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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

BR Foodies Visit Latil's Landing at Houmas House

A group of Baton Rouge Foodies, proudly known quite simply as the BRFoodies, recently made a trip to Burnside and the famous Houmas House Plantation.  The historic house on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi is a thriving tourist and filming destination (including recent episodes of Bravo's Top Chef and Wheel of Fortune) with a Southern charm and beautiful gardens throughout the grounds.  My good friends Paul and Courtney got married at Houmas House and I got a complete tour after the Baton Rouge Socials Media Association's Coastal Social Conference last Fall, but this trip was for a different reason: FOOD!



L to R: Jeremy, Jay, Meghan, Brent, Kelly, Christina, Olivia, Josh and Nick at Houmas House

Our group met Jesse Lambert at the Turtle Bar to begin the evening with a couple cocktails.  Jesse works in marketing for the plantation and graciously offered to meet up with us and talk about the property.  The Turtle Bar sits in one of the twin Garconniere on the property which creates a really unique and historical watering hole.  From there were were off to Latil's Landing Restaurant in the old French House to find our table and start our feast. 

On the second floor of the plantation we found our beautifully set dining table in a private room.  Jesse stayed for dinner and we were also joined by the plantation's owner, Kevin Kelly.  Kevin, a New Orleans native, bought the home in 2003 and restored it to its luxurious yet preserved 1840's roots.  As great as the house and gardens are, and with all of the historical artifacts and relics around the home, Kevin seems to take equal pride in the cuisine that is served at his restaurant.  He told us that before Latil's Landing opened he would routinely find himself returning to New Orleans for dinner.  When he hired Executive Chef Jeremy Langlois to run the restaurant, all of that changed.  He now had a place in Burnside to dine, and it happened to be right outside his bedroom!


Our meal began with an amuse bouche to whet the appetite.  The cucumber and salmon tart refreshed our mouths and got us ready for more gluttonous glory.  The table was also spread with three types of bread and three different house-infused butters including one with fresh honey from the beehives at the plantation!    


Immediately following the very light salmon cucumber came a much heavier crab and mango cake.  The plentiful lump crab meat was sauteed and served with a gorgeously decorated chipotle remoulade sauce.  With the addition of the mango, the crab cake tasted simply sensational.  One of the most popular lunch dishes at Houmas House is the Crab and Mango Cake Salad, and it is quite easy to see why!   


The soup course featured a Latil's Landing specialty: a bisque of curried pumpkin, crawfish, and corn. The soup had a great flavor with a balance of sweetness and spiciness.  The pumpkin and curry tastes were bold and delightful while the crawfish and corn brought it back towards a Cajun bisque that we all know and love.   


For a third course, Sous Chef Bryan Duck delivered a Cosmopolitan Sorbet.  Meant to serve as a palate cleanser before the main entree, the sorbet delivered a little punch of refreshment.  The cranberry heavy sorbet received a little extra encouragement from a shot of orange Grey Goose vodka.  With the pre-dinner cocktails and the constant pours of wine, this sorbet was exactly what I needed to keep the night moving right along!


The duel entree came out to our table and our entire BRFoodie group gasped.  We had already been over-fed, but then we laid our eyes on the lamb and lobster and knew we couldn't stop eating yet.  The lobster portion featured a papaya stuffed lobster tail perched on top of Louisiana crawfish tails with a Creole tomato risotto.  It may have been one of the most inventive lobster dishes I've ever had.  Still, it had nothing on the lamb.  Not to slight the lobster, but the lamb nearly knocked my socks off!  The lamb had been marinated in Louisiana's own Community Coffee and then grilled to a succulent medium rare.  The chops were downright delicious and I was caught gnawing on the bones to get every ounce of flavor out of them!


Naturally, no meal is complete without a dessert at the end.  Latil's Landing served us their Sticky Toffee Bread Pudding to wrap up the meal.  The brown sugar and date bread pudding had a terrific texture and worked very nicely with the toffee sauce.  The blue berries and cream were a nice addition too!


But, as it would turn out, our meal didn't actually end with the bread pudding.  Sous Chef Duck came back up to our dining room with a round of praline shooters.  Chef explained that the shooters were a bit of molecular gastronomy.  It featured a dehydrated and finely ground praline mixed with salt.  When taken as a shot, the praline mixture re-hydrates with saliva and loosely sticks to your mouth leaving the flavor of a salted praline and a very unique textural sensation.  Playing with food is fun!


To cap off the evening, Kevin Kelly led us on a tour of the house and then out to the gardens.  We got an inside look at the former water cistern turned wine cellar that is stocked with an absolutely amazing selection of worldly wines.  Seriously... Mr. Kelly held nothing back when purchasing case after case of Wine Spectator's highest rated wines on the planet!

All in all, it was a great trip to Houmas House.  We had some fantastic drinks, an amazingly delicious meal, and an inside look at the home and property.  I highly suggest a trip out to the plantation whenever you get a chance.  I don't think you'll regret it!

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