Lafayette, Louisiana, Named ‘Tastiest Town in the South’

french press cafeLooking to plan a delicious food-focused trip? While the southern United States is well-known for its mouth-watering soul food and rich flavors, Southern Living has recently named Lafayette, Louisiana, the ‘Tastiest Town in the South.” The criteria for choosing the winner was based on how the food identified the culture, how the area’s cuisine influences the local community and tourism, an array of price points, sustainability, media buzz on local chefs and an abundance of food-related events and festivals.

Writers Senior Editor Paula Disbrowe, “Lafayette’s distinct culinary identity as the capital of Cajun country, its spicy, sausage-laden roots, and a new generation of locals devoted to preserving their heritage while putting a fresh spin on tradition have made it an incredibly satisfying place to eat.”

So, where should you go to get some of the city’s best cuisine? First there is the French Press Cafe, a trendy eatery serving dishes like smoked duck breast with sweet potato spaetzel and prime filet mignon with blue cheese, fried poached egg, caramelized onion, potato pancakes and a Cognac demi. Their signature dish is Sweet Baby Breesus – biscuits stuffed with bacon, cane syrup and fried boudin. There’s also Johnson’s Boucanière, a BBQ joint serving items like fried boudin-stuffed grilled cheese with BBQ sauce, slow-smoked beef and pork sandwiches loaded with the works and smoked brisket cooked for 13 hours.

Want to taste the flavors of Lafayette for yourself? The magazine is running a contest until April 30, 2012, where one lucky traveler can win $2,500 toward a trip to their favorite tasty town. For details and to enter, click here.

[Photo via French Press Cafe]

Hidden Treasures: The Secret Roya’s Garlic Garden

We’ve asked some of our Seed contributors from around the U.S. to share their ‘hidden treasure’ in their hometown. We rounded up what we think are the top 10 hometown finds and are bringing them to you over the next 10 days, starting with this one from Lafayette, California…

One of the newest finds in Lafayette, California is Roya’s Garlic Garden, a restaurant that just opened on Mount Diablo Blvd. All the ingredients are fresh, not canned. They serve this amazing chocolate cake and a Camembert filled with parsley and cloudberry jam. After ordering, Roya herself came to my cousin (who was pregnant at the time) and told her she wasn’t putting egg yolk in the Spaghetti Carbonara she ordered and using a food substitute because pregnant women aren’t allowed raw egg. It was amazing customer service and ever since then I’ve been recommending Roya’s to everyone I know in the Lamorinda area. The restaurant also blends well with the other stores in the area (Bedazzled, Pure Spa) and I hope it becomes the place to go in Lafayette. Parking is spare, so arrive early.

Roya’s Garlic Garden
3576 Mt. Diablo Blvd
Lafayette, CA 94549

From the Shores of Louisiana: Jon takes to the road

From the Shores of Louisiana: Jon Bowermaster from gadling on Vimeo.

Lafayette, Louisiana — It’s a steamy, early-summer day in Southern Louisiana – expecting the “heat index” to top out today around 108 degrees F! – but it’s good to be back on the ground here. I’ve been coming every few months for the past two years, producing a documentary film, and it’s started to feel like a second-home. One with really good food … and music.

Yesterday, evidence of the impact of the oil spill came home when I went in search of an oyster po-boy. At the first couple stops, café owners apologized for not having any … a first in their lifetimes … because the oyster beds have been shut now for more than five weeks. When I finally did find one, something didn’t feel quite right, so I asked: The oysters came from … somewhere else, outside Louisiana, was all the server could offer with a shrug.

While the spill is conversation number one (with World Cup football second), I can feel a kind of creeping frustration/resignation settling in.

In Lafayette, which has more oil-industry jobs per capita than anywhere other than Midland, Texas, there’s a fair amount of rumbling in the bars and on the street corners about the deepwater drilling moratorium, with a majority believing the New Orleans’ federal judge’s decision to start up again is a good one.

There’s lots of concern about where all that oil waste is heading. A few people have brought up concerns about the health of the workers involved in the clean-up; apparently BP is against the workers wearing respirators on the job because 1) it looks bad on camera and 2) they’re afraid people with their faces covered are going to overheat and collapse.

There’s concern too that while BP appears to be saying all the right things right now in regard to its long-term commitment and willingness to pay all “legitimate” claims that six months from now, a year from now … locals will be locked in fights with the mega-company for their money.