Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne is asking the Louisiana seafood promotion board to draw up a strategic plan and says he'll seek an audit of its finances as he assumes oversight of its operations. Lawmakers shifted the new responsibility to the lieutenant governor's office in the recently ended legislative session as part of an effort to strengthen supervision of a 14-member board that has received millions in recovery money from the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill. While Dardenne says he didn't seek the new responsibility or push the legislation, he notes that the mission of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board dovetails with that of his office, which is charged with Louisiana's tourism marketing. "I think it is a nice fit," he says. "There is no question in my mind that this is a marriage that is going to work, that's going to be very successful for your industry and very successful for the state of Louisiana." The new law takes effect July 1. The seafood board had only modest funding...
Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. has reached an agreement in principle with federal regulators on the structure of its proposed acquisition of rival Ameristar Casinos Inc., according to which Pinnacle will sell the Ameristar casino under construction in Lake Charles and another in St. Louis. "This will have absolutely no impact on L'Auberge Baton Rouge whatsoever," says Pinnacle spokesperson Kerry Andersen. "Other than the obvious: that this acquisition makes our company much stronger by doubling its size." The agreement is still subject to the negotiation of a consent order, commission approval and regulatory gaming approvals. The Federal Trade Commission's bureau of competition issued an administrative complaint last month saying that the buyout could diminish competition in the Missouri and Louisiana casino markets. Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. agreed to buy Ameristar in December for $869 million. If the sale goes through, Pinnacle will also take on $1.9 billion of Ameristar's debt.
According to the new Gridlock Index by data technology firm Inrix, the Baton Rouge and New Orleans metro areas have seen some of the largest declines in traffic congestion over the past year. Overall U.S. gridlock levels grew by 9.4% from April 2012 to April 2013, and Inrix says that means the average trip took drivers in the 100 most populated metro areas about 7% longer. Gridlock levels in Baton Rouge fell 38%, according to the index, and 21% in New Orleans. While Inrix suggests the overall increase in gridlock in the United States was linked to increased economic growth—and a decrease in congestion is due to slower economic growth—it does not make clear whether infrastructure work plays a part in the index. In the Baton Rouge metro area—which has faired well on most measures of economic growth over the past year—significant work to expand Interstates 10 and 12 has been completed over the past year, and several surface roads have also been widened. You can...
Baton Rouge tourism officials are hoping to raise the profile of the Red Stick in the blogosphere. They're spending the weekend talking to travel bloggers at TBEX, a gathering of travel bloggers, writers and new media content creators in Toronto. Renee Areng and others from Visit Baton Rouge are en route to meet with the bloggers today. This marks the first year that Visit Baton Rouge is reaching out to bloggers. Its officials hope to attract the attention of writers who focus on family, food and culinary subjects, and cultural and historical destinations. The two-day event runs through Sunday. —April Castro
L'Hôtel de Beaune in the wine capital of Burgundy. It's a restored 19th-century house with its own courtyard. It has enormous rooms with black marble showers and sunken bathtubs.
DarkSeas Games, a collaboration of Baton Rouge's Pixel Dash Studios and other developers in New Orleans, has surpassed its fundraising goal of $160,000 to revive a popular video game from the 1990s via a Kickstarter crowdfunding effort. Including pledges made through PayPal, DarkSeas has raised $182,791 ($173,803 from 4,409 backers not including PayPal donations), according to Kickstarter, which says it has helped launch about 100,000 projects. Pixel Dash co-founder and lead engineer Jason Tate says the goal is to produce by August 2014 a "motorcycle racing combat game" called Road Redemption that would be a "spiritual successor" to the Road Rash game popular during the late 1990s. As is generally the case with Kickstarter, donors receive special perks, including an early copy of the game (for $15) and a chance to have their likeness included in the game (for $400). "It was a...
Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile: Happy, Happy, Happy, the new autobiography by Phil Robertson, the star of reality TV show Duck Dynasty who's also known as The Duck Commander, has debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list of hardcover nonfiction works. Read about the contents of Robertson's briskly selling book here.
Louisiana is about to get its very own superhero, thanks to LSU alum and Los Angeles screenwriter Mark Landry, who is poised to release a new graphic novel series called Bloodthirsty. Set in a mythical, post-Katrina New Orleans, Bloodthirsty: One Nation Under Water follows a Cajun Creole named Virgil LaFleur, who finds himself swept up in a vile plot to destroy the Big Easy while he hunts for his brother's killers. Featuring corrupt cops, soulless politicians and a ruthless magnate with a mysterious gift of eternal youth, Bloodthirsty recasts the city as a dark fantasia, hauntingly familiar, exhilarating and surprising. Read the complete article by Editor Jeff Roedel and interview with Landry in the current issue of 225 here.
Is Baton Rouge, dare I say it, embracing the smart growth mindset? More and more, I'm seeing stories and hearing about new projects that tend to point us in that direction.
Occupancy rates at local hotels over Memorial Day weekend have been skyrocketing over the past few years due to Bayou Country Superfest, which is set for Saturday and Sunday of the upcoming holiday weekend. Last year's Memorial weekend occupancy rate for Saturday jumped to 94% from 61% in 2009—the year before the country music festival began—according to a study by Smith Travel Research, which calculated rates using the entire Capital Region. Those healthy numbers are expected to continue with this year's festival, but a local tourism official says the upward trajectory should start to level off. "There's not a lot of room for growth," says Renee Areng, executive vice president of Visit Baton Rouge. "If we were to venture to do just the parish of Baton Rouge, I would speculate (occupancy) will be close to 100 percent." With country acts such as Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum and Miranda Lambert, the annual event at Tiger Stadium is changing the way area fans of country music...
The three casinos in Baton Rouge collectively saw their winnings in April fall more than 15% compared to March, according to figures released by the Louisiana State Police. L'Auberge Casino & Hotel, Hollywood Casino and the Belle of Baton Rouge took in approximately $24.3 million last month, down from $28.8 million in March. L'Auberge led the three, with $12.3 million, down from $15.1 million the month previous. Hollywood took in about $7 million, down from $8 million in March. And the Belle won roughly $5 million, down from $5.6 million. The winnings of Hollywood and the Belle last month were also down significantly from April a year ago, which is due to the increased competition L'Auberge has brought to the city since opening last September. Hollywood won $10.5 million from gamblers in April 2012, or about 33% more than last month. The Belle won $6.9 million in April last year, which is 27% more than last month. According to the report, L'Auberge had roughly 128,200 admissions in...
BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight says she's talking to various groups about building a new elephant exhibit for the Baton Rouge Zoo. "We want elephants at our zoo, and the way that we have to do that is to build a new exhibit," McKnight says. She's hoping the parish will reauthorize a property tax dedicated to BREC next year that will allow for an elephant exhibit. If the tax is renewed, McKnight says BREC could leverage public dollars with private donations to carry out the project. Judy the elephant died in March and the zoo plans to host a going-away party for Bozie, a 37-year-old Asian elephant, on Saturday, May 18. She will be leaving the zoo shortly after that for the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Because elephants are a herd species, zoo officials say they couldn't leave Bozie alone after her 46-year-old companion died. —April Castro
Last year was a big one for Baton Rouge tourism, with the U.S. Bowling Congress delivering an estimated $113 million economic impact. But while there's nothing that big expected for 2013, Visit Baton Rouge President/CEO Paul Arrigo sees a good year ahead for the local convention business. In fact, the first several months of the year compare favorably “to any other year we've had,” he says. Renée Areng, the agency's executive vice president of sales and marketing says “ is going to be as strong, we think, as '12,” adding, “ is looking good too.  we probably only have about 10 groups in the system, so that's the year we're working right now.” Take last year's bowlers out of the equation, Arrigo says, and 2013 might actually end up being a bit stronger than 2012, thanks in part to the improving national economy. For 2013, Visit Baton Rouge says it is working 416 “conventions in progress,” which could attract more than...
Edging closer to 1,000 signatures, an online petition is bringing the debate about City Park's golf course back into the limelight. Should the 9-hole course be maintained and City Park grow around it, or should it be eliminated and the grounds added to the park's existing green space?
Our food critic responds to Rien Fertel's "City Portrait" of Baton Rouge, published in the March/April edition of Garden & Gun magazine
Mark Martin is prepping for a full schedule of projects on the horizon—from securing a designation of Route 90 from DeRidder to Bogalusa as a US Bicycle Route, preparing for workshops later this month with several Baton Rouge organizations to brainstorm how to use federal funding to improve bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and consulting with the city on a new Dalrymple Drive bike path.
Several streets in the downtown area will be closed to traffic over the next two weeks, beginning Thursday, to accommodate the filming of Search Party, a comedy from the producers of Baton Rouge-filmed Pitch Perfect. Road closures and parking restrictions through Saturday will include portions of Lafayette Street and North Boulevard, as well as North Fourth Street. On Monday, portions of Spanish Town Road will be affected, as well as some of the previously mentioned streets. Filming will also affect North Boulevard on Tuesday, May 14. You can read the specifics on the street closures and parking restrictions related to the filming here. Search Party is being produced by Universal Pictures and Gold Circle Films. The film is directed by Scot Armstrong, who is best known for writing Hangover, Elf, and Old School. It stars T.J. Miller, Adam Pally and Thomas Middleditch.
When it comes to embracing summer in Baton Rouge, you have to know when to say, "Get out of town."
Paul's association with the International Association of Gaming Advisors. He was to be inducted into leadership as a counselor after his stint as president.
Toja won the Teikoku Pinnacle Award through his company, Endo Health Solutions Inc. This is an all-inclusive top-performer award trip to Japan.
It was the starting point on an entrepreneur tour to Paris.
We went on a 35-day cruise of New Zealand, Australia and Bali on the Celebrity Solstice. Richard and Tim recently retired, so it was a celebration cruise. The itinerary included a circumnavigation of Australia in addition to New Zealand and Bali, and this was very appealing to all of us.
[Editor's note: Post-Vegas, Howard has a new cost-saving partner for 2 Broke Guys BR—none other than Ryan Chenevert, whom you can see shirtless here.]
This weekend's 27th Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette will draw world music lovers from the region and around the country for an annual celebration of the French, African, Caribbean and Hispanic influences that shaped Louisiana. Along with great musicians like The Wailers, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Sergent Garcia, Red Baarat and others, the festival offers plenty of hospitable eats.
The Better Block BR event last weekend saw an impressive turnout, and despite rain shutting down the second day of the event, the sense of accomplishment was already there. Saturday saw between 1,500 and 2,000 attendees, according to organizers, and guest appearances from Mayor Kip Holden and his caravan of cyclists for the Mayor's Family Bike Day.
The annual spring sale at HOME Rogers & McDaniel has been extended through Saturday. This can't-miss event encompasses items from across the showroom, including upholstery, antiques, lighting and garden accessories. Some of the inventory is discounted 70%, so hurry in for the best selection. Shoppers can also find savings this weekend at Red Door Interiors, as the entire store inventory is 20% off through Sunday.
The Baton Rouge Botanic Garden Foundation Board, Friends of the Botanic Garden and BREC will host the 19th annual sale Saturday in the Crape Myrtle Garden of the Botanic Garden, 7950 Independence Boulevard, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. The sale will feature a variety of affordable plants, including culinary herbs, daylilies, ferns, gingers, vegetable plants and more. Members of participating plant societies will also be giving talks on a variety of gardening topics. For more information, call 928-2270.
Metro Councilman Ryan Heck says he's still undecided on whether he'll support a tax increment financing proposal to help Costco Wholesale offset some of the construction costs for a proposed Baton Rouge location in his district. "I haven't been convinced," says Heck, who was among those attending a neighborhood meeting held Tuesday evening to discuss the impact of the planned warehouse superstore. "Economic development seems to me, in some ways, has become a race to the bottom." Many area homeowners who attended the meeting were angry about the additional traffic and potential crime that the members-only retailer might bring to their streets. And they appeared to be hearing about the TIF proposal—which was introduced at a Metro Council meeting earlier this month—for the first time. As Heck explained the proposed TIF, the leader of the homeowner's association attempted to assuage concerns. "It's a drop in the bucket with what we're doing with IBM," Celeste Ellender told...
The New Orleans Aviation Board today is expected to recommend an $826 million redevelopment plan meant to thrust Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport into the modern era, The Times-Picayune reports. The overhaul would be in lockstep with what New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has said he would like to see done at the airport in time for the city's 300th anniversary in 2018. The plan includes building a new, $650 million, 30-gate terminal with three concourses and a parking garage, as well as a $17 million privately financed hotel, all on the north side of the airport's east-west runway, according to documents obtained by the New Orleans newspaper. The overhaul would also include a $72 million state-financed power station and a new, $87 million ramp on Interstate 10 to direct eastbound traffic to the new terminal. Nonetheless, it could be a tough sell to a skeptical public that watched a $305 million overhaul of the existing terminal, in preparation for the Super...
Don Hunter biked 12 miles from his subdivision on South Harrells Ferry to work downtown 42 times last year. That was before an accident in July 2012 (Friday the 13th, actually) when he flipped his bike on bad pavement, breaking his collarbone and cracking two ribs. Now, after months of recuperation, he bikes about 11 miles, instead.
This weekend marks the beginning of a transformation on Government Street with the Better Block BR project. Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on the two blocks between Bedford and Beverly drives, residents will get to see a model of what Government Street could look like if we push local and state officials to update the roadway to a safer, more “complete street” model.
ConventionSouth wants to know which Southern cities serve up the best food for convention goers, and the industry trade magazine's editors have included Baton Rouge in the pool of 30 finalists across various subregions in the South for voters to consider. The Capital City is within a subregion that comprises Louisiana, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. It's the sole Louisiana city in the survey, apart from New Orleans, and it's competing with Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa in Florida; Birmingham and Mobile in Alabama; and Jackson, Miss. Those who complete the magazine's survey will choose which city among those listed "provides the best food options for your attendees." Voting will close and the results will be revealed on Friday. Winners will be included in the May issue of the magazine. You can take the complete survey here.
Officials from the Department of Public Works spent the morning walking through the old Woman's Hospital facility on Airline Highway to determine how best to quickly and inexpensively convert the 24-acre campus into a public safety complex that will house the administrative offices of the Baton Rouge Police Department and, eventually the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office as well. "Right now we're trying to figure out how we can move them without spending hardly anything," says city-parish Chief Administrative Officer William Daniel. "We may have to use a little bit of money from DPW's carry-forward funds but it will be relatively painless to move the majority of the people in here." Daniel declines to say how much "hardly anything" might mean, but he says the goal is to keep the price down, as the city-parish is already planning to spend some $10 million to acquire the facility later this year. Earlier this week, DPW representatives met with neighborhood residents, who have...
No building says “Baton Rouge” more than the Louisiana State Capitol, with the possible exception of Tiger Stadium.
Matt's parents, Jim and Kristi Regan, are living there as ex-patriots. His brother Kevin also ventured over from Chicago.
Scotland is the home of golf and is a “bucket list” trip for all golf enthusiasts. We went to Old Course (St. Andrews), Muirfield, Carnoustie Golf Links, Royal Troon Golf Club, Turnberry Resort and Kingsbarns Golf Links.
We bid on and won a fishing trip complete with accommodations, at the annual Coastal Conservation Association banquet.
We travel as a group together every year. We've been all over the world together. This trip, we went to Buenos Aires, Iguazu, Salta, Tilcara, Purmamarca and more in Argentina.
Click here to see a slideshow of Stacy and Ross Henry's home.
Learn to safely maneuver through underwater settings in Seven Seas' 13-foot indoor heated pool. It drops vertically from the 4-foot shallow end, teaching students how pressure affects ears as well as equipment. Certification complete, take your newly acquired diving and snorkeling skills to destinations as close as the Gulf Coast or as far as the South Pacific. Located on One Calais Avenue, Seven Seas holds classes for adults as well as for children. sevenseasbtr.com 761-0333
You rumble across railroad tracks and potholes from downtown in the left lane. You see a car at a full stop ahead of you, beneath the tilted telephone poles, prepping to turn left. You slam the brakes. Screech. Cuss. Speed up. Look forward.
The onset of spring weather leads us to consider our patios afresh. Revamp your patio or porch with custom outdoor furniture from Lane Venture, available at mint.HOME. Lane Venture's stylish WeatherMaster line offers pieces made to resist harsh weather and protect from mildew and water damage. Removable slipcovers assist in draining and allow for easy cleanup. Choose from a variety of sofas, lounge chairs and dining chairs in many custom and upholstered fabric options.
HOME Rogers & McDaniel is currently offering spring savings on furniture and accessories by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. Through May 5, customers will receive a 20% discount on orders including upholstery, tables, storage pieces, rugs, bed linens, and lighting. With hundreds of options for upholstery, leather and fabric, this sale is an excellent opportunity to update your abode.
Back in February, the Better Block BR public workshop gave residents the chance to say what they think makes for, well, a better block. A series of visual examples were scattered around the meeting room at Ingleside Methodist Church. Visitors were given red and green stickers and told to place them on the examples they liked and those they didn't.
Ready to accent your home for Easter? Happily, spring motifs have popped up at stores all over town. Our favorites include elegant wreaths at Red Onion, fine art by local talent Lauren Barksdale Hill at Mint.Art, serving pieces at Highland Gifts, and thoughtful notions for children and adults alike at Queen Bee Invitations.
Expressway Park sits in the shadow of the I-10/I-110 split, with the rumble of traffic echoing off the huge concrete pilings that separate the busy interstate above from the inner-city green space below. The South Baton Rouge Jaguars youth football team often practices on a field here, between the overpass bridges. At night, the interstate lighting high above isn't enough to illuminate the practice field, so parents of the young players use the headlights of their vehicles to keep evening practices going.
So much is going on this week that I could easily devote several blog posts to, but I thought I'd try to keep it simple. Here's what you should know about that's happening in our smART city right now:
The Metro Council will soon take up the issue of whether or not Baton Rouge's three riverboat casinos should be able to serve alcohol 24 hours a day. An ordinance allowing as much was introduced on Wednesday by Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle, with the council set to discuss the issue further at its next meeting on March 13. Councilwoman Tara Wicker says she's skeptical about the idea. "I really need to see the details on what the justification is for it," she says. "I'm never in favor of allowing alcohol being served 24 hours a day. I just don't see it as a need." Some say the unlimited alcohol service would allow the Baton Rouge casinos to better compete with those in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast. By contrast, Wicker contends that the extended alcohol service could exacerbate crime problems, particularly downtown, where two of the city's three casinos are located. Metro Councilman Ryan Heck says he's always in favor of fewer regulations on businesses and will likely support...
We wanted to celebrate Mark's 50th birthday. We've been to NYC many times over the years but never with a 6-year-old. It was great!
We wanted a family-friendly adventure that was not Walt Disney World.
We wanted a change from the regular beach summer vacation. Hugh and the boys had heard great things about fly fishing in Brevard, too.
Italy is famous for serving wonderful red wines in generic carafes at family restaurants. My pick for this genre is Il Ghizzano, which is crafted to bring back memories of these timeless European table wines.
Looking for delicious meatless Lenten meals? Now is a great time to enjoy fresh seafood. I always keep various types—salmon, shrimp, tilapia—in the freezer for quick, go-to meals, thanks to a friend who loves to fish and share with me. And what better time to spotlight our delicious Gulf Coast seafood than when the Lenten season coincides with the National Nutrition Month of March!
See a slideshow of McKernan's home here.
One might wonder what a world-renowned artist and longtime Manhattan resident is doing in rural Louisiana.
March is typically the time to pull out the crawfish pot, check that the tank is full of butane and fire it up.
On a well-appointed table under textbook Louisiana live oaks, four courses inspired by the local culinary bounty emerged. Hog’s head cheese with Creole mustard and pork belly with red pepper gastrique came first, followed by mixed greens with Steen’s cane syrup and pecan vinaigrette. The ensuing entrées were fennel-stuffed pork and roast beef from boutique farms and Creole paella made with Gulf shrimp. Louisiana-grown grilled asparagus and Brussels sprouts with cane vinegar honey made an appearance, and for dessert, there were kumquat curd tartlets with goat cheese mousse and strawberry-Pinot Noir coulis.
Having just opened a few months ago, Olive or Twist is turning heads with its long list of complex and inventive cocktails. And we're not exaggerating when we say long. Divided into sections like Specialty Cocktails, New Orleans Cocktails, Drop Martinis, Dessert Martinis and more, it's easy to get lost in the menu's maze of concoctions. But when the bartenders take the time to smack basil leaves between their palms a few times before adding the garnish to a drink (it releases the oils), you know you're in good hands.
Few culinary ingredients are as open to transformation as the egg. Essential components of sweet and savory dishes, eggs are a baker's best friend, an enduring part of breakfast, a lunchbox staple, a satisfying midnight snack and, this time of year, colorful Easter basket booty. They've been gathered by cooks for centuries and are still considered one of the most nourishing and balanced foods around. Get inspired by these local egg-centric tools and gifts.
With many excellent restaurants in town, folks may think twice about driving to nearby Sunshine for lunch or dinner. But those who have dined at Roberto's River Road Restaurant know that a few extra minutes of drive time off the beaten path is definitely worth the trip.
Many of you may or may not know, but I own the FreshJunkie restaurant, and though I won't refer to myself as a chef, technically I guess I am one. Really, I consider myself more of a cook. Semantics I suppose, but chef or not, many people have asked me advice about what gadgets, utensils and other items they absolutely need to have for their kitchen. So, without further ado...
Back in October, many of you will remember that I set out on a craft beer adventure to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver and then on to check out some breweries in San Diego. What might have slipped through the cracks is that I made a stop in Louisiana as well, and that my buddy Tommy Talley of tommysTV came along with me on the journey... with a camera. Here's a story that tells what I found out about the relationship between craft brewers and their wholesalers:
I've reached the point in my life as a mother of three children where 15 minutes is sometimes all I have to get something on the table. What can I make in that amount of time? A phone call for pizza delivery, which I do from time to time. But that's unsustainable, and the truth is, there are a ton of serviceable dinners that can be out in short order; it just requires a tiny bit of planning. The most important thing to remember is to limit ingredients, to always have certain things on hand and to forget the idea that dinner always has to be a protein, starch and vegetable. Here are a few suggestions that are both fast and healthy.
If you were one of the many at the Better Block BR public workshop last week, you know there are quite a few folks in town who have a passionate interest in smart growth in Baton Rouge. Next week, you'll get another chance to share your thoughts on smart growth and alternative transportation pathways as Downtown Development District hosts three days of public workshops and discussions on the proposed Downtown Greenway.
Baton Rouge's three casinos collectively won $21.7 million from gamblers in January, or about 5.5% less than the $22.9 million they won in December. As it has since opening in September, L'Auberge accounted for the bulk of the winnings—$10.7 million—but like the Belle of Baton Rouge and Hollywood Casino, it nonetheless saw a decline in winnings from December. L'Auberge's winnings were down 2.5%; the Belle of Baton Rouge's $4.5 million was 6.9% less than December winnings, and Hollywood Casino's $6.5 million represented a decline of 9.1%. The Louisiana Gaming Control Board posts detailed winnings reports for all state-licensed casinos here.
In preparation for the Better Block BR event in April—where two blocks of Government Street will be converted to a “complete street” model for a weekend—organizers are hosting a workshop tonight to hear what types of infrastructure, businesses and activities you want to see along the route.
Four year ago, the Capital Region saw the abrupt closure of Frank Bonifay's popular Alligator Bayou Swamp Tours when Ascension and Iberville parishes opted to open the floodgate between Alligator Bayou and Bayou Manchac, causing water levels to drop.
Pop-up restaurants are now at the pinnacle of trendiness. They've been popular for years in New York and San Francisco. They're getting press in New Orleans in publications like Garden & Gun and Country Roads. An underbelly of food movements, pop-ups seem to have followed a similar model to food trucks as far as being a canvas for a new generation of young culinary minds without the start up costs of brick and mortar restaurants. But what exactly is a pop-up restaurant or dinner? It seems like they are all different, and there's no set formula, but there are certainly some consistencies.
The boudin and boudin balls at the Best Stop Supermarket in the town of Scott west of Lafayette are sublime. One of the celebrated spots along the state's unofficial boudin trail, the Best Stop is a quintessential roadside grocery store with cold drinks, sundries and enough cuts of meat to outfit a big box store.
New Orleans has been selected to receive technical assistance to explore the possibility of establishing a bike sharing program, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday. Bike sharing programs are designed to provide free or affordable access to bicycles for short trips in an urban area as an alternative to motorized public transit or private vehicles. "As New Orleans looks to establish a Bikeshare program, the EPA's technical assistance will help promote its growth and success in our city," Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant says. "Bikeshare programs offer a convenient alternative to driving and encourage healthy and safe commuting. They can also reduce vehicular traffic and environmental hazards while promoting sustainability." As part of the technical assistance to be provided, EPA staff and national experts will hold a local workshop to explore the potential of establishing such a program in the Crescent City. Specifically, it will...
Picture a busy surface street in the city you use frequently. How would you make it rightsized? By that, I mean, the street likely no longer meets the needs of the people who use it. The road doesn't have a middle turning lane or a median to control traffic flow. The area is frequented by pedestrians and cyclists, but the infrastructure doesn't allow safe crosswalks, bike lanes or even sidewalks in some areas. Maybe it needs additional lanes for heavy traffic, or less lanes because it no longer services many vehicles.
Overcast skies and the threat of rain couldn't dampen the revelry of Mardi Gras in New Olreans as parades took to the streets early this morning, showering merrymaking crowds with trinkets of all kinds. The parades began around dawn, with parade-goers lining up despite the threat of inclement weather. Some families had even camped out overnight to stake out choice spots despite the weather. National Weather Service meteorologist Freddie Zeigler says there's an 80% chance of rain, with showers likely moving into the metro area during the morning. Fog blanketed the riverfront and business district in the early morning. Still, lulls in precipitation are predicted to occur throughout the day, and no parade has been canceled. "It's going to be dicey, though, for parades, but it all depends on how fast that warm front moves to the north," Zeigler says. Riders in the Zulu parade boarded floats staged before dawn at the city's huge convention enter. They loaded aboard the trinkets, beads,...
While I didn't get to watch any films at the Sundance Film Festival, nor did I do any skiing on the famous Park City slopes, I did get to attend one event worthy of noting (other than the party at which I cooked). MorningStar Farms ChefDance, a series of celebrity-chef crafted dinners at Sundance, clearly has made a name for itself as the go-to culinary event during the festival. Each night, a different chef takes center-stage to put on a multi-course dinner offering for celebrities, festival attendees, and members of the culinary media. Fortunately for me, I fell into one of those categories! The crowd at ChefDance was huge. I spied the likes of Tony Danza as I found my seat, and after some cocktails from the Snake Oil Cocktail Company and a brief delay, food started to come out of the kitchen. Chef Shawn Armstrong led the brigade to create a stellar menu for the multitude of diners.
The last couple of years in Baton Rouge we've seen a growing level of interest in how to improve our local food systems. More chefs are buying local, farmers market numbers continue to climb, school gardens are up and there is palpable enthusiasm for new culinary trends. On Saturday, Feb. 16, Slow Food Baton Rouge will host a live webcast of TEDx Manhattan's annual food forum, “Changing the Way We Eat.” The third annual webcast convenes farmers, chefs and food entrepreneurs from around the country to explore the state of the American food system and our progress toward greater sustainability. It will be held at the Shaw Center for the Arts' Manship Theatre from noon to 3:30 p.m. Doors open at 11:30 a.m., and the bar will offer brunch cocktails, local beer and snacks for purchase. The event is free and open to the public.
Paris is one of our favorite cities. We love the architecture, the museums, the people, the food (especially the coffee and breads) and, of course, the wine. We also have friends who live there, and we like to visit them.
Unlike any other country in the world, Italy cultivates grapes almost anywhere, from the Alps at the northern cuff down to the southern tip of the boot’s toe. Just below the mountains between Innsbruck, Austria, and Verona is the Alto Adige wine region, which produces Italian Chardonnay with a German accent. And my pick is one of Italy’s best expressions of this thick-skinned grape—the Alois Lageder Chardonnay Alto Adige. Chilled to 40 degrees, your first sip of this medium-bodied white brings to mind a near-glacial pool high in the Austrian Alps. It’s an unexpected cross between the oak-naked Burgundy style and the buttered oak Sonoma style. With a hint of tart green apple, tropical fruit and Alpine spice, every sip brings the expectation of a sparkle. Alois Lageder Chardonnay is affectionately called “the Gator” at Nino’s Italian Restaurant, where BTG or BTB it pairs perfectly with the winter salad and handmade pastas. Or round the corner...
The carnival season of Mardi Gras is in full swing, and Valentine's Day is right around the corner. I have easy dishes to help you celebrate both. Whether you are spending a quiet evening in front of the fire or having a festive time at a parade, you can enjoy this chilly month with fabulous food.
After leaving their parents' nest, siblings Trasie and Taylor Jeansonne never really strayed too far from home. They both graduated from the same college, carpooling and taking some classes together. Even after Trasie married Donny Stelly and Taylor wed Elisa Willson, the two young families remained close, taking extended vacations together and joining forces for hunting and fishing expeditions.
This month’s wine selections, found at Martin Wine Cellar, are budget-friendly yet don’t sacrifice quality or nuance. We’ve got a flinty Sauvignon Blanc, an impressive organic red blend worth more than its $12 price tag and a 92-point Spanish Grenache for only $7. These are all perfect wines for changing weather, Mardi Gras festivities and the seasonal bounty that emerges this spring.
During the long winter months, it is hard to get motivated to do much of anything, much less entertain. So we've come up with a nice way to unwind without going to too much trouble.
It wasn't easy, but Chef Chris Wadsworth from Baton Rouge's Restaurant IPO successfully guided our team through dinner impossible at the Sundance Film Festival. With contributions from Chappapeela Farms (duck, pork belly), Inland Seafood (shrimp, crawfish, oysters, redfish, tasso), and Community Coffee, we arrived in Park City, UT ready to cook up a snow-storm of Louisiana dishes. Chris and I received and invitation to serve as guest chefs for a party being thrown to promote the Louisiana International Film Festival. Before we left, Chris and I made a video about what we were bringing to Sundance:
On Friday, February 1, tickets will be available for the third annual Slow Food Spring Farm Tour and Dinner in the Field event. Slow Food Baton Rouge members can purchase their tickets first, while others will have to wait until February 8. The two-part event, which exposes farm life and the regional culinary bounty, has become a favorite among local food aficionados. It begins with a free, self-guided tour of selected family farms north of Baton Rouge. Even if you don't attend the dinner, this is a great way to spend the afternoon of March 24. At 4 pm, dinner festivities kick off under the live oaks at Oakland Plantation in Gurley, La. Drinks and nibbles are served between 4 pm and 6 pm, followed by family-style dinner made by a handful of local chefs. The team is led this year by Juban's executive chef Jaime Hernandez, who tells me the menu won't be decided until the last minute to take advantage of what's emerging from field and stream. Seating is limited. Tickets are $125 per...
Chef Chris Wadsworth is a both a food artist and an entrepreneur. The flavors of his creations are pure and inventive, the plating beautiful. Restaurant IPO, where Wadsworth is the executive chef, is one of Baton Rouge’s newest gems on the culinary scene, and is one of his seven businesses.
Team Bite and Booze will be present at this year's Hogs for the Cause. Iverstine Family Farms will provide the pigs. I'd love for you to join us! When you buy a ticket, you'll be prompted with the question “Would you like to credit one of the competitors with this purchase?” There will be a dropdown box with every single team name, so make sure to pick "Bite and Booze." Credits go to our team fundraising tally, so spread the word!
By now, the New Year's resolutions we made almost a month ago are either rocking along or have been tossed on the failed experiment pile. I'm not a big fan of making resolutions because they're usually dull and restrictive, but this year, I made a simple commitment to eat more nutrient dense foods—to actually play off the list of so called Super Foods as my starting point in meal planning. It hasn't been hard when you consider what's on it: blueberries, beans, wild salmon, avocado, dark chocolate, oats, low fat yogurt, onions and garlic, turkey, spinach, pumpkin, oranges, cinnamon, soy and more. These self-contained nutritional powerhouses are named Super Foods because of their generous vitamin and minerals and lack of unwanted fats, salt and sugar. There are a handful of Super Foods apps which profile the foods themselves and include recipes. SuperFoodRX is the one I've been using. It's been a great tool for last minute dinner inspiration.
Two new car dealerships are breaking ground in coming weeks about a half-mile apart from one another on Airline Highway, south of Pecue Lane. Paretti Jaguar Land Rover Baton Rouge is building a new 26,500-square-foot facility at 13934 Airline Hwy., while brothers John and David Fabre—owners of Infiniti of Baton Rouge and Acura of Baton Rouge—are building a 7,800-square-foot facility for a Subaru dealership at 13399 Airline Hwy. "It's directly across the street from us," John Fabre says, of its proximity to the Infiniti and Acura dealerships. "We expect to have it open in about eight months." Subaru has never been represented well in Baton Rouge, Fabre says, and the brand will provide car buyers with a broader price range—that is, a less expensive option compared to the Infinity and Acura brands. Fabre says the Subaru dealership could initially employ 15 workers and sell 40 vehicles a month. In fact, the vehicles are already available on the Infiniti and Acura lots,...
Baton Rouge's three riverboat casinos collectively won $22.9 million from gamblers in December—a 52% improvement over the same month a year earlier. However, much of that increase can be attributed to the fact that the city has one more casino than it did in December 2011. L'Auberge, which opened in September, won just shy of $11 million in December. The Belle of Baton Rouge and Hollywood Casino collectively won just over $15 million; but the Belle's $4.9 million was down 6.2% from December 2011, and Hollywood's $7.1 million was off 27.8%. Figures posted by regulators today show that, overall, December was a good month for the state's casinos and 2012 was a good year. Louisiana's state-licensed casinos won roughly $2.4 billion from gamblers in 2012, up from about $2.37 billion in 2011. The figures do not include revenue from Indian reservation casinos, which are not required to report winnings to the public.
With Baton Rouge Restaurant Week here (use #BRRW on Twitter), I thought I'd show another video clip from a participating restaurant. Over 30 restaurants are involved in the first ever Baton Rouge Restaurant Week, creating an exciting opportunity for diners to check out new hot spots, return to an old favorite, and spoil themselves if just for a night... or a whole week! From today, January 14th, until Saturday, January 19th, each participating restaurant will offer three course menus for a fraction of the normal price. The food may be discounted, but remember, always tip your servers!
Our interest in all things food-related has never been bigger, but the amount of time we spend in the kitchen diminishes more every year. That said, how are young people going to learn to cook? The answer lies in a bag of chocolate chips.
Top quality kitchenware is a priority for home cooks these days, including high quality knives, good barware and inventive gadgets. But sometimes what our kitchens need is a dose of the old—vestiges from the past that lighten the mood and keep us grounded. Okay, maybe it's not this neon RC cactus lamp from Alladin's Lamp on Government Street, but it could be a set of juice or ice tea glasses, funky salt and pepper shakers, cheese plates, fondue pots, deviled egg servers, manual juicers, Premium cracker boxes and the other useful, and often well-made, items found in regional antique stores.
Le Creole is one of over 25 restaurants participating in the upcoming Baton Rouge Restaurant Week from January 14-19. I had a chance to hang out in the kitchen with chef Ryan Andre to help him put together a new steak dish: filet mignon over a bed of sweet potato hash with melted bone marrow butter and fried leeks. Take a look for yourself at the deliciousness that ensued!
The Baton Rouge food and beverage scene has seen a lot of growth in 2012. It is exciting to be a part of the movement, watching a culinary culture grown right in front of us. Baton Rouge has much more than chains, you just have to get off the gridlocked interstate to find some of them. When I first thought of putting together a list of my top new restaurants and bars in 2012, I figured it might be a challenge to actually get to 10. Instead, I found myself perplexed by what to omit. Joining forces with Cherry the Dive Bar Girl, somebody who certainly cares as much as I do about unveiling the interesting places in Baton Rouge and forgetting about the chains, I increased my total to 12 for 2012. Unfortunately, some new spots got left off the list, but here are Baton Rouge's best new bars and restaurants of 2012 (must be original to BR and must have opened in 2012)!
Charcuterie boards. Small batch tonic. More leafy greens. Hibiscus. ATM-like machines that dispense everything from cupcakes to hamburgers. Pop-up restaurants that can excite palates and bring life to a community's dark spaces. Farm-to-bar. Yep, that's bar, watering holes.
In the wintertime, we tend to reach for stronger cocktails with deeper flavors to warm us up. But sometimes, the cold weather doldrums warrant a drink with a little more pucker to wake us up. The Sidecar finds its origins in Paris, so it’s a natural fixture on Bistro Byronz’s French-style menu. Cointreau and pulpy lemon juice give it a tangy, citrus flavor, and brandy rounds out the sour edges. Pair it with an hors d’oeuvre on this Government Street restaurant’s popular patio if the weather allows, or order it as an after-dinner drink that will linger on your palate as any good cocktail should. bistrobyronz.com
Now that Christmas has come and gone and New Year's Eve celebrations are under our belts, it is time to take a moment to sit back and relax. But not for long—because Carnival season is upon us.
Carnival season officially begins Jan. 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, but Louisianans know it's here when stacks of white rectangular boxes adorned in purple, green and gold appear in local grocery stores. King cakes are back, and most locals will pick up more than one before Ash Wednesday brings the Carnival festivities to a close. Supermarkets and bakeries take Louisiana's favorite pastry seriously, but few outlets have the same following as Gonzales-based independent grocery store Ralph's Market.
LSU alums Barrett Meeks and James Whitley have unleashed a food truck tiger onto Baton Rouge’s streets. The Bengalier (thebengalier.com), taking its name from the old LSU Football program and painted purple and gold, is slinging piping-hot signature sandwiches all over town.
Around noon, dressed in suits and slacks, state employees and other downtown businesspeople head out for lunch. With plenty of options in the area, they may be dining on tapas, salivating over a freshly made crepe or grabbing pizza from a food truck with a wood-fired oven.
After a week of sandwiches and Lean Cuisine meals, why not treat yourself to a warm plate from the Bayou? In a small strip of shops on Jones Creek Road sits Jasmines on the Bayou, often packed with families chattering away as they wait for food full of love and flavor. They have many specials for lunch ($7.95-$9.95), ranging from a cup of corn and crab bisque with half of their popular Rocket Shrimp Po-boy to Grilled, Blackened or Panéed Chicken Alfredo. The crisp panéed chicken is nestled on top of a heaping pile of linguini that's been tossed in a house garlic alfredo cream sauce. The lunch specials include a side of your choice—be sure to consider the sweet potato casserole—a side salad and bread. If you manage to save enough room, order a slice of their bread pudding. Although it's a generous serving, no one would blame you if you don't share it. Jasmines also delivers to the home or office. So step away from the office microwave and give this restaurant a try.
Our food critic's name may be false, but the credentials are not. This gastronome has studied the history, cultivation, preparation, science and technology of food for more than 30 years.