity photos from the 1940s was the tale of a relative who worked at the Waldorf-Astoria, met and married a Rockefeller, “and never worked again”.
Jean tells her stories with a charismatic, wry smile and an excellent sense of timing. We could have conversed with her all day; her pride in the family business is evident and irresistible. She told us how here parents had started the business when she and her sister were teenagers, and that she’d never married but has had a great life at the counter of Suire’s. Joan shared a recent testimonial from a customer, a Baton Rouge native who’d just found Suire’s:
Your food resurrected my mother!
Taste memories. They’re important.
It was early Sunday afternoon when we visited, and there was a steady stream of locals picking up to-go orders. Jean knew everyone’s name and asked after their families with a genuine interest.
Southern Hospitality: “It’s My Treat!”
But it’s not just the proprietors that are special at Suire’s, it’s also the customers. One struck up a conversation with me, sharing that a new porch was being built at her house that day, so she was picking up lunch from Suire’s for everyone. A lovely young woman, she almost glowed as she gushed about the food, saying that the crawfish fettuccini was the absolute best. As she was paying for her order, she gestured for me to come up to the counter and said, “Do you want to try the crawfish fettuccini?” I thought she meant a little bite from some big vat of the wonderful stuff back in the kitchen, but no – she was offering to buy us a meal! We had already ordered, so I declined, but she insisted:
I’m going to buy you a frozen one, then. It’s my treat. You have to try it!
So there you are. An absolute stranger bought us a local delicacy because it’s that good. I think her name was Caitlyn and wish I had written it down so I could thank her properly. (Lovely young lady, if you read this and I got your name wrong, please correct me!) Whenever I think about southern hospitality from now on, this experience at Suire’s will come to mind.
Another Road Trip
The Grill-Meister and I are already planning another road trip, this time with the express purpose to soak up more of that Suire’s magic. Wanna come?
Note: some of the articles I read when I was preparing this “restaurant rave” post suggested that the 2002 New York Times article put Suire’s on the map and made it famous. I disagree. It might have increased awareness about this little gem, but it’s clear that Suire’s has always been famous with the people of Southeast Louisiana and the the travelers, hunters and fisher-people who visit.
Epilogue: Anthony Bourdain was Here
We didn’t know when we found Suire’s two weeks ago that Anthony Bourdain had visited in February of this year for his Parts Unknown series. Wow. The episode, Cajun Mardi Gras Recap, aired soon after his tragic death. The photo below, taken on Ash Wednesday, is on the Suire’s Facebook page and features Anthony with owners (and sisters) Joan and Lisa. “One of the more awesome locations I’ve ever found,” he said of Suire’s. Indeed.
Hey there, Glover Gardens followers, you might or might not know that this week, I’ve had the distinct privilege and pleasure of being in Southwest Colorado with three 19-year-olds from the University of Texas. One of them is my son, known in the blog as “our last millennial” or the “Jazz Composition Major at UT”.
Our “last millennial” wanted to visit our Colorado cabin, Little House in the Rockies, with his two (amazing, marvelous, smart, pretty and nice) friends, but didn’t know the inner workings of our tiny cabin, so – presto! – I got an invitation to come with them. I’ve been joking that I’m here because of a lot of C-words…car, chauffeur, cooking, cleaning, cash…but that’s not really the case. In fact, when I sprung the C-word theory on them, they chimed in with “charming, charisma, character, creative, culinary, courageous” … (although it might have been me that contributed a couple of those).
Anyway, it has been a marvelous week! They’ve gone off on their own (at my urging) to many nature-rich locales, such as Jefferson Lake, Pike National Forest, Tarryall Reservoir, Buena Vista and Leadville. And I was with them at the breath-taking Royal Gorge, muscle-aching McCullough Gulch hike, and fun-making Breckenridge Main Street and gondola.
One thing I forgot to mention is that these kids, these 19-year-old future leaders, are very, very close. They love each other, “warts and all” (not that I saw any warts). They are generous with each other while at the same time holding themselves and each other accountable. I only caught bits and snatches of their deep conversations (and wouldn’t dream of actually eavesdropping because that might pre-empt any future travels with this trio), but I am confident that they will be friends for the rest of their lives.
Here are a few more photos to illustrate our week, all taken atop Boreas Pass on an old Colorado and Souther train caboose, with apologies to my friends who have already perused my Facebook photo album, entitled:
Hey 19! – Colorado Road Trip
My lovely week with three 19-year-olds from the University of Texas who might one day rule the world (or at least make it more interesting, safe, entertaining and livable!). An added bonus is the amazing natural beauty of Colorado.
I’ve said before in this blog that I’m just a little girl from a small town in Southeast Texas who is constantly surprised by her life.
Here are some pics from that very small town on the Bolivar Peninsula, which really isn’t a town any more since Hurricane Ike obliterated almost all traces of it in 2008. I couldn’t bear to return to Gilchrist, Texas for several years after the storm, but a recent trip renewed my love for it. Regardless of how a natural disaster can savage a locale, nature itself comes back to make use of it. The birds were magnificent when we visited on a gray, overcast day in early January. Folks who are in the Houston area for the Super Bowl and have time for a day trip should give the Bolivar Peninsula a look.
The Heron and the Barges
Below, a heron watches barges churn by in the Intracoastal Waterway from the little fishing area at the end of the road where I grew up. Our little subdivision, aptly named Canal City – and the rest of Gilchrist – was sandwiched between the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal canal, with Galveston Bay just behind it.
Brown Pelicans and Seagulls
Aiming to get closer for really good pics, I startled several brown pelicans and their seagull companions.
Sandpipers at Rollover Pass
On the back side of Rollover Pass in the shallow sands beside it, sandpipers search for supper.
Seagulls at Rollover Pass
Seagulls contemplate the Gulf of Mexico from a cast concrete berm at Rollover Pass.
Brown Pelicans at Rollover Pass
Brown pelicans are posing and preening on posts at the pass.
These pelicans inspired me to post a haiku a couple of weeks ago, which is included in the resource links below.
We’re on a road trip on the way home from a joyful college graduation (my niece’s) and I spotted something bewildering during one of our pit stops. I think these things on the rotisserie are intended to be food (“pancake wraps”? taquitos?), but I have my doubts as to whether or not they are actually edible. And they smelled awful, like burnt oil.
I’m struggling with the thought that anyone would want to eat these. It seems like the fall of modern civilization.