Lafayette, Louisiana: Cajun & Beyond
October 31 – November 4, 2018
Lafayette, the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun Country, is known as the hub of all things Cajun – authentic Cajun cuisine, toe-tapping Cajun and Zydeco music, Cajun culture, historic attractions, scenic swamps, and year-round festivals. Lafayette is Cajun and so much more!
Lafayette is a small city with a cultural vibe all its own. You’ll find “mom and pop” restaurants serving up home-style cooking alongside fine dining establishments featuring elevated Louisiana cuisine. Live music can be found seven nights a week with the dancefloors filled with people of all ages. In Lafayette’s eclectic downtown, you’ll find a micro coffee roaster, a tapas bar with an absinthe menu, a violin maker’s shop, an award-winning gelato maker, an outdoor biergarten, art galleries, live music venues, public art and more.
Come see why Lafayette has been named the Happiest City in America, the Tastiest Town of the South, one of the country’s best foodie cities, and a top college town.
HOSTED: This press trip is fully hosted including air and ground transportation, hotel, all meals, admission, and activities.
Wednesday, October 31
All day arrivals in Lafayette
You will be picked up from the airport and taken to your hotel for check-in. Activities will be planned for early arrivals.
Hotel: Doubletree by Hilton Lafayette
Set on the banks of the Bayou Vermilion, the Doubletree is minutes from the Lafayette Regional Airport. Hotel amenities include complimentary 24-hour business center, complimentary wifi, outdoor pool and deck overlooking the bayou, 24-hour fitness center, on-site restaurant and bar, and airport shuttle.
Dinner and Music in the Courtyard at Café Vermilionville
If you want to experience a piece of South Louisiana history all the while dining on classic cuisine with a modern twist, look no further than Café Vermilionville, owned by Ken and Andrea Veron. Before transforming into a restaurant, the building that is now Café Vermilionville had many previous lives. It served as an inn, infirmary, beauty shop, antique store, private residence and a bar before its final incarnation as a restaurant in 1981. The menu offers seasonal dishes created by the culinary team that seeks locally-sourced ingredients. You will also be treated to live music, which is part of the Courtyard Series that takes place in the fall and spring. Ken being a musician in his own right and Andrea being a music and food lover decided to combine the two and offer live music, dinner, and drinks in the courtyard during the cooler months here in Lafayette.
Cajun Jam at Blue Moon Saloon
The weekly Cajun jam at the Moon attracts some of the area’s best musicians as well as folks from around the globe. Open to all, the jam allows players of all skill levels to sit in and play Cajun tunes the way they used to be played, all acoustic on the back porch. It’s never scripted and never the same, you never know what’s coming next or who might show up. You don’t have to play to enjoy the jam. Have a drink, dance, just kick back, listen and meet folks from all around the world.
Thursday, November 1
Breakfast at The French Press
The French Press is a casual dining restaurant hailed as one of SAVEUR Magazine’s Top 100 Inspiring Places and Things to Eat (Jan/Feb 2013) and rated as one of Urban Spoon’s Top Breakfast Restaurants in the country (2013). The French Press serves inventive versions of traditional Cajun and American cuisine with a focus on fresh, high quality ingredients and rich flavors. James Beard nominated, Chef Justin Girouard, puts his own forward-thinking spin on each dish resulting in food that is both modern and comforting.
We’ll start your Cajun Country experience with a tour of Vermilionville, a living history museum and folklife park that promotes and propagates the cultural resources of the Acadian, Native American, and Creole people from the time period 1765 to 1890. The park sits on a 23-acre site on the banks of the Bayou Vermilion with 19 attractions, including seven restored original homes with more than 13 local artisans that provide demonstrations on a variety of essential crafts performed by the early settlers.
Tabasco Tour & Cooking Class with Chef Lionel Robin
Visit the TABASCO® Pepper Sauce Factory, which is celebrating Tabasco’s 150th anniversary in 2018. Learn everything you ever wanted to know about McIlhenny Company, the McIlhenny family, and their beloved Pepper Sauce. View artifacts from TABASCO® Sauce’s founding family; see the growing process of pepper plants from seedlings to full-grown; visit the mash warehouse for a peek at the aging process; view and smell the aromas of the stirring vats, and learn about the company’s bottling and shipping process around the world. Then, Chef Lionel Robin will share secrets for recreating TABASCO® inspired Southern cuisine and explore new twists on traditional flavors. Four-course meal included.
Tour and Tasting at Rank Wildcat Spirits
Rank Wildcat Spirits, maker of Sweet Crude Rum, is Acadiana’s first distiller of fine spirits, located in Lafayette, Louisiana. Owned and operated by David C. Meaux, a local landman-turned-distiller, Rank Wildcat Spirits is the second fully-licensed, up-and-running rum distillery in Louisiana since the end of Prohibition. We use our very own hand-crafted still to create fine rums and our process has been perfected to bring out the natural sweetness of local sugar cane. Because Rank Wildcat Spirits uses no blackstrap molasses in our fermentations, the area sugar cane imparts a great tasting, natural flavor by itself. After years of hand-crafting Sweet Crude Rum, it became apparent to the distillers that the “Happiest City in America’ needed its own cocktail worth of the unique area we call home. Armed with their signature rum, they began tinkering with ingredients to make a drink that would showcase the unique flavors of Acadiana. Once the recipe was complete all that was left was the name. Since we like to laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll), it was natural that the name would be Sweet Crude Rouler!
Return to hotel
Dinner at Rock n Bowl de Lafayette
The famous Mid-City Rock n Bowl in New Orleans is opening Rock n Bowl de Lafayette and the locals can’t wait! By the time you get here in November, they will have been open for months and just hitting their stride. Located in downtown Lafayette, imagine bowling, live music and dancing, and food drinks all under one roof. Sounds like a party!
Friday, November 2
A Taste of the Cajun Boudin Trail
Lafayette, in the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun Country, is the indisputable center of all things boudin. Boudin purveyors can be found in “mom and pop” shops, grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations. The town of Scott in Lafayette Parish even holds the title of “Boudin Capital of the World,” as the location of some of the most prominent boudin makers in Louisiana. So, what is boudin? It is one of the most unique and tasty regional specialties in America. Basically, it is a combination of cooked rice, pork, onions, green peppers, and seasonings, mixed together and stuffed into a sausage casing, but that’s only the beginning. Boudin can also be made with crawfish, alligator, shrimp and more. You can find boudin balls, eggrolls, king cake and many other dishes made with boudin. Come see for yourself the variety of boudin that can be found by following the Cajun Boudin Trail.
Downtown Lafayette Tour
Explore Lafayette’s eclectic downtown including murals and public art, historic St. John Cathedral, museum and galleries, and more. Lafayette’s center is very walkable and you’ll find whimsical public art, restaurants, and urban parks at every turn. The downtown tour will include the 100-year-old St. John Cathedral, a violin maker’s shop, a micro coffee roaster and a few other surprises.
Lunch at Laura’s II
Laura Williams Broussard started her first restaurant in her home kitchen in 1968, which was likely Lafayette’s first soul food plate lunch restaurant. Located on a dead-end residential street, customers came from all over the Lafayette area for Laura’s gravy. Laura’s home was destroyed by fire in 1975, but her daughter-in-law, Dorothy Broussard (Miss Dot) kept the gravy flowing from a second location through the next two decades. When deciding whether or not to pursue the family business, Laura’s granddaughter, Madonna, took that gravy recipe and made up her mind to cook things “the Laura’s way,” and in 2000, Laura’s II was born. At Laura’s II, Madonna keeps many of Grandma Laura’s original recipes intact. A favorite is the baked turkey wing, big and meaty, stuffed with garlic, black and cayenne pepper, with the top layer of skin crisped to a fine crackling from a final heat burst under the broiler. Laura’s II was featured in an episode of the CNN original series, “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown,” which aired June 17. The hour-long episode also featured a local Courir de Mardi Gras, a crawfish boil, Zydeco music and a Sunday lunch at Laura’s II.
Wine Tasting at MySomm
Ben Leger began his career as a busboy at Catahoulas Restaurant in Grand Coteau at the age of 15. At 19, he was named General Manager and put in charge of the restaurant’s wine list. This is where his passion for wine really began. At 21 Ben passed the Introductory Exam from the Court of Master Sommeliers and at 23 became Lafayette’s youngest Sommelier after passing the Court’s Certified Exam. Ben’s newest project, MySomm, is all about sharing his love for food and wine with others.
Return to hotel
Located in the heart of Lafayette, Cajun Brewing is proud to be the first brewery in a dynamic city known for incredible food and unmatched hospitality. At Cajun Brewing, we’re dedicated to showing the world that Cajuns are not only great cooks, but also darn good brewers.
Downtown Alive! has merged community and culture to create a weekly tradition and celebration in Downtown Lafayette on Friday evenings in the spring and fall. Downtown Alive! offers free entertainment by way of smoke-free, family-friendly outdoor concerts with genres ranging from Cajun to Zydeco and even modern and world music.
Tapas and Absinthe Tasting at Pamplona Tapas Bar
PAMPLONA Tapas Bar and Restaurant is located in downtown Lafayette, Louisiana, a thriving culinary mecca centered in the heart of traditional Cajun Country. With bistro-style ambiance reminiscent of Hemingway’s favorite haunts, Pamplona features succulent small plates, or tapas, of farm-fresh seasonal products, freshly slaughtered meats and seafood, while also offering a full selection of world-class entrees. Completing the dining experience, an extensive variety of refined Spanish wines are served by the bottle or glass through the Tixa system, a precise, temperature controlled pouring technique that guarantees the perfect glass. A rarity in a place like Lafayette, Pamplona also features an absinthe menu. This spirit, once thought to be hallucinogenic, was illegal for decades and was unavailable until recently. You’ll find it interesting how absinthe came to be in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Saturday, November 3
Zydeco Breakfast at Buck & Johnny’s
Every Saturday morning, Buck & Johnny’s is transformed into a Zydeco dancehall featuring breakfast with a Cajun twist. The restaurant and event space, located in the old Domingue’s Motors complete with old tin signage and oil can light fixtures, makes a great backdrop for the whirling dancers that flock to this place to dance to their favorite Zydeco bands.
Airboat Tour in the Atchafalaya Basin
Get up close and personal with ancient mossy cypress trees, majestic bodies of water, and of course, the alligators of the Atchafalaya Basin.
Bayou Teche Brewing
Started in a converted old rail car near the banks of the Bayou Teche, Bayou Teche Brewing is crafting innovative ales true to the brewer’s original intent – beers that complement the unique foods and lifestyles of South Louisiana. All beers are named in Cajun French in an effort to help preserve and promote our native language.
Return to hotel
Dinner at Blue Dog Café
Blue Dog Café recently announced that Ryan Trahan will serve as executive chef, bringing his inventive cuisine and reimagined classics to the landmark establishment. Enhanced by the elevated hospitality that defines Blue Dog Café, the menu feature new dishes like a Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, Charbroiled Oysters, Pork Fried Catfish Chips, Pompano En Papillote, Half Roasted Chicken and Buttermilk Pie. Ryan’s new menu is complemented by a beverage program featuring locally sourced microbrews and an exciting lineup of sparkling wines, champagne, and cocktails. Artist George Rodrigue helped to open Blue Dog Cafe in 2000. The restaurant is known around the region for serving Cajun cuisine and celebrating the legendary artist’s depictions of Acadiana culture and his famous Blue Dog series of paintings. Blue Dog Café is operated by Rodrigue’s two sons, Andre and Jacques, along with Steve Santillo.
Sunday, November 4
Itinerary subject to change.
All Photos Credit: Lafayette Convention & Visitors Commission
Application for Lafayette, Louisiana Media Trip (Deadline 08/01/18): You do not have permission to view this form.