We arrived in Lafayette late Tuesday evening and hit the ground running on Wednesday morning, enjoying breakfast at Dwyer’s, a favorite meeting spot downtown. We even got some lessons in Cajun cuisine from Chef Pat Mould and the difference between Cajun music and zydeco by John “JB” Broussard, host of a zydeco show on Lafayette public radio station KRVS.
Next up was the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park in Lafayette, one of several that form a larger national park presence in South Louisiana. We go to watch a film that explained the history of the Cajun people, then toured the many exhibits throughout the building.
Carlee Alm-LaBar of the Lafayette mayor’s office, Gerald Breaux of the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission and Pat Mould joined the us at the Blue Dog Café, a locally owned restaurant with walls lined with artwork of George Rodrigue, a Lafayette native and creator of the “Blue Dog” paintings. We ate the award-winning crawfish won tons, portabello mushroom pizza, seafood gumbo and a sampler featuring Cajun enchiladas, “Dirty Dog” rice and corn macque choux. We even donned Blue Dog T-shirts and serenaded our hosts at the Blue Dog statue on the back patio.
Charcuterie was on hand at Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro, a sister restaurant that also features artwork by Rodrigue. Owner Steven Santillo gave the us a tour, then Chef Manny Augello explained the elaborate charcuterie spread of local meats, cheeses, bread and specialty butter. Jolie’s uses many local, organic and artisan suppliers in its cuisine.
Johnson’s Boucaniere is a family owned meat market and restaurant that spans decades and today’s owners showed us how to make boudin, a Cajun blond sausage filled with pork and rice (scary). We also got a chance to sample boudin balls sandwich, smoked brisket (and saw the smokers out back) and brownie bread pudding with white chocolate and pecan sauce.
At both Jolie’s and Johnson’s there were people celebrating birthdays and we sang for them both!!
After a brief respite — after all that great food, it was time for a break — then we were treated to gumbo and appetizers at Don’s Hut and Charley G’s, both renowned Lafayette restaurants. Mayor Joey Durel and his wife were our special guests. To work off that fabulous food, we headed to Randol’s, a long-time Cajun restaurant that features live Cajun music nightly with zydeco on Sundays. There was a pile of fresh boiled seafood, including crab, shrimp and crawfish, plus alligator, crabcakes with remoulade sauce and cane-syrup laced fried shrimp, and although we were stuffed it was impossible to resist a dance or two.