Do you live in your hometown? If not, then do you miss the food and culture?
I sure do!
I’ve lived in Nashville, TN these last three years, and while I’m closer to home than my previous residence in Washington DC (of eight years), I’ve still got a little further south to go until I reach Baton Rouge, Louisiana!
If you’ve been reading my blog for the past year, you’ll know that I was invited to Baton Rouge last August 2013 to participate in a fun-filled, food themed weekend in Louisiana’s capital. We attended some pretty food-a-licious events, like Chilin and Grillin at Chef John Folse’s White Oak Plantation.
I loved touring my hometown through a visitor’s lens, discovering new and exciting things and seeing old favorites with a fresh perspective.
Thankfully, I was invited down for the second annual Baton Rouge familiarization trip again this summer, along with several other food and travel bloggers. This year’s agenda focused on local food again, but there was a little more non-food culture woven in to the weekend this time around.
We hit some unique antique and art galleries and the very cool Louisiana State Museum, where visitors can learn about everything Louisiana. Even the walking food tour that kicked off the weekend was peppered with Baton Rouge cultural tidbits.
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Baton Rouge Food Tours
Like me, Kim Harper moved away from Baton Rouge and immediately missed the culture and food of her hometown. She has since returned to the Red Stick and started Baton Rouge Food Tours.
Kim uniquely infuses her food tours with stories about Baton Rouge’s historical architecture, bringing clients by these beautiful landmarks between grub stops. Like this building, for instance, one of Baton Rouge’s oldest. I like how it has a bit of that New Orleans French flair with the wrought iron balcony and French doors.
The walking food tour is set in downtown Baton Rouge, alongside the Mississippi River.
Now, I must preface by admitting that I missed the first stop on the food tour because I was taking care of this little lady.
Yes, she was born in Tennessee, but she’ll always be a Louisiana girl! And an LSU Tiger!
Apparently stop #1 awarded the walkers with mini-muffulettas. I heard they were pretty good. Luckily, I made it in time for the next stop, one of my favorite (fairly) newcomers on the Baton Rouge restaurant scene.
Tables made of reclaimed cypress wood (the Louisiana state tree) awaited us.
We noshed on duck poppers: grilled duck strips stuffed with jalapenos, green onion cream cheese, and tasso wrapped in bacon and tossed in a house made roasted jalapeno bacon peach pepper jelly. Divine.
IPO’s chef Scott Varnedoe has cooked for president George W. Bush and was twice invited to cook for the historic James Beard House. Pretty impressive accolades.
Oh, and if you’re feeling fancy, there’s a $55 hamburger on the menu, the aptly named Wall Street Burger.
Next stop: Poor Boy Lloyd’s
That duck popper sure was tasty, but it was just a little tease to whet our appetites. Just as hunger was starting to take hold, we strolled on over to Poor Boy Lloyd’s, a Baton Rouge institution that, despite growing up here, I’ve never visited.
It only took a second for me to realize what I’d been missing all those years, after tasting this….
A roast beef po-boy, “fully dressed” (tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, and mayo).
A po’boy is a sandwich served on a fluffy french loaf, usually stuffed with meat or fried seafood. It’s one of my favorite things in the world to eat (I prefer fried oyster or shrimp).
The name originates from a four-month street car strike in New Orleans, 1929. Restaurant owners Clovis and Benny Martin served those “poor boys” free sandwiches. In Louisiana dialect, the name became po’boy.
To wash down those hearty po’boys, we headed over to the Kingfish Grill to enjoy a Hurricane (cocktail, that is) while overlooking the Mississippi River. The name of the restaurant pays homage to Louisiana’s colorful and infamous politician, Huey P Long.
Next stop, Stroubes to taste some traditional Louisiana fare. Stroubes was an old soda fountain back in the day. Reopened under the same name, but with a different feel, the seafood and steakhouse offers “upscale downsouth dining.”
We tasted the duck and andouille gumbo and corn, crab and brie soup.
Louisiana is fairly well known for its rich soups, particularly seafood and gumbo. Kim pointed out to the non-Louisiana bloggers that no two gumbos are ever alike. It’s such an individualistic dish, and most people make their roux completely different from anyone else’s.
For dessert, we sampled Zolia’s famous blueberry bread pudding, which was decadently delicious.
Inspired by family owned eateries throughout Italy, Zolia aims to provide fresh food and an energetic dining experience. The menu offers tapas sized dishes, which are perfect for group sharing.
Although the menu is mostly Italian, you can get a taste of Louisiana with the Abita rosemary shrimp: New Orleans style Gulf shrimp served over seared tilamook chive grit cakes.
What a great way to kick off a foodie-cultural weekend in The Red Stick! If you’re visiting Baton Rouge, check out Baton Rouge Food Tours. It’s a great introduction to the food, culture and history of the city.
Baton Rouge Food Tours: A walking, guided tour which includes delicious tastings at local restaurants infused with fascinating historical and cultural stories.
When: Mondays, Thursdays & Fridays- 11:00 AM; Fridays 6:00 PM- Rain or Shine
How Long: 2.5-3 hours, Appx. 1 mile
Where: Downtown Baton Rouge (starting location provided on your ticket)
Advanced purchase required www.BatonRougeFoodTours.com or 1-800-662-3241.
All opinions are 100% my own.