Plaquemines Parish is Louisiana’s southern most parish located where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico. The city of Venice is at the southernmost tip of the spit of land that is Plaquemines Parish.  Bohemia is not quite at the top of the parish but it makes a cute headlline.  Plaquemines is currently home to 23,000 residents and it’s the largest parish when you take into account both land and water.  As you know from previous blog posts, that the percent water keeps growing.

This locale makes it some of the best sport fishing in the world.  But what may not be so obvious is the fact that it is also home to some of the most delicious citrus available AND its harvest time.  Delicious!! This weekend Plaquemines Parish hosts it’s 66th Annual Orange Festival.  (Although it is the sweet and juicy grapefruit from the region that make me jump.  Mmm. Emphasis on the  M.).

Over the decades there have been plenty of events that have shaped the citrus culture of south Louisiana.  Particularly hurricanes and freezes. You can read a brief history of it at the Orange Festival website. Well these events led to the reshaping of the Orange Festival to include all the bounty of the parish hence the current title of Plaquemines Parish Fair and Orange Festival.
The bounty that you can enjoy will include: shrimp, oysters, catfish, duck, geese, oranges, satsumas, grapefruit, meyer lemons, and more.  One of the very unique “more” options is the helicopter rides available.   This sounds so very interesting, offering a rare aerial view of the rich delta and wetlands.

Now you talk to the locals, they’ll tell you about the bounty.  You can catch a fish any day.  Any day.  Bountiful.  Plus, anything you plant grows.  Isabelle, of Isabelle’s Orange Orchard, says that every year during flood season the top soil from the Midwest and all the way up to Canada travels down the Mississippi River and deposits itself on the banks of Plaquemines Parish – the last 100 miles of the Big Muddy.  Anything you plant grows.

This bounty is their way of life, and the bounty of course leads to cooking and eating.  A favorite saying of the locals is “we live here to eat”.  There is a lovely french saying, but you will have to go to get the authentic version and experience it.

Although the festival site – Fort Jackson – is only 70 miles south of New Orleans, you  may want to broaden your Plaquemines experience with an overnight stay.  All the accommodations available are local and are colorful.  You can even stay at a magnificent river plantation home.  Yes, there are plantation homes south of New Orleans.  You won’t find many left and you will only find ONE that offers overnight accommodations. That would be Woodland Plantation in West Point a la Hache.

Woodland Plantation offers true southern comfort (not to mention that an image of Woodland has graced the label of Southern Comfort bottles since 1935).  The service, food, accommodations, natural beauty make this a lovely stop or stay.  We once enjoyed here THE best boiled shrimp I’ve ever eaten.   The proprietor is also a great resource for experiencing the parish.

Their friend, Mr. Boudreaux, offers a fantastic boat tour through bayous, canals, and communities only accessible by boat.   They can also guide you on bountiful fishing excursions and birding adventures.   Just like New Orleans and areas north, Plaquemines is a cultural hotbed.   Here the focus is experiencing (and eating ) in the sportsman’s paradise.
Now to complete the blog, I want to share with you the Kim Cappiello Benoit’s orange pecan pie recipe, which won the 2008 Best Overall Winner in the Plaquemines Parish Fair and Citrus Festival Citrus Dessert Contest.

ORANGE PECAN PIE – The recipe comes with a bonus!  An orange marmalade recipe, great for gifting.
1 9-inch frozen pie shell
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flour
1⁄2 cup light corn syrup
1⁄2 cup orange marmalade (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
11⁄2 cups pecan halves
Zest of 1 medium orange
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake pie shell for 10 minutes. Blend sugar, salt and flour. In another bowl, lightly beat eggs with corn syrup, marmalade and vanilla. Mix wet and dry ingredients.

See you out and about in bountiful Plaquemines Parish!

Every thing lovely,

Out and About is a weekly blog by Leslie Compton of Every Thing Lovely, a special event and creative consulting team, and is sponsored by Key to NOLA Properties, a full service real estate brokerage firm specializing in furnished rental properties in New Orleans, Key to NOLA Properties and Every Thing Lovely have joined forces to provide a full array of services for travelers’ ( and locals’) personal and professional needs while in the Crescent City.