Beware the Crawfish – A Feeding Frenzy in Baton Rouge

I have a terrible confession to make.

Seafood gives me the creeps. I really struggle to eat anything that looks like it did when it was alive, or spends its life scuttling along the bottom of a body of water in all that muck. But when I was invited to Baton Rouge to spend my days eating, I knew I’d have to put on my big girl panties and a brave face. Had I known, I would have also put on my stretchy pants – I didn’t just taste the local cuisine, I gorged.  I’m so ashamed, there’s a whole world of eating to be discovered, and I’ve wasted decades of my life! I did my best to make up for lost time.

Muffaletta from The Lobby Cafe, and duck poppers - duck, bacon and jalapeno bliss from Restaurant IPO

Muffaletta from The Lobby Cafe, and duck poppers – duck, bacon and jalapeno bliss from Restaurant IPO

I arrived in Baton Rouge with a raging hangover.  I have blurry memories of dancing in the streets of New Orleans in the wee hours of the night before. The drive, just a little over an hour, was full of hopeful prayers for fresh air and no more bumps. The last thing I wanted to do was spend my day eating – let alone eating something called ‘crawfish’. “Erm… you don’t mean crayfish, right? That would just be disgusting”

But, I am an adventurer. I’ve eaten a honey bee, could this be any worse?  Besides, the super kind folks at Visit Baton Rouge who were hosting this tour were kind of expecting me to be all foodie and share how wonderful these little critters are. I’m always game for a weird challenge, and rumour has it that Baton Rouge is the new foodie mecca, voted best “Foodie City” two years in a row, by Convention South Magazine.

Stroubes Restaurant

There’s even crab in my bisque from Stroubes

The fresh air came soon enough, as did a preview of the phenomenal food I would experience over the next couple of days. I met up with the rest of our feasting team – a collection of hungry bloggers from the USA and Canada and their sidekicks, and we were off to discover the caloric bliss that this culinary hotspot has to offer.

We strolled the streets with Kim Harper, the mastermind behind Baton Rouge Food Tours, as she introduced us to a myriad of foods – from the traditional Louisiana ‘poor boys’ all the way up to corn, crab and brie bisque, and something called a ‘duck popper’ all polished off with a blueberry bread pudding. Thank goodness no one had made me eat a crawfish yet. I survived eating crab though – I’ll even confess I found it rather tasty, but it was all hidden in bisque-y goodness and I might have been drinking again.

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Fete Rouge – not only do you get to feast, it’s for a good cause, supporting ten charities.

Five drool-worthy mini meals within hours of arriving in Baton Rouge – this lovely city and I were going to get along just fine.  Our next stop only confirmed this – Fete Rouge Food and Wine Experience at the luxurious hotel and casino L’Auberge.  If there’s one thing at all you must bring with you to Baton Rouge, it’s your appetite. Even better if you bring along a stubborn will to keep eating, no matter how badly your snug pants have cut off circulation to your nether regions. You won’t regret it.  Fete Rouge showcases the finest food and drink from all over the city, celebrating local restaurants, bakeries and wine bars, offering delicious bite sized samples. It’s a fancy feeding frenzy.  Table after table of tasty morsels all looking ready for a photo shoot, and it’s all just waiting for you to devour. They don’t even give you the stink eye for doing laps around the dessert tables. This is the Iron Man of southern food sampling.

Photo: Jenn Ocken Photography, Fete Rouge

Photo: Jenn Ocken Photography, Fete Rouge

And yes, tucked in amongst it all – crawfish.  Crawfish in the jambalaya. Crawfish in the bisque. Crawfish and grits. Crawfish even found its way into the risotto, those sneaky bastards.  So, I did it. Fortified by wine, and wearing my big girl panties, I steeled my nerves, closed my eyes and nibbled on one.  The horrors! Except, it wasn’t terrible. Just to be sure, I went to another table for a sample, and another. And maybe one more, purely for the sake of research… Who knew – crawfish aren’t that bad.  Crayfish though, you’ll never catch me eating one of those, that would just be gross.

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Crawfish boulette on spicy mashed potatoes topped with crawfish cardinale. And it was delicious.

The Baton Rouge feeding frenzy continues later this month… stay tuned!

The Deets:

A special thank you to Visit Baton Rouge who hosted this trip. Their team are champions of southern hospitality and will help you plan your own feeding frenzy. The opinions and unbecoming gorging behaviour are entirely mine.

Hang out on social media? Browse the hashtag #BRFoodieFam or #GoBR to see more drool-worthy photos from the rest of the feasting team.  Mosey on over to the Food Hunter’s Guide for even more reasons to visit Baton Rouge.

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