After being off for 11 days during the holidays, Monday came like a hammer. The blow was softened by a Monday afternoon business trip to Lake Charles to work with some cool augmented reality software for the Process Technology Program. We found out that the Golden Nugget – the fancy new casino in Lake Charles – offers the “state government rate” and made reservations to stay there.
The last time I stayed in Lake Charles was post-Katrina with the Red Cross. I worked in a huge shelter in the Coliseum, and we stayed at the Isle of Capri Casino. I was pleasantly surprised that the Golden Nugget’s accommodations were much nicer than my earlier digs, and I had an amazing large bathtub in which to soak my backpacking-sore muscles and my broken toe. We ate a light dinner at Grotto, the Italian restaurant in the casino, and called it an early night.
I won’t bore you with the details of work even though it was very interesting, and I met some really nice folks. I’ll just tell you about the fun stuff we did in between. At lunch, we opted for a local joint that my sister told me about a long time ago. Every time I drove through Lake Charles, it was Sunday, and it was closed, so I was stoked to try Leonard’s on a weekday. We ordered at the front counter and I opted for a seafood combo which included shrimp etouffee, fried fish and fried shrimp. When my boss ordered, she also ordered us a jalapeño-stuffed boudin ball, and I couldn’t wait to get it to the table to eat it.
The fried shrimp was amazing. If I had to order again, I would just get fried shrimp. It was perfect. Their coleslaw was surprisingly good, and the boudin ball was worth the extra calories. This was the first day of my sugar-free commitment, and luckily I hadn’t eschewed white flour yet. The garlic bread was grilled, garlicky and unbelievably good. I had to stop and get a coffee on the way back to the school because I knew I’d be falling asleep in an hour after the heavy , fatty meal I’d just consumed. But I didn’t regret a bite. It was worth every calorie.
When we got back to the class, the vendor we were working with told us that they went to a coffee shop called Stellar Beans in downtown Lake Charles. They raved about it so much that we looked them up on the internet and planned our next morning’s journey around eating breakfast there. I couldn’t wait to get some of their coffee. Margaret said it was the best coffee she’d ever had. Visions of the Magpie Cafe’s brew ran through my head and I hoped for the best.
My boss loving her coffee…
We ended that day by driving over to L’Auberge to see that casino. It has a beautiful lazy river pool which I’d love to visit in the summertime. We walked around and then went back to the Golden Nugget where I just had a bowl of gumbo at Landry’s. It was really, really good and hit the spot for a light meal.
The next morning we headed to Stellar Beans. The small storefront was right next to the yoga studio where I practiced when I was in town with the Red Cross. Art covered the walls, and there was a group of men having coffee in the front area. I talked with them a bit and told them that wherever I go throughout the country, there is always a group of men having coffee in the local coffeehouse. This group was comprised of one local, one transplant from Minnesota and a couple of guys from other Louisiana towns.
I selected the dark roast coffee of the day and laced it with half and half and ordered an egg sandwich on whole wheat. In the front of the store, they had a bunch of imported woven and knitted items for sale, and I salivated over some knitted booties and a laptop bag. The coffee was amazing. It is right up there with Magpie, and you can bet I’ll be back there anytime I’m near Lake Charles. It’s not that far off the interstate, so it would be an easy stop. I ended up buying the laptop bag for $35, and we returned later in the afternoon for a coffee before we left town. You should definitely stop by Stellar Beans on Broad Street the next time you are in town. Tell them Midlife Moments sent you.
Scenes from Broad Street
I wasn’t expecting much out of Lake Charles, but I have to say that I was impressed with their little downtown area. In fact, as we were leaving Stellar Beans, I thought it might be nice to return to Lake Charles for a weekend sometime to float on the lazy river, eat some good gumbo and hang out at the coffee shop. As weekends go, it sounds like a good time.