The Best Things to Do in St. Tammany Parish on the Cheap This Weekend
I love to go tubing. A simple creature, plopping my butt in an inner tube then floating down a river with a group of friends while alternating between eating fried chicken and drinking beer (this is the only time I drink beer), staring at the sky, and disentangling myself and my tube from whatever vines, brush, boulders, and whatnot is my idea of a very fine day. I like kayaking and canoeing, too, but I am known for being the uncoordinated one most likely to flip the vessel, so I am not a Top Tier Pick for these activities. I have never tried skydiving but it is not out of the question.
In this time of social distancing when outdoor activities are regarded as particularly virtuous the communities on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain have been abuzz with visitors from around the region seeking the pine-scented air and clean waterways the area is known for. With the recently launched Tammany Taste of Summer Savings Pass those outdoor activities just became more accessible than ever. Now through the end of September visitors to the area will enjoy discounts courtesy of the St. Tammany Parish Tourist Commission and the many businesses participating in the program, which include Bayou Adventure, Brooks’ Bike Shop rentals, Cajun Encounters Honey Island Swamp Tours, Canoe and Trail Adventures, Culinary Kids, Escapology Covington, Gold Coast Skydivers, Louisiana Tours and Adventures, and 30xNinety Theatre.
Those more inclined toward adventures in dining can enjoy offers like prix fixe, BOGO and family meals and appetizer, drink and dessert specials at many restaurants including Annadele’s, Café Lynn, Ceasar’s Ristorante, Dakota, Forks and Corks, Gallagher’s (Grill, 527 Front St.), Impastato Cellars, The Lakehouse, Restaurant Côté, Samurai, The English Tea Room, NOLA Southern Grill, Pyre Provisions, Giddy Up Folsom, Zea, Abita Brew Pub, Liz’s Where Y’at Diner, Bosco’s Abita Roasting Company,T-Rivers Bar and Grill, Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar, Rieger’s on the Trace, S&H Good Eats Cafe and Bayou Boil n Geaux.
At the end of the day check into a Northshore hotel or bed and breakfast and continue the adventure the next day. Rooms should be booked directly from the TammanyTaste.com website to receive discounts: 25 percent off Blue Heron B&B, 10 percent off the Southern Hotel or Abita Springs Hotel, and 35 percent off Wingate by Wyndam in Slidell. More accommodations are being added daily.
Tammany Taste of Summer Passes are also available at TammanyTaste.com. As participants redeem offers, pass holders can enter to win a grand prize of a private wine dinner for four or a charter fishing excursion.
I don’t know about you but my own neighborhood has grown pretty boring. A day in the sun, an evening at a cool restaurant and a good night’s sleep in an interesting place sounds pretty appealing right about now. All the better if I can do it on the cheap.
Can’t get away, you say? Set a lovely table and whip up a batch of Chef Kim Kringle’s sensational Crabmeat & Brie Soup. You will still feel transported—especially if you serve it with Champagne and peals of laughter.
Crabmeat & Brie Soup
Courtesy of Chef Kim Kringlie Dakota Restaurant, Covington
- 2 lbs. fresh Louisiana blue crabs
- 2 oz. olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 3 ribs celery, diced
- 1 pod garlic, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 oz. brandy
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 qts. water
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup flour
- 2 qts. heavy whipping cream
- 8 oz. Brie cheese
- 1 tsp. white pepper
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 lb. picked jumbo lump crabmeat
Using a meat mallet or hammer, crack open crab shells until meat is exposed. In a 1-gallon stockpot, heat the olive oil; add cracked crabs and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the vegetables and bay leaves and continue to sauté for 5 minutes. Add the brandy, white wine and water; bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 45 minutes. Using a skimmer, remove crabs and vegetables from stock. Cover and reduce heat to low
In a small sauté skillet, melt the butter and blend in flour until a smooth and creamy roux is achieved; simmer over low heat for 1 minute. Add the mixture to hot stock and blend using a wire whisk until the roux is dissolved. Add the heavy cream and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the outside rind from Brie and discard Cut the cheese into 1-inch cubes and add to the stock, stirring constantly until the cheese completely melts. Season the soup with salt, white pepper, and cayenne. Strain the soup through a fine strainer. Gently fold in the add jumbo lump crabmeat and allow to hear through. Serve hot.
Have a good weekend, everyone. Use it to celebrate the people and the culture you love. Do something nice for someone, maybe a stranger. You will feel better.