DREAM AWAY Update 02-07-2014


January has been a fun month with some social activities, and continuing work on DREAM AWAY. The work on DREAM AWAY is covered in the January Maintenance Log.

Some of the social activities centered around our new cruisers Johnal and Cindy off of the sailing yacht RUTHIE. We have enjoyed showing them Acadiana, and all of the unique aspects of this area. They arrived in December, but went off for a week over Christmas to be with their family. So, when the weather permitted at the begining of January, we took them to see the sights.

Our first outing was right here in Delcambre. We went to Cafe Jefferson for lunch. Before we went into the Cafe, we watched the film on Jefferson Island, home of the Rip Van Winkle Gardens, and the Lake Peigneur disaster. After a scrumptious lunch and a wonderful visit, we took Johnal and Cindy on the tour of the Joseph Jefferson Mansion .

After the lunch and the tour, we ran a couple of errands, and drove around Abbeville and Erath a bit, then we headed back to the marina.

Another day we did what we call our “New Iberia day" with Johnal and Cindy.

We left Delcambre and drove to the Konrico Rice Mill. We all watched their wonderful video about Acadiana in general and rice production in particular. Then Johnal and Cindy took the tour of the mill. When the tour was completed, they did some shopping in the company store, purchasing some of the goodies available.

We then drove into downtown New Iberia and had lunch at Victor's Cafe, which is a much visited place by the fictional character Dave Robicheaux. He is the main character in the series written by James Lee Burke, who grew up in the New Iberia area. It was a very tasty meal, and we all had left overs to take home.

After lunch, we went to the Shadows On The Teche home. Kitty and I watched the video about the house with Johnal and Cindy, and then they took the tour while Kitty and I read our books. When the tour was completed, we headed back to Delcambre, stopping for groceries on the way.

We were planing a trip to New Orleans to pick up two sheets of King Starboard and two pieces of Optix acrylic sheet for the hard dodger.

We decided we would make the trip a mini vacation. It had been forever since either of us had ridden the famous street cars in New Orleans, and both Kitty and I wanted to see the National World War II Museum.

I knew there was a rum distillery in New Orleans. Our friends, Jimmy and Barbara from Houston, had told us about it many years ago, so we decided to put a visit there on our itinerary. This got me thinking about rum distillerys in general so I did some research on that subject. This research will be covered further on.

On Sunday morning the 12th of January, we finished our packing and loaded the Black Beast to drive from Delcambre to New Orleans. We got to our hotel, The Sleep Inn in Metarie, dropped off our stuff, and then rode the famous street cars. We rode the Canal Street street car from the cemeteries to Cafe Du Mode at the French Market. Kitty had never been to the Cafe Du Mode for coffee and beignets, so we experienced that! We finished off the day by riding the famous St. Charles street car through the Garden District.

On Monday, we spent the entire day at the National World War II Museum complex. What a place, and all very well done. We did not see it all, and we will go back to finish off the total experience.

On Tuesday, we drove to Piedmont Plastics to pick up the two sheets of King Starboard and the two pieces of Optix acrylic sheet. When we finished, we drove over to the Celebration Distillery for the tour and tasting. It was a very informative tour, and we enjoyed the tasting. While there, we purchased a bottle of the Old New Orleans Cajun Spice rum. We left the distillery and drove back to Delcambre in time to attend the Twin Parish Port District meeting.

My initial distillery research took place well before the New Orleans trip. My thoughts were that since we are living in the heart of sugar cane country, there should be at least one rum distillery in the area. After all, Louisiana is the second largest producer of sugar cane products in the United States. A distilled spirit can not be called rum unless it is distilled from a sugar cane product. That includes either molassas, sugar juice, or a combination of both.

To find the closest rum distillery, I went to my goto source on the Internet, Ministry of Rum. This was rather disappointing as the two closest rum distilleries listed were the Celebration Distillery in New Orleans and the Railean Distillers in San Leon, Texas. When I went on the Internet just searching for distilleries in Louisiana I was fortunate to find three, and all three are in the heart of Acadiana!

This is when I thought it would be great to put together a "Rum Tour of Acadiana". Of course, before the tour could be put together, I would have to test the "waters" so to speak. We contacted our friends, Jimmy and Barbara, in Houston, and put together a plan to do the practice tour.

Before we did the complete tour, we arranged to visit the Rank Wildcat Spirits distillery in Lafayette with the new cruisers, Johnal and Cindy. The Rank Wildcat Spirits distillery is a small operation. They had been out of production for the holidays, and would not start production again for another week. At mid-day on January 11th, we drove to the distillery. When we arrived, Dave and Cole, the founders, were there to greet us and give us the “tour”. Even though it is a small operation, their hand-crafted product “Sweet Crude” white rum is excellent! We thoroughly enjoyed the tour, visiting with the founders, and viewing the two awards they have already received, not to mention the rum tasting.

After our trip to New Orleans, we had scheduled a total "Acadiana Rum Tour" with our frinds Jimmy and Barbara. On January 16th, we left Delcambre and headed west down highway LA14 to Lacassine, LA.

We met, Jimmy and Barbara at the Louisiana Spirits Distillery for a tour and rum tasting.

This was the first stop on our Great Acadiana Rum Distillery Tour! They showed a very interesting film before the tour, and the tour itself was very informative. The spirits they are presently producing are distilled from a raw sugar and blackstrap molasses combination, both purchased from a local sugar cane mill, M.A. Patout & Sons. It is the oldest sugar company in the United States still owned and operated by the original family. The company opened in 1825.

The distillery is definitely planning to be a very large operation. They would allow no pictures to be taken during the tour, so I do not have any to add to the log.

We went to the tasting room after the tour and had samples of their Silver Bayou white rum and the Spiced Bayou dark rum. Neither rum is aged. The white rum had a nice, unique flavor that comes from the distilling process. I purchased a bottle of the Silver Bayou white rum to have for a future rum tasting at home.

We left the Louisiana Spirits Distillery and drove to Lake Arthur, Louisiana, to have dinner at the Regatta, a restaurant on Lake Arthur. We had a very nice meal, and then continued home to Delcambre.

We spent the morning getting caught up with Barbara and Jimmy. Then we left Delcambre, around 1330, to head east to Thibodaux, LA, so we could visit the Donner-Peltier distillers.

We arrived at the distillery at about 1530 and met Austin, who would be our tour guide, and Tess, who explained a bit of the distillery’s history. Tess told us the legend of the Rougaroux. Like most legends, there are many variations.

Austin and Tess also described the products distilled by Donner-Peltier Distillers. As we were waiting for others to join the tour, we decided to do the tastings before the distillery tour. The first product offered by Donner-Peltier distillers was a vodka under the brand name of Oryza, which is the Latin word for rice. They distill the vodka from fermented rice. Using the same base alcohol as is used for the vodka, they also produce a gin with the same brand name, Oryza.

The vodka had a nice flavor to it. I am not a gin person, so their gin did nothing for me. It did taste very good when it was mixed with tonic.

Next, we tasted all three of their rums, all under the brand name of Rougaroux. The first rum is Sugarshine, which is their white rum. The second rum is Full Moon Dark Rum, which is aged, and flavored using oak chips. The third rum is 13 Pennies Praline Rum, which is aged and flavored with spices and pecans.

The Sugarshine white rum has a nice flavor, and is not sharp. The Full Moon Dark Rum is a nice rum with a bolder flavor. The 13 Pennies Praline Rum has a nice and very unique flavor, which makes a nice sipping rum.

The other folks did not show up, so we went on the tour, guided by Austin. He explained how they use raw sugar and blackstrap molasses, purchased from Lafourche Sugars, which is also located in Thibodaux, as the basis of their rums. They use separate fermenting tanks for the vodka and rums. Their still, “Big Betty”, is very sophisticated, as it is a pot still and a reflux still combined. It is also automatically cleaned after each run.

We got to see Austin add the distilling yeast to a fermenting tank that had settled out and was ready to continue the fermenting process.

Before leaving the distillery, I purchased a bottle of the 13 Pennies Praline Rum because Kitty really liked the flavor and we thought it would go great mixed with the Swamp Pop Cream Praline Soda.

When we left the distillery, we went to Bubba’s II Poboys and Seafood. We had a nice seafood dinner, with a very good gumbo, and then headed back to Delcambre.

On the morning of January 18th, we had a great breakfast, then climbed into the Black Beast and drove into Lafayette to visit the Rank Wildcat Spirits Distillery which, again, is a small artisan micro-distillery, and the second fully licensed rum distillery in Louisiana since prohibition.

We were their first “production tour”, and were again hosted by the founders, David and Cole. Their still is a reflux still, hand crafted by David and Cole, and named “Lulu”. David named Lulu after a pot-bellied pig that had been a neighbor’s family pet when he was young.

The rum they produce, Sweet Crude white rum, is made from only sugar cane juice. There is no molasses in it. The adjustments they make to the juice, and their fermentation process, are the secrets to their excellent product.

The cane juice they are using is purchased from a local sugar cane mill, M.A. Patout & Sons. As I mentioned, it is the oldest sugar company in the United States still owned and operated by the original family, and was opened in 1825.

Sweet Crude rum is not aged. It goes from the still to the proofing containers where ionized water is added to bring the proof down from 170 proof to 80 proof. We tasted the Sweet Crude and found it to be an excellent sipping rum. I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed sipping a white rum.

They are planning on introducing two aged rums in the future. One will be called Black Gold Single Harvest, and the other will be called Black Gold using the Solera process.

The Single Harvest product will be a single batch of three to four barrels of aged rum blended together to create a special flavor. Once this product is gone, it will never be repeated.

The Solera process will be repeatable and will be an ongoing product. It will be their signature aged rum. We are all looking forward to both products.

After the tour, we drove over to E’s Kitchen so Jimmy & Barbara could purchase a bottle of “ Sweet Crude”. The Rank Wildcat Spirits distillery does not yet have a license to sell the product at the distillery. Kitty also purchased a four pack of Swamp Pop Cream Praline Soda.

We drove back to DREAM AWAY, and had a bit of a rum tasting before dinner. The first drink was the 13 Pennies Praline Rum from the Donner-Peltier Distillery and the Swamp Pop Cream Praline Soda mixed together. The drink tasted just like eating a pecan praline. It was very sweet, and would make a great dessert cocktail, or good poured over ice cream.

The second drink was the Old New Orleans Rum Iced Tea. It is made with sweetened ice tea and the Old New Orleans Cajun Spice rum. It is quite a flavorful drink and very refreshing.

We had a great dinner that night using a new recipe for us all. It was roasted sausages and grapes. We all enjoyed the dinner.

On the morning of January 18, we had another great breakfast, after which Jimmy and Barbara headed back to Houston. The Great Acadiana Rum Distillery Tour was a complete success, so now all I have to do is write an article about the distilleries.

I realized I had not mentioned the tender, inflatable, or outboards in the About DREAM AWAY page of the web page. They are now explained in the Mechanical Equipment & Engine Details section of the About DREAM AWAY page.

Because of the amazingly cold winter we are having here in South Louisiana, I have put together a section called the North Pier Marina Winter Freeze. This covers the two winter storms we have had in January.

As much as we love living here in Acadiana, those two storms have convinced us we will be much closer to the equator come next winter. No certain date to leave, but I would like to be on our way by the end of June, 2014.

Hope everyone is surviving these blasts of winter weather we are having, and looking forward to a warm spring.

Mardi Gras is ramping up here in Acadiana. There are parades and parties of one nature or another pretty much every weekend until Mardi Gras. We are sampling many varieties of King Cake. The battle against a trim waistline is in full force!

Laissez les bons temps rouler.



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