Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Is there possum in Possum Pie? Whatever, it's good!

Arkansas is known for its pies — lots of ‘em and plenty of variety. Just ask Kat Robinson, author of a whole book on the state’s desserts, titled “Arkansas Pie: A Delicious Slice of the Natural State.” Robinson’s book is as much travelogue as foodie fare, and there’s lots of recipes as well.
There’s a reason Robinson wrote an entire book on the subject. Pies are everywhere in Arkansas and they are some delicious. Many are unique to the state, many carry strange names. Whatever you choose, it’s hard to find one not to your likin’.
            Take the Possum Pie, for instance. I sampled this delectable creature while dining on top Petit Jean Mountain about an hour north of Hot Springs. Petit Jean State Park offers a lodge built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and there’s a fabulous restaurant that overlooks the mountains and the canyon below. My waitress claimed my slice of possum pie contained layers of cream cheese, chocolate mouse, cream cheese again, then topped with whipped cream, caramel and chocolate dribbles, and finally chocolate chips. Talk about good. And no, there are no possums involved in the cooking of this pie.
            In Eureka Springs, I sat on the balcony of the Basin Park Hotel in the aptly named Balcony Restaurant and devoured the Huckleberry Pie, the restaurant's signature dessert. This crescent-shaped trip to heaven includes a huckleberry filling (my first time) that’s fried and served with huckleberry ice cream. Take about good! And while you’re giving yourself a sugar coma, you can view downtown Eureka Springs and the nearby Basin Spring, where the town originated after the water there was found to be curative. Better yet, spend the night in the historic hotel, enjoy the spa and maybe see a ghost; the hotel’s haunted like most of the historic town.

Cheré Coen is an award-winning travel writer specializing in the Deep South. She is the author of "Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History," "Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana" and "Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana" and co-author of "Magic's in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets." She also writes Louisiana romances under Cherie Claire, including "A Cajun Dream" and "The Letter." Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Be a pinball wizard in Roanoke, Virginia

Remember those hours spent bent across a pinball machine? Sure you do, and don’t tell your kids about it because they will remind you how you admonished them about video games.
New to Roanoke, Virginia, this week is the Roanoke Pinball Museum where visitors will be introduced to the history of pinball and the science behind the game, plus have an opportunity to appreciate the color, composition and overall design of the back glasses and playfields. The Roanoke Pinball Museum will be an interactive museum where patrons can play for one admission price on 46 machines that range from 1948 to today. General admission for the summer is $10 for individuals ages 9 and up with free admission for children ages 8 and younger (with accompanying adult 18 and up).
The grand opening of the museum will be from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, June 19, at the Center in the Square in Roanoke. The event includes multiple generations of Roanoke “gamers” and will include retro gaming (eight-bit games) on the large digital monitors inside Center’s atrium. Music for the event will be provided by deejays while Bastards of Fate will be preforming in Center’s atrium at 9 p.m. The event will also have food, drinks, vendors and a variety of impromptu performances.
        The atrium level activities at opening night are free to the public and admission to the Roanoke Pinball Museum is $10.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

It's a geaux for the Tigers in Omaha

The LSU Tigers are in Omaha this week for their 17th trip to the College World Series of baseball. And like everything else hailing from French Louisiana, the signs following the team are taking advantage of the –eaux pronunciation.
It’s something South Louisianans love to play with.
In French, eaux is pronounced as an o in English, such as beaux, chateaux. At any LSU game, you’ll see “Geaux Tigers” signs, for instance, a spelling that’s become so familiar that it’s now in the Urban Dictionary. The web site defines the word geaux as “A French word-play on the verb go.  Derives from areas highly populated with Cajun Americans, Louisiana State University Tigers fans, or more commonly both.”
In the summertime down South, people sell “Sneauxballs.” There's a restaurant called “Gumbeaux’s” in Douglasville, Georgia. Many Louisiana residents have names ending in –eaux, like Boudreaux, Thibodeaux and Comeaux.
So naturally LSU fans are using the o in Omaha this week to their advantage.
As for the baseball team, they lost to Texas Christian on Sunday and play against Cal State Fullerton at 2 p.m. today (Tuesday, June 17). The game will be televised by ESPN2 and streamed live at WatchESPN.com and at the WatchESPN app.
Because LSU lost to TCU on Sunday, they must win today’s game against Cal State Fullerton to remain in the World Series.
On another note, with or without the –eaux, Omaha loves LSU fans.
"… LSU people make it more fun,” said Karen Barrett in today’s Lafayette Advertiser. Barrett is owner of Barrett's Barleycorn Pub and Grill on Leavenworth Street in Omaha. “They like to drink. They like to eat. They like to have a good time. They talk to everyone, and it seems like they know everyone. It's just sad when they're not here."
         For the whole story of why Nebraska loves to see LSU fans heading north, click here.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.”  And yes, she attended LSU. Geaux Tigers! Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Barbells, bacon and Buckinghams at the beach: Daytona Beach has ecclectic June offerings

            I don’t get the current fad of eating bacon and other pork products. Didn’t we just get advised to avoid these fatty food products? I’m so confused.
Not that that keeps me from eating bacon, mind you.
And now we have the Bacon Beatdown June 26-28 in Daytona Beach, Florida, a three-day serious — and we mean serious — fitness competition where people compete in rope climbing, gymnastics, power lifting and Olympic lifting movements, then eat bacon? Organizers call the event, which attracts thousands of competitors and spectators, a “food and fitness festival celebrating bacon, barbells and badassery.”
If you think you have what it takes to compete while enjoying bacon, visit www.thebaconbeatdown.com.
I’d rather be pulling my tie-dyed shirt over my rolls, I mean muscles, and enjoying libations at the Hippie Fest and Happy Together Tour on June 19 at the Peabody Auditorium in Daytona Beach. It’s a groovy outside festival and concert that begins at 4 p.m. with music starting at 7:30 p.m. by The Turtles featuring Flo and Eddie, The Association, The Grass Roots, The Buckinghams, The Cowsills and Mark Lindsay, former lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders.

Cheré Coen is an award-winning travel writer specializing in the Deep South. She is also the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Please bring our Blue Bell back!

I love Blue Bell ice cream, and I will take every chance to brag about how I visited the Blue Bell Creameries and got to taste ice cream fresh off the line before it was hard freezed for delivery. Not to mention that if you take the creamery tour in Brenham, Texas, you get free samples in the ice cream parlor at tour’s end.
Talk about heaven.
When the recalls started in April, when some of the Blue Bell ice cream was found containing listeria strains and pulled from the shelves, I had just purchased two gallons from Walgreens, which was having a sale (keep this in mind for future purchases for they do this regularly). I checked the numbers on the bottoms of my ice cream and found that they were not part of the recall. Naturally, I ate every last bite.
My mother did too.
There are few things in life more scary than being out of Blue Bell.
Unfortunately, the company closed down its production temporarily and the stock was pulled from shelves all over the South. It was a sad day for ice cream lovers.
I’ve been hearing rumblings that Blue Bell is back in business. Just to show you how much Southerners love their Blue Bell, Dan E. Roberts posted a photo to Facebook of three Blue Bell trucks on the highway and that photo, as of Monday afternoon, was shared 54,049 times and I actually saw the numbers move as I wrote this.
          And then...the bad news. Blue Bell posted this to Facebook:
You may have noticed a few photos or videos of our trucks on the roads recently. Unfortunately they are not out delivering ice cream…yet. These trucks are making their way back to markets that remain open and will be used once we begin distributing ice cream to stores again. As a fan of our Facebook page you will be one of the first to know when we do announce our return to stores. Thanks for your support!
          I'm heartbroken and I'm not alone. Worse, could the lack of Blue Bell ice cream also be the reason for the deluge that hit Texas? One has to wonder.

But while we are on the subject, Blue Bell is located in one of the most scenic and historic regions of Texas. Known as Brenham/Washington County, the region is located halfway between Houston and Austin on Hwy. 290 and is the site of the “Birthplace of Texas.” The historic town of Brenham and surrounding countryside includes more than 30 bed and breakfasts, nine hotels, four wineries, antiques shops, botanical gardens, live theater, summer festivals, museums and so much more. Even if you can’t tour the Blue Bell Creameries, there are so many great reasons to visit.
Hopefully, Blue Bell will be up and running soon and you’ll be able to taste that delicious ice cream as well. For more information on Brenham/Washington County, visit www.visitbrenhamtexas.com/.