Making the Case for Macon

Macon, Georgia, which is just 90 minutes from Atlanta and 3.5 hours from both Birmingham and Chattanooga and four hours from Charleston and Jacksonville, is often an overlooked destination.  Located in the center to Georgia–or should we say the very heart and soul of the state–Macon is a fun-filled destination with both a fascinating history, an exciting present, and a bright future. Still need convincing? Here are four reasons among many to put Macon on your bucket list.

  • Makin’ Fun: Macon is the home of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, so sports-aholics can get their fix of every sport at every level of play. But for some what’s best about Macon’s athletic scene is that it’s home to the best-named baseball team in the whole game: the Macon Baco. Yes, really. That alone should prove that Macon is a fun place. As for the Macon Bacons, it’s part of a wood-bat collegiate summer league whose roster teams (pardon the pun) with top players from schools around the country. Not only does the team have a delicious name, but it also has a mascot that really sizzles: Kevin, a seven-foot-tall slice of bacon. Get it … Kevin Bacon? Our pal Kevin Bacon loves to dance particularly it’s one of the songs from the movie “Footloose.” A dancing strip of bacon imakes sense. After all Macon is a city that’s all about music. As an aside, the Bacons’ archrivals are the Savannah Bananas. We love that name but really, if it’s a contest between bacon and bananas, we’d choose bacon every time.
  • Makin’ Movies: The baseball team plays at historic Luther Williams Field, built in 1929 and recently refurbished. Even if you haven’t been to a game (yet), the field might look familiar to you because it’s starred on the screen in “The Bingo Long Traveling All Stars and Motor Kings,” a 1976 movie starring Billy Dee Williams; “The Trouble with the Curve,” a 2012 film featuring Clint Eastwood; “42,” the 2013 biopic about baseball legend Jackie Robinson; and the Hank Azaria TV comedy “Brockmire.” Macon is the site of plenty of movie-making, most recently welcoming an all-star cast that was in town filming the remake of “The Color Purple,” which is set for release in 2023. The film is being produced by Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Quincy Jones. (As an aside, if our mention of Kevin Bacon above has you playing “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” you might be interested in knowing that each of those producers has a Bacon Number of 2. The actor, we mean. Not the baseball mascot. The version wearing a frying pan as a cap is probably separated by a few additional degrees.)
  • Makin’ Music: This new version of “The Color Purple” is an adaptation of the Broadway musical, so Macon was the perfect location. This is a city with deep musical roots (fun fact: this is where the kazoo was invented, by a formerly enslaved man named Alabama Vest all the way back in 1840), and it lives up to its tagline, “Where Soul Lives.” It’s the hometown of Otis Redding, Little Richard and The Allman Brothers, all of whom left indelible marks on the place and its people. Today, visitors can learn more about Macon’s musical history by checking out live performances at an array of venues, visiting the Otis Redding Foundation Museum or the Allman Brothers Museum at the Big House, or taking a public or private Rock Candy Tour, which could focus on music alone or the delightful combo of music and food.
  • Makin’ Dinner: Macon has an incredible food scene, and some its top restaurants have ties to music. The Downtown Grill a fancy English steakhouse, is where Greg Allman proposed to Cher, but it’s H&H Soul Food where the band spent even more time … and then took its former owner, Mama Louise, on the road with them so they could have their favorite meals on the tour bus. Today you’ll find everything from upscale to down-home offerings, plus plenty of liquid refreshment to accompany all the amazing tastes.

Pro tip: For a great lunch option, hit The Rookery and order pretty much any sandwich or burger … and a milkshake chaser. We don’t think it’s a coincidence that many menu items feature bacon in a starring role. Because, as we know, it always comes back to bacon.

And there you have it … in just three degrees of separation from baseball to burger, Makin’ it in Macon is all about fun, food, sports, history, and so much more.

For more information or to begin planning a trip, start here

The Guardian: Restoring Hawaii’s ancient food forests

The Guardian: The farmers restoring Hawaii’s ancient food forests that once fed an island | Hawaii. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/17/hawaii-traditional-farming-methods-ancient-food-forests

Our community has been using their skills and creativity to pivot, fill food system gaps, and serve Hawaiʻi’s nutritional needs during this unprecedented time.

Through thoughtful interviews and photographic portraiture, we spotlight the necessity of a collective commitment needed to sustain our emerging system of resiliency, of a self-sufficient Hawaiʻi. From Feeding Hawai’i.

The Last of Howard Johnson’s

The loss of an American iconic restaurant and motel chain.:

HoJo’s no mo’: The last remnant of ‘the oranging of America’ has closed https://flip.it/l2.5Rk

It’s the End of an Era

Courtesy of New York Public Library.

With its signature orange roof, glistening pool with both high and low dives, restaurant with signature clam strips and 28 flavors of ice cream when nationwide chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla were typically all that was offered, Howard Johnson’s had it all.

Learn more about it in the book A History of Howard Johnson’s: How a Massachusetts Soda Fountain Became an American Icon (American Palate).

West Baden Springs Resort: Southern Indiana’s calming oasis

By Special Guest Blogger Kathy Witt.

It is fitting that West Baden Springs Hotel, a magnificent domed resort built in 1902 in the manner of the grand spas of Europe, sits along an Indiana Historic Pathways route. The roads tell the story of Indiana and the country, beginning with the hoofs of the bison and moving through time to the wheels of the stagecoach, the tracks laid by the railroads and the cars meandering along today in search of a historic resort that looks more Bavaria than America’s Crossroads.

Located in the southern part of the state, West Baden Springs’ own story begins in the mid-nineteenth century with a stretch of marshland, a hidden natural spring and one man’s dream to create a holiday destination that would ultimately overshadow the prestigious French Lick Springs Resort, built in 1845 and located just a mile down the road.

It is a story of intense rivalry between two visionary hoteliers, devastating fires and full-scale renovations and expansions that brought each resort to national prominence as luxurious health resorts. Both properties took advantage of their location amidst the natural mineral springs of the area, promoting the springs for their medicinal value and successfully marketing the “curative” water as Pluto (French Lick) and Sprudel (West Baden).

Today, the hotels are part of French Lick Resort, a classic, family-friendly destination with three golf courses, two spas and plenty of activities and entertainment to fill a long weekend. While the onsite casino, bowling alley, arcade and children’s activities give French Lick Springs a kickier vibe, West Baden Springs is a calming oasis that retains its Old World charm with European architecture, fairytale towers and a bricked entrance road that rolls out alongside the hotel’s formal gardens.

Favorite pastimes at West Baden Springs are lounging, dining, sipping cocktails and enjoying afternoon tea in the enormous atrium, a light and airy gathering space, once known as a Pompeian Court, with comfy, cushy seating scattered throughout. It is topped by the free-spanning dome, a steel and glass marvel measuring 195 feet in diameter and 130 feet in height and the reason the hotel was branded the “Eighth Wonder of the World” when it opened.

Guests naturally gravitate to this stunning space, where they can see remnants of the mosaic terrazzo tile flooring that, when originally installed in 1916, consisted of two million squares of marble, plus a fireplace that looks like a piece of art and passageways that spoke off to various parts of the hotel, including registration, dining and the pool and spa.

The hotel’s six stories and their 243 guestrooms and suites encircle the atrium, with about 40 of these inviting retreats featuring a balcony that opens up to an incredible view of the dome and everything beneath it. Like the atrium itself, the balcony rooms are a perfect nook for relaxing and listening to the piano player as his fingers travel through a playlist of familiar melodies each evening.

Relaxation

Also relaxing is a visit to the spa, designed using historic photographs to capture the resort’s original two-level natatorium layout. Like the resort itself, the spa combines that Old World sensibility with European elegance to create a tranquil retreat. The spa offers a number of different treatments, including massages, facials and body scrubs.

Hidden History

Hidden off the registration area is the library, a hushed spot that brings to mind Agatha Christie novels, brandy snifters and hound dogs dozing by the fire with its plump chairs, dark paneling and classic rolling library ladder. Another one: The museum gallery tucked off a first floor corridor. It is a history lesson, arranged in glass cases and on the walls, of West Baden Springs as seen through its early hotel décor and dishware, promotional posters and vintage pictures.

Acitivities & Events

West Baden Springs Hotel offers numerous activities – onsite shopping, historic and horse-drawn carriage tours, strolling the formal gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and indoor hot tub, fitness center access, horseback riding, golfing and a variety of scheduled events and concerts.

It also inspires slowing down, relishing being in the moment and appreciating all the stories told through the architecture, activities and traditions of one of the country’s most beautiful and historic resorts.

Plan Your Travels

The AAA Four Diamond West Baden Springs Hotel is a National Landmark Hotel and member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts. Its 243 luxury guest rooms and suites are each individually decorated. The room rate comes with a number of complimentary items: valet and self-parking, resort-wide shuttle service, two bottles of water daily and Wi-Fi/Internet. It is also a pet-friendly hotel. Note that daily housekeeping and nightly turn-down service are currently suspended.

A trolley, running seven days a week, takes guests back and forth between West Baden Springs and French Lick Springs hotels. At West Baden, the depot is located adjacent to the gardens; at French Lick, it is near the casino.

Information and reservations: 888-936-9360, www.FrenchLick.com/hotels/WestBaden.

Packages

The resort offers a number of special packages (www.FrenchLick.com/hotels/packages for details), including these:

  • Mother’s Day (May 7 and 8) – includes overnight accommodations at West Baden Springs on Saturday or Sunday and Mother’s Day Brunch for two in the Atrium on May 8, featuring omelet, waffle and carving stations, chilled seafood bar and more.
  • Romance – includes resort accommodations, red rose on check-in, bottle of house wine and special welcome gift, plus a $105 French Lick Resort dining credit.
  • Happy Birthday – includes resort accommodations, welcome gift, birthday cake, $20 in ice cream credit and a $75 dining credit.

About Kathy Witt

Kathy Witt is an award-winning travel and lifestyle writer who writes a monthly syndicated travel column for Tribune News Service, is a regular contributor to Kentucky Living, Georgia and Travel Goods magazines and RealFoodTraveler.com as well as other outlets like County. She is the author of several books, including Cincinnati Scavenger (Fall 2022) Secret Cincinnati and The Secret of the Belles, and is working on another travel-themed book for Fall 2023 release. Kathy is a member of SATW (Society of American Travel Writers), Authors Guild and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Her writing has led to many cherished experiences and memories, including glacier walking in the foothills of Denali; being a Guardian on an Honor Flight from Louisville, KY to Washington D.C.; interviewing Dolly Parton several times; sailing with Oprah with Holland America Cruises; riding BOLT!, the roller coaster aboard Carnival’s Mardi Gras; and attending the 70th Anniversary Re-Premiere of Gone With the Wind, hosted by the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum, where she got to enjoy the company of actress Ann Rutherford (“Carreen O’Hara”) and the “Three Beaus” – Mickey Kuhn, Patrick Curtis and Greg Giese.

Mark Your Calendars for Bourbon Heritage Month

When it comes to bourbon, it’s never too early to start making plans. So even though we have to wait until September, mark your calendars for celebrating Bourbon Heritage Month in Paducah, Kentucky. Paducah, a river town with rich past, is a UNESCO Creative City. And when it comes to bourbon, that creativity is on display at several of the city’s restaurants.


Barrel & Bond

Barrel and Bond is a bourbon-centric bar in Historic Downtown Paducah, recently named one of the Best Bars in Bourbon Country according to Bourbon Review. The new bourbon and cocktail bar features one of largest selections in the United States, boasting more than 1,400 Bourbons and American whiskeys. Expertly curated cocktails and charcuterie boards offer a perfectly paired introduction to Kentucky food and drink. Take the bourbon experience to the next level by attending a meeting of the Paducah Bourbon Society.

Freight House

Freight House, a farm-to-table restaurant in Paducah, serves up traditional Southern flavors, paired with locally sourced meats and garden-fresh fare. Freight House Paducah features a full bar and with a staggering selection of bourbons, as well as a seasonal rotation of cocktails and craft beer. Named one of America’s Best Bourbon Bars by The Bourbon Review and Buffalo Trace.

“Buck 50” at The FoxBriar Cocktail Bar

This cocktail, which has been a year in the making, is inspired by the Kentucky Buck cocktail. FoxBriar takes this ginger beer-based cocktail and combines it with the ratios of a French 75 to create something new and special.

While you’re waiting, here are some recipes to make.

The following recipes are courtesy of the Freight House in Paducah.

Freight House Fried Chicken

marinade

  • 1 pt buttermilk
  • 1/4 c hot sauce
  • 1 T granulated garlic
  • 1 T granulated onion
  • 1 T granulated salt

breader

  • 4 c flour
  • 2 T smoked paprika
  • 2 T salt
  • 1 T cayenne pepper

for the marinade

  1. mix ingredients together, then add chicken to marinate. marinate for about 4 hours.

to fry chicken

  1. mix all breader ingredients into a bowl.
  2. remove chicken from marinade and shake of extra liquid. dredge pieces one by one, shaking excess. make sure to coat chicken well.
  3. let rest at room temperature for 10 min while you heat your oil.
  4. heat oil on stove top to 360 degrees.
  5. slowly lower chicken into oil and fry for about 5-8 minutes (depending on thickness. longer if you have a chicken that has the bone in it) to reach a temp of 160-165f. breading will have a golden brown color.
  6. season with salt.

Champagne Chess Pie

ingredients

  • 1 9 in pie crust (rolled, crimped, and chilled in refrigerator)
  • 2 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1 1/3 T yellow corn meal
  • 4 1/2 eggs beaten well
  • 1 1/2 T champagne reduction (see below)
  • 1/2 T white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 6 oz melted butter

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 325 F. combine the sugar, salt, and cornmeal in a medium size bowl and mix. add your eggs, champagne, vinegar, and vanilla and whisk to combine. add the butter and whisk again. make sure everything is well mixed with no lumps. it should be kind of thick.

Pour the mixture into your pie crust.

Bake the pie for 55-60 minutes on the bottom rack of your oven. the pie should have golden brown crust and be pretty firm when done cooking. You only want a little jiggle when you give it a wiggle.

Let it cool for at least 4 hours before serving. it can be cooked the day before and kept in the fridge. bring to room temperature before serving.

For champagne reduction: reduce 1 bottle (25.4 oz) of champagne to 3/4 cup. will hold in the fridge for months.

Freight House Deviled Eggs

1 dozen eggs

hard boil, chill, and split eggs in half (we cut ’em horizontally). remove yolks and set aside.

ingredients

  • 3 e yolks
  • 2 T salt
  • 1 t granulated onion
  • 1/4 c caramelized onion should be dark
  • 4 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 c vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c sour cream

instructions

  1. add all ingredients but the veg oil and sour cream to food processor.
  2. process for about 1 minute.
  3. slowly add oil. taste for seasoning. the base will be highly seasoned.
  4. add the egg yolk and process until smooth.
  5. add the sour cream and pulse to incorporate.
  6. pipe into egg whites. garnish with caramelized onions.

We’re All German When Visiting Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine Neighborhood

I watch as my friend’s inner German, never far from the surface, kicks into high gear as we step into Ǖber’m Rhein (Over the Rhine), a historic neighborhood once separated from downtown Cincinnati by the Miami and Erie canal. The Germans who settled here starting in the 1830s, nicknamed the waterway the Rhine and when the crossed the bridges to get to what was called Little Germany, it the neighborhood became known as Over the Rhine.

Looking at the broad tree lined streets fronting over ornate brick buildings many more than a century old, he sees it as it was – a bustling area with several daily German language newspapers and where German was the language at home and on the streets. I see it as it is now — trendy shops, art galleries and studios, businesses and restaurants housed in the largest collection of Italianate architecture in the U.S.

While he marvels at the exteriors with their brightly painted and elaborately worked scrolls and cornices, I poke inside the shops located below. At The Little Mahatma Shop, I take in the sweetly pungent smell of burning incense and gleaming silver and gold, shimmers of colorful beads and stretches of beautifully embroidered materials fashioned into folk art from around the globe.

  Window shopping, I longingly look at the urban style furnishings and accent pieces at Joseph Williams Home and wonder if I can possibly fit into the black dress in the window at Mannequin, a high end vintage and designer boutique whose proceeds benefit empowering charities in the Cincinnati area. Remembering what I ate the night before I decide not. And instead peruse the works of local and regional artists at MiCA 12/v, a family owned independent design store/fine craft gallery/gift boutique  before wandering into Atomic Number Ten, where I admire their vintage home goods and fashion finds from 50s to 90s.

We stroll through the 8-acre Washington Park, its interactive water park, children’s playground, performance stage and dog park, is fronted by the 1878 High Victorian Gothic Revival style Music Hall, a grand pile (almost 4 million of them) of red pressed bricks molded into2 ½-acres of turrets, garrets and gables.

For rejuvenation I order tea and a vegan-friendly treat at Iris Book Café.

At Taste of Belgium, we order sweet and dense Liege waffles thick enough to be eaten like donuts and paper thin Nati crepes filled with roasted peppers, onions, Provolone cheese and goetta.  The latter is totally Cincinnati – a German concoction of pork, oats and spices so popular that there’s even an annual Goettafest.

Not far beyond is the bustling Findlay Market, a swarm of indoor and outdoor food vendors.  When the market first opened in 1855, Eckerlin Meats was one of many catering to German tastes. Now there’s Vietnamese baguette sandwiches at Pho Lang Thang and handcrafted seasonal gelatos at Dojo Gelato. But to my friend’s delight, Eckerlin remains as well, still selling sausages, meats, cheese and, of course, goetta that is made from a hundred year plus old family recipe. It must be good as they sell 300 to 500 pounds of it a week. We’ll find out soon enough when I cook it up at home.

Take a Baseball Road Trip This Season

Here’s the Best Pitch You’ll Get All Season:

Destinations in Three Neighboring States Team up to Create a Baseball-Centric Road Trip

              Now that Major League Baseball has finally started, a trio of baseball-oriented destinations in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland have organized the ultimate road trip for travelers who are ready to get out of their dugouts this year for a long-overdue “away game,” whether their roster includes kids, a significant other, or fun friends.

              The “Round-Tripper” is a baseball-themed triple play that encourages visitors to follow the path of the Susquehanna River as it winds its way along a 444-mile path, beginning, passing through and ending in three of the most baseball-centric places in America: Cooperstown, New York, the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania, and Harford County, Maryland.

              COVID threw the travel industry a curveball over the past two years, but an idea that came out of left field during a conversation among a team of tourism officials eager to bring visitors back to their destinations has resulted in a collaboration that might just be a home run.

              This Is Cooperstown, the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau, and Visit Harford have teamed up to cross-promote baseball-themed tourism experiences in all three regions. Each has covered its bases by creating a list of baseball-centric attractions, sites and restaurants that visitors can find on all three organizations’ websites.

              Travelers can move north or south, and there’s a strong argument for each end. The Susquehanna River begins in Cooperstown, which would also be a likely starting point for visitors coming from New England or New York. But it could be just as satisfying to begin in Maryland – where legendary players were born – and move northward, concluding where only a fraction of the best players in the game also end up … at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

              Here’s a sample lineup, following the route south along the Susquehanna River:

  • Step up to bat in Cooperstown, New York, nicknamed “America’s Most Perfect Village.” It’s home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, historic Doubleday Field, three bat companies (fun coincidence: the trees found near Cooperstown feature wood that’s considered perfect for bats), several memorabilia shops, baseball-themed breweries and distilleries, and a league of restaurants that serve incredible hot dogs.
  • On deck is Binghamton, New York, where travelers can catch a Rumble Ponies Minor League game before they choose to go one of two directions. The Rumble Ponies are the Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets.
  • Road trippers can then run for nearby Corning, New York, where a famous glass factory crafts fascinating glass bats. Or they can instead head to a different sort of factory — Factoryville, Pennsylvania – which is the hometown of Christy Mathewson, one of the first five baseball players ever inducted into the Hall of Fame. Then it’s on to Scranton for a RailRiders Minor League game. If they time it right, visitors can take a historic trolley out to the ballpark to see the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees play.
  • Whether they’re coming from Corning or Scranton, third base is Williamsport, Pennsylvania, home to both the Little League Hall of Fame, which honors the world’s largest organized youth sports program, and the Crosscutters, a collegiate summer baseball team that plays at the second oldest Minor League ballpark in the country.
  • Home plate on this direction of the trip is Harford County, a small destination with significant baseball history. It’s where both Ernest Burke, a record-holder in the Negro Leagues, and the members of the legendary Ripken family were all born. Burke is honored with a statue in his hometown of Havre de Grace, which is where the Susquehanna River ends as it empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Twenty minutes away, you’ll arrive in the town of Aberdeen and find The Ripken Experience, where Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. and his brother Bill (both former Baltimore Orioles) teach young ballplayers to dream big as they play in mini stadiums that are replicas of the most iconic ballfields in America. You can end the adventure by watching the team Cal Jr. owns, the IronBirds, a High-A affiliate of the Orioles, take to the field.

There’s no home-field advantage on this tour; each destination is prepared to support its neighbors with the intention that everyone involved will score a hit. The regions are ready to welcome visitors, and those visitors – from rookies to the most seasoned sluggers – will find museums, memorials, restaurants, hotels and small businesses that offer historic insights into baseball while also celebrating the fun and nostalgia of America’s pastime.

Along the way, they can watch games being played by kids, college students and Minor Leaguers aspiring to make it to The Show. The routes outlined on the tourism websites indicate travel distances and the suggested amount of time for visiting each attraction, though the destinations welcome anyone who’d like to stay for extra innings and spend a little more time discovering what makes each place special.

              For more information about the Round-Tripper, a baseball-themed road trip through three states, you can visit the websites of each of the collaborative destinations that assembled the tour. Here’s a link that takes you from Cooperstown south, and here’s the one that begins in Harford County, Maryland and heads north. 

Michael Koryta’s So Cold the River is Now a Movie

The historic West Baden Springs Resort is the setting of Michael Koryta’s mystery-thriller “So Cold the River,” one of my favorite novels written by one of my favorite authors.

From Michael Koryta’s website:

It started with a beautiful woman and a challenge. As a gift for her husband, Alyssa Bradford approaches Eric Shaw to make a documentary about her father-in-law, Campbell Bradford, a 95-year-old billionaire whose past is wrapped in mystery. Eric grabs the job even though there are few clues to the man’s past–just the name of his hometown and an antique water bottle he’s kept his entire life.

In Bradford’s hometown, Eric discovers an extraordinary history–a glorious domed hotel where movie stars, presidents, athletes, and mobsters once mingled, and hot springs whose miraculous mineral water cured everything from insomnia to malaria. Neglected for years, the resort has been restored to its former grandeur just in time for Eric’s stay.

Just hours after his arrival, Eric experiences a frighteningly vivid vision. As the days pass, the frequency and intensity of his hallucinations increase and draw Eric deeper into the town’s dark history. He discovers that something besides the hotel has been restored–a long-forgotten evil that will stop at nothing to regain its lost glory. Brilliantly imagined and terrifyingly real, So Cold the River is a tale of irresistible suspense with a racing, unstoppable current.

Listen to author Michael Koryta talk about West Baden Springs Resort.

To watch the movie visit

About West Baden Springs Resort and French Lick Springs Resort

French Lick Springs Resort

There was a time when West Baden Springs Resort was called the Eighth Wonder of the World and it is easy to see why.

At the beginning of the 1900s, the elite hotel was a Mecca for gamblers coming to Orange County for fun and glamour.

According to the Indiana Historical Society, a stay at West Baden Springs Hotel in the 1920s cost twice as much as an overnight at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.

French Lick Springs Resort

At one time 14 trains a day serviced West Baden and French Lick Resort just down the road, bringing in both celebrities and everyday people. Al Capone, John Dillinger, the Marx Brothers, Lana Turner, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope all visited.

But once gambling was banned, West Baden fell into disrepair and the hotel emptied and languished.

Now it has been fully restored to its full majesty,.

West Baden, with its formal gardens, statuary, fountain and gazebo, reflects the turn of the last century elegance it was once known for.

Built in less than a year, the hotel was famed for its free standing dome. It was the world’s largest and that record would hold for another 60 years until the Houston Astrodome was built. But there’s no Astroturf here.

The rotunda, with its 200 feet of mosaic floor tiles (original to the hotel which was built in 1902) is breathtakingly magnificent.

The large expanse is filled with an immense Rookwood tile fireplace said to be worth over a million dollars, potted palms and Victorian era furniture. In the center of the 100-foot-high dome is a pendant chandelier which reflects prisms of light creating, at night when the dome is darkened, a light show extraordinaire.

Dining options include the upscale Sinclair’s, ice cream, snacks and specialty coffees at Xanadu and wonderful rotunda seating at Ballards, the perfect place for a glass of wine and a lighter meal.

There’s a stable for guided trail rides through the rolling hills, golf courses, an indoor and outdoor pool, a luxurious spa, restaurants, ice cream parlor and shops. A free shuttle runs every 15 minutes between the casino at French Lick Springs Resort and West Baden. French Lick Winery is just down the road for tastings as is Big Splash Adventure. Board the French Lick Scenic Railway and travel through the beautiful countryside.

Further down the road, visit Patoka Lake, the second largest manmade lake in the state.

The following recipes are courtesy of French Lick Springs Resort

Lobster Mac and Cheese

  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp White Pepper
  • 1 tsp Tabasco Sauce
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ lb. Cooked Lobster Meat

 Bread Crumb Ingredients

  • 6 slices finely diced white
  • 3 Tbsp Chives (minced)
  • 3 Tbsp Parsley (chopped)

In a sauce pot, bring heavy cream to boil. Slowly incorporate cheese until melted. Add remaining ingredients, simmer for 10 minutes.  Mix hot sauce with the cooked macaroni and pour into a baking dish.  Top with bread crumb mixture, bake at 350° for 15 minutes, Broil for 2 to 3 minutes to brown crumb topping.

White Chocolate Crème Brulee 

Makes 6 oz servings (7 total)

  • 1 qt Heavy Cream                     
  • 1 Cup Sugar                                     
  • 6 oz White Chocolate              
  • ½ tsp Vanilla Extract                    
  • 7 Egg Yolks                               

Simmer heavy cream, turn off heat. Add rest of ingredients except yolks, stir until smooth.

Slowly add yolks to combine. Bake at 250 degrees for one hour. Remove from oven and chill.

Once cool, coat top of creme brulee with 1 tblspn of sugar in the raw.  Brulee sugar with torch until caramelized. Garnish with fresh berries and serve. 

Celebrating Mardi Gras 2022

Even if you can’t make it down for Mardi Gras this year, there’s no reason to miss out on the fun. Here are our options for celebrating the holiday in person or from home. So start planning so you don’t miss out on the fun.

Mobile, Alabama

Mobile is THE birthplace of Mardi Gras in the United States, with the American celebration dating back to 1703. In this city, where MoonPies are the most coveted parade “throw” and beads hang from trees year-round, Mardi Gras is truly a way of life.

Planned Events:

A full listing of planned events can be found at Mobile.org. All events are subject to change.

  • The 2022 parade schedule extends from January 29 to March 1.
  • A tradition that started in 2021 is continuing to roll into the 2022 Carnival season. The Mobile Porch Parade is a socially distanced way for Mobilians to join in the fun by decorating their homes and registering to be on the official parade map. Everyone is invited to follow the “parade routes” – by way of foot, car or bike – at their leisure.

Celebrate at Home

  • To help get you in the spirit of the season, Toomey’s Mardi Gras features one of the largest inventories of Mardi Gras supplies anywhere in the world. Headquartered in a 70,000-square-foot facility is overflowing with beads, costumes, masks, and decorations. And that’s just the start. They even have MoonPies.
  • Local women-owned business ellenJAY offers a seasonal Mardi Gras Combo Box, Inside are four beautifully decorated mask sugar cookies, four chocolate chip sammies with vanilla buttercream and Mardi Gras sprinkles, and four cinnamon teacakes. The 12-count combo box is $59.95.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama

Head to  Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and celebrate Mardi Gras on the beach.

Planned Events:

A full listing of planned events can be found at gulfshores.com

. All events are subject to change.

  • Don’t miss the Orange Beach Mardi Gras Parade. Organized each year by the City of Orange Beach, this year’s parade is scheduled for Saturday, February 26.
  • They all love a parade. That’s why the city of Gulf Shores offers both land and sea parades on Mardi Gras With the oldest parading order in Baldwin County, the Gulf Shores Mardi Gras Parade will take place at 10 a.m. on March 1. Later that day, the Mardi Gras Boat Parade, organized by Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s, sets sail. 

Celebrate at Home

  • Possibly the most famous of all Mardi Gras dishes is gumbo, and we’ve got a great recipe to share. Excerpted from Lucy Buffet’s “Gumbo Love” recipe book, Summer Seafood Gumbo. Ignore the name, this gumbo is good year round.

Coastal Louisiana

Coastal Louisiana epitomes the Cajun French expression “Laissez les bon temps roulez,” or as we would say “Let the good times roll.” Historically, New Year’s celebrations overlap the Carnival season kickoff starting on the Epiphany (January 6) and continuing on through Mardi Gras beginning this year on Tuesday, March 1.

Planned Events:

A full listing of planned events can be found on each destination’s website. All events are subject to change.

  • Lafourche Parish is recovering from the impact of Hurricane Ida last summer, but Mardi Gras is giving residents of Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou some reasons to celebrate. Here’s a complete list of the festivities scheduled for this year.
  • Located a short 40 minutes from the French Quarter, St. Tammany Parish is home to such quirky and unforgettable Mardi Gras parades as the Carnival in Covington Parade on March 1.
  • In Southwest Louisiana, the famed Iowa Chicken Run, an event that winds its way through the small town of Iowa to collect ingredients for a celebratory gumbo, is scheduled for March 1.

Celebrate at Home:

Jon Cryer Merges Food and True Crime on New Series “Devoured”

          Get ready for a new kind of food show. VICE TV announced today the premiere of Devoured, the first television series to merge true crime and food. Narrated by Emmy® Award winning actor Jon Cryer (CBS’ Two and a Half Men, The CW’s Supergirl, and the iconic John Hughes’ film Pretty in Pink)Devoured explores the foods Americans love while uncovering the sordid secrets and criminal pasts that restauranteurs, chefs, and foodies have tried to hide- recipe thefts, mob beatdowns, family betrayals, and murder. The six-episode series premieres on VICE TV February 21st @ 10 PM ET/PT.

          Each one-hour episode of Devoured will be a deep dive into a single true crime story that centers on one American city or region’s food specialty.  Viewers will be taken through a thrill-ride of twists and turns as narrator Jon Cryer uncovers the unbelievable stories of how food fuels criminal enterprises, both large and small. Along the way, the series dishes up the food’s origin story and impact on the culinary landscape — while revealing how our passion for eating well can become a recipe for doing wrong.

         Just when I thought there couldn’t be a genuinely new twist on true crime, I got Devoured.” said narrator Jon Cryer. “While I can only aspire to the greatness of, say, Bill Kurtis or Keith Morrison, it’s an honor to lend my voice to this.

Upcoming Episodes

          The series will kick off with an episode dedicated to exploring how the mafia took justice into their own hands after a secret family recipe was stolen from Brooklyn’s L&B Spumoni Gardens & Pizzeria. Other instalments in the series will cover “The Codfather”, who ran one of the largest fishing operations in the United States until he was taken down by the IRS for fishy business practices, the 2015 Blue Bell Ice Cream listeria outbreak, and how infidelity and a stolen recipe led to the end of New York’s world famous Carnegie Deli.

          “By combining the popularity of food culture with the intrigue of true crime, Devoured presents a series of riveting stories that underscore the passion that people have for food and how it can bring out a person’s darkest side” said Morgan Hertzan, Executive Vice President & GM, VICE TV.  “Having as immense a talent as Jon Cryer narrate VICE TV’s latest true crime premiere is really exciting for us.

          “The series really offers up a buffet of the best ingredients – compelling stories and complex characters set at the intersection of the true crime and food genres,” said Christopher G Cowen, President and Founder of Station 10 Media. “We’re so fortunate to have the chance to make this series with the team at VICE TV.

          Devoured is produced by Station 10 Media. Executive Producers are Christopher G. Cowen, Tony Lord, Matthew Weaver, Josh Stone, Jonathan Goldman and Brent Henderson. Narrated by Jon Cryer.  Lee Hoffman serves as Executive Producer for VICE TV, along with Catherine Whyte, EVP, Head of Production for VICE TV,  Liz Cowie, Senior Manager, Development & Alternative Programming for VICE TV and VICE TV EVP & GM Morgan Hertzan.  The series is distributed worldwide by VICE Distribution.

          VICE TV is available via all major satellite and cable providers and the VICE TV app via iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, and Chromecast. For more information about VICE TV, go to VICETV.com

ABOUT VICE TV

VICE TV is the Emmy®-winning international television network from VICE Media Group. Since its inception in 2016, the channel has ushered new audiences to cable with its compelling and provocative programming. Boldly redefining news and current affairs, VICE TV produces hundreds of hours of original content for over 150 million homes worldwide. Built around a mission to tell courageous stories you won’t see anywhere else, told by the people you won’t hear from anywhere else, VICE TV showcases the best in informative and entertaining original series, documentaries and movies, and is the destination for content that challenges popular knowledge and opinion.

ABOUT VICE MEDIA GROUP

VICE Media Group is the world’s largest independent youth media company.  Launched in 1994, VICE has offices in 35 cities across the globe with a focus on five key businesses: VICE.com, an award-winning international network of digital content; VICE STUDIOS, a feature film and television production studio; VICE TV, an Emmy-winning international television network; a Peabody award-winning NEWS division with the most Emmy-awarded nightly news broadcast; and VIRTUE, a global, full-service creative agency with 25 offices around the world.  VICE Media Group’s portfolio includes Refinery29, the leading global media and entertainment company focused on women;  PULSE Films, a London-based next-generation production studio with outposts in Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Berlin; and i-D, a global digital and quarterly magazine defining fashion and contemporary culture.

ABOUT STATION 10 MEDIA

STATION  10 Media  was  founded in 2018 by Emmy award-winning producer Christopher G. Cowen who has garnered four Emmy Award nominations and won once.  Station 10 is in post production on the feature documentary Broadway Rising, and in production on several unannounced premium series and specials.  Prior to founding Station 10, Cowen served as an Executive Producer on the hit true crime scripted series Dirty John; CNN’s acclaimed “Decades Series“; ESPN’s College Football 150; History’s The Cola WarsThe History of Comedy at CNN; National Geographic’s record-breaking special Killing Lincoln and the feature-length, Emmy-Award winning special Gettysburg for History. Cowen also spent ten years at Tom Hanks’ and Gary Goetzman’s Company Playtone, where he  helped develop Band of Brothers, The Polar Express and Where the Wild Things Are. Cowen is a National Member of The Explorer’s Club, a native Californian, and a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University.