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VOL. 10, ISSUE 34 •  $5.95

SPRING 2011 • gulfscapes.com


CELEBR ATING 10 Y E A R S

FEATURING Paula Deen Guy Fieri Bobby Flay Emeril Lagasse Rachael Ray Giada De Laurentiis and many more

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The safest, most tested seafood around. I’m Johnathan Hillstrand, captain of the Time Bandit. Fishing for Alaskan crab in the Bering Sea is a pretty tough job. We work hard to bring in our catch, and so do commercial fishermen in Florida. For generations, Florida’s hard-working fishing families have taken great pride in their work. Along Florida’s coasts, they harvest over 80 types of fresh, safe and wholesome seafood. Look for Florida seafood when shopping or dining out. It helps local fishermen and local economies.


contents

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spring 2011

Texas Coastal Cottages 16

f e a t u re s 16

A Seafaring Community SailHouse is a new cottage community in Rockport, TX that has its feet in the sand and its eyes on the sea.

29

Gulf Coast Triage Get the inside scoop on the health of the Gulf of Mexico after the oil spill. Our Interview with the head of the Harte Institute for Gulf Coast Studies. We also look at where money is coming from and where it could be going.

40

2011 Fishing Tournament Updates Tournament time is right around the corner. Here’s the ones you don’t want to miss. 2011 Updates included.

42

Mardi Gras Preview for the Coast It’s that time of year! We give you the heads up on the best Mardi Gras celebrations on the Gulf Coast.

54

Cajun Cookin’ In depth interviews with top Chefs about how to properly cook crawfish and alligator, along with their best recipes.

Krewe of Gambrinus 2010 King Bartt Thompson and Queen Cindy Thomson. Photo courtesy of Genesis Photographers, www.genesisphotographers.com.

Above, SailHouse, a coastal cottage community along the Aransas Bay in Rockport, TX. Interior by Steve Akin. Photo by Craig & Victoria Rogers

42

Cover, Redfish Stew from the Venetian Hot Plate in Port Aransas, TX. Photo by Craig Rogers

10 14 24 33 34 36 37 43 46 66

publishers’ letter... See what’s new in this issue recurrents... Catch up since our last publication spotlight... Find out what’s going on in Rockport, TX this Spring explorers... Harte Research Institute for Gulf Coast Studies oil spill research... BP pledges $500 Million following the money... Multiple agencies involved in policing cleanup spirit of the gulf... A Photo Essay of the aftermath of the BP Oil Spill happy birthday... Galveston Mardi Gras turns 100 tribal passion... Meet the NOLA Mardi Gras Indians recovery... Mississippi restaurants are moving forward since storm


contents

spring 2011

84

68

70 54

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91

f e a t u re s 68

70

South Beach Wine & Food Festival

84

Twin talents from Portland, TX

It’s one of the premiere food and wine events in the

Twin sisters Amy and April Rankin are the Rankin

world, and it takes place in our backyard. Top celebrity chefs from around the country put on a show.

Twins, up and coming country singers.

Retiring on the Gulf Coast Looking to retire? The Gulf Coast has lots to offer. Different communities offer different lifestyles - we explore the best of the best. Baseball, biking, history ... there’s a place for everyone

87

Jewelry with a Gulf Coast Heart Mignon Faget is the first lady of New Orleans jewelry and has the heart to prove it.

88 new orleans romance... Visit the Soniat House 91 love is in the air... Lulu’s tries to break love vow record 93 alabama weddings... Beach wedding venues along the coast


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postcard from paradise

Like oil out of a broken blowout preventer, hope springs eternal around the Gulf coast. We’re a resilient bunch. Knock us down, we’ll just keep getting back up. With a little help from all the marine research institutes around the Gulf, we’ll get our Gulf cleaned up and back to new. Take a look at what’s going on in the Gulf from a scientific perspective in our article about the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies. The verdict: it isn’t as bad as it could have been.

If it’s Spring, it’s time for two things: crawfish and Mardi Gras. Some of the best chefs in the country wade in on the time honored tradition of cooking mudbugs. They even share their favorite recipes. And what goes better with a crawfish boil than a Mardi Gras parade. Up and down the Gulf Coast, we celebrate Carnival like no one else. While New Orleans is the king of Mardi Gras, there are many other great celebrations in towns like Mobile and Galveston (Happy 100 by the way!) that offer different styles of Mardi Gras. Get an inside look at some of them in our annual Mardi Gras Preview. You can find great crawfish in the restaurants in Mississippi, as well as other wonderful dishes. Our Mississippi dining section will steer you to the best eateries along the Magnolia state’s coastline. After dinner in Mississippi, why not step next door and get married along Alabama’s gorgeous beaches? If that’s in your plans, read about the best venues in our Alabama wedding guide. Let’s see, we’ve got you fed, partied and married, what else can we do for you this issue? How about retirement? We asked readers to vote on the best places to retire along the Gulf Coast, and we’ve highlighted several communities that offer lifestyles that will appeal to a wide range of retirement eligible folks. That seems like enough to keep you busy till our next issue. We’ll be back shortly with more info on the state of the health of the Gulf, a report from one of the best food festivals in the world, the South Beach Wine and Food Festival from Miami Beach, and with wonderful stories about the people and places that make the Gulf Coast unique. Till then, take care.

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GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 13


Vol. 10, issuE 34, sPring 2011

Co-Publishers Craig and ViCtoria Munt rogers 361-548-6804 •

info@gulfsCapes.CoM

EstablishEd in 2001 FoundEr & Editor - Victoria Munt rogers 361-548-6804 • victoria@gulfscapes.coM PhotograPhy Editor - craig rogers 361-548-6804 • craig@gulfscapes.coM salEs - lindsey HougH 361-548-6804 • lindsey@gulfscapes.coM onlinE Editor - info@gulfscapes.coM www.gulfscapes.coM subscriPtion QuEstions: 361-548-6804 subscribe@gulfscapes.coM gulFscaPEs MagazinE c/o subscription p.o. box 863 port aransas, tx 78373 $5.95 singlE issuE coVEr PricE $16.95 for one year (4 issues) $28 for two years (8 issues) $36 for tHree years (12 issues) Mail subscription address cHanges to: gulfscapes, c/o address cHange, p.o. box 863, port aransas, tx 78373 or e-Mail to cHange@gulfscapes.coM vol. 10, issue 34, spring 2011 gulfscapes Magazine is published by craig and victoria Munt rogers, p.o. box 863, port aransas, tx 78373. subscription price is $16.95 for a one year subscription in continental united states. unsolicited manuscripts without return postage will not be returned. postMaster, send address changes to address above. disclaiMer: advertisements in this publication do not constitute an offer for sale in states where prohibited or restricted by law. copyrigHt 2001-10 craig and victoria Munt rogers. no part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publishers. usage fees are available upon request by calling 361-548-6804.

­14 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


recurrents ping drilling to retrieve the body, but decid-

ers recognized the urgency to save their

ed against it since he’d probably add octane.

homes and the culture of southern

I wonder if his body would cause a blowout

Louisiana.

preventer to malfunction? Anyway, Serge is back and the pressure to catch him is building. Electric Barracuda

Since its inception, VOW has hosted a number of efforts including an annual free, 3-day festival since 2004, and a bold initia-

promises a entire police task force to track

tive of taking over 50 New Orleans musi-

down Serge, a revival of Serge’s Internet

cians to perform at the 2008 Democratic

travel advice web site (How to see Florida

and Republican National Conventions. In

like a fugitive), and an investigation into Al

addition, VOW has been represented to the

Capone’s little known escapades in the

federal government by Tab during sessions

Everglades.

on Capitol Hill in 2008. The sessions

Questions are abundant, but answers will have to wait till January 25, when the

focused on the urgency of restoring and the need to preserve the Louisiana wetlands.

novel is released. For now, we can chew on

Voice of the Wetlands takes an active

these: Why are women being photographed

role in driving awareness to restore the wet-

naked in the swamp? Why is Serge getting

lands from a local to a national level. The

kicked out of toy stores? What made

organization prides itself in maintaining a

Coleman draw on his face with magic

mission that addresses all aspects, causes

He’s Back! For the 13th Time!

markers? How many motels can Serge stay in

and solutions.

New Serge Storms Novel

at the same time? What’s the body count?

Electric Barracuda

Pick up a copy of Electric Barracuda in

Voice of the Wetlands is the only wetlands restoration and preservation organiza-

Tim Dorsey

January for answers, and to see what new,

tion comprised of members who were born

William Morrow, An Imprint of

cruel, funny ways Serge can devise to kill

and raised and continue to live in the com-

HarperCollins Publishers

people who really deserve it.

munities created from Louisiana's wetlands.

A Voice For the Wetlands of Louisiana

Manatees Can Read!

That lovable Florida mass murderer, Serge A. Storms, is back for a new adventure in Tim Dorsey’s 13th novel, Electric

Voice of the Wetlands was established in

In our last issue, we ran a public service

Barracuda. For the uninitiated, Dorsey has

2004 as a volunteer-based non-profit,

announcement for a group called Save The

created a long-lived character that makes

focused on driving awareness and develop-

Manatee, who, as you can no doubt guess,

Showtime’s Dexter look boring and civi-

ing educational outlets/programs about the

strive to protect the manatees, an endan-

lized. Serge is a walking, talking encyclope-

loss of the wetlands in southern Louisiana.

gered species. It was the first time we’d run

dia of Florida trivia, which just flows from

VOW was started by musician Tab Benoit

an ad for this group. Evidently, word got

him like water used to flow in the

who was born and raised in Houma, LA -

around because a few weeks later, a manatee

Everglades. He has a penchant for stum-

one of the communities born of the wet-

showed up just a few blocks from our office

bling across people who really, really need to

lands. Tab along with Rueben Williams and

in Corpus Christi, Texas. We don’t normally

be killed, and the creativity to make their

a coalition of local artists and business lead-

have manatees in Texas, so we figured he

deaths both painful and entertaining. Helping Serge in his spur of the moment vigilante killings is Coleman, his always present, always wasted side-kick. The last we heard from Serge was in Dorsey’s wonderfully funny 2010 novel, Gator-AGo-Go, wherein Serge managed to cunningly slip some LSD to a nasty billionaire oil tycoon. Seems the acid kicked in while the tycoon was visiting a Gulf oil rig. In a bad trip, Mr. Billionaire leapt into the drill hole. The rig operators thought about stop-

­16 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


recurrents must have been dropping by with a thank you. The seven foot long, 1000 pound mammal was probably on his way to winter in Mexico we’re told. It was nice of him to drop in. And yes, since we had such a moving response, we’re running the Save The Manatee ad again! We look forward to another visit. Beware the Axeman! States Look to Cut Budgets of Gulf Researchers During Oil Spill Crisis Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water ...comes budget cutting

getscanlife.com

SCAN THE TAG. SIGN THE PETITION. BE THE ONE.

fever. There are dozens of research institutions, state agencies and universities along the Gulf Coast that study and manage the Gulf of Mexico. Guess what all of them are

A healthy Gulf of Mexico is essential. Join thousands from across the nation in demanding complete restoration of the Gulf, its coastlines and its wetlands. Visit restorethegulf.com. Watch the video. Sign the petition. Spread the word.

doing right now? Trying to figure out the extent of damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and what we can do to fix it. They’re doing a variety of research, from trying to restore the fish population, which affects thousands of fishing and food industry jobs, to finding out how to prevent







another catastrophic blowout, so we don’t have to go through another spill anytime soon. Seems like pretty important work right about now, doesn’t it? If you think so, then you might want to keep an eye on your state legislature. During this Great Recession, some of the popular things to cut are education and sci-

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ence, including the budgets of the researchers and agencies who are trying to help us recover from the oil spill disaster. If you are a friend of the Gulf Coast (and since you’re reading a Gulf Coast magazine, we assume you are), this would be a good time to phone or send a letter to your state’s governor, congressmen and senators to let them know it would be pretty damaging to cut the budget of the Gulf of Mexico researchers who are employed by state universities, state agencies and research institutions. The amount and importance of their work has increased dramatically - they need more money, not less. The health of the Gulf, and the thousands of jobs that depend on it, hang in the balance.

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 17


seaside community

Marketed by

足18 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


Drop Anchor at SailHouse in Rockport, Texas

A

long the curving, seashore-hugging avenue that winds along the bay in north Rockport, Texas is a new community, SailHouse. Quietly colorful, SailHouse is a closely-knit neighborhood of

45 classic cottage style homes designed to make the most of the coastal lifestyle. The charming seaside community of Rockport is a renown artistic enclave,

known for its scenic harbor and numerous wetlands. Life here revolves around the sea, with fishing, boating, and birdwatching being a part of everyday life. Bathed in the warm waters and cool breezes of the Texas Gulf Coast, Rockport is one of the last few pristine coastal areas in the United States. The balmy average year-round temperature of 73 degrees has made it one of the top 10 retire-

Open balconies and porches catch warm bay breezes. The 650’ pier offers great fishing and wildlife viewing.

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 19


seaside community

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seaside community ment destinations in the country. Yet, even as more people have realized its wonderful possibilities, Rockport has preserved its unique blend of small town charm, laid-back coastal elegance and natural wildlife habitats. Within minutes of SailHouse are many protected bird and wildlife observation areas and preserves. Enjoy a morning trail walk at the 54,000acre Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, home to whooping cranes, alligators, deer and many other species of wildlife, as well as many native and rare Texas plants. Hang a feeder on your porch and watch the ruby-throated hummingbirds hover and dive. Designed to create a sense of community, SailHouse features a central boardwalk running in front of the cottages, allowing neighbors to greet each other from their large, open porches.

Sit on your porch and greet neighbors as they stroll by on the central boardwalk.

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 21


seaside community Pine flooring and shutters create a light atmosphere in bedrooms. Shop for all your artwork locally. Austin Street Art Gallery is an excellent place to begin your shopping.

足22 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


seaside community Upstairs rooms offer 9’ ceilings. Decoration by Steve Akin of Maison et Jardin LLC, another great spot for local shopping.

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 23


seaside community An open floor plan allows for easy entertaining. 10’ ceilings grace the first floor of each cottage.

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seaside community Dining areas are conveniently adjacent to the kitchen. Should SailHouse be a second home, owners will delight in knowing local concierge services are available. Try Coastal Concierge Services, 361-727-0909.

Diversions are plentiful, from swimming at the community

ums and other entertainment in and around town.

center pool to relaxing on the private beach with its own fire

The SailHouse cottages come in several different floor

pit. The 650-foot private pier offers a perfect spot to cast a

plans, ranging from the cozy 928 sq. ft Carriage Houses, to

line or two and swap fish tales. Boat owners will appreciate

the 2,240 sq. ft. Cottage Homes. Carriage House plans range

the short distance from SailHouse to a boat ramp, where it’s

from 2-3 bedrooms, with 2 baths and garage or carport. The

just minutes to beautiful Aransas Bay. Golfers will find

Cottage Homes are 3 bedroom, 2.5 baths with optional car-

refuge on the greens at the Rockport Country Club. And

ports. All units offer spacious porches and open balconies,

there’s always plenty of shopping, dining, art exhibits, muse-

and are designed for safety with a hurricane strapping system

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 25


seaside community

The charming seaside community of Rockport is a renown artistic enclave, known for its scenic harbor and numerous wetlands. Life here revolves around the sea, with fishing, boating, and birdwatching being a part of everyday life. Rockport-Fulton Datebook March 3-6, 2011 32nd Annual Fulton Oysterfest May 28-29, 2011 14th Annual Rockport Festival of Wine & Food July 3-4, 2011 The 41st Annual Rockport Art Festival Need a place to stay, visit Grace Point B & B www.gracepointbedandbreakfast.com This charming B&B overlooks Copano Bay and is known for a delicious and healthy 3-course breakfast served on fine china. www.rockport-fulton.org 足26 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


seaside community Kitchens feature upgraded stainless appliances and granite countertops.

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 27


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seaside community

and 170 mph rated windows. Inside, there are wood floors throughout, made from 2 x 6 tongue and groove yellow pine. Ceilings on the first floor are 10’ with 9’ doors, while second floor ceilings are a generous 9’. The kitchens feature granite countertops, upgraded stainless-steel appliances, and custom cabinets with European-style hidden hinges. Travertine tile lines the master bath and all baths have walk-in tiled showers. SailHouse offers truly classic cottage homes, with intimate surroundings and a relaxing, coastal atmosphere. The seaside life is filled with gentle bay breezes that drift across balconies and porches, and quiet walks along the beach and pier. For those who love the coastal lifestyle, SailHouse is the perfect place to drop anchor. (Top) A guest bedroom; (Above) Your daily view of Aransas Bay and private pier; (Left) Tall ceilings and tall doors are standard on each SailHouse cottage’s ground floor.

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 29


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Story & Photo by Craig Rogers

Coastal­Update The Health of the Gulf of Mexico after Deepwater Horizon The millions of gallons of oil have stopped spewing into the

technical explanations.

Gulf daily. The seas are no longer aflame with burning oil. The beaches aren’t coated in Louisiana Light Sweet Crude. Now what? What else is going to happen? Is their more oil

The Beaches: The most visible of damage occurred when oil started washing up

coming ashore? Are the swamps devastated? Did the oil kill all our

on

fish?

shouldn’t happen again, says

And where do we go to get answers to these questions? To

the

beaches.

That

Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi Executive Director, Dr. Larry McKinney

Dr. McKinney. The only oil

South Texas, home of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of

that could come ashore would be old deposits left offshore, and

Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi. The

only if they are upset by a big storm. More oil would have washed

HRI was founded in 2000 and its sole purpose is to study the Gulf.

ashore had it not been for the combination of the depth of the

Not the Atlantic, not the Pacific, just the Gulf.

blowout (5000 feet below the surface) and the application of dis-

During the months of intense media coverage, you probably

persant. These two factors kept a lot of the oil from reaching the

saw the HRI’s Executive Director, Dr. Larry McKinney, on TV

surface. The oil that did manage to make it to the surface was the

during one of his many interviews. Dr. McKinney was, and is, one

subject of burning campaigns and more dispersant. Dr. McKinney

of the go-to guys for answers about the oil spill. He was kind

notes that clean-up of the beaches is a lot easier and effective than

enough to sit down for a few hours and discuss the oil spill in

cleaning marshland.

depth to help answer our many questions. We’ve attempted to dis-

One lasting reminder of the spill will be the presence of tar

till the answers, some of which are complex, down into short, non-

balls on our beaches for the next few years. These look like small

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 31


“Marshes are next to impossible to clean up.

they seemed to be OK,” Dr. McKinney

Getting personnel and machinery into the

relayed. Many more tests of the seafloor are

wetlands to clean them can cause as much

planned in the next few months, and it will

damage as the oil itself. Fortunately, the sur-

take quite some time before we know the

face oil didn’t get pushed into the middle of

extent of damage.

the wetlands. It only coated the edges. If it

Fish and Marine Life: First and fore-

had gotten deeper, it would have been cata-

most, Gulf seafood is safe to eat. Dr.

strophic.” He expects to see damage to

McKinney says, “I have never seen so much

plants during the upcoming growing sea-

testing and the industry itself is taking more

son, but they should recover in the next

care than ever to make sure of that. I guess

couple of years.

the best test is that I eat seafood of some

The Ocean Bottom: This is where we enter the unknown zone. There has never

sort every week and have done so wherever I have traveled around the Gulf.”

been such a blowout at this depth.

As for the effect of the spill on Gulf

Dispersants have never been used in such

marine life, we can estimate the impact on

quantities at such depth, either. There isn’t

shallow water species by looking at a prior

much guidance on how the dispersed oil

Gulf offshore well blowout. In 1979, the

will behave. Dr. McKinney compares the

IXTOC I oil well in the southern Gulf, off

blowout to a can of spray paint. The oil

Mexico, blew out, spilling huge amounts of

coming out was under pressure and mixed

oil into the ocean for over 9 months. Large

with about 40% methane gas. This spewing

amounts of dispersants were used then, also.

effect caused a lot of the oil to be broken

The predominate commercial sea life in

down into small droplets. These small

that area, shrimp and squid, saw a drop in

droplets became suspended in the seawater.

their populations of 60% for the two years

Dispersants caused these droplets to be

following the spill. Their numbers returned

even smaller. Because the spill was so deep,

to close to normal in the third year. Dr.

there’s a lot of oil suspended far below the

McKinney expects to see a similar effect on

surface. This suspended oil makes up the

marine life in the area of the Deepwater

“plumes” that were found, some of which

Horizon spill. The unaffected waters sur-

The deepwater benthos sampler

were as deep as 3000 feet. They cover a huge

rounding the spill may be productive

returns to the surface after a 5,000

area. How much of the oil will precipitate

enough to compensate for that but we will

foot sampling trip to the Gulf’s bottom

out of the plumes is unknown. It’s also

have to wait and see.

near the spill site. The sampler's tubes

unknown how much non-dispersed oil

are full of mud to be analyzed for a

eventually settled onto the ocean floor.

IXTOC I was only in 160 feet of water, so the effect on deepwater species is

whole array of possible chemicals. As

Bottom samples taken to date show oil

unknown. The Deep Scattering Layer is an

many as 800 samples will be taken

in some places but not in others. Dr.

area underwater that is home to marine ani-

during this project. Photo courtesty of

McKinney says these results aren’t contra-

mals so numerous that sonar bounces off

Harte Research Institute.

dictory. “The Gulf is a damn big place.

them and gives a false reading suggesting it

There can be oil on the bottom in some

is the bottom of the ocean. This layer rises

pieces of asphalt and wash ashore regularly.

areas, and

said.

and falls daily with the sunlight, rising as

There will just be a lot more of them in the

Preliminary results from The Florida

close as 500 feet below the surface, and

not

in

others,” he

future. The good news is they aren’t toxic.

Institute of Oceanography found a thick

falling as deep as 4000 feet. Whale sharks,

Only messy. If you step on them, tar sticks

layer of oil in sediment in DeSoto Canyon,

the largest fish, and sperm whales eat in this

to your feet and you can track the tar into

off Pensacola, and Penn State researchers

layer, which is very important for a variety

your house, where it’s hard to get off your

found damage to some deep sea corals sev-

of sea life. Dr. McKinney says we really have

carpet or flooring.

eral miles from the well site. On the other

no idea of the extent of damage to this layer.

The Marshes: Because a large amount

hand, “Some preliminary work was done a

If whale sharks were affected, it would be

of the oil never made it ashore, the impact

few weeks ago when a submersible went

hard to know, since they don’t float when

on marshes wasn’t nearly as bad as it could

down to some of the deepwater coral com-

they die; they fall to the ocean floor instead,

have been. According to Dr. McKinney,

munities in areas adjacent to the spill, and

where we wouldn’t notice them.

­32 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


gulf coast updates

What the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico nearly a mile beneath the surface looks like. Photo by Sandra Arismendez.

Dr. McKinney is also worried about the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna,

Another positive, so far, is the lack of new “dead zones”. Due to

which he describes as the “canary in the coal mine” for the Gulf.

runoff from the Mississippi River, each year there is a “dead zone”

These tuna are important commercial fish but are already over-

in the Gulf off the mouth of the river that is lacking oxygen. This

fished and their populations dwindling. Unfortunately, they breed

lack of oxygen means the water can’t support normal sea life. One

in only two places. One is in the Mediterranean, and the other is in

big fear was the oil plumes would create new “dead zones”. There

the Gulf, in the Deepwater Horizon area. And they started their

are naturally occurring oil seeps in the Gulf which put about 2 mil-

breeding season about the same time as the Deepwater Horizon

lion gallons of oil into the Gulf each year. Microbes in the water

blew out. Talk about being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

actually feed on this oil and break it down, but they consume lots of

We’ll have to wait till spring, when they return to that area to

oxygen when they do. Scientists feared that the plumes of oil would

spawn, to see how they were affected.

be attacked by these microbes, who in turn would consume the oil

We’ll also have to wait till spring to see the effect on other fish

and use large amounts of oxygen. Samples from the plumes have

species, since most spawn in the spring. One ray of hope that Dr.

shown the presence of these microbes, and a reduction in oxygen

McKinney holds out is the effect of the fishing ban, which closed

content, but not to really low levels. The decrease in oxygen was

large portions of the Gulf to fishermen for months. “From a fish-

much less than expected and isn’t toxic. Why? Dr. McKinney thinks

eries standpoint on snapper, redfish and trout, because of the clo-

it may be due to dispersants causing the oil to spread out over a

sures we got a good break from fishing pressure. And what damage

large area, in effect diluting the oil concentration and therefore the

(the oil) may have caused in lost eggs and larva production, because

concentration of microbes. “You can make a case, and we’ll find out

so many more adults survived fishing season, they may reproduce so

if it is true or not, that the use of the dispersants in the deep water

much next year that we’ll have a huge crop. That’s a real possibility.”

Continued on page 34 GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 33


gulf coast updates

(Top left) Dr. Sylvia Earle will lead an National Geographic\HRI January 2011 expedition to assess deep coral communities that may have been affected by the Gulf oil spill. Dr. Tom Shirley of HRI (pictured) will act as chief scientist on the expedition. Look for an article on the expedition's findings in the April issue of Gulfscapes. Photo Credit – Living Ocean Society. (Middle left) The multi-sampler Benthic Array being readied for lowering nearly a mile deep to the bottom of the Gulf to take mud samples near the spill site. Photo by Sandra Arismendez. (Top right) Near the Deepwater spill site are the various platforms that were used to cap the runaway well. Photo courtesy of Harte Research Institute. (Bottom left) Rick Kalke and Sandra Arismendez taking subsamples of deepwater cores from the bottom adjacent to the Deepwater Horizon spill site. The samples will be tested for presence of oil and for toxicity. Photo courtesty of Harte Research Institute. (Bottom right) The “Mega-Benthos Sampler" ready to be deployed. Photo courtesy of Harte Research Institute.

­34 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


gulf coast updates

EXPLORERS The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi to Evaluate the Gulf

i

n 2000, Texas A&M University -Corpus Christi took a giant

said Dr. McKinney, who previously led oil spill responses for the

step forward as a research university. Until then, the

State of Texas before coming to the HRI.

University had existed quietly on a small island on the edge of

HRI scientists were asked to assist in mapping the oil spill

Corpus Christi Bay, offering gorgeous waterfront views and

its own beach. But Mr. Edward H. Harte changed all that in an instant. That year Mr. Harte, former owner of the local newspaper and noted philanthropist, donated $46 million dollars to establish a new Gulf of Mexico research institute, the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI). The gift established endowed research chairs, endowed graduate research fellowships and an endowed operating budget. Current University President Flavius C. Killebrew says the endowment “transformed the University into a major research institution.” Mr. Harte became inspired to make this gift after reading Dr.

The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi

Sylvia Earle’s book, Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans. Dr. Earle is a world-renowned marine biologist, ocean explorer, author and lecturer. She was the first woman to serve as NOAA's Chief

after government scientists became overwhelmed by the magni-

Scientist and is now an Explorer-in-Residence at the National

tude of the disaster. And Dr. Paul Montagna, the endowed chair of

Geographic Society. After meeting with Mr. Harte and University

Ecosystems & Modeling is still getting samples daily from the

officials, Dr. Earle agreed to become the chairwoman of the

Gulf bottom to check for oil to see where and how much oil was

Institute’s Advisory Council, bringing instant world-class credibil-

deposited on the ocean floor. The HRI has also been asked to

ity to the fledgling organization.

establish criteria for selecting research grants to be awarded from

“Make a difference!” That was Mr. Harte’s admonishment to

a $500 million fund established by BP, which will lend credibility

the new institute. To realize that directive, a different organiza-

to the process since the HRI chairs all agreed early on not to

tional model was established. According to Dr. Larry McKinney,

accept any work as expert witnesses in the coming lawsuits over

who became Executive Director of HRI in the spring of 2008,

the spill. Such expert witness jobs could easily double a scientist’s

“The primary distinction between HRI and other marine institu-

salary, but it could also create bias in favor of the party that hired

tions is that our focus is on what is done with the science, rather

them. This is a nice glimmer of integrity in a very corrupt looking

than just the science itself.” The Harte Model created a link

situation.

between the science world and the Gulf community at large, with

The focus of the HRI doesn’t stop at the U.S. maritime bound-

two of its six endowed chairs being in non-marine science disci-

ry. As Dr. Killebrew puts it, “Fish don’t know national boundries.”

plines. The four marine science chairs are: Coastal and Marine

And the Gulf of Mexico borders two other nations. So the HRI

Geospatial Sciences; Ecosystems and Modeling; Biodiversity and

has helped coordinate Gulf policy and research with both Mexico

Conservation; and Ocean Health. The other two chairs are:

and Cuba. And the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, a partnership

Marine Policy and Law; and Socio-Economics. The later two

between all five Gulf Coast states, was formed during an RHI con-

chairs attempt to bridge the gap between scientific research and

ference in 2005. That Alliance helps coordinate the states’ plans

how it is used for economic, social and ecological benefit.

aimed at improving the health of the Gulf.

The HRI was thrust into the national spotlight by the

By its actions in addressing and evaluating the oil spill, by its

Deepwater oil spill. “We didn’t realize until we all sat down to dis-

numerous other research projects, and by helping to coordinate the

cuss the spill that every endowed chair had previous oil spill expe-

actions of the governments that border the Gulf of Mexico, the

rience. And Dr. Earle led the oil spill response after the Gulf War,”

HRI has, and will continue to, “Make a difference.”

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 35


gulf coast updates Continued from 31 . . . may have made the oil droplets even smaller and as they dispersed into those plumes they were so small and so dispersed, that the oxygen depletion didn’t occur as much as it might have. The EPA may have made the perfect call,” he said. Conclusion: So there you have it. Probably no more oil on the beach, but tar balls. Danger for tuna. Fewer marine life in the area surrounding the spill. Possible effect on snapper, redfish and trout, but it may be offset due to the fishing bans. Some damage to marshes, but not nearly as bad as it could have been. Questions remain about damage to the sea floor, the Deep Scattering Layer, and the animals that live there. More answers should be available after this spring. Stay tuned. BP Funding Gulf Research British Petroleum has pledge $500 million to fund independent research on the Gulf of Mexico and the oil spills effects. The money will be doled out $50 million per year for the next ten years. To be considered for the research grants, scientists will submit proposals, with the winners being selected through a process that purportedly will be free of major influence from BP. Dr. Larry McKinney, Executive Director of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, says BP has consulted with scientists in the area to set up a selection process. The Harte Research Institute is helping to devise the evaluation system to be used in selecting the recipients. Concern over BP’s influence on the research is natural, but is being addressed. The only conditions set by BP appear to be that any research be peer reviewed (the regular process in which scholarly research is subjected to review and correction by scientific experts in the field before the research is printed), and that during the first three years the research must be about the oil spill, its effects, or ways to prevent future spills. There is no limitation on the focus of the research for the remaining seven years. “The Gulf has traditionally been underfunded in terms of research,” said Dr. McKinney, who added that these grants “will set the research agenda for the Gulf for the next ten years.” ­36 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


green waves


gulf coast updates Sandra Arismendez and Rick Kalke of HRI process bottom samples from a mile beneath the ocean’s surface and near the spill site. Photo by Sandra Arismendez.

Where the funds for the recovery and clean up of the Gulf are coming from ...

FOLLOWING THE MONEY By now, everyone knows about the claim

necessary. If pressure isn’t put on the

uation process could take up to ten years.

process for business folk damaged by the oil

Federal Government to keep the money

During the evaluation, state and federal

spill. And about the $20 billion BP set aside

here, look for it to go into the general

agencies, who act as Trustees for DARRP,

to pay those claims. But there’s more going

Federal budget, which means the money

will seek public input as to what needs to be

on in terms of money, some of which we can

will be spent all over the country.

done to complete the restoration. Keep your

still influence.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric

eye out for public meetings if you’d like to

The EPA will eventually levy fines

Administration (NOAA) is in charge of

have some input. After the cost of restora-

against the company or companies they find

evaluating the damage caused by the spill

tion is determined the violator is charged

to have caused the spill, which could be a

and restoring damaged areas. NOAA does

for cost. NOAA’s website says the violator is

huge amount of money. Where will that

this

Assessment,

often a “key participant” in the restoration

money go? Since it was the Gulf Coast that

Remediation, and Restoration Program

process. Significant oversight will be need-

was damaged, common sense says the fine

(DARRP), which was created after the

ed if the violator is the “key participant” in

money should be used to help the Gulf

Exxon Valdez spill to put in place a program

the restoration project, since it isn’t in the

Coast recover. Unfortunately, the money

to respond to oil spills along our coasts.

violator’s monetary interest to spend any

isn’t earmarked to remain for use just on the

After initial cleanup, the DARRP program

more than it has to to get by.

under

the

Damage

Gulf Coast, so the U.S. Government could

initiates a National Resource Damage

Keep in mind the fine from the EPA is

spend it anywhere. To keep that money for

Assessment, known as NRDA. The NDRA

completely separate from the charges under

Gulf Coast recovery will require a large

determines what needs to be done to restore

NRDA. And both programs are completely

push by the general public. Help from local

the environment, such as replanting wet-

separate from the claims process used by

U.S. Representatives and Senators will be

lands, and how much it will cost. The eval-

businesses to collect damage for lost profits.

­38 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


SPIRIT OF THE GULF COAST a photo journey into the aftermath of the BP oil spill

Last August, a group of five young volunteers from Atlanta were

compelled to go down to the coast and document the conditions on

concerned enough about the Gulf Coast that they made the journey

the ground and bring back the firsthand accounts of what was going

south to hear directly from the people most impacted by the oil

on along the coast. I felt that this would give me an opportunity to

spill. They visited Grand Isle, Louisiana, Pearlington, Mississippi,

have more meaningful discussions with people that I come in con-

and Dauphin Island, Alabama, and documented their travels and

tact with in my daily life and help bring the perspective of the local

interactions with coastal residents in an exhibit entitled The Spirit

communities to those who might not otherwise hear their point of

of the Gulf Coast. Their goal was to raise awareness of the complex

view. I also wanted to support the communities by showing up and

issues created by our dependence on oil, as it was manifest during

spending money in the communities that had seen such a huge

the oil spill. They also wanted to keep the Gulf Coast’s spill-creat-

adverse impact.”

ed problems in the public’s mind, even after the national media

Joining Brandon were Vanessa Keating, photographer Terrell

packed up and went home. The images accompanying this article

Clark, Kim Campbell and videographer Nathan Black. They com-

were taken during their journey and show the beauty and complex-

bined to record not just the trials and tribulations that people were

ity of our Gulf Coast.

enduring, but also the generous nature and resiliency of the Coast

Brandon Sutton was the initiator of the project. He described

and its residents.

his inspiration, “I was devastated by the disaster and I wanted to

“One of the most incredible people we met was Josie Cheramie

raise awareness of the societal costs of our dependence on oil. I felt

of the Grand Isle, LA Port Commission,” said Brandon. “I mistak-

Spirit Study 5, Jefferson Parish - Grand Isle, LA, Photos by Terrell Clark of www.tclarkweddings.com

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 39


(Above) Spirit Study 16, Portersville Bay, AL,(Opposite page top) Spirit Study 7, Jefferson Parish - Grand Isle, LA, (Opposite clockwise) Spirit Studies 4, 20, 6 and 21 from Jefferson Parish - Grand Isle, LA Photos by Terrell Clark of www.tclarkweddings.com

reflections

enly assumed that there would be plenty of lodging . . .

personal account of not only the oil spill impact, but also

what I didn’t realize was that Grand Isle was essentially

the ongoing struggle after hurricanes Katrina and

Ground Zero for the cleanup effort, so all the rooms on

Gustav. And of course Lori Bosarge from Coden,

the island were occupied with cleanup workers.” Brandon

Alabama was an incredible individual,” relayed Brandon.

was directed to Josie, who referred him to a local gentle-

“We were on our way to Dauphin Island when we passed

men who had a home for rent nearby. “He didn’t ask

her house and the provocative signs that she had out in

many questions,” Brandon said. “He told us where the key

the yard. We turned the car around, and shortly thereafter

would be located, and 24 hours later, we were in his

we were engaged in a 2-hour conversation about what

home. I can’t stress enough what a major impact this had

was happening along the Alabama coast and the ongoing

on me. This man welcomed a group of complete strangers

use of chemical dispersants a mere 1/2 mile from her

into his home with no deposit, no documentation, noth-

front door.”

ing – just a friendly voice on the other end of the phone.”

The trip revealed some surprises. According to

Another Gulf Coast resident the group encountered

Brandon, “One of the most surprising insights was that

was Kenny Heikamp from Bentrod Offshore Fishing

the local fishermen did not blame the oil industry over-

Charters. Described Brandon, “Kenny took us out in the

all, but were instead quite supportive of the industry. I

Gulf and showed us around the area, giving us the per-

thought we would hear a lot more bitterness toward BP

spective of an offshore fisherman. This was a big piece of

and the industry overall.”

the experience for us, and Captain Kenny was helpful, informative, and gracious with us.”

Something else surprised him, Brandon said. “A big revelation for me personally was that the people in the

As they journeyed on, the group met more residents

area just wanted to be heard; they wanted to tell their sto-

with compelling stories. “Daryl Arnold and his family in

ries.” Thanks to Brandon and the Spirit of the Gulf Coast

Pearlington, MS were gracious hosts, and gave us a very

project, they got their chance.

­40 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


reflections www.SpiritOfTheGulfCoast.com

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 41


hook

the

by bob shirley

Special Note: Bob is traveling the world. See him back in our next issue.

2011 UPDATES SPRING FISHING TOURNAMENTS March 10-13, 2011, Florida Keys Survivor, Islamorada, FL: Fun and hilarity ensue during this three-day backcountry elimination draw tournament where the winner is the sole survivor. Random draw, two-person teams compete against one another for redfish, snook, bonefish and tarpon. Contact Sharon Mahoney-Ellenwood at 305-393-6174 or sharellen@netzero.net. March 26-27, 2011, McDonald's Big Bass Splash - Lake Guntersville, Scottsboro, AL: The McDonald's Big Bass Splash is the World's Largest Amateur Big Bass Fishing Tournaments as Featured on National Geographic. This event is for amateurs only and has Guaranteed Payouts with hourly big bass cash awards and overall big bass prize awards plus bonus awards and open drawings. Both Adult and Children Divisions. Entry Fees: 1 Day- $135, 2 Days- $185, 409-6982591, nicole.sealy@sealyoutdoors.com April 12-16, 2011, World Sailfish Championship, Key West, FL: Has a guaranteed first prize of $100,000. The prestigious sailfish challenge draws top teams and benefits the Don Shula Foundation for Breast Cancer Research, Camp Boggy Creek for youngsters with chronic and life-threatening illnesses and other national and local charities. Previous tournaments' overall cash payout has topped $1 million. Contact Mike Weinhofer at 305-395-3474 or visit www.worldsailfish.com. May 2011 (date TBA), Babes on the Bay Fishing Tournament, Rockport, TX: “All women fishing tournament! The Aransas Bay Chapter of the Coastal Conservation

­42 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM

Association (CCA), to promote women’s fishing in the Aransas Bay area, created the Babes on the Bay fishing tournament” Contact Karol Scardino at 361-729-5353 April 28 - May 1, 2011, Offshore Bull and Cow Dolphin Tournament, Marathon, FL A $10,000 first prize awaits the angler with the largest bull and cow combined, as well as prizes awarded to anglers catching the largest dolphin, wahoo, tuna and tripletail, grouper and snapper. Contact Byron Goss 305-2890199,www.marathonoffshoretournament.com . May 5-7, 2011, Marathon International Tarpon Tournament, Marathon, FL Anglers from around the world fish this allrelease event for individuals and two-angler teams. Trophy awards are given to anglers for the most tarpon released, most fish other than tarpon released, most total fish released (including tarpon) and first- and secondplace captain. Call Sue Moore at 305-2892248 or marathonbait@gmail.com. May 7, 2011, Gulf Coast Kayak Fishing Association’s 6th Annual Spring Kayak Fishing Tournament, Gulf Breeze, FL “Kayaks, Canoes, other paddlecraft only – no motors! www.gulfcoastkayakfishing.com May 31-June 5, 2011, Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic, Venice, LA: “Let’s get back to FISHING! We are happy to be going forward with our 2011 Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic, located at Cypress Cove Marina & Lodge. Yes, it has been a very interesting and frustrating summer for most of the Gulf Coast, but, again, together, we will conquer the obstacle and FISH, HAVE FUN, and

have our tournament in VENICE!” Note: tournament was cancelled last summer. Early Bird entries starting January 1, 2011. June 8-12, 2011, Mississippi Billfish Classic, Biloxi, MS: The Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic is one of the premier billfish tournament event in the entire Gulf of Mexico. Going into its fifteenth year, the event is known for its fantastic offshore bite, huge fish, millions in cash payouts, exciting atmosphere and high energy gaming and entertainment at the Isle Casino Hotel. Looking to put on one of the best events in recent years, the Classic, for the first time since the hurricane of 2005, will have a full marina with all new slips, electrical hookups, and supporting facilities. With clear blue waters expected offshore, the event is sure to bring in anglers from all over the world searching for big fish and big bucks! www.mgcbc.com July 7-10, 2011, Deep Sea Roundup, Port Aransas, TX: The 76th Annual Deep Sea Roundup in Port Aransas, TX. The Deep Sea Roundup is the longest running fishing tournament in Texas and is great fun for everyone. Each year, every participant becomes a member of the rich history of the roundup. The Roundup Tournament is conducted by the Port Aransas Boatment, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering higher education for young people. The Deep Sea Roundup includes the offshore division, bay-surf division, junior division, fly fihsing division, and the free piggy perch contest for the little guys and gals. Registration includes all meals and beverage services on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.


Early registration $80 per person must be received by June 15, 2011. Regular registration is $100 per persion after June 15, 2011. www.deepsearoundup.com July 14 -19, 2011 79th Annual Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo, Dauphin Island, AL: The Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo, a Project of the Mobile Jaycees, is the oldest and largest multi-species saltwater tournament in the country. Founded in 1929, the fishing rodeo now attracts more than 3,000 anglers and 75,000 spectators. It is located on Dauphin Island, Ala. (N30 15'31, 90" W88 06'47.78). The ADSFR is a 3-day Captain's Choice tournament and a Southern Kingfish Association (SKA) sanctioned event. The total awards package is valued at over $400,000 and anchored by two boat, motor, and trailer packages. The 3-day event features 30 categories with prizes awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in all categories. One Master Angler is also awarded along with cash prizes for King Mackerel (Open and Recreational), Speckled Trout and Big Game Jackpots. The ADSFR has donated over $150,000 to the University of South Alabama Department of Marine Sciences and annually funds academic scholarships. www.adsfr.com

(361) 729-2388 • Accommodates Up to 400 People • Overlooks Beautiful Aransas Bay 4 0 2 N. F u l t o n B e a c h R d . • Wooden Dance Floor Fulton, TX 78358 • Covered Back Deck w w w. p a w s a n d t a w s . c o m • Dressing Room • Tables and Chairs • Catering Kitchen with Commercial Refrigeration, Freezer, • Sound System Available Warming Oven, 100 Cup Coffee Urns, Tea Urns and Ice Machine

July 6-10, 2011, Bay Point Invitational Billfish Tournament & 40/40 Shootout, Staging areas in Tampa, Panama City, Destin and Perdido Pass, FL: No stranger to Big Fish, the Bay Point Invitational is home to both the first and second place Florida State Record Blue Marlin. Who else can match that? With a well deserved reputation for innovation, the Invitational is once again pushing the envelope with some exciting new changes. Perhaps the most important is the new staggered entry fee, giving you a chance to save big bucks! Enter before July 1st to save $500, and enter before April 1st to save $1,000. www.baypointbillfish.com August 3 - 7, 2011, Texas International Fishing Tournament, Port Isabel, South Padre Island, TX: Originally instituted to promote the Rio Grande Valley as a whole, TIFT has become a family tradition that exemplifies the best the Valley has to offer. More than 1500 contestants vie for prizes. The tournament also awards more than $100,000 in scholarships. www.tift.org

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 43


2011Gulf Coast Krewe of Gambrinus 2010 King Bartt Thompson and Queen Cindy Thomson. Photo courtesy of Genesis Photographers, www.genesisphotographers.com.

a

Galveston Mardi Gras Celebrates 100th Birthday ... page 43

a

Yachty Gras in Kemah ... page 45

a

Mardi Gras Indians ... page 47

a

Meet the Muses ... page 49

a

Gulf Coast Mardi Gras Parade Schedule ... page 50

a

Meet Mobile’s Toomey’s Mardi Gras ... page 51

a

Economic Impact of Mardi Gras on the Gulf Coast ... page 52

Mardi Gras Preview


galveston A conga line forms at the Knights of Momus Coronation Ball. Photos courtesy of Bob Delk, www.delkphoto.com.

Galveston Mardi Gras Turns 100 Galveston Island began celebrating

ing ourselves. He said that we needed to

Mardi Gras in 1867, the same year that Joe

bring back the krewes, too.” A second meet-

referred to as the first weekend and second

Cain revived Mardi Gras in Mobile, AL.

ing was scheduled to lay out plans to revive

weekend), and on Fat Tuesday itself. There

The motivation was likely similar - a happy

the celebration. “Only seven people of the

are eleven parades and over 50 balls, galas

diversion from the oppressive Union Army

original 25-30 attended the second meet-

and parties.

that precede Fat Tuesday (commonly

occupation. The celebration ebbed and

ing. The rest didn’t want to get committed

There are two “super parades”. The

flowed in size and scope over the years, until

to such a huge task,” McLeod said. Those

Krewe of Gambrinus (also known as the

it tailed off completely after World War II.

seven resurrected the Knights of Momus,

Krewe of Brew, for their namesake, the

But in 1985, George Mitchell, billionaire oil

the original 1867 Galveston Mardi secret

patron saint of brewing, and from their

man and native Galvestonian, along with

society.

founder, Larry Del Papa, a beer distributor)

his wife Cynthia restarted Mardi Gras.

So how did the 1985 revival Mardi Gras

parades

down

Seawall

Boulevard

on

Doug McLeod was at the dinner in

go? “Hundreds of thousands attended,” said

Saturday of the first weekend (Feb. 26). It’s

1984 where Mitchell announced his plans

McLeod, “The food vendors all ran out of

a night parade with the added attraction of

to a gathering of 25-30 friends and business

food. We couldn’t believe the success.”

associates. McLeod, himself a very success-

In subsequent years, more krewes were

fireworks.

It’s

officially

known

as

“Gambrinus Lights Up the Night”, and

ful businessmen, attorney and former state

formed.

added.

according to Krewe captain George Black,

legislator, recalled that night: “George said

Coronation balls were scheduled. Hurricane

who is BOI (born on the island), there will

he would fund Mardi Gras for the first two

Ike was overcome. Today, Galveston’s Mardi

be over 500,000 beads and other throws dis-

years, but after that, we’d have to find fund-

Gras is celebrated over the two weekends

tributed. “This year’s theme is ‘Light Up

More

parades

were

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 45


galveston Spectacular Gulf Views & Gentle Breezes Await You...

just open your door

Floats are readied in the staging area for the

n the ing i t r a t S $

Knights of Momus parade. Photos courtesy of Bob Delk, www.delkphoto.com.

140s

Broadway’, with Broadway plays being depicted on the floats,” said Black, who also noted that the costumes worn by the float riders are kept a secret until the day of the parade. The floats will be judged by celebrity judges. The second “super parade” is The Knights of Momus’ Grand Night parade, which rolls the Saturday night (March 5) before Fat Tuesday. It starts at the seawall and weaves its way into the downtown Strand district. The open windows and bal-

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conies of the historic buildings that line the parade route are prime viewing locations. At noon on the second Saturday (March 5), the Z Krewe will march. “We are a walking parade, with bands, and all other krewes are invited to walk with us,” said Alex Petty, Z Krewe’s King Zanie XVII. The Z Krewe parade takes place downtown. What does the Z stand for? “It’s a Zecret!,” quipped Petty. The Mystic Krewe of Aquarius will be

(409) 740-3111

celebrating its 25th anniversary this year

7000 seawall boulevard galveston island, tx 77551

Mardi Gras and we close Mardi Gras,” said

www.thedawnbeachcondos.com Managed by Prestige Management Services Marketed by The House Company, Galveston Island, Texas

with its customary two parades. “We open Krewe captain Johnny Lidstone. “The opening parade is at noon on Saturday of the first weekend (Feb. 26) and follows the seawall,” Lidstone explained, “and the closing parade is on Fat Tuesday (March 8), downtown.” The Krewe of Aquarius also throws a Barn Bash, open to the public, on Friday night of the first weekend (Feb. 25). Food, beverages and music will be offered in the barn where the Krewe’s floats are stored, giving attendees a great party along with a preview of the floats. Other parades include a pet parade by the Krewe of Barkus and Meoux, a truck parade, a kid’s parade, a bicycle parade and a fire truck parade

­46 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


kemah

Yachty Gras in Kemah, Texas draws a fleet of boats to parade up and down the Boardwalk, showering revelers with "throws." Photo courtesy Bay Area Houston Magazine.

Yachty Gras, Kemah, TX

year, there was a great looking sailboat that used the entire boat as a mermaid. It was incredible. Its mast was the body and tail,” explained Dr. Howard. Other decorations witnessed over the years include a Norwegian-theme, complete with Vikings, Viva Las Vegas, and for unknown reasons, Star Wars. A Kick-Off Party is thrown on the Friday before Fat Tuesday, and the Parade takes place the next day, followed later that evening with an After-Party. This isn’t a raucous New Orleans-style Mardi Gras, but is

The Boardwalk in Kemah is a throwback to the old boardwalks of the

instead geared for kids and families. And the money raised goes toward

1920’s, complete with an array of restaurants and carnival rides. But

local non-profit groups, says Dr. Howard.

there’s no throwing back when Mardi Gras comes around. That’s when

The parade sails down Clear Lake Channel and along the

the Boardwalk is packed with kids and families hoping to catch a strand

Boardwalk. Unlike land parades, the boats circle around for several pass-

of beads or a stuffed animal, as dozens of boats sail by, unleashing a tor-

es, so revelers get several chances to get their favorite throw. “In the year

rent of goodies. It’s the annual Grand Night Boat Parade, the culmi-

before Ike, we had over 90 boats in the parade,” Dr. Howard said. The

nating event of Yachty Gras.

last two years haven’t been as big due to the lasting impression of Ike,

The injection of boats gives a nice nautical twist to the traditional

but since Mardi Gras is later in the calendar this year, Dr. Howard

Mardi Gras parade. Dr. Maurine Howard, Executive Director of Yachty

expects to have in increased number of paraders. “Last year Mardi Gras

Gras, says, “Each boat is its own krewe.” Great pun. The boats have

was in February, and the temperature was in the 30’s. We’re expecting it

individual themes and are decorated accordingly, with awards given to

to be warmer this year, which will bring more people out.”

the best looking. Yachty Gras’ logo includes a mermaid, and there is always at least one boat that’s decorated like the mythical half-fish, half-woman. “Last

This will be Yachty Gras’ 12th year of bringing fun and merriment to the Clear Lake area. They’ve been successful in raising money for charities. And most importantly, they’ve never had a boat sink!

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 47


足48 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


The Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans There’s a Mardi Gras tradition in New Orleans that’s not widely known. It rose from the segregated culture of slavery, when blacks weren’t allow to celebrate Carnival with the rest of the town. Slaves and former slaves created their own separate, unique celebration, away from the balls and parades of white society. It was a shadow Mardi Gras. The Mardi Gras Indians, as the participants are known, evolved their celebration vaguely and secretly, to avoid drawing unwanted attention from authorities. “Mardi Gras was exclusive back then,” explains Ronald Lewis, author of “The House of Dance and Feathers”, a history of the Mardi Gras Indians. “Blacks were not invited. They served the parties and pulled the floats, but couldn’t join the party.” So they created their own Mardi Gras. Exactly when the Mardi Gras Indian tradition began isn’t clear. It’s been around at least since the 1870’s and possibly well before that. What is clear is that the tradition created some of the most unique but least known aspects of Mardi Gras. The tradition started with blacks dressing up in Native American Indian costumes. This was supposedly begun as a tribute to Native Americans, whom helped shelter escaped slaves. The Mardi Gras Indians formed groups (tribes) and named themselves after Native American tribes. The tribes in existence today were formed according to which neighborhood they lived in. They are territorial with a distinct hierarchy. They have creative names like the Wild Tchoupitoulas, the Wild Magnolias, the Creole Osceola, and the 9th Ward Hunters. Each tribe has a leader called the Big Chief. The Big Chief makes his own costume every year, from scratch and by hand. The costume has intricate beadwork, patches and bright feathers. Other top members of the tribe make their own costumes, also. Wearing the costume is called “masking”. “It takes a lot of time to make your costume,” said Lewis, “and a lot of money you don’t have. But you do it anyway. It’s a passion.” The Big Chief ’s costume is the biggest and best in his tribe, and can weigh between 100 and 150 pounds. The costumes today are the source of much pride and competition. On Fat Tuesday, each tribe marches in its own procession. When two tribes meet, their Chiefs confront each other and, as Lewis describes it, “prance around like peacocks.” Their aim is to show their costume is the prettiest. “It’s very competitive,” added Lewis, and the goal is “to show I’m the best at my work. They’re saying ‘I’m the prettiest Big Chief. I’m the best looking thing out there on the streets.’” Other tribe members also dress in costume and have their own confrontation with their opposite number in the opposing tribe. “There’s a lot of things said when the tribes meet,” said Lewis. “There’s a lot of bragging. Every position in each tribe is telling their opponent ‘You aren’t up to my standards.’” Once the dancing is done, the Big Chiefs acknowledge their opponent, and both tribes move on. In addition to the Big Chief, other tribal positions include the Spy Boy, Flag Boy Mardi Gras Indian costume. Photo courtesy of NewOrleansOnline.com

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 49


new orleans and Wild Man. The Spy Boy, before the age of cell phones, would be the eyes and ears of the Big Chief as the tribe marched, warning when another tribe was near. The Spy Boy would be positioned a few blocks in front of the Big Chief, and would use pre-arranged signals to communicate with the Flag Boy, who carries the tribe’s flag, a large staff decorated with feathers. The Flag Boy marches between the Big Chief and Spy Boy and relays information between the two. The Big Chief directs the actions of the Spy Boy in this manner. Between the Big Chief and the Flag Boy is the Wild Man, who clears a path for the Big Chief. Tribes also have a Second Chief, Third Chief, First Queen, Second Queen and so on. The number varies from tribe to tribe. When the tribe is marching, it is accompanied by uncostumed members who make up a second line. Tribes don’t just show up on Mardi Gras and march. In addition to spending most of the year sewing their own costumes, they have Indian Practice, where they rehearse their songs, chants and dances. “On various Sundays, a tribe will go to the local bar and rehearse their rituals, what they’ll do on Mardi Gras,” explained Lewis. Many memorable songs have come from these rituals and have been recorded by artists such as the Meters and the Neville Brothers. For those of you who are wondering, Mr. Lewis is a member of the Choctaw Warriors, and his Big Chief is Edgar Jacobs. In addition to his book, Lewis also founded a Mardi Gras Indians museum in the back yard of his Ninth Ward home. Like his book, it is named The House of Dance and Feathers (www.houseofdanceandfeathers.com). It had to be rebuilt from scratch after Katrina destroyed it. Call Mr. Lewis for an appointment to tour the museum. You’ll get a look at a part of Mardi Gras that those who stay on Bourbon Street never experience. (Top) Costumes are sewn by hand and can weight up to 150 lbs. Photo courtesy New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. (Middle) Feathers, beads and lots of sewing are required to make a costume. Photo by Marie Carianna. (Bottom) Big Chief Trouble Nation. Photo by Howie Luvzus.

­50 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


new orleans

The Muses are known for shoes. Big, gaudy, flashy shoes.

Photo by John Patrick Foley.

It’s All About the Shoes! Krewe of Muses, New Orleans, LA The Krewe of Muses likes shoes. Large shoes, small shoes, yel-

ly goes away. The other day a friend of mine came in with her six

low shoes, red. Sounds like a Dr. Seuss rhyme doesn’t it? That’s

month old. Later she called and said ‘I only went in your living

appropriate since this all female krewe is known for its quirky,

room and I had to pick glitter off my child for two hours!’”

Seuss-ish, outside-the-(shoe)box thinking. The Muses’ parade has a

The Muses throw more than their signature glitter shoes. They

decidedly feminist tone, with lots of humorous satire about a range

also have thrown shoe charms and charm bracelets. Lunch boxes.

of topics, from politics to relationships. And it has just a bit of an

Purses. Radios. Fuzzy dice. Watches. They’ve even flown to China

edge, earning them the moniker, The Bad Girls of Mardi Gras. But let’s talk shoes. First, there are the floats. Shoe floats. Very

in search of the best throws. The throws are as diverse as the Muses themselves.

large shoe floats. One of their signature floats is a seventeen and a

“We’re all about diversity. The Muses are totally racially and

half foot tall, twenty foot long pump covered in fiber optic lighting.

socio-economically diverse. It’s all women, but it’s white women,

Size 668.

black women, asian women, hispanic women. It’s school teachers,

Then there are the defining items, the ones that the Muses are

it’s artists and housewives and lawyers and doctors. It’s very impor-

best known for - glitter shoe throws. Yes, they throw shoes. Highly

tant to us. We want it to be a cross-section of our community. And

decorated shoes. And people love them. “We decorate shoes

we want every little girl who’s standing there along the parade route

throughout the year,” said Virginia Saussy, Chairwoman of the

to look up and say, ‘One day I could do that!’” said Saussy. Every girl

Muses’ Floats and Themes Committee. “We had T-shirts made for

needs a goal.

our annual meeting this year that says ‘Muses give in to the glitter’.

And the Muses have goals outside of their shoes. Like most

Because it’s everywhere. When you start glittering shoes, you can’t

krewes, they support charitable projects. This year they’re trying to

fight it. My dogs are covered in it, my cats are covered in it, my

raise $17,000 for the St. Bernard Project, which helps re-build

house is covered in it, whoever comes in my house is covered in it.

homes for Katrina victims.

And you think you get rid of it after Mardi Gras, but it never real-

Continued on page 53

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 51


2011 Mardi Gras Events Along the Gulf Coast Corpus Christi, TX - Parade on the Beach. Bob Hall Pier/Padre Balli Park, North Padre Island. 2 pm, Sat., March 5. Galveston, TX - Parades on the two weekends before Mardi Gras, and parades on Fat Tues. Kemah, TX - Yachty Gras Grand Night Boat Parade. The Boardwalk in Kemah. Sat., March 5. New Orleans, LA - parades start Jan. 6, continue on weekends in Feb., then several on Wed., March 2, then many starting March 5. Biloxi, MS - Sat., Feb. 26, 1pm. Two parades on Fat Tues., starting at 1pm, downtown. Gulfport, MS - Downtown on Sat., March 5, Night Parade Fat Tues. Pass Christian, MS - Pet Parade, Sat., Feb. 19, then human parades Sat., Feb. 26, March 5 & 6. Bay St. Louis, MS - Krewe of Diamonds, downtown, 1pm., Fat Tues. Ocean Springs, MS - Traditionally the first MG parade in Mississippi. Sat., Feb. 19, downtown; Night Parade Fri., March 4. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, AL - On shore parades begin Fri., March 4, continue till Fat Tues. LuLu’s has a celebration and boat parade on Fat Tues. Mobile, AL - America’s Family Mardi Gras. Parades start Sat., Feb. 5, continue on Weekends until Thurs., Feb. 24, then daily until Fat Tues. (except Wed., Mar. 2). Pensacola, FL - Parades Friday March 4 through Sunday March 6, and Fat Tues. Dunedin, FL - Downtown Parade and Party. Fat Tues., March 8, 2011.


mobile

All that Shines ... Toomey’s Mardi Gras, Mobile, AL And you thought Mardi Gras was just a party! Hardly. For some folks along the Gulf Coast, it’s their livelihood. Folks like Stephen Toomey, from Mobile, AL. Stephen runs Toomey’s Mardi Gras, where you can purchase all things Mardi Gras, from beads to Moon Pies to costumes. Toomey’s has been selling Mardi Gras wares since 1978. How exactly does one become a purveyor of the paraphernalia of Carnival? Stephen was born into it. “My parents started doing this in their home in the ’70’s. It just grew.” And grew it did. Today, Toomey’s is housed in a 70,000 square foot building, does business around the world via its website, and has two other locations in the Mobile area. The “throws” are the basics of Mardi Gras. Every parade has them, every parade goer wants them. So selling “throws” is the basic building block of the commerce of Mardi Gras. But that commerce doesn’t stop with throws. Mardi Gras, done properly, requires a whole host of products and services. “You have float makers, bands, bakers, party rentals . . . the entire town is involved,” said Stephen. But it all starts with the throws. For those uninitiated in the ways of Mardi Gras, each krewe (or “society” as they are referred to in Mobile) that parades buys beads to throw. Some even have custom-made beads just for their krewe. Stephen says those custom beads are among the most popular of Mardi Gras throws. What other throws are popular? “In Mobile, Moon Pies are close in sales to beads,” explained Stephen. “Stuffed animals have become popular in the last ten years. And we sell lots of candy SuperBubble Bubble Gum, Starlight Mints, taffy, small candy bars. People put them in a big mix to throw.” Not all throws catch on. “I’ve seen people throw Ramen Noodles, cereal boxes, ice cream sandwiches . . . sometimes it’s the krewe trying to match the throw to their theme for the year,” Stephen said. As with most things in life, the throws that are popular vary from year to year. “Recently, light-up items for the night parades are big. But last year, the biggest thing was mint flavored Moon Pies. We only had a few. We couldn’t get enough,” Stephen confided. Another popular thing that Stephen has noticed, “More people are decorating their homes. Some even have a Mardi Gras themed tree.” What does Stephen think will be popular this year? “I think mint Moon Pies will be big again this year, but you never know.” That’s because Stephen’s busy season doesn’t start till With 70,000 square feet of space, Toomey's has plenty of Mardi Gras toys for every reveler.

January and early February. A lot of people wait to buy. But not all. “Some order early and put it on layaway.” Layaway for Mardi Gras beads? And you thought Mardi Gras was just a party!

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 53


Dunedin, FL parades through downtown on Mardi Gras. Photo by Bree Cheatham, courtesy of the City of Dunedin.

The Economics of Mardi Gras: Gulf Coast Towns Hope Carn Most people measure the success of Mardi Gras by the number of beads and other “throws” they collect. But others use a different measurement . . . cold hard cash.

showed the 2004 event brought in $33 million in sales. That helps a lot of businesses get through the low season. The economic impact of Mardi Gras isn’t just from tourist dol-

Mardi Gras produces a lot more than hangovers. It produces

lars, either. There is an entire sub-economy just for Mardi Gras.

large amounts of cash flow for several Gulf Coast cities. And most

The krewes and mystic societies have parties not only during Mardi

of those cities are seasonal tourist towns. Summer season, to be spe-

Gras, but year round. They’ve got to get the food, drink and enter-

cific. But what happens after Labor Day, when tourists leave, and

tainment for the parties from somewhere. Many krewes have royal

before Memorial Day, when they come back? Not much. Unless you

balls where coming-of-age young ladies are presented to society - in

have a big Mardi Gras celebration.

expensive gowns, made locally. And the vast majority of krewes have

A prime example is Galveston, Texas. Mardi Gras was very

at least one charity they support. Then there are the many floats.

minor there from 1945 till 1984. But in 1985, it was revived. Big

They have to be decorated every year. Got to buy the paint and

time. During that first year, Mardi Gras tourists were measured in

paper somewhere. Unless you buy your float pre-made - yep, there’s

six figures. That was a huge change. Tourism during the two and a

also a whole industry that builds floats.

half week Carnival season, in the dead of winter, went from very lit-

So the krewes pump money into their local economies before,

tle in 1984, to over two hundred thousand in 1985. Think the

during and after Fat Tuesday. Mr. McLeod was kind enough to

towns’ hotels and restaurants were happy?

share the annual budget of the Knights of Momus, the Galveston

That’s why George Mitchell, the Galveston oil billionaire,

krewe to which he belongs. With their parties, ball and floats, the

decide to relaunch the Galveston Mardi Gras tradition . . . to boost

total budget is $500,000 a year. And that’s just one krewe.

tourism during the dead season. So how much impact does Mardi

Galveston has at least 15. Now think how many New Orleans has.

Gras have on the Galveston economy? A 2004 report prepared by

That’s a lot of local buying.

Doug McLeod, Chairman of the Galveston Mardi Gras Coalition,

­54 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM

And don’t forget about how most of us measure Mardi Gras


economic impact Mardi Gras nighttime parade. RSA tower lit up in the background. Photo by Tad Denson, Myshotz.com, courtesy of Mobile Bay CVB.

(Above) Fish-themed float during Gulf Shores, Alabama Mardi Gras. Photo by Ken Grimes, courtesy of Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism. (Below) Toomey's has been fueling Mardi Gras since 1978.

nival Replaces Some Income Lost During Oil Spill Summer success . . . the throws we catch. Those things aren’t free. Most

were. Which shows you should never give up on your dreams. Then

krewe members pay for those out of their own pocket. Some throws

there are the Rolling Elvi, a group of Elvis impersonators on

are typical cheap beads. Others are custom made beads specific to

motorcycles. Other groups are interesting, but their names are a lit-

individual krewes and can cost several dollars apiece. And then

tle too suggestive to mention. Suffice it to say they have lots of fun.

there are other type throws. In Mobile, Moon Pies are traditional.

The Muses’ muse, and Captain, is Staci Rosenberg, a local attor-

Think the Moon Pie stock jumps a few dollars every Carnival? So

ney. Staci had the idea to start her own krewe after watching a

the next time you grab a throw at a Mardi Gras parade, remember

parade and seeing how much fun the riders had. But she couldn’t

that you’re not just holding a neat necklace in your hands. You’re

find a parade she wanted to participate in. So she started her own.

holding someone’s business!

Saussy was among those who helped Rosenberg get things off the ground. And boy, did they get off the ground in a hurry. “That first

MUSES - Continued from page 49

year we needed 350 riders to meet our budget. We had 610,” said

Their community spirit isn’t limited to just helping organizations.

Saussy. And they haven’t slowed. They now have 875 riding mem-

Sometimes, they think bigger. Last year, their parade theme was

bers, and 1000 non-riding members on a waiting list to be a rider.

The Muses Guide to Love and Romance. “It was a few days before

Their membership had been open to the public until this summer,

Valentine’s Day, and we figured we had three days to fix all the men

when the length of the waiting list compelled them to close ranks.

in the city!,” joked Saussy.

The Muses have parties throughout the year, and a big one dur-

As unique as the Muses are, so are many of the other partici-

ing Mardi Gras. But unlike traditional krewes, they don’t elect a

pants in their parade, which usually rolls the Thursday before Fat

King and . . . , er, oops, they don’t elect royalty. “We have 875

Tuesday. In addition to marching bands, there are the Pussyfooters,

Queens!,” emphasizes Saussy. That explains the shoes.

a group of women who dress as majorettes. Saussy says they are made up of women who always wanted to be majorettes, but never

Visit our website for more 2011 Mardi Gras Updates - www.gulfscapes.com GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 55


Cooking Craw

Cravin

and nearby areas of Canada. When the British and

French became enmeshed in the French and Indian War in the 1750’s, the

British

didn’t

trust

the

French speaking Acadians and exported them in what is known as The Great Upheaval. Many Acadians ended up in Louisiana, near the Mississippi River, thinking it was still controlled by France. Unbeknownst to them, however, France had secretly ceded Louisiana to Spain a couple of years before the Acadians arrived. Oops. Fortunately, the Spanish governor Galvez was hospitable and the Acadians were home. They even fought in the American Revolution. At some point in history, the word Acadian morphed into Cajun. I don’t know why. The Acadians/Cajuns were a hearty people and learned to live off the land. That land included a lot of swamps. Fortunately, rice grows well in swamps and became a main staple of Cajun diets. Adding to that staple was a host of native animals, none of which were

Cajun 101 The history of cooking crawfish

safe from Cajun kitchens. One of the most ubiquitous such animals was the lowly crawfish, a poor imitation of a lobster. But leave it to those early, industrious Cajuns to figure out a way to take those little rascals and turn them into a tasty meal. Nothing is more Cajun than turning whatever you can get your hands on into a great dinner.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “Cajun”? A

Today, you can get your hands on live crawfish starting in mid-

strong regional accent, maybe, like the one made famous by the late

January and ending in late June or early July. This is the tradition-

comic, gourmand, T.V. chef and international ambassador of all

al season, but you can find them from farms or frozen year-round.

things Cajun, Justin Wilson? A song perhaps, like strains from the

You can find live crawfish at seafood stores, where they are sold by

Hank Williams classic “Jambalaya” or the waltz rhythms of the

the pound or by the sack (usually 40 lbs.). You can even get them

Cajun national anthem, “Jolie Blonde”? No matter what first comes

airmailed if you can’t find them locally.

into your mind, at some point, the focus comes around to food.

Since the crawfish season has just kicked off, what better time

Mouth-watering food. Cajun food. And what epitomizes Cajun

to seek guidance from the professionals about cooking mudbugs. In

food better than crawfish. Before taking on the subject cooking

the following interviews, we get advice and recipes from some of

with crawfish, lets first learn about who the Cajuns are and how

the most prominent chefs to ever boil a crawfish. One constant we

they got here and why they cook the way they do. The Cajuns of South Louisiana were, like a lot of Americans, thrown out of their original country. Known back in the early 1700’s as the Acadians, they were French settlers of Nova Scotia ­56 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM

found among all the chefs – crawfish are supposed to be fun! So give these recipes a try, and good luck and good crawfish.

But f irst, before we get started ... there is one big question ...


wfish and Alligator

ng Cajun To Purge or Not to Purge, That is the Question In preparing our chefs’ responses, I

the Cajun waiters here at Galatoire’s.

noticed that there seemed to be a signifi-

Almost all of them insist on purging the

cant disagreement on whether to purge

crawfish. Some even suggested that it

crawfish. Having grown up in East Texas

depends on the source of the crawfish. River

near the Louisiana border, I grew up with

crawfish and deep-water crawfish tend to

crawfish boils and was always told to purge

be much cleaner than pond crawfish.

the mudbugs before cooking. This was

Scientifically, I cannot speak as to the

achieved by placing the bugs in a vat of

pros/cons of purging. I don’t know if I have

salty water and letting them sit for a while.

help shed any light on this matter for you.

I was told, as Chef Davis mentions, that

The debate rages on.

this made the crawfish void their intestines

I dug a little deeper into this issue by

(do they have any?) of any materials therein

visiting some crawfish farm websites (you

which aren’t tasty. Evidently, Chef Landry

can have a bag airmailed!). I found the same

grew up with similar advice. I asked Chef

division. Some claim there is no need to

Landry about the differing opinions on

purge their crawfish because they put them

purging, specifically about Chef Davis’

in clean water tanks for several hours before

claim that it’s “an old wives’ tale”.

shipping so they don’t have dirty water or

Here’s his reply:

mud in or on them. Others provide instruc-

It may very well be an old wives tale, but

tions for how to purge, with salt. I can see

the emphasis I find on the purging process

Chef Taylor, Chef Davis and Chef Folse’s

is not necessarily the soaking in salt water

point about stressing the crawfish. And

but more of the rinsing of the crawfish.

Chef Landry put more emphasis on getting

When a sack of crawfish is opened, there

the grit off of the bugs than he did on the

can often times be a great deal of dirt, sand,

salty soaking. For my next boil, maybe I’ll

and debris. I always take the time to rinse

do like some of the crawfish farms and soak

the crawfish well. This cleans the outer

the rascals in clean water for a while, but

shell and reduces greatly the amount of grit

omit the salt. I assume circulating clean

that can be found in crawfish. I then would

water through their systems would have the

allow the crawfish to soak in the salted

same claimed benefit as salty purging, with-

water for a little while before boiling. Your

out the stress. Hey, it may take a little

question “to purge or not to purge” has got-

longer, but low sodium diets are good

ten me to ask the same question of many of

advice, right?

Crawfish "season" typically runs from January through about June Can’t Miss Crawfish Festivals St. Petersburg Cajun & Zydeco Crawfish Festival St. Petersburg, FL March 11-13, 2011 www.cajunconnection.org The Louisiana Crawfish Festival Chalmette, LA March 24-27, 2011 www.louisianacrawfishfestival.com 19th Annual Mississippi Coast Coliseum Crawfish Festival Biloxi, MS April 14-17 & April 21-24, 2011 www.mscoastcoliseum.com Creole Heritage Zydeco Crawfish Festival Baytown, TX April 29-30, 2011 www.creolejambalaya.com Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival Breaux Bridge, LA May 6-8, 2011 www.bbcrawfest.com The Crawfish Festival Spring, TX May 13-15 & 20-22, 2011 www.texascrawfishfestival.com Gulf Coast Zydeco Music & Crawfish Festival Daphne, AL May 20-22, 2011 251.626.5300 www.gulfcoastzydecomusicfestival.com


cooking crawfish Crawfish Maison by Chef Brian Landry ingredients 2 large egg yolks 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1 tablespoon creole mustard or any course, grainy brown mustard 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice 1 cup vegetable oil 1/4 cup nonpareil capers, drained 1/4 cup chopped scallions (green and white par ts) 1 tablespoon chopped curly parsley Dry crab boil to taste 1 pound fresh, peeled crawfish tails 1 small head of iceberg lettuce, washed, dried, and cut into thin ribbons 2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, cored and cut into six 1inch-thick slices Combine the egg yolks, vinegar, mustard, and lemon juice in a food processor and process for 2 minutes. With the processor running, add the oil slowly in a thin stream and process until emulsified. remove to a mixing bowl and gently fold in the capers, scallions, and parsley. season with dry crab boil*. Chill for 2 to 4 hours. Just before serving, gently fold in the crawfish tails. Divide the lettuce among 6 servings and top with a slice of tomato. spoon the crawfish atop the tomato and serve. serves 6 * if using leftover crawfish tails from a crawfish boil, the salad should be tasted before any additional seasoning is added. Chef Brian Landry executive chef of Galatoire’s in New orleans and Galatoire’s bistro in baton rouge. Winner of the 2008 louisiana seafood Cook-off and runner-up in the 2008 Great American seafood Cook-off. one of America’s brightest young chefs. What is your preferred way of preparing crawfish? My favorite way to eat crawfish is with friends at a crawfish boil with some Abita beer, but i also love the Crawfish Maison we make at Galatoire’s. The already boiled tails are mixed into a creamy salad of capers, creole mustard, green onions and aioli. how is cooking with crawfish different than cooking with shrimp? The shell of a crawfish is much tougher than a shrimp shell. Typically the water that crawfish are boiled in is seasoned much more heavily with a spicy blend of seasonings including salt, cayenne pepper, and lemon. The crawfish are also typically allowed to soak in the seasoned water after being boiled for a longer time. When i boil crawfish at home, i typically bring the seasoned water to a boil and then add the

crawfish. once the water has returned to a boil with the crawfish in it, i then turn off the burner and allow the crawfish to soak for about twenty minutes. Do you purge your crawfish (soak in salty water to remove impurities)? Typically the crawfish are allowed to soak in a highly salted water bath before they are boiled. This causes the crawfish to expel any grit or sand they may have ingested leading to a cleaner end product. What side dishes go with crawfish? My favorite side dishes with crawfish are actually cooked along with the crawfish at the same time. They include corn on the cob, potatoes, garlic, onion and sausage. What is a recommended serving por tion of crawfish? When hosting a crawfish boil i will typically buy about 2-3 pounds of crawfish per person attending, but it also depends on the crowd. A close group of friends can easily eat a sack by themselves, which typically weighs 35- 40 pounds each. What wine pairs well with crawfish dishes? Due to the fact that crawfish dishes are often times on the spicier side, i will reach for a riesling when pairing with wine. i like the crisp sweetness that a riesling offers to counter the spice of the crawfish. River Road Crawfish Stew by Chef John Folse special comment: like gumbo and jambalaya, crawfish stew is synonymous with Cajun cooking. This is a perfect recipe to prepare on a cool night at the camp. There is much time for relaxing and enter taining company as the stew slowly simmers. ingredients 5 pounds crawfish tails, cleaned 1 cup crawfish fat (optional) 2 cups crawfish claws (optional) 1/4 cup butter salt and black pepper to taste granulated garlic to taste 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil 1 1/2 cups flour 2 cups diced onions 1 cup diced celery 1 cup diced bell peppers 1/4 cup minced garlic 1 cup tomato sauce 3 quar ts water or shellfish stock 2 bay leaves louisiana hot sauce to taste 1 cup sliced green onions 1 cup chopped parsley Method: in a 12-inch cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Drain crawfish tails in a colander, reserving fat and natural juices. sauté tails 5–10 minutes or until curled and heated thoroughly but not overcooked. remove from heat and season with salt, pepper and granulated garlic then set aside. in a large Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly until a dark brown roux is achieved. Add onions, celery, bell peppers and GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 59


cooking crawfish minced garlic. sauté 3–5 minutes or until vegetables are well caramelized. stir occasionally to prevent vegetables from scorching. Pour in tomato sauce and cook 3 minutes. slowly add water or stock, 1 quar t at a time, until thick stew consistency is achieved. Add crawfish fat, reserved drippings and bay leaves. season lightly with salt, pepper and granulated garlic. bring to a rolling boil then reduce to simmer and add sautéed crawfish and pan drippings. simmer stew. yields: 10 servings

in a small bowl, combine crawfish and sherry and set aside. in a medium sauce pan over low heat, melt butter. sauté onion until translucent. blend in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and bubbly. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly. Continue cooking and stirring until mixture is thickened; season with salt, tarragon & pepper. Add crawfish & sherry; cover and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. ladle in cappuccino cups and top with milk froth and crispy bacon.

Chef John Folse World renowned restaurateur. Author of eight cookbooks and several other books. host of T.V. and radio shows on louisiana cooking. Founded food manufacturing company, Chef John Folse & Company Manufacturing. Founded catering company. The Culinary institute at Nicholls state University in Thibodaux, la., bears his name. has won more awards and accolades than we can list. Named by louisiana legislature as “louisiana’s Culinary Ambassador to the World.” What is your preferred way of preparing crawfish? in addition to the seasonal boiling, i love river road Crawfish stew (see recipe). how is cooking with crawfish different than cooking with shrimp? There is no major difference. shrimp can be substituted for crawfish and vice versa. Crawfish does have a more pronounced, ear thy flavor whereas shrimp are sweeter and subtler. Do you purge your crawfish (soak in salty water to remove impurities)? if boiling live crawfish, washing once or twice in cold water will remove any dir t or foreign matter. Purging or soaking in salt water is not recommended as this stresses the crustacean. What side dishes go with crawfish? if boiling, corn, potatoes, sausage, mushrooms, ar tichokes, etc. if making étouffée or stew, then rice or any seasonal vegetable is suggested. What is a recommended serving por tion of crawfish? boiling, 2 pounds per person amateur, 5 pounds per Cajun! Étouffée, etc., 6 ounces per person. What wine pairs well with crawfish dishes? Pinot blanc, sauvignon blanc, even a light red such as Pinot Noir.

Chef Jasper Mirabile, Jr. Co-owner and executive Chef at Jasper’s restaurant in Kansas City, the city’s pre-eminent italian restaurant. host of radio food show and weekly guest on T.V. show in Kansas City. he has made guest chef appearances at The James beard house in l.A., New york, Milan, and Paris. Co-chairman of The American institute of Wine and Food. What is your preferred way of preparing crawfish? i am sor t of traditional and old fashioned so i like authentic crawfish boils, but i also use crawdads in a bisque, sauté for pasta, and in stuffing. Wherever crab and shrimp are called for, i could substitute crawdads. how is cooking with crawfish different than cooking with shrimp? you can use crawfish as you would shrimp and crab in most any dish. in some instances crawfish work better in a dish than the other two. it’s a preference of your taste. Do you purge your crawfish (soak in salty water to remove impurities)? Not with salt. i soak the crawfish in cold water at least three times in order to clean them internally and externally. i use plain fresh water, some chefs add salt. The salt supposedly makes the crawfish regurgitate which is supposed to clean them out. Change the water every 15 minutes or so until it is clean. Don’t let your mudbugs sit in the same purge water very long. The oxygen begins to deplete and they’ll star t to die. What side dishes go with crawfish? Do not be afraid to serve mashed potatoes and parsnips, Cajun Fries, soft polenta, Creole stuffing, roasted ar tichokes, cornbread, dir ty rice, fried broccoli and cheese bake and of course corn on the cob and boiled red potatoes when you boil the crawdads in the spices. What is a recommended serving portion of crawfish? believe it or not, 2-3 lbs of crawfish in the shell is the recommended; there really isn’t much meat once you get past the shells. What wine pairs well with crawfish dishes? if you insist on a red, i suggest a spanish rioja, or if it is really spicy a California Zinfandel but i truly prefer a German riesling especially a nice Gewurztraminer.

Crawfish Cappuccino by Chef Jasper Mirabile, Jr. ingredients 2 cups cooked crawfish 1/3 cup dry sherry 1/2 cup onion (minced) 1/4 cup butter 3 tablespoons flour 3 cups milk 1/8 teaspoon Tarragon sea salt and pepper to taste 2 pieces crispy bacon crumbled 1 cup frothed milk ­60 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


cooking crawfish Crawfish Carolyn by Chef Michael Taylor ingredients For the cream sauce: 3/4 cup oil 3/4 cup flour 3 cups heavy whipping cream 2 cups shellfish 1/4 cup dry sherry 1 cup grated Parmagiano reggiano cheese For the crawfish: 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1/2 small onion, chopped finely 1/4 green bell pepper, chopped finely 1/2 stalk celery, chopped finely 3 cloves garlic, minced 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped 1/4 cup green onion, thinly sliced 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried) 1/2 to 1-1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (to your taste) salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1 pound crawfish tails

1 Tbl. McCormick Gourmet Collection paprika 1 1/2 tsp. McCormick Gourmet Collection white pepper 1 1/2 tsp. McCormick Gourmet Collection black pepper 1 1/2 tsp. McCormick Gourmet Collection onion powder 1 tsp. McCormick Gourmet Collection dry mustard 2 tsp. gumbo file powder 1 tsp. thyme 3 tsp. basil 2 tsp. rosemary 3 Tbls. McCormick Gourmet Collection minced garlic 2 cups chopped green onion tops, diced no larger than 1/4" 2 pounds or more of crawfish tail meat, with fat 1 tsp. butter Technique: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut Puff Pastry sheets into 4 inch squares. bake according to package directions. When baked, remove from oven and allow to cool. When cooled, slice off top to make a lid. hollow out remainder of pastry and set aside. serves eight.

in a 10 inch skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the flour slowly, whisking constantly. When the mixture just begins to turn color (a very pale brown or blonde color) remove from the heat. Keep whisking until the mixture cools slightly. in a 4 quar t sauce pan, heat the cream over medium heat with the stock. When the mixture begins to bubble add the cheese and sherry, stirring well until all is incorporated. bring to a boil. Gradually stir in the roux, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes; keep warm. Wipe clean the skillet in which the roux was made. heat the butter in the skillet over medium heat until it foams, then add the finely chopped onions, garlic, bell pepper and celery. Keep the heat medium – you do not want to burn the garlic. sauté for about 5 minutes until soft, translucent and fragrant. Add the crawfish tails, salt, thyme, red and black peppers. Cook uncovered for about 5 minutes, then mix in the cream sauce. Divide the crawfish mixture into four small gratin dishes, then top with more grated Parmesan cheese. Place under the broiler for a minute or so until the top gets slightly browned and bubbly, and serve immediately. serves 4. Crawfish Pie on Puff Pastry Shell Chef Michael Taylor ingredients Puff Pastry sheets to cut 8 shells ½ cup oil or butter ½ cup flour 2 cups onion, diced fine 1 cup red bell pepper, diced fine ¾ cup celery, diced fine 1 cup white portions of green onions, diced no larger than 1/4" 4 cups heavy cream 2 sticks unsalted butter 1 tsp. McCormick Gourmet Collection celery salt GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 61


cooking crawfish Chef G. Michael Taylor

owner/executive Chef of The sazerac, a creole & seafood restaurant nor th of downtown springfield, illinois. Within The sazerac, Chef Taylor also operates 16 Plates, a boutique concept serving limited numbers of discerning patrons and “foodies” in springfield. Appointed to represent the state of illinois in the 2008 Great American seafood Cook-off. restaurateur, culinary educator, and mudbug lover. What is your preferred way of preparing crawfish? Crawfish fat is rich, flavorful and superior even to duck fat as a flavoring agent. i prefer to cook crawfish with a sauce (or a filling) wherein the fat becomes incorporated in the sauce and flavors the whole product. how is cooking with crawfish different than cooking with shrimp? The nature of the product is very different. Crawfish are presented either live or par tially cooked. shrimp are not presented live and anyone using pre-cooked shrimp (as a general rule) should not be allowed to eat seafood. Therefore, when working with shrimp, you are cooking the meat. outside of the crawfish boil, you are using par tially or completely cooked crawfish tail meat. This means that you are doing less cooking the meat than cooking with it. This leads to exercising a great deal of caution to avoid overcooking the meat. At the same time, you need to maximize the amount of time that tail meat spends in the sauce, so that the meat, juices and fat have ample oppor tunity to flavor the sauce. Do you purge your crawfish (soak in salty water to remove impurities)? i rarely purge crawfish. First, ninety percent of my crawfish dishes utilize harvested tail meat, already peeled and deveined, so there is no occasion to purge. For a crawfish boil, my crawdads have usually been harvested at least two days before arriving. They have pretty much purged themselves and only require a vigorous rinsing to clean off mud or any detritus that has already been purged. Moreover, my experience is that the purging process kills and weakens a large number of the critters. you can tell the difference in these specimens. i don’t know if the difference in taste and

texture is the result of the purging process or whether the animal is already weakened and changed and the salt bath merely exacerbates a process that is ongoing. i will occasionally use whole crawfish as a garnish, with the tail peeled for the customer’s ease. in those cases, i just devein the beast. What side dishes go with crawfish? My favorite side with crawfish is a pan-roasted asparagus. Put a thin glaze of olive oil in a skillet and gently roast the spears over medium heat, turning once per minute on each of four “sides”. if the spears are very thick, they might need more time. They are close to ready when they begin to droop when lifted by the middle of the spear. At this point, taste one. it should be between medium crisp and al dente and have an ear thy taste that complements the crawfish. Pan roasted mushrooms are good for the same reason. My personal preferences aside, consider the nature of the crawfish boil, which includes in the cooking liquid, corn and young potatoes. Corn is wonderful with crawfish and we grow some of the best sweet corn in the world here in illinois. one of my favorite dishes is a Maque Choux (think sweet corn chowder or bisque) with crawfish, sweetened with sautéed Vidalia onion. What is a recommended serving por tion of crawfish? i may be the wrong person to ask. in my case crawfish inspires gluttony. My gut reaction is to eat as much as you can, and then a little more. if you are not on the verge of bursting, then you are a coward. For those seeking a less demented, more sane approach, i suggest the following guideline: Crawfish boil, two pounds per person. The ratio of tail meat to the total body weight is low, so it takes a lot of crawdads. Also, time taken to peel the tails and the social event resulting means eating at a leisurely pace, which means that you eat more. if the crawfish are incorporated in a larger dish, such as a pasta, a pie or a cake included as par t of another dish, a fifth to a quar ter pound per person should do the trick. For a sauté without much other accompaniment, think a third of a pound. What wine pairs well with crawfish dishes? i would recommend a sauvignon blanc if you don’t like sweet or spice, or a pinot gris for fans of a racier wine (should be very good with the fried tomato recipe). For persons enjoying a sweeter wine, look for a reisling from the Michelsberg region. in a dish that has a lot of cream or butter and crawfish, you might try a chardonnay-based sparkling wine, which can cut through some of the richness and keep you from being overfilled.

CHEF CONTACT INFORMATION Chef John Folse - www.jfolse.com Chef Brian Landry - www.galatoires.com/html/landry.html Chef Jasper Mirabile, Jr. - www.jasperskc.com Chef Michael Taylor - www.thesazerac.com ­62 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


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Alligator– the ot


cooking alligator

ther, other, white meat Another of the indigenous animals that Cajuns relied on was the alligator. it’s not found on many menus outside Cajun country, but The louisiana seafood Promotion & Marketing board wants to change that. The board notes that louisiana has the highest alligator population in the world, approaching 2 million. september is louisiana’s Wild Alligator season, during which more than 35,000 alligators are harvested. The board also states that alligator is one of the leanest meats available with only 110 calories and 2 grams of fat for a 4 oz. portion. Alligator meat can easily be substituted for any recipe that calls for veal, chicken and most seafood. here to answer a few questions on gator cooking are Chef Frank Davis and Chef John Folse. Where do you find good, fresh alligator meat? What part of the alligator is used for cooking? Folse: From any local seafood market in louisiana or online. Farm-raised alligators are available year round. Davis: Cajuns will tell you that almost every part of the gator can be eaten, but usually cooks and chefs focus only on the thick, muscular tail. During the season, one can find alligator almost everywhere seafood is sold - after the season all of the product comes frozen and it depends solely on which retailer (seafood market, Mom-and-Pop, or independent grocer) decides to carry it. Are there any special preparations needed to cook alligator? Folse: No. Alligator meat can be quite tender and snow white resembling chicken, veal or pork depending on the cut. if purchased from a reputable supplier, the meat can be treated as any other lean white meat such as pork loin. because of the lean nature of the meat, cooking preparation of different cuts must be considered. The upper part of the tail can be gently pounded, breaded and sautéed as scallops of veal or cut into strips and deep-fried. leg meat should be cut into 1-inch cubes for braising, stewing or for soups. Davis: Nothing out of the ordinary since the tail meat almost always comes cleaned and ready to use. The cook, however, does need to know wild game

Alligator is one of the leanest meats available with only 110 calories and 2 grams of fat for a 4 oz. portion.

techniques to produce a tasty, tender dish. remember that gator is almost always a tough meat so it needs pounding and marinating if it’s going on the grill or in the frypan, and it needs long, slow cooking if it’s going into a sauce or gravy (like a courtbouillion, for example). seasoning, though, is critical. The meat, in my opinion, should always be pre-marinated in whole milk to reduce any “gamey” taste. And it’s important to realize that the meat needs to be seasoned with a critical hand since it will actually take on whatever flavor is induced from the outside. What side dishes go with alligator? Folse: Fried: side dishes such as French fries, hushpuppies, tartar sauce, remoulade sauce, corn bread, etc. stewed: rice or any seasonal vegetable. Davis: Any side dishes that you would prepare and serve with any other kind of seafood also goes well to complement alligator - potatoes, fresh vegetables, fried okra, and so forth. i don’t recommend anything “off-the-wall,” like smothered cabbage or cauliflower or brussels sprouts. Keep in mind that this is “down home” eatin’ and nothing should overpower the delicate flavor of the dinosaur. Are there any traditional seasonings used with alligator? Folse: Alligator tends to be a bland meat that adapts well to flavorings. Any vegetable seasonings (onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, etc.) or herbs blend well with alligator. i tend to spice it up a bit with a pinch of red pepper flakes. Any of your favorite marinades could be used prior to breading when deep-frying. Davis: Not really – a mirapoix, a good Cajun seasoning, maybe a touch of thyme, a little cayenne. . .simplicity, remember. of course, whatever spices are called for in individual, specific recipes should be used as prescribed. That said, be sure you got good gator recipes. What is your preferred way of preparing alligator? Folse: Alligator chili and Alligator sauce Piquante are always my favorites. Cajun-Fried Alligator Tail is definitely worth a try as well. Davis: i like sauce piquante - nice, semi-thick, red gravy, laced with a little fresh lemon, a lively touch of both ground cayenne and red pepper flakes, cooked long and slow to completely produce a “fall apart tenderness” that can be ladled over hot steamed rice. oh - and maybe a few shittake mushrooms tossed in for good measure! What wine pairs well with alligator dishes? Folse: Any of your favorite white wines such as sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay or light reds such as Pinot Noir. Davis: either white or red, depending upon the recipe you’re using. but almost always the dry or semi-dry wines. i never recommend using sweet wines. No Chianti or Mogan David, y’all. What is a recommended serving portion of alligator? Folse: scallops: 2 (3-ounce) portions per person; Fried: 3–6 ounces per person; braised or stewed: 4–6 ounces per person.

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 65


cooking alligator Alligator Slider 16 oz. alligator meat 2 oz. pork bacon fat ¾ tsp. Kosher salt ¾ tsp. ground black pepper ¾ tsp. crushed red pepper 1½ tsp. garlic powder 1½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Davis: like all other seafoods and main dishes ... about 4 ounces. Again i remind you, however, that we’re talking about “normal eaters.” Gator lovers can wipe out a whole bull alligator tail, especially tail that comes off the grill or out of the deep fryer, before the normal eaters get nary a bite! These recipes are from the 2009 Alligator Soiree held during the Great American Seafood Cook-off in New Orleans. The recipe was submitted by the student team from the Culinary Arts Department of Delgado Community College. Alligator Sliders with Mirliton Slaw and Eggplant fries Slider Rolls 12 oz. water ¾ oz. yeast 14 oz. bread flour 7 oz. whole wheat flour 2 tsp. salt 2 oz. sugar 1 oz. non fat milk solids 1 oz. butter 1 oz. shortening Directions in an electric mixer bowl, combine the water, yeast, sugar, and milk solids. When yeast starts to foam, turn the mixer on and add the butter, shortening, and flour. Next, add the salt, and mix to a smooth developed dough. let rise until it doubles in size. Then portion into 2 oz. pieces. roll the pieces on a work surface in the palm of a hand until a roll forms. Place on a greased baking pan. brush with a wash. bake in a preheated 400 degrees F oven until golden.

Directions Cut alligator meat into ½ inch cubes (medium dice) and place in a bowl. Chop bacon fat into ¼ inch pieces (small dice) and place in the bowl with alligator meat. Add salt, black pepper, red pepper, garlic powder, and Worcestershire sauce. Place the mixture in a food processor and combine until the mixture is finely ground. Partition into 3 ounce balls and form into patties. over medium-high heat, heat a cast iron grill pan and add 1 tablespoon oil. Place patties in the grill pan and cook for approximately 7 minutes on each side or until done. Place alligator meat on a small bun and top with mirliton slaw. Mardi Gras Mirliton Slaw 1 cup cane vinegar ½ cup sugar 1 tsp. red pepper flakes ½ tsp. Kosher salt 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper ½ cup water 2 mirliton (allumete) ½ cup yellow pepper (allumete) 1½ Tbsp. shallot (brunoise) 2 tsp. jalapeno (brunoise) ½ cup red cabbage 3 cups water 2 Tbsp. white vinegar Directions in a large bowl, combine cane vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes, Kosher salt, and water. Whisk until sugar and salt dissolve. Peel mirlitons and cut into allumete (1/16 x 1/16 x 2) strips using a knife or mandolin (discard the center pith) and place in the bowl with vinegar mixture. Cut yellow pepper, shallot, and jalapeno and add to bowl with mirlitons. let the mixture pickle for 20-30 minutes before using. Thinly slice red cabbage using a knife or mandolin and place in a bowl with 3 cups of ice water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar to preserve color.

When ready to serve, drain the mirliton mixture and the red cabbage and combine. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. Panko Eggplant Fries 1 eggplant 4 cups panko bread crumbs 1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. granulated garlic ¾ tsp. Creole seasoning ½ tsp. ground black pepper 4 eggs ¼ cup milk 3 cups all purpose flour 3 Tbsp. parmesan cheese, shredded salt, to taste Directions Preheat a deep fat fryer to 350 degrees F. Peel eggplant and cut into batonettes or French Fries ( ¼ x ¼ x 2). Combine panko, salt, garlic, Creole seasoning, and black pepper in a bowl. in a bowl, beat eggs and milk until combined. Place flour in another bowl. Dredge batonettes in flour, then egg wash, and finally in panko mixture. lay breaded eggplant fries on a sheet pan until all have been breaded. Fry in batches. Drain on a sheet pan with a paper towel, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and add salt to taste. serve with chipotle garlic aioli (recipe next page).


Looking for Fresh Gulf Coast Seafood– Try the Restaurants of Mississippi Gulf Coast While the devastation in New Orleans captured the nation’s attention, the Mississippi Gulf Coast suffered the worst wind and storm surge from hurricane Katrina. Most Mississippi coastal eateries were severely impacted, and many never recovered. But today, there’s a thriving restaurant industry back along the coast of Mississippi, and there’s lots of culinary finery and plain ol’ good eatin’. Here’s an update on the Mississippi coastal dining scene. The Trapanis Eatery in Bay St. Louis will be moving back to the beachfront in the Summer of 2011. Katrina washed away their old location, so they’ve been operating at a temporary location while waiting for the chance to get back to the beach. They’re open now at 833 Hwy 90 in Bay St. Louis while construction at the new location continues. 228-467-8570. Shaggy's Beach Bar & Grill broke ground in December at the former site of the Ruby Tuesday's in Biloxi on the beach. They plan to open Spring of 2011. 228-452-9939. Darwell’s in Long Beach was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. That’s about all the recommendation needed for this diner, known for its crawfish etouffee, located just a short stroll from the beach. 228-868-8946. Harbor View Café was located on the beach (on Highway 90)  across from the harbor in Pass Christian, MS prior to Katrina. The building was completely destroyed, so they moved to a shopping center in Long Beach but are now very close to moving into a building on Jeff Davis Avenue with a view of Long Beach Harbor. 228-3243204. White Cap Restaurant has been owned by the Lizana family since 1929. Their location in the Gulfport Harbor was lost due to Katrina, ­68 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM

The Fire Dog Saloon in Bay St. Louis didn't make it back from Katrina, but was forever immortalized as the setting for Jimmy Buffett's epic video of the song "Bama Breeze". Bama Breeze is a tribute to those many small bars and grills that dot our Gulf Coast, and mourns those that have been lost. The Fire Dog Saloon in Bay St. Louis didn't make it back from Katrina, but was forever immortalized as the setting for Jimmy Buffett's epic video of the song "Bama Breeze". Bama Breeze is a tribute to those many small bars and grills that dot our Gulf Coast, and mourns those that have been lost. Below, a plate of fresh Mississippi Gulf Coast shrimp ready to be boiled and peeled. Fried crab claws.

but now enjoy a spacious restaurant with one of the most beautiful views on the Coast. 560 East Beach Boulevard, Gulfport. 228-604-4444. Jazzeppi’s Restaurant and Martini Bar is a classic in Biloxi. Influenced by exquisite French, Creole and Italian dishes, Jazzeppi’s adds the right ambience for a enjoyable dining experience. 228-374-9660. Capone’s Italian Ristorante is a new addition to Ocean Springs. Owner and Chef, Danie Rodriguez, runs the restaurant, has her own cooking show and produces a line of products such as sauces, dressings and fresh pastas that are sold and shipped all over. 228-818-8941. Desporte & Sons, in Biloxi, has a great motto: "If It Swims, We Got It!" Seafood of all sorts, in gumbos or between two slices of bread. After five generations in the business, it's safe to say the Desporte family knows seafood. 228-432-1018. The (Original) Shed BBQ & Blues Joint in Ocean Springs is not so much a restaurant, but an experience. At The Shed, regular customers called ShedHeds, are invited to bring their collected junk. It spruces up the place, which was a ramshackle shack to begin with. You can’t argue with success. 228-875-9590. Mississippi Seafood Cook-Off News: The Mississippi Seafood Cook-Off will be held June 8, 2011 in Biloxi. This event is a competition among local Mississippi Chefs to decide which Chef will participate in the Louisiana Seafood Board’s Great American Seafood CookOff which will be held in August in New Orleans. Location of the Mississippi Cook-Off was unavailable at press but contact Irvin Jackson, Director of the Mississippi Seafood Marketing Program at Irvin.Jackson@dmr.ms.gov if you are a Chef interested in participating or need more information about the event.


Chipotle Garlic Aioli 3 cloves of garlic ½ tsp. salt ¾ cup mayonnaise 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard 2 tsp. white wine vinegar 3 Tbsp. chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (finely chopped and mashed) ½ Tbsp. cumin ½ Tbsp. paprika 1 tsp. ancho chile powder ½ Tbsp. white pepper Directions Peel and mince the garlic. Add salt and mash with the side of a knife to form a paste. Place in a blender and add the remaining ingredients (mayonnaise, mustard, white wine vinegar, chipotle peppers, cumin, paprika, ancho chili pepper, and pepper). blend all ingredients until smooth. refrigerate until ready to use. Alligator Roulade with potato eggs and roasted baby beets Alligator Roulade, Italian Style 6 large filets of alligator tail meat ¼ lb. salami ¼ lb. prosciutto ¼ cup bread crumbs 3 cloves of garlic (minced) 1 Tbsp. parsley (fresh) 1 Tbsp. basil (fresh) 1 Tbsp. olive oil 6 hard cooked eggs (quail) 6 slices of bacon 2 cups tomato sauce 2 cloves of garlic salt to taste pepper to taste Directions Arrange filets side by side so they slightly overlap. Pound filets thoroughly to press them together. Next, place one layer of thin sliced salami over filets, followed by prosciutto. in a skillet, toast breadcrumbs with the olive oil, minced garlic, parsley, and basil. spread this mixture over the prosciutto. Down the center of the meat, place the eggs. season with salt and pepper. roll up the meat, and make sure the eggs stay in the center. Place roll on layed out bacon, and wrap the bacon around the roll. Place roll in a baking dish, and pour tomato sauce over top. Add the two cloves of garlic in the pan, and bake at 350 degrees F. remove when temperature has reached 165 degrees F. let rest. remove bacon, and slice on a bias.

Tasso Crusted Potato Eggs 3 russet potatoes (peeled and sliced ¼ in. thick) 3 egg yolks 1/8 tsp. nutmeg ¾ tsp. white pepper ½ tsp. salt 1 ½ Tbsp. parsley (finely chopped) ½ cup Tasso (small diced) 1 ½ cups Panko 1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning 2 eggs 1/8 tsp. salt 1/8 tsp. black pepper Directions boil potatoes in salted water until tender. strain potatoes and place on a perforated sheet pan, and place in a 300 degree F oven until dry. While potatoes are drying in the oven, place Tasso, Panko, and Cajun seasoning in a food processor, and process until fine consistency. Next, combine the eggs, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Mash the dry potatoes until smooth, and mix in the egg yolks, nutmeg, white pepper, salt, and parsley. Mold potatoes into egg shapes about 3 inches wide and 2 inches wide. Dip potatoes in egg wash then into the Tasso breading. Deep fry for 2 to 4 minutes at 350 degrees F until golden. Tomato Sauce 1 oz salt pork 6 oz mirepoix 3 cups tomatoes (fresh or canned) 2 cups tomato puree 1 ½ tsp. dried basil ¼ tsp. dried thyme 1 small bay leaf 1 clove of garlic 3 stems of parsley 4 crushed peppercorns 2 tsp. salt 1 tsp. sugar 3 cups chicken stock Directions render the salt pork over medium heat. Add the mirepoix and sauté, but do not brown. Add the tomatoes and tomato puree. Place the herbs, peppercorns, and garlic in a sachet, and add to the pot. Add the salt, sugar, and stock. simmer slowly for 30 minutes to one hour. remove the sachet and then puree.

Roasted Baby Beets 20 beets olive oil , salt and pepper Directions Trim the tops off of the beets, and wash thoroughly. Pat dry with a clean towel. rub with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet, and roast at 375 degrees F. remove when tender, peel and slice in quarters. Sauteed Swiss Chard 2 lbs. swiss chard 2 oz. olive oil 2 cloves of garlic (minced) zest from one lemon salt and pepper Directions Trim any discolored stems or leaves and discard. separate the leaves from the stems and wash. Cut the stems into 2½ inch pieces. blanch in salted water, and shock in ice water. stems will take longer than the leaves. Combine olive oil and garlic in a large skillet, and warm over low heat. When garlic begins to color, add the chard. Add the lemon zest and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. season with salt and pepper.

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 69


special events

www.sobewineandfoodfest.com • February 24 - 27, 2011 • Miami Beach, FL Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Presented by Food and Wine

Ten Years of Spectacular Wine and Food Bring your swim suits and your appetite, we’re going to Miami

of course, and John Besh, from Louisiana; Dean Fearing and Tim Love,

Beach! This is the 10th year of the nationally renown South Beach

from Texas; Chris Lilly from Alabama; Luis Pous from Little Torch

Wine & Food Festival, a star-studded, four-day destination event show-

Key, Florida; and a group of chefs from the Miami area too long to list.

casing the talents of the world’s most renowned wine and spirits producers, chefs and culinary personalities.

This year’s Perrier-Jouët BubbleQ presented by Allen Brothers and MIAMI magazine – the very event that put the Festival on the map its

The festival takes place at a variety of different venues in the Miami

first year – will be hosted by the grill-master himself, Bobby Flay, in its

Beach area, and offers culinary events, educational seminars, celebrities,

final showing as a signature Festival event. BubbleQ combines top

tastings and entertainment. Some of the more popular events include

chefs, barbecue and champagne. Additionally, Fontainebleau Miami

the Wine Spectator Wine Seminar series and the Whole Foods Market

Beach presents Wine Spectator’s Best of the Best sponsored by Bank of

Grand Tasting Village.

America which will again feature the finest selections in wine and culi-

Planned especially for this year, the dynamic duo of Emeril Lagasse

nary creations of renowned chefs, and is sure to be the best yet with cel-

and Martha Stewart will host the Festival’s featured 10th anniversary

ebrated chef Charlie Trotter in attendance. The iconic Amstel Light

celebration Let Them Eat Cake presented by Ocean Drive magazine on

Burger Bash presented by Allen Brothers hosted by Rachael Ray will

Friday, February 25. Featured chefs will present decadent delicacies to

celebrate its fifth birthday during the Festival – bringing back the best

complement the cocktails and Moët & Chandon Champagne that will

in beer and burgers.

be flowing all night long! Of special interest to Gulf Coast residents is the Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate At the Beach, a South Beach spin on their popular primetime series The Best Thing I Ever Ate! Join stars from the Food Network and the Cooking Channel along with South Florida personalities as they share their favorite dishes and cocktails found near shorelines from all over the United States. Chefs from several Gulf Coast States will be participating: Emeril ­70 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM

In commemoration of the Festival’s 10th year, Founder and Executive Director Lee Brian Schrager announced the release of the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, $35/hardcover). The book features a foreword from none-other than Anthony Bourdain, as well as an array of recipes from the nation’s favorite celebrity chefs and culinary personalities.


Celebrity Chef attendance is a major draw for the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. This year see (Top left) Chris Lilly and Emeril. (Clockwise) Dean Fearing, Michael Schwartz, Guy Fieri and Tim Love. GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 71


gulf coast retirement

Finding­Your­Perfect­Gulf Coast­Retirement­Location Seven Areas of Interest that Might Appeal

s

o you are 50 something and thinking of moving to the Gulf Coast to retire but you just can’t decide which beautiful area to select. Time to pull out a sheet of paper and start making a check list. What exactly are you looking for in a retirement community? We suggest you start by daydreaming about your perfect vacation. What made you decide to go there? What did you enjoy? Why shouldn’t your personal interest be just as important in your retirement decision as the tax rate and cost of living? However, first, before you start jotting, we feel like the following items can be applied to every location on the Gulf Coast: great scenery, fabulous fresh seafood and restaurants, an abundance of

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Universities and Colleges to continue your education, wonderful people to meet, tremendous fishing, reasonable cost of living compared to other coasts, beautiful housing choices, exceptional state parks, great live local music, nice weather and clean restrooms (just seeing if you are paying attention). Now, we aren’t trying to make your decision harder, we just want you to know that no matter where you go on the Gulf that the retirement foundation is going to be great! We selected seven areas around the Gulf Coast with the help of our readers to suggest as a “recation” (It’s the best I can do at deadline). The spotlighted towns are not the only “recation” opportunities on the Gulf, but they are fun ideas to get you in the proper “state” of mind - as in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi or Alabama. We hope our towns fuel your daydreams and encourage you to look further into making the Gulf Coast your next home - we’d love to have you as our new neighbor.


gulf coast retirement South Padre Island, Texas Multicultural www.sopadre.com Retirement to South Padre Island, Texas is an especially great option for those looking to uproot themselves from the regular day-to-day grind of work life and immerse themselves in an entirely new experience. South Padre lies on the southernmost tip of Texas and at the south end of the world’s longest barrier island, Padre Island, which is also the largest stretch of undeveloped ocean beach in North America. Not only is island-life something all retirees should delve into, but especially for those hailing from the Midwestern and Northern states, the multicultural influences interwoven in the island provide those looking for a change of scenery with an opportunity to embrace something new. Culture shock for the newly relocated is a common occurrence in South Padre, due to its proximity to Mexico. Travelers to the island are often taken by the colorful and creative Hispanic heritage of South Texas; it’s like taking a Mexican vacation without the need of a passport. Spanish is spoken by many of the local residents, and more than eighty percent of those residing there are of Hispanic descent. The opportunity to explore the culture, celebrations and food of Mexico, and to be adjacent to the ocean, is a strong lure to many retirees! Speaking of explorations, we know that

South Padre Island, TX

those who are looking into retirement are a varied lot. Some people want to sit down, relax, and enjoy the quiet solitude. Others

Port Isabel Yacht Club

want to travel. Then there are the adventurous. They are hardy souls, and life for them is one adventure after another. For those, there is a unique opportunity in South Texas. The original Port Isabel Yacht Club is for sale. The Club was founded in 1926, with the building being completed in 1928. During Prohibition, it was a speakeasy. It has hosted numerous regattas, including one that featured water polo - not the sport we know today, but one in which the field

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 73


足74 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


gulf coast retirement Palace Casino Resort in Biloxi, MS

and horses were replaced by water and boats. Players on board used

ment than at Biloxi’s casinos. From Johnny Mathis to Ron White

polo mallets to hit a floating ball towards a goal.

to The B-52’s, the selection of great artists just keeps rolling in.

The Club still has that 1920’s atmosphere, rare in Texas. The

The casinos lure you in with the games, but they keep you com-

restaurant was once host to many larger than life personalities who

ing back for their food and entertainment. Several casinos are also

ventured off the beaten track to far South Texas, where you could

resorts, offering golf, swimming pools and spas. You can live with

still live life large, and largely unnoticed.

neighbors like that!

The Yacht Club has been a hotel for the last several years. It fea-

Here’s a list of the casinos that would be in your backyard if you

tures a large lobby, dining room, patio, pool and antique furnish-

retire in Biloxi: The Beau Rivage, Boomtown, Grand Biloxi Casino,

ings. It also has room for expansion.

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, IP Casino Resort Spa, Isle of Capri,

If you’d like to own a small historic boutique hotel, here’s your

Palace Casino Resort, and Treasure Bay.

chance. It is offered through Franke Realtors in South Padre Island. 800-447-4753. www.frankerealtors.com

Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, Florida

Biloxi, Mississippi

www.bikelongboatkey.org, www.annamariaislandchamber.org

A Cyclist’s Delight Casinos - the Gaming Enthusiasts www.biloxi.ms.us Retire in Biloxi? You bet! With eight first class casinos, you’ll never be wanting when entertainment is desired. Sure, we all love to gamble, and that’s what these casinos do best. But there’s so much more to them. It’s not just slot machines

On a small, seven-mile stretch of land in coastal Florida, the only thoroughfare has extra fat shoulders and signs that read: “No more than two abreast.” The road is smooth, paved, and without giant crevices threatening to fling the casual passerby headfirst over his handlebars. The street belongs to the Long Boat Key and Anna Maria Island Bike Trail, and it is a serious cyclist’s delight.

and craps anymore. These casinos feature dozens of top notch

Founded by "Zeke" Epstein in 1967 and later completed by The

restaurants with great chefs. It’s not the breakfast buffet type meals

Bike Association in 1978, the trail covers fifty-one miles of sheer

anymore. And you won’t find any better or more varied entertain-

biking pleasure. Motorists are required to give at least three feet in GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 75


clearance to those perched on their lesser, two-wheeled modes of transportation. Cafés and plazas have ample bike-parking spaces and rest stops, and you can’t beat a route that looks like this: beach, water, lush canopy, beach, lagoon, bridge, and more beach. The best part? Did I mention there are no hills? Begin the day at Beach Bums on Pine Avenue, where they rent out bikes for single riders and for those going tandem, too. But before you head out, be sure to pay a visit to the island’s first house of worship for wishes of well-being. Nondenominational

Roser

Memorial

Community Church was founded by John Roser, one of the island’s first developers (he’s also the brain behind the Fig Newton). Then, head south to Bradenton and Holmes Beaches before kicking-off to Siesta Key, with the beautiful Gulf of Mexico within a minute’s riding distance anywhere from the island path. In the summer, when traffic isn’t as heavy, more than a hundred cyclists can be seen and heard along the trail, in a swarm buzzing up and down the Key. Group rides at dusk take place regularly during the week, and if you’re an early bird, you may find yourself in a flock of cyclists all heading toward Island Juice and Java for breakfast. Good news is there’s never a rush to get anywhere: rogue cyclists beware, Longboat’s law for the sidewalk is a 10 mph speed limit! No jarring honks at the stoplights in the morning, either, and at most you’ll hear the ding-ding of a biker on the move. More on the island..... Anna Maria Village is located at the end of a flat, seven-mile long island. It was discovered by local Indian tribes the Timucan and Caloosan, and then by Spanish explorers (including Hernando DeSoto) in the name of the Spanish Crown. In 1911, the Anna Maria Beach Company built a 678-foot long pier at the end of Pine Avenue, allowing visitors to come by boat. For years this was the only

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Anna Maria Island, FL

way to the island. It was not until 1921 that Anna Maria was physically connected to

Fairhope, AL

the mainland by a wooden bridge that extended westward from the fishing village of Cortez to the Island. The Bradenton Beach fishing pier is the western end of that original bridge. Through numerous hurricanes the pier survived and still stands to this day. The stroll to the end of the 678-foot Anna Maria City Pier has made Anna Maria Island a travel destination for nearly 100 years. Anna Maria is a famed Hollywood backdrop: stage for “On an Island With You,” “Palmetto,” “Out of Time,” and “The Perfect Storm”. Fairhope, Alabama History and Antiques www.cofairhope.com Nestled on Mobile Bay along the Gulf of Mexico lies Fairhope, Alabama, an

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 77


Texas History, Chapter One.

eccentric coastal town of around 12,500 and a rare historic gem, to be sure: along with Arden, Delaware, Fairhope remains one of two single tax colonies in the United States, meaning the city’s sole stream of revenue comes from a single source, and in this instance, its land. The 4,600 acres in and around the city are owned by the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation, a group that was once, in 1894, the Fairhope Industrial Association of Des Moines, Iowa.   The coalition was formed by a small band of like-minded individuals led by Henry George, economist and political theorist of the era and one of the most influential proponents of the land value tax on undeveloped terrain. Fairhope was once undeveloped, before George and his two dozen followers scoured the Midwest and the South before

Call for your Vacation Planner Oysterfest, March 3-6, 2011 1-800-242-0071 www.rockport-fulton.org @ visitrockportfulton

settling on its high bluff, overlooking Mobile Bay. According to one legend, it had occurred to a founding colonist that the prime location had “a fair hope of success” in becoming the foundation for their utopian dream. We’ll spare you the redundancy of how the name came about. Then in 1970, as Fairhope’s downtown faced crushing economic difficulties, Mayor James Nix banded together local volunteers and set out to turn Fairhope into something resembling a quaint European villa. It was how he had always imagined it. So, soliciting financial support from around the country, Fairhope soon began attracting an eclectic milieu of individuals - romantics and free-thinkers, innovators and visionaries, not alike.   That explains why Fairhope is the way it is today. Through the passing years, the community has attracted a vast variety of writers, artists, and craftsmen who have found in Fairhope a ready-made workbench for their creations. Meanwhile, the city is still molded by the creative influence of the Single Tax coalition, which continues to have an active presence to this day. Fairhope is famous for its beachfront park and the bluff lands above, the Henry George Park, the Knoll Park, and the city’s

­78 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


gulf coast retirement Rockport, TX

trademark quarter-mile long pier, all gifts from the Single Tax

speckled trout and redfish, to waterfowl and the famed Whooping

Corporation.

Crane, one of the most endangered species in North America. From

As a result, Fairhope remains one of the coast’s unique roman-

late October through mid-April, the world's only migrating flock of

tic communities, born of a slew of dreams belonging to a few off-

whopping cranes makes a 2,500-mile journey from Northern

beat individuals. It was created as a captivating vision that now

Canada and descends upon the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge,

draws world travelers who bask in its alluring coast and its kaleido-

a 59,000 acre home to hundreds of species. It’s an artist’s panoram-

scopic downtown that is filled with quaint boutiques and galleries,

ic perfection.

gourmet eateries and cafes. It is for those who enjoy wandering

It is of no surprise, then, that Rockport houses nearly 300 artist

down historic paths to an imaginary time when a utopia was born.

who draw upon the inspiration of the sensational seascapes, creators

Rockport, Texas - Art, Fishing

nized sporting and wildlife artists. Jesus Bautista Moroles, one of

www.rockport-fulton.org

the most recognized visionary sculptors in the world with more

like Al Barnes, Herb Booth, and Steve Russell, nationally recog-

In the business district of Rockport, Texas, window shopping

than 2,000 works in place in China, Egypt, France, Italy, Japan,

looks a little different than in most places. Sure, some storefronts

Switzerland, and the United States, has his foundry on the coastal

belong to the regular clothing shops for ladies, where accessorized

shores of Rockport.

mannequins are frozen mid-sashay to provide for optimal observa-

The art community’s cornerstone is upon The Rockport Center

tion from the casual passersby. But more common are the windows

for the Arts, located on the Rockport Harbor. The Center offers a

that house unique art collections - paintings, sculptures, figurines,

variety of fine art exhibits and art instruction of all kinds; mean-

and the like. They belong to the over fifteen art galleries in

while, each year in July, the community hosts the Rockport Art

Rockport, a town of less than ten thousand, making it one of the

Festival, one of the largest juried art festivals in the U.S.

most vibrant coastal art communities on the Gulf Coast.

In fact, rarely does a weekend pass without a major event or fes-

Rockport is the county seat of Aransas County, which covers

tival of some sort taking place in Rockport. From the Festival of

more than 326-square miles, though much of it is under water, part

Wines, to the HummingBird Celebration, from the Seafair to the

of an extensive system of wetlands, peninsulas, islands and bays,

Rockport Film Festival and Tropical Christmas, for a quaint little

making it a coastal hotspot for fishermen of any expertise.

fishing village, the folks in Rockport know how to put on a party,

These wetlands provide habitat for a multitude of wildlife, from

in large thanks to the town’s chamber of commerce. In 2010, the GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 79


chamber

was

awarded

a

5-Star

Accreditation by the U.S. Chamber of

A W ORK OF A R T

Commerce, making it among the top one percent of chambers nationwide.

N E S T L E D IN CE L E BRAT I ON

Tampa, Florida Spring Training Baseball www.tampagov.net, www.visittampabay.com It’s baseball like it used to be! The Tampa area is a hotbed of activity during Major League baseball’s Spring Training, which runs from mid-February till late March. The Grapefruit League is the name given to Florida’s version of training camp. 4.5

They say hope springs eternal. But during the Grapefruit League, it seems Spring is the time when hope is eternal. Every Major League baseball club is tied in the stand-

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ings and this could be the year, even for the

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worst of teams. Tampa officially hosts the Yankees training camp, but the entire southwest

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coast of Florida, from Ft. Myers to Dunedin, is invaded each spring by major leaguers and their loyal fans. The Blue Jays, Phillies and Pirates all make camp within easy driving distance of Tampa.

866.404.MONA (6662) I 407.964.7000 225 Celebration Place | Celebration (Orlando), FL 34747

For over a month, the sounds of bat hitting ball ring up and down the Gulf Coast. Residents and visitors alike flock to the

YOU’VE NEVER SEEN TAMPA LIKE THIS BEFORE! Do you live an InterContinental life? InterContinental Tampa is set in Westshore, the heart of Tampa Bay, within walking distance of the city’s renowned shopping

training camp of their favorite team, watching practices, attending Spring Training games, and getting up close and personal with the players. Many retirees select their retirement city based on where their favorite team trains. Some even work at the ballpark.

and entertainment district. Whether your stay is for business or

The Spring Training parks are tiny

pleasure, our central location puts you in close proximity to the

compared to their Major League counter-

airport and numerous local attractions, such as Busch Gardens, Raymond James Stadium, the Florida Aquarium, St. Pete Times Forum and the beautiful gulf coast beaches. From modern amenities to undefeated dining options, such as Shula’s Steak House, you’ll find the InterContinental Tampa will far exceed your expectations.

parts. The intimacy of the parks lets fans see games from a closer vantage point and also lets them get closer to the players. Past, present and future stars are highly accessible for autographs and conversations, especially toward the end of each Spring

4860 West Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33609 Call 866.402.0758 or visit www.intercontampa.com

Training game and as they move around the training complex during practices. The practices are mostly open to the

©2009 InterContinental Hotels Group. All rights reserved. Owned and managed by Destination Hotels and Resorts.

­80 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM

public. Some teams charge admission for


gulf coast retirement

Tampa, FL practices, some don’t. Watching players take ball after ball in field-

Louisiana, which will be recovering from the Deepwater oil spill for

ing practice gives you some appreciation for how much work these

years. Helping to clean up and return the wetlands and barrier

players put in before the season starts.

islands to their prior form will take a while, and the help of caring

The best part of Spring Training is the friendly, relaxed atmos-

individuals will be required. Here, you can make a difference.

phere at the stadiums. Pre-game tailgating is a great place to meet

Houma is located an hour southwest of New Orleans and is sur-

fellow fans who share a passion. The games are leisurely. The veter-

rounded by wildlife management areas. From Pointe Aux Chenes

an players and managers are relaxed and often interact with the

Wildlife Management Area to its southeast, to Mandalay National

fans. You may even have a chance encounter with a team’s owner.

Wildlife Refuge to its southwest, along with other areas not far

You just never know who’ll you’ll bump into during a Grapefruit

away, Houma is situated in the middle of some of the most produc-

League game. It’s the way baseball used to be.

tive, most important terrain in the U.S. The wetlands and bays are the nursery for untold numbers of birds, reptiles, fish and mammals.

Houma, Louisiana Wildlife/Volunteering www.houmatourism.com If volunteering is your thing, look no further than South

With its cajun heritage, Houma is a great place to eat, dance and socialize. The history of the Cajuns is a history of people who learned to live off the land. Crawfish, redfish, spotted trout, shrimp, catfish and yes, alligator all make their way onto the cajun table,

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 81


prepared in a variety of rich, spicy sauces. For a small town, Houma has a rich offering of historic and cultural attractions. The Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum documents the long relationship between the local waterways and the men and women who make their living from them. The Terrebonne Folklife Culture Center, in the Historic District, highlights the history and tradition of southern Louisiana. The Southdown Plantation has been turned into a museum displaying life in post-civil war Louisiana and the sugar industry that thrived here. Houma is a great place to experience the water-based life. Fishermen, crabbers, oystermen and shrimpers populate the waterways and still depend on the Gulf and its wetlands for a living. Here you can catch your very own smorgasbord of seafood, and get to know a unique part of our environment.

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sound tracks

The Rankin Twins www.therankintwins.com Headaches and Heartbreaks Hometown: Portland, TX

s e h c a d eH a Heartbreaks and

Story by Lindsey Hough

F

or rising Texas country duo Amy and April Rankin, it all

how comfortable they would become in front of a crowd.

started in the old dance halls of coastal Texas, once a

“We didn't know then that our chipmunk voices would actual-

Honky-tonk hotbed in the world of western swing and

ly blossom into the real deal later in life,” said April, the older of

lyrical tales of love and loss. Born and raised in Portland,

the two by fifty minutes. Two years ago, when Amy came home to

a Gulf coast bay town of a whopping seventeen thou-

visit the family with a guitar in hand and a song she wrote, April

sand, the blonde-haired, brown-eyed girls accompanied

got the hint.

their parents most weekends out dancing. It was the

“Being identical twins and doing everything together our entire

1980s then, and country music was beginning to swing

lives,” said April, “I realized if she can do it, I can too.” April began

away from its traditional roots to take on a more urban, pop sound

writing music and took up playing tambourine. They bounce ideas

that was less Bob Wills and more Madonna. From a young age, Mrs. Rankin encouraged her girls not to be

afraid of an audience. So Amy and April took every opportunity to test their musical might around town, whether it was a perform-

off one another in a way that manifests itself through their singing: the charming duo naturally harmonizes on stage in a way only capable of twins. Before they were The Rankin Twins, Amy and April began the

ance for a school talent show or Christmas caroling with Portland

first of several moves around the Lone Star State, first to Longview

neighbors, a tradition that still continues today. No one knew just

and later to Midland where they graduated high school. It was

­86 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


sound tracks while they both were in college at Texas A&M that Amy friended a couple of aspiring artists in the Texas Country Red Dirt scene, a rising genre characterized as “country with an attitude.” Amy soon began to learn the workings behind “the band,” from song writing to merchandise and everything associated with a big time country concert. She met stars like Cory Morrow and Cross Canadian Ragweed, and learned tricks of the trade in the mean time. “A friend of mine gave me a guitar for Christmas one year and I learned a couple of chords,” Amy said. “I really never played it, but he taught me how to start jotting down lyrics and ideas when they came to me.” Little did she know she was prepping herself for the major life change to come. After college, the twins moved to Dallas and in June 2008, opened their first official gig as The Rankin Twins at Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas, Texas. They performed covers until a rough relationship breakup for Amy prompted her to put pen to paper. She wrote her first song and the title track of the Twins’ first album, “Headaches & Heartbreaks.”

The cover of the twin's first album which was released in March 2010. The Rankin Twins, April and Amy, grew up in Portland, Texas.

But while the “heartbreaks” part was Amy went to surgery in September

sionally. The trouble and turmoil had

sized brain tumor named Wally for the

2008, after Ike hit Houston and became the

strengthened the duo’s determination to see

twins to come together and jump head first

third costliest hurricane to hit the US.

their dream through.

already accounted for, it took a walnut-

into starting a band of their own. After a series of minor gigs in Dallas, Amy woke up one day with a headache on the right side of her head that continued every morning for two weeks. “It wasn't until the dizzy spells started

During those days, the Rankin family hun-

“‘Headaches & Heartbreaks’ means a lot

kered down at home and prepared for the

to us because it is how we became The

worst.

Rankin Twins,” said Amy. “It’s about look-

“We all made t-shirts to help Amy

ing at the positive in life, and moving on

remember the important things to each one

because there are bigger things in store for

of us in case her short term memory was

you. You just have to go and find them.”

coming that I realized something was not

affected,” said April. Cousin Kim made a t-

Go and find them, they did. The year

normal,” said Amy.” Off she went to get her

shirt reminding Amy that Kim was her

after Amy’s surgery, the Rankin Twins were

eyesight checked for vertigo, and got the

favorite cousin. April wrote: “Don’t worry if

nominated for the Female Horizon Award

reality check of the twin’s lives: Amy was

you don’t remember: I’ll make things up.”

at the 2009 Entertainer Awards at the

diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of a

The t-shirts would be pieced together for a

renowned Grapevine Opry. That’s where

walnut, and prepared for surgery just as

quilt for Amy that Christmas.

stars like LeAnn Rimes and Miranda

Hurricane Ike was brewing in the Atlantic.

Amy would have yet another brain sur-

Lambert got their start. Recently they got a

And like any twin sister would do, April

gery in November to remove a cyst. Shortly

break and opened a show for Billy Dean, a

after, she returned to work and within a

Grammy Award winner. Those perks are

“I threw her a ‘Going Away Tumor

week, both Amy and April quit their pro-

just part of showing how a little faith and

Party’”, said April. “My walnut topped cup-

fessional jobs, packed their bags and moved

good attitude can go a long way in the

cakes were a hit.”

to Austin to attempt to perform profes-

roads to recovery . . . and success.

tried to make the best of it:

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 87


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A darkened oyster with black ribbon flowing. From the "In Mourning" Gulf Coast collection.

A charm bracelet in the "In Mourning" Gulf Coast collection. The darkness of the chain is oil-like.

A real Jewel

www.mignonfaget.com

Collection benefits Louisiana wetlands restoration New Orleans can count on Mignon Faget, the first lady of New Orleans jewelry. In

Some can do more than others. Ms. Faget has certainly done

the past, she’s been there to defend

more than most. She began her career as a clothing designer, but

the architectural history of the

soon shifted to jewelry. As a native New Orleanian, she found

city by donating her first gallery

inspiration for her designs in the local floral, fauna and architecture.

building to the Preservation Resource

Her collections so capture the heart of New Orleans that she has

Center of New Orleans. She’s been

become an institution, being described by Frommers’ travel guide as

there to help restore the historic

“one of the biggest personalities in New Orleans's jewelry universe,

New Canal Lighthouse on Lake

and a piece from here is as much a must for a New Orleans lady as

Pontchartrain. She’s even helped

a Tiffany piece is for an NYC one.”

bring home musicians displaced after Katrina. New Orleans, and the Gulf Coast, can A black ribbon backs a count on her today, as well. Ms. Faget has redfish in this pin from the "In Mourning" Gulf Coast collection.

term effects on this region. We all need to do what we can.”

introduced a collection of jewelry designs that

With 40 years of jewelry design, Ms. Faget has earned a national reputation as well. Dillards now carries a line of her creations. The Faget collections, which number over 30, began with the SEA collection in 1970, in which Ms. Faget used the design of local sea shells and ocean creatures to create wearable natural art. Other

bring attention to the Deepwater Horizon oil

collections

spill disaster. A portion of the proceeds will

inspired by local bamboo gardens,

benefit the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.

include

BAMBOO,

IRONWORKS, which honors the

Ms. Faget has taken pieces from her earlier works that were

unique wrought iron and cast iron

inspired by Gulf Coast wildlife and redesigned them to reflect the

seen in French Quarter architecture,

impact of the oil spill. The new collection is titled “In Mourning”

and FLEUR DE LIS, her creative use

and is intended to be worn as such. Wildlife pins of pelicans and

of the symbol of all things New

redfish are backed with black ribbon. A silver oyster necklace is oxi-

Orleans. After Katrina, Ms. Faget

dized to symbolize oil stains. The chain on a bracelet holding crabs

donated a portion of the sales of the

and shrimp charms is dark as oil. Large tuna and tarpon brooches

Fleur De Lis line to the Louisiana

are to be worn “belly up”. Taking jewelry that was originally designed to highlight the

Cultural Economy Foundation, which helps artists and art institutions return to New Orleans.

beauty of coastal wildlife and modifying it to reflect the effect of

The heart and soul of New Orleans runs through Mignon

the oil spill is a poignant display of art imitating life. “It is a heart-

Faget. It is visible in her creations. It is proven by her public spirit.

breaking statement to make with jewelry originally designed to cel-

She is a jewel which is as timeless and unique as the Crescent City.

ebrate the abundant gifts of our coast,” says Faget, “but the reality

And when New Orleans needs her help again, she will be there. You

is that we need to make people aware of this disaster and the long-

can count on it.

Photos by Glade Bilby II GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 89


romantic travel

(Above) Biscuits and strawberry preserves are made in-house and served in the courtyard. OPPOSITE (Top left) Guests at the Soniat House had little choice but to meet Clarice, the House Cat. Sadly, Clarice passed earlier this year. She lived a full life, 18 years, and while she managed to survive Katrina, she couldn't escape old age. Clarice had more personality than most people, and somehow always managed to talk her way into your room. The position of House Cat was left open, briefly, but has now been filled by Claire. Be sure to say hello, and tell her stories about her predecessor. (Top right) A classic French Quarter courtyard is the perfect setting for breakfast - seen above. (Bottom left) Everything about the Soniat House makes you want to hold hands and smile. The colors, the comfortable textures and interesting furnishings blend together to ward off stress and simply make you feel happy. (Bottom right) Sitting on the porch during a rainstorm is our fondest memory of Soniat House.

足90 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM

R


romantic travel

Soniat House 1133 Chartres Street New Orleans, LA 70116 504.522.0570 www.soniathouse.com

R

The Romance of New Orleans S o n i a t

H o u s e

Romantic inns are special, and the Soniat House is certainly that. Nestled away in the quiet part of the French Quarter, away from the cacophony of Bourbon Street, the Soniat House is an oasis of serenity. Created from three historic town homes, Soniat House features classic New Orleans courtyards, balconies, a spiral staircase and service second to none. Period antiques, classic books, lamps and objects of


ROMANCE interest adorn the guest rooms. Next to the office is a parlor, stocked with premium liquors, wine and champagne. Guests drink on the honor system, writing down what they consume on a notepad. The bar remains stocked until everyone retires. Very old South. The guest rooms are spacious, with luxury Frette Egyptian cotton bedsheets and goose down pillows. European fabrics adorn the furniture, and plush rugs line the floors. Modern amenities include wireless access, voicemail and phones, even in the bathroom. The parlor offers complimentary use of a computer. The main courtyard is lined with tropical vegetation, including palms, sweet olive, magnolia, guava and ginger. Sit under them while you enjoy breakfast, a Soniat House tradition. Creole café au lait is served with hot southern biscuits, accompanied by strawberry preserves prepared in-house. The quiet location of Soniat House is unique, since it is only one block from the French Market, and three blocks from Jackson Square, making a variety of entertainment and fine restaurants within walking distance. With just eighteen rooms and twelve suites, Soniat House is small enough to offer first class service. The concierge will obtain restaurant reservations, arrange tours and point you in the right direction for classic New Orleans entertainment. The parlor, courtyards and open balconies are intimate and encourage guests to mingle. For a wonderful get-away weekend, we recommend Soniat’s three night Romance Package. You’ll be picked up by private car, drink champagne on arrival, be served breakfast daily, and sent to a dinner at nationally famous Gautreau’s. And of course, you’ll enjoy the atmosphere and elegance of one of the country’s finest guest houses. For your next romantic trip, why not slip into something a little more comfortable . . . a stay at Soniat House. ­92 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


love stories

l a c i p o TRr e-Union Why don’t we get drunk ... and I Do!

Lulu’s setting 2011 stage to break world record February 12

S t o r y b y J e n n i f e r S . K o r n e g ay • P H o t o S b y g a b r i e l l e b a r n e t t Remember how you felt when you looked deep into your

Jimmy Buffett and proprietor of LuLu’s, has her way, the number of

spouse’s eyes and declared, “I do”? Experiencing the sensation of

happy couples joining you in re-established nuptial bliss will be a

fullness in your chest and the confidence that all was right in the

big one, maybe even world-record size.

world? You can get those warm and fuzzy feelings all over again just

LuLu’s Tropical Re-Union is in its third year, and while the

in time for Valentine’s Day when you redo your original “I do” in a

event began as basic holiday promotion, it quickly grew into the

wedding vow renewal ceremony at Lulu’s at Homeport Marina in

ranking romantic affair in the Gulf Coast area. “We were looking

Orange Beach, Alabama.

for a fun, unique way to celebrate Valentine’s Day,” Lucy said. “After

And while the first time around, it was probably just you and

brainstorming with our managers, the event has evolved into this

your sweetie pledging your undying love and affection, at LuLu’s

great way to involve so many people. It really is a great event that

Tropical Re-Union on Saturday, February 12, you will not be alone.

we all enjoy. Now we are going for the world record.”

In fact, if Lucy Buffett, the little sister of famed singer, songwriter

In 2010, the event drew 427 couples, and the Cupid-esque cel-

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 93


love stories The balloon release, while fun, will not be held this year in order to be more environmentally friendly.

Watch out Ohio... Alabama Wants the Record ebration included champagne toasts for all, hundreds of slices of

this year. In June 2010 in Miami, a new record was set for a mass

wedding cake, flowers for the “brides,” a vow-renewal certificate

vow renewal: 1,087 couples. “We are growing the event each year

and, of course, the vow renewal ceremony, all right on the waters of

and increasing our number of couples,” Barnett said. LuLu’s is

the Intracoastal Waterway on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Prizes were

inviting everyone and anyone ready to tighten their knot to show up

given to the couples who had been married the longest and the

on February 12 in hopes of mak-

shortest amount of time. One of the winning couples had racked up

ing history.

60 anniversaries. The other couple had been married less than an hour before the renewal ceremony.

Miami University in Ohio

But even if it doesn’t shatter

(really– Ohio) set the last

the record for number of couples

record on June 20, for a

Gabrielle Barnett of LuLu’s explained what makes the event so

willing to recommit in unison,

massive wedding vow

special and why its mammoth size is definitely part of the appeal.

LuLu’s Tropical Re-Union won’t

renewal ceremony during

“Seeing how much fun everyone is having and sharing that is cer-

lose a bit of its luster, and is cer-

its alumni weekend.

tainly one of the highlights,” she said. “Valentine’s Day is one of

tainly a contender for any record

The event gathered 1,087

those holidays that is usually spent with just the ones you love. Our

that measures the amount of

couples, beating the

event involves so many people and allows them to show their love

laughter and love in one spot.

Guinness World Record of

for one another in a public display. The fact that we had a couple

“The thing I love the most and

624 couples prevously set

who had only been married an hour join us last year exemplifies the

that has actually surprised me

in Pittsburgh in 2008.

fun spirit of this event.”

the most about this event is how

All of the same accompaniments to the ceremony will be on

incredibly popular it is,” Lucy said. “I also love that it appeals to all

hand again for the crowd this year – the bubbly, the prizes and the

ages. We have very young couples and couples that have been mar-

frivolity and romance on a grand scale.

ried for decades. It is very, very cool to see that kind of relationship

Last year, LuLu’s ceremony actually came close to the record, which

commitment on display. It gives me faith in love and partnership.”

was 624 couples at that time. But they’ve got more ground to cover

­94 | SPRING 2011 GULFSCAPES.COM


alabama

Story by Jennifer S. K o r n e g ay

venues

Beach wedding at Bon Villa. Photo courtesy of Weddings by the Bay

So you’ve decided to take the plunge. All the ingredients for marital bliss are coming together perfectly. Soul mate who you’re madly in love with? Check. Perfect date picked? Check. You’ve got the who, the why and the when. But what about the where? If you’re thinking about a seaside wedding, check out all that Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Ala., have to offer--everything from the extremely elegant to the casual and carefree. The Beach Club, Gulf Shores 251-224-3362 • www.beachclubal.com On the Fort Morgan peninsula, amid thick stands of live oaks, saw palmetto and the alluring waters of the Gulf, The Beach Club beckons many a bride and groom with its elegant, yet tranquil ambiance. On average, the property hosts 50 weddings each year. In addition to the surrounding natural beauty, this luxury resort has all the features you’d expect, but it also has something extra. The staff at The Beach Club genuinely cares about every detail of every wedding and will go that extra mile to help any couple create a stress-free event. As Jenna Richards, The Beach Club’s onsite wedding planner, explained, “ Being five-star Southern hospitality certified, we pride ourselves on being unique and always thinking of the guest’s every need. We do this by having many amenities and activities avail-

able so the guests are comfortable and do not need to leave the property. We have two restaurants, a full-service salon and spa, indoor/outdoor pools, a Tiki bar, tennis courts and the most amazing view of the Gulf of Mexico,” she said. The Beach Club offers several different venues for both ceremonies and receptions, including the Village Meeting Place and the Clubhouse, as well as its private beach.

The Veranda at the The Beach Club. Photo courtesy of the Beach Club.

Caribe 251-980-9000 • www.caribe-resort.net Completed in 2002, Caribe in Orange Beach has much to offer, but its standout feature is probably a picturesque view of both the beach and the bay. With several unique spaces and a long list of amenities, Caribe is positioned to deliver a beach destination wedding that lives up to any bride’s vision.

GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING 2011 | 95


waterfront weddings The onsite restaurant Cobalt has a private dining room that seats 75 for smaller receptions, and in the off-season, the entire restaurant with its wall of windows facing the water can be reserved. Two other event spaces in Caribe’s two towers have 7,000 square feet each. But it’s the outdoor spaces that have the most appeal. The green, grassy breezeway between the two towers overlooks the bay and marina and makes a lovely spot for an intimate ceremony. The deck around the resort’s Lazy River is a truly special venue. On top of a third-level parking structure, it’s elevated and has an amazing vista overlooking the beach. Lisa Day with Big Day Weddings, a wedding planner in the area, names this setting among her favorite venues. “It’s really different and quite beautiful,” she said. And she loves planning receptions at Cobalt. The Gulf Shores Wedding Chapel 251-968-6222 • www.gulfshoresweddingchapel.com It may be small, but the quaint Gulf Shores Wedding Chapel has coastal charm and grace in mass quantities. With twinkling chandeliers and the glow of the Southern sun lighting up colorful stained glass windows, the chapel casts a spell on all who see it. Two acres of lovely landscaped grounds dotted with fountains, flowers and a gazebo as well as a separate indoor reception venue add to the offerings. Plus, a new pavilion was just added that connects to the reception hall, allowing the Wedding Chapel to boast that it has the best rain plan in the area. Elaine Harper at the Chapel can also help you plan an outdoor ceremony on the grounds or at the nearby beach. “Drawing from our years of experience and professional vendor support, we can provide outstanding service,” she said. “Together, we can plan an entire wedding and reception with our packages, or custom design a wedding to suit any dreams or desires. We specialize in creating perfect memories here.” Gulf State Park & Pavilion • 251-948-7275 Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores has two miles of pristine, sun-kissed beaches, perfect for surfside nuptials. Then celebrate your union with family and friends at a reception under the new pavilion. It’s easy to get carried away when gazing at this eye-catching structure. The curved roof looks ready to take off on the next strong beach breeze. Or maybe it more resembles a wave ready to break on the beach. Whatever image the contemporary design brings to your mind, it’s sure to be something extraordinary. And the pavilion is available for weddings and receptions, weather permitting, all year long. Peninsula Golf and Racquet Club www.peninsulagolfclub.com While Alabama’s beaches are beautiful, so is the bay. The calm dark waters present a different side of the coast’s personality, one of sophisticated serenity. The Peninsula Golf and Racquet Club in Gulf Shores is an impressive 27-hole championship golf course designed by Earl Stone that’s tucked next to the Bon Secour Wildlife Preserve. But the Club offers more than just great golf. The full-service club is also often the site of “I dos.” Ready to handle both small and large groups, Peninsula has a recently renovated clubhouse that’s proven very popular for weddings.

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The Gulf Shores Wedding Chapel. Rain or shine - they are ready for you. Photo by Sam Whitt of Beach Photo.

Bon Villa 251-967-8672 • www.bonvillagulfshores.com For a cozy, homey feel that still has the relaxed atmosphere of a beach wedding, look to Bon Villa, which means “Good Home” in French. Known for stunning sunsets, this private house on Plash Island surrounded by the gentle currents of Mobile Bay and the Bon Secour River hosts wedding ceremonies and receptions for those lucky enough to discover it. The secluded site is a treasure trove for nature lovers with swaying palms, many resident birds and frequent dolphin sightings. Bon Villa also has its own beach and large patio area ready for dancing and dining. And it comes with its own wedding planning service, Weddings by the Bay, ready to meet your every wedding need. Bill and Linda Sundancer own and operate Weddings by the Bay and Bon Villa, and Linda explained the location’s appeal. “For one thing, it is all-inclusive. You can do both your wedding and reception right here,” she said. “And it is very private yet still conveniently located to the main highway in Gulf Shores, Hwy. 59.” But the main attraction is the natural beauty. “Brides can save the expense of a lot of extra décor. Bon Villa doesn’t need any embellishment. God already did it all,” Linda said. Wild Hearts Charter Boat 251-981-6700 • www.sailwildhearts.com Why not just sail away together? Or at least feel like you’ve traded the everyday for paradise with an exchange of vows aboard Wild Hearts, a catamaran that cruises the ocean and backwaters in and around Orange Beach. The 53-foot craft can accommodate up to 49 people from spring through fall, and Captain Shu Cunningham and his crew are willing to help you create any kind of event you can dream up.


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Gulfscapes Spring 2011 Gulf Coastal Living