So I decided to take a little vacation ... and here's how it works. Over the next couple weeks, I am driving from Houston up to New England and back. Along the way, my kids will meet up with me, presumably flying into an airport in one of the cities I am visiting, but I wouldn't put it past the three of them to lift an SUV and try to race me to Connecticut. I mean, 10 year olds are really advanced nowadays. Just look at the video games they play. When I was 10, Space Invaders (in all of it's block graphic, horizontal-only movement glory) was the height of video game sophistication; today, my 10 and 9 year old sons earhole me from long distance with a sniper rifle in Call of Duty.
At any rate, my plan is to stop in as many college towns as possible between Houston and New York City, and along the way sample recommended cuisine (thank you again to all of my listeners who emailed in suggestions) and buy a piece of gear from the local university. I'm a little over 24 hours into the trip and already I'm wondering why it took me so long to do a trip like this. There's kind of a cool vibe to hitting the open road with only some semblance of a plan as to where and when you'll be stopping. It's kind of like I'm Dr. David Banner from "The Incredible Hulk" randomly bouncing from town to town. Except that I don't have to hitchhike, since I have a car. And also, I'm not presumed dead like he was, so I don't have to change my name to some variation of "Pendergast" at every stop. (Remember how he would introduce himself each episode to his new pal du jour with some new last name that was close to "Banner" but not quite "Banner"? Like "Bannon" or "Barrett"? That D-Banner was slick, especially for a dude with that much gamma radiation tugging away at his body chemistry.)
Ok, I just totally lost any of you who are below the age of 35, so enough Hulk talk ... I made my first stop of the trip on Friday night (July 4th!!) in Lake Charles, LA. After enduring literally two hours of standstill traffic in Vidor, TX caused by road construction, I was hungry. So taking the recommendation of several listeners, I stopped at a bar called Darrell's which is right down the street from the majestic L'Auberge casino. My goal was simple -- to get up on the shrimp scampi po-boy. Now, if you've attended one of our listener events you know that if there's one area in which 1560 listeners are experts, it's cuisine. So I wasn't really concerned about Darrell's. That said, I knew that this recommendation was a stellar one when I called my brother in law in Baton Rouge (he's a Lake Charles native) to let him know I was gonna be staying with him Friday night and I'd be late because I was stopping at Darrell's, and he responded by hyperventilating the following plea: "Get me a Darrell's Special po-boy with jalapeno mayonnaise to go!!". He had this giddy bounce in his voice that I haven't heard since his bachelor party when he found out that we could bring our own beer into the strip club we went to. Needless to say, I knew the grub was gonna be good.
I pulled into the parking lot, and like most good places in Louisiana, Darrell's doesn't look like much on the outside. But if you've ever eaten in south Louisiana, you're aware of the Dive Corollary which clearly states that the quality of food at any given establishment is inversely proportional to the aesthetic beauty of the domicile in which it is housed. (For the record, the Boiling Point in New Iberia, which may or may not be on wheels, is the benchmark for the Dive Corollary.) So I was optimistic.
Upon entering, the first thing you notice is that whoever owns the place has a real hard-on for the deer species. I mean like badly. We're talking like at some point as a kid, the owner had to have been molested by a deer and is now trying to get back at all deer by gunning them down like Tony Soprano rolling over Uncle Junior's crew in the first season of "The Sopranos". That's all I can figure. There were no fewer than ten dear heads on the walls.
After thanking God that I'm not a deer, I went ahead and ordered the shrimp scampi po-boy. In short, it was awesome. Not your typical shrimp po-boy in that the shrimp was actually sauteed, not fried. So the shrimp was laden in butter ... and not so ironically, butter laden shrimp was by far the healthiest thing about this po-boy, which included three kinds of cheese, mayonnaise (regular, not jalapeno flavored), and was housed by Darrell's homemade po-boy bread which they make in house. The bread clinched the five-star status for this delightful creation.
To top it all off, I was served by the lovely and talented Lindley who was kind enough to give a double rods shout out to the 1560 Secret Society.
So in conclusion, if you're ever in Lake Charles losing money at one of the casinos, be sure to set aside $8.99 for a foot long shrimp po-boy at Darrell's.
And if you're winning money, be sure to buy a foot long shrimp po-boy at Darrell's for everyone in your crew. It's what good friends do.
DARRELL'S - LAKE CHARLES, LA
FOOD: SHRIMP PO-BOY