Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Pocher’s in Breaux Bridge, LA

“Where should we eat?” we asked our guide, and laid out some of the recommendations we had received.

“Oh, Poche’s isn’t for tourists,” he said, “There are nicer places where tourists go, places with tablecloths and sometimes dancing in the evenings. People like us who live here go to Poche’s.”

Heh heh heh – that’s exactly the kind of places we want to go. We call them the Michelin Red R’s – good local food at reasonable prices. Off we go to Poche’s.

When we walk in, it’s like walking into a grocery store, but we knew we were in the right place. At the end of the counter is the serving line, and the daily specials. They still had rabbit. You don’t find a lot of rabbit served in the US, so this was a treat for the little French country niche in my heart.

AdventureMan had the Etoufee:

You can see, the portions are gi-normous. We could not eat our entire meals, nowhere near, no matter how delicious they were. We did buy some of the Poche’s Pecan Praline for the drive back to Pensacola, oh yummm.

This is a really fun place, a real people’s place. It’s just north of Interstate 10, outside of Breaux Bridge. You can even order from them online, or see what they’re serving for lunch today by going to Poche’s.

Here are their daily specials:

DAILY PLATE LUNCHES
Monday-Saturday 10:30AM – 2PM
Monday

Smothered Beef, Pork Backbone Stew, Baked Chicken, Crawfish Etouffeé, Mashed Potatoes, Pork & Beans

Tuesday

Smothered Pork Chops, Smothered Rabbit, Meatball Stew, Crawfish Etouffeé, Fried Chicken, Smothered Potatoes, Green Beans

Wednesday

Marinated Pork, BBQ Ribs, Stuffed Pork Chops, Crawfish Etouffeé, Fried Chicken, Potato Salad, Field Peas

Thursday

Pork Roast, Sausage Stew, Crawfish Etouffeé, Fried Chicken, Corn, Yams

Friday

Fried Catfish, Fried Shrimp, Crawfish Etouffeé, Chicken Stew, Marinated Turkey, Potato Salad, Cole Slaw

Saturday

Pork Backbone Stew, BBQ Ribs, BBQ Chicken, Stuffed Pork Chops, Boneless Pork Chops, BBQ Ribeyes, Green Beans, Fried Potatoes

Sunday Menu
10:30AM – 5PM
BBQ Lunches – A Tradition for over 30 Years

BBQ Chicken, Pork Steak & Sausage served with Homemade Potato Salad, Rice Dressing, & BBQ Sauce, Fried Catfish, Fried Shrimp, & Crawfish Etouffeé

Dinner Menu
Monday – Saturday 2PM – 8PM

Fried Catfish, Fried Shrimp, Crawfish Etouffeé, Potato Salad, Cole Slaw, French Fries

November 4, 2011 Posted by | Cooking, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Zapote in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

It’s dark, and we’ve been outdoors for hours so we are hungry again. AdventureMan knows what he wants; his favorite comfort food is Mexican. We turn into Zapote and we know we have come to the right place – there are lots of customers, and they look like locals.

We order, and the first surprise is the iced tea – it comes in pitchers! It’s a lot of tea:

I order Camerones (Shrimp) Diablo and AdventureMan orders Carne Asada. Both real good. 🙂

No, I don’t know why it came with french fries, and no, I didn’t eat them. 🙂

November 2, 2011 Posted by | Cold Drinks, Eating Out, Food, Road Trips, Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Cajun Country Swamp Tours

The Cajun Country Swamp Tour out of Breaux Bridge, LA, was such a highlight of our trip that we did it twice, once at sunset, and then again in full daylight the next day. The first night, we were with Butch, the owner, and the next day with Shaun, his son. Both were great trips.

Now here is the thing – there is more than one swamp tour company, and you have to be sure to get the right one (this one is the right one.) It’s not like Florida, where you look for the sign. When you get to Lake Martin, where this tour takes place, there is no kiosk, nothing except a tour boat coming in, but even this boat doesn’t have a sign on it. You have to know who you are looking for.

These people were so helpful in getting us booked. We really wanted to be with an eco-tour kind of exploration; some of the swamp tours are purely awful, and exploitive, hard on the animals, disruptive of the environment. We read the reviews; Cajun Country Swamp Tours is the group we wanted to be with. Our sunset cruise was delightful, just us, Butch, who is a wealth of information, and a family of five, the youngest of whom fell asleep almost as soon as the boat left the tie-up. The second day we took a private tour, and they gave us a good price. We like being able to watch the birds, watch the light change, wait for the right shot – it’s worth it to us.

Lake Martin is beautiful, in a lowlands kind of way (it looks a lot like parts of Pensacola.) Taking photos was fun, and also a challenge. Here is the challenge; sometimes the camera doesn’t really understand what it is supposed to focus on, so you think you are shooting a heron, and the camera is busy focusing on the tree two feet behind the heron. Sometimes you want to capture this exact light, but the camera sees ‘this exact light’ a little differently than you do.

This is what the tour boat looks like – very shallow, so it can get into very shallow places, and so it can drift over logs in the swampy areas:

Focus examples:

Now, just settle back in your seat and enjoy the swamp and bayous with us on St. Martin’s Lake:

This is a special bird, the Black Crowned Night Heron, only rarely at St. Martin’s Lake:

Lots of gators, soaking up sun before their long winter’s hibernation:

You might think this is a stump, but you would be wrong. This is Shaun’s duck hide; he built it himself:

This little anhinga lost one wing, probably to an alligator, but has figured out how to climb this tree and then plunge down when he sees a fish. He can’t really fly anymore, but he is managing:

Thousands of birds perched in these trees, the ‘rookery:’

November 1, 2011 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, ExPat Life, Photos, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

A Visit to Cajun Country in Louisiana

I guess I might have mentioned a time or two that I read an author named James Lee Burke. I remember the very first book I read – A Morning For Flamingos. I remember where I found it – the US Forces library on Lindsay Air Station. I remember it was late winter in Germany, the time when you think Spring will never come, that it will be grim and grey and cold for the rest of your life. I sought escape, which Mysteries/Detective novels provide, but I never expected poetry. From the very first page of A Morning for Flamingos, I was spellbound. While his novels have some horrific violence in them, and his detective Dave Robicheaux is a recovering alcoholic with some seriously self-destructive issues, you can sort of skim through the bad parts; there will be more poetry soon.

He is one of the few authors I will buy in hard cover.

I’ve been waiting. I wanted to see New Iberia, but I had to find a time when all the universal factors would line up – AdventureMan would be in the same country as me, the weather would be cool enough that travel would be enjoyable, and there was a low likelihood of running into a lot of tourists. The stars aligned, and off we went, a mere five hours away, to Cajun Louisiana.

We drove to New Orleans, first, visiting the welcome station to pick up brochures and figure out what we wanted to see and where we wanted to stay.

The welcome center was clean and well stocked, lots of bathrooms available for the visitors, lots of visitors, and ladies behind the counters full of first hand information about where we should go, where we should eat and where we might stay.

I have a thing about bridges. I had an accident on a bridge once, and I’m still a little nervous about bridges. This is the kind of bridge I hate:

This southernmost part of Louisiana is lowland, and there are bridges everywhere. Some of them are bridges like I have never seen anywhere else:

We arrived in the middle of the sugar cane harvest. I didn’t know what fields of sugar cane looked like; now I do:

There were big huge carts full of cane, all going to be processed on the same day they were cut:

All this time we were looking at sugar cane, we were getting hungrier and hungrier, but it was Sunday, and a lot of places were already closed, if they had been open at all. We finally found a restaurant in New Iberia, Pelicans, where I shocked my husband by ordering the vegetable plate – but it was all deep fried vegetables; asparagus, green beans, broccoli and carrots. He had a BBQ sandwich.

I think we were the only tourists in the place. The bar was full; the restaurant was empty, except for us.

We wanted to find someplace really fun to stay, full of character, and I had been looking at some cabins in Breaux Bridge. When we got ready to check them out, we discovered that the people who ran it were gone! There was a phone number, which we called, and the very kind owner called back and told us to go take a look, and which cabins were available.

You know, things just aren’t the way they used to be. I remember my Mom and Dad’s house, the first one they bought. The closet in the Master bedroom was only about 4 feet by 3 feet deep, with one bar and with a shelf. People had fewer clothes then, even in Alaska, where they also had heavy coats and ski pants and stuff. Bathrooms were small, only what was necessary, not like the spa-bathrooms people want now (me included.)

These cabins were cute. They were built right out over the bayou, and you could fish off your own balcony, each cabin separate and free standing. The place was clean. It was also really small, with small beds and small bathrooms. I don’t have asthma, but there was a musty smell, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to breathe. We also like a good mattress, so we can sleep well. I looked at AdventureMan, who was looking at me. We were both on the same track; we couldn’t stay there. I called the lady back. “The cabins are really nice,” I said, “But we’re old and have allergies. We can’t stay here.” My husband was looking at me in a mixture of horror and hysteria. As we got in the car, his shoulders were shaking. He put a quiver in his voice (my voice did NOT quiver) and started saying “We’re o-o-o-o-ld, and we . . .” We were both rolling with laughter. I just didn’t know what else to say. We used to stay in places like this, but now we put a higher value on sleep.

We headed for a tried and true Marriott – actually, two of them – in Lafayette, only to discover that there was an oil and gas conference starting this week and there were NO rooms at the Marriott. We headed back toward New Iberia and settled into a Hampton Inn – nice, clean, roomy, and no character, we could have been in Seattle or Pennsylvania, but we could breathe.

October 31, 2011 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Beauty, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment