Louisiana Life September - October 2021

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throu ghou t the s tat chic g e for a etaw ay


July/Aug 2021 $6.95



Check out our NEW website Get the magazine’s award-winning articles and photography, plus digital exclusives including videos, recipes and more. louisianalife.com




Luxe LA It has never been so easy to staycation with sophistication and style in the Pelican State



Our one-of-a-kind list of the state’s hospitals as rated by Medicare patients

Burger joint owner changes lifestyle after life-threatening cancer diagnosis

Top Hospitals

Healthy Choice







Okra might just be the most divisive vegetable in the South, but if you love it here are some recipes to try

Jesus And The Bayous 14


Noteworthy news and happenings around the state



Once considered lost to invasive hydrilla, Spring Bayou in Avoyelles Parish was restored by dedicated locals and is now a thriving Wildlife Management area




Staying inside during the hottest months will be a lot more interesting with these selections




Baton Rouge designer Hope Johnson redefines ‘homebody’ 22


Central Louisiana artist Kathryn Keller processes both the beauty and the pain of life through her paintings 26


Mimi and Matt Voelkel’s Classic Georgian in Tchefuncta Estates



Mandeville, Madisonville and Covington offer slow and easy respite, outdoor adventure, fine dining and more on the Northshore 62


Galveston, Texas combines turnof-the century elegance and surfside fun in the sun 64


The moon rises above a small pond at dusk in Lecompte.




Jesus And The Bayous

Louisiana Insider


n a room at my maternal grandparents’ home was a plaster image of Jesus enclosed in a glass case. The image was maybe one foot high; the case had three sides so as to be fastened in a corner. That statue was as much a part of my memory of the house as the two wooden rockers in the front room and the copy of the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog on the sofa. They were always there. Until one day they were not; neither was the house. Both the grandparents were gone, and the house was sold to a couple that wanted the land to build a modern home. Time changed, but one thing remained consistent: It was located on the other side of the levee that ran past the house. Through the trees on the levee’s downslope was the muddy waterway that gave the Avoyelles town of Bordelonville its reason for existence, Bayou des Glaises. The French name roughly means “of clay” in reference to the loamy soil at its base. As nature, and man, often do, the bayou’s path has been altered a bit through the centuries, but at birth it roughly wound its way from the Red River to the Atchafalaya Basin. Much of the future of the bayou, as well as many other waterways in Louisiana, was shaped in 1927 with the “Great Flood.” The overflow from the swollen Mississippi river invaded connecting rivers and streams. Most of the flooded area included Avoyelles Parish, where the locals paddled and drove to a Red Cross refugee camp opened on an elevated area at the town of Mansura. In the years to come many of the streams were put in a straitjacket. Their flow was controlled by a series of locks. Some, like Bayou des Glaises became barely navigable even for a pirogue. Levees were built as assurance that the flooding would never happen again. The highway that striped the top of the levee provided quicker access to other places. But oh, the bayou had had its days. My parents inherited the Jesus statue which would have a place of honor in their New Orleans home for many years. I never knew until then the story behind the statue: There had once been small packet boats that travelled on Bayou des Glaises and the connecting bayous. They were filled with items sold by on-board vendors. (One boat was famous for including in its inventory a strange fruit called a “coconut.”) An ancestor, perhaps my mom’s parents or their parents or a gift-giving relative, bought the statue off a boat. From then it began its long vigil watching over the family. There was no marking indicating when the statue was made. I do know, however, when its intended existence came to an abrupt end — August 2019. In its final days the statue once again stood in the corner of a home across the street from a water channel. There DISCOVERING SPRING BAYOU was no romanticized French name this time; just a purely functional description, the “Seventeenth Street North of Bayou des Glaises near Marksville, Canal.” It was along that canal, at 34th Street just another stream, Spring Bayou, runs its lazy three blocks from my parents’ home, that Hurricane trail connecting with the Red River. Several Katrina broke the levee. The water damage in the years ago, I was taken for a boat ride along the waterway. The surroundings are gifted house was above the ceiling. by nature, but on this day the water was It took a few days for the water to subside and a not. There has been a clogging problem lot of heartbreak to tramp across the mushy floors. caused by too much aquatic growth and a Among the debris was the Jesus statue, no longer loss of water due to agricultural pumping protected by its now broken glass box. and evaporation. Debate continues whether the worst causes are man-made or natural; either way there is an effort to fix it. This edition of Louisiana Life contains a photographic feature about the life, and hopefully, survival, of Spring Bayou. As with all tributaries, may the water flow safely, but freely.



Catch up on the latest podcast episodes


Movies That Moved Us – Top Films Set in Louisiana What does it mean when the top 10 movies set in Louisiana are discussed and two of them have the word “easy” in the title? After much discussion, we have concluded that it is probably only a coincidence because the competition is tough. Guest: Alfred Richard, film critic.


Exploring Jewish Louisiana – One of the State’s Oldest Cultures For many, the image of Jewish settlements in the United States has been mostly on the East Coast and in major cities. However, there has long been a Jewish population spread across the South and in rural areas. Guests: Kenneth Hoffman, executive director of the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience and Morris Mintz, a founding board member of the museum.


A Plantation and a Briar Patch – Stories from a Place Called “Laura” Bre’r Rabbit was a trickster who loved to defy authority and who pulled his stunts throughout the South. He is known for finding seclusion in briar patches but in Louisiana, his spiritual home was Laura Plantation where former slaves told stories that traced back to their West African roots. Guest: Norman Marmillion, a co-owner of Laura Plantation.

EDITORIAL EXECUTIVE EDITOR Errol Laborde MANAGING EDITOR Melanie Warner Spencer ASSOCIATE EDITOR Ashley McLellan COPY EDITOR Liz Clearman WEB EDITOR Kelly Massicot FOOD EDITOR Stanley Dry HOME EDITOR Lee Cutrone ART DIRECTOR Sarah George LEAD PHOTOGRAPHER Danley Romero SALES SALES MANAGER Rebecca Taylor (337) 298-4424 / (337) 235-7919 Ext. 230 Rebecca@LouisianaLife.com


110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123 Metairie, LA 70005 (504) 828-1380 128 Demanade, Suite 104 Lafayette, LA 70503 (337) 235-7919 xt 230 LouisianaLife.com Louisiana Life (ISSN 1042-9980) is published bimonthly by Renaissance Publishing, LLC, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005; (504) 828-1380. Subscription rate: One year $10; Mexico and Canada $48. Periodicals postage paid at Metairie, LA, and additional mailing entry offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Louisiana Life, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005. Copyright 2021 Louisiana Life. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the consent of the publisher. The trademark Louisiana Life is registered. Louisiana Life is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photos and artwork, even if accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope. The opinions expressed in Louisiana Life are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the magazine or owner.




Sara Essex Bradley Sara Essex Bradley is a freelance photographer based in New Orleans. She shoots interiors, travel and food for a variety of editorial and commercial clients, in Louisiana and beyond. She has been a contributor to Renaissance Publishing’s various magazines for 20 plus years. When not shooting or traveling, Bradley enjoys exploring her city by foot, and evenings spent on the front porch with her husband.


Ashley McLellan

Stanley Dry



Ashley McLellan is the editor of New Orleans Magazine, associate editor of Louisiana Life and a contributor to Biz New Orleans Magazine. McLellan has won multiple awards during her more than 20-year career. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Pontypridd in Wales and also holds a Diplôme de Sabreur from the Confrerie du Sabre d’Or, and will saber a bottle of Champagne in exchange for a glass of bubbly.

Stanley Dry writes the “Kitchen Gourmet” column for Louisiana Life magazine and is author of "The Essential Louisiana Cookbook" and "The Essential Louisiana Seafood Cookbook" and co-author of "Gulf South." Formerly senior editor of Food & Wine and founding editor of Louisiana Cookin’ magzine, his articles have appeared in Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure, The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, Boston Magazine and Acadiana Profile, among others.

Danley Romero

Eugenia Uhl



A native of Lafayette currently residing in the Lake Charles area, Danley Romero specializes in portrait photography. Romero considers it an honor to contribute to his state’s flagship magazine, Louisiana Life, and takes a particular sense of pride in his association with its sister publication Acadiana Profile. Most gratifying are the experiences that collaborating with the two magazines afford: meeting and photographing many of Louisiana’s most talented, accomplished and interesting citizens — the people who help to make our state the wonder it is.

Eugenia Uhl is a photographer and a native New Orleanian. Her photographs have been featured in New Orleans Magazine, New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles, Southern Accents, Metropolitan Home, GQ Magazine, Essence, Travel & Leisure and Vegetarian Times. Her clients include Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, International House Hotel, Volunteers of America, Galatoire’s and Tulane University. She has completed multiple cookbooks, including "Commander’s Kitchen" for Commander’s Palace and "New Orleans Home Cooking" by Dale Curry, Pelican Publishing.


REBECCA TAYLOR Sales Manager (337) 298-4424 (337) 235-7919 Ext. 230 Rebecca@LouisianaLife.com

Coming up!


Nouvelle Louisiana


Visit Mississippi



Drago’s Sizzling Sixth An oyster hotspot opens in Lake Charles BY LISA LEBLANC-BERRY


NEW VAMPIRE IN TOWN AMC’s upcoming Anne Rice TV adaptation of "Interview with the Vampire" is scheduled to begin New Orleans preproduction for the new eight-episode drama in July. Production begins in November and it wraps in April 2022. Character Daniel Molloy returns as an aging journalist and online professor during COVID-19. He chances an interview with 146-year-old (former brothel owner) vampire Louis de Pointe Du Lac, described in casting calls as “Creole, beautiful, with eyes of brilliant green” (annerice.com).

Of Wild Geese and Gumbo Good news for gumbo fans: The 2021-22 migratory bird hunting seasons and quotas have been announced. This year, Louisiana hunters may take five Canadian geese in their daily bag limit of dark geese for the entire season. The previous daily bag limit was just three Canadian geese. More geese, more gumbo (wlf.louisiana.gov). GRAND ISLE, MADISONVILLE

Following the Flow The Smithsonian’s traveling Water/Ways interactive exhibit continues July 10-Aug. 21 in Grand Isle and Aug. 28-Oct. 9 at Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum, showcasing how water has shaped our history and affects lives. A division of Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street educational initiative for rural audiences (museumonmainstreet.org) BOSSIER/SHREVEPORT

Searching for Talent





n the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, Drago’s owner Tommy Cvitanovich (pioneer of the charbroiled oyster) and his team served over 5,000 plates of free shrimp pasta in L’Auberge Casino Resort’s parking lot, consequently partnering with L’Auberge to prepare daily meals for crews, which lasted until Thanksgiving. Now, diners can enjoy those sizzling chargrilled oysters and seafood specialties at Drago’s sixth location, opening this summer inside L’Auberge (dragosrestaurant.com).

The Bossier Arts Council is looking for local artists to fill gallery spaces (East Bank Gallery and the Emerging Artist Gallery). Accepted artists will get a twomonth show and be marketed to thousands of potential patrons. Deadline for submission is Sept. 1, 2021 (bossierarts.org for a submission form or contact Michael Byrnes, community development coordinator (michael@bossierarts.org).



Summer Study Staying inside during the hottest months will be a lot more interesting with these selections BY ASHLEY MCLELLAN


Revival Season BY MONICA WEST

Miriam Horton spent the first 15 years of her life on summer tours of the Deep South with her family, led by her evangelical father. She witnesses revival tents filled with believers looking for healing both of the body and mind. When a violent event shakes Miriam’s belief in her faith and her father, she returns confused and stunned. Adding to the confusion, Miriam is beginning to show signs of her own healing powers, a talent she had been taught to believe was only available in men. Miriam must decide her path, both as a church member and as a young woman, while navigating the delicate relationship with her father and her family. Simon & Schuster, 304 pages, hardcover, $26.


Jean Laffite Revealed: Unraveling One of America’s Longest-Running Mysteries BY ASHLEY OLIPHANT AND BETH YARBROUGH

Hero or villain? “Jean Laffite Revealed” digs into the truth behind one of the most colorful characters in Louisiana history. From his time as a privateer and a smuggler to his historic participation in the Battle of New Orleans to his ultimate disappearance, the mother-daughter research team Oliphant and Yarbrough dig deep to discover the truth of the man behind the myths and legends. Dr. Oliphant is an associate profession of English at Pfeiffer University, and Yarbrough is a successful, published artist and photographer. ULL Press, 332 pages, paperback, $20.


Cocktail Dive Bar: Real Drinks, Fake History & Questionable Advice from New Orleans’ Twelve Mile Limit BY T. COLE NEWTON

T. Cole Newton, owner of the classic New Orleans watering hole Twelve Mile Limit, presents this morethan-just-another-cocktail book. It has a guide to classic or soon-to-be classic cocktail creations and features cheeky essays, drink histories, an industry guide and more. Cole brings his years of experience, as well as his current endeavor, Twelve Mile Limit, to his roster of drinks and infusions, with recipes featuring detailed ingredient lists, tips and tricks for the mixologist or craft cocktail enthusiast. It’s the kind of colorful advice and lively stories you get when you belly up to the bar with your favorite neighborhood bartender. Running Press Adult, 256 pages, hardcover, $25.



Chapel of Love: The Story of New Orleans Girl Group the Dixie Cups BY ROSA HAWKINS AND STEVE BERGSMAN

With hits like “Chapel of Love” and the Carnival favorite “Iko Iko,” the Dixie Cups became American pop legends. But behind the music, the New Orleans girl group, made up of sisters Barbara Ann and Rosa Hawkins and their cousin Joan Marie Johnson, fought for equality both in their careers and across the segregated South. In “Chapel of Love,” Rosa Hawkins, along with music journalist Steve Bergsman, tells the inside story of how the three young women navigated abuse, exploitation and musical success. Press of Mississippi 192 pages, hardcover, $25.




Surface Safari Baton Rouge designer Hope Johnson redefines ‘homebody’ BY JEFFREY ROEDEL PHOTOS BY ROMERO & ROMERO




onnecting her bedroom to her sister’s and to the den, the triangular fireplace in the middle of the old 1910s home designer Hope Johnson grew up in provided not only ample opportunity for post-bedtime whispers — “mostly, I think I just annoyed her,” Johnson recalls of keeping her little sister up at night — it also became a boundless source of inspiration for the burgeoning fabric and wallpaper illustrator who meticulously rearranged her room at age 6. “Looking back on it, that was so weird,” Johnson says. When her parents renovated that home, some boards above the fireplace on the living room side were stripped off and beneath that first layer of skin, the home revealed a heart of lively vintage half drop patterned wallpaper. It was dark but floral. Feminine but masculine. And it was unforgettable. With her new line of wallpapers, the textile designer is chasing the first feeling of finding sunken-treasure wallpaper as a child.

“I want mine to have this modern twist but feel nostalgic and comfortable,” Johnson says. “Just like something you’d find when ripping out the sheetrock in an old home.” Now 32, the designer lands a phonebook-thick stack of sketches, samples and mood boards down on the table with a gentle thud. Samples of her new wallpaper line are set to arrive from the Connecticut manufacturer next week, and she’s buoyant with optimism. What’s lived mostly on Instagram will soon be in people’s homes. “I’m sorry, I must have gotten some muffin on this page, or my kids’ fingerprints, maybe,” Johnson says, excusing a smudge near the selvedge of a pattern called Forest Friends, a wallpaper made with linoleum block prints of animals she made with her children, each


When you’re not creating, what do you enjoy doing in Louisiana? How do you like to relax? Lots of baseball games and gymnastics with the kids for sure. We do day trips in St. Francisville and just love to go on long drives where there’s no red lights. We have a camp south of Houma and spend a lot of summer time there. Being near the water is so relaxing to me.

captioned by the graceful handwriting of her grandmother who brought her to garage sales on many weekends in her youth. Other patterns are called Roadside Picks, Forage and Vintage Laurel, each is slightly reminiscent of British textile legend William Morris, or the kind of whimsically detailed patterns found in the background of a Wes Anderson movie. Most are rendered in muted hunter green or mustard, shades of brown and the kind of deep grays that recall fresh sun-kissed soil, or the welcome shadows that stretch across the floor on a warm Sunday afternoon; all colors that the LSU printmaking alumna says bring calm to her often-bustling home. “I’m not really a primary colors kind of girl,” Johnson says. “I love how Hope is inspired by vintage and antique design, but finds her own ways to make it modern,” says artist and photographer TahJah Harmony. “Her pattern work is so timeless it could work in a grandmother’s dining room or a child’s bedroom.” From her countryside abode on eight acres northeast of Baton Rouge, Johnson works out of her spacious studio alongside her three young children and Marlin, the 2,000-pound letterpress named after tiny Marlin, Texas, where she and her husband Michael bought it and hauled it home by trailer. What someone puts on her wall is a big commitment, but Johnson aims to demystify the process. “I think you have to know yourself and how your environment affects you, more than anything,” she says. “I want people to look at wallpaper or color and ask ‘How does this make me feel?’”


To help homeowners navigate common design decisions, Johnson created a digital mini book called "The Habits of Being a Homebody." The volume is not a technical manual filled with architectural nomenclature, but instead a lived-in dialogue centered on valuing wellness and how a home can support — or detract from — personal wellbeing. “The term ‘homebody’ gets twisted,” Johnson says. “People have different definitions of comfort. For me, comfort is function. With kids, you have to evolve your home. It needs to be a staging ground for functionality, activity and life as it goes on.” Coloring the walls of family homes are fitting destinies for illustrations and patterns Johnson hand drew while sitting next to her own children, or on long visits with her antiques-gathering grandmother. The designs are less the result of frenetic studio time, and more borne of the quiet and warm, sometimes messy, moments of quality time with those she loves most. They reveal that family and life and the adventure of creating are all woven together, as tangible a knot as the lines of her Foraged wallpaper or a child’s fingerprints on her Forest Friends mood board. For Johnson, there’s always a story worth telling, and even walls can talk. “It’s a generational experience I feel when I look at it,” Johnson says. “It’s about passing down stories and creativity and memories of family together, and when people choose this wallpaper for their home, I hope they feel that, too, that it connects.” n

What’s something you weren’t sure would work but turned out great? I have a contract with Cotton + Steel Fabrics, and one time my daughter Isla had a drawing she’d done — we have a lot of rainbow drawings around the house sometimes — and I almost threw it out because we had so much of the kids’ artwork, but I saved it, and it ended up inspiring a new collection for Cotton + Steel. I called it Dear Isla for her. So, think twice before tossing something. Do you consider your work Louisianainspired? I think so. We have fished our entire lives, so a lot of my work has the vibe of a Louisiana lake house, very summery. I have this shrimp boat drawing I’ve kept for a long time, but still waiting to use that for something. I’m always inspired by good architecture, and I used to draw all the venues I saw while in the wedding industry. I have lots of New Orleans architectural drawings, and maybe that’ll become something in the future.



Art Out of Chaos Central Louisiana artist Kathryn Keller processes both the beauty and the pain of life through her paintings BY JOHN R. KEMP


hutdowns, quarantines, masks, vaccines, hope. While Louisianians and the world deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, artist Kathryn Keller is in the right place — the peace and solitude of her family-owned Inglewood Farm located south of Alexandria in the heart of rural Central Louisiana.


There, childhood memories and the beauty of the land have given her peace and inspired her art. She has found solace painting among the leafless pecan groves and in the vacant rooms of the old family home. Unfortunately, that peace was broken last August when Hurricane Laura ripped across Louisiana, leaving chaos in its broad path. Even then, she took to her sketchbooks, watercolors and oil paints to deal with the destruction. Returning to Inglewood, which has been in her family since 1927, culminated a long journey that had taken her from Arkansas, where she was born in 1952, to New York where her father attended an Episcopal seminary, then to Mississippi, back to Arkansas, again to New York with her first husband artist Randall Timmons, and finally to New Orleans. Along the way, she earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art and English at

(below) “Aftermath of Hurricane Laura” (right) “Risoluto”



Raine Bedsole: Water and Dreams A New Orleans artist’s fascination with the region’s boat culture and how it connects people, through Dec. 3. Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, Lafayette. hilliardmuseum.org CENTRAL

34th September Competition Alexandria Museum of Art. The museum's annual art competition, through Oct. 23. themuseum.org PLANTATION

Collection Spotlight: Recent Acquisitions by Black Artists Features the museum’s new permanent collection of works by Black artists, through Sept. 26. LSU Museum of Art, Baton Rouge. lsumoa.org NOLA

Orientalism: Taking and Making Exhibition traces racism, oppression, and superficial cultural understanding in 19thcentury art, through January 2022. New Orleans Museum of Art. noma.org NORTH

“Clyde Connell and Pat Sewell.” Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee, and later studied art at the Arkansas Arts Center, the Art Students League of New York and the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts. Then came Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Shortly after the storm, Keller and her husband Scott Anderson left New Orleans and retreated to their new home at Inglewood, proving Thomas Wolfe is sometimes wrong — you can go home again. Since

her aging mother still lived in the main house, built sometime prior to the Civil War, Kathryn and Scott purchased an abandoned Antebellum, center-hall cottage and wood-frame grocery store they found and long admired in nearby Bunkie. They had both buildings moved to the farm. The old house is now their home and the store, her studio. “I wanted to paint landscapes and my mother was getting older,” said Keller. “The family drew

Artwork by acclaimed North Louisiana artists Clyde Connell and Pat Sewell, through December. Louisiana State Exhibit Museum, Shreveport. laexhibitmuseum.org *Check museums for Covid-19 schedules.


have profound influences in how she interprets the scene. But light and shadow, she says, are not the most important elements in her work. She is more interested in how the afternoon light defines the architectural structure of the pecan trees she loves to paint. When asked if she feels the presence of her family’s history on the farm when she paints, at first she said she didn’t but then quickly corrected herself. “I don’t think it affects me,” she said, “but that’s not true. There’s one cabin on the place that we believe was a slave cabin. At one time I would go inside and paint inside looking out the door. I certainly felt the past and what their lives were like. We call it a farm now

a familiar fragrance or the nuances of light can

but it was a plantation. You can’t live on a plantation without feeling the pain of the past. Yes, history is present.” In her series “Interiors,” rooms are often empty yet full of life with the warm glow of sunlight. In one painting for instance, a cello rests against a grand piano; a violin lies atop the piano’s soundboard. No one is present yet the instruments wait. Music seems to linger in the room and in the artist’s memories. Painting landscapes, portraits and interior roomscapes, Keller says, is her way of responding to the world around her. “It gives me a place to handle emotions, though I’m sure I’m not aware of that when I’m painting,” she says. “It can give me deep joy when I capture something and find it beautiful. I feel exhilarated. It helps me understand things better. It helps me feel less at sea in the world. It gives me grounding.” Keller’s visual responses to her world are finding their way into a growing list of art shows across the nation and art museums, including the Alexandria Museum of Art, The Historic New Orleans Collection, Masur Museum of Art in Monroe, the Meadows Museum of Art in Shreveport, the Zigler Art Museum in Jennings and several outside Louisiana. Aside from that growing success, Inglewood remains a “constant place” in her life and now her art. n



(top) “Inglewood House” (left) “Native Pecans” (bottom) Kathryn Keller

me back and the place drew me back. I was painting landscapes in New Orleans, but it was really hard to find a place that was private and not feel you are on display. I felt so exposed.” Like many landscape painters, Keller paints with watercolors and oils from life on location or, “en plein air” as the French say, where a breeze in the treetops,



A Return to Roots Mimi and Matt Voelkel’s Classic Georgian in Tchefuncta Estates BY LEE CUTRONE PHOTOS BY SARA ESSEX BRADLEY


n age-old proverb says that the shoemaker’s children go barefoot. In other words, the shoemaker is often too busy to take care of things at home. Yet, in their 30 years on the North Shore, designer Matt Voelkel of architecture and design firm studioMV and his wife Mimi have managed to create a succession of lovely homes of their own. The fourth and most recent, which the empty nesters designed and built in Tchefuncta Club Estates, is a classic Georgian with modern details and touches of Louisiana vernacular, all conceived to live harmoniously with their blend of antiques and modern designs, and to welcome children, grandchildren and out-of-town guests. “It has a classic five-bay rhythm of windows, northsouth-east-west axis, a front door that that leads straight through the house,” says Matt, who was raised in a Georgian house in New Orleans and this time wanted to return to his roots. “It’s a very pure house, but as traditional as it is, once you get to the back of the house, there is a wall that is all black steel and glass. The back gets its own personality.” While symmetry, high ceilings, crown moldings, and formal living and dining spaces on either side of the center hall are part of the Georgian framework, there is a simplified aesthetic: a pared-down rectangular frame instead of a more prominent pediment above the front door, extra-large casement openings instead of doors between the main living spaces, minimalist built-in cabinets, counters and hardware in the kitchen, pantry and baths. At the same time, a structural brick wall

(left) An antique desk from a ship’s library sits next to the paneled stairwell. (above) Visual Comfort milk glass fixtures hang above the kitchen island. (right) Gracie Voelkel; in the background, a dining table with a carved stone base is combined with a bamboo “birdcage chandelier” by Currey & Company and Palecek chairs.




(below) The terrace furniture is from Summer Classics Havana collection. (right) The soothing shade of the master bedroom is Benjamin Moore’s Sandy Hook Gray; Visual Comfort chandelier; painting above bed by Matt. Leather and steel bench by Cisco Brothers. (facing page) A Ralph Lauren iron chandelier hangs above a pair of velvet sofas in the family room. Custom V-groove panels designed by Matt hide the TV. Palecek rattan chairs.

running east-west through the house, louvered privacy shutters between the dining room and main living area, and a “pecan”-colored floor stain add a subtle nod to Louisiana’s architectural heritage, grounding the ample five-bedroom/four-and-a-half bath house in its woodsy southern surroundings. The transitional interior includes English Chippendale chairs, a French trumeau, a library desk from a ship and a slender corner cabinet all handed down from Matt’s family, as well as contemporary designs, many from the couple’s previous homes and a few purchased specifically for this house. One of the most unusual is a bamboo birdcage pendant fixture hanging above the dining table. Having tired of designing all-white kitchens in recent years, Matt found fresh inspiration for this kitchen in the black steel of the windows and combined bold black cabinets with gleaming white surfaces — subway tiles, white marble counters and Italian milk glass light fixtures.


A covered brick terrace overlooking a 10-foot by 48-foot lap pool across the rear of the house and a nearby patio grill, dining area and fireplace are casual enough for relaxing and polished enough for entertaining. The Voelkels added a hint of old Hollywood Hills glamour to the terrace with awning stripe curtains and purposely left a border of pine and white oak trees as a natural buffer between the house and the golf course that abuts the property. “So much of the house is white, I like the contrast of the black awning stripe with the white,” says Mimi, who suggested the stripe as well as the dining room’s shutters and the couple’s roomy his and hers closets. "I also like the black and white outside against all the green. It adds elegance to poolside entertaining.” For the most part however, Mimi, currently pursuing a Master of Health Science to begin a new career as a licensed professional counselor, leaves the majority of the design decisions to Matt. “It’s different when you are able to trust somebody to do a house,” says Mimi. “I have the assurance of knowing that each house is going to be something special.” n



Matt Voelkel, studioMV.


5,000 main living, plus additional outdoor living areas. OUTSTANDING FEATURES

Rift European oak ceilings, steel lintels and reclaimed brick painted walls, Quaker steel doors and window system, custom cabinets, custom paneled millwork to conceal TV.



TIP If your grill doesn’t have large spaces between the bars, you can cook the okra directly on the grill without fear of it falling into the fire. Otherwise, use a finer-meshed grill tray or basket on top of the grill. Another option is to insert two skewers into the okra.

Love or Leave Okra might just be the most divisive vegetable in the South, but if you love it here are some recipes to try BY STANLEY DRY PHOTOS AND STYLING BY EUGENIA UHL



ring up the subject of okra, and you might as well be talking politics. There is no middle ground. You either love okra or you hate it. The haters usually cite okra’s mucilaginous texture as the reason, but they use the word “slimy” to describe it, which is prima facie evidence of prejudice. Here in Louisiana, okra is forever associated with gumbo, where it is magical, but okra, a native of Africa and a member of the mallow family (along with hibiscus), can be prepared in many other ways and is a mainstay of southern cooking. Okra is not as popular in other parts of the country, to say the least, but it is loved in Africa, the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Greece and the Caribbean.

GRILLED OKR A 1 pound whole okra pods extra virgin olive oil coarse salt COAT okra with olive oil

and cook on a hot grill, turning it as needed, until okra is softened and browned all over. Season with salt. Makes 4 or more servings.

Okra has an affinity for tomatoes, onions and garlic and is frequently combined with them in gumbos, stews and the like, often with shrimp or chicken. Okra is also delicious with pork, sausage or lamb. Rice is a traditional accompaniment in Louisiana, but dishes combining okra, tomatoes and potatoes can be delicious. Fried okra often appeals to those who dislike it prepared any other way. Sometimes okra is coated in a batter and deep fried, but it is far better dredged in cornmeal and pan fried. I once had an appetizer of both okra and sliced green tomatoes prepared that way, and it was an inspired combination that would probably make a delicious po’boy. Most okra recipes call for sliced okra, but sometimes the whole pod is used. One of those preparations involves steaming whole okra on top of field peas. Now that’s a southern dish that cries out for cornbread. For a very quick and delicious snack, steam small okra pods for a few minutes and eat them sprinkled with vinegar and salt. One of the recipes this month is for a shrimp, crab and okra gumbo that can be made in under an hour. The dried ground shrimp are not essential, but they add a lot of flavor. If you want to turn the recipe for smothered okra into a meal, add some smoked sausage. If you have leftover pork from another meal, you can substitute it for the pork stew meat called for in the recipe for pork stewed with okra and tomatoes. The homestyle okra and the grilled okra are two simple and tasty preparations. n

SMOTHERED OKR A ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 1 medium onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 pound okra, topped, tailed and sliced 1 pound tomatoes, chopped 1 cup chicken broth Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste hot sauce to taste steamed rice and cornbread COO K onions and garlic in

olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add okra, tomatoes and chicken broth. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until okra is tender, about 30-40 minutes. SE A SON to taste with salt, pepper

and hot sauce. Serve with steamed rice and cornbread. Makes 4 servings.

PORK STEWED WITH OKR A AND TOMATOES 1 pound boneless pork stew meat coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 medium onion, chopped 4 cloves garlic, chopped 1½ pounds okra, topped, tailed and sliced 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice 1 cup chicken stock hot sauce steamed rice SE A SON pork with salt and

pepper. Add olive oil to a heavy casserole or dutch oven over medium heat. Add pork and brown on both sides. Add onion and garlic and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes, chicken stock and okra. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until pork is cooked through and okra is tender, about 45 minutes. SE A SON with hot sauce and

additional salt and pepper. Serve over steamed rice. Makes 4 servings.

SHRIMP, CR AB AND OKR A GUMBO 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 large onion, chopped 1 large bell pepper, seeded and chopped 3 cups chicken or seafood stock 1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes 1 pound okra, topped, tailed and sliced 1 tablespoon dried ground shrimp 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp 1 pound crab claws hot sauce to taste coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste ¼ cup chopped green onion tops ¼ cup chopped parsley steamed rice COO K onion and bell pepper in oil

until softened, about 5 minutes. Add stock, tomatoes, okra and dried ground shrimp. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until okra is tender, about 30-40 minutes. A DD shrimp and crab claws,

season with hot sauce, salt and pepper and simmer until shrimp turn pink, about 5 minutes. Add green onion tops and parsley. Serve with steamed rice. Makes 4 servings.

HOMEST YLE OKR A ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 pound okra, topped, tailed and sliced 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced ¼ cup stone ground cornmeal coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper cayenne pepper HE AT oil in large skillet, add

okra and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally. As okra begins to brown, add garlic and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until okra is browned. A DD cornmeal and cook, while

stirring, to toast cornmeal. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and cayenne. Makes 4 servings.





It has never been so easy to staycation with sophistication and style in the Pelican State


othing like a pandemic to put the brakes on long-distance travel. But, here’s the good news. Louisiana remains a prime destination meaning staying home equals excellent travel opportunities. ¶ We’re not talking shabby vacations either. Cities across the Bayou State offer boutique, historic and uniquely styled hotels, decadent ways to relax and rejuvenate and distinctive attractions, many of which cannot be found anywhere else. ¶ So, what are you waiting for?

There are so many new hotels to visit in the Crescent City, in addition to the boutique and historic hotels already gracing its neighborhoods. It’s tough to pick just one as the home place for a relaxing staycation. The best course (clockwise from top of action is to narrow your left) Maison de la Luz; French Quarter intentions and determine carriage ride; the part of town you wish Sazerac House; to explore. Hotel Peter & Paul For those who prefer elegance and serenity, the 67 guest rooms and suites at the Maison de la Luz on Carondelet might be the ticket. Cherish the exquisite antique elevators and original City Hall Annex banister, part of the hotel’s past history. Enjoy an opulent breakfast in the Guest House and craft cocktails and small plates at Bar Marilou, housed in the former City Hall’s historic library and accessible through a public side door or the secret guest-only entrance. Priority reservations may also be made from the hotel for dining at Josephine Estelle, helmed by James Beard Award nominated chefs Michael Hudman and Andy Ticer or Seaworthy, featuring seafood and craft cocktails in an 1832 Creole cottage. To thoroughly enjoy the French Quarter, park the car and plant yourself in a cool space. Everything within the Vieux Carré and much of its surrounding neighborhoods, such as Bywater and the Marigny, is walkable. The ONE11 is the first hotel to open in the Quarter in 50 years, taking over a 19th-century sugar warehouse on Iberville Street close to the river. It’s a fine marriage of old-style design elements with modern amenities and close to most Quarter attractions. Hotel Peter & Paul is another unique restoration, this time a former Bywater Catholic church, rectory, convent and school. No two guest rooms are alike and, in addition to drinks and dining in The Elysian Bar, there’s small-batch ice cream served at Sundae Best. There’s so much to enjoy downtown, including the spirited Sazerac House on Canal, the Art Market on Frenchmen Street and a tour on wheels with the Creole & Crescent Bike Tour. For a touch of romance and nostalgia, hop on a classic carriage ride through the Quarter at sunset. History and art lovers may prefer a stay at the Higgins Hotel, part of the National WWII Museum complex, allowing visitors easy proximity to the military museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Contemporary Arts Center and August’s White Linen Night along Julia Street.




LO U I S I A N A L I F E J U LY | A U G 2 0 2 1

If you’re lucky, the affable and obliging Bill Facey will greet you upon your entrance into the elegant Watermark Hotel. Facey serves as the hotel’s bell captain, but around downtown Baton Rouge he’s known as the “Mayor of Third Street.” Facey’s happy to elucidate the wonders of the hotel, a 1927 Art Deco building that served as the headquarters for the

There’s so much more to explore in this unique hotel including original artwork, such as the bank founders outside the Founders’ Room, each comical portrait containing a modern item. But visitors looking for romance may want to start with champagne and strawberries in their room or suite, then follow up with cocktails and fine dining in The Gregory. Since the hotel is located in the heart of downtown, it’s an easy walk to the Shaw Center for the Arts with its LSU Museum of Art, the Manship Theatre for live music, theatrical performances and special film showings, and the rooftop Tsunami Restaurant, the perfect spot for watching the sun set over the Mississippi River. If rejuvenation is needed, visit the art-centric Healthcare Gallery and Wellness Spa. Guests (facing page) Acadian who visit for a variety of Center for the Arts massages and skin care (left) Bill Facey at the treatments may enjoy Watermark Hotel (right) Louisiana Trust and Watermark Hotel walls of artwork, with Savings Bank, then a state sales proceeds heading office building in the heart straight to the artists. The holistic spa of the Third Street Business District. After hours are weekdays only. a loving restoration, the historic building now offers exquisite guest rooms, a conferSHREVEPORT ence room that contains the bank’s original Arrive at the Remington Suite Hotel & safe, fitness center with a boxing bag and dining options that include The Gregory, Spa in downtown Shreveport in time for happy hour, and slip into one of the named for artist Angela Gregory of New comfortable leather chairs in the lobby Orleans, whose murals adorn the walls.


African and African American diaspora with unique art pieces from West Africa. The R.W. Norton Art Gallery is a more traditional museum of art with landscaped grounds and walking trails.


Lake Charles has the distinction of being home to three upscale casinos — and two of the premier properties are located next to each other. Each offer luxury accommodations, (top) The Logan exquisite amenities such Mansion (bottom) as fine dining and spas, Crying Eagle Brewery (facing fabulous pool campuses page) Remington with cabanas and swim-up Suite Hotel & Spa bars for those hot summer days and, of course, a wide variety of gaming options. lounge for a specialty cocktail. Then head The only problem is which one to up to the Grand Suite with its spiral choose. staircase leading to the second-floor “When it comes to our side-by-side bedroom. This pet-friendly boutique hotel resorts, I’d say that you can’t go wrong includes a spa and beauty bar and compli- with either L’Auberge Casino Resort or mentary breakfast, and if you choose the Golden Nugget because they are each romance package the stay comes with within walking distance, so you can easily gourmet chocolates, rose petals leading get the best of both worlds,” said Kathryn to the bedroom and the use of hotel robes. Shea Duncan, media and public relations Craft cocktail lovers may want to walk manager for Visit Lake Charles. the three blocks to Fatty Arbuckle's, one of the city’s oldest standing lounges and named one of the “Best Bourbon Bars in the World” by gobourbon.com. Next door is Fat’s Oyster House if you’re hungry. “They [Fat’s] have a gator cheesecake that is to die for,” said Shalisa Roland, public relations and digital content manager for the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau, who regularly writes about the region’s foodways. “If you’re grabbing a drink at Fatty’s, you can still order food from Fat’s without ever leaving your seat.” The Logan Mansion, known for its spirited past (we’re talking ghost stories), now offers a Prohibition Club, a modern speakeasy that requires a password to enter as well as a $25 day pass or $200 monthly fee if you wish to be a member. The Mansion also serves as an Airbnb for those who want to fully enjoy the Queen Anne architecture, enveloping porch or a ghost or two. If art’s your speed, don’t miss the city’s many — and varied — art experiences. More an art center than gallery, artspace hosts exhibits and events featuring numerous Louisiana artists. Southern University Museum of Art focuses on the art and culture of the




LO U I S I A N A L I F E J U LY | A U G 2 0 2 1

Lake Charles serves as the heart of Sportsman’s Paradise, surrounded by lakes, bayous and the Creole Nature Trail. Grosse Savanne outside Bell City can bring visitors into nature at its finest with its guided fishing and hunting packages. Visitors can utilize the 50,000 private acres and three lakes at Grosse Savanne or let guides take them on to Calcasieu Lake. Grosse Savanne provides transportation to and from fishing-hunting sites, fish and duck processing and anything visitors may have left at home. They sell ammunition for hunting as well. Once back in town, enjoy a cold beer at Crying Eagle Brewing Company, and maybe sign up for a brewery tour, then clean up for fine dining at La Truffe Sauvage or Ember Grille at L’Auberge or one of two steakhouses at Golden Nugget. In the morning, enjoy a late breakfast and relax by the decadent pool.

Shop for innovative men’s and women’s wear, plus fun gift items, at Genterie Supply Co. on Jefferson Street or head over to Parish Ink for locally designed T-shirts, home décor and those masks for those who still need to don one. Rock'n'Bowl's second location in Lafayette offers live performances, food and (facing page) drinks in addition to their Vestal (left) unique bowling experience. Acadiana Center Downtown restaufor the Arts (right) L'Auberge Casino rants making waves are numerous, so guests may choose from Pop’s Poboys, CENTRAL Pizza & Bar or Spoonbill Watering Hole & Restaurant for craft cocktails and unique twists on Gulf Coast cuisine. New to town is Vestal, owned LAFAYETTE and helmed by award-winning Lafayette Downtown Lafayette is hopping these chef Ryan Trahan. days, with new retail, restaurants and “It’s a very hip urban restaurant that additional residential opportunities. Lafayette never had,” Oliver said of And every second Saturday ArtWalk Vestal. “It’s very very chic.” dominates, with gallery openings, live This summer the ACA brings the music and more. Billy Childs Quartet to town on July 6, “The past two months have been followed by Jim Lauderdale with singinsane,” said Samuel Oliver, executive er-songwriter Sara Douga on Louisiana director of the Acadiana Center for Crossroads hosted by Lafayette’s the Arts (ACA), which participates in own musical artist Roddie Romero. ArtWalk. “It’s like a festival downtown.” Lauderdale met Douga when she received The Juliet boutique hotel and a scholarship to Lafayette’s South Buchanan Lofts both offer unique Louisiana Songwriters Festival and accommodations in the heart of the Workshop (SOLO); she’s since gone on to city, but there’s also Flower Streets Nashville where she’s producing albums. Cottage through Airbnb where guests “He [Lauderdale] was a big part of her can enjoy a a renovated cottage in the making it,” Oliver said. “And they’re going historic Saint Streets District, well to do a show together of stories and songs. within walking distance of downtown And it will be a coming home for her.” action, plus a stay includes use of two So, here comes the hard part. Which bicycles. to choose?


THERE IS ONE MAJOR SOURCE that provides credible ongoing analysis of hospitals: Medicare, which — as the federal health insurance program for people 65 and older, as well as certain younger people with disabilities — often provides funding for many of the big bills. As part of its informational services, medicare.gov reports on evaluations of hospitals based on queries of patients. The Louisiana Life editorial staff sifts through the data every year in order to create a one-of-a-kind list demonstrating the state’s hospitals according to locality. To qualify for this list, at least 60 percent of the patients queried had to give the hospital a top overall ranking of 9 or 10. These are the top general service hospitals as seen through the eyes of those who have experienced them firsthand — the patients. Note, however, that several hospitals in the state did not have any information available on Medicare’s website and therefore could not qualify to be on the list.





Abbeville General Hospital 118 N. Hospital Drive (337) 893-5466

Avala 67252 Industry Lane (985) 809-9888

Cypress Pointe Surgical Hospital 42570 S. Airport Road (985) 630-9407

ALEX ANDRIA Central Louisiana Surgical Hospital 651 N. Bolton Ave. (318) 443-3511 CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital 3330 Masonic Drive (318) 487-1122 Rapides Regional Medical Center 211 Fourth St. (318) 769-3000

BATON ROUGE Baton Rouge General Mid City 3600 Florida Blvd., (225) 387-7000 Ochsner Medical Center – Baton Rouge 17000 Medical Center Drive (225) 752-2470 Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center 5000 Hennessy Blvd. (225) 765-6565 Surgical Specialty Center of Baton Rouge 8080 Bluebonnet Blvd. (225) 408-8080

St. Tammany Parish Hospital 1202 S. Tyler St. (985) 898-4000

COLUMBIA Caldwell Memorial Hospital 411 Main St. (318) 649-6111

Claiborne Memorial Medical Center 620 E. College St. (318) 927-2024



Ochsner Acadia General Hospital 1305 Crowley Rayne Hwy. (337) 783-3222

CUT OFF Lady of the Sea General Hospital 200 W. 134th Place (985) 632-6401

DELHI Richland Parish Hospital 407 Cincinnati St. (318) 878-5171

DERIDDER Beauregard Memorial Hospital 600 S. Pine St. (337) 462-7100

Womans Hospital 100 Woman’s Way (225) 927-1300


Our Lady of the Angels Hospital 433 Plaza St. (985) 730-6700


Citizens Medical Center 7939 U.S. Hwy. 165 (318) 649-6106

The Spine Hospital of Louisiana 10105 Park Row Circle (225) 763-9900


North Oaks Medical Center, LLC 15790 Paul Vega MD Drive (985) 345-2700

Bayne-Jones ACH 1585 Third St. (337) 531-3118


Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center 1978 Industrial Blvd. (985) 873-2200 Physicians Medical Center 218 Corporate Drive (985) 853-1390 Terrebonne General Medical Center 8166 Main St. (985) 873-4141

INDEPENDENCE Lallie Kemp Medical Center 52579 Hwy. 51 S. (985) 878-9421

JEFFERSON Ochsner Medical Clinic Jefferson Highway 1516 Jefferson Hwy. (504) 842-3000


Union General Hospital 901 James Ave. (318) 368-9751

LaSalle General Hospital 187 Ninth St. (318) 992-9200



Franklin Foundation Hospital 1097 Northwest Blvd. (337) 828-0760

Jennings American Legion Hospital 1634 Elton Road (337) 616-7000

BRE AUX BRIDGE Ochsner St. Martin Hospital 210 Champagne Blvd. (337) 332-2178

CHALMETTE St. Bernard Parish Hospital 8000 W. Judge Perez Drive (504) 826-9500

FR ANKLINTON Riverside Medical Center 1900 Main St. (985) 510-6200

JONESBORO Jackson Parish Hospital 165 Beech Springs Road (318) 259-4435 LOUISIANALIFE.COM 43



Ochsner Abrom Kaplan Memorial Hospital 1310 W. Seventh St. (337) 643-8300

Byrd Regional Hospital 1020 Fertitta Blvd. (337) 239-9041

KENNER Ochsner Medical Center – Kenner 180 W. Esplanade Ave. (504) 468-4806

KINDER Allen Parish Hospital 108 Sixth Ave. (337) 738-2527

L AFAYETTE Our Lady of Lourdes Heart Hospital of Lafayette 1105 Kaliste Saloom Road (337) 470-1000 Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center 1214 Coolidge Ave. (337) 289-7991 Lafayette Surgical Specialty Hospital 1101 Kaliste Saloom Road (337) 769-4100 Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center 4801 Ambassador Caffery Parkway (337) 470-2000 Park Place Surgical Hospital 4811 Ambassador Caffery Parkway (337) 237-8119 Ochsner University Hospital & Clinics 2390 W. Congress St. (337) 261-6000

L AKE CHARLES CHRISTUS Ochsner Lake Area Hospital 4200 Nelson Road (337) 474-6370 CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital 524 Dr. Michael Debakey Drive (337) 436-2511 Lake Charles Memorial Hospital 1701 Oak Park Blvd. (337) 494-3000

L AKE PROVIDENCE East Carroll Parish Hospital 336 N. Hood St. (318) 559-4023


LULING St. Charles Parish Hospital 1057 Paul Maillard Road (985) 785-6242


St. Francis Medical Center 309 Jackson St. (318) 966-4000

MORGAN CIT Y Ochsner St. Mary 1125 Marguerite St. (985) 384-2200


St. James Parish Hospital 1645 Lutcher Ave. (225) 869-5512

Natchitoches Regional Medical Center 501 Keyser Ave. (318) 214-4200



Savoy Medical Center 801 Poinciana Ave. (337) 468-5261

Iberia Medical Center 2315 E. Main St. (337) 364-0441



DeSoto Regional Health System 207 Jefferson St. (318) 872-4610

New Orleans East Hospital 5620 Read Blvd. (504) 592-6600

MANY Sabine Medical Center 240 Highland Drive (318) 256-1232

Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System 2400 Canal St. (800) 935-8387


Touro 1401 Foucher St. (504) 897-8387

Avoyelles Hospital 4231 Hwy. 1192 (318) 253-5691

Tulane Medical Center 1415 Tulane Ave. (504) 988-5263

MARRERO West Jefferson Medical Center 1101 Medical Center Blvd. (504) 347-5511

METAIRIE East Jefferson General Hospital 4200 Houma Blvd., (504) 380-0724

MINDEN Minden Medical Center No. 1 Medical Plaza (318) 377-2321

MONROE Monroe Surgical Hospital 2408 Broadmoor Blvd. (318) 410-0002 Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport - Monroe Medical Center 4864 Jackson St. (318) 330-7000

University Medical Center 2000 Canal St. (504) 702-3000

OAKDALE Oakdale Community Hospital 130 N. Hospital Drive (318) 335-3700

OAK GROVE West Carroll Memorial Hospital 706 Ross St. (318) 428-3237

OLL A Hardtner Medical Center 1102 N. Pine Road (318) 495-3131

OPELOUSAS Opelousas General Health System 539 E. Prudhomme St. (337) 948-3011



Alexandria VA Medical Center 2495 Shreveport Hwy. (318) 473-0010

West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital 701 Cypress St. (337) 527-7034

R ACEL AND Ochsner St. Anne Hospital 4608 Hwy. 1 (985) 537-6841



Thibodaux Regional Medical Center 602 N. Acadia Road (985) 447-5500

Richardson Medical Center 254 Hwy. 3048 (318) 728-4181


RUSTON Northern Louisiana Medical Center 401 E. Vaughn Ave. (318) 254-2100

SHREVEPORT CHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier 1453 E. Bert Kouns Industrial Loop (318) 681-4500 Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport - Academic Medical Center 1541 Kings Hwy. (318) 626-0000 Overton Brooks VA Medical Center 510 E. Stoner Ave. (318) 221-8411 Specialists Hospital Shreveport 1500 Line Ave. (318) 213-3800 Willis Knighton Medical Center 2600 Greenwood Road (318) 212-4000

SLIDELL Ochsner Medical Center – Northshore 100 Medical Center Drive (985) 649-7070 Slidell Memorial Hospital 1001 Gause Blvd. (985) 280-2200 Lake Surgical Hospital 1700 Lindberg Drive (985) 641-0600 Sterling Surgical Hospital 989 Robert Blvd. (504) 690-8200

SPRINGHILL Springhill Medical Center 2001 Doctors Drive (318) 539-1000

Mercy Regional Medical Center 800 E. Main St. (337) 363-5684

VIVIAN North Caddo Medical Center 815 S. Pine St. (318) 375-3235

WEST MONROE Glenwood Regional Medical Center 503 McMillan Road (318) 329-4200

WINNFIELD Winn Parish Medical Center 301 W. Boundary Ave. (318) 648-3000

WINNSBORO Franklin Medical Center 2106 Loop Road (318) 435-9411

Z ACHARY Lane Regional Medical Center 6300 Main St. (225) 658-4000


BY Fritz Esker PORTRAITS BY Mike Lirette

Burger joint owner changes lifestyle after life-threatening cancer diagnosis

Healthy  Choice


2015, PHIL DE GRUY was a successful restaurateur in his 40s. He owned and operated three locations of the popular burger restaurant Phil’s Grill. He had a loving wife and four children. But he was beset by severe stomach pain. Doctors kept telling him it was stress, and the restaurant business in a competitive market like the greater New Orleans area can definitely be stressful. One day in fall 2015, the stomach pain was so intense that de Gruy couldn’t even stand up straight. His employees convinced him to go the emergency room. Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. A CAT scan revealed a 8-centimeter mass that had perforated his colon. The diagnosis was a surprise because de Gruy was only 47 and had no family history of colon cancer. “There was a lot of asking ‘How?’ ‘Why?’ and ‘What am I going to do?’” de Gruy said. He underwent surgery and six months of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy’s effects can vary depending on the patient and the type of chemotherapy offered, but it was difficult for de Gruy. He felt a tremendous amount of fatigue and sensitivity to cold. “It was like wearing a wet blanket that kept getting heavier and heavier,” de Gruy said. After about 13 months of remission, de Gruy’s cancer (now stage 4) moved to his lung and was pressing against his aorta. The tumor was hard to reach. This time, the surgeon went through de Gruy’s ribcage and pulled out the tumor and part of his left lung. On top of his health problems, de Gruy also made the difficult decision to close his final Phil’s Grill location in Harahan in 2017 (the Metairie location closed in late 2016). The surgery was successful, but de Gruy was faced with the option of another round of chemo. He decided he did not want to do it again. While he does not fault anyone for their choices in treating cancer, the chemo clearly did not keep his cancer away after his first round of treatment so he did not have confidence it would succeed the second time. “I decided I wanted to treat myself with a healthy lifestyle,” de Gruy said. Even though de Gruy knew he could improve his eating habits, he was never averse to healthy options. The menu at Phil’s Grill featured items that were approved by Ochsner’s Eat Fit program. He maintained an active Facebook presence and had many followers. When he


posted his plans to fight his cancer post-surgery with a healthy lifestyle, Molly Kimball, a lifestyle dietitian and the founder of Ochsner Eat Fit’s nonprofit restaurant initiative, replied to de Gruy’s post asking if he knew how to best approach his new goal. While de Gruy was famous for his burgers, his new diet involves eating a lot less red meat. He still eats it from time to time, just not as often as he did before. He said he largely follows a Mediterranean diet. That involves a lot of fruits, vegetables, beans, yogurts, nuts, olives and avocados. He also eats more seafood. “It’s incredibly healthy without being cumbersome,” de Gruy said. An improved diet isn’t de Gruy’s only lifestyle change. While he went to the gym before his cancer diagnosis, he “hated” running. In high school, he ran all the time when he was on the wrestling team so he could make weight before competitions. Once he was done with high school wrestling, he avoided running. That changed in early 2018 when a friend dared him to run the Mardi Gras Half Marathon. With only 4 or 5 weeks to train, he decided to do it. Then in January 2019 (on the same day the New Orleans Saints lost the NFC Championship Game to the Los Angeles Rams), de Gruy completed his first full marathon. Even though his lung capacity remained limited after his second surgery, de Gruy reached the finish line. He said he hit a wall around mile 20, but he encountered a woman runner who was having the same problems. They walked with each other for a while and encouraged each other. They alternated running and walking the rest of the way. The full marathon would be enough of an accomplishment for many people, but de Gruy does not plan on stopping there. He is going to run the New Orleans Ultramarathon (a whopping 50 miles) in October. Beyond that, his dream is to complete a full Ironman triathlon (2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles cycling and 26.2 miles running). He believes he can do it. “I’m in the best shape of my life,” de Gruy said. When reflecting on his cancer battles, de Gruy said the hardest thing about cancer is the endless waiting. “The biggest weight of cancer is the wait,” de Gruy said. “You’re waiting for the biopsy. You’re waiting for the biopsy results. You’re waiting for the procedure. You’re waiting for the next scan. It’s constant waiting.” While de Gruy enjoyed his time running Phil’s Grill, he said he currently has no desire to own a restaurant again. He works in a sales job that allows him to spend more time with his family, and his battles with cancer reminded him of how precious that time is. Scans every six months are still a part of de Gruy’s life. He gets anxious in the week leading up to one of his scans, but otherwise is able to keep thoughts of recurrence out of his mind. At first, he suffered from survivor’s guilt because he survived when other cancer patients he befriended did not. But when a friend’s husband died of cancer, she told de Gruy the world needs hope and that’s the message he should send to others instead of feeling guilty for his good fortune. So he said he takes calls and social media messages from people who’ve recently received cancer diagnoses and are looking for advice. “You just can’t take your health for granted,” de Gruy said. “There’s a lot of unhealthiness in Louisiana. You’ve got to choose to be healthier. There’s time in the day for you to take a walk or a run.” n


The Mediterranean Diet So what is a Mediterranean diet? It doesn’t just mean foods that are common in Mediterranean countries. You will see white pastas, white rice, and white breads in countries like Greece, Spain, and Italy. But for the diet, the emphasis is on whole grains. What else? For New Orleanians, they will be happy to hear seafood is a staple of the diet. However, it needs to be grilled and not fried. A popular local legume like red beans is permitted, but if you are making red beans and rice you need to substitute cauliflower rice or whole grain rice for the traditional white rice. Dieters are also encouraged to eat lots of plant-based fats and lean proteins. Kimball said a Mediterranean diet has looser guidelines than many other diets. If you’re someone who feels you’ll never be able to completely quit hamburgers, that’s okay as long as you’re willing to mostly do without them. She likes the 80/20 principle (follow the diet 80% of the time), but with an important caveat. She believes if you try to follow the diet 95-100% of the time, you’ll end up following it roughly 80% of the time, but if you go into it saying you’ll follow it 80% of the time, your success rate will be lower. This is because New Orleans is a city with so many good restaurants and so many social events centered around food that you will likely succumb to temptation from time to time. However, those indulgences won’t be as costly if you set higher benchmarks for yourself at the start.






4 1. ARTIST PAUL SCHEXNAYDER Artist Paul Schexnayder constructs fun funky facades using repurposed wood and tin. Call Today for your showing 337-3211956. schex.com. New Iberia, La 2. THE ESSENTIAL LOUISIANA SEAFOOD COOKBOOK The easy-to-follow recipes emphasize Louisiana seafood and quality, local ingredients. (louisianalife.com)


3. THE ESSENTIAL NEW ORLEANS COOKBOOK A book that is good for cookin’ and great for lookin’. (myneworleans.com) 4. GRANDMOTHER’S BUTTONS


For 36 years, Grandmother’s Buttons has created jewelry with antique buttons and vintage glass. Visit their flagship retail store and button museum in St. Francisville’s original 1905 bank building, or shop online at grandmothersbuttons.com. For more information, call 225-635-4107. 5. CAJUN TRINITY “All Cajun dishes start with the Cajun Trinity! We make cooking easier, with a dehydrated trinity mix that comes back to life in 2 minutes. No Hassle, No Waste!”(C’est Tout Dried Trinity Products LLC. thisiscajun.com. 678-758-5192)




Louisiana Travel & Living Shreveport Aquarium

Cypress Bend Resort

this summer across Louisiana, where outdoor recreation abounds and thrilling attractions welcome families for educational or competitive fun. Louisiana is a wonderful place to spend the summer months for people of all ages—from kids looking for excitement to young professionals escaping work life with a weekend getaway and older adults settling into retirement with the freedom to explore or relax. The state’s cities and parishes all offer their unique flavors, from hearty meat pies to cold lagers and ales, fresh Gulf seafood, and more. Casinos, museums, art centers, and adventure parks are open again and welcoming visitors, while accommodations like historic hotels, quaint bed and breakfasts, and camping grounds lure in travelers. Meanwhile, retirement communities offer a chance to experience the best of Louisiana with maintenance-free living, informative classes, and social events. Before summer ends, get out and enjoy the best of what the state has to offer. THE GOOD TIMES ARE ROLLING



An easy drive from anywhere in the state, Point Coupee Parish offers a tuckedaway escape and illuminating window into Louisiana’s rich history along the Mississippi River. Celebrating 300 years of history, the parish’s tricentennial offers tribute to the arrival of those who permanently settled Pointe Coupée, but its attractions and legacy date much farther back—Point Coupee is home to 10 earthen American Indian mounds built between 700 and 1200 AD. Take a drive down beautiful country roads lined with sugarcane and enjoy Point Coupee’s historical charm and open-air offerings. A live oak tree walking tour, bike tour, kayaking, SUP boarding, weekly fishing tournaments, hunting, and camping are activities that draw outdoors enthusiasts to the area, while 30 historical homes and the Old River Controls Structure offer a glimpse into the past. In July, Pointe Coupee hosts its annual 4th of July boat parade, fireworks, and live mu-

sic celebrations at both False River and Old River Landing. For more information, events, and destinations, visit pctourism.org or call 225-638-3998. Last year was tough on summer plans, but you can revive your lost adventures with a visit to Shreveport-Bossier for fun and entertainment. Six Shreveport-Bossier casinos offer everything from 24-hour gaming action to late-night entertainment. Food is a sure bet at casino restaurants, with many providing some of the best views of the Red River. Nearby festival fun, poolside vibes, day parties and late-night shenanigans make Shreveport-Bossier worth a trip. The Seventh Tap is the newest brewery to open in Shreveport-Bossier and joins three other popular breweries – Flying Heart Brewing and Pub, Red River Brewpub, and Great Raft Brewing. Summer plans in the sister cities aren’t complete without a trip to one of three entertainment areas: Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets, East Bank District, and Red River


District. Families will love the Shreveport Aquarium, Sci-Port Discovery Center, Gators and Friends Adventure Park, and more. For more trip planning information, visit Shreveport-Bossier.org. Explore St. Tammany Parish’s pristine waterways and great outdoors with a paddle along the bayou, boat tour of Honey Island Swamp, fishing charter, bike ride along the 31mile Tammany Trace, or tubing trip down the Bogue Chitto. Satisfy your taste buds with the deep and delicious Tammany Taste culinary scene. Abundant fine dining and mom and pop eateries combine all the flavors Louisiana is known for in exquisite dishes featuring Gulf seafood, local produce, and hospitality that cannot be beaten. Wind down with the family at your choice of comfortable and affordable accommodations, luxurious B&Bs or updated camping sites at either Fontainebleau or Fairview-Riverside State Parks. Eat, play and stay during August 1-31, 2021, for huge savings at local accommodations, discounted prix fixe menus at restaurants locals love, and deals at unique outdoor attractions. Discover what it truly means to feed your soul on the Louisiana Northshore. Sign-up for your Tammany Taste of Summer Savings Pass today at TammanyTaste.com. Natchitoches, Louisiana’s oldest city, is the perfect weekend getaway for families— yes, families. With interactive, educational attractions, unique family-friendly dining, and accommodations of all sizes, everyone will enjoy their time together. Gator Country, Natchitoches’ alligator park, is open seven days a week and offers the chance to feed alligators, goats, deer, guinea pigs, emus and tortoises; to hold alligators, snakes and lizards; and to learn more about the Louisiana State Reptile. Other things to do include panning for gems at Lost Treasure Mining Company, paddling or pedaling down Cane River Lake on kayaks or hydrobikes, or playing putt putt at Pecan Orchard RV Park and Putt Putt. Take the family for a home-style lunch at Almost Home, or roast your own s’mores on the s’mores bar at Mariner’s Restaurant. But you don’t want to leave town without grabbing a Natchitoches meat pie or two. Begin planning your trip at Natchitoches.com. Filled with inspiring flavors, rich history, and a culture all its own, Alexandria/Pineville is truly one of a kind. On the banks of the Red River, Downtown Alexandria offers all the modern amenities of a Southern city including two premier, full-service hotels, The Holiday Inn Downtown Alexandria and the historic Hotel Bentley, a luxurious hotel featuring opulent designs and furnishings dating back to 1908, as well as a grand ballroom, fine dining restaurant and award-winning cocktail lounge.

Alexandria Museum of Art

The Oaks of Louisiana

Hungry for more? The revitalized Downtown Entertainment District is just a few steps from your front door, walking distance to restaurants, shopping, and nightlife. Catch live theater and music performances at the Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center, or explore the T.R.E.E. House Children’s Museum, River Oaks Square Art Center, and The Alexandria Museum of Art. With so much to explore, you’ll want to stay awhile. Plan your trip today at alexandriapinevillela.com. RETIREMENT LIVING

The Oaks of Louisiana in Shreveport is the area’s premier life plan community. A gated neighborhood for adults 55+, The Oaks offers three living options—independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing—which allow residents to move in while they can still

enjoy a vibrant, active, and fulfilling lifestyle and have peace of mind knowing they can transition to another residence and level of care if and when they need without having to move to another community. The Oaks of Louisiana focuses on helping residents achieve personal wellness in all dimensions through programs, classes, events, and opportunities. And because The Oaks is owned and operated by Willis-Knighton Health System, procedures and protocols in place provide residents a safe environment that promotes good health and wellness. With apartments starting at $1,641.15, The Oaks is an outstanding value for its distinctive location, extraordinary services, and exceptional maintenance-free lifestyle that includes housekeeping, dining options, 24-7 security, transportation, and more. Learn more at oaksofla.com.



Spring Renewal Once considered lost to invasive hydrilla, Spring Bayou in Avoyelles Parish was restored by dedicated locals and is now a thriving Wildlife Management area BY KEVIN RABALAIS


he letters on the faded life jacket spell HODAPP. “That’s not a [Cajun] name, no,” he says. Locals detect as much from Illinoisnative Kenny E. Hodapp’s speech. He’s docked at the Boggy Bayou Landing, five miles outside of Marksville, watching the sky churn blue-gray. Hodapp came to Louisiana in 1965 as a lineman working to restore power after Hurricane Betsy. Later, his company sent him to work along the Red


River. Stationed in Marksville, he developed a routine, dining each evening on the town square, site of the Solomon Northup trial. After two weeks, he noticed a new waitress. “I met a pretty Cajun girl and never left,” he says. Seated in his boat, Hodapp scans the overgrown bank. There’s a glimmer in his eye that, unlike the accent, reveals something that locals decipher with ease. With it comes a boyish glee, a lightness of step that conveys his joy in this adopted home. Thirty seconds from his back door, he can access a system of waterways that, in entirety, would take him all day to explore. The Spring Bayou Complex covers nearly 13,000 acres, 12,506 of them within a Wildlife Management Area. Its rivers, lakes and cypress-thronged bayous include Lac aux Siene, Coulee Noir, Little River and Tee Lac. Hodapp’s neighbor from across Boggy Bayou, Abe Mattox, also met and married a Cajun woman. He was working as a welder in Corpus Christi at the time and she brought him home to Spring Bayou. Their relationship faltered, but in 1983, Mattox bought her father’s house. “This is the [Cajun] Riviera,” Mattox says. “To get here, you cross a bridge. Then you on Spring Bayou Island. And when you here, you in paradise.” For more

(above) Kenny E. Hodapp and Abe Mattox, founding members of the Spring Bayou Restoration Team, say that the complex looked like a “yard” before the team began its work. (right) Ben Luke and his son Hynson kayak along Bay Sec.



(top) Kenny E. Hodapp and Ann McCain greet Abe Mattox at their home on Boggy Bayou. (bottom) Abe Mattox arrives at a culde-sac in Spring Bayou.



Avoyelles Parish


Bitter pecan, water primrose, verbena, and delta duck potato FAUNA

Black bear, deer, ducks, alligators, largemouth bass, catfish

than a decade, though, Spring Bayou was anything but, an unnavigable landscape neither water nor land. Mattox first noticed the problem in 1991. Opinions vary on how hydrilla — an invasive aquatic weed native to Asia — arrived in Spring Bayou, but Mattox places his bet on a boat trailer. Over the years, he and others watched, helpless, as the problem worsened. “By 2005, you couldn’t get your boat out of the dock,” says Ann McCain, who lives with Hodapp. Eager to discuss the problem, they invited locals to a fish fry at their home. (“People often say they want to help,” Hodapp says, “but you have to bait them.”) They learned that they weren’t alone in their desire to restore Spring Bayou. Soon, they had a petition with 4,500 names, along with a new organization. “If you were at the fish fry, you were one of the original board members of the Spring Bayou Restoration Team,” Hodapp says. With help from the state, the SBRT introduced triploid carp — a large, sterile, grass-eating minnow species — into the complex. Then everyone waited. A year passed before they saw the first signs of progress. Fourteen years after that fish fry, you can’t go far in Spring Bayou without seeing someone fishing or paddling. “Before the SBRT, all of this was finished,” Mattox says. “Everything out here looked like a yard.”


“Now, “it’s paradise and then some.” says Terri Flint, who lives with Mattox in the house he bought in 1983. “People told me that I had been robbed for paying $13,000,” Mattox says. “But to use the 13,000 acres in my back yard, all I need is a hunting and fishing license. I think of it as paying $1 per acre as a lease on the land. Use it like you want as long as you don’t abuse it.” Flint stands smiling beside Mattox. With four of their nine dogs jumping around her, she says, “Not a day goes by he don’t say, ‘I love where I live’.” n



Facts and Figures • Since 2007, the Spring Bayou Restoration Team has released 62,000 triploid carp into the complex, 60 with transmitters so that the state can track them. • The Spring Bayou Complex includes an early Mississippi River channel (4000-2500 BC). That area, Old River, contains burial mounds of the extinct Avoyel, or Avoyelles, Tribe. • The SBRT invests all raised funds in the complex. Its projects include the installation of new floating docks and numbered duck boxes to help kayakers navigate via GPS.

(top) Hynson Luke prepares to swing from a rope in Bay Sec. (bottom) Ray Bordelon docks near the Boggy Bayou Landing on the morning of a Spring Bayou bass tournament.


Northshore Allure Mandeville, Madisonville and Covington offer slow and easy respite, outdoor adventure, fine dining and more on the Northshore BY CHERÉ COEN



ommuting rush hour aside, blood pressure appears to drop once north of Lake Pontchartrain. Life slows down in the historic towns of Mandeville, Madisonville and Covington with their dreamy lake breezes and the sharp, refreshing fragrance of pine tree forests. Now there’s lots more to lure visitors to the Northshore. In the vein of taking it slow and easy, downtown Covington now offers mule-drawn carriage rides by Royal Carriages of New Orleans, the folks that offer


Tchefuncte's Restaurant in Madisonville offers upscale atmosphere and a Gulf-inspired menu.

historical tours of New Orleans' French Quarter and Marigny neighborhoods. Guided rides depart from Marsolan’s Feed and Seed next to the Covington Trailhead Museum and visit historic sites on the 30-minute tour offered Fridays through Sundays. Highlights include Covington Cemetery No. 1, The Star Theater, Southern Hotel and Bogue Falaya Park. For folks who would rather visit St. Tammany history on their own, Old Mandeville has instituted a self-guided QR (Quick Response) code tour of 41 historical sites along the lakefront. Simply scan the


code with your smartphone and enjoy the history behind downtown buildings, the Dew Drop Social & Benevolent Hall, historic homes dating back centuries and more. GET OUTSIDE!

There are so many ways to get on the water on the Northshore — and now there’s even more. Eco-friendly Canoe and Trail Adventures puts visitors on kayaks, canoes and paddleboards for use on the Bogue Falaya River in Covington. Paddlers launch from the floating dock of The Chimes restaurant, enjoying water adventures ranging from two to six hours. Guided tours are also available, runs by Louisiana Master Naturalists and twilight and moonlight tours are offered on occasion. If cruising the lower Tchefuncte is more your style, Tchefuncte River Charters sets sail on the 26-foot “Fat Bottom Girl” pontoon party barge with enough room for 12 people. Participants can sip boat drinks (bring your own) while listening to music — and there’s a restroom to boot! Enjoy river wildlife and the man-made kind at stops along the way depending on the cruise. For a really slow ride, Louisiana River Adventures rents tubes for two- to four-hour floats down the Bogue Chitto. Float times vary for those who want to pause on the sandbars along the way. The company also rents kayaks and canoes. One of the finest ways to both enjoy the outdoors and completely rest among the beauty of nature is a cabin stay at Fontainebleau State Park. Cabins are located right on the lake, accessed by a boardwalk, so visitors can sit on the porch and watch the sun set while lake waves lap beneath. The state park’s new glamping options are also available so a sunset viewing might include a roaring campfire. The 2,800-acre Fontainebleau includes a sandy beach, hiking trails and opportunities to bike, hike or skate along the Tammany Trace, a Rails to Trails program that runs from Covington through the park and ending in Slidell. Bird lovers will appreciate the hundreds of species that live or migrate through Fontainebeau. NEW RESTAURANTS

FormerRuth'sChrisexecutivechefPatGallagherunderstands the Northshore lifestyle. His new Mandeville restaurant, Pat’s Rest Awhile, opened in January in the old Frapart Hotel that was also used as an orphanage and retreat. The restaurant complex serves up seafood dishes, classic American fare, poboys and burgers overlooking Lake Pontchartrain on Mandeville’s Lakeshore Drive. In Madisonville Chef Michael Gottlieb, former executive chefoftheRalphBrennanGroup,openedthecasualrestaurant TheAnchoronthegroundfloorofawaterfrontpropertywhile serving more upscale dishes at the Tchefuncte’s Restaurant on the second floor. Diners may sit on the expansive patio and enjoy Gulf-inspired dishes and cool drinks while children enjoy the playground, or head upstairs for a more elegant meal. n



Party Like a Victorian Galveston, Texas combines turn-of-the century elegance and surfside fun in the sun BY BECCA HENSLEY


espite buttoned up clothing, the Victorians knew a thing or two about pleasurable pursuits. They nicknamed historic Galveston Island “the Playground of the South,” for its more than 30 miles of shoreline, palm-lined Seawall, healthy marine air and bustling boardwalk. Most Texas beach towns have a quirky fishing village vibe, but Galveston, a barrier island located 45 minutes south of Houston, exudes elegance and gravitas. Still defined by ocean-facing mansions and cozy, gingerbread-adorned cottages built by wealthy merchants, the destination summons the ambiance of affluent East Coast, Gilded Age-constructed coastal villages. Think Rhode Island’s Newport or Watch Hill. That said, Galveston does it all with a strong Texas accent and Third Coast bravado awash in sense of place. With bike paths aplenty (the Seawall meanders for 10 miles), the National Marine Sanctuary (a coral reef system, ideal for divers), golfing options, fishing outings, surf-worthy waves, birdwatching venues and dedicated kayak routes, it tempts outdoorsy travelers. Others can build sandcastles, set up canvases to paint along the Seawall and explore the shops, galleries, amusements and eateries along the buzzy section, known as The Strand. There are museums, rooftop bars, gastronomic restaurants and old school seafood icons. Watch for festivals, including a sandcastle competition (in August), fishing contests, cooking extravaganzas, musical gatherings and the winter’s famous, holiday-oriented Dickens on The Strand, an homage to those bygone Victorians who knew a good thing when they played among it. EAT

Delve into an island tradition at Gaido’s Seafood, which celebrates its 110th anniversary this year. Most famous for its pecan pie and seafood, the restaurant proudly makes its own sauces and salad dressings. Swoon over the Fritz specialty seafood topping, with garlic and sweet peppers. Eat casually at The Spot, a popular, palapa-roofed cafe. It turns out memorable poor boys, tacos, burgers and seafood. For steak lovers, Vargas Cut & Catch satisfies in the heart of the historic downtown district. Begin every day at family-owned Sunflower Bakery & Café. Get fueled for surfing lessons with their divine Oysters Benedict or puffy Challah French Toast.



Channel the past at The Tremont, a legendary hotel, set in the bones of a former dry goods warehouse. With 14-foot-high ceilings, elaborate ironwork balconies and bridges and a slew of ghost stories, it lies a breath away from The Strand. Beachfront, sprawling across 32 acres, The San Luis Resort, Spa & Conference Center has a range of rooms, including a group of sumptuous villas. Splash around at The Cove, the resort’s festive pool area. DO

Between sunbathing or windsurfing, take some tours. Galveston Historic Tours explores the island’s exceptional architectural history. A highlight is the chance to see the Galveston Tree Sculptures, a grove of hurricane-destroyed oak trees transformed to magnificent works of art. The self-guided African American History Tour celebrates Black accomplishments, and teaches about the island’s significant Black institutions and monuments. Another day, walk the storied halls of the The Bryan Museum, which displays one of the world’s largest collections of historical artifacts, documents and artwork relating to the American West. Architectural buffs won’t want to miss Bishop’s Palace, one of the island’s best known mansions. For families and kids of all ages, youngsters can expend energy and satisfy curiosity simultaneously at Moody Gardens, Its attractions include an aquarium and live rainforest. n

PRO TIP Enjoy multiple Galveston attractions on one ticket, while saving 40% off regular admissions prices with the Galveston Island Pass. To purchase, visit galvestonislandpass. com. To access a variety of tours (including the African American History Tour) and general touristic information, get the Galveston app for Android or Apple devices, or via galveston.visitwidget. com.


Lunar Love The moon rises above a small pond at dusk in Lecompte. BY AMANDA ANDREWS, PINEVILLE




NEW EPISODES EVERY THURSDAY Each week, Errol Laborde and guests take listeners around Louisiana highlighting all the great destinations the state has to offer. TRAVEL. EXPLORE. LEARN. louisianalife.com