Friday, April 28, 2017

Car graveyard's more like it at Georgia's Old Car City

As my friend and I made our way down pine-covered trails, gazing at rows and rows of abandoned American cars and other rusting machinery at the Old Car City in White, Georgia, she quipped, “This junkyard could be any yard in the South.”

Although we had a good laugh, we soon gave way to awe. This ain’t no Jethro yard with a car on blocks and an old fridge or two. The seven miles of trails at Old Car City contain roughly 4,400 old cars as well as other deteriorating items such as school buses, wagons, milk trucks, bicycles and pieces of autos, including the pile of transmissions we passed or the artsy assemblage of headlights (see below). There are even wind chimes created from pipes and hubcaps! Owner Dean Lewis claims Old Car City is the world’s largest classic car junkyard, attracting 6,000 visitors in 2016.

It’s really not a junkyard; Lewis doesn’t sell any parts. What he does sell is the experience. Admission is $25 to visit with a camera, $15 without. And if you’re wondering why photo enthusiasts are penalized, the property and its patina-colored autos can be considered by some to be a work of art. Lewis thinks so and claimed as such on a CBS Sunday Morning segment in 2015 titled “Rust and Roots.” You can watch the interview here.

Old Car City began as a car dealership in 1931 by Walt and Lucille Lewis, who later began selling car parts. Dean Lewis grew up among the relics and spent years hauling cars to the site. Later, he saw the acreage of rusted Americana as an attraction and today, it’s run by Dean Lewis and his son, Jeff Lewis and daughter, Tracy.

And if that’s not weird enough, there’s a painted Styrofoam cup collection upstairs in the main building.

Old Car City is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Be sure and stop in at Wes-Man’s restaurant across the street, which has an old truck of its own, one that’s repainted constantly to wish patron’s Happy Birthday (visit on your birthday and ask for your sign on the truck.) You might also recognize it from “The Fundamentals of Caring,” a 2016 film starring Paul Rudd and Selena Gomez. You can spot the restaurant and Old Car City in the background when the actors walk out into the restaurant’s parking lot. Check out the trailer by clicking here.






Cheré Dastugue Coen is a food and travel writer living in South Louisiana who is the author of several Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire and the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Arnaud's of New Orleans to dispense Moet & Chandon champagne from vending machines

Arnaud’s Restaurant of New Orleans, serving up classic Creole cuisine since 1918, will now be dispensing champagne by vending machine.

Yes, you heard right.

Arnaud’s will be one of three places worldwide to offer a vending machine stocked with 320 mini bottles of Moët and Chandon’s Imperial Brut from April 13 to 16, 2017, at Arnaud’s French 75 Bar, 813 Bienville St. in the heart of the French Quarter.

To purchase a bottle from the vending machine, guests exchange a $20 dollar bill for a Moët-branded gold coin at the bar. The machine dispenses each bottle carefully so as to not shake the chilled champagne. Each mini bottle comes with a Moët-branded spout for guests to drink immediately and directly from the bottle. 

Arnaud’s is the first restaurant in the world to feature the state-of-the-art device. The bubbly dispenser was born in the UK two years ago (you can read more about that here) and the other two machines are displayed in Las Vegas hotels.

Arnaud’s French 75 Bar is open at 5:30 p.m. nightly. Named a James Beard Award finalist three years in a row and recognized as one of the “Top Ten Bars in America” by Esquire magazine, the French 75 Bar offers classic cocktails, such as the French 75 and New Orleans Sazerac, in an intimate setting. If you’re hungry, step next door to Arnaud's Main Dining Room or enjoy jazz in the Jazz Bistro facing Bourbon Street.
For more information, visit www.arnaudsrestaurant.com.


Cheré Dastugue Coen is a food and travel writer living in South Louisiana who is the author of several Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire and the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Repeating 'I do' in Galveston

Some couples may want to run in the opposite direction. But some romantics may want to say "I do" all over again. 

The Hotel Galvez and Spa in Galveston, Texas, will host its seventh annual Galvez Wedding Vow Renewal on Saturday, June 10, 2017, on the hotel grounds. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. and is officiated by Justice of the Peace Jim Schweitzer. Following the ceremony, a small reception will be hosted by the hotel.

Couples may join in the wedding vow renewal at no cost or book an overnight package which includes a courtesy bouquet and boutonniere for the ceremony, participation in the vow renewal and reception, a room for two and champagne accompanied by chocolate-covered strawberries upon arrival. Couples may keep their champagne glasses as a keepsake of their renewal and professional photos are available for purchase.  

The ceremony is scheduled in June to honor the most popular month of matrimony and the 106th anniversary of the historic Hotel Galvez and Spa, a Wyndham Grand Hotel. Available for June 9-11, the package is offered as a one-night package starting at $359 per night or Friday and Saturday package. Advance reservations are required for both. For reservations, call (409) 765-7721 or visit www.HotelGalvez.com and click on “Special Offers.”

Cheré Dastugue Coen is a food and travel writer living in South Louisiana who is the author of several Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire and the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Calling all worm grunters

To catch a fish you have to offer some bait, and the old-fashioned way to do that is to hang a worm on the line. Getting those worms is another story. The folks in Sopchoppy, Florida, population 460, are experts in the field, which is why they offer a festival every spring in honor of their worm-charming skills. 

The 17th annual Sopchoppy Worm Gruntin' Festival will be Saturday, April 8, 2017, in the northwest Florida town southwest of Tallahatchee and will include artisans and craftspeople, horseshoe championships, live music, hoola hoop contest, 5K race, bait casting contest and, of course, the worm grunting contest.

Just what exactly is worm grunting? Take a specific piece of metal and a piece of wood and worm grunters call worms to the surface. According to the festival press materials, these vibrations — not the noise — mimic those of a mole, which snacks on worms.

Lodging options include camping in Sopchoppy City Park, Ochlockonee River State Park, Holiday Park and Campground and Newport Campground. For accommodations with a roof over your head and toilet, try Sweet Magnolia Inn, Best Western Plus Wakulla Inn and Suites and Wakulla Springs Lodge in Wakulla and The Magnuson in Crawfordville. 

Cheré Dastugue Coen is a food and travel writer living in South Louisiana who is the author of several Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire and the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Caught on the streets of the French Quarter

Over the years we've spotted some unique people strolling the streets of New Orleans' French Quarter. We thought we would spotlight a few of the street performers today.

 



Cheré Dastugue Coen is a food and travel writer living in South Louisiana who is the author of several Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire and the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Friday, March 24, 2017

This Juke Joint’s Hopin’

Clarksdale, Mississippi, rests in the heart of the Delta, an epicenter of blues history and activity. It’s one of the reasons why Morgan Freeman named his Clarksdale blues club, “Ground Zero.” The weekend of April 22 the blues and other music styles are celebrated on 13 daytime stages and 20 nighttime venues at the Juke Joint Festival. This annual fete attracts visitors from all over Mississippi, plus numerous states and at least 28 foreign countries, said festival co-organizer Roger Stolle.

"If this event doesn't make you smile, then your lips must be broken," Stolle said in a press release announcing the festival. "Blues music, juke joints, monkeys riding dogs — I mean, what else do you need to know? It's absolutely ridiculous — in the best of ways!"

In addition to the constant music Thursday through Sunday, there’s the Juke Joint Festival Kick-off at Delta Cinema at 5 p.m. Thursday, and the return of Thacker Mountain Radio to the New Roxy at 6 p.m. Friday. There’s Sunday’s Cat Head Mini Blues Fest and the Second Street Blues Party, a 5K/8K run, children’s activities, arts and crafts and, of course, lots of great Southern food. And yes, there will be monkeys riding dogs.

For more information and a schedule of events, visit www.jukejointfestival.com.



Cheré Dastugue Coen is a food and travel writer living in South Louisiana who is the author of several Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire and the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Taste the donut rainbow

These donuts are so good it hurts. And they’re available 24 hours a day.

Hurts Donuts in Springfield, Missouri, are anything but ordinary, a delectable collection of sweet treats that are as humorous and colorful as they are delicious. 

There's the E.T. donuts with Reese's Pieces on top or the ones covered in sprinkles or smoothed over with brightly colored icing. Several have cereal pieces on top. The Nutella comes rich and sweet with a Nutella dollop in the center. One even smiles back. 

There's homage to Homer Simpson and the Jesus Donut is beige with brown stripes and we’re not quite sure why.

The walls feature famous photos with Hurts Donuts inserted, such as the famous Times Square kiss after V-J Day and the lineup of skyscraper workers enjoying lunch. There’s fun seating in two rooms, so those with time may grab a cup of Jo and sit and savor their unique creations.

If you’re in Springfield, you won’t want to miss a trip to Hurts. If nothing else, the view is incredible. Check them out below.

Photos by Chere Coen

Cheré Dastugue Coen is a food and travel writer living in South Louisiana who is the author of several Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire and the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.