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New Orleans’ Adventures: Honey Island Swamp Touring

The Gourmez happy in the swamp.

The Gourmez happy in the swamp.

This is the fourth entry in a series on my December New Orleans vacation. Lest you think this many entries is a few too many, just know New Orleans has always been high on my list of cities to visit, so I was pretty excited to finally do so! Blog #1 was on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain, Blog #2 was on dining at night in New Orleans, and Blog #3 was on drinking at night in New Orleans—and no, drinking need not be limited to the dark hours in this town.

The dock at Cajun Encounters.

The dock at Cajun Encounters.

For our next New Orleans adventure, we went 40 minutes east of the city to Slidell. Honey Island Swamp is 20 miles long, and a good portion of it is protected for wildlife conservation. A large number of boat tour companies operate within the protected section of the swamp, and we chose Cajun Encounters on a recommendation. It’s $25 for a day tour of the swamp, and with a tour that takes about 90 minutes, it’s well worth it. I thought it a deal in all honesty. They offer transportation from New Orleans for an extra $20 if you don’t have a car.

First view of the river. Click twice for the largest picture.

First view of the river. Click twice for the largest picture.

Who doesn’t love Spanish moss?

Who doesn’t love Spanish moss?

Our tour guide was super nice and pretty entertaining for a man with only a few months under his belt. Questions were always welcome. We went through three distinct areas of swamp. The first was similar to a standard riverbank but with plenty of Spanish moss, reddish leaves, and cypress outcroppings called knees.

Knees in the water.

Knees in the water.

This was December, which means winter and the least active time for the swamp’s wildlife, so we were cautioned we wouldn’t see a lot of it. We didn’t, but there were some creatures to encounter!

Turtles on the left.

Turtles on the left.

Plenty of snapping turtles lined the banks, and they’d dive into the water when we got close.

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Eats and Night Sights in New Orleans

Eats and Night Sights in New Orleans

Click twice on the panorama for the largest view!

Click twice on the panorama for the largest view!

Why, you might ask, are you focusing on dining at night in New Orleans? Isn’t the food there good anytime? Of course it is! But one must make distinctions between their blog posts somehow, and with the massive amount of eating we did in New Orleans, I figured divvying up the meals by time of day made as much sense as any other reasoning. So yes, you can expect an Eats in the Day post in a few weeks. There will also be Drinks at Night coming up, and in all my New Orleans travelogues, sights found while walking through the streets will be interspersed. But I know you, you know me, and we all know that food and drink is our priority. So let’s dig in!

Last travelogue, we visited the Abita Brewery, the Abita Mystery House, and the World’s Largest Ronald Reagan, all located around 40 minutes north of New Orleans. Our first stop, after checking into the awesome and humongous New Orleans Hilton Riverside (2 Poydras St.), was the New Orleans’ institution, Mother’s (401 Poydras St.). Proclamations from friends had assured me I would never hunger again after dinner there, so perhaps my expectations were a bit high.

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Waiting at the counter to order.

Waiting at the counter to order.

Or perhaps I’ve spent too much time in the South. It’s the same meat plus three sort of establishment I’ve been to a million times by now, and I’m not that enamored with most Southern sides. I opted for the crawfish etoufée.

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The sauce is smothering white rice, and my chosen sides were grits (lackluster) and collards (pretty good). The etoufée had a nice, deep roux flavor but no spice to speak of. My husband tried their roast beef po’ boy.

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He was not impressed. It was drenched in juice, not that flavorful, and the bread was soaked through. Perhaps that’s normal for a po’ boy, but none of the other ones we saw on this vacation were floating. You are all more than welcome to eviscerate our opinions of Mother’s in the comments—I know it has a lot of fans!

Mother's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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