Thursday, May 24, 2018

Dat Dog is Dat Delicious!

No more whining and dining. In South Louisiana, flavors are going to the dogs. And if you’re looking for something fun to do this howliday weekend, you’ll go mutts over this idea.  

Okay, we’ll try to limit the dog puns.

Dat Dog first opened in New Orleans in 2011 as an alternative to the boring traditional hot dog usually found in restaurants, concession stands and food trucks. CEO and founder Constantine Georges started with a pawsome 475-square-foot shack on Freret Street that served up unique dogs in unique ways. The small restaurant was wildly successful and Georges moved the colorful eatery across the street to a larger building. Then came additional locations on Magazine and Frenchmen streets in New Orleans, and most recently, a restaurant on historic Jefferson Street in the heart of downtown Lafayette.

We had visited the Freret location and enjoyed a variety of dogs but recently revisited the brand at downtown Lafayette's Dat Dog. We had to ask, “Who’s a good boy?” The answer? All of them. Here’s what we sampled and we loved every bite.

French fries come with a variety of toppings (above chili cheese fries) or none at all. We especially liked the fries topped with crawfish etouffee, but if you want everything, there's the WTF Fries loaded down with all kinds of goodness.

The chicken dog features an all-natural chicken breast that’s brined with Sirochi in-house and served fried or grilled on a hot dog bun with slaw and a special sauce akin to what you get at Raising Cane’s.

This dog was more of a traditional hot dog with a pickle slice and pickled green bean, plus onions, tomatoes, relish and mustard.

This yummy duck sausage dog featured a smoked duck sausage topped with a Creole spice blend, raspberry sauce, mustard and bacon bits. The combination of these flavors sent my taste buds singing.

The special of the week when we visited was a brisket dog, with big slices of crispy beef brisket.

You can even order the Datburger, hamburger that’s served hot dog style. Plus, there are three options for vegans and vegetarians - a chipotle dog with vegan sausage, eggplant vegan sausage with fennel and garlic and a smoked apple sage dog.

The Lafayette restaurant includes locally crafted beers and cocktails at its long bar in the front of the house, surrounded by tables for dining. In back is a fabulous new live music venue called The Platform, which features upstairs seating and another bar. The Platform may be rented out for special events or performances and, since Dat Dog sponsors fund-raising events for community organizations, it may serve as the perfect spot for functions.

There’s even a ghost reportedly living at the Lafayette location. And we don't think it's a dog.

Bone Appetit! 

Weird, Wacky and Wild South is written by food and travel writer Chere Dastugue Coen.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Honoring zydeco's rubboard in Sunset, Louisiana

People outside Louisiana may use rubboards for cleaning clothes, but within the Bayou State it serves another purpose, that of making music. It started with Creole music at the beginning of the 20th century, a musical genre that later became zydeco. Known in French as a “frottoir,” the rubboard providing a rousing addition to the accordions, guitars and drums. The rubboard later evolved for musicians by Willie Landry and “King of Zydeco” Clifton Chenier when the two created the first wearable rubboard, a true American invention.

Willie Landry’s son, Tee-Don Landry, today carries on the tradition with his company, Key of Z Rubboards, some of which are on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. He’s made so many rubboards out of his Sunset, Louisiana, home that the Louisiana State Legislature dubbed the town the “Rubboard Capital of the World.”

On Tuesday, May 22, the town of Sunset unveils its first public art piece, the Zydeco Rubboard, on the corner of Duffy and Napoleon avenues. The 4 by 6 sculpture was created by local welder Pat Miller

“I’m just so thankful for everything going on in my life,” Tee-Don Landry said in a press release. “Sunset is a great little city. I know that this project will put Sunset on the map and hopefully it will bring prosperity to the city and the tourism industry,”

Following the unveiling, Tee-Don and his group, The Wayne Blue Burns Band, will play for a reception at the Sunset Community Center located on Leo Richard Lane.

For more information about Sunset, Louisiana, or tourism in St. Landry Parish, visit

Weird, Wacky and Wild South is written by food and travel writer Chere Dastugue Coen.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

I only have pies for Chattanooga's City Cafe

Pam Wattenbarger and her peanut butter cake
Chattanooga is one of my most favorite places to visit. You can see seven states above Lookout Mountain, "See Rock City" and its trails through fun rock formations, admire the majesty of Ruby Falls in an underground cave — and that doesn't even include the town! So when my friend Pam Wattenbarger, an author and travel writer who pens the Simply Southern Mom website, offered to introduce me to a lunch spot that served up giant slices of cake in an old-fashioned-looking diner, I was so there.

City Cafe is practically attached to the Days Inn Hotel in downtown Chattanooga and a bit out of the way. There's another location on Lee Highway in Chattanooga and in the neighboring town of Cleveland, but we were visiting the downtown location that, I found out later, has a funky bar off the side called The Office. The downtown spot (along with the others) offers 450 menu items that range from Mediterranean dishes to American favorites such as burgers, fries and shakes. There are lunch specials, chimichangas, chicken pot pie, broiled scallops and salmon Monte Carlo. To say the menu runs the gamut is an understatement.

Naturally, since it's a diner, I chose the tuna melt with fries, a huge helping of tuna salad on toasted wheat bread with a layer of sliced American cheese, the kind you peel off the plastic wrap but which combined with the tuna tasted delish. Halfway through this mammoth sandwich, I had to pause because there was no way I was not saving room for a slice of City Cafe's cakes.

These cakes are enormous! Did I mention they were big? So large that you pause on the way to your table and your chin falls open and your eyes bug out.

Here are but a few of the many offerings:
Red Velvet
Butterfinger Cake
Coca Cola Cake
Death by Chocolate
Milky Way Cake
Italian Cream Cake
Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

I could go on and on.
Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

I chose the canola cake with the little canolas on top and Pam went for the peanut butter. We asked for take-out boxes because the slices were so huge but we delved right in and had a hard time stopping. We did bring home parts of our desserts, but we managed to enjoy much of our slices first, stumbling out of this diner like drunks at 2 a.m., our full bellies and blood sugar off the charts.

The diner's been rated Best of the Best by the Chattanooga Times Free Press and won the Certificate of Excellence and Hall of Fame nods from Trip Advisor. It's easy to see why.

Weird, Wacky and Wild South is written by food and travel writer Chere Dastugue Coen.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Get your head in the game at Marie Antoinette screening

Kirsten Dunce stars as Marie Antoinette. 
You’ll lose your head over this event. Okay, enough with the puns. 

The New Orleans Museum of Art, in conjunction with its current exhibition, “A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes,” will screen the Sofia Coppola 2006 film “Marie Antoinette” this Friday (April 13, 2018) on the lawn of the City Park museum. The film focuses on the teenage Austrian princess who becomes the queen of France and who dies by guillotine 23 years later after living a life of luxury and fame.

But that’s not all. There will be food trucks from Diva Dawgs (gotta love the name association there) and La Cocinita, not to mention a bar because this is, of course, New Orleans. And there’s more! Here’s the schedule:
5 - 7:30 pm: Art on the Spot family activity table
6 - 7:30 pm: Pre-show music by DJ Swamp Boogie and a dance performance by Trixie Minx productions as decadent as Marie Antoinette's fashions
7:30 - 9:30 pm: Screening of Marie Antoinette (Rated PG-13 | 2 hours, 3 minutes | Watch the trailer here.

Aminata, from The Studio of Vanities Series, 2013, by Omar Victor Diop

The event is free to museum members, $12 to nonmember adults, $10 nonmember seniors and $6 nonmember children ages 7-12. Free to children under age 6.

“A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes” includes experimental gowns, headpieces, and jewelry by avant-garde fashion designers such as Alexander McQueen, Gucci, and Iris van Herpen, which investigate symbols of womanhood and expand the theme of fashion as art. More than 100 articles of fashion are presented in a gallery design that explores seven archetypal personality types, including Sage, Magician, Enchantress, Explorer, Mother Earth, Heroine, and Thespian.

Weird, Wacky and Wild South is written by food and travel writer Chere Dastugue Coen.