Friday, January 15, 2010

Of Plantations and Their Recipes

The book is "Plantation Celebrations" by Chef John Folse (self-published) 322 pages $24.95 but I got it for $6 at a library book sale.

It's an interesting book as it's one-half plantation histories; one half recipes. Either half is interesting which is rare in this old world.

I immediately flipped it open and began searching for Madewood Plantation, Napoleonville, LA, because we spent the night there in 1990. If this is the same trip, we started out in New Orleans, drove to the plantation, then on to Baton Rouge -- "See these here bullet holes? Yes, ma'am, that's where ole Kingfish Huey Long got shot!" (It wasn't.) We had dinner for the first (and last time) at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. It was roaringly expensive even then. Next morning, we drove to Lafayette to visit my cousins and had a wonderful time.

Madewood Plantation was built in 1840 and it took four years to cut, plank and plane the pine and cypress trees prior to construction. Over 60,000 hand-made bricks were used to create walls more than 20 in. thick. Ceilings are 14 ft. The ballroom was used every day as the family dining room. You can see Madewood at Google Images, if you'd like.

When we visited, the one night rate was $100 for both of us. this included being there by 4:30 p.m. to tour the house, followed by a wine and cheese recption and then a set-menu dinner by candlelight. Brandy and coffee followed in the parlor. At this point, we were abruptly abandoned by the house keeper who lived on the property. No television, no phones...

The only other guests were a pair who insisted on having the Old Slave Quarters or Oversee's House - can't remember which - at the back of the property, behind the plantation. They parked facing out ... where they unloaded their two dogs. She was an assisted blonde; he wore long sideburns and cowboy boots. After we were deserted post-brandy (no coffee takers) we repaired upstairs to a bedroom, opened a window and went out on to the veranda where there were rocking chairs. They were smoking dope, but we didn't join them. We got along quite well, exchanged addresses - theirs was a post office box - that Christmas and then never heard from them again.

Today, Madewood offers the same amenities, but the price is significantly higher. Sunday through Thursday is $229 single and $259 double. Friday and Saturday are $259 single and $280 double plus 8.5% tax every night.

Recipes tomorrow.

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