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Moving into our 9th year of publishing Gulfscapes Magazine– Thank You Gulf Coast!
texas tango Two wild and crazy Houstonians team up to start a winery in Argentina. We follow the happy couple on their slow dance to a dreamy life.
fly fishing with the experts Our fishing section features our ongoing series from Bob Shirley on how to fly fish the coast; Rick Lauman tells us how to catch really big red fish in Mississippi; and for those fishermen and women looking for a great place to get hitched, the Steinhatchee Landing Resort just may be the place for outdoors enthusiasts.
seaside escape in port aransas Nestled among the sand dunes that line Texas’ Mustand Island, our feature home is a warm, inviting variation of the traditional beach house. See how modern building and traditional style come together to capture the essense of the Texas Middle Coast.
holiday seafood recipes Along the Gulf of Mexico, seafood is a regular part of Holiday cooking. Our easy recipes get your holiday dining off on the right foot.
mardi gras 2010 along the beach It’s a Gulf Coast tradition that’s older than our nation! From King Cake to King Rex, learn the ins, outs and history of Mardi Gras as we ramp up for this year’s coastal celebrations.
civil war forts of the gulf coast Ghosts aren’t always remnants of humans. The remains of several Civil War era forts along the Gulf still stand like specters. History lives on. Take a tour of the spectacular forts that figured heavily in the war between the states.
Cover: The Coastliner was lovingly restored by Jim Walker of North Padre Island, TX. Laura Almanza serves as our cover model. Photo by Craig & Victoria Rogers
33 Getting married on the beach? Don’t miss our coastal photo tips by Vitalic Photo of Florida.
This Page: Take a visit to Port Aransas and see our Seaside Escape located in Cinnamon Shore community. Pictured on the table are Carmen’s Rum Babycakes, Wiseman House Chocolates and wine from Messina Hof. More on page 38. Photos by Craig & Victoria Rogers GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 7
Postcard from Paradise Our Gulf Coast shores are rich in history. The earliest European settlers from Spain and France brought more than ships and supplies; they also brought their culture and traditions. One of the best known of these traditions is Mardi Gras. Although most people know Mardi Gras from New Orleans’ grand celebrations, most don’t know how and where it started, how it came to North America via the Gulf Coast, or the many traditions and festivities that occur each year weeks before the better known Fat Tuesday parades. This issue of Gulfscapes has an entire section dedicated to our Gulf Mardi Gras that will give you behind-the-scenes looks at the grand history, quaint traditions and unique people that make it one of the biggest celebrations of every year. Continuing with our focus on history, we visit the hulking ghosts of the American Civil War. Along the beautiful Gulf beaches, in the swamps that dominate our lowlands and even on our coastal islands lie numerous forts that played a major role in the war between the states. We highlight these forts with an eye on their development and their involvement in crucial battles. Most are open to the public and some are accessible by boat (the preferred Gulf Coast means of travel). Take a walk through time as we visit these haunting, if not haunted, remnants of our past. After exploring our past, we look forward to our future with a feel-good story about Sandra Beltran and Jerry Ward, a Texas couple who are trying to live out their dream by starting a winery in Argentina. In our dream-come-true department, we feature an article from Rick Lauman, a Mississippi charter boat captain who caught a monster redfish on fly gear. Bob Shirley is back with his second installment on the basics of fly fishing, should anyone catch the fly fishing bug from Rick’s article. Our featured home lies on Mustang Island, a thin barrier island in the Middle Texas coast. Its cozy beach house styling oozes comfort and charm. Don’t miss our collection of Texas made food and wine products seen throughout the home. Speaking of wine - it’s time to celebrate. And what could be more charming than the annual celebration of the arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau from France? This tradition adds lots of spirit to our holiday celebrations, and this year’s vintage is expected to be one of the best in decades.
Co-publisher Craig Rogers, top, served as a judge during the 2009 Alligator Soiree in New Orleans. Bottom, We have decided that this is the happiest turtle in the world. The photo was taken by Linda Sharlow prior to a turtle release on Padre Island.
So grab a bottle of Beaujolais and a bottle of Texan inspired Argentinean Malbec and pack your fly rod for a trip to a civil war fort, and get ready to catch your limit of redfish while practicing your Mardi Gras bead throwing. It’s the perfect Gulf Coast day!
Congratulations to all the chefs who competed in this year’s Great American Seafood Cook-Off (GASCO). We’d like to acknowledge the Gulf Coast chefs who participated: Chef Tory McPhail of Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, who walked off as the winner and new King of American Seafood; Chef Zack Compton of Geno’s Fresh Catch Grill in Orange Beach, Alabama; Chef Rob Stinson of Lookout 49 and Salute in Gulfport, Mississippi; and Chef Chuck Harris of Spindletop Steakhouse in Beaumont, Texas. August 7, 2010 is the date of next year’s GASCO. 8 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 9
W W W. C C T E X A S . C O M / G A S /
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Please call the Corpus Christi Gas Department for more information. Please call your Gas Department marketing representative at 361-885-6910 to get the complete details today.
followup A QUICK UPDATE FROM OUR LAST ISSUE
Louisiana Outback Steakhouses to buy only Louisiana shrimp In a major victory for the beleaguered Gulf Coast shrimp industry, Outback Steakhouse announced that it would buy only Louisiana shrimp for its 14 Louisiana restaurants. The Gulf shrimp industry has been staggered for several years by a combination of imported shrimp dumped on the U.S. market, high fuel costs, environmental regulations and those pesky hurricanes. Foreign imports are cheap because of ridiculously low pay for labor, the lack of enforcement of environmental and safety regulations by foreign governments, and subsidies by foreign (Story continued on page 66 within our seafood recipes.) ARK released five loggerhead sea turtles The Port Aransas Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) had its most ambitious rehabilitated sea turtle release to-date on September 5, 2009. Five large loggerhead sea turtles were released into the sea at Marker 35 on Mustang Island Gulf Beach. Each of these turtles weighed in at more than 100 pounds. The ARK treated an unprecedented number of large loggerheads this year. It took months to get the turtles ready for release (One, named Bette was with the ARK for 17 months!). Each turtle consumed up to 30 large squid every day.
Texas Sandfest named as a qualifying contest for the World Championship Texas Sandfest has recently been selected as a qualifying contest for The World
Championship of Sand Sculpture in Federal Way, Washington. Held annually on Mustang Island each April, Texas Sandfest was one of five (5) contests in the United States to achieve this recognition after the World organization looked at various aspects of contests held all over North America. Other competitions include contests in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire; South Padre Island, Texas; Fort Myers Beach, Florida; and Port Angeles, Washington. As a qualifying contest, Sandfest will draw the best sand sculptors from America and the world as the winner of the First Place Solo Division will automatically advance to The World’s, and the 2nd and 3rd Place Solo winners will be entered into a pool of sculptors who will be drawn upon as space allows. The World Championship recently relocated to the United States after having its home in Canada for over two decades. The Texas Sandfest will celebrate its 14th year on April 9-11, 2010.
dunes along 20 miles of beaches that protect the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge, $18.3 million to rebuild dunes on Bolivar Peninsula and a $1 million test project on South Padre Island that will place concrete-filled tubes underwater in beaches on the north end. The tubes will slow erosion by retaining sand usually lost to waves and currents. Patterson said the state is allocating $25 million for the effort. Matching funds from local communities and the federal government bring the total to more than $135 million. New Serge Storms Adventure Coming Our favorite mass-murdering hero, Serge A. Storms, will be back in action this January in a new adventure titled, “Gator-a-Go-Go”. Serge’s handler, author Tim Dorsey, has penned the 12th book in his popular Serge series, and it will be in bookstores on Jan. 26, 2010. Rumor has it that Serge, the utmost expert on all-thingsFlorida, was forced against his will to visit each and every Spring Break site in the Sunshine State. The damage Serge could do to Spring Breakers is mind-boggling! Evidently, the damage was enough that Serge had to retreat to that favorite criminal hide-out, the Everglades. Throw in a tour of some of Florida’s oldest and funkiest bars, and you’ve got yourself another grand Serge adventure. No body count provided.
Coastal Protection Plan announced in Texas On Sept. 15, 2009, a year after Hurricane Ike destroyed thousands of homes in Galveston, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has announced a $135.4 million plan to fight beach erosion and defend the coast against hurricanes. Patterson said the plan marks the biggest effort of its kind in Texas history. Work will begin immediately on 26 projects spanning the Texas coastline. The biggest will be a more than $46 million beach re-nourishment that will replace sand over a six-mile stretch from the west end of Galveston’s seawall. Other projects include $32 million to restore GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 11
events&happenings Alabama Dec. 3 - 29th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Open House Gulf Shores, AL. Gulf Shores Municipal Complex. The theme is “A Starry Christmas Night”. This holiday spirit-filled event is a family friendly occasion to celebrate the wonderful sights, sounds, tastes and scents of the Christmas holiday. Brightly twinkling lights, shiny ornaments, refreshments, and beautiful music will turn the area into a sparkling display of yuletide spirit. www.cityofgulfshores.org Dec. 8 - A Viennese Christmas - Gulf Shores, AL. Erie Meyer Civic Center. Celebrate the spirit of Vienna and the Holiday Season with The New Sigmund Romberg Orchestra in their delightful holiday program, A Viennese Christmas featuring 30 top professional orchestra musicians and four world class vocalists and conductor. www.cityofgulfshores.org Florida Nov. 20-22 - Gulf Coast Oyster Festival - Pensacola, FL. Seville Square. Sample food and wine from the best restaurants on the Gulf Coast. The Festival offers three days filled with oysters, seafood, live music, & arts & craft vendors. Seville Square is the perfect location for food lovers to enjoy oysters every way you like them: raw, stuffed, fried and baked, live chef demonstrations, cooking contests, interactive kids’ activities and live music. www.gulfcoastoysterfest.com Dec. 1 - Christmas Tree Lighting - Panama City, FL. Oaks by the Bay Park. Christmas Tree Lighting will take place at 5:30 PM at Oaks by the Bay Park. www.visitpanamacitybeach.com Dec. 4 - Lighting of the Lights - St. George Island, FL. St. George Island Visitor Center and Museum. Join the annual lighting of the holiday lights on St. George Island. Santa will arrive on a fire engine for the kids. The lighting will take place at dark. Lighthouse tours will be available. www.apalachicolabay.org Dec. 5 - SnowFest - Naples, FL. Collier County Parks/Sun-N-Fun Lagoon. 70 tons of snow, sled mountain, ice skating rink, full scale carnival, hands-on art & crafts, food, pony rides, petting zoo and pictures with Santa. www.snowfestnaples.com Dec. 12 - 23rd Annual Boat Parade of Lights - Panama City, FL. St. Andrews Bay Yacht Club. The annual Boat Parade of Lights comes to St. Andrews and Panama City on Dec. 12. Thousands of spectators gather every year to celebrate Christmas with the beautiful site of lighted boats on the water. www.visitpanamacitybeach.com
an event fit for a king new orleans 2009 great american seafood cook-off After five years of being a wonderful epicurean gathering that featured great chefs and great seafood, this year’s Sixth Annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off elevated into an official “Happening” event. With a TV star as host, multiple video cameras and huge video screens for the audience, sound and lighting staged by a rock and roll production company and an opening ceremony that included a Mardi Gras krewe band complete with stilt-walkers, the national anthem sung by Charmaine Neville, and an address by the state’s governor Bobby Jindal, it was clear that Harlon Pearce and Ewell Smith of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, the event’s producer, decided to go Big Time. And what a show it was. The bright spot lights, the energy from the contestants, the buzz from the crowd, and the atmosphere of anticipation was like a professional sporting event . . . at playoff time.
Dec. 12 - Carrabelle Boat Parade of Lights and Holiday on the Harbor - Carrabelle, FL. Kick off the Holiday Day Season on the Coast with the Boat Parade of Lights and Holiday on the Harbor. The City is decorated for the Holiday, with beautiful lights along Marine Street and the gorgeous city Riverwalk. www.carrabellechamber.com Dec. 31 - New Year’s Eve Celebration - Port St. Joe, FL. St. Joe Beach/Mexico Beach. Celebrate Safe-Celebrate Twice. No need to wait another 12 months to celebrate the next new year. Ring in the New Year twice. Start in the Eastern Time Zone in Port St Joe and St. Joe Beach, then travel west just five minutes to Mexico Beach and celebrate all over again an hour later in the Central Time Zone. The free shuttle bus will be carrying passengers to local hot spots and everywhere in between. www.visitgulf.com Louisiana Nov. 19-21 - Moss Bluff Harvest Festival - Moss Bluff, LA. VFW Post 9933. For family-oriented old fashioned fun, the Moss Bluff Harvest Festival invites residents and visitors alike to join the festivities at VFW Post 9933. The festival includes entertainment, carnival rides, food booths, a car show, arts and crafts. (337) 794-5432
Fifteen of the country’s finest chefs converged in New Orleans on July 18 to compete for the title of “King of American Seafood”. Each chef represented his/her home state, and was required to use sustainable seafood native to that state. The Gulf Coast states were represented as follows: Texas by Chef Chuck Harris from Spindletop Steakhouse in Beaumont; The new 2009 King of American Seafood, Chef Tory McPhail of Commander's Palace in New Orleans. Standing beside the King (l-r) are 2008 Cook-Off Winner John Currence, Harlon Pearce, TV star Captain Sig Hansen, of the Discovery Channel’s hit show, “The Deadliest Catch” and Louisiana chef extraordinaire John Folse. 12 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
Nov. 21 - Fiesta Latina - New Orleans, LA. The third annual Fiesta Latina is the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s celebration of the music, food and culture of Spain and Latin America, and their influence on New Orleans. This free event features one stage of music, showcasing the best Latin talent from region, plus a dozen fantastic food vendors, art and craft vendors and fun activities for the kids. www.jazzandheritage.org Dec. 5-31 - Southwest Louisiana Christmas Lighting Festival -
events&happenings Lake Charles, LA. Cups of hot apple cider, colored lights and Christmas carols, and a side of boudin! Experience the spirit of a Cajun Christmas in Calcasieu Parish, where the Parish celebrate numerous events, including parades, caroling, a performance by the Community Band, a lighted boat parade, gingerbread house contest and a glittering fireworks display. www.visitlakecharles.org. Dec. 12-13 - Treme Creole Gumbo Festival - New Orleans, LA. The second annual Treme Creole Gumbo Festival celebrates the history of Faubourg Treme as a hotbed of New Orleans musical and culinary culture. One stage of music will showcase the best jazz, blues and R&B artists from Treme. Trumpeter Kermit Ruffins is scheduled to headline the event on Dec. 12. Several outstanding New Orleans Creole restaurants will be on hand selling their own takes on gumbo and other local delicacies. Locally made wearable art, jewelry and home furnishings will be featured in the festival’s Arts & Crafts Market. www.jazzandheritage.org Mississippi Nov. 21-22 - 57th Annual Mississippi Gulf Coast Camellia Show - Biloxi, MS. MS State University Coastal Research Extension Building. The highlight of this show is table-upon-table of camellia blooms - thousands on display - a remarkable feat for this time of year! Also highly popular is the sale of hard-to-find camellias on grafted under stock. Other activities include demonstrations on preserving camellia blooms for flower arrangements by waxing; a plant raffle; talks on camellia care; and presentation of “Camellia of the year!” (228) 832-2405 Dec. 4 - 24th Annual Christmas in the Pass - Pass Christian, MS. Bring the whole family to enjoy for the annual tree lighting, parade with Santa, Mrs. Clause and their elves, live entertainment, great food, holiday games, antiques, and crafts. www.passchamber.ipower.com Dec. 5 - 24th Annual Christmas on Water Parade - Biloxi, MS. Join in on a community-wide celebration that offers something for all ages and all interests! Boats parade in full holiday décor with a fireworks show after the parade! Best parade viewing locations: between the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor and Casino Row, or between the Biloxi Lighthouse and Beau Rivage Resort & Casino! (228) 617-3112 Dec. 12 - Christmas on the Bayou - Gulfport, MS. Lighted boat parade down Bayou Bernard! The Parade begins in Gulfport Lake, down Bayou Bernard to the conclusion at the mouth of the Bayou at Big Lake. Bleacher seating available for public viewing at Gulfport Lake, and at the foot of the Cowan Lorrain Bridge. www.christmasonthebayou.org Texas Nov. 21 - Festival of Lights - Lake Jackson, TX. Civic Center and Plaza. Night parade and festival with food and crafts booths. www.lakejackson-tx.gov Nov. 27: Lighting of the Island - South Padre Island, TX. South Padre Island Visitors Center. Join Santa Claus for the official lighting of the island, along with refreshments and Christmas carols. www.sopadre.com
Chefs from The Great American Seafood Cook-Off prepared lunch for Covenant House, a refuge in New Orleans for teen runaways. L-R From New Jersey, Chef Erik Weathspool and Chef Peter J. Fischback of Good Stuff Catering; from Kentucky, Chef John Varanese and Chef Sam King of Varanese ; and from Illinois, Sous Chef TJ Martin and Chef Michael Taylor of 16 Plates.
Mississippi by Chef Rob Stinson from Lookout 49 and Salute Restaurant in Gulfport; and Louisiana by Tory McPhail from Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. Co-hosts for the event were Louisiana chef extraordinaire John Folse and TV star Captain Sig Hansen, of the Discovery Channel’s hit show, “The Deadliest Catch”. Captain Hansen regaled the crowd with his harrowing tales from the sea; the night before the Cook-Off he had regaled the Gulfscapes staff with an evening on Bourbon Street that showed just how popular his show has become; he was swarmed by fans and autographed everything from shoes to babies. The good Captain also proved that years of riding his ship on bucking seas was not good preparation for riding the mechanical bull on Bourbon Street. I digress. There were 15 small stages, one for each chef, and because the Cook-Off uses staggered starting times for each chef, the competition unfolded like 15 separate one-act plays. Each chef was alloted only an hour to prepare his dish. As soon as one chef had completed his dish and presented it to the judges on center stage, the audience’s focus and the TV cameras shifted to the next chef on the clock. All chefs were under extreme time pressure; take more than your alloted time and you are disqualified by the Master Time Keeper, Marc Jones of Jones and Associates Seafood Business Consulting, Seattle. Some chefs had more stressors than just the time deadline. As in major sporting events, there were back stories to be filled. Rhode Island Chef Nick Rabar’s seafood was being flown in and was delayed, so naturally, he drew the short straw and had to be the first to cook. Rabar’s clams and scallops didn’t arrive until just before he was scheduled to start
Nov. 27: SPI Invitational Division I Basketball Tournament South Padre Island, TX. South Padre Island Visitors Center. Div. I basketball teams from around the nation hoop it up on South Padre. www.sopadre.com
cooking. Illinois Chef Michael Taylor’s presentation plates were broken during transit. Taylor’s cooking time had almost expired before replacements were secured at the
Nov. 28 - Seaside Holiday - Palacios, TX. South Bay Park. Christmas lights are turned on and Santa arrives not in his sleigh, but in a shrimp boat. That’s how to kick-off the holidays in a fishing town! www.palacioschamber.com
last minute with the kind assistance of last year’s runner-
Dec. 4-5 - Houston Heights Holiday Home Tour - Houston, TX. Houston Heights. The tour will feature seven spectacular homes delightfully decorated for the holidays. Docents will be stationed at each home to point out the rich history, architectural features, furnishings, & decorations. www.houstonheights.org
dish featuring shrimp and Sheepshead, a fish normally
Dec. 5 - Texas Fishermen’s Seafood Festival - Palacios, TX. Music, craft vendors, face painting, helicopter rides, cook-offs, and lots and lots of seafood. www.texasfishermensfestival.com
guessed it, none to be found. McPhail’s home field advan-
Dec. 5 - 23rd Annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade - Port
up, Chef Brian Landry of Galatoire’s of New Orleans. And Chef Tory McPhail had his entry all planned out, with a readily available. Yes, normally is important in that sentence. When Chef McPhail went to purchase his fresh Sheepshead the morning of the Cook-Off, yes, you tage came into play, as he was able to call a friend who Mississippi Chef Rob Stinson. See recipes from Chefs on page 61.
was willing to go spearfishing immediately, and who delivered the Sheepshead directly to the Morial GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 13
events&happenings Isabel, TX. Lighted boats parade from Port Isabel City Dock, across the Laguna Madre and conclude on South Padre Island. www.portisabel.org Dec. 5 - Harbor Lights Festival - Corpus Christi, TX. City Marina, downtown. Laser light show, illuminated boat parade, vendors. Dec. 5 - Tropical Christmas Festival - Rockport, TX. Art galleries, chili cook-off, kite show, arts and crafts, food booths, live entertainment, visit with “Tropical” Santa, children’s ornament workshop, lighted boat parade, illuminated night land parade, and fireworks. www.cityofrockport.com Dec. 5 - Carolers Afloat/Boat Lighting Parade - Port Aransas, TX. Robert’s Point Park. Carolers take to boats to deliver their holiday songs along the City marina. www.portaransas.org Dec. 5-6 - Dickens on The Strand - Galveston, TX. Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Be it decreed that all lords, ladies and children shall come and celebrate the 36th Annual Dickens on The Strand, a holiday festival, where bobbies, Beefeaters and the Queen herself will be on hand to recreate the Victorian London of Charles Dickens. Characters from Dickens novels walk the street. Food and entertainment fill the area with sights and smells that take you back to another era. www.dickensonthestrand.org Dec. 10 - Cultural Lighted Parade - Port Arthur, TX. Downtown. Floats, horses, and, of course, Santa. www.portarthurtexas.com Dec. 12 - 48th Annual Christmas Boat Lane Parade - Kemah, TX. Kemah Boardwalk. Boats decorated with lights and themes parade past the boardwalk. www.kemahboardwalk.com
Governor Bobby Jindal helped kick off the Great American Seafood Cook-Off. With Jindal are Charmaine Neville, left, and Chef John Folse, far right.
Convention Center, where the Cook-Off took place.
Dec. 31 - Texas Bowl - Houston, TX. Reliant Stadium. NCAA Football Bowl game in the Bayou City. www.texasbowl.org Dec. 31 - New Year’s Eve Fireworks - South Padre Island, TX. Celebrate the New Year with a bang! Midnite between Marlin and Pike Streets on the Bay! www.sopadre.com
The final scene played out as it should, on center stage, where the judges had been tasting for hours, and where the exhausted chefs gathered to nervously await a decision and where the audience, cameras and spotlights were focused. After all 15 scenes had played out, the final reviews were in. The winner, and new King of American Seafood is . . . Tory McPhail from Louisiana! McPhail was presented his official crown by last year’s winner and Seafood King, chef John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, Mississippi. McPhails “Creole Seafood Mixed Grill” included not only shrimp and Sheepshead, but also lump crab meat. Part of the allure for this dish is that the Sheepshead and crab are very inexpensive and within a family’s budget, said McPhail. Asked about his new stature as Royalty, McPhail humbly stated, “I’m just a normal guy who happens to have a great job.” Runner-up this year was New Jersey’s Peter Fischbach, executive chef for Gourmet Dining Services at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, who’s dish was pan-seared sea scallops with creamy chili-herb grits. Third
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cranberry-infused birch syrup molasses. The main sponsor of the event was again NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, the governmental body that helps America maximize and conserve it’s fisheries. The Recipes from the 2009 Great American Seafood Cook-off are on page 61.
main purpose of sponsoring the Cook-Off is to promote sustainable seafood from each
state. John Oliver, the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Operations of the National Marine Fisheries Service, said the event had exceeded expectations and he was already looking for ways to top this year’s show. Topping this year’s Cook-Off is going to be tough. I’m thinking it’s time for Mr. Pearce and Mr. Smith to hire a Hollywood screenwriter. Where else are you gonna find this much drama? 14 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
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“Le Beaujolais Nouveau est Arrivé!”
“The new Beaujolais has arrived!” It is a call to arms for all wine
This year’s crop of gamay grapes is the best in 50 years. “We
lovers around the world, the start of the eagerly anticipated celebra-
have had perfect weather with 50,000 grape pickers hard at work
tion of the harvest in France, and in the United States an excuse to
across the 3,000 vineyards of Beaujolais since September 4th,” pro-
start the holiday party season early. France’s famous Beaujolais
claimed Duboeuf in his most recent harvest report, dated September
Nouveau will make its debut on
18th. “The grape bunches are small
November 19, 2009. French law dic-
with a fine purplish black color, and
tates that this vivacious, fruity red
are exceptionally rich in sugar. The
wine be released at 12:01 a.m. on
berries are thick, and the seeds are
the third Thursday in November, a
a gorgeous amber color, a sign of
decades old tradition that has
perfect phenolic maturity. Their
resulted in Beaujolais Nouveau cel-
brightness, intensity, and above all,
ebrations around the world, herald-
their perfect health are something
ing the wine’s arrival with costume
to behold. We have not seen any-
parties, special deliveries, music,
thing like this for a long time.” Beaujolais Nouveau is also afford-
and dancing. Leading Beaujolais wine produc-
able, coming in at a reasonable $9 -
er Georges Duboeuf will present
$11 per bottle this year, according to
William Deutsch, chairman of W.J.
Arrivé!” celebrations in New York,
Deutsch & Sons, Ltd., the exclusive
Las Vegas and Miami. Other parties
U.S. agent for Les Vins de Georges
will occur in Houston and New
Duboeuf. “Following last year’s
Orleans. Since 2009 marks the 40th
unprecedented, and successful,
break from tradition, the 2009
Duboeuf’s celebratory theme for this year’s Nouveau launch is
Beaujolais will once again be shipped by boat, not by air, to reduce
“Rootstock: Celebrating 40 Years of Peace, Love and Beaujolais
the carbon footprint of shipping the wine and to conserve fuel costs,
Nouveau!” What better theme for the brand known for the iconic
ensuring that retail prices are kept affordable for U.S. consumers,”
flowers on its bottles! Major publicity events and guerilla marketing
activities such as sit-ins at landmark locations will take place around
By French law, Beaujolais must be harvested by hand, and must
the US, which will include celebrities and celebrity chefs, and strong
grow on individual freestanding vines. One-third of the entire crop of
the Beaujolais region in Southern France is sold as Nouveau
Beaujolais Nouveau is made from 100 percent gamay — a thin-
Beaujolais. More than 65 million bottles are expected to be con-
skinned grape with lower tannins. Wine drinkers enjoy its freshness
sumed in the months after its release. Don’t get left out. Grab a hand-
on the palate. The Nouveau should be served slightly chilled - 55
ful of bottles on Nov. 19 so you can start your holiday season in style!
degrees; a half an hour in the fridge will do. Described by Duboeuf as
Gulf Coast Nouveau Events: Nov. 19, 2009 - Houston French
“the wine without rules”, it drinks like a white, with lively fruit flavors
American Chamber of Commerce’s Soiree Beaujolais and Beyond! -
and an easy style. The wine pairs perfectly with casual food and is
Houston, TX. The Hilton at Post Oak. www.facchouston.com. Nov. 19,
also known by gourmets as a great complement to Thanksgiving
2009 - Beaujolais Nouveau Festival 2009 - New Orleans, LA. The
turkey and ham.
Foundry. For more info call 504-561-0071. : GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 15
16 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
Argentina, the birthplace of the tango, is now the birthplace of a new winery started by a Texas couple. Sandra Beltran and Jerry Ward met in 2001 at the Ikal del Mar Hotel on Mexicoâ€™s Mayan Riviera. The two hit it off immediately and as luck would have it, they were both from Houston. Once back in the Bayou City, they realized they shared many of the same interests, including gourmet foods, fine wine and travel. During their courtship, they traveled to Napa Valley for harvest season and also visited the wine regions of Australia, France and Italy. They eventually married in 2003. The happy couple and a group of entrepreneur-
Sandra Beltran and Jerry Ward met in 2001 at the Ikal del Mar Hotel on Mexico’s Mayan Riviera.
ial friends took a hiking trip to Argentina’s Aconcagua Mountain and were amazed by the region’s natural beauty and fantastic wines. That trip sparked the idea to start their own vineyard. When it came time to name the winery, they chose the name “Ikal 1150,” which comes from the Mayan word for “poetry” and the altitude of the grape fields, in meters. The Ikal name is a constant reminder of the hotel where their personal and business journey began. The Ikal 1150 vineyard is located in the hills of Mendoza, Argentina, near where the couple took their hiking trip. The winery produces three distinctive vintages: a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Malbec, and a Chardonnay. The grapes are grown in sandy, rocky soil bathed with lots of sunshine by day and bright stars and cool
dry air at night. The challenging soil conditions and temperature variance make the vines struggle and the fruit ripen slowly, giving the wines their signature body and distinct flavor, which wine drinkers describe as “poetry in a bottle,” partly due to the name and partly due to the unique taste. The couple chose to launch the wine in their home state. They knew that Texans love good food and good wine and they could not think of a better place to get it started. They are determined to make it successful and are splitting the responsibilities to make it happen. Jerry focuses on the day-to-day operations of the company and Sandra handles the public relations, sales and marketing. They are also still working their day jobs. Jerry is an Oracle consultant and Sandra runs a management and marketing comGULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 17
The Malbec is our personal favorite. It has a good balance between m i n e r a l i t y, f r u i t , a n d s p i c e .
The Ikal 1150 vineyard (The name comes from the Mayan word for “poetry” and the altitude of the grape fields, in meters.) is located in the hills of Mendoza, Argentina. The winery produces three distinctive vintages: a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Malbec, and a Chardonnay. The grapes are grown in sandy, rocky soil bathed with lots of sunshine by day and bright stars and cool dry air at night. The challenging soil conditions and temperature variance make the vines struggle and the fruit ripen slowly, giving the wines their signature body and distinct flavor, which wine drinkers describe as “poetry in a bottle,” partly due to the name and partly due to the unique taste.
pany for luxury hotels. “It has definitely been an uphill battle trying to launch the wine in a distressed economy, where the market is saturated with good wines and very low prices.” said Sandra. “The one thing that keeps us going is the moral support from good friends, and the warm reception we get from restaurants when they find out we are Texans . . . that keeps us motivated.” Ikal 1150 only produces 1000 cases for the U.S. each year, with the majority going to Texas. The company’s wines won the San Diego Critics Choice Award in 2008 and Bronze medals at the Houston Rodeo “Bits and Bites” competition in 2009. So what’s next for Houston’s wine duo? They are currently developing the Ikal Mendoza luxury hotel, set to open in 2012, which will sit next to the grape fields in Argentina and treat guests to the finest accommodations, food and – of course – wines. But what about the tango? You can’t have an Argentinean winery without throwing in some tango, can you? “Last month we were in Argentina,” said Sandra, “and we took tango lessons at Puro Tango Studio. According to the teacher, I need to ‘practice in my kitchen’ before I go back. Not an easy dance to learn!” It’s not easy to start a winery, either, but Sandra and Jerry seem to be capable of both. Gulfscapes sat down with Sandra and Jerry recently to learn more about the couple and their dreams. Here’s our interview. 18 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
What made you choose Argentina for the winery? Our first vineyard experience was in Napa and Sonoma Valley in California. We immediately felt a calling to the vineyards and the wineries there, but the prices made it unattainable. We took a vacation to Australia, and visited the wine country in the Barossa Valley and also in western Australia. We really liked Australia, but realized that the distances would be too much, without a partner there. We then went to Argentina and fell in love with the beauty, the people and the terrain. As a bonus one of our partners, Daniel Silva, lives there. He is a native and handles the day-to-day operation of the vineyard. With a trusted friend and partner in Argentina, it just made perfect sense. Can you suggest a couple of food parings for each of your wines? The wines are each produced in the “Old World” style. Our winemaker trained in France, and we have gravitated to the more balanced, food friendly style of wines. The Chardonnay pairs particularly well with ceviche and other seafood including shellfish. We use no malolactic fermentation so there is no butter, and the acidity and taste of the grapes is preserved. The Malbec is our personal favorite. It has a good balance between minerality, fruit, and spice. We love it by itself or with red and white meats, marinated chicken, and anything spicy. Careful, it might fan the flames! BBQ is sometimes difficult to pair with wine, but Malbec does the trick. Our Cabernet Sauvignon is our boldest wine, but it is still very balanced and best enjoyed with food. The high altitude makes the tannins round and the finish sweet. Perfect with a beef or buffalo steak, nutty cheeses, or bitter chocolate. For 2009, we’re also releasing a Torrontes and a Pinot Noir. Torrontes is a uniquely Argentine grape with lots of floral notes and good acid. It pairs well with white meats like pork and game as well as mild- to medium-bodied cheeses. Pinot Noir is not typical of Mendoza, but our vineyard’s high altitude, low temperature micro-climate and our viticulturist’s finesse made it possible. The Pinot Noir has a solid earth and spice profile that balances its cherry fruit. We like it with chicken, white meats, and even fish! Did you learn to make wine, or did you partner with a vintner? Together with our partner, we assembled a great team and we’re fortunate that their palettes match ours. We like to participate in the blending when possible, but we’re fortunate these talented individuals know it better than we. Luis Martinez is the head enologist. He is a native Argentine who trained both in Argentina and France. Ultimately, Luis makes the wine. Ricardo Alvarez is our viticulturist and also manages the daily operations of the vineyard. Ricardo has worked with us from day one, and has built or planted just about every thing here. You can buy Ikal1150 wines and get information on the group’s other ventures at www.1150wine.com. :
thegoodlife boat + style + travel The M/Y M.T. Time, a new generation 85 foot yacht.
DE BIRSâ€™ NEW 85-FOOT YACHTâ€“ DESIGNED FOR ENTERTAINING ON THE OPEN SEAS ...
jet set elegance Alexandria, Egypt is one of the oldest seaports in the world. Ships
the luxury jet industry to bear on the design ideas incorporated into
have been built here for thousands of years. The craftmanship of
De Birs yachts. His aviation experience has resulted in the intelligent
Egyptian shipwrights has been handed down through the genera-
use of space and flawless interiors, resulting in a reputation exceed-
tions. Today, De Birs Yachts is using the shipyards of Alexandria, and
ed by none.
its ancient shipbuilding tradition, to create their innovative brand of Super Yachts. The innovation starts with how the yachts are designed. De Birs chairman, Tarek M. Ragheb, has brought his years of experience in
By building the interior directly on the hull, like an aircraft interior is built directly onto the fuselage, De Birs is able to offer a yacht with more space per linear foot. And space is always at a premium when building a luxury yacht. GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 19
Designed to maximize interior space and arranged to enhance entertainment and hosting of friends, business associates and families, the M.T. Time is equipped with zero speed stabilizers, a larger Forward Salon/Theatre Room with 52” LED HDTV and an incredible entertaining system as well as a 50” HDTV screen in the Main Salon.
The De Birs 85 comes with the choice of either a standard Contemporary or Custom interior layout. The Contemporary layout comes in two choices-Elegant, featuring dark wood, or Modern, featuring light wood.
Master cabin features rounded design elements and beautiful woodwork.
Custom interior designs include high gloss, satin finish, or matt wood veneer– just a few of the many items available to create your perfect space. 20 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
Up front is the Forward Salon that offers several functional areas which include a private sitting area/family room, a home theatre and the owner’s office.
Sporting a sleek, aerodynamic profile, the 85 has a raised pilot house and is configured to separate the crew from the owners and guests. According to Christophe Gerke, De Birs Regional Sales Executive for Europe, De Birs manufactures semi-customized high luxury fibreglass motor yachts between 85 and 112 feet in length. Featured in our photos is the M/Y M.T. Time, a new generation 85 footer, designed to maximize interior space and arranged to enhance entertainment and hosting of friends, business associates and families. M.T. Time is equipped with zero speed stabilizers, a larger Forward Salon/Theatre Room with 52” LED HDTV and an incredible entertaining system as well as a 50” HDTV screen in the Main Salon. The new flybridge layout allows great space utilization and additional storage room and the bow section has loudspeakers installed for the benefit of sunbathers. The De Birs 85 comes with the choice of either a standard Contemporary or Custom interior layout. The Contemporary layout comes in two choices-Elegant, featuring dark wood, or Modern, featuring light wood. Of course, with a yacht of this caliber, a custom interior is often the choice. “In general all furniture is available in various high quality wood of our customer’s choice, and we do work with mahogany and ana grey,” said Gerke. “We provide, for example, high gloss, satin finish, or matt wood veneer. As for surfaces, furniture tops can be in wood veneer, glass, or Corian, but we also work with our clients in fulfilling their desires. As for flooring we provide fitted carpets, high quality teak and glass mosaic.” Sporting a sleek, aerodynamic profile, the 85 has a raised pilot house and is configured to separate the crew from the owners and guests. The Main Salon’s open plan and spacious layout offers a full bar and owner’s galley, a dining table that converts into a coffee and game table, plus a spacious sitting area that allows the owner to entertain a large number of guests. Up front is the Forward Salon that offers several functional areas which include a private sitting area/family room, a home theatre and the owner’s office. De Birs’ focus on getting the fine details right doesn’t stop with the sale of the yacht. De Birs also offers its customers crew recruitment, crew training, yacht operations, yacht and crew administration, yacht maintenance and after sales support, and assistance in finding appropriate berthing for its clients’ cruising needs. Ah, customer service . . . a key to business success since the time of the Pyramids. : Top, There is a 50” HDTV screen in the Main Salon. Middle, The new flybridge layout allows great space utilization and additional storage room and the bow section has loudspeakers installed for the benefit of sunbathers. Bottom, neon-lighted name. Directly below, Cruising speed is a swift 23 knots.
De Birs 85 RPH Size & Main Characteristics Length overall (LOA) 85 ft Beam overall 6.03 19.78 ft Draft at full load (from base line) 3.81 ft Dead rise 16 degrees Full load displacement 72 t. Fuel capacity 2,047 gal. Fresh water capacity 343.40 gal Generator: 2 x 32 kW Kohler Power: 2 x 1,500 HP, MTU Cruising speed 23 knots Maximum speed 27 knots (+/-5%) Cabins: 4 + Crew Berths: 8 + Crew Head Compartments: 4 + Crew Building Material: GRP Yacht Design: De Birs Yachts / Barilani Naval Architecture: De Birs Yachts / Arrabito Engineering: De Birs Yachts / Arrabito Interior Design: H2 (Howard & Horsfield) Builder: De Birs Yachts GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 21
Getting to the fish in style. 22 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
mitzi skiffs offers affordable poling boats for gulf coast flats You can’t fly fish from just any boat. The typical fishing boat’s structures make it hard to cast a fly line without getting your line wrapped around a boat part. So flats boats, with little structure to get in the way, are a good choice for the fly angler. And Mitzi Skiffs are a good choice for a fly fishing flats boat, says Rick Leonard, Sales Manager for Mitzi Skiffs. “Fly fishing requires more room than regular cast fishing,” he said. “You need more foot room and more room to make a cast with those long fly poles.” To get more deck room for the angler, the Mitzi line, which ranges from 15 to 17 feet in length, has a very useful feature-the Carolina flair. According to Leonard, the Carolina flair is the industry term for the very wide, flared hull of the boat. This extreme flaring of the hull upward and outward makes the deck much wider than that of a boat with little to no flair. The wide deck at the front of the Mitzi skiff is created by the Carolina flair. And the wider deck gives a fly fisher more room to make his cast. “On a Mitzi, you have plenty of foot room while the boat is still nice and stable,” Leonard said. The wide bow deck of the Mitzi is uncluttered by storage compartments. Why? “When a fly fisher is stripping off line to increase the length of his cast, the extra line often ends up on the deck,” said Leonard. “If a storage locker is underfoot, the line can get caught on the locker. We want to keep the deck as clean as possible so lines don’t get caught.” To further that goal, Mitzi skiffs also have a spring loaded, recessed bow cleat, meaning the cleat is stowed even with the deck, rather than protruding above it. This keeps the cleat from fouling fishing line. The cleat can be raised with a push when it’s needed to tie up. Fishing the flats that surround most of the Gulf of Mexico requires a different kind of boat. The flats are favorite hunting grounds for redfish and black drum. “These fish will stalk their prey into water so shallow that their fins are above water,” exclaimed Leonard. To get to these fish in the extremely shallow flats, a boat cannot draw too much water. Flats boats are designed specifically to float in these shallow areas. The Mitzi Skiffs only require around six inches of water to float, allowing access to all but the shallowest flat. And once in the flats, stealth is required to keep from spooking the fish. Thus, a push pole platform is standard on each Mitzi. To increase the stealth element, the Mitzi’s hull is designed to prevent slapping noise from waves, which can scare fish. These thoughtful design elements are one of the reasons for the Mitzi’s popularity. Another reason is their price-they start at $11,995, and top out around $25,000. That’s much less than a lot of other flats boats. “When I first started comparing flats boats,” said Leonard, “I was helping a friend. He’d heard of Mitzi Skiffs and wanted one. When I saw they were half the price of their competitors, it was a no brainer to get involved.” So in February of 2009, Custom Fiberglass Products, Inc., of which Leonard is a part, bought Mitzi Skiffs from its originator, Tom Mitzlaff. There are only two Mitzi authorized dealers on the Gulf Coast, Rockport Marine in Rockport, Texas and Gulf Coast Boat Sales, in New Port Richey, Florida. “We have some really great dealers,” said Leonard. “We appreciate dealers that have the same passion for boats as we do. For example, John Harris, from Rockport Marine, the first time I met him, I knew he had the passion. I felt it instantly. Dealers with passion take care of their customers, and we’re fortunately to have great dealers.” : Mitzi Skiffs are some of the most affordable skiffs on the market. Opposite, top: A Mitzi Skiff cuts a clean profile on the flats. Bottom, left: Getting to the fish isn’t a problem-the Mitzi floats in six inches of water. Bottom, right: poling platforms come standard on the Mitzi line. In Texas Mitzi Skiffs can be found at Rockport Marine 361-729-7820. Mitzi Skiffs photos by Vitalic Photo. GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 23
PHOTOS BY CRAIG ROGERS
BY BOB SHIRLEY
“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a s h o r t a g e o f f i s h i n g p o l e s .” – Doug Larson
flyl ine basics In the first article of this series, I left out any discussion of fly line because the line is so different from conventional fishing line that it dictates some of the tactics and strategies used in fishing it. In this article, we’ll learn about fly line construction, limitations, and how it fits into the total package. 24 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
techniques&tips In fly fishing, you wind “backing” on to the reel and attach it to the back end of the fly line to cushion the line and to act as a backup if a fish takes out all 90 feet of the fly line. Backing is just flat woven nylon fishing line, colorful, strong, and you may need hundreds of yards of it. On the front end of the fly line, you attach a nylon or fluorocarbon tapering leader for attaching flies and to isolate the fly from the fly line. Leaders average about 9 feet, but may be 2 feet to more than 20 depending on usage. Most modern fly lines are multi-layered plastic and consist of a core, a woven sheath over the core, and a hard outer layer. At the beginning or front end of the line, it is light and thin for about the first 5 feet and is attached to the butt section of the leader. Moving back along the line, it now tapers up in diameter for 25 feet or more and is called the weighted section because of the greater diameter which makes it heavier. Also, the weight forward section (WF) is where manufacturers get creative and make different tapers for special needs and situations. Back to the 30 foot mark – now the line tapers back down and becomes a 60 foot section of thin and light “running line”. Why? The answer lies in the weight of the fly – practically zero. How do you throw the fly to the fish if it weighs nothing and has a bunch of feathers sticking out making it act like a parachute? The answer is to throw the heavy line. The first 30 feet of the line is heavy and will have enough momentum when cast to drag the fly along for the ride. This is why you need 9 feet of rod and a completely unnatural stroke to accomplish a cast, but it is worth it. Besides, you don’t need to remember all of this every time you cast – just have faith that the system works. The act against nature which we call fly casting is unique in sports. Both the forward and back rod strokes are equal in power and both involve coming to an abrupt stop at the end. All other sports movements involving equipment (golf, tennis, hockey, baseball) are a slow backstroke and a hard forward stroke with no intentional stop. At the end of each fly casting stroke, there is a HARD stop with the rod pretty much at the vertical and the reel at or slightly below eye level. This allows the line to pass just over the tip of the fly rod and begin to straighten out in the air. Since the line has the weight, when it straightens out, its momentum loads (bends) the stopped rod and stores energy in the rod to be used in the next stroke/cast. This storing and re-using of energy accelerates the line in successive strokes and allows increases in distance and wind fighting capability. Notice I said wind fighting. The wind acts on the line because it has a large diameter right at the place that is used in every cast. The wind can blow the line and the fly right back at you if it is a head wind or a side wind. This can be dangerous since the fly is, after all, just a decorated hook and doesn’t discriminate in what it hooks. Therefore, special casts need to be mastered to overcome the effects of the wind. The Belgian cast, the steeple cast and more have been developed to combat and overcome the effects of the wind. A very simple techTop, Bob Shirley holds a 28-inch trout caught in the canal behind his home in North Padre. The colors on the fish were so vibrant that it was almost impossible to take its photo in direct sunlight. The fish was released. Several weeks later, North Padre Island, TX was hit with a powerful Red Tide. We hope there are still big fish in the canals and along the Gulf this Fall to catch. Middle, The best part of fishing– see trout recipe on page 26. Bottom, Backing is shown at top of photo, fly line is shown in the middle and the leader is at the bottom. GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 25
This spotted trout carried some pretty wicked teeth.
Quick Trout Veracruz 2 4 2 1 1 /2
tablespoons of ground cumin trout fillets (6 oz each) tablespoons of olive oil jar of salsa (16 oz) cup cilantro fresh lime quartered
1. Rub cumin on one side of each fillet. 2. Heat oil in large, non-stick skillet; add fillets, cumin side down. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Reduce heat to low; carefully turn fish over. Pour salsa over fish; sprinkle with 1/4 cup of cilantro. Cover; cook until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro and plate with quarter of lime. Don’t forget the Texmati Rice.
26 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
nique which I use is to merely lay the rod parallel to the water and cast side arm. The effect of the wind is minimized when the line is low to the water and the stroke of the rod becomes more natural and more like a tennis stroke. Another sure fire way to beat Mr. Wind is to not fish or at least not use fly gear when the wind is howling. By this time, you may be starting to understand why and how we fly fish. There are advantages and limitations just like in most things. However, the advantages make it a preferred method. Notice I said preferred and not the best. I feel there are times and places for all three methods of casting – spin, level wind, and fly. I use all three at different times and like to catch fish with spinning gear and plugs just as much as the next guy, but I love to fly cast. A fly landing on the water is silent compared to a plug or popping cork touching down. The rubber legs and flexible fibers on a fly give it life in the water and the strands of tinsel give it flash and sparkle as it just sits there waiting. Then you strip in some of the line and cause the fly to ‘swim’ forward. Stop stripping and the fly sinks back to the bottom just like a shrimp or crab would. The fish sees the movement or the flash and is attracted to the fly. You strip again and the fish accelerates to investigate. Strip again and the fish strikes to prevent the morsel from escaping down a hole or under a rock. Mr. Fish has just been fooled into believing a hook covered in feathers, fur, tinsel and flash is a shrimp or a crab or a small fish. For more information visit www.fedflyfishers.org. :
on the Upper Padre Island shore with Chuck Matthews The South Texas and Corpus Christi
Laguna Madre, which is normally 40% higher than in the nearby Gulf
area suffered through a historic
of Mexico. In any event, the fishing this summer was slow.
drought this summer. Combined with
Fortunately, rain came in late September and things have picked
up. Higher tides have returned, which have also helped. Visibility in
extremely low tides, the lack of rain-
the flats has been great, making sight casting for redfish a great
fall had a severe effect on fishing in
experience. The redfish are schooled up and running for their
the Upper Laguna Madre, where
annual migration to the Gulf for mating and spawning, which
many fishermen concentrate on red-
makes this a great time of year to get a really big red. Itâ€™s a
fish and trout in the shallow, grassy
good time to go fishing!
flats. Why the drought affected saltwater fish isnâ€™t easy to understand, but I suspect it has something to do with the salinity of the
Capt. Chuck and his boat are available for charter for fishing, as well as for dolphin and bird watching cruises. 361-774-2643 GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 27
FISHING FOR A WEDDING SPOT? 28 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
Dancing Waters Chapel
GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 29
30 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
THE PERFECT MARRIAGE – WEDDINGS AND FISHING Between Port St. Joe and Homosassa, in
ing,” said Dean. It’s a quick three mile jaunt
Dean said. Local guides can also be arranged
the Big Bend of Florida’s Nature Coast, lies
down the river to the Gulf, where fly fishing
through the Lodge. The restaurants in town
the sleepy fishing village of Steinhatchee.
for spotted trout is prime sport. Throw in
will cook your fish if you so choose. The
The Steinhatchee River shuffles through
some redfish, tarpon, mackerel and cobia,
Lodge also offers catering. There are plenty
town, eventually emptying into the Gulf at
and the flats fishing is top notch.
of other amenities for fly fishermen who
Deadman Bay. Along the cypress and oak
If you happen to be at the Lodge
bring the family, including tennis, basketball,
lined banks of the river lies the peaceful
between July 1 and September 10, you’re in
croquet, ping pong, swimming, volleyball,
Steinhatchee Landing Resort, which sports
store for a treat. That’s scallop season, and
cycling, archery and a children’s playground.
an Old Florida style atmosphere and quick
Steinhatchee is Florida’s scallop capitol. The
Canoes and kayak are available for rent, and
access to great fly fishing.
normally sleepy town gets crowded as peo-
a pontoon boat that holds up to 12 people
The resort was started in 1990 by owner
ple come to catch the tasty mollusk. “It’s like
can be chartered for river or Gulf trips.
and developer Dean Fowler, with the pur-
an Easter Egg hunt under water,” said Dean.
Along the paths that run through the
pose of capturing the Old Florida feel of the
Scallop hunting usually takes place from a
property, you’ll find wooden bridges that
area. Today, sixty-six Victorian and Florida
boat, but a snorkel and mask, fins and a
cross a picturesque tidal creek, picket
Cracker style tin-roofed houses populate the
mesh bag are all the gear required to stalk
narrow, twisting streets of the naturally land-
the creatures. “They’re normally found
scaped and oak covered 35 acres that com-
among the sea grass. You have to look and
prise the resort.
grab them. They’ll move and run from you,”
For those looking to fish, you’ve come to
The Lodge has docking for up to 15
Steinhatchee exists is fishing and scallop-
boats, and many anglers bring their own,
Steinhatchee Landing Resort was developed by Dean Fowler who remains the owner. Opposite page, top, left and right, Couples who are outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the easy access to activities such as kayaking and fly fishing. Pontoon boats are available for charted river or Gulf coast trips as well. Opposite, left, middle, Dancing Waters Chapel is on site and available for wedding services. Above, an outdoor wedding reception. Catering is available through the Lodge.
GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 31
Above, Outdoor gazebo. Top, right, The honeymoon cottage. Middle, right, The interior of the honeymoon cottage. Bottom, right, Breakfast at the welcom center.
fences, gazebos and swings, a vegetable, herb and spice garden, croquet lawn and a petting zoo. And occasionally, you’ll even find amorous manatees. “We had several manatees come up the creek to mate a couple of years ago,” Dean related. Those aren’t the only animals that can be seen in the area. Wild turkeys, foxes and deer are regular visitors. No matter if you’re a solo fly fisher, a group of friends or a large family, the Steinhatchee Landing Resort has a lot to offer . . . games, wildlife, good food and, of course, lots of great fishing.
Wedding Wines Not into all those bubbles? Seeking an alternative to regular old champagne? Here are a few suggestions for those seeking to avoid serving the standard wedding drink. Gulfscapes asked Chef Nathan Gresham, Chef de Cuisine at Galatoire’s Bistro in Baton Rouge, LA for his recomendations: Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Clos de l’Oratoire, Oroppas from St. Clement Winery and Plungerhead from Don Sebastiani & Sons’ The Other Guys label. 32 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
PHOTOS & TIPS BY VITALIC PHOTO
TIPS FOR YOUR COASTAL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHS CAPTURING MOTHER NATURE When creating a timeline for your wedding day, it is best to try and schedule your portrait session around the setting of the sun. This is the best time to create some truly amazing portraits on the beach. It will create a nice warm, flattering glow on your skin, as well as help to avoid harsh shadows on the face. Also, if youâ€™re lucky, it will create a beautiful sky for dramatic backgrounds. Another creative idea is to break the rules and position the subjects in front of the sun, to create a black silhouette against a beautiful sunset. It is fun to have the bride and groom spaced out, maybe dancing or holding hands, whatever comes naturally to them, so that they can create interesting photos that are uniquely their own. Sometimes the wind can work in your favor. The beach can sometimes become very windy, so make sure to place the bride and groom at the most flattering angle. Try to have the wind blowing their hair away from their face. CAPTURING THE DETAILS Sometimes itâ€™s best to take some time to scope out the area for any interesting details. Maybe there is a nice patch of sea oats or some
Schedule your portrait session around the setting of the sun. This is the best time to create some truly amazing portraits on the beach. It will create a nice warm, flattering glow on your skin, as well as help to avoid harsh shadows on the face. GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 33
PHOTOS & TIPS BY VITALIC PHOTO
Most couples include a shot of their rings in their wedding album. For a beach wedding, borrow a starfish from the wedding décor and position the rings on them like a finger.
kind of greenery that will make for a nice backdrop. Sometimes even old rustic docks and boardwalks make for a unique setting. With every wedding, we try to steal the couples’ rings for some interesting detail shots. For a beach wedding, it is great to borrow a starfish from the wedding décor and position the rings on them like a finger. CAPTURING THE ACTION Being at the beach reminds everyone of carefree living, so what better place to let your wedding party break lose? A nice sandy beach is the perfect opportunity to have fun with your best friends and create some unforgettable photographs. Maybe the bridal party could be running along the surf’s edge? Or have everyone jump in the air with arms out to share some genuine smiles and laughs in the photographs. :
Make sure to visit your photo shoot location prior to your appointment with the photographer. Walk the area and find several spots that just make you and your future spouc want to stop and kiss.
Ronnie’s Marine began operations in Aransas Pass, TX, opening our first shop in 1979 on the corner of Moore Ave. & Hwy 35 N. In 1988, a second location was opened at 7406 South Padre Island Drive in Corpus Christi, TX with that store relocating in Spring of 2007 just across the highway to 7601 SPID! Boat and motor lines have grown and changed. We make every effort to always carry the highest quality product. We are proud of our Yamaha motor line that boast the highest technology in the industry. We carry a variety of boat lines with styles to suit all needs. Each boat is custom-rigged to your specifications, from custom platforms and electronics right down to cup and rod holders.
We are always trading for used Motors........call either store to check our used motor Inventory.
Venture Marine was founded 13 years ago in West Palm Beach, FL when a group of boatbuilders wanted to take center console boating to a new level. They combined all of their boating, designing and fishing experiences together to create the Venture 34.
Custom Aluminum- When you’re ready for that custom aluminum for your boat, give us a call for pricing on T-tops, K-tops, custom shade systems, swim platforms, etc.
The design and performance of the 34 made it one of the highest regarded boats in sportfishing communities. The Venture team has consistantly produced innovative products that maintain their unsurpassed reputation. The attention to detail transcends into the final product. Venture boats are built in a new, state-of-the-art facility in Riviera Beach, FL, where quality and efficiency are the primary goals. Although capacities and labor force could build many more boats, Venture remains focused on quality.
Aransas Pass 105 W. Moore Ave Aransas Pass, TX Toll-free 877-311-0570 Tel (361) 758-2140
Corpus Christi 7601 SPID Corpus Christi, TX Toll-free 877-322-1721 Tel 361-994-0317
Now in stock: Carolina Skiff, Majek, K-2 Marine, Contender, Venture, Hewes, Pathfinder, Maverick & Alweld Aluminum.
Ronnie’s Marine is an exclusive Yamaha motor dealer & service center. Call for a quote on a new Yamaha motor. Yamaha offers extended warranties for your new motor under their Y.E.S. (Yamaha Extended Service) warranty plan.
WE SELL ELECTRONICS and CUSTOM ALUMINUM!! Competitive installed pricing! GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 35
Caught on the Fly with Rick Lauman
mississippi reds Robert Brodie and I had never met before
eries that cater directly to the fly chucker. All
our fishing trip in August of 2006, but we had
along the coast are in-shore bays and bayous
heard of each other through a mutual friend. He
making up a myriad of marsh fishing opportuni-
is an outdoor writer and photographer and hard-
ties. Ten miles or so off the coastline lay sever-
core fisherman. I invited him to Ocean Springs,
al barrier islands with hard sand and grass flats
Mississippi to try his hand at fly fishing for big
surrounded by deep cuts. Both areas provide
redfish. We embarked on a sight-fishing trip to
consistent and excellent opportunities for sight
a spot in the marsh where I had been catching
fishing with a fly rod.
some big reds. Though he is mostly a bait
The flats of the barrier islands off
slinger (a really good one) he grabbed the fly
Mississippi - Cat, Ship, Horn and Petit Bois -
rod and took the front of the flats boat and
bear a stronger resemblance to the Florida Keys
demonstrated excellent proficiency casting the
than they do to the nearby inshore marshes.
Grass beds and white sand bars in crystal clear
As a guide I am accustomed to initiating
water make for lighter colored fish as opposed
small talk to break the ice with a new angler. I
to their marsh brethren, who tend to be dark
eased the skiff along the first bank and was
copper. Pink is an outstanding fly color at the
relaying a story about an airplane that crashed
islands, while chartreuse in dirty water and tan
in the backyard when I was outside working on
with copper flash in clean water work best in
my boat. That was the only story I got to tell as
the marshes. Don’t be afraid to tie some BIG
we began encountering redfish in singles and
flies for these reds. Schools of bull reds up to
pairs along a 400-yard long bank. We saw a total
40 pounds move onto the bars as the fall pro-
of 20 fish each, all over 20 pounds, in the first
gresses and they will often ignore a standard
pass. Robert laid his fly on top of them, but was
clouser or small crab pattern. Weighted flies are
refused each time. We were a little stunned not
standard fare unless the grass is thick. A 4-5
to stick one but it happens and it was still early.
inch tan fly tied like a Black Death is, well, tan
We scratched our heads and ran the boat
death for redfish. These are tied with tan hack-
back to the starting point to go again. I took the
les and a tan marabou head with 6 - 8 strands
bow and in minutes a pair of bull reds appeared
of copper or gold flash and dumbbell eyes. The
40 feet from the boat in a foot of water. As luck
same fly in chartreuse or white is also killer.
would have it, the biggest one ate my fly and
Redfish in the marshes tend to be singles or
ten minutes later we were weighing, photo-
pairs and run the banks in ponds with water
graphing and releasing a red of 36 pounds that
depths from just a few inches to a couple of
surpassed the state record by four pounds. We
feet. Often anglers can stake out on points and
weren’t through and got several more big fish
pick these fish off as they cruise. Early in the
on the fly, including a redemption fish for
season they are not usually skittish or picky.
Robert. We closed the trip by pulling three
Leaders of 6 feet are fine and help to turn heavy
tripletails off of crab pots with a 3 weight. This
flies over quickly. Just about anything plopped a
was the first trip of the season following Katrina
foot or two in front of a red gets charged and
and I was relieved to see so many big fish back
slammed. When the fish are this active the
where they belong. And this trip is not the
brighter flies are better as an angler just has to
exception, but a good sampling of what fly
get the fly in the general vicinity to be success-
flingers can encounter in shallow water in the
ful. If fish act skittish then it’s time to change to
fall in Mississippi.
natural colors, longer leaders and careful pre-
Early October brings the first cool snap to
sentations. Though these fish can crash flies at
the Mississippi Gulf Coast, dropping water
the boat and otherwise act dumb as rocks,
temps below 80 and enticing the redfish back
anglers still need to practice good techniques
where they belong – to the sight fishing flats.
as a true monster can show at any time. These
Mississippi offers two distinctly different fish-
big fish aren’t nearly as tolerant of noisy
Captain Rick Lauman caught this giant 36-pound Mississippi redfish, which surpassed the state record by four pounds, on a fly rod in August 2006. Captain Rick says that the November, December and January months are some of the best months to fish in Mississippi. Rick is a licensed USCG Captain specializing in sight-fishing the Mississippi Gulf Coast on fly rods. He can be reached at southernflyoutfitters.com or 228-365-3242. Photo by Robert Brodie. 36 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
anglers, rocking boats or multiple sloppy casts. Being proficient with an 8 weight will get you many more fish than just being an “ok” caster. Though most fish are caught within 40 feet of the boat, being able to overcome winds or put a fly way back into a pond where the boat won’t go can be the difference between a stud at the boat or just a wish. Fishing the island flats varies from the marshes in several key ways. Waters are clearer and fish tend to be pickier and often more skittish. Waters fished can be four feet deep so the ability to throw a heavy fly can be key. Leaders are standard nine foot but a foot of 20-pound flouro-carbon as a tippet can improve bites. Often, wade fishing is very productive, especially as the season progresses. Though singles cruise the flats regularly it is not uncommon to be surrounded by schools of 30 to 40 fish. And sometimes some or all of these fish can be over 20 pounds. Black Drum cruise these same flats and seeing one over 40 pounds can be a regular occurrence. Though they often refuse a fly and don’t fight as well, it’s still a BIG fish on a fly and fun to catch. Big Speckled Trout, Sheephead, Jack Crevalle and Pompano often show themselves to the fly caster on these flats until the water temperatures drop off more. Stingrays and sharks are still a consideration into the fall so anglers need to keep a heads up. Every area seems to have a secret and the islands here have one for sure. There is excellent wade fishing for bull reds all the way through January and into February. A plus to winter fishing is anglers can expect to have the island to themselves, as fewer fishermen venture out in the cold. Fish cruise the bars and beaches very slowly in the 55 to 60 degree water and though appearing sluggish, come unglued when the hook is set. Breathable waders are recommended though the hardy angler can wet wade if the air temperature stays in the 70’s. Be prepared to wade and cast in the surf and to get wet. No one here has forgotten Katrina, but the rebuilding that has occurred here in just a few short years is nothing short of amazing. Accommodations,
nightspots are all in full swing. Annual festivals like Cruisin’ the Coast and the Peter Anderson Art Festival have been back to prestorm numbers for some time. Fishing is once again good on the Mississippi coast. : GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 37
ESCAPE IN CINNAMON SHORE
Opposite page, Large decks provide great locations for outdoor dining. Not in the mood to cook ... pick up some Rudyâ€™s BBQ. This page, Turtles, fish and birds can be seen all day around this pond. GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 39
The kitchen opens onto a large balcony. Atop the kitchen’s granite counter-tops, which were provided by Aston’s Designs, are sausages from Opa’s Smoked Meats (made in Fredericksburg, Texas), and Texas grown rice from Texmati Rice. The wine is a 2007 Texas Tempranillo from Haak Winery, in Santa Fe, Texas. Serving dishes from Garnier Designs. The home was built by Premiere Coastal Homes. Wines in rack are from Flat Creek Estate, Messina Hof Winery & Resort and Driftwood Winery.
42 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
Quaint Community in Port A’ Provides an ideal Family Escape This was a no-brainer for Austin, Texas residents
Getting in on the early stages of the development meant the
Dr. Subir Chhikara and his wife, Kelly. Should
Chhikara’s had their choice of location in the 64 acre development.
they continue taking their annual summer beach
After meeting builder Steve McLaughlin of Premiere Coastal
vacation at Rosemary Beach, Florida, or buy a
Homes, Subir and Kelly decided on a three story, four bedroom, four
beach house in Cinnamon Shores, a master-
bath, 2600 sq. foot home. “We really wanted this to be a place of
planned New Urbanism development on Mustang
retreat, where we can spend time together, and make some lasting
Island, near Port Aransas, Texas? The deciding fac-
memories for our kids,” said Kelly. They chose an open floor plan to
tor? The 14 hour drive to Florida. Did I mention
enhance the feeling of family in the house. And to maximize their
they have four children and have made that drive seven times? The three
enjoyment of the beach environment, large porches surround the
and a half hour drive from Austin to Port Aransas sounded like a picnic!
front and rear of the first two floors of the home. The third floor fea-
The Chhikara’s jumped at the chance to build their beach home
tures a cozy guest room with its own private balcony, providing a
when they discovered the plan for Cinnamon Shore; a plan that
majestic view of the beachfront. In all, there are 1100 sq. feet of bal-
included the small-town-type atmosphere they grew to love at
conies and porches.
Rosemary Beach - a Town Center with shops, restaurants, office
The cost for building came to around $195 per sq. foot, Steve
space, artisan’s village, and a park for social gatherings. The other
said. “Building here, there are many increased costs . . . metal roofs,
amenities that drew them were the pedestrian-friendly street design,
stainless steel screws and nails on exteriors, impact resistant doors
paver stone sidewalks, a full-acre lawn for outdoor events, “Tots Lot”
and windows, and of course windstorm requirements. We used a lot
playground, fishing ponds, swimming pools, a fitness center and
of bead board on walls, ceilings, and cabinets. And the hand scraped
beach access via two golf cart-accessible dune crossovers.
flooring seems to be a favorite. Both of these products helped to
Opposite page, All tile work in the kitchen, both floor and splashboards, are from Aston’s Designs. Above, left, wine by Haak Vineyards & Winery. Above, Seductively displayed in the living room light is a Cocoa Framboise Babycake from Carmen’s Babycakes, made in Keller, Texas. GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 43
Interior decorating by Carol Albrecht of My Coastal Home. Floors by Astonâ€™s Designs.
44 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
The master bedroom has a quaint sitting room with a mini-bar. The home was built by Premiere Coastal Homes. Floors are from Astonâ€™s Designs. Furnishings are from My Coastal Home. Zhi Teas are served in cups from Garnier Designs. Chocolates, nuts and fruitcake treats on tray with tea are from Mary of Puddin Hill.
GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 45
46 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
Opposite page, Carol Albrecht chose the seashell theme room divider to add more texture to the room. On the light table is a Lone Star Cab from Driftwood Estate Winery, in Dripping Springs, Texas, and truffles from Wiseman House Chocolates in Hico, Texas.. This page, The bed in the master bedroom has a cloth-covered headboard from My Coastal Home Chocolates are from Wiseman House Chocolates.
GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 47
48 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
achieve a nice cottage look.” When it came time to decorate, Kelly turned to Carol Albrecht, owner of My Coastal Home in Port Aransas. Kelly wanted a “light, comfortable, and classic beach look. A feeling that was fun and you really felt like you were away from it all. We wanted the kids rooms to be fun and playful, so they
Opposite page, top, The sitting room is just off the master bedroom. Austin based Zhi Teas provided the Tropical Green organic loose leaf tea, and the really handy tea brewer, The Perfect Tea Maker, which can be bought on their website zhitea.com. Mary of Puddin Hill provided the tasty mini-pecan pie pastries. Garnier Designs provided the seashell and scallop coffee cups. Opposite page, bottom left, The private sitting room in the master bedroom seems to be everyone’s favorite spot. Counter–tops are from Aston’s Designs. Opposite page, bottom right, The second floor balcony is a perfect place for an early evening cocktail. We went with Texas Tea, featuring Rumble, a new Texas spirit by Waco, Texas based Balcones Distilling, made from wildflower honey, mission figs, and turbinado sugar. This page, above, Flat Creek Estates’ Super Texan 2008 Sangiovese sits atop the granite counter-top in the master bed sitting area. The counter-top and tile splashboard are from Aston’s Designs. Right, top and bottom, The master bath is all about the beach atmosphere. The intricate tile work from Aston’s Designs was even chosen for its ocean like color and reflections. Bath goodies are from Garnier Designs. GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 49
would be excited coming here. Carol took it from there. She really was amazing. She was able to take some of our ideas and enhance them. It was really a great experience working with her.” According to Carol, “The Chhikara’s wanted soft colors and low maintenance with enough sophistication to give it modern style.” Carol selected those soft colors from the natural surroundings. “The true colors of the sky, the water, and the sea grasses breeze through every room. Subtle and organic,” is how she describes it. Carol worked with Michele Aston, of Aston Marble and Granite, to create the unique counter-tops and tile work around the home. Michele used a mixture of glass, slate and stone decorative tiles for the master bathtub. “Glass tiles are the most popular decorative tile out now,” she said. “They are a perfect look for a beach house because they give a reflection just like the water. And there are so many different varieties to choose from.” It seems that everyone agrees on their favorite room-the master bedroom. Kelly says, “It has a nice sitting area which helps set it off from the rest of the house, and gives it a little more privacy. The colors are very comforting and relaxing. It has a sense of being a room at a nice resort. The private balcony just adds to this.” Carol feels the same, “The master sitting area is perfect for an end of day, kids-in-bed, glass of wine. Husband and wife can get comfortable in this intimate space with its soft colors and comfortable furniture. It is also the most eclectic room. I used every color, finish and texture from the rest of the house in here – it’s like the last chapter in a mystery novel where everything gets explained.” The Chhikara’s opted to use Viking appliances in the kitchen, including a natural gas stove top. They also opted for gas on their
Top, The girls’ room was designed by Carol Albrecht to be an exciting place for the kids, so they’d look forward to their trips to the beach. Bottom, Cinnamon Shore has a great community pool with a vanishing edge that seems to empty directly into a canal. Opposite page, Top and bottom are views from the third floor guest balcony, which provides spectacular views both day and night. The Gulfscapes Watermelon Martini was our cocktail of choice, powered by Austin based Tito’s Handmade Vodka. 50 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
the enlightened austin martini Like the city itself, Austin’s new official cocktail is cool, colorful and easy to enjoy. “The Enlightened Austin Martini” won this year’s Austin Cocktail Throwdown to decide the city’s Official Drink. Concocted by La Condesa Restaurant, “The Enlightened Austin Martini” uses local ingredients and unique presentation – it’s garnished with fresh watermelon – to capture the flavors of Austin and celebrate the city’s eclectic, and healthy, character. “The Enlightened Austin Martini” 1 1/4 oz of Tito’s Vodka 1/2 oz of St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur 3 oz of organic Texas watermelon juice 2 teaspoons of organic agave nectar A hint of lime Shake hard-pour “up” into a martini glass topped with an Elderflower Essence Cloud. Garnish with watermelon skewered “olives.” La Condesa, located in Austin’s burgeoning 2nd Street District, offers upscale Interior Mexican cuisine in a beautiful and relaxing atmosphere. Themed after a Mexico City neighborhood, La Condesa is known for its south-of-the-border classics, made with local, organic ingredients, and its extreme drink menu, with some 80 different tequilas to choose from. For more info, visit www.lacondesaaustin.com.
tankless water heater and the BBQ grill. According to Israel Salinas from the City of Corpus
“Homeowners will benefit from a substantial energy cost savings when natural gas is used on the four major appliances in a home, the water heater, furnace, stove top, and clothes dryer. The first thing to consider when natural gas appliances or a BBQ grill will be used in a new home is to ensure you request natural gas service on the house plan with your designer and builder.” Kelly is thrilled with the new beach house. “I think this is a very elegant but comfortable adaptation of the classic beach house. It feels like home as soon as you walk in. And Port Aransas still has that small town charm. It really has some great restaurants, which was a must for us. We wanted a house in an area that was not overbuilt or too crowded. Port A is just the right size.” Carol thinks the house is well matched to its owners. “I would say this house knows where it belongs. It’s on the beach in Port Aransas in an upscale community. Relaxed, classy, colorful, light hearted - just like the young family that vacations here.” GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 51
Garnier Design For all of your Custom Furniture & Gourmet Kitchen Gadgets
New Home Product & Service Directory
Great Holiday Gift Ideas! Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Page 51 3313 B South Oak Dr. Austin, TX 78704 titosvodka.com Wiseman House Chocolates, Pages 46,47 508 West First Street Hico, Texas 76457 wisemanhousechocolates.com Email: email@example.com 866-460-3571 Zhi Teas, Page 48 4607 Bolm Road Austin, TX 78702 zhitea.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 888.944.4832
Carmen’s Babycakes, Page 43 1540 Keller Pkwy., Ste. 108-105 Keller, TX 76248 Carmensbabycakes.com 214.649.2688
Haak Vineyards & Winery, Page 40 6310 Ave. T Santa Fe, Texas www.haakwine.com 409. 925.1401
Texmati Rice, Page 40 P O Box 1305, Alvin, TX 77512 www. riceselect.com email@example.com 800.232.RICE (7423)
Mary of Puddin Hill, Page 48 201 E Interstate 30 Exit 95 Greenville, TX 75402 www. puddinhill.com firstname.lastname@example.org 903-455-2651, 903-455-6931 Opa’s Smoked Meats, Page 40 410 South Washington Fredericksburg, TX 78624 www.opassmokedmeats.com 800.543.6750 Driftwood Winery, Page 46 4001 Elder Hill Road (County Road 170) Driftwood, TX 78619 www.driftwoodvineyards.com 512.858.9667
361-749-1904 At Marina Market 722 Tarpon St. • Port Aransas, TX 52 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
Flat Creek Estate Wines, Page 49 24912 Singleton Bend East Road Marble Falls, TX 78654 www.flatcreekestate.com wines@FlatCreekEstate.com 512 267-6310 Rudy’s BBQ, Page 38 Country Stores located from Brownsville to Amarillo www.rudys.com Messina Hof Winery and Resort, Page 7 4545 Old Reliance Road Bryan, Texas 77808 www.messinahof.com email@example.com 979.778.9463 Balcones Distilling, Page 48 212 S 17th St Waco, Texas www.balconesdistilling.com 512.294.6735
Garnier Designs, Pages 38, 40, 48, 49 722 Tarpon St. Port Aransas, TX 361.749.1904 Premiere Coastal Homes (Entire House) Steve McLaughlin 2989 Ave A Ingleside, Tx 78362 361.548.4211 Aston’s Designs, Pages 40, 42, 45, 48, 49 3625 Port Ave. Corpus Christi, TX 78418 www.astondesigns.com firstname.lastname@example.org 361.853.3300 My Coastal Home, Pages 44, 46, 47, 50 1726 State Highway 361, Suite A Port Aransas, Texas 78373 www.mycoastalhome.net email@example.com 361.749.2266
361-549-1729 GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 53
Residential/Commercial Free Estimates
“First Impressions ... Last Impressions”
Concrete Impressions 2501 South Padre Island Dr. • Corpus Christi, TX • Visit us at: www.CCConcreteImpressions.com
Concrete Stamping • Landscape Lighting • Staining • Overlays • Arbors • Patios • Outdoor Kitchens • Stucco Water Features • Ponds • Pool Decking • Landscaping • Retaining Walls • Vertical Stamping • Brick • Block • Stone 54 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
New Home Product & Service Directory
SPECIAL FINANCING 0% Down, 4% Interest with Approved Credit
Home built by Steve McLaughlin, of Premier Coastal Homes.
Cinnamon Shore. Pages 43, 50 5009 Hwy 361 Port Aransas, TX 78373 www.cinnamonshore.com 888.893.0656
City of Corpus Christi Gas Department 4225 S. Port Ave Corpus Christi, TX 78415-5311 www.cctexas.com 361.885.6910 ProBuild 301 E. North St. Rockport, TX 78382 www.probuild.com 361.729.6831
Cantwell Mattress Co. www.cantwellmattress.com • 4136 S. Padre Island Drive Corpus Christi, TX 361-851-2929, 800-716-2337 • 6646 S. Staples Corpus Christi, TX 361-906-2337 • 4915 McCullough Ave. (Alamo Bedding Co.) San Antonio, TX 210-824-0201, 800-680-2337
Owning a Piece of the Island just got Easier. La Joya De La Costa Townhomes 15422 Seamount Cay #305 $120K, 3 BR, 2.5BA, 1250 sf, Under Construction. Very nice townhomes under construction... buy now as is at $120K and pick your own colors and finish yourself or owner will finish for $150K. Great area near beach and shopping, pool at complex! 15422 Seamount Cay #205, $159,000, 3 BR, 2.5 BA, 1,548 sf, Near completion Very nice townhome under construction 90+% complete....selling as is for $159K or completed for $169K. Great area, pool, close to beach and shopping. El Pescador Del Mar Townhomes on the Water 14334 Cruiser, Units #105, #202, Luxury Waterfront Island living at El Pescador Del Mar Townhomes! These beautifully appointed Tuscan inspired townhomes offer the best in island living with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, crown molding, jet tub! Exterior features include tile roof, double decks, private boat slip,incredible views and close proximity to the beach! 4 BR, 3.5 BA, 2700sf $365K Los Balcones Townhomes 2-3 BR, 3 BA, 1500-1900 sf, $199K-$239K New Gated Meditterranean Style Townhomes! Each Unit w/private covered balcony over-
looking beautiful courtyard, granite counters, extensive tile, upgraded appliances, sep showers/garden tubs – Enjoy the Prestige of living on “The Island” across from the new proposed Tortuga HarborMarina Developmet; Steps to Packery Channel Park Dining, Beach, & Fishing. Quick Access to town or Port Aransas. Must See! 4911-21 Ambassador Row Large Commercial Bldg with outside storage building and large lot(8 25’x200’ lots). Address is 4911-4921 Ambassador Row...fenced, 9,000 sf, 1500 sf lean to, 450sf storage bldg, 2400sf office space with 5 offices, reception area, kitchen, 3 restrooms and a conference room $450K 4931-33 Ambassador Row 2 very nice office or commercial bldgs in great industrial locatlion. 2 bldgs: 1st bldg is 3000sf, 15000sf property, 1000sf office space, reception area, conference room, kitchen, 2 restrooms, 14’walls... 2nd bldg: 3800sf, 15,000sf, 4 offices, 1 restroom, shower upstairs, 18’ walls $350K Legends of Diamante Unit 2 Slough Rd....Platted with Roads in place..City Water and Sewer, electric and cable to be installed soon...46 lots... prefer to sell as a whole but will divide! $1,196,000 Make Offer!
Marty Brown | 361-331-0762 | www.stxproperties.com DISCLAIMER: The information contained herein is provided as general information only and has been obtained from sources deemed reliable. It is provided without any guaranty, warranty or representation, expressed or implied, made by STX PROPERTIES or any related entity, as to the accuracy or completeness of the information. The information is presented subject to errors, omissions, change of price or conditions, prior sale or withdrawal without notice. Prospective purchasers should make their own investigations, projections and conclusions concerning the information. If you’re working with a Realtor, disregard this information or have your Realtor contact us for more details!
GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 55
STORY BY SUSAN HARR
creating a community of hope
the purple elephant Tucked away just off the coastal waters of Corpus Christi,
sell high-end furniture, home furnishings and eclectic gifts.
Texas is a high-end consignment shop that is just as unique as its
Beyond the signature lime green and purple exterior lies an
inspiring operation that is touching the hearts of employees and
From the outside, Purple Elephant Consignment may seem
customers alike. That’s because Purple Elephant Consignment
like your typical second-hand boutique situated among hardware
employs individuals with disabilities like Downs syndrome, mild
stores and coffee and antique shops in the Six-Points area of the
retardation, autism and cerebral palsy. The employees are trained
city, but what goes on inside is far from ordinary.
in all aspects of running the shop and also given the opportunity
You can recognize the difference as soon as you enter the
to make sellable arts and crafts for profit and receive valuable life-
door. Sitting in his wheelchair and wearing a dazzling smile and
skills training. “It’s a real job,” explained Kimberley Ward, Purple
three-piece suit, Paul Rubio greets each and every customer by
Elephant’s Executive Director, “They clock in and they clock out
pressing the appropriate button on his electronic communication
and do everything from greeting customers to answering
board-a small purple elephant which when pressed exclaims,
“Welcome to the Purple Elephant.” And while you’ll notice the
Despite the store’s large size (6,000 sq. feet) it manages to
other store employees move a little slower than your average
retain a distinctively homey atmosphere. It could be the natural
sales associate, you’ll also notice their genuine spirit and cheery
light pouring in from the store’s numerous windows or the
nature, which makes the Purple Elephant experience as unique
arrangement of furniture into inviting vignettes, or maybe even
as the merchandise on sale inside.
the locally crafted art and jewelry showcased. But as soon as you
That’s because Purple Elephant Consignment does more than
are greeted by a member of the accommodating staff it’s clear-
Above, Anita Henggeler, left, and Kay Skelton, right, are busy painting their craft projects. Opposite page, top, left, Gregory Spinks cleans windows to get the workday started. Top, right, The fine craftsmanship on these imported stackable tables is impressive. Bottom, right, The Purple Elephant is located in Corpus Christi's unique 6-points area. Bottom, left, This classic sofa deserves its own parlour. Left, middle, Purple Elephant staff member Lucy Garza, left, assists Michael Mulkey with a painting project. GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 57
The idea is that giving individuals with developmental disabilities the opportunity to interact with the customers and work legitimate jobs can help change the way society views these individuals. the real gems of the operation are the store’s enthusiastic employees. It all started back in January 2007, when the American Habilitation Services planned to start a day program for individuals with developmental disabilities. Rather than send the individuals out to different job sites, they decided to start their own store where those who were able to work could receive job training and work in the store, and those who could not could still receive day-care and attend various training workshops. Purple Elephant Consignment opened in March of 2007 and has become a landmark success. “We’ve grown into a truly remarkable place,” Ward said, adding that their employee pool has grown to 30 individuals. In a society where everyone is working for the money, it’s a refreshing change of pace to encounter employees who are not only dedicated to their jobs, but take pride in their work and carry out their duties with smiles on their faces. The employees help and support one another and have even become so tight-knit that they have begun referring to themselves as “the Purple Elephant family.” “The store is unique because the people who work here are unique,” said Ward. The idea is that giving individuals with developmental disabilities the opportunity to interact with the customers and work legitimate jobs can help change the way society views these individuals. It’s an endeavor that is “very rewarding,” Ward said. One employee, Abigail Garza, takes great pleasure in being part of this family. “It’s nice. A wonderful nice place,” she said. What’s her favorite job here? “Answering the phone,” Garza said, adding that she also enjoys interacting with co-workers and learning how to do new jobs. “We work together,” she said. “That’s the way the team is. That’s the way the family is.” While job training is a priority, not everyone at the Purple Elephant Consignment works on the sales floor. The back of the store is buzzing with creativity as others individuals, like Terry Campbell, work on arts and crafts to sell on the sales floor. “I make bookmarks,” Campbell said, working diligently with his watercolors. Purple Elephant employees are able to make their own sellable art, and receive the profits by way of a monthly consignment check. “They are able to start a project, put it out on the floor, sell it and then receive a check,” Ward said. In addition to creating their own arts and crafts, the individuals attend training workshops in a variety of subjects and work on improving social skills, navigating the bus system, filling out job applications and more. “I think the employees get a lot out of it,” Ward said, “They’re really embracing the chance to be independent. Being treated as normal as you and I helps in breaking the stigma of how people see and work with individuals with developmental disabilities.” That’s a large part of Purple Elephant’s charm, its fearless commitment to breaking down stereotypes and labels. It’s an eye-opening experience for new customers, Ward explained. “At first they don’t know what to expect but by the time they’ve left they’re in awe of the whole experience.” And once you’ve experienced the magic for yourself, the name Purple Elephant takes on a new meaning. It plays on the popular consignment term “white elephant,” but like all things in this innovative shop, there’s a twist. “Purple represents royalty and prosperity,” Ward said. And Purple Elephant not only sells the best pieces of art and home furnishings, but breaks all the molds when it comes to employment opportunities, stereotypes and all things ordinary. Opposite page, top, left, Employee Michael Mulkey cleans the glass on a cabinet. Top, right, The Purple Elephant features fine china as well as unique furniture. Bottom, right, "It took lots of practice for Philip (Ebel) to be able to create the squares in his painting," said Kimberly Ward, Executive Director of the Purple Elephant, "We're very proud of him." Bottom, left, Executive Director Kimberly Ward, right, with Purple Elephant employee Abigail Garza. GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 59
And the winners are... Louisiana, New Jersey & Alaska take top 3 places in New Orleansâ€™ 2009 Great American Seafood Cook-Off
louisiana creole seafood mixed grill Chef Tory McPhail of Commander’s Palace assisted by Jonathan Schmidt.
1 lb sheepshead fillets, boneless & skinless 1 lb 10–15 count head on Shrimp, peeled & deveined with heads and tails left intact 1/2 lb jumbo lump crabmeat 4 oz champagne or white wine 1 tablespoon Hickory Sea Salt Black pepper, to taste 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 2 tablespoons bacon fat, warmed 1 shallot, minced 1 jalepeno, seeds discarded and minced 1 oz celery, minced 2 cups of corn, use a variety if available 1 cup of milk 1 cup of tomato concasse, small dice 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, picked & chopped Salt and white pepper to taste 1 oz basil oil 1/2 cup mixed herbs for garnish Prepare a grill to medium heat and place a medium sauté pan on the stove over medium flame. Season the seafood on all sides and reserve. Next place vegetable oil and bacon fat in the sauté pan and swirl. Add shallots, jalapeno and celery and sauté for 1 minute. Add the corn and continue to sauté for 30 seconds. Add the milk and bring to a simmer. Next place 25% of the corn into a blender and puree for 20 seconds. Add the pureed corn back to the pan and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes or until corn is cooked through, and at sauce consistency. Finish with fresh tomatoes, thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and reserve. To cook the seafood, place the crab meat and champagne in a small sauce pot and place on the hottest part of the grill. Heat the crabmeat for 3-5 minutes before placing the sheepshead and shrimp on the grill around the pot. Cook the fish and shrimp for approximately 3 minutes per side, until cooked. Make sure the crab meat comes to a simmer also and swirl to make sure its hot all the way through. To finish: Spoon the corn into the middle of 4 hot entrée plates. Place the sheepshead down next and add 2-3 shrimp to the top of that. Spoon the warm crabmeat over the shrimp and into the corn sauce. Drizzle remaining corn sauce around the plate and garnish with basil oil and fresh herbs. GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 61
pan seared day-boat sea scallops Chef Peter J. Fischback of Good Stuff Catering assisted by Erik Weathspool.
Day Boat Scallops 12 ea Viking Village u-10 day boat scallops Kosher salt as needed Fresh cracked black pepper as needed Unsalted butter as needed 4 oz. corn oil 6 oz. apple wood bacon (small diced) 2 oz. reserved bacon fat
Warm “Pickled” Baby Root Vegetables 8 ea. baby beets (peeled and 1/4) 8 ea. golden baby beets (peeled and 1/4) 8 ea. baby candy cane beets (peeled and 1/4) 6 ea. baby carrots (peeled and 1/4) 6 ea. baby maroon carrots (peeled and 1/4) 6 ea. baby yellow carrots (peeled and 1/4) 1/2 medium red onions (peeled & julienned) 1/2 bulb fennel (julienned) 2 Granny Smith apples (peeled & medium diced)
Chili-Herb Grits 1/2 c coarse ground grits 1 1/2 cups water 1 teaspoon granulated garlic 2 ea. Serrano chilies minced 1/2 -1 1/2 cup heavy cream 2 tablespoon herb butter Salt and pepper to taste For the grits Sweat chilies in small amount herb butter, add water and granulated garlic, bring to boil add grits, bring to boil reduce to simmer cook for approx 20 min adding heavy cream as needed. Stir in herb butter season with salt and pepper serve immediately. Grits should look a bit on the runny side; they will set up on plate Corn Sauce 4 ears corn (super sweet white) 5 cups Water 1 tablespoon white peppercorn 3 ea. large shallots 3 ea. garlic cloves 2 sprigs Tarragon 2 ea. bay leaves 1 cup Dry Vermouth Sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste Micro Salad 2 oz. McGregor 2 oz. McGregor 2 oz. McGregor 2 oz. McGregor
Farms Farms Farms Farms
micro micro micro micro
2 oz. McGregor Farms micro celery sprouts Cider Vinaigrette 1 cup apple cider vinegar 3 tablespoon sugar 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper 1 tablespoon Salmba oeleeke 3/4 cup olive oil
pepper cress lemon-basil rainbow chard amaranth
62 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
For the Sauce First clean kernels from cobs, reserve cobs; then make stock with cobs, bay leaf, 2 shallots, peppercorn, garlic, tarragon and bay leaves. Bring to a boil than reduce to a simmer and cover. Allow it to simmer for 45 minutes and then strain. Sweat all but 3 Tbsps. of the corn kernels and shallots, deglaze with vermouth, add corn stock bring to boil then reduce to a simmer and allow it to simmer for 5 -10 minutes covered; then puree press through chinos, season with sea salt & freshly cracked pepper. For the Vinaigrette In a large stainless steel bowl, add all of the ingredients except the oil and puree with an emersion blender. After about 45 seconds slowly start to add the oil, until vinaigrette becomes well emulsified. Poor into a squeeze bottle and set aside. For the “Pickled” Root Vegetables Put up three small pots of salted water and
bring to a boil; then add all of the colored carrots except the moron carrots into a pot of boiling water add the maroon carrots and red beets into a pot of boiling water and lastly add the golden beets into a pot of boiling water. Cook all vegetables until just cooked but still aldente. Then shock in ice bath. Place all vegetables and apples into bags, keeping every vegetable separate. Squeeze some vinaigrette into each bag and cryo vac, set aside keeping warm until needed. For the Micro Salad Combine all micro lettuces in a small salad bowl and toss until well blended. For the Scallops When storing the scallops place the scallops on a paper towel then set on a plate and place in the refrigerator until needed. Pre-heat a sauté pan and add rendered bacon fat, and a small amount of canola oil. Once the oil just starts to smoke sear scallops until crispy and golden brown in color, then flip over and cook for about 1 more minute or until scallops are just cooked, they should be slightly translucent in the center. For the dish To plate the scallops, start by putting a 3” ring mold in the center of a hot plate and then push back toward the rim slightly until it’s just off center. Next using a slotted spoon, spoon out the “pickled” baby vegetables into the ring mold; then remove the ring mold and spoon out the chili-herb grits just in front of the “pickled” baby vegetables. Ladle out the corn sauce around the grits, in a half moon fashion. Place the seared scallops over the grits, sprinkle the diced smoked bacon around the plate and put the micro salad on top of the pickled baby vegetables and serve.
FREEZING WITH PASSION
PASSION TAKES MISSISSIPPI BORN CHEF TO BATON ROUGE, VIA YELLOWSTONE Picture if you will an image of a young gentleman, sitting inside the small walk-in freezer of a restaurant. On his lap is
kitchen.” Not only has Nathan
a large metal bucket. He is wearing a coat, hat and gloves.
And he is stirring the bucket with a spatula. And stirring. He
ranks to Chef de Cuisine,
stirs for an hour and a half in the freezer. Why? Because he is
he has also impressed out-
determined to make a special ice cream and he has no ice
side the Bistro - this year,
cream maker. Now that’s passion!
Gresham was the runner-up
His passion to his ice cream is an indication of his passion
in the Louisiana Seafood
to all the food he creates. And he creates a lot. He is Nathan
Cook-Off, one of the most
Gresham, Chef de Cuisine at Galatoire’s Bistro in Baton
prestigious cook-offs in the
Rouge, Louisiana. Galatoire’s has been synonymous with
country. The publicity gen-
New Orleans’ finest cuisine for over a hundred years.
erated by his Cook-Off fin-
Galatoire’s Bistro was started in November of 2005, after
ish helped draw national
Hurricane Katrina shut down New Orleans and forced the
Galatoire’s family to Baton Rouge. Gresham has been at the
which is still in its infancy,
Bistro since it began.
at least by the lofty stan-
Mississippi as a cook. He was going to school in Starkville,
dards of the over 100 year
Chef Nathan Gresham, Chef de Cuisine at Galatoire’s Bistro in Baton Rouge, LA.
MS, but at 18, his passion to advance in the culinary world
How is it working at the little sister of the grand dame,
sent him traveling, and he ended up in, of all places,
Galatoire’s? “We’re our own entity. We’re not trying to be the
Yellowstone National Park. “I wasn’t content going to school,
big restaurant. We have a couple of items we keep on the
and I knew if I wanted to cook I’d have to travel, so I ended
menu to kind of keep the Galatoire’s flow, but we do create
up at Yellowstone. I started working at one of the restaurants
our own menu here,” Gresham said. “We have created some
there. Even though I’d been a cook in Mississippi, I started as
dishes here that the big restaurant has taken on because they
a dishwasher. That was the only job they had open, so I took
liked them so much, like our Roasted Duck Crepe.”
it. I was at Yellowstone for three and a half years and worked
“We specialize in Bistro items. We try to perfect Roasted
my way up in the restaurant business. By the time I left, I was
Chicken, and have a great Trout Almandine. And we try to do
running the restaurant where I had started as a dishwasher,”
everything here in house. Even cheeses. Everything is fresh
and homemade. I go to the Farmer’s Market every weekend
For the next two and a half years, Gresham worked in
and find things I bring back for our weekly specials,” said
Steamboat Springs, Colorado at the Epicurean Café under
Gresham. According to Landry, Nathan enjoys more than the
award-winning Executive Chef Rebecca Pauvert. He also
vegetables at the market. “Nathan includes a weekly trip to
apprenticed under French native and Master Butcher Marco
the Red Stick Farmer’s Market in his routine to check out the
Pauvert. Gresham says, “The Pauverts pushed me to go to
fresh local produce and some bluegrass music - Nathan plays
culinary school. They gave me the courage to go get my cre-
the banjo in his offtime.”
dentials. Mrs. Pauvert was an awesome baker. I learned how to bake and how to butcher at the same time.”
Along with banjos and ice cream, desserts are also a Gresham passion. “I’m kind of the pastry chef here, too. I
After encouragement from the Pauverts, he decided in
love to bake. One of my pride and joys is my Cheesecake
2005 to attended culinary school at the Louisiana Culinary
Creme Brulee. We also have a Blueberry Cake made from
Institute, which provided him an introduction to the manage-
almond flour. For our Fall menu, I’m working on a chocolate
ment of the soon-to-open Galatoire’s Bistro. Brian Landry,
and bacon dessert.” Chocolate and bacon? “Yeah, the smokey
Executive Chef for Galatorie’s in New Orleans and for the
bacon flavor goes well with a spicy milk chocolate. And I’m
Bistro in Baton Rouge, says, “Nathan has been at Galatoire’s
slowly trying to get our handmade ice cream out there. I’ve
Bistro since day one. He has seen the kitchen evolve over the
made three flavors, lemon basil, toasted pecan with brown
last few years and has played an instrumental part in repre-
sugar, and strawberry-vanilla.”
senting all of the Galatoire’s traditions while bringing a fresh
Is he still mixing those by hand while sitting in the freez-
approach to classic dishes. Nathan has worked his way up to
er? “Naw. I got tired of that so the other day I went to Target
the postion of Chef de Cuisine. He is now responsible for all
and bought me a $30 ice cream machine.” Sounds like a wise
of the daily demands of running the Galatoire’s Bistro
investment. And it frees up more time for the banjo. GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 63
wild alaskan king salmon Chef Patrick Hoogerhyde of Wildfin Seagrill assisted by Chris Botts.
6 oz portions 4 ea - King Salmon fillet 5 oz portions 4 ea - Alaskan Alder Smoked Sea Salt Dusted Susitna Valley Hash 8 oz of fresh wild greens 6 oz of smoked Alaskan Porter & Alder Moostard Vinaigrette 6 oz - Foraged Low Bush Cranberry Infused Birch Syrup Molasses 2 tablespoons of butter 2 tablespoons of Birch Syrup TT - Kosher Salt TT - Pepper Chive or Scallions Heat a sautĂŠ pan with butter, season salmon with birch syrup, chives or scallions, salt & pepper. Sear salmon and cook to medium rare -adjust heat as necessary and rotate fish to evenly cook salmon. Toss greens in smoked Alaskan porter and alder Moostard vinaigrette. Plate hash, greens, and salmon. Drizzle salmon with glaze and swirl vinaigrette on plate.
64 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
Foraged Low Bush Cranberries Infused Birch Syrup Molasses 2 tablespoons of butter 1/2 cup of Shallots- Minced 4 tablespoons of garlic- Minced 2 tablespoons of fresh Black Pepper- Cracked 2 cups of Birch Syrup- Maple may be substitute 1/2 cup of honey 2 cups of low bush Cranberries Heat butter in pan and sweat shallots and garlic. Add honey, syrup, and peppercorns simmer 3-5 min. Fold in cranberries, remove from heat. Alaskan Alder Smoked Sea Salt Dusted Susitna Valley Hash 1 lb - Potatoes- Medium diced 1/2 cup - Mushrooms- Pulled 1/2 cup - Onions- Medium diced 2 tablespoons - Butter TT - Smoked Salt
In sautĂŠ pan melt butter, season and caramelize onions and mushrooms. Season with smoked salt. Crisp potatoes in fryer and toss with onions, mushrooms and smoked salt. Smoked Alaskan Brewing Porter 2 tablespoons of shallots 1 tablespoon of garlic 1 1/2 cups of Alder Smoked MoostardStone Ground Mustard 3/4 cup of White Wine Vinegar 1/2 - 3/4 cup of Alaskan Brewing Smoker Porter 2 cups of Canola oil TT - Kosher salt Roughly chop shallot and garlic. Combine in food processor or with hand blender shallots, garlic, mustard, and vinegar- puree. Add in 1/2 porter and slowly drizzle in oil to emulsify into vinaigrette. Taste and adjust with salt and porter for consistency and desired flavor.
Pumpkin Muffins. iStockphoto.com/Angus Plummer | Fish Kabobs. ©iStockphoto.com/Kathleen Grzedzinski | Cooking Cranberry Sauce. ©iStockphoto.com/Liza McCorkle | Margarita ©iStockphoto.com/Lisa Young
simple holiday treats Sweet Potato Muffins Ingredients: 2 egg whites 2/3 cup sugar (or 5 tsp Sweet N’ Low or Nutrasweet) 1 3/4 cup sweet potatoes (you’ll need 5 or 6 sweet potatoes to boil and mash to get this much) 2 tsp vanilla extract 2 tsp almond extract 2/3 cup milk 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour 1 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. baking powder 1/2 tsp. salt 2 tsp. cinnamon Directions: Peel and boil the sweet potatoes until they are tender (should easily mash in your measuring cup). Drain well. In one bowl add the sweet potatoes, egg whites, sweetener, extracts, and milk together. Blend until smooth. In another bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon. Mix thoroughly. Lightly dust in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon mixture into the sweet potato mixture. Stir together completely. Preheat oven to 425 F. Spray muffin cups with cooking oil. Fill muffin cups just a little over 1/4 cup full. Dust tops with cinnamon and nutmeg powder. Bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees. Test with toothpick-when it comes out clean, they are done. Serves 12.
Ginger Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Raisins Ingredients: 1 12-oz bag fresh cranberries 1 c water 1 c Splenda no calorie sweetener 1/4 c raisins, packed 2 tbs crystallized ginger, finely chopped 1/4 tsp ground cloves 1 tbs Smuckers Low Sugar orange marmalade (or o.j. concentrate) Directions Put cranberries, water, and Splenda into a saucepan and cook on medium-high temperature for about five minutes, or until cranberries pop and turn soft. Stir in remaining ingredients, cover & remove from heat. Yields 2 cups
Curried Butternut-Shrimp Bisque Ingredients: 1/2 lb peeled, devained large shrimp 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed 1 large yellow onion, chopped 3 tablespoons butter
3 cans chicken broth (14 1/2 ounce cans) 1 teaspoon thyme 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder 1 cup whipping cream 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper Melt butter in a 4-quart sauce pan over medium heat; add the onion and sauté 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Add squash, and cook, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or until tender. Add 1 can broth, shrimp, curry, and thyme, and cook 2 to 3 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Let cool for 5 minutes. Process mixture in a food processor until smooth. Return mixture to saucepan; add remaining broth, and bring to a boil. Stir in 1 cup whipping cream, salt, and pepper; reduce heat to low, and simmer 5 minutes. Garnish with paprika.
Holiday Fish Kabobs Ingredients: 2 lbs. fresh Mahi-Mahi filets 3 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 c. olive oil 1/4 c. chopped onion 3 tbsp. lemon juice 2 tbsp. water 1 tsp. dried thyme, crushed 6 bay leaves Few dashes bottled hot pepper sauce Few dashes black pepper 9 green onions, cut into 3 inch pieces 1 lg. red pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces Soak bay leaves in water for 1 hour. Cut into 1 inch pieces. Place in plastic bag; set in bowl. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, onion, lemon juice, water, garlic, thyme, hot pepper sauce and black pepper. Pour over fish and close bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours, turning bag occasionally. Drain fish, reserving marinade. Using wooden skewers, alternately thread green onions, red pepper, fish and bay leaves, leaving about 1/4 inch of space between pieces, except placing bay leaves directly against fish. Place kabobs on grill over hot charcoal and grill quickly about 4 minutes on each side. Serves 6.
Skinny Margarita Ingredients: 1 shot orange flavored tequila 2 individual packets of Crystal Light lemonade Juice of 1 lime Directions Blend ingredients with 2/3 cup ice GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 65
Peanutbutter Cookies 1 cup of peanutbutter 1 cup of sugar 1 egg Mix ingredients together and scoop spoonfuls of dough onto a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to completely cool prior to removing from baking tray.
Mango Mayonnaise 8 ripe mangos 16 medium eggs, yolks only 16 tablespoons of fresh lime juice 8 teaspoons of curry powder 1/2 a cup of oil some freshly grounded black pepper Process mango, egg yolks, lime juice and curry powder in a food processor until smooth. Gradually add the oil until mixture is pale and creamy. Season with pepper to taste and serve with grilled seafood.
Louisiana shrimp (Continued from our updates on page 11.) governments. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana Restaurant Association and Outback Steakhouse made the announcement in the state capitol. Governor Jindal said, “This news is an important victory in our fight to help Louisiana shrimpers. Outback Steakhouse is officially a partner today with our Louisiana shrimp industry. Their commitment to buy only Louisiana seafood for all 14 of their stores in the state will help us promote the purchase and consumption of Louisiana shrimp here in the state and also send a signal to companies all across the nation. The message is simple – buy Louisiana shrimp. We are encouraging all other national restaurant chains, and especially those with locations in Louisiana, to join Outback Steakhouse in their commitment to buying fresh, delicious Louisiana shrimp.” All 14 Outback Steakhouses in Louisiana purchased nearly 60 tons of shrimp in the last year alone. In 2008, Louisiana’s shrimp industry had an economic impact of approximately $1.3 billion, supported 14,384 jobs and generated $91.1 million and $83.4 million in state and federal revenues, respectively. Bruce Attinger, joint venture partner of all Louisiana Outback Steakhouses said, “Given the current economic plight of the shrimp industry in Louisiana, I really felt like it was my duty as a restaurateur to 66 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
assist as much as I could. My parent company was very receptive to my request that all Louisiana Outback Steakhouses serve Louisiana shrimp and we are proud to serve our patrons the best product in the world, caught right in our state’s waters.” President and CEO of the Louisiana Restaurant Association Jim Funk said, “This is a real victory for the Louisiana shrimp industry. The LRA has made it a priority to promote Louisiana seafood and requests that all members, whenever possible, serve local seafood in their restaurants. I am thrilled that all Outback Steakhouses in Louisiana will serve Louisiana shrimp and once again ask that other LRA members follow this example. I continue to work with other national chains with locations in Louisiana, in hopes that they also follow suit. As a result of Louisiana restaurants and the state’s seafood industry working together, we make both industries strong, viable and prosperous.” In August, Governor Jindal issued a letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission requesting an investigation into possible trade violations by foreign countries adversely affecting Louisiana’s shrimping industry. Additionally, the Governor signed an Executive Order creating the Louisiana Shrimp Task Force to address factors affecting Louisiana’s shrimping industry along with creating strategies for increasing its economic vitality.
Lundi Gras - French for “Fat Monday,” it’s the day before Mardi Gras, and the revelry intensifies after the weekend parades.
2010 A GULF COAST PRIMER TEXAS, ALABAMA, FLORIDA LOUISIANA & MISSISSIPPI
Mystic Societies (or Secret Societies) – Basically the same thing as a krewe. Mobile, AL calls their Mardi Gras clubs “mystic societies” or “secret societies”.
Giant Alligator float in the New Orleans Bacchus Parade. Photo provided by Alex Demyan and NewOrleansOnline.com.
tracing the roots of mardi gras
The Europeans also had dances and balls throughout the twelve days, and a masked ball on Twelfth Night. The tradition of King Cake also evolved during this time period, when a coin or pea was cooked in a cake and then served at a celebration. Whoever got the piece of cake with the coin was crowned King of the evening. At some point in history, the Twelve Days of Christmas celebrations were extended to last until the day before Ash Wednesday, the traditional beginning of Lent in Christian religions. Lent is a forty day long period of fasting and prayer, and people with foresight rallied on Fat Tuesday to get in all the fun they could before Lent began. The celebration of Mardi Gras was exported to America by the
Who knew? Who knew that Mardi Gras, which most people
French. In French, Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday, and Carnival
know only as a one day parade on Fat Tuesday, actually is a cen-
means farewell to meat. French explorers Pierre Le Moyne
turies old tradition that is celebrated for weeks each year, not just
d’Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville sailed up the
one day? Who knew that some cities’ social calendars are shaped
Mississippi River, and on Mardi Gras Day, March 3, 1699, made
by Mardi Gras balls and dances? Who knew entire industries have
camp sixty miles south of what is today New Orleans. In honor of
been created by Mardi Gras? Who knew?
the occasion, Iberville called the camp Mardi Gras Point. Bienville
Mardi Gras’ origins can be traced back to ancient Roman times,
went on to found Mobile, Alabama in 1702.
when it was a December event combining two Roman celebra-
Mobile is credited with having the first Mardi Gras celebration
tions, Saturnalia and the Sun festival. When Christianity began its
in the New World, which was initiated in 1703. Societies were
ascent, it converted the Roman events into the Christmas celebra-
formed and celebrations were held over the next few years in
tion. Later, the twelve days of Christmas was celebrated in Europe,
Mobile, New Orleans and Biloxi, Mississippi. Things took a turn in
which begins the day after Christmas and culminates twelve days
1830 when the first Mardi Gras parade erupted spontaneously on
later on January 6, the day the three wise men (or kings) arrived at
New Year’s Eve in Mobile. Yes, it was alcohol inspired. That explains
the manger to greet the eight pound, six ounce little baby Jesus.
why the men involved paraded with hoes and cowbells and woke
January 6 is now the start of the modern Mardi Gras (also known
the town. Those gentlemen went on to form the first Mardi Gras
as Carnival) season, and is known as “Twelfth Night”. During the
mystic society, the Cowbellion de Rakin Society. The Cowbellions
twelve days of Christmas, Europeans appointed a king of festivities
put on their second Mardi Gras parade in 1840, and this one was a
and gave out small token gifts, in honor of the gifts brought by the
little more formal, having a theme and floats.
three wise men. This was the beginning of two enduring traditions,
New Orleans, now the center of the Mardi Gras world, started
the royalty appointed by Mardi Gras societies and krewes, and the
parading in 1837. In 1856, members of the Cowbellion de Rakin
“throws” that are disbursed from Mardi Gras floats.
Society from Mobile went to New Orleans and helped some gen-
68 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
tlemen there create the first mystic society in New Orleans, the
Gras. The Sunday before Mardi Gras is
Mistick Krewe of Comus, which held its first parade in 1857.
Joe Cain Day, and a parade open to any-
The secret societies are now an integral part of Mardi Gras
one marches through the city.
Above, left, Mumus float at Galveston's night parade. Above, middle, A French Quarter Second Line during Mardi Gras. Above, right, The Maidens In Pink Stilettos from Orange Beach, AL.
along the Gulf coast. In Mobile, they are still called mystic societies
In 1872, Russian Grand Duke Alexei
or secret societies, while in New Orleans, they are generally known
Alexandrovich Romanov visited New
as krewes. The societies and krewes meet throughout the year to
Orleans and created quite a stir, along
plan and decorate floats and “throws” which are flung from floats.
with a lot of traditions. Legend has it
Lavish balls are held by most societies and krewes during the Mardi
that local businessmen put on a daylight parade in honor of the
Gras season. Some balls are still private, upscale (black tie and
Duke and named it “Rex”, Latin for king. The announcement of the
tails), invitation only affairs, while some are open to the public.
parade was made by newspaper ad on Lundi Gras, or Fat Monday,
Membership requirements in societies and krewes vary also. Some
the day before Fat Tuesday. The ad commanded New Orleans to
can only be joined if you are lucky enough to be invited. Others only
shut it businesses for the day and to hand the city over to “Rex,
require a membership application and payment of dues. Secret
King of Carnival.” Bands in the parade played the tune “If Ever I
society and krewe events still play a central role in social calendars
Cease to Love,” from the play Bluebeard, in which actress Lydia
of Mardi Gras towns.
Thompson had a role. Ms. Thompson just happened to be in town
The Civil War interrupted Mardi Gras celebrations along the Gulf
for a performance during the Duke’s visit. It was rumored that the
Coast for several years. In Mobile, the Union occupation after the
Duke was smitten with Thompson and “If Ever I Cease to Love”
war was a time of great hardship and discouragement for the
was his favorite song. Legend also says that the Romanov family
defeated population. Enter one Joe Cain, a gentlemen and former
colors, purple, green, and gold, were adopted by the Rex organiza-
Confederate soldier who was determined to lift Mobile’s spirits by
tion as its official colors. This may not be true, but it sounds good,
reviving the Mardi Gras celebration. Dressed up as a mythical
Chickasaw chief (a jab at the Union soldiers because the Chickasaw
Today, Rex is still the King of Carnival, and arrives each Lundi
were never defeated by Union troops) named Slacabamorinico,
Gras aboard a riverboat at Canal Street, where the keys to the city
Cain defiantly paraded in front of the Union troops to the delight of
are handed to him. The daytime Rex parade still continues and its
the locals. Cain is still synonymous with Mardi Gras in Mobile. He
colors are the official colors of Mardi Gras. And yes, “If Ever I Cease
created many of the mystic societies there and started a number of
to Love” is the official song of Mardi Gras. So a Russian Duke fig-
the parades that still endure. He was active in the Mardi Gras com-
ured largely in some of New Orleans’ grandest Mardi Gras tradi-
munity until his death in 1904. Cain started the Order of Myths
parade in 1867, and it is still the final parade in Mobile each Mardi
Boeuf Gras (beuf grah) - French for “fatted bull.” Since the Middle Ages, it has heralded the feasting and festivities that precede the fasting and penitence of Lent. The fatted bull was killed on Monday, and the crowds gorged themselves on their last meat, trying to consume it all before midnight, when Lent began. The Boeuf Gras is a traditional theme float in the Rex parade in New Orleans. GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 69
the best parades and balls in new orleans New Orleans is the center of the Mardi Gras universe. Mardi Gras in the Crescent City is outrageous, outlandish, and outstanding. The society parties start on Twelfth Night, Jan. 6, and continue through Fat Tuesday, which this year is Feb. 16. Parades start around the first of February, and continue until Mardi Gras day. During that time, millions of people from all over the world will descend on New Orleans to get their merriment on before Lent starts on Ash Wednesday. With all that fun out there, how do you decide which events to attend? We’ll hit the highlights here, with the help of Bobbi Mannino, of MardiGrasNewOrleans.com. What are the largest krewes? According to Bobbi, “The largest krewes (the most members) are the Krewe of Endymion, Krewe of Bacchus, Krewe of Zulu, and Krewe of Orpheus. I believe the Super Krewes are the ones that have the extremely large (I call them ‘mega’) floats ... Krewe of Endymion and Krewe of Bacchus.” What are the most popular parades? “Those are the ones put on by the largest krewes (listed above), plus the krewes of Rex and Proteus.” What are the most unique parades? Bobbi has a list: Endymion – the only New Orleans parade to use a different parade route. It rolls through Mid-City and ends up Downtown. It has a celebrity Grand Marshall. Bacchus - only parade to have a celebrity King – great list of past kings such as Bob Hope, Jackie Gleason, etc. Zulu – the only African American krewe - they parade on Mardi Gras morning just prior to Rex. Rex - probably the best known parade because Rex is considered “King of Carnival”. Proteus - uses the old floats with old wagon wheels. Orpheus - a krewe formed by Harry Connick, Jr. He often invites his musician friends to ride with him. Muses - an all female parade with lots of bling and glitz!
Tee’s the Season!
Cesar - one of the many krewes which parade in
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that they are invited to replicate this parade in Disney World on Mardi Gras Day. OK, now what about the grand tradition of the Mardi Gras Ball? How do those work? “The actual tradition ball has the presentation of the King, Queen and their Court, and is by invitation only. The members of that organization have a certain number of invites to distribute,” according to Bobbi. “The most prestigious ball occurs Mardi Gras night when the Krewe of Comus and the Krewe of Rex meet. It’s called the ‘Meeting of the Courts’. To my knowledge, there are no public balls. There are “extravaganzas” that the public can purchase a ticket to through the organization such as Endymion, which holds its after parade party in the Louisiana Superdome.”
70 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
constructing floats since 1932 New Orleans has more than 50 Mardi
of course, you get to play around the
Gras parades. Each parade has numerous
many floats and their accoutrements,
floats. This begs a serious question:
namely, sculptures of famous people like
Where do all those floats come from?
Marilyn Monroe and Cleopatra, and a
Top, left, A float of a Jester's head is shown inside Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World. Top, right, King Rex toasts the crowd at Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The largest float Kern Studios has built was 240’ long and held 200 people.
Some people still make their own floats,
smorgasbord of dragons, alligators, dol-
cloth, paper mache or fiberglass on farm
but the vast majority are made by Kern
phins and many other creatures that have
wagons. Our studios operate year-round
Studios, the reigning King of Mardi Gras
found their way onto a Mardi Gras float.
and we have around 150 full-time employ-
The artists can be seen creating the
The Kern family has been making floats since 1932, when Roy Kern got into
sculptures and floats and making those dreamlike parade staples come to life.
What’s the largest float Kern Studios has ever built? “The S.S. Captain Eddie. It
the business. In 1947, Roy’s son Blaine
The float-making family tradition is
was 240’ long and held 200 people,” said
founded Kern Artists. Blaine’s success in
continued today by Roy Kern’s grandson,
Kern. The S.S. Captain Eddie was a
the business earned him the nickname
Barry Kern, President and CEO of Kern
“Superfloat”. The Superfloats have ornate
“Mr. Mardi Gras” in New Orleans, and led
Studios. Today the Kern Studio prepares
design, sound and lots of fiber optic light-
him to open Mardi Gras World in the
floats for parades around the world, for
1980’s. Mardi Gras World lets visitors
casinos, and for amusement parks. Kern
Can’t afford to have Kern Studios build
loose in the 75,000 square foot ware-
Studios has artists and factories around
you a Superfloat? No problem. They even
house where the Kern artists make floats.
have floats for rent, from a mini-float that
The tour of Mardi Gras World includes
“We make floats for parades all over
is hand pulled and carries two to six peo-
tastes of the Mardi Gras classic pastry
the world – from Universal Studios to
ple, up to a Superfloat that can carry up to
King Cake, videos of prior Mardi Gras
Japan, Korea, France and Spain,” said
60. You can also rent props for your float,
parades, and an opportunity to dress up in
Barry Kern. “We’ll produce 400 to 500
like 3D sculpted figures, as well as walk-
the many Carnival costumes on hand. And
floats for Mardi Gras. Most are built out of
ing heads and krewe costumes. It’s your
Tableau - A scene enacted by masked krewe members at a Carnival ball. Staged before the dancing, it depicts the parade and/or ball’s theme. Think of it as a short, short, one-act mime.
one stop shop for all your Mardi Gras parade needs. GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 71
The Muses in New Orleans with Mayor Ray Nagin.
meet the muses So how does a nice girl from small-town Nebraska end up prancing around on a float during a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans? I mean, New Orleans during Mardi Gras and Nebraska are about as completely opposite as two places can get, right? “I had dreamed of riding on a Mardi Gras float since I was a little girl,” said Kim Erwin, real estate broker from Corpus Christi, Texas. “I went to Mardi Gras a few years ago and loved it and immediately decided to buy a condo just off Bourbon Street. While I was walking around in the French Quarter, I saw a necklace in a quaint little shop that had the word ‘Muses’ on it. I just loved it. I knew ‘Muses’ must be a Mardi Gras krewe, so I asked around until I found them.” Muses, in Greek mythology, are daughters of Zeus and are inspirations to artists, poets and musicians. Muses, in Mardi Gras mythology, are members of a New Orleans krewe that first paraded in 2000, and which is made up exclusively of women. The Krewe of Muses now has over 1100 members. Kim is one of those members. “When I found out where to apply, I went over and said I just had to ride on a float because it was my childhood dream.” And in 2004, Kim rode in her first Mardi Gras parade. The Muses put on a night parade. And while not a Super Krewe like Endymion or Bacchus, the Muses have quickly gathered a loyal following, and were voted best night parade by a local magazine. During the parade, members fling “throws” to the crowds, and their signature throw is shoes. Yes, they throw shoes. But unlike Iraqi journalists, Muses’ shoes are welcomed. During the year, the krewe gets together at Glitter Parties to decorate shoes, and one member’s shoe creation is voted as best in shoe . . . er, show. Last year’s winner made a neon shoe. When finished, the shoes, around a thousand of them, are put into bags to be thrown from the floats to eager young women and metrosexuals. Shoes are the trademark throw of the Muses, but not the only thing thrown. Beaded purses, custom designed Muses medallion necklaces, specially made Muses doubloons, Muses pedicure sets, and Muses Plush toys with big red lips are also thrown. The
Mardi Gras accessory and throw manufacturing industry is evidently alive and well. Talk about your niche marketing. For their night parade, the Muses turn out a little less than thirty floats. They are made by Mardi Gras World in New Orleans, the main float manufacturer for Mardi Gras. The Muses parade starts after a couple of other parades have finished. Since parades don’t always (if ever) run like clockwork, that means a floater (a person riding a float, and a term I just made up) could be on the float for many hours before the Muses parade even begins. That sounds like it could get uncomfortable. “There are bathrooms on the floats,” said Kim. OK, makes sense. I just never thought of a float as having a bathroom. But it works for me. “We also bring food and of course drinks – Nectar of the Goddesses.” Naturally. “You’re on the float for a long time. It takes a couple of hours just to set up all your throws. You have to take them out of the packaging and hang them so you can reach them quickly. The crowds pass quickly so you don’t have time to unpackage as you go,” Kim said. “And sometimes the preceding parades can go a little long so you have to wait till they’re through. Then our parade lasts 3 to 4 hours.” All those throws don’t just appear. They have to be ordered and purchased (or made). And each member orders and pays for her own throws. Since there are thousands of throws for each floater, that can get quite pricey. The throw manufacturers sell not only individual throws but also packages of different kinds of throws, each specifically made for the Muses. What will they think of next, a Muses clothing line? “We already have a complete Muses clothing line online,” offered Kim. Pure marketing genius.
Throws - Typically, plastic beads and cheap trinkets hurled by masked krewe members from passing floats. The usual suspects include beads (from plain round beads in Mardi Gras colors to light-up-and-flash crawfish and other swamp inhabitants), doubloons and plastic cups. However, depending on the parade, you could catch a rose, a stuffed animal, an Opheus (New Orleans krewe) virbloon (a virtual doubloon: a CD with video highlights of the previous year’s parade footage), a plastic alligator, highly decorated shoes, Cracker Jacks, a rubber snake, a Zulu coconut (a New Orleans krewe’s tradition), spear, or a Moon Pie (graham cracker, marshmallow and chocolate or banana coating-prominent in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida – it’s a Southern thing). It could be anything from a pedicure set to candy. Many krewes have signature throws that are unique to them. 72 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
mississippi to celebrate 6 weeks Biloxi, Mississippi was the capital of French Louisiana from 1720 to 1723. The French brought their Mardi Gras traditions, but the first Mardi Gras parade in Biloxi didn’t occur until 1908, when John Carraway was selected as King and Miss Blanche Picard as Queen. Since then, celebrations have sprung up all along the Mississippi Gulf coast. Janice Jones, of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, says there are six weeks of celebration up and down the coast. Per Ms. Jones, all parades are put on by krewes. “The Gulf Coast Carnival Association is the main Mardi Gras society on the coast,” said Ms. Jones. “The GCCA has a crowning ceremony on Lundi Gras, the Monday before Mardi Gras, where they present all of the new royalty, Dukes, Maids, the King and Queen. This ceremony is called a Tableau, and is open to the public. Later, there is a ball. The Tableau is a lot like a grown-ups graduation ceremony, where friends come to watch.” The GCCA traces its roots back to the first parade in 1908. Today its king and queen, known as King d’Iberville and Queen Ixolib, preside over two parades in Biloxi on Mardi Gras. There are dozens of krewes along the Mississippi coast, and a variety of kinds of krewes. “Some krewes are all female, some all black. There’s a lot of different kinds,” according to Ms. Jones. “The Biloxi Men’s Marching Club is made up of a group who just walk in the parade and give roses to women who will kiss them on the cheek.” Each parade has a theme, and floats are created for that theme. “Most floats are made by the krewe, but we do have some float makers in the area,” Ms. Jones noted. The 2009 Mardi Gras along Mississippi’s coast attracted 450,000 attendees. One million, four hundred thousand pounds of beads were thrown, plus untold other pounds of different throws, like Moon Pies. With so many goodies being handed out, it would be hard not to come away with something from a Mississippi Mardi Gras parade. But if you’re worried, then plan to take in the parade in Biloxi. It travels next to the Biloxi Lighthouse on Highway 90. You are assured of taking away at least a unique memory . . . how many people have seen a Mardi Gras parade next to a lighthouse? Top, Mardi Gras strutters on the Mississippi Gulf Coast at Biloxi. Bottom, Mardi Gras crowds around Lighthouse in Biloxi, MS.
As if spending hours on a float eating and drinking wasn’t enough fun, the Muses have a pre-party for all members. There are two classes of members, Riding and Non-Riding. Muses start as Non-Riders and work their way up to Riding members through attrition-there aren’t nearly enough riding spots on the floats for all the members. And until last year, there was also a post-party. Talk about a hangover! The Muses post-party often featured big name musical entertainment, such as Harry Connick, Jr. and The Village People (in honor of that year’s parade theme – Disco!). Last year, the post-party was replaced by a bigger pre-party the night before the parade, which should make the day after the parade a
little less painful. Kim also revealed this little known secret. Floaters are actually required to wear safety lines, to keep them from falling off. Once you fall off your float, you are forbidden by New Orleans Mardi Gras law from getting back on. I suspect this law has evolved from experience. So is the Krewe of Muses enough to keep Kim busy throughout Mardi Gras? Evidently not. “I just joined a new Krewe, the Krewe Boo. All profits go to buy homes for police and firemen,” she said. If you’re going to go all out for Mardi Gras, it might as well be for a good cause. GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 73
ORANGE BEACH AND GULF SHORES, ALABAMA The towns of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores on the southeast
Pleasure society, which puts on its own Above, Get hooked on
Inc., lives in Gulf Shores and is a member of the Mystic Order of
Mardi Gras, like they do in Orange Beach, AL. This parade, and the group will throw more Marlin has to be a world than a million beads, 100,000 coins, record! Opposite, The Krewe's royalty are pre50,000 cups and much more. sented in extravagant outTom began his Mardi Gras experi- fits, such as this royal train.
Shiners, a Mardi Gras krewe. Steve got an early, eye-opening
ence in Mobile. “In 1957, we went to Mobile’s parade. I went to
introduction to Mardi Gras celebrations. “My first Mardi Gras was
almost every one as a child with my Grandfather, Arthur Smith,
in 1972,” he said. “I was a sophomore at Sidney Lanier High School
who was on the Mobile County School Board for 20 plus years. He
in Montgomery, Alabama and our Army ROTC Drill Team was invit-
loved Mardi Gras! I could not tell you how many times I got burned
ed to march in the Fat Tuesday parade. We traveled by bus to New
by the flares that walked beside the floats!”
coast of Alabama each have Mardi Gras parades and societies. Gulf Shores’ city parade will start at 10 a.m. on Fat Tuesday, Feb. 16, and Orange Beach will follow with a City parade at 1:30 p.m. Steve Jones, Director of Real Estate Sales at Kaiser Realty,
parade. This is the Mystics’ tenth year to
Orleans the day before and spent the night aboard the USS
What do you do if there aren’t many krewes in your town?
Trenton. Needless to say, at 15 years of age, I saw things the next
Make up your own. That’s what Jennifer Wilson and friends did in
day during that parade that I had never seen before, and I’ll never
Orange Beach, creating the Maidens In Pink Stilettos.
forget girls coming out of the crowd to put beads around Sergeant
“We formed the organization near the end of 2005, so our
Johnson’s neck, and the thunderous applause when we would
Inaugural Mardi Gras Season was 2006,” said Jennifer. How did
throw our weapons cross ranks and overhead.”
they get started? “It’s a long story. Sarah Champagne, Mary Susan
These days, Steve’s Mardi Gras celebrations aren’t quite so
Slaughter, Rachel Ellsworth, Summer Sanders and myself, were
educational, but are just as fun. “Besides our Shiner Ball of course,
talking about how fun it would be to get a group of girls together
I love the parade. Our entire community shuts down to participate
to create something exciting for women in the Orange Beach area.
in the Fat Tuesday parade and thousands line the street along the
We decided that we would start an all girl rock band and call it the
two-mile parade route. We have a float that as a group we build
Pink Stilettos. No one in the group could play an instrument so we
and decorate with a different theme each year and as the oldest
assigned everyone an instrument to learn, but the rock band never
order we are always the first float in the lineup. We make sure sev-
eral of us walk so that we can put beads and throws directly into the hands of the young ones.”
Sarah, being the party planner that she is, decided later in the year that it would be fun to have a “Mardi Gras” themed birthday
Down the street in Orange Beach, Tom Steber, General
party for several of her friends that had birthdays in February. “We
Manager of Zeke’s Landing Marina, is a member of the Mystics of
started brainstorming on the party idea and decided that we
74 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
should just start our own Mardi Gras organization. We sought advice from some very helpful organizations on the Eastern Shore, sent out an email to all of our friends, held a meeting for those interested, and had over 100 girls show up. We added the “Maidens” to the name to make it more festive, and The Maidens In Pink Stilettos was born. We had our Inaugural Masquerade three months later. Our mission was to create an organization that was fabulous - but still affordable for working women in the area. Along with having fun, we knew that we could use the combined talents of the group to plan amazing fundraisers and do some good for those that need it. Over our short existence, we have been able to donate a considerable amount of monies to charitable organizations including The American Cancer Society,
Initiative, The Lighthouse of Baldwin County, Mary’s Shelter in Baldwin County, and many more.” As for a ball, “We have a ‘Masquerade’ instead of a formal ball; and pink heels and pink boas are always a part of our costume! In addition to celebrating Mardi Gras, we have monthly socials and several fundraisers throughout the year. It takes up a large amount of time and it is hard work, but we have a wonderful, diverse group of members and every single member does their part to make our organization successful.” What’s the best part of being a member of a Mardi Gras krewe? “My favorite part of Mardi Gras is riding in the parade. In order to keep our yearly dues affordable, we do not have our own parade. On Fat Tuesday, we ride in the city parades in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach – and we have a blast!”
Ball, bal masque - A masked ball, where a krewe’s court is presented to the club members. Old-line krewes throw decorous balls, often introducing debutante daughters of members. Attendance is by invitation only and limited to krewe members and their guests. A few newer krewes have refashioned the balls into bashes with celebrity guests and nationally recognized entertainment. Some are open to the public for the price of a ticket. GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 75
the original scoop from mr. george
ried them. They also had flares to light the floats and they let teenagers carry them. I carried those flares and it was fun. You were in the parade. You didn’t get to throw candy but you were still in the parades. I made a lot of money (carrying flares), $5. Back in
Mardi Gras along the Gulf coast has
and was one of the first new hires when the
1946, ’47, ’48, that was a lot money. We
changed in many ways over the last 300
hotel re-opened in 2007. Mr. George, a life-
thought we were big shots and would go
years. Historians tell us that Mardi Gras cel-
long Mobile resident, proclaims he is “sev-
back by this place called Coney Island after
ebrations were initially conducted on New
enty five years young”, and has seen as
the parade and get hamburgers and big
Year’s Eve, rather than Fat Tuesday. Secret
many Mardi Gras as anyone.
societies were created, parades were
“The first Mardi Gras I recall I was nine
“Back then, we didn’t (throw) a lot of
invented and the ever popular “throws”
years old. We lived on the corner of State
candy. They threw serpentine and Cracker
evolved. For a first hand, eyewitness
and Warren Streets, which was about five
Jacks – in the box. Those things were dan-
account of the changes over the last few
blocks from Government Street, where the
gerous! They would knock you out, man!
decades, Gulfscapes consulted the Official
parades usually go down. We could hear the
Some of those guys thought they were
Historian of Mobile’s Battle House hotel,
sirens and we could easily walk up State
quarterbacks. If you wore eyeglasses, they
Mr. George Moore. The Battle House has
could break them and hit you in the eye.
been known as Mobile’s living room since it
Government to catch the beginning of the
Later on they started getting those Cracker
was first built in 1852. Over the years, it has
parades. I recall seeing the Excelsior Band,
Jacks with serrated plastic and if they land-
been burned down, shut down and now
a black band which marches in most
ed wrong, they could cut your hand. A lot of
renovated as part of the plan to revitalize
parades and which has been around contin-
changes have been made and they came up
Mobile’s downtown. Mr. Moore, known
uously for 125 years. The floats were lighted
with candy and stuffed animals and Moon
affectionately as “Mr. George”, worked at
by kerosene lamps. Those kerosene lamps
Pies in later years.”
the Battle House in the 1950’s and 1960’s,
were big, heavy, dangerous. The men car-
76 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
“I’ve seen a lot of parades and they’ve
all been fun. My first memory of the Battle
bands here so they’d bring high school
House is when I played in this high school
bands from other areas. The colored parade
band my first year, 1949, and we marched
was a big success. Some whites would
north on Royal Street and saw all the people
come to the area to watch also. And we
on the balcony of the Battle House, and you
would use the floats built by the white soci-
know, I was thinking they were cheering
just for me!”
As far as the floats themselves, “The
Top, left, Mr. George Moore, better know simply as “Mr. George” in Mobile. Top, middle, The balcony of the Battle House Hotel during the parades.Top, right, Mardi Gras-ers have been catching “throws” on the Battle House balcony for more than a hundred years.
coming from all over to see our Mardi Gras, like they do in New Orleans.”
“By living right there at the corner of
lighting has changed the most,” said Mr.
“And now the little towns around here
State and Warren Street, that’s where the
George. “Back when I was a kid, the floats
have parades. In Pass Christian they have a
colored parades, as they called it then,
were pulled by tractors and mules. Today
parade. Also in Theodore they have a
would pass right by. Back during segrega-
trucks pull them.”
parade. On Dauphin Island they have a
tion, they had separate parades, black ones
“There have been other changes, too.
and white ones. We had a parade on
They now throw candies and soft animals
Monday for black school kids and on
and Moon Pies. And there used to be two
“I’ve seen most of the Mardi Gras. Now
Saturday the white school kids had a whole
weeks of parades, now its three weeks. The
I won’t miss any of the parades because I’m
parade. The King and Queen of the colored
groups have expanded. So the changes
right here at the Battle House. They come
parade would get on their float there by my
have been good. I’ve enjoyed it. And it will
right by. The balcony of the Battle House is
house. So I was right there in the middle of
only get better. Parades are larger, and
the best place in Mobile to watch Mardi
that. I would see all the bands. I know one
there are more societies now. On Sunday,
Gras. It’s just the right height. The people on
year Tuskegee played and I know that
they used to not have a parade, now they
the floats can make throws to up there. I’ve
Alabama State University played every year.
have the Joe Cain parade, honoring him. It’s
watched parades on that same balcony
And they had high school bands. Of course,
more for the people that are not in any
where I saw the people cheering for me as
they didn’t have that many high school
organization. You also see a lot more people
a kid. I’ve made a 180 degree turn!”
parade. So it’s really expanded, and it’s good to see that.”
Doubloons - Commemorative coins struck for individual krewes. The krewe crest is on one side and the parade and/or ball theme on the other. GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 77
where it all began–mobile
A royal crown is displayed in the Mobile Carnival Museum.
business. This group scooped up these items and with a terrific amount of noise began to make their New Year’s calls.” “They stopped at Mayor John Stocking, Jr.’s house and awoke him from a slumber and he received them in good humor and
No city has a richer Mardi Gras history than Mobile. The first
invited them in for refreshments. They left the Mayor’s home and
American Mardi Gras celebration occurred here in 1703, and the
continued their revelry only to disband after deciding to call
first mystic society, the Cowbellion de Rakin society, was formed
themselves The Midnight Revelers. It was not until 1833 that
in 1830. How did anyone decide to start a secret society and why
they adopted the name Cowbellion de Rakin society because of
did it have such a funny name? As you would expect, there’s a
the implements used in their first outing. This is just one of many
story behind it. Here it is as told by Lillian Dean of Mobile, a for-
versions of the infancy of this group but they went on to have lav-
mer Queen of the Mystic Stripers society. “On New Year’s Eve
ish balls and fabulous parades for many years and were known all
1830, Michael Krafft, a one-eyed cotton broker from Bristol,
over the country. The organization lasted for more than 50 years
Pennsylvania, along with some friends, Henry Dagget, Robert
before disappearing as mysteriously as it began. In fact, the
Roberts, Daniel Geary, Thomas Niles, Nathanial Ledyar, Richard
entire history of the society is shrouded in mystery.”
Currie, Amual Kipp and more met at Antoine or Antonin La Tourette’s Restaurant in the old Southern Hotel.” “At what seemed the crack of dawn after ringing in the New Year with much revelry, they strolled through the cobblestone
Ms. Dean is a member of three secret Mobile societies. Which ones? “I am not able to name which ones as they are secret societies,” she replied.
streets and were met with much temptation as they came upon
Wow. I guess secret really means secret! Ms. Dean has been
Partridge’s Hardware Store. The clerks had begun to bring out
parading since she was two years old and is a dedicated Mardi
hoes, rakes, gongs and cowbells to be displayed for the day’s
Gras-er. Last year she attended twenty-two (22) of the grand
78 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
Flambeaux (plural, flam-boe) – Multipronged long metal torches fueled by naphtha or kerosene and secured by straps slung about the waist. Before portable generators and battery-operated lights, they were the only way to illuminate the floats of night parades. Traditionally carried by white-robed African Americans, they began as a symbol of Haiti’s independence, won in 1791, after slaves held a torchlight parade led by their priests. Mardi Gras balls, which are thrown by the secret societies. The
According to Ms. Dean, “Joe Cain died in 1904. Joe only had
balls are elaborate occasions with ultra-formal attire required.
one wife during his lifetime, Elizabeth Alabama Rabby Cain.
Although she couldn’t reveal which societies she belonged to,
However, since his death he has accumulated 20 Widows and 15
she was able to describe some aspects of the societies in
Mistresses. In 1968 when Julian (Judy) Rayford brought the
remains of Joe Cain and his wife back from Mississippi to be
“Each organization is different and the process by which you
reburied in the Church Street Graveyard, there was a lady there
become a member, serve the organization and are allowed to
that decided that he should have a widow and dressed up to
parade varies from society to society. In many groups you must
morn at the grave. Since then, Cain’s Merry Widows have been a
have a member of the society submit your name to be consid-
part of Joe Cain Day. The morning of the parade they have a party
ered for membership. You are then voted on and if your mem-
at the home of Joe Cain. They also, at an undisclosed time, go to
bership is accepted you are notified of where and when you must
the graveyard to mourn. They dress in all black and are veiled.
appear to take an oath or a pledge. Generally, the older the soci-
Each of them claims they are the one and only true widow of Joe
ety the harder it is to gain membership. Many societies meet on
a monthly basis and hold parties and other fundraisers as well as
“A few years ago a group of ladies in red attire and veils
member only events throughout the year. A lot of the organiza-
emerged. They are The Mistresses of Joe Cain and they claim
tions also do a lot of charitable work in the community.”
that Joe loved them best. Before the procession rolls down the
Ms. Dean also pointed out that in Mobile, the organized Mardi
streets of Mobile you are likely to see the Widows and the
Gras groups are known as “secret societies or organizations”,
Mistresses in a scuffle and many times the police are called in.
whereas in New Orleans, they are known as “krewes”.
However, Chief Slacabamarinico always steps in and calms the
In addition to the Cowbellions, Mobile also is the home of Joe
ladies down and tell everyone they can all participate in the cele-
Cain, known as the man who revived Mardi Gras in Mobile after
bration because after all it is ‘The People’s Parade’. Right before
the Civil War. In 1867, to spite the Union troops still occupying
the parade rolls the Mistresses make their way to the side of
Mobile, Joe dressed as a Chickasaw Indian named Chief
Chief Slac’s wagon and recite their Ode to Joe Cain: Here is to
Slacabamarinico and paraded up and down the streets, regaling
Joe on this day we do mourn, We loved him dearly though we
the town with merriment, and helping to lift the spirits of the
face lots of scorn, From dusk til dawn we will mourn his death,
Cause we all know he loved us best.”
Joe Cain started many of the mystic societies and parades in Mobile and many still carry on to this day. The city even declared a Joe Cain Day, which occurs the Sunday before Mardi Gras, and the city hosts a parade that is open to anyone who wants to participate. Even in death, Joe Cain continues to promote and add to the Mardi Gras celebrations in Mobile.
Somehow, the saying “Rest in Peace” just doesn’t seem appropriate for Joe Cain. Bottom, left, A bagpipe float makes it way through downtown Mobile. Bottom, right, Mobile is not only recognized as celebrating the first-known American Mardi Gras celebration in 1703 (yes, even before New Orleans), but also as home to the "America's Family Mardi Gras" delighting both young & old from around town and across the nation. This magnificent celebration lasts for over two weeks and culminates on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent.
GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 79
storm doesn’t dampen spirits for galveston Last year, Galveston’s Mardi Gras took place amid the cleanup from Hurricane Ike’s 17-foot storm surge that devastated the city in 2008. Galvestonians, as hearty a bunch of Texans as you’ll find, refused to let Ike wash away their Mardi Gras celebration, and in the process created a new unofficial city motto: “You can’t let a little thing like that stop a damn party!” So 2009’s Mardi Gras continued a tradition that started in 1867. There were some dif-
florida follows the french’s lead Unlike New Orleans and Mobile, Pensacola was not founded by the French, the original exporters of the Mardi Gras tradition to the U.S. Instead, Pensacola was founded by the Spanish. This led to a delayed adoption of Mardi Gras, which isn’t documented in Pensacola until 1874.
The Krewe of Lafitte Pirates floats through Mardi Gras in Pensacola, FL.
ficult times in the past when the parades were discontinued, such as during World Wars, but the parades and balls were alive and well last year, in spite of Ike. “Ike could not keep down krewe members strongly dedicated to a 98-year tradition,”
After a slow period during the early 1900’s, Pensacola’s Mardi Gras has grown, and today
said RoShelle Gaskins, Public Relations
is one of the largest in the country.
Manager at the Galveston Island Convention
Also unlike New Orleans and Mobile, Pensacola celebrates Mardi Gras on the week-
& Visitors Bureau. “Mardi Gras is a long-
end before Fat Tuesday, much to the relief of Pensacola business-owners whose employ-
standing tradition not to be lost. This is a great
ees are much more productive on Ash Wednesday than their counterparts in the other
venue for friends and family to get out and
have some fun and see that Galveston is
Pensacola has three main parades: the Krewe of Lafitte Illuminated Parade which
coming along strong. Mardi Gras krewes real-
takes place on Friday, Feb. 12 in downtown Pensacola; the Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras
ly pulled together for Mardi Gras in 2009,
Parade which occurs Saturday, Feb. 13, also downtown; and the Krewe of Wrecks Parade,
proving it is an important tradition to contin-
which occurs Sunday, Feb. 14 in Pensacola Beach.
ue. It was also a great opportunity for resi-
Danny Zimmern, a real estate agent with Scoggins Realty in Pensacola, is also the President of Pensacola Mardi Gras, Inc., the entity that coordinates and produces the Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras parade. Danny has been involved in Mardi Gras since the early 1980’s, and has become more involved every year. Last year, the Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras parade covered a 2.5-mile route, had over 200 entries, over 6000 participants and attracted a crowd of over 100,000 viewers.
dents to put aside recovery worries and enjoy the revelry of Mardi Gras.” The party runs from Feb. 5-16, 2010 and will feature the traditional seawall parade, the Philadelphia Mummers who delight crowds every year, and lots of live music, ranging
“Our Saturday parade is bigger than any parade in Mobile, but they have a lot more
from country to rock to blues. The historic
parades than we do. This year we are adding a children’s area with carnival rides and will
Strand District will also have parades, and the
have a street party after the Friday and Saturday parades,” said Danny.
beachfront will host a carnival. There will be
According to Danny, Pensacola has numerous krewes, with the Krewe of Lafitte being
something for everyone, so come on down
among the oldest and largest. Several new krewes have been formed in the last ten years.
and see how Texas celebrates Mardi Gras-
“The Krewe of Andres de Pez is a newer krewe who are young, active and do lots of
come hell or high water!
non-profit works. The Krewe of Daisy Dukes is female and dresses like the “Dukes of Hazzard” character. They dance and have a great float. They are active year round and volunteer for charity work.” “The krewes will start their formal balls five to six weeks before Fat Tuesday,” Danny said. “There are private and public balls. Some krewes use their ball as an income producer. There is also an All Krewe Ball, where all the krewes combine and have a big ball.” Pensacola Mardi Gras, Inc. has created a mascot, too. It’s Mardi, the Mardi Gras dog. “Mardi is always in our artwork,” said Danny. “The year after Hurricane Ivan hit, Mardi was standing on a blue tarp covered roof. In 2008, Mardi was running for President, since it was an election year. We have fun with Mardi, and we want everyone to have fun during our Mardi Gras. Everyone is welcome, from kids to adults. We have some kid friendly events and some adult events. Prices are reasonable so anyone can come and have a great time.” 80 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
Illuminated float during the Galveston Pink Parade.
A tunnel looks out into the interior courtyard of Ft. Morgan. Photo courtesy of Alabama Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau.
CIVIL WAR ALABAMA FLORIDA
FORTS OF THE GULF COAST
During the War of 1812, the British had humiliated the United States by capturing and burning Washington, D.C. President James Monroe was determined not to let this happen again, and embarked on a grand plan to build forts to protect the U.S. coastline from invasion. This immense building project spent tens of millions of dollars on
was by running the Union blockade with ships. The Union Navy was
forts that stretched from the Upper eastern seaboard to the Gulf of
successful in blockading many ports, but Southern vessels were able
Mexico. In all, between the years 1816 and 1870, 42 forts were
to successfully run the blockades in Wilmington, North Carolina,
erected. The forts were known as “Third System” fortifications, and
Charleston, South Carolina, Mobile, Alabama and Galveston, Texas.
guarded all the principal ports, rivers and naval yards of America.
They brought back supplies from the Bahamas, Cuba, the West
Most construction stopped when the Civil War started.
Indies and Bermuda.
When the war began, the Union knew that the South lacked
The Third System forts became important players during the Civil
manufacturing capacity, so it would be dependent on imported
War. In the Gulf of Mexico, Third System forts guarded New Orleans,
goods for a continued war effort. The Union had a significant advan-
Mobile, Pensacola and Key West. All but Fort Taylor in Key West were
tage over the Confederacy in terms of naval ships. Using this advan-
involved in a battle or captured. Fort Taylor was the headquarters of
tage, the Union enacted the Anaconda Plan, part of which required a
the overall - Union Navy’s East Gulf Coast Blockading Squadron. It
Union blockade of all Confederate ports throughout the war. The only
remained in Union hands throughout the war. The other forts had at
way the Confederacy was able to obtain needed imported material
least some significant involvement with Civil (Continued on page 88.) GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 81
MOBILE, ALABAMA WAS ONE OF THE KEY PORTS FOR THE CONFEDERACY, HAVING A DEEPWATER HARBOR AND A LARGE, PROTECTED BAY. THE PORT WAS THE BIGGEST SHIPPER OF COTTON (WHICH FUNDED THE WAR) AFTER NEW ORLEANS FELL, AND WAS THE MAIN GULF DESTINATION FOR BLOCKADE-RUNNERS. IN ADDITION, MOBILE’S RAILWAY CONNECTIONS WERE VITAL TO THE SOUTH’S ECONOMIC AND MILITARY TRANSPORTATION NEEDS.
FORT MORGAN AND FORT GAINES Prior to the war, the U.S. had erected two
Fort Gaines was by a drawbridge lowered
large forts at the entrance to Mobile Bay to
over the moat. Mike Henderson, Executive
keep foreign navies from entering. Fort
Director of the Dauphin Island Park and
Gaines, on Dauphin Island, guarded the bay’s
Beach Board, which oversees the fort,
entrance on the west, while Fort Morgan, on
described the fort as an uneven pentagon
the tip of Mobile Point, guarded the entrance
with massive brick walls. Tunnels connect
on the east.
some of the areas inside the fort. “It was
Both forts were masonry and had five sides (pentagon). Fort Morgan was complet-
designed to be a city unto itself,” said Henderson, “the brickwork
ed in 1834 and Fort Gaines in 1861 (although
was designed to catch rainwater and funnel
construction attempts had begun as early as
it into cisterns in the kitchen area. The sol-
1821, land disputes and a change in the
diers were supposed to be able to pull up the
design of the fort delayed completion).
drawbridge and survive inside for six
Fort Morgan was designed by the same
French military engineer who designed Fort
Both forts were seized by the Alabama
Pickens in Florida. Its star shaped design
militia in January of 1861, shortly after
held three tiers of heavy guns. In addition, a
Alabama seceded from the Union. The forts
separate battery of seven guns was located
were able to keep Mobile harbor open for
near the water’s edge. The twenty-four foot
Confederate shipping during the first years
walls of the fort were lined by a dry moat.
of the war. While the Union Navy blockaded
The moat was lined by a steep outer wall.
all Confederate ports, blockade-running ships
Fort Gaines had a newer, more modern
were able to smuggle goods in and out of
design. It also was five sided and surround-
Mobile. The blockade-runners used smaller,
ed by a dry moat, like Fort Morgan. Entry to
faster, shallower draft ships than the Union.
Top, far left, View of Fort Morgan in 1864, after its surrender, with battered lighthouse in the background. Photo courtesy of the National Archives. Top, left middle, The Battle of Mobile Bay, 19th Century painting by Louis Prang. Top, right middle, The lighthouse at Ft. Morgan shows battle damage. Top, far right, The plans for Ft. Morgan. Bottom, Rear Adm. David G. Farragut, hero of the Battles of Mobile Bay and of New Orleans. Photos courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration. 82 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
Top left, Fort Morgan, Mobile Point, Ala., 1864, showing damage to the south side of the fort. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration. Top right, An interior view of a series of arches at Ft. Morgan, AL. Photo courtesy of Alabama Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau. Center right, Cannons still sit atop Ft. Gaines, aimed at traffic entering Mobile Bay. Copyrighted photo by Mike Henderson, used with permission. Bottom right, Ruins from an outpost north of Mobile are still visible to fishermen who visit the area.
The guns of the forts kept the Union Navy far enough offshore that the blockade-runners could slip past them at night. When returning to Mobile, the runners only had to outrun Union ships until they were in range of the forts’ cannons, after which they could safely pass back into the bay. To help protect the entrance to Mobile Bay, Confederate engineers placed underwater mines at the entrance to the bay, leaving open only a narrow safe channel next to Fort Morgan for blockade-runners to use. “Back then, mines were called torpedoes,” said Blanton Blankenship, Director of Fort Morgan State Historical Site. “Anything that blew up in the water was known as a torpedo. It wasn’t until later that there became a difference between a mine and torpedo.” “The entrance to Mobile Bay is three miles wide. Each fort could fire across that distance,” said Henderson. Combined with the mines, that made getting into the bay a dangerous proposition for the Union. That job fell to Admiral David Farragut, who had already led the fleet that captured New Orleans in 1862. Farragut managed to get the Union army to cooperate with his plan to take Forts Morgan and Gaines. He amassed his fleet at Ship Island, Mississippi. His fleet consisted of 18 ships, including several ironclad monitors. The Union army supplied 5000 troops. In addition to the 500 Confederate troops at Fort Morgan and 450 at Fort Gaines, the Confederate Navy had four ships inside Mobile Bay, including the ironclad Tennessee. On August 5, 1864, the Union Navy began its attack. Farragut had the ironclad Tecumseh lead the charge into the narrow safe channel near Fort Morgan. He also used a tactic to help his ships withstand the barrage from the fort’s Alabama - guns. “He lashed his wooden ships together to run past the fort. The larger ships lashed a smaller one on the side away from the fort,” said Henderson, “this protected the smaller ships from the cannon fire, and the smaller ship could propel the larger one if the larger ship lost its engine.” Before it could pass the fort, (Continued on page 88.) GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 83
The Advanced Redoubt near Pensacola retains its Civil War-era construction. Photos courtesy of Gulf Island National Seashore.
Forts Pickens, Barrancas and McRee Pensacola, Florida has one of the best deep-water harbors in the
Florida seceded from the Union on January 10, 1861, before the
U.S., making it a very desirable location for both sides during the Civil
first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina
War. Larger ships can enter the protected waters of Pensacola Bay
on April 12, 1861. Two days later, on January 12, Florida troops seized
only through the narrow passage between Perdido Key and Santa
Fort Barrancas, the Advanced Redoubt and Fort McRee. Well, they
Rosa Island. After Spain ceded Florida to the U.S. in 1819, the U.S.
attempted to seize them. It seems the Union commander in the area,
Navy decided to build a navy yard in Pensacola Bay. To protect the
U.S. Army Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer, was a step ahead of them.
navy yard, defenses were needed at the entrance to Pensacola Bay.
Lieutenant Slemmer had only 51 men to defend all four forts.
Four forts were built there before the Civil War, Fort Pickens (1829-
Realizing war was inevitable, Slemmer abandoned the other forts on
34), Fort Barrancas (1839-44), Fort McRee (1835-39), and the
the day Florida seceded and took all his men to Fort Pickens.
Advanced Redoubt (1845-56).
Slemmer realized he could effectively barricade traffic from
Fort Barrancas was an old Spanish installation, which was upgrad-
Pensacola Bay with the guns of Fort Pickens.
ed. It sits on a bluff overlooking Pensacola Bay, which gives it a natu-
On January 15, Southern troops demanded Slemmer surrender
rally favorable defensive position. The British and Spanish had built
Fort Pickens. He refused. This put the Southern soldiers in a pickle. If
forts in this area before the U.S. occupied it. The U.S. upgrade was to
they tried to take the fort, it would be the start of the Civil War. In an
build a masonry fort atop the bluff, and to also remodel the Spanish-
effort to prevent the outbreak of war, the Confederates agreed to a
built, masonry Water Battery, located at the bottom of the bluff. The
truce in which the Southern troops agreed not to attack, and
two were connected by a tunnel.
Slemmer agreed the fort would not be reinforced. This postponed the
The Advanced Redoubt was built 700 yards north of Fort
outbreak of hostilities in Pensacola.
Barrancas, as a defense for the northern edge of the Pensacola Navy
The Union eventually sent reinforcements, but the ship carrying
Yard. Unlike the other forts, it was designed to protect against a land
them didnâ€™t try to land the men and material so as to uphold the
assault, not a sea assault.
truce. The ship lay anchored off the fort for ten weeks. The
Fort McRee was a three-tiered fortress on the eastern tip of Perdido Key. It has since crumbled into the sea. Fort Pickens was the key fort in the area, being the largest and most strategically located. It is on the western end of Santa Rosa Island, across the Bay entrance from Fort McRee. 84 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
Confederate forces planned a sneak attack on Fort Pickens, but bad weather postponed their attempt. By the time they were ready to try again, the shots at Fort Sumter were already fired and war had begun, and the Union reinforcements made their way to the fort. Both sides began preparations for an assault against Fort Pickens.
Before the assault began, however, 100
reason for it. My guess is the officer left in
Union soldiers snuck into the Navy Yard and
charge of Fort Pickens was still drunk from
Redoubt are now actually in Pensacola Naval
set fire to a Confederate ship. Then, on
New Year’s Eve, and that was the main cause
Air Station. “Fort Barrancas was not updated
October 9, 1861, a thousand Confederate
of the bombardment,” said Ranger Ogden.
by the military so it still is in its Civil War con-
troops landed on Santa Rosa Island, east of
By May 8, 1862, the Confederates aban-
dition. There are wonderful pieces of mason-
Fort Pickens. This was to be the Southern
doned Pensacola and the forts. Most of the
ry. It has small brick arches that allow a great
attempt to take the fort.
Confederate troops had already been with-
up-close look at the bricks. There is a light
According to David Ogden, Park Ranger
drawn and sent to the Battle of Shiloh that
brown color to the brick, which means they
and Park Historian at Gulf Islands National
took place in April of 1862. The Union forces
were locally made. The beauty of the craft-
Seashore, which now administers the forts,
occupied the remaining forts and the town
work is still in the arches,” according to
the nighttime Southern raid was a “confused
for the rest of the war.
Ranger Ogden. “And the Water Battery at the
brawl”. The Southern forces got lost, stum-
Ranger Odgen says that the park road
foot of Fort Barrancas is a Spanish masonry
bled across a Union camp, battled with those
leading into Fort Pickens sustained damage
fort and the architecture is absolutely
soldiers, and lost the element of surprise.
from FLORIDA - Hurricanes Ivan and Dennis
unique.” Fort Barrancas has guided tours at 2
The Confederates ended up abandoning the
and the five miles leading up to the fort are
p.m. daily, while the Advanced Redoubt has
assault by daybreak for fear the Union ships
closed. Visitors can still enter the park and
a guided tour every Saturday at 11 a.m. Both
would destroy their transport ships. Troops
walk to the fort, where there are self-guided
forts have self-guided tours. :
from the fort were dispatched and fought
tours. Although there is no boat ramp, you
with the Confederates until they reached
can beach your boat near the fort and walk to
their ships. So ended the Battle of Santa
it. The fort itself is in stable condition, per
Ranger Ogden, “Concrete gun batteries
On November 22, 1861, the Union guns
were added later on and were active until the
at Fort Pickens opened up against the other
end of World War II. The fort shows a good
forts. The Southern occupied forts returned
evolution of the coastal defense technology.”
Top, The Water Battery at Pensacola. Photo by J.D. Edwards. Bottom right, Columbiad guns of the Confederate Water Battery at Warrington, FL. (entrance to Pensacola Bay), February 1861. Photographed by W. 0. Edwards or J. D. Edwards of New Orleans, La., Bottom left, Fort Pickens is located on Gulf Islands National Seashore. Photo courtesy of Gulf Island National Seashore.
fire. The barrages lasted through the next day. Over 5000 rounds from Union cannons were fired to only a thousand by the Confederate guns. The Union guns were better than the South’s, and while there was little loss of life, Fort McRee was severely damaged. It was reported that the impacts and noise of the cannons broke windows miles away, and killed fish all over the Bay. The only other battle at the forts occurred on January 1, 1862. The Union commander of Fort Pickens bombarded the Southern positions for eight hours. “There was no real
GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 85
Fort Jackson and Fort St. Phillips FORT JACKSON AND FORT ST. PHILLIPS ARE LOCATED IN SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA, ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER, 30 MILES NORTH OF THE RIVER’S MOUTH, AND 60 MILES SOUTH OF NEW ORLEANS. FORT ST. PHILLIPS WAS CONSTRUCTED BY THE SPANISH IN THE 1700’S ON THE EAST BANK OF THE MISSISSIPPI.
chain to form a barricade that was supposed to block the Union ships. The Union plan to seize control of the Mississippi River required Union Admiral David Farragut to enter the river at its mouth and sail north into New Orleans. Farragut sailed with 24 ships and around 6000 men from Ship Island, Mississippi in early April of 1862. His half brother, Commodore David Porter, accompanied him with 19 mortar schooners. The two forts, manned with approximately 1000 soldiers, and a small contingent of Confederate ships were the only obstacles
AFTER SUCCESSFULLY DEFENDING NEW ORLEANS in the Battle
standing between Farragut and New Orleans.
of 1812, Andrew Jackson recommended building another fort across
Farragut’s fleet reached the forts around April 16. “Porter bragged
the river from Fort St. Phillips, on the west bank, so any foe trying to attack New Orleans by sailing up the river would be caught in a cross
that he could take the two forts in 24 hours,” said Angelico. The bombardment of the forts by the Union boats started on the 16th and con-
fire between the two forts. Based on his recommendation, the U.S.
tinued for seven days. The Confederate batteries were not as power-
began construction of this new fort in 1822. Upon completion in
ful as the Union Navy’s and were unable to inflict much damage.
1832, it was named after Jackson. Both forts figured prominently in one of the most decisive battles of the Civil War.
“The Confederates sent flaming rafts down the Mississippi toward the Union ships, but that tactic didn’t work. Combined there
Richard Angelico, an investigative reporter for TV station WDSU,
were over 8000 Union shells fired at the forts. Over 1000 exploded
NewsChannel 6 in New Orleans, has won two Emmy awards and
in the air above Fort Jackson,” said Angelico. In the end, Farragut was
numerous other journalism awards. He also happens to be an author-
able to either “cut or blow up the chain across the river and his ships
ity on Forts Jackson and St. Phillips and their involvement in the Civil
just sailed past the forts in the darkness of night. The Union Navy
War. He has not only researched the history of these historic sites,
attacks didn’t affect the forts, they just sailed past.”
he has recovered artifacts from them as well.
Once past the forts, there was little resistance and Farragut took
“The Union plan was to split the Confederacy in half by seizing
New Orleans without a fight. “It was the death knell of the
the Mississippi River,” said Mr. Angelico. To do this, the Union would
Confederacy when New Orleans fell,” Angelcio announced. “After the
need to capture New Orleans and Vicksburg, Mississippi. The
Union took Vicksburg, they controlled the Mississippi.”
Confederacy began planning the defense of New Orleans at the time
Today, Fort Jackson is a National Historic Landmark, owned and
Louisiana seceded from the Union. Per Angelico, “The Confederate
operated by Plaquemines Parish. Fort St. Phillips in privately owned
forces seized Fort Jackson from the Union in 1861. They began
rebuilding it. It only had 69 guns. It was supposed to have 96.”
Unfortunately, Fort Jackson sustained severe
According to Angelico, Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard
damage from Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Angelico
suggested running a chain completely across the river to prevent any
said the fort was under water for weeks, includ-
union ships from passing. The idea was to cause the Union ships to
ing its museum which housed many artifacts.
stop at the chain, where the guns from the forts could fire upon them
According to P. J. Hahn, Director of Coastal
at close range. To enact the plan, hulks of ships were connected by
Restoration of Plaquemines Parish, the fort is
86 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
The exterior walls of Ft. Jackson, LA, surrounded by swamp and trees. Photo courtesy of Robert G. Spears, Plaquemines Parish Government.
MISSISSIPPI FORT MASSACHUSETTS– AN ISLAND OF DEFENSE One of the most beautiful and isolated of the Civil War era forts,
Massachusetts also played a major role in the Battle of Mobile Bay,
Fort Massachusetts lies on West Ship Island, a barrier island 12 miles
as it was a staging ground for the many ships and troops involved.
off the Mississippi Coast. West Ship Island was deemed important
Thousands of men came through the staging area and dozens of
enough to warrant a fort because of its location along a shipping lane
ships were fitted.
and its deep-water harbor on the north shore. It was deemed vital in
“The fort was also a large POW camp during the war,” said Ranger Odgen. “It was also manned by the Louisiana Native Guard,
protecting New Orleans. Construction began at the fort in 1859. Mississippi seceded from
a black unit who first offered their services to the Confederacy, but
the Union in January of 1861. Shortly thereafter, an armed group of
the offer wasn’t taken. They later offered their services to the Union,
Mississippi militiamen crossed the twelve miles of water and took
who accepted them and stationed them at Fort Massachusetts for
the unfinished fort for the Confederacy. At that time, the walls of the
fort were only six to eight feet above the sand. In June, the
“Fort Massachusetts still looks pretty much like it did during the
Mississippi forces mounted cannons at the fort. In July, the Union
Civil War. It was completed, mostly, during the War. It is a wonderful
ship Massachusetts engaged the fort in a twenty minute battle. No
example of the period masonry, with very pretty brickwork,” Ranger
major damage was done to fort or ship, but it is assumed that this
Ogden added. “The fort has been battered by hurricanes. Katrina
battle is why the fort is called Massachusetts (officially, the fort was
badly pounded it, and the storm surge over-washed it completely.
never named by the military, but has been known as Massachusetts
Two hundred feet of granite blocks were washed away.” Fortunately,
the storm didn’t significantly undermine the fort’s structure, and
The Confederate forces continued to occupy the fort until
restoration work was set to begin in late 2008.
September of 1861. “They finally realized that they couldn’t really
The only way to reach the fort is by boat; therefore Fort
keep the fort. It was too far offshore, so they couldn’t re-supply it,”
Massachusetts operates seasonally, per Ranger Ogden. From
said David Ogden, Park Ranger and Historian for Gulf Islands National
approximately March through October, excursion boats run from the
Seashore, which administers the fort.
mainland to Ship Island, and provide tours of the fort. The island is
The loss of Fort Massachusetts proved costly, as Union forces
closed when the excursion boats aren’t running. There is a dock avail-
quickly occupied it and used it as the main staging ground for the
able for private boats, but the island closes at night and no overnight
invasion of New Orleans, which began in April of 1862. Fort
camping or docking is allowed. :
Louisiana’s Forts couldn’t stop Admiral Farragut closed for repairs. “We currently have $1.6 mil-
Fortunately, the Fort did not receive damage
lion in FEMA project worksheets, some of that
from hurricanes Gustov or Ike.”
obligated and some not obligated. Estimated
Hopefully, the fort will be open again by
cost for total repairs has been between $7-8
the end of the year. How ironic that Fort
million. We are trying to get some of the basic
Jackson was able to weather the thousands of
repairs done and completed sometime
shells lobbed against it by the Union Navy, but
between mid to end of 2009. We would then
couldn’t weather the weather. :
be able to open it up to the public. FEMA has agreed to pay $128,000 to restore the artifacts from the Fort, which is currently being done and should be completed by 2009 as well.
Top, Fort Massachusetts lies on West Ship Island, a barrier island 12 miles off the Mississippi Coast. Right, Water surrounds this wall at Ft. Jackson, LA. Photo courtesy of Robert G. Spears, Plaquemines Parish Government. GULFSCAPES.COM JANUARY 2010 | 87
After Fort Gaines fell, the union cut off Fort Morgan. Union forces were shipped in from New Orleans to assist in the siege. Farragut’s fleet pounded the fort from the sea, while the Union Army attacked from land. “The fort was shelled into submission and surrendered on August 23,” Blankenship said. Today, both forts are open for tours. Alabama has included each in a self-guided Civil War Trail of the Battle of Mobile Bay, which directs visitors to the numerous battle sites around the Mobile area. Each fort also has numerous historic re-enactments and other historic type activities throughout the year. Fort Morgan has two guided daily tours in the summer months, as well as year round self-guided tours. It has a museum displaying many war artifacts. There is a boat launch nearby, but no dock. A ferryboat that accommodates cars and pedestrians leaves from the fort to cross the mouth of the bay to Dauphin Island. Fort Gaines has self-guided tours and guided ones available by reservation. There is a blacksmith on site also. The fort also has the anchor of the Hartford on display, along with some of the cannons used in the battle. Fort Gaines has not had many changes since the civil war and according to Mr. Henderson, “is mostly preserved from Civil War days.” There is a boat launch, dock and pier nearby. A three and a half mile bridge connects Dauphin Island to the mainland. A ferryboat is available also, as is a small airport. Unfortunately, Fort Morgan is listed as “one of the nation’s 10 most endangered battle sites” by the Civil War Preservation Trust.
Continued from page 85 the Tecumseh hit a mine and exploded, sinking in less than three
The fort sustained hurricane damage in the last few years, and also has water seepage issues that help degrade its mortar. Mr. Blankenship said construction is ongoing on the east face of the fort. :
minutes. All but twenty-one of the crew of over a hundred was lost. “The wooden ship behind the Tecumseh, the Brooklyn, stopped,
The flags that have flown over Ft. Morgan are displayed above a tunnel.
afraid of hitting a mine. Admiral Farragut signaled the Brooklyn to continue, but the captain refused. Rather than retreat or sit there under the fire of Fort Morgan’s guns, Farragut gave the order to sail around the stopped ship and into the minefield with the famous words, ‘Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!’” After his fleet entered the bay, Farragut quickly routed three of the Confederate ships. The lone remaining ship was the giant ironclad Tennessee, which fought gallantly. The Tennessee used ramming as a tactic to sink opposing ships, and was able to ram Farragut’s flagship, the Hartford. Unluckily for the Tennessee, “it struck the Hartford’s anchor and just bounced off,” said Henderson. “The Tennessee was blasted by all 16 remaining Union ships and surrendered.” With the Confederate ships disposed of, Farragut turned to bombarding the forts. Fort Gaines was the first to fall. “Fort Gaines had
Continued from page 81 War battles along the Gulf coast.
32 lb. smooth bore cannons. Those were good at the beginning of the
In the end, the Union’s blockade proved too much for the
war, but by the end, the Union was using 100 lb. rifled cannons. The
blockade-runners to overcome. The South’s cotton exports, its
development of the rifled cannons made the fort vulnerable, as the
prime source of income, dropped from 10 million bales in the
rifled cannons were far more accurate. The Union landed troops on
three years before the war, to only 500,000 bales during the
Dauphin Island to attack the fort and Farragut had his ironclads firing
war. The forts in the Gulf had a major impact on who con-
point blank at it. Five hundred Confederate reinforcements were sent
trolled the ports, and hence the Southern economy.
from Mobile, but they were either too old or too young. But they
Many of the forts are still standing today and can be
were all that was left. Some were as young as thirteen or fourteen
toured. The following articles describe the forts, their history
years old. Fort Gaines held out till August 8, then surrendered,”
and tour availability. The articles also comment if the fort is
reachable by boat. :
88 | JANUARY 2010 GULFSCAPES.COM
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