Thursday, January 29, 2015
By Brice Perrin

A few days ago I decided to set out on an adventure to re-discover my home turf.  I struggled with where to start.  Being a photographer, I decided to start in the country and work my way in.  Just a heads up...there's so much to see and do, that there's NO WAY to get it all in one post.
By Brice Perrin
Southwest Louisiana has some of the most beautiful landscapes and drives in the world.  The beginning of my adventure went a LONG way to drive (pun completely intended) that point home.  Traveling about 3 miles south and east of the Lake Charles Regional Airport, allowed me to get some of the best photographs I've ever taken. 
By Brice Perrin
Farm land, marsh land, groves of beautiful trees that have withstood some of the most intense weather on the planet.  They're all there within a few miles of the city.  Standing on a dirt road, in my Southwest Louisiana...watching the sky begin to glow from the coming sunrise, the light fog hugging the ground, the sounds of native birds and wildlife beginning to call out as they start their daily activities...it was peaceful, soothing, meditative, and awe-inspiring all at the same time.  And it's in my back yard!
By Brice Perrin
There are, I’m sure, many places to see scenes like this...but there's something about a Southwest Louisiana sunrise that is mystic, musical, life-affirming, and spicy...just like our culture and food!  And THAT, my friends, is something you can't get anywhere but here.

They say, "It's not the destination, but the journey."  Here in Southwest Louisiana...it's both.  One way to discover it is on the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road, which just so happens to have a free tour app.
Stay tuned...Part Deux coming soon.

For more blogs by Brice Perrin, check out his blog at https://perrinstudios.wordpress.com.
Friday, January 23, 2015
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne and the Louisiana Office of Tourism have deemed 2015 the “Louisiana Culinary Celebration!” With that in mind, how can I possibly diet? Plus, it’s almost Mardi Gras, so King Cakes are in no short supply and my office is directly across the street from Steamboat Bill’s on the Lake. I can practically hear the boiled crawfish calling my name every day after work.


Eating in Cajun Country means good food prepared by the people who know what to do with the bounty that nature provides.  My mom recently “borrowed” kumquats from her neighbor’s tree to make a marmalade. My brother-in-law knows a thing or two about preparing ducks and geese after the hunt. 

With seafood, everyone has their preferred methods of cooking.  You won’t find a shortage of fried foods in Southwest Louisiana restaurants! Don’t get me started on boudin. Or cracklins.

www.monsoursphotography.net
One of my favorite gumbo stories was covered recently by Michelle Winner on www.CulinaryTraveler.com mentioning Chef Lyle Broussard from Jack Daniel’s Bar & Grill®. He was telling Jay Ducote, Bite and Booze food blogger, how he knows when the roux is ready – he recalls the flavor from when he was a small child, standing on a stool with a big heaping spoon of “chocolate” on his mother’s stove.  Little did he know, the “chocolate” was actually roux! He’ll never forget that surprising taste!

Check out The Culinary Trails Taste-umentary YouTube video that celebrates the local food scene and features local restaurants at www.visitlakecharles.org/seafood. Other culinary videos can be seen on the Visit Lake Charles YouTube channel.




Cajun food is simple. And it’s complex. It is a conversation starter.  Food in Southwest Louisiana is filled with passion.  Don’t take my word for it- come and taste for yourself!
Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Whether it’s an anniversary, birthday, holiday, or simply because, if you’re planning a romantic getaway weekend for your sweetheart, come celebrate in Lake Charles! There’s plenty to do here, especially for two. Once you arrive, the magic of southwest Louisiana will inspire you, but here are a few tips to get you started. 

Photo courtesy of Isle of Capri
 Casinos – Southwest Louisiana is home to four casinos; L’Auberge Casino Resort, Isle of Capri, Delta Downs in Vinton, and the newly opened Golden Nugget Lake Charles. Each of these facilities offers exciting options for couples to enjoy. Live music, excellent restaurants, gaming, shopping, relaxing – it’s all there. L’Auberge offers a “Massage and Lodge” package which includes a guest room, spa package, and breakfast for two.

Pujo St. Cafe by www.monsoursphotography.net
Fine DiningLake Charles chefs know how to cook and serve great food! There are too many excellent restaurants to list them all here, but a few of my favorites include La Truffe Sauvage at 815 Bayou Pines West, Restaurant Calla at 1400 Market St., Ember Grille and Wine Bar at L’Auberge, Harlequin Steaks and Seafood at 501 W. College St., and Mazan’s Mediterranean Foods, 217 W. College St., and Vic and Anthony's at Golden Nugget Lake Charles. Bon appétit!


Wine Tasting – Several local establishments offer wine tasting. Try Heist Wine Bar or Pujo Street Café, on Ryan St.  The Wine Store on Nelson Rd. and Hocus Pokus on Country Club Rd. also offer wine tastings.

J&R Carriage
Carriage Rides – What could be more romantic than a ride in a mule-drawn carriage? J & R Carriage, located on Bord du Lac by the Lake Charles Civic Center, offers lakefront tours along picturesque Shellbeach Dr. and through the historic district of the city. Snuggle under a warm blanket, listen to the clip clop of the mule’s hooves, and take in the sights of beautiful downtown Lake Charles.

Photo by www.lindseyjanies.com
Music – Lake Charles boasts a thriving music scene. Take your honey out dancing! In the warmer months, outdoor concerts abound.  The casinos often bring in celebrity performers. L’Auberge Casino Resort hosts the popular summer outdoor concert series, Party By the Pool. The city of Lake Charles sponsors an outdoor concert series called Downtown at Sundown and the Arts and Humanities Council produces Live at the Lakefront. Luna Bar and Grill hosts a Jazz Brunch on Sundays. Numerous bars and clubs offer bands playing all genres of music. A few of the more popular nightclubs include Luna Live, Jack After Dark at L’Auberge, and My Place. For a coffee house vibe, check the schedule at Stellar Beans Coffee House. Lake Charles is also home to a world class Symphony. Check their website for dates.

There are 26 miles of Gulf Coast beaches along the Creole Nature Trail.
Photo by www.monsoursphotography.net 
If you’re wooing on a tight budget, Lake Charles will still make a positive impression. There are plenty of free or reasonably-priced excursions in southwest Louisiana. Weather permitting, pack a picnic, stroll along Bord du Lac or through Prien Lake Park, and watch the sunset. Take a hike at Sam Houston Jones State Park. They also have charming cabins for your overnight stay. Cruise down the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road to bird watch and look for alligators. There are also several museums in southwest Louisiana that are either free or have reasonable admission fees.

With matters of the heart, it’s not so much where you are but who you are with that matter most. But lovely Lake Charles can certainly help!

To read more of Angie's adventures, check out her blog, angiekaydilmore.blogspot.com.
Monday, January 12, 2015
Boiled shrimp by www.monsoursphotography.net 
My three-year-old son, Banks, is a pretty picky eater!  His favorite foods all involve loads of sugar, but there is hope for him yet! Banks loves shrimp. He eats fried shrimp, boiled shrimp (if I peel it for him), shrimp gumbo, but his favorite is shrimp stew.  So for this cold night, I’m making shrimp stew for dinner!

From visiting Big Easy Foods in Lake Charles, I’ve learned that Gulf shrimp are notorious for their robust flavor profile and better yet – they are really healthy!  Shrimp are a good source of protein, omega-3, selenium and vitamin B12.

Big Easy Foods has a great selection of Louisiana shrimp in the freezer section at your local Wal-Mart or grocery store, but if you are visiting Southwest Louisiana, try cast netting along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road to catch your own!  


My brother, Blake Monsour, castnets for shrimp.
Photo by www.monsoursphotography.net
Find some of the most popular shrimping spots and a checklist of the things you’ll need, like a fishing license, here.

Click here for the best shrimp stew recipes I’ve come across from Louisiana Kitchen & Culture Magazine by Karlos Knott. It’s what I’m making for dinner! 

Shrimp Stew Photo by David Gallent
for Louisiana Kitchen & Culture
Watch this video on where our famous, Louisiana shrimp come from and why they are the best!



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