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Seafood Boils and Other Outdoor Meals

The days are longer and warmer—ideal for any kind of outdoor gathering. My usual choice for such an event is a seafood party, which can include boiled crawfish, crabs and shrimp all cooked with small red potatoes, corn-on-the-cob (and anything else you might want to add to the pot). And speaking of pots, we have that as well as all the seasoning mixes you’ll need in which to boil your seafood.

Spread the outdoor tables with old newspapers, whip up some dipping sauce, put on some music (try our Rockin’ Zydeco Party CD to get you in the mood), and lay out the seafood. The aroma of all that cooking will certainly tickle the noses and taste buds. Oh, and don’t forget Louisiana brewed Abita beer (Abita Amber is my choice) or their delicious root beer. The kiddies will enjoy a root beer float – put a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream in a tall glass and fill it up with root beer. Make yourself one as well for a refreshing beverage.

When and if (fat chance) you tire of boiled seafood, you can always have a fish and/or shrimp fry. Hey, if you want oysters, add those to your fried seafood menu as well.

Again, you’ll need a dipping sauce. I tried Cochon’s Abita Beer Whole Grain mustard recently and what a fabulous flavor. Mix it with your favorite mayonnaise and pop it up with a little hot sauce (again your choice) and a squeeze of lemon juice, and you’ll experience real Louisiana flavors—ideal for boiled or fried seafood as well as crudités (that’s a fancy word for fresh vegetable sticks). Hey, I even spread that stuff on a hamburger!

And another idea for a late afternoon or early evening meal is a leisurely outdoor picnic. Our stuffed breads are absolutely perfect for this—heat them up, put them on a tray and ta-da, you have an easy, quick repast. Toss up a big garden-fresh salad and dress it with La Martinque True French Vinaigrette to serve with the stuffed breads. Or, make this wonderful marinated vegetable salad, which can be made ahead of time and stored in the ‘fridge until you are ready to serve.

Food and Music Festivals

April, May and June in Louisiana is the season for toe-tapping, lip-licking and general good times. The New Orleans Jazz , the Festival Internationale, and the French Quarter Festival have come and gone but there are more festivals scheduled during late spring and early summer.

The Creole Tomato Festival, the Cajun Music Festival. the Blueberry Festival and the Corn Festival are on my list to attend. Where else can you get not only good food, but also great music?

My mouth is watering for the first of the Creole tomatoes that are beginning to hit the markets. In my book, nothing is better than thick slices of those delicious local tomatoes dusted with salt and freshly ground black pepper on toasted French bread slathered with mayonnaise. Yum! Of course, another favorite is a salad of the tomatoes, snipped fresh basil leaves, slices of mozzarella all drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Or, maybe you would also enjoy a chilled soup of garden fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, celery, parsley and/or cilantro. I can’t get enough of the stuff.

Carnival Season

Here in Louisiana we barely have time to catch a breath after the Christmas holidays because we go right into the Carnival season, which begins on Twelfth Night. As soon as the new year begins, King Cakes are everywhere—bakeries, the supermarkets, and of course right here at

So be prepared, and get your order in as soon as possible so you can begin hosting King Cake parties. If you don’t already know about the history of these delightful cakes, let me fill you in. Years ago, a small coin or token, perhaps a bean or pecan half was hidden in the cake. Whoever finds the treasure (these days it’s usually a tiny ceramic or plastic baby doll) is to host the next King’s Cake party the following week. The ring-shaped cake is usually decorated with sugar tinted in the classic carnival colors of green, gold and purple symbolizing Faith, Power and Justice. The original cakes were made of a simple but rich yeast dough. Today many of them are filled with cream cheese, cinnamon, pecans and a host of other sweet delights.

While New Orleans is the usual destination for Carnival revelers, there are a lot of festivities as well in Acadiana. The Carnival season there is perhaps little less hectic than in the Crescent City, but lots of fun nevertheless. In downtown Lafayette, the Hub City of Acadiana, and in smaller surrounding communities, Mardi Gras is celebrated much like it is in New Orleans, but on a smaller scale.
Families arrive early to line the parade routes and the aroma of barbecue, fish-fries, and gumbo wafts through the air, mingling with the whiffs of street food—hot dogs, fried shrimp on a stick, and boudin on a bun.

I always get a kick watching people in masks and costumes decked out as jailbirds, cowboys, Indians, Louisiana governors, and voodoo queens sauntering along the streets with children in tow, dressed in clown costumes with painted faces.

One year, at a neighborhood party, two swamp creatures wrapped in Spanish moss deftly turned chicken, sausage and pork chops on the grill. I quietly prayed that neither would catch on fire!
Like our city cousins, food is the main ingredient in the festivities.

For instance, in the prairie towns of Church Point, Mamou, and Basile, there are courirs, the running of Mardi Gras in the rural communities. Costumed horseback riders gallop around the countryside gathering chickens, rice, and all the makings for a communal gumbo that is cooked at the end of the day.

If you can’t come to Louisiana for Mardi Gras, you can certainly host your very own Carnival party. Browse our website and you’ll find all the makings for a grand buffet. For instance, we have a wide assortment of boudin, the local rice and pork sausage that is a must for a Louisana-themed party. And don’t forget the gumbo. Save yourself some time and energy and order your favorites from us! Be sure to have lots of rice and French bread to go along with the gumbo.

All Seafood Holiday Meal

Although I love all the holiday food that includes baked turkeys, roasted wild ducks and geese, turduckens and all the popular sides like rice dressing, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole and a whole lot more, I often host an all-seafood holiday meal. You might want to entertain the idea of doing this for your family and friends.

If you can, get a sack of oysters to shuck for oysters on the half-shell – some to serve with cocktail sauce (a combination of ketchup, horseradish, hot sauce and fresh lemon juice) and others to prepare for oysters Bienville. Then again, you can fry some up to make oyster po-boys (don’t forget the French bread) and dress the sandwiches with tartar or remoulade sauce. If oysters aren’t an option, by all means, begin the meal with crawfish or shrimp boudin (yes, we have both on our website). Offer remoulade sauce in which to dip the boudin! Wonderful.

Move on to lobster tails (we have that too), which can be slow-poached in butter to prevent the tail meat from becoming dry and tough. I pinched the recipe for this from Thomas Keller at the French Laundry, and I think you’ll love this technique.

Maybe shrimp is more to your liking? Shrimp is so versatile – they can be boiled and served with cocktail and/or remoulade sauce. Try them tossed with salad greens and dressed with vinaigrette dressing for a light supper. Hey, get some eggplant and make eggplant Bechamel.

You can also opt to try our yellow fin tuna (sashimi grade). I’ll tell you how to prepare it for an appetizer or main course.