The first food destination was the Deep South. I took a 6:55am flight from JFK airport to get to New Orleans. But NOLA was not going to be my first stop, I wanted to go to Mississippi. One reason for the trip was to be able to cross off another state on my list. This will mark my 47th state visited. The other reason was to try the delicious Gulf seafood, oil spill willing.
When I landed in New Orleans it was hot. Not super temperature hot but steamy, sweaty, sticky hot. The temperature was in the low 90's but it felt a lot worse. I haven't experienced this kind of heat in the Northeast in quite a while.
As soon as I got my rental car, I was off and driving east to Mississippi. I didn't have breakfast so I was pretty hungry, but I didn't stop until I got to my first food destination, The Blow Fly Inn in Gulfport, MS.
The Blow Fly Inn was highlighted in the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, hosted by Guy Fieri. It looked like a fun place and they put little plastic flies on your food. I also used various web review sites to make sure that the place was OK.
The restaurant is kind of off the road. I was using my Garmin and when it had me go down some backroads I was thinking that I might have put in the wrong address. But at the end of the road, there were a clearing and there was the restaurant. It is located along the Bernard Bayou and
the building is up on stilts. Beneath the building is a dock/porch from which you could watch the world go by. It seemed pretty peaceful, but you could see they had the set-up for the place to be rocking in the evenings.
On the specials board, the soup of the day was cream of crabmeat, corn, bacon, and tomato. Since I like all of those ingredients I had to order the soup even though it was over 90 degrees outside. I also ordered a lunchtime special, the red beans and rice with catfish strips for $8.95. I wasn't really sure about the catfish strips since I don't see them too often in the northeast and I haven't eaten any in years. But the waitress said the regular portion of just red beans and rice with sausage was twice the size and I knew that and the soup would really be over doing it.
The soup was an enjoyable cream soup that was quite tasty, but I was disappointed in how little crab was in it. You could taste the crab but there was only about 2 chunks of crabmeat in the cup.
Next came a salad which comes with the luncheon special. I ordered it with a remoulade dressing. Standard iceberg lettuce salad with some nice pieces of cucumber and carrots. After that came the entree.
I was suprised at the portion size of the red beans and rice. The red beans were tender with chunks of sausage in it. On top of the rice were 5 strips of catfish. I am in no ways an expert on red beans and rice but I thought this version was a little too soupy. Maybe it is supposed to be that way but I prefer mine a bit thicker. But I was very much impressed with the catfish strips. They were lightly coated and had a nice clean flavor, not fishy at all and not greasy either.
Suffice to say the soup and the hearty red beans and rice was enough to fill me up, but the lunch also came with banana pudding for dessert. Not being a fan of bananas and feeling pretty well stuffed I took a few spoonfuls of the pudding. Again not being an expert on banana pudding I would say it was OK. But I have never ordered or thought about ordering this dessert before, so what do I know?
Overall the meal was very good and the price of the luncheon special was a very good deal. But I must say that I was kind of disappointed in the experience. One of the gimmicks of the restaurant was that they put little plastic flies on their food as an homage to their name. But there was nary a fly, plastic or real near my food. I asked the waitress about the lack of flies and she said that they had stopped doing it a few months ago. They did have a bowl of plastic flies near the cashier which you can take but they no longer put it on the food.
At first I thought it might be a safety issue with someone eating the fly and suing the restaurant but she said that was not the case. I later found out that their supplier of plastic flies had stopped making them. Seems that in California a law was passed prohibiting the use of the flies as they can be a choking hazard and the so the company stopped making them. The restaurant looked at other sources but the cost per fly was around 30 cents as opposed to pennies from the other company. The expense was too much so they stopped putting the flies on the food. I did take one from the cashier as I paid my bill.
Many tourists like to sightsee by going to museums, landmarks, statues, etc. I like to go to supermarkets. On the way to Biloxi, I stopped at a Rouse's, a regional chain as well as Winn-Dixie. There seemed to be more regional and local products in these grocery stores than I have seen in others around the country. And the seafood was quite fresh, especially the shrimp. But what caught my eye was some potato chips.
This was my fourth trip to the New Orleans area and I have developed a liking to Zapp's chips. Once if a while you see them up north and I will get them but here they were in numerous glory. One particular bag caught my eye, mostly with their eye-catching design but also because of the name of the flavor, Voodoo Gumbo chips. It was a limited edition chip and as Zapp's explains it on their bag:
No Zapp's isn't getting into the "Black Arts", it's just our new mystery "Limited Edition" flavor. Voodoo Gumbo flavor is a result of an accident. An employee was moving a pallet of spices off the top shelf and dropped it. While cleaning up, someone stuck their finger into the mixture of about 5 flavors and pronounced it great. We recreated it in our lab, and, like gumbo, it's an "everything in the kitchen" flavor.
Wonder if they re-created dropping the ingredients on the floor too...
The chips were actually pretty good. They are kettle chips and had a slight sweet flavor to it. The sweetness was not too much and I was glad to have bought the bag.
Before checking into my hotel in Biloxi, I stopped at Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy. What was striking was not only the lovely building but that it was right along the ocean. I took a tour and being a Yankee you kind of wonder how would they present Davis. One wouldn't expect the tour to be too negative and they basically stuck with the history of the house and the biography of the Davis family that lived in the house. What kind of miffed me a bit was a video that they had in the gift shop in which they talked about the Civil War as the "lost cause". They never mentioned slavery at all.
I did make a brief stop at the beach to take a look at the Gulf waters. The beach had beautiful white clean sand with only a few people swimming in the water. I went to the water's edge and put my hand in the ocean. The water was very warm and no, I didn't feel any oil. They claim that the oil is gone and if it truly is, this waterfront area is one heck of a destination. I am kind of surprised that it isn't developed more.
I checked into the hotel after 6pm and after unpacking, went out to get some dinner. My mother had been to Biloxi on a bus tour and she recommended The Buffet
at the Beau Rivage casino. The brother of a friend of mine also recommended the buffet so I decided to try that. They said that the food was good but that they offered lots of southern specialties.
Since it was the middle of the week, the price of the buffet was a few dollars cheaper than the weekend, but it still cost over $20. The place was fairly busy and I had to wait about 10 minutes for a table. They definitely had lots to choose from with dishes representing the southern, Italian, American, and even Asian cuisine. The food was good but it was not the best buffet I have ever had. The one dish that I liked the most was the fried chicken. At that price I would definitely not go back. But if they comp'd me a meal...
For more on the trips, I started a blog at: diningnation.blogspot.com
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