Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Triple D on the Gulf Coast. Visiting Louisiana, Mississippi, and LA (Lower Alabama)

As my temporary work assignment was coming to a close I decided to take a few days at the end of the assignment to take a Triple D trip .  I decided to try some places that I had been wanting to try for a long time    I decided to fly to New Orleans to try places along the Gulf Coast in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana (it also gave me a chance to visit with a few friends).

After an quick flight from Dulles to New Orleans, I headed out on the road.  My first stop was about a 90 minute drive east in Long Beach, MS.  "Darwell's Café" is a very cool and eclectic place.  I could see the colorful outdoor seating area as I drove up.  I walked in and was greeted by a staff that was very engaging and friendly.  They saw my Triple D book and we had a nice conversation about the place and my travels.  Even before I ordered I was given a small sample of Darwell's legendary Crawfish Etouffee ..

Darwell's Café - A fun colorful place in Long Beach, Mississippi

I decided to try the Spicy Shrimp Sandwich along with Sweet Tea.  Darwell's is very festive the two dining room areas, filled with colorful decorations and multi-colored lights.  They also have an outdoor courtyard where they have live music.

Darwell's inside seating fun and festive

Colorful Courtyard table and umbrella

On the floor in the dining area, kind of like writing in wet cement

Darwell's Outdoor Courtyard

I took a seat at a table just inside the courtyard and tried the etouffee while I waited for my meal.  The etouffee was delicious with chunks of crawfish and rice in a spicy sauce.  My sandwich came and was presented with a house made Vidalia Onion sauce (which the server called a "game changer").  The sandwich was delicious, with a bit of a spice kick and the sauce really enhanced the sandwich.  It was more of a shrimp platter with a roll, with a huge portion of shrimp.

Complimentary Crawfish Etouffee

My Spicy Shrimp Sandwich

After finishing my meal I was able to meet Papa Darwell, the legendary owner of Darwell's.  He signed my book.  Papa is a very friendly and gracious host.  He told me he would tell Guy about my visit.  I am honored that he called his new good friend.

Papa Darwell and I

I headed out for the 90 minute drive to Fairhope, Alabama, my overnight stop.  After settling I met up with my friends Sue and Thomas.  I worked with Sue (we call her DeVo) in the mid 1980s when I worked at BWI for Piedmont Airlines.  She had been asking me when I was going to go the places on the Gulf Coast and that was the main reason I planned this trip.  DeVo and Thomas live in Pensacola, Florida about a hour away.  We would also be met by my high school Denise who lives in Montgomery, Alabama but was in the area for work.  

"Sunset Pointe at Fly Creek Marina" is right on the water and is adjacent to a working marina.  We got a table outside on the water so we could watch the very pretty sunset.  We started with a very delicious shrimp appetizer.  Shrimp in barbecue sauce (almost like a thick soup) with panini pressed bread.  The food was so good that we almost missed the sunset, but we did get some pictures before the sun went fully down!

Very cool fountain outside the entrance

DeVo and I (feeble attempt at a selfie) during sunset.  She loves this picture!

After sunset we moved inside the restaurant for dinner and were served by a wonderful server named Melonee.  I chose the Seared Tuna BLT, rare ahi tuna on soft grilled ciabatta bread with bacon, lemon aioli, lettuce and tomato and served with house made potato chips and a spicy grilled slaw.  The sandwich was really good.  I was able to meet the manager and she signed my book.  What a great time, good friends and great food. A great way to end a first day of the trip!

My seared tuna BLT

Sunset Pointe's inside dining ara

My Oakton High School friend Denise and I at Sunset Pointe

The next day Thomas and DeVo joined me for lunch before they had to head home to Pensacola.  Unfortunately Denise had to go to work and then head back to her home in Montgomery.  We headed into the downtown area of Fairhope to an area known as the French Quarter.  "Panini Pete's" is a classic Triple D place which was featured in the first season.  The restaurant is located an idyllic courtyard and we chose a small table overlooking the courtyard.

Panini Pete's sign at the entrance to the French Quarter

Door to the kitchen and take out ordering area

An idyllic area for a meal in Fairhope, AL

I really liked that the menu featured the dishes that Guy tried on his visit.  I chose the Roast Beef Panini, featured on Triple D, which was served with house made thick cut potato chips.  DeVo and Thomas chose to share  one of Pete's huge burgers. My panini featured medium rare sliced roast beef with light lettuce, goat cheese and  a mild lemon mayo spread.  The sandwich and chips were excellent!

Panini Pete's menu

My Panini Pete's Roast Beef panini

Unfortunately we missed meeting the owner Pete, who also owns Sunset Pointe so I had the manager sign my book.  Pete I one of Guy's best friend and has been on two Triple D episode and also was a contestant on "Guys Grocery Games".  Pete also owns Sunset Poi te and Flay Creek marina, our dinner destination from the night before.

All too soon the meal was over and I had to say goodbye to DeVo and Thomas.  It had been such a fun visit, I am so glad that we got to catch up.  That's one of the best things about this journey is meeting new friends and catching up with old friends!

Me with DeVo and Thomas at Panini Pete's

I then headed in the nearby town of Daphne to a neat place.  "Manci's Antique Club" is kind of an antique museum and restaurant.  I entered in to a place filled with historic signs, and antiques.  The place was not too busy and I took a seat in the back dining room where I could take in the very cool surroundings.

A neat restaurant on Daphne, Alabama

It's like an antique museum that's a restaurant

The front entrance

Manci's dining room

Manci's features sandwiches and burgers and some local specialties.  I decided to forego the burgers and try the locally sourced Tuna spread and a salad.  My meal was served and both were huge.  The tuna spread was served with crackers.  I was very surprised as the spread was delicious with huge chunks on tuna.  I have had fish spreads several times on this journey nd in many cases they were ok, but this spread had huge flavor and the crackers just made it better!

My huge salad at Manci's

Tuna fish spread, ne of the best fish spreads I have ever had

After a night in the Daphne area I headed back west towards New Orleans with a couple of stops planned in Mississippi.  After a GPS snafu I arrived at my first stop in Gulfport.  "The Blowfly Inn" is just off the road on an inland waterway.  It's a very unassuming yellow building with part of the sign broken.  If not for the sign on the street I would have missed it!  I took a seat at a table overlooking the water.  The restaurant is decorated with signs, photos and memorabilia, mostly with nautical themes.

The Blowfly Inn in Gulfport, Mississippi

The Blowfly Inn's dining room

The bar

View from my table

I went against the norm and chose the lunch special, Country Fried Steak with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob.  I had a weird feeling while waiting for my meal.  The staff was friendly but they were kind of distant.  This lingering thought was over me throughout my visit.  My meal came and it was really good.  I looked around and every meal served looked great so I can really recommend The Blowfly Inn for really good food.

My Blowfly Inn lunch - Country Fried Steak

I then headed out to my next stop, one that I had been looking forward to for a long time!  "The Shed Barbecue and Blues Joint" in Ocean Springs, Mississippi is a Triple D classic.  The place is awesome.  As I drove up I was reminded of another Triple D classic locale, Hillbilly Hot Dogs in Lesage, West Virginia.  There are fun signs and decorations all over the outer buildings and parking area.

A fun entrance the owner to a wonderful place!
I walked in to a very fun and colorful place.  You walk in to a small shop where you can buy Shed shirts, Can Koozies and other items along with their house made barbecue sauces.  The next room is the counter where you order food.  I was surprised not only how large their menu and how reasonable the prices are.  I ordered the small Baby back rib platter served with two sides and bread (I chose Cole Slaw and the Shed's famous Macaroni Salad).  This meal at a place in the DC area would be twice the amount I paid!  After ordering I told the cashier why I was there and he quickly had me go back to the pit to meet Brad Orrison, the owner and his young son.  I recognized him immediately from the show.  Brad greeted me with a huge smile and told me that "You're gonna be fed at the Shed!"  I went into the dining area, a big indoor/outdoor room of picnic tables, communal dining is part of the fun at The Shed!  The meal was awesome, the ribs were on point and the Macaroni Salad lived up to it's reputation.  The other cool thing is they have a huge self-service soft drink station with both Coke and Pepsi products along with Sweet and Unsweet Tea.  The funniest thing is that on the Tea dispenser is a sign stating "Unsweet Tea should be Illegal in the South!".  All too soon my visit to The Shed was over and I had head back to New Orleans. What a great place, I look forward to coming back and highly recommend it!

Inside The Shed

My Baby Back Rib meal with Cole Slaw and the famous Marconi Salad

Iced Tea station stating "Unsweet Tea should be Illegal in the South"

Me and Brad owner of The Shed
The drive to New Orleans took about 90 minutes and before heading to my hotel I stopped at a place on the northeast side of the city.  "Sammy's Food Service and Deli" is a small place that serves Seafood and Soul Food.  The place was loud and crowded with several large families.  It's decorated with a number of family style photos and next to the Guy poster was a painting of Sammy's with Guy's Red Corvette parked out front.  I decided to go small plate and try a cup of one of the Crab and Corn Chowder, Sammy's is known for their soups.  The chowder came was really delicious loaded with corn and lump crab meat.

Sammy's Food Service and Deli in New Orleans, Louisiana

Sammy's Dining Room

A painting of Sammy's with Guy's Corvette parked out front

Before I left I was able to get Sammy to sign my book I appreciated his taking the time to sign it as it was very busy during my visit.  I headed into the afternoon New Orleans rush hour to check in to my hotel.  After settling in I decided to try one more place before calling it a night.

"Bouree at Boucherie" is a former food truck that is now a brick and mortar diner style place outside a larger bar and restaurant and is located in a New Orleans neighborhood.  The small place serves New Orleans style food.  I chose to try the Meat pie and an appetizer called Graton.  The Meat pie had a spicy ground beef filling in a tasty sauce and a crispy pastry crust.  Graton are pieces of fried pork belly, soft belly meet with a crispy chicharron skin, very tasty!

Bouree at Boucherie a New Orleans neighborhood diner restaurant

Inside Bouree's diner like restaurant

Graton and Meat pie

Meat pie stuffing

Bouree's "Guy Ate Here" pan

I met the chef who cooked with Guy and he told me about the filming of ther episode which happened in the summer in summer heat and a broken air conditioner, he said it was great fun but HOT!

After a restful evening I headed out to my last two places, both would be in the downtown area of New Orleans.  My first stop is in the middle of the famous French Quarter on St. Peters Street.  "The Old Coffee Pot" is a famous breakfast place next to the legendary Pat O'Brian's restaurant and just a few steps from Jackson Square.  You enter into a small courtyard with outdoor seating, but with the temperatures in the lower 50s all service was in the small indoor dining room.  The place was packed and I had to wait a few minutes for a small single table adjacent to the bar service area.

French Quarter sites 

St. Perter Street

The Old Coffee Pot

Hard to see but the address plate in front of the restaurant

Guy/s poster at the entrance door

The Old Coffee Pot dining area

The bar/service area

The breakfast menu had a lot of great chices including Bananas Foster Pancakes but I was intrigued with one item that claimed to be "A staple of The Old Coffee Pot", Coffee Pot Calas and Grits.  Calas are fried rice fritters, topped with powdered sugar and a small pot of syrup. On the side was another staple of Southern breakfasts, a bowl of grits.  After a bit of a wait my meal came.  The calas were very good with a taste like carrot cake, but not too sweet, the sweet is provided by the powdered sugar and the syrup.

Old Coffee Pot Calas and Grits

Inside the Calas, tasted like Carrot Cake to me

Parking in the French Quarter is dicey but I was able to find a spot nearby but it's metered so I literally had to eat and run so to avoid a parking violation.  I was able to briefly talk with my server about why I was there but hope to get back to be able to stay a bit longer and linger over breakfast.  As I drove out of the French Quarter I passed Jackson Square which is the real tourist hub of the Quarter as well as the World Famous Café Du Monde, where the line to get in was at least 100 deep!

The line at Café Du Monde

Leaving the French Quarter are passing the statue to Joan D'Arc

A few hours later I headed to my last stop on this trip.  "The Joint" is a barbecue place in a neighborhood.  It's an unassuming place but as you enter, it's a very colorful and fun.  They have rules posted as you arrive, "Order then get a table, no saving of seats!".  The prices here, like at The Shed, are very reasonable.  I decided to get the Pastrami Sandwich topped with mustard and slaw and beans on the side.  While I waited the Manager came to sign my book and invited me to go back and see the pit, where the magic happens.

The Joint - New Orleans premier BBQ joint!

The bar and drink service area

Waiting in line to order

A rare sight - No one in line to order, it was short lived

Indoor/Outdoor seating area

A quick glimpse of The Joints BBQ pit

I had made the right choice!  Pastrami piled high on toasted Rye with a small amount of tangy slaw and just a touch of mustard.  The bark on the meat was unbelievably delicious.  The best pastrami I have ever eaten!  The manager had told me that it was his favorite sandwich and that it took them a long time to perfect the meat and that it takes a week or two to brine and age the meat and they do it right!

The Joint's Pastrami on Rye with beans

Inside the sandwich


I headed out and drove back to the hotel and along the way I passed the famous Mercedes-Benz Superdome, home to the New Orleans Saints football team and host to numerous Super Bowls.

Mercedes-Benz Superdome, a New Orleans landmark

My trip to what my friend, DeVo affectionately calls the "Redneck Riviera" had come to a close.  I was able to see old friends, meet new friends and eat a lot of really great food.  I few home with my Tripe D count at 679!

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