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October 2014

October 2014

Taste of the Trail: Plate Lunch at Kayla’s Kitchen Wows the Locals

As a first time visitor to Monroe-West Monroe, I knew of two things-Duck Dynasty and good food. I have had plenty of friends tell me about places to eat there, but for some reason I never got around to it. I should have gone sooner because when I tell you the food was good, I mean it was really good.

If you want a place where the locals eat and love, you need to try out Kayla’s Kitchen in West Monroe (311 Wood Street). This is not your traditional lunch spot. Kayla’s is a plate lunch house where the menu changes daily. For around $10, you can get your choice of the daily meat, two veggies, bread, and a dessert. For those who want a vegetarian option, be sure to check out the veggie plate for around $8.

One of the regulars was sitting at a table behind me and pointed out that he has had everything that Kayla has served on the menu. “You can do no wrong with what you pick cause it is all good,” he said before devouring his Dijon Pork Chop. “I eat here at least three times a week and if they were open on the weekend, I would be here too.”

Kayla’s is only open Monday through Friday, 11a.m. - 2 p.m. or until they run out of food, which happens often. Everything on the menu the day I went sounded so good, but I decided on the Mojito Chicken with a side salad and cheeseburger soup. This was amazing. Flavorful mint and lime on the perfectly grilled chicken and soup with chunks of real beef and tons of cheese made for a filling lunch.

My favorite part of the meal came last with the dessert. I like to call myself a bread pudding connoisseur, so when I saw it on the menu I had to give it a try. When I tell you that this was the best pudding that I have ever had, it is no joking matter. You can taste the vanilla and the cream in each fluffy bite. This was so good that I would make the drive back to Monroe-West Monroe just for this little slice of heaven.

For more information on Kayla’s Kitchen or the daily menu options, call 318-361-7190 or go to their website.

2014 Louisiana Weekend Getaway-Natchitoches

 

Natchitoches, pronounced nack-a-tish, is a quaint town on the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights and is the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase established in 1714. It has a population of close to 20,000 and has retained its brick paved streets and wrought iron buildings for more than 300 years. With nearly 30 bed and breakfasts, plantation tours, shops along the banks of Cane River Lake, and scrumptious local fare, it’s a great spot for a weekend getaway.

Here are some of my favorite places in Natchitoches:

With Halloween right around the corner, there are plenty of events that will offer spooky fun. Witch Way to Main Street takes over the Natchitoches Historic District on Halloween. From 5-7 p.m., Oct. 31, this carnival set on brick-paved Front Street offers fun for children of all ages. For the adults, a Civil War reenactment titled The Battle of Natchitoches will take place November 1 – 2. There will be up to 300 infantry reenactors who will battle across Front Street and the Church Street Bridge and a replica of a Union Ironclad gunboat will ride down Cane River Lake

No matter what time of the year you visit Natchitoches, there will be something to do, places to see, and experiences around every corner.

For more information about upcoming events in Natchitoches, contact the Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-800-259-1714 or check out their website here.

Taste of the Trail: Great Food, Historic Culture at Fertitta’s Delicatessen

Started by her Italian grandfather, Agatha Fertitta has kept the Sicilian roots alive at Fertitta’s Delicatessen for close to 35 years. People come from all over the world just to try the famous Muffy sandwich, her dad created,  but stay for the true southern hospitality that Agatha brings to the table.

The menu started with the Muffy, in 1960, by accident. Sam Fertitta started the first imported foods market in Shreveport and wanted to try out frozen Muffaletta bread from New Orleans. One of his regular customers, who worked at a downtown gas company, was the first to try the sandwich. He went to a holiday party that same night and told everyone that the sandwich from Fertitta’s was the best he ever had. They all lined up Monday morning and would not leave until they tried this new sandwich. So the Fertitta’s famous Muffy was born.

There is still the question; what is a Muffy? The Muffy is the Fertitta family’s version of the traditional Muffaletta.  Served toasted, rather than cold, the Muffy is a combination of mustard, cold cut meats and cheeses on the best Muffaletta bread. The secret to this sandwich is the family’s secret recipe olive mix, which can be bought by the jar.

The menu today is a more than just the Muffy. I had the Centurion sandwich which consists of piled high Cajun roast beef, spicy pepper jack cheese, and a mild horseradish sauce which added just the right amount of heat.  Paired with a classic Italian sweet, mint tea and a bag of Zapps potato chips, this meal was the perfect lunchtime treat.

From a small imported foods market to the restaurant that it is today, you can tell that the family has kept it as close to the original state as possible. Lining the walls, you will see the family history in letters and newspaper clippings that show the rise of the popularity of the Muffy and the beginning of the Fertitta family’s time in Sicily. Pictures of the family are hung between articles from Southern Living, Dallas Morning News, and dozens of other publications giving you the feeling you are in the living room of the Fertitta family home.

Fertitta’s is located at 1124 Farifield Ave., Shreveport, LA 71101. Hours of operation are 10:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

2014 Local Makers Featured at Agora Borealis

If you are looking for the perfect gift for the holidays, but can’t put your finger on it, you should check out Agora Borealis, located in downtown Shreveport at 421 Lake Street. This shop is filled to the brim with local goods made by the people of Shreveport-Bossier. From bath products to furniture and artwork, this cool shop focuses on art and products made and sourced locally. As you walk in the shop, you are greeted by local music and the friendly staff. The space is homey, but still has an industrial vibe that compliments the artwork. More than 90 percent of the products in the shop are made within the city limits, with a few works from New Orleans and Dallas, Texas artists. “Right now, we have 68 artists featured in the store,” said Owner Katy Larsen. “We are currently cleaning out the other side of the store to feature more artists in the future.” Agora Borealis, whose name means the marketplace of the north, focuses on local artists and client customization. If you find a fragrance you love, but want it in a candle rather than a soap, that can be easily done in a short amount of time. Local maker Kate Hesson from Zombee Candles is one example of the great relationship that Agora Borealis has with its artists. She recently launched her new product line of luxury bath products named Coven first at Agora Borealis before the public and can customize fragrances in candles and dry perfumes. Katy wants customers to meet the artists and have events where customers can meet the people who create the products. Her next event Exquisite Corpse features artists Mark Burt and Robert Trudeau paired in a drawing game to create one piece together while accompanied by local musicians Twang Darkly. This event is 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25. All are welcome and the event is free. “The concept is to buy locally and support the local economy,” Katy emphasized. “If you teach a person where their money is spent, they can determine who it will help in the long run.” For more information on Agora Borealis, please call (318) 268-3011 or check out their website. 

2014 The Enchanted Garden Wins $10,000 Holiday Makeover

For the 2014 holiday season, Christmas shoppers at The Enchanted Garden, located at 2429 Line Ave. in Shreveport, will see a holiday makeover, thanks to Poo-Pourri, the award-winning toilet bowl sanitizer and bathroom deodorizer. The Shreveport business was chosen out of more than 2,000 contest entries across the United States by Poo-Pourri. They were handpicked by the company for the $10,000 grand prize holiday makeover, which will debut on Oct. 17. "We were shocked," owner Deb Cockrell said of the announcement. "Our customers will see the store full of garland and new décor just in time for the holidays." Christmas shoppers can expect to be dazzled by the new décor and change from the norm. Deb sees The Enchanted Garden as a connector for the community. "We should have named the shop Your Happy Place," said Cockrell. "This is a place where people connect."  This home-turned-gift shop is filled to the rafters with jewelry, home décor, clothing, cooking items, and a year-round collection of Department 56 Christmas décor. Popular Department 56 offerings include holiday trains, lights, ornaments, porcelain Christmas homes, and dozens of Santa fairies. Deb typically does not enter contests, but she took a chance by entering the nationwide Poo-Pourri promotion this past summer. As a result, Poo-Pourri brought in Dallas interior designer Harold Hand, who has been working in holiday home displays in the Highland District of Dallas, Texas for more than 20 years, to makeover The Enchanted Garden. The makeover will focus on the Department 56 room that is Christmas themed all year long. Deb wants customers to see the Department 56 room as a model for decorating their homes. Visitors can see the updated store Oct. 17 through the New Year. Those who can't visit during the holidays can check out the Christmas makeover all year long in the Department 56 room. For more information about the holiday makeover or The Enchanted Garden, call (318) 227-1213 or visit their website.

Taste of the Trail: Lasyone’s Home Cooking Reminds Me of Mom’s

If you are looking for an authentic Creole and Cajun cooking experience, look no further than Lasyone's, located in the heart of Natchitoches. The restaurant was established in 1967 by James Lasyone who started the restaurant with $50 and a pot. Now owned by Angela and Tina Lasyone, the tradition is still going with more than 40 years of business under their belt. All of the recipes served at Lasyone’s are homemade, the right way. People come from all over the world to try a world famous meat pie, but stay for the warm hospitality of the family. Other than the meat pies, everything that I tasted at Lasyone’s was just like mom’s cooking. The chicken and dumplings came out piping hot with a bowl big enough to feed the whole family. The beef stew, served over rice or mashed potatoes, was 10 out of 10 for flavor and spice. The meat pies were golden brown and crispy. The family sitting next to me during lunch was raving about the fried green beans. I asked our waitress what made the green beans so special. She smiled at us and gave a small laugh before saying it was the love that the kitchen puts into them. I would agree that there is love but it’s so much more. The batter was just thin enough that you get the crunch of the fresh, whole green bean but thick enough to taste the spices that are distinctly known in Creole and Cajun home cooking while getting a crispy crunch. Lasyone's Meat Pie Restaurant is located at 622 Second Street in Natchitoches, La. Lasyone's is open Monday through Saturday from 7a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, click here

Minden Loves Its German Heritage

Minden, which is about 30 minutes from Shreveport-Bossier via I-20, is a city of German Heritage, a community founded in 1836 by German-American Charles Hans Veeder and named for the home of his ancestors, Minden, Germany.  A year before, in 1835, a group of German immigrants seeking religious freedom settled in a commune just north of Minden at the Germantown Colony.   Germantown was established as a colony by German settlers who wanted to establish a pure Christian community. The lively group of settlers traveled from Indiana to Louisiana and lived near Minden until the Civil War broke up the colony more than 40 years later. Many of the locals still living in Minden can trace their heritage back to the descendants of Germantown or the town’s founder, Charles Veeder. Today, historians have preserved this colony as a combination of a museum and replica buildings that were restored from the original settlement. The museum portion of the colony has been recently updated thanks to generous donations and grants. You are able to touch the piano that was played by the Countess von Leon while she taught the children during music class and see the way that they lived as a group right outside present-day Minden. Jean Doerge, curator of Germantown Colony Museum, former Louisiana State Representative and retired school teacher, said she hopes visitors to be able to gain a new appreciation for German heritage and really feel like they walked back in time. The three original building are constructed true to form with log styled cabins. Even down to the door knobs, Germantown feels authentic and frozen in time. A new visitor center at the Germantown Colony Museum is currently under construction and not open to the public, however tours can be arranged by appointment. Jean is excited that the museum will be nearing completion in early November. Just in time for the holiday season, Germantown will be reopening for tours starting Nov. 22 during Minden’s Fasching Fifth Season Celebration. The museum is located at 200 Museum Road, Minden, LA 71055. You can reach them by phone at 318.377.6061 For more information about Germantown Colony Museum or Minden, click here For pictures of Minden, check out our Flickr

Taste of the Trail: Good People Kitchen Serves Up Great Food

When I traveled to Alexandria, one of my first questions was “Where do the locals eat?” Every person I spoke to told me that I needed to stop in Good People Kitchen. When looking from the outside, it seems like an ordinary deli, but inside is where you see the difference. The space is almost industrial, with concrete floors and exposed beams, but still gives off the eco-friendly vibe owner Kate Dickey strives to accomplish. Most people hearing about Good People Kitchen would think that it is for health junkies, but they do healthy foods with a Louisiana twist.  The atmosphere, along with a cold glass of sweet tea, makes for the perfect lunch time stop while in Alexandria. After checking out the menu and looking at other people’s tables, one thing I noticed was almost every table had the flat bread. Topped with onion marmalade, goat cheese, grape tomatoes, and fresh greens, this bread was a flavor explosion in your mouth. For my main course, I reverted to my childhood with an updated version of the PB&J named the A of B & J (Almond Butter and Jelly). They serve this updated classic with homemade almond butter and your choice of grape, apple, or my favorite strawberry jelly. What was different about this is they throw it in a Panini press and serve it piping hot. Before leaving, you need to check out the prepared food case and local farmer’s market portion of the kitchen. You will find fresh produce from local farmers along with prepared dishes that you can pick up and reheat at any time you are craving Good People Kitchen at home.  One thing that makes them special is the offering of Paleo meal plans for those dieters that do not want to cook but want the freshest food possible. Good People Kitchen is located at 1133 Mac Arthur Dr., Alexandria, LA 71303. For more information and hours, you can contact them via phone at 318.787.2785 or check out their website.