I am hosting a big Professional Development Workshop tomorrow for work. I have been basically doing a year’s worth of work in the last six weeks for various reasons. Tomorrow’s workshop is the final huge deliverable that will enable me to take a mental break. I finished up my prep stuff today at the office, dropped Ashok off at the neighborhood vet and made the short drive over to Lafayette late this afternoon. Lafayette and Baton Rouge have horrible traffic, and I didn’t want to get caught up in an unexpected snarl in the morning. I don’t have to do any more prep work tonight. I decided to relax and explore Lafayette.
I checked into the hotel and asked the Front Desk clerk where to find a cool coffeehouse. She marked up a map to direct me to downtown. I can use my iPhone GPS, but she seemed to want to help me, so I let her. As an afterthought, I asked her to recommend a seafood place for dinner. I am so thrilled to be back in Louisiana for seafood. For thirty – something years, I basically shied away from ordering seafood because I was in the middle of the country, and I was constantly disappointed after growing up here where the seafood is fresh … fresh … fresh. She recommended the Blue Dog Cafe. She wanted to give me a second option, but I told her one option would be perfect. I’ve found when traveling that the first option locals give you is the first option for a reason. And I set out for downtown for a decaf coffee and an hour or so of reading the July issue of Runner’s World.
I couldn’t find an open coffee shop on Jefferson, but I did walk a mile or so in the area, window shopping and browsing in the local drugstore-turned-gift-shop. I was disappointed that most shops were closed. It was a really quaint downtown area with brick sidewalks, hand-painted murals and lots of college bars and hangouts. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is in this crowded college town. I’ve heard that Lafayette grew exponentially after Katrina just like Baton Rouge which is why the traffic is so snarled. When a town doubles in size overnight, it’s hard to recover.
I finally got back in my car, and put coffeehouse in my GPS. It told me to try Black Cafe’ on South Pierce. I was the only patron there. However, it looked as if it was a busy place with lots of tables inside and outside and a pretty cool menu with a featured item of Scotch Eggs. I’ve never even heard of Scotch Eggs, but seeing it on the menu in such a cool little setting made me want to try them. Maybe a future Saturday trek for Scotch Eggs might be in order. I met the owner, Tremayne, and we chatted about his business which had opened just after I visited Lafayette last fall. He said business was good, and he recommended a decaf latte. He rotates two local coffee roasters’ beans in his espresso drinks and brewed coffee. I’ve heard of Reve before but I hadn’t tried the other brand, and now I can’t remember the name of it. I love the Tremayne’s description of his coffehouse on his Facebook page:
Black Cafe. It’s where you find yourself when you need coffee and you need it prepared “just so.” It’s where you go when you want real food. It’s Scotch Eggs. It’s sweet potato biscuits. It’s beignets. It’s your favorite café and you like it Black.
I decided to venture over to the Blue Dog Cafe after reading several inspirational articles in Runner’s World – one about an 83-year-old woman who just ran the Boston Marathon – and it wasn’t her first trip around that block. The Blue Dog was already filling up, and I got a table in the back room. My server, Kelley, was very nice, and I told her I wanted something on the lighter side for dinner. She made a few recommendations, and I handed her the menu and asked her to ‘just pick something out for me’. She said okay, and she returned with some lovely French Rolls with Honey-Whipped Butter and a plate of grilled Mahi-Mahi over a brown-rice pilaf with roasted pecans and some unbelievable sauteed fresh spinach. It was so good that when she asked if I wanted dessert, I decided that I should give it a shot. She picked out the bread pudding which I’m finding is a big problem for me down here. I CANNOT resist it. It’s not so much the bread – it’s the pudding that hooks me. This one was drenched in pecan-caramel sauce and whipped cream. It was delicious.
It was a lovely evening to be walking around Lafayette and meeting people here and there. One of the things I love most about traveling alone is having the time and freedom to chat up anybody I see. I’m looking forward to meeting more people tomorrow. We have a local caterer called NuNu’s catering lunch. The woman has been so friendly and down to earth that I can’t wait to meet her. The menu is down-home cooking, and she just seems so damn happy to be doing it for us. If tonight is any indication, tomorrow is going to be a great day. Night, y’all.