Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cory Bahr's Restaurant Cotton one of many fun things to do in Monroe, West Monroe

            UL-Lafayette takes on UL-Monroe on Saturday at Warhawk Field, and yes, I'm focusing on football for this blog because I'm a Ragin' Cajuns fan and UL-Monroe is smoking hot this season and the team to beat. So for those traveling to North Louisiana for the game on Saturday, Nov. 3 (and everyone else, of course), there are plenty of fun things to do in the twins cities of Monroe and West Monroe. Just don’t call one the other, locals don’t like it.
             For starters, Chef Cory Bahr has transformed a historic cotton warehouse in downtown Monroe, serving up lovely Southern rural cooking and “North Delta” fare at Restaurant Cotton. Bahr has been awarded “King” of Louisiana Seafood, was named a “Chef to Watch” by Louisiana Cookin’ magazine and became a champion on the Food Network’s “Chopped!” this year.
            Atlanta claims Coca-Cola but Joseph A. Biedenharn was the first bottler and he built his home in Monroe. Visitors can tour the elegant home and gardens built in 1914, plus view the neighboring Coke Museum with its pristine Coca-Cola delivery truck, rooms full of Coke memorabilia and free samples at the replica soda fountain. For lagniappe, be sure and check out the Biedenharn Bible Museum. Emy-Lou Biedenharn collected Bibles and many are on display, including a Gutenberg Bible, biblical artwork and an original 1611 King James Bible. The museum also offers visiting exhibits and Russian icons from the Daniel R. Bibb collection.
             Across the river in West Monroe is the Cotton Port Historic District, buildings housing antique stores, specialty shops and restaurants. Bargains can be found in this “antique row” and there will be a special Holiday Open House from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit http://www.antiquealleyshops.org/.
            Other attractions to visit include the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum of Louisiana, the Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, the Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum, the Masur Museum of Art and the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo, among others.
            Events happening Saturday include the Forest L Woods Outdoors bass fishing end of the season championship at Forsythe Park, “The Butler Did It” murder mystery at the Strauss Theatre Center, downtown River Market Days and Chris Tomlin at the Monroe Civic Center.
              A charming book series to read is the “Green Series” by Judy Christie. The books revolve around Lois Barker, who leaves her life at a major newspaper in the Midwest when she inherits The Green News-Item in a small town in north Louisiana. Christie has had her own experience working for newspapers and is also the author of the “Hurry Less, Worry Less” series and “Goodbye Murphy’s Law.”
            For information on the area, visit the Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau at monroe-westmonroe.org.

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