This was my lunch. I ate it all.
Avery Island is a gorgeous place; it's surrounded by a long lace of bayous, has plenty of wildlife roaming around freely (deer, bears, raccoons, alligators), and houses the beautiful Jungle Gardens and Bird Sanctuary. You can spend a full day there soaking up the splendor, especially if you pack in a trip to the Tabasco factory.
We had a lovely, long ride down the bayou to the McIlhenny family's trapper's camp, just so we could get in some air boat rides (FUN!) and a little of this:
My favorite lunch in the world! These fellas were HUGE.
I'm only partly responsible for this amount of crawfish carnage. Let's just say that my tablemate, Cecil, is one fast picker.
Earlier that day, we had a tasting of all seven flavors of Tabasco sauce, led by CEO and Chairman of the Board Paul McIlhenny. His chief flavor developer, Charlie Chang, who has worked for the McIlhennys for over 30 years, was also present at the tasting. It was fascinating listening to the two describe how certain flavors were inspired, or how they were refined to become what they are today. I have to say, my new favorite hot sauce is Tabasco Habanero. It's Jamaican inspired and has a lot of fruit flavor to it, plus it packs a slow, intense heat that hits you at the end. For the tasting, we had saltine crackers and softened butter to help us tolerate the high amounts of heat in some of the sauces. I discovered that a saltine cracker spread with butter and topped with a little Habanero sauce is extremely delicious--like eating a wicked little butter cookie. I'm in love.
For more on this tasty adventure, plus a Tabasco-inspired mixology lesson, keep reading!