Aug 31, 2013

A Commoner Reviews Rita Mae’s Kitchen, Morgan City, La.

Anyone who has ever read this blog knows I love to find local places to eat that are a little off the beaten path.  Places where the people who run it put the heart and soul in to the food they’re fixing.  Places where the food is cooked from scratch.  Rita Mae’s Kitchen is just such a place – one where you have to be in the know to even know about it, and you have to be even more in the know to know how to get there.  

I would have not known about Rita Mae’s if it wasn't for the Internet and specifically Urbanspoon.   But it’s one of those types of places you can find out about if you do a little online research.  And when you do – and you realize the reviews are almost unanimously positive – you figure you’re probably missing something by not stopping. 

Aug 27, 2013

A brief pit stop at the Abita Brew Pub

I’d be lying if I said I drove straight back to New Orleans from my childhood home of Angie, La.  And to be fair, unless you plan on going back across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, there is no “straight shot” south into town.  Truthfully, I had one more pilgrimage to make – back to a wonderful place I had not been in more than a dozen years – Abita Springs, home of Abita Beer.

I can’t think of a prettier town than Abita Springs, La.  As the name suggests, the town owes its existence to the artesian springs nearby, which have been used for medicinal purposes since the Choctaw Indians first inhabited the area.  Since 1986, that water has been used to make Abita Beer, and it may be the primary reason why their beers (no matter which brew you try) taste just a little bit better than most others.   

Aug 25, 2013

You can’t (quite) go home again

On one of my days this summer in Louisiana with the Young Curmudgeon, I somehow thought it would be a pretty cool thing to show him where I spent part of my childhood – in a small town called Angie located right on the toe of the boot shape that forms the state. 

We started by ambling our way northward, crossing the 26-mile Lake Pontchartrain Causeway and through the horse farm country near Folsom, where I first showed him where my aunt and uncle and cousins lived.  It was literally a drive-by.  I had no intentions of stopping, and that’s pretty much all you need to know about me and family relationships.

We then made our way through the twists and turns La. Route 60 through the pine forests and into Bogalusa, the largest city in Washington Parish, which also includes Angie.  Then, it was just a short ride on La. Route 21 through Varnado (a village not much larger than Angie, but it does have the nearest high school which I might have attended in an alternate life), past a lumber mill that has grown exponentially since my childhood and I grew up, and soon we were there.

Aug 16, 2013

Experiencing New Orleans with a Young Curmudgeon

One thing I learned on our recent trip about the Young Curmudgeon and his growing admiration for New Orleans is how he’s starting to realize there’s a story – and often a photo opportunity – around every corner.  Here are a few random examples from our three-day stay in July in the Big Easy.

I am corrupting him already.

Aug 13, 2013

A commoner reviews Mother’s Restaurant, New Orleans

I have a confession.  One main reason I was excited to walk with the Young Curmudgeon to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans was because I knew it would be convenient to stop at Mother’s Restaurant for dinner on the way back.

Stop me if you've heard this before (actually, don’t), but Mother’s is, hands down, one of my favorite places to eat in the Big Easy.  Mother’s has been a New Orleans institution in the Central Business District for more than 70 years, and once you've eaten there it’s easy to understand why.  Apparently, I’m not alone in that assessment, as the walls are lined with pictures of famous visitors through the years.  And if you’re a social media follower, you can keep track of who’s stopping by on their Facebook page.  (I go back for the food and drink pictures, but food has always inspired me more than fame.) 

The "World Famous" Mother's Bloody Mary, spiced just right :-)

Aug 11, 2013

A sobering day in New Orleans – the National World War II Museum

After two road trips in three weeks and logging 4,000 miles traveled, I suddenly have an abundance of topics to blog about.  So, I might as well get started where I left off.  And in case you were wondering, I haven’t forgotten to finish my list of 100 All-Time Favorite Blues Songs. I plan to time the wrap-up around Springfield’s annual Blues and BBQ festival; it just seems to be an appropriate thing to do.  So onward we go …

On our first full day in New Orleans, the Young Curmudgeon and I decided to check out the National World War II Museum, which required a somewhat lengthy (but really not strenuous, unless you are averse to humidity) walk from where we were staying in the heart of the French Quarter, through the Central Business District and to the outer edge of the Warehouse District.  Still, the walk alone was a good way to explore downtown New Orleans, pass by Lafayette Square, walk to nearby Lee Circle and window shop at the many storefronts and restaurants along the way. 

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...