Pigskin Pursuit

An eight year odyssey across the backroads of America during the ultimate College Football roadtrip.

Tag: LSU 2010 (page 1 of 2)

Hold That Tiger! LSU vs Tennessee

I love Louisiana.

 

Yes, I said it.

 

Like other great states (I’m looking at you Massachusetts and Texas), Louisiana has a robust identity. When you are in Louisiana, you know you are in Louisiana. It has a culture, heritage and identity completely unique to itself and it permeates all aspects of life there. The food, music, topography and language are all distinctive to the state and ingrained through generations into the social fabric. Furthermore, Louisianans are proud of this heritage, and like few other places I have been there is a shared solidarity among them that celebrates it. Whether it be kindness or “southern” hospitality, Louisianans take every opportunity to share that pride with you, and welcome you into their homes.

 

 

Nowhere was this hospitality more evident than with our host for the weekend, and proud fifth generation Louisianan (Louisianite?), Mandy. More appropriately, Mandy, and an assortment of her extended family that graciously welcomed us into all aspects of LSU and the broader Louisiana experience.

 

If it’s one place that people know how to tailgate, it’s LSU.Tiger fans have elevated tailgating to an art form in Baton Rouge.Sprawled among the campus under towering live oaks, you’ll find some of the most elaborate spreads and mouth watering Cajun fare simmering away beneath a sea of purple and yellow tents.

 

Starting our own festivities for the day, was one such pre game tailgate with Ron and Karen along with their famed “Van Geaux” tailgating machine. A reclaimed DHL delivery truck, Van Geaux housed the most welcoming tailgate setup we have attended in our all of our trips thus far. After wrestling our overflowing cooler of adult beverages over, we were greeted by a fantastic setup ranging from cookies and sausage balls to a coffin sized crock pot full of home made chicken and Andouille Gumbo. Better than all of that, however, were the dozens of other friends and family members that welcomed us with open arms and never let a cup go empty regardless of the colors some in our party were wearing. It was truly remarkable hospitality that almost made going into the game an afterthought.

 

However, I glanced down at our tickets that yet another of Mandy’s uncles had procured for us and noticed they were in the fourth row, so with a little corralling into the game we eagerly filed and settled into some of the best seats in the Tiger Stadium.

 

LSU versus Tennessee proved to be one of the more interesting games I have ever witnessed. With the exception of a field goal, the Tigers scored exactly twice on the day: on the first play of the game and the last play of the game. In between was an offense that sputtered to establish any momentum, and couldn’t sustain a drive all afternoon. The final series has been rehashed on TV all week, as the Vols thought they had the game won when LSU botched a shotgun snap on the final play. A hailstorm of debris came raining down from the LSU student section in protest of the botched ending, making me glad I had opted for LSU yellow.
 

Unfortunately, the temporary Tennessee victors forgot that you aren’t allowed to throw a bakers dozen jerseys out there on defense, and the yellow flag on the field would give LSU one final play.The Tigers took advantage of this fortunate second chance and crashed into the endzone for the win.Lost in the fact that LSU won, however, was how poorly head coach Les Miles managed the clock during the final two minutes of the game.I’m sure the fickle fans in Baton Rouge will not be too quick to let that get swept under the carpet.

 

 

This is our second time back to Tiger Stadium for a game, and I can assure you that LSU is an absolutely phenomenal experience.

 

The festivities weren’t over after the game however as more of Mandy’s ever gracious family invited all of us over to “visit” after the game. What followed was one of the more simplest yet delicious feasts that I have sunk my teeth into anywhere in our College Football travels. Jay was a master chef for the evening as fresh caught gulf shrimp were deftly battered in a homemade breading recipe and fried up Cajun style in the backyard. Eager open faced rolls awaited these golden nuggets from heaven along with all the fixin’s, and what followed was one of the shortest lived Po’Boys in the history of Louisiana. Deep fried sweet potato hush puppies accompanied the Po’Boys, the mix for which was acquired through Jay’s elusive connections to a local proprietor. These sweet potato hush puppies were absolutely sublime. On the scale of addictiveness they ranked somewhere between heroin and raw nicotine.

 

Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of the feast in Kenny and Sandy’s backyard as I was a bit preoccupied with gorging myself into an early triple bypass. Some things are better left to the imagination anyway.

 

In the end, in case you haven’t realized it yet, LSU versus Tennessee was the perfect College Football weekend. It blended the perfect mixture of amazing friends (both old and new), welcoming family, unique culture, native foods, tailgating, gameday atmosphere and an incredible, competitive game. It’s the best of what College Football represents and an experience we won’t soon forget.

 

 

Special thanks to Bryce and Kate for coming along with us, especially all the planning that Kate put into making this weekend special. Sorry again about the Vols.

Thanks again to Mandy and Jake for making us part of their family, and all the incredible work that Mandy did into making this such a memorable experience. We hope to get you to Texas sometime.

And of course, thank you to all of Mandy’s family members, Karen, Ronald, Kenny, Sandy, Jay and a host of other incredibly kind and generous folks that opened their homes and tailgates to us.

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Pat’s BBQ

If you had to picture the quintessential road side Barbecue joint, Pat’s Barbecue in Tyler, Texas would be the image that comes into your held. Nestled into the piney woods of East Texas along the side of a rural county highway, Pat’s has all the hole in the wall rustic charm that one looks for in a proper barbecue shack. Having been around since the 1970’s, the building itself is a charred icon to generations of smoked meat, as a charcoal patina stains the interior of the rickety screen clad structure. The screens were a welcome reprieve for us on a breezy fall afternoon as we squeezed into one of four tables in the smoky interior for a late Sunday lunch.

 

While the ambience and charm at Pat’s is among the top handful of barbecue places I have ever been, the food itself resides somewhere closer to average. The sausage, both spicy and regular, were standard fare and tasted accordingly. The ribs and brisket were better, both had decent texture and moistness, but lacked a real depth of smokiness and flavor. Pat’s does use an appropriate old style brick pit, so I’m not quite sure why they didn’t have the same depth of flavor as other traditional BBQ joints. Finally, unsolicited sauce is the unfortunate norm at Pat’s, and I had to firmly ask twice that no sauce adorn my vittles. Others in our party weren’t so fortunate…

 

In the end, Pat’s is still certainly worth a visit if you find yourself in East Texas cruising along I-20. The rustic ambience alone is certainly worth the visit, especially juxtaposed to some of the modern metal BBQ monstrosities that I have visited around the state. The barbecue, while not exceptional, still satisfies and is certainly preferable to anything else you’re likely to find along the highway.

 

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Café De Amis: I bid you Andouille

Sunday morning the drive home brought us back to Breaux Bridge, though evidently the town is also referred to as Pont Breaux, famous of course for being the crawfish capital of the world. After passing back over the eerie thirty mile stretch of elevated highway bisecting the Atchafalaya Basin (the largest swamp in the United States), we arrived in downtown Breaux Bridge with eager appetites. Café De Amis was on the agenda this morning, as they are well known for dishing out uniquely Cajun breakfast fare.

 

We promptly ordered up a round of beignets for the table, which, for my sheltered northeast readers, are small balls of fried dough dusted with powdered sugar. I only wish they had some cane syrup to pair with them. While I tend to be a breakfast traditionalist most of the time, it’s not often that I see Eggs Begnaud on the menu (okay I’ll confess I’ve never seen Eggs Benaud in my life before) so I figured it was an appropriate time to embrace my inner Louisiane’. Eggs Begnaud, as I learned, is a grilled biscuit with scrambled eggs smothered with crawfish au gratin. This was a delicious departure from traditional biscuits and gravy, and the silky crawfish gravy was the perfect morning indulgence. The meal was finished off with an order of andouille cheese grits on the side, which were absolutely divine and the unanimous favorite of our discerning table.

 

Café De Amis is certainly worth a stop if you’re passing through Breaux Bridge with a morning hankering for some comforting Cajun food.

 

http://www.cafedesamis.com/

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Friday Night Lights: Louisiana Style

Parkview vs Dutchtown

 

Friday night we were able to catch our second high school game of the season, and thought it would be appropriate to check out the action under Friday night lights in Louisiana. Texas isn’t the only state with a claim to high school football. This matchup would bring us to Geismar, Louisiana about thirty minutes south of Baton Rouge to witness undefeated Dutchtown High School versus Parkview Baptist.

 

 

Though Dutchtown was the host, we settled into some rail spots on the visitor side to support the Parkview squad. Mandi, our Louisiana guide for the weekend, has an uncle that is the head coach of the Parkview squad. So we appropriately shifted our allegiances to the visitor for this game.

 

 

Unfortunately, our efforts couldn’t power the Eagles over the Griffins on this night. It was a hard fought and close game for all four quarters. With a few minutes remaining Dutchtown was clinging to a seven point lead when Parkview blocked a punt deep in Griffin territory and threatened to tie it up. With five ticks left on the clock Parkview had a final shot at the endzone to tie the game, but the fade pass flew out the back of the endzone and Dutchtown held on for the win.

 

 

Another great night for football.

 

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