The first cultural and culinary tour with Preserve Louisiana in Natchez, Mississippi January 27-29th was a memorable weekend filled with history, architecture, culinary, spirits, food stories and most of all friendship. The Natchez community rolled out the red carpet for our group of 25 people from the Baton Rouge Area. Peggy Sweeney-McDonald, creator of Meanwhile, Back at Café Du Monde… hosted and planned the trip along with Fairleigh Jackson, Executive Director and Maleyia Porter, Marketing Coordinator of Preserve Louisiana (formerly the Foundation for Historical Louisiana). It was a great partnership and we hope the first of many to come. The goal of the trip was to explore the neighboring community of Natchez that is a treasure of architecture, culture, food and southern hospitality.
This tour was one of the best I have ever experienced. Best food experience ever! – Dorothy Novak
The tour travelled by bus to Natchez on Friday, January 27th with the first stop at the Carriage House Restaurant for a lovely lunch by Chef Bingo Starr. We enjoyed delicious Southern Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, salad and their amazing melt in your mouth biscuits. After lunch we toured Stanton Hall Plantation with an amazing tour guide before checking into the lovely Natchez Grand Hotel located on the mighty Mississippi. As we settled into our rooms, we were able to watch the sun go down as all of our rooms had river views before leaving at 5:30 PM for the Charboneau Rum Distilleryy. A tasting tour was led by Doug Charboneau and his son, Jean Luc.
The tour was very informative, entertaining and ended with a Rum Cocktail at their historic restaurant, King’sTavernn, next door before heading over to Twin Oaks Plantation. Chef Regina Charboneau, an award winning cookbook author and Mississippi Maven, welcomed us into her beautiful historic home with an over the top dinner and hospitality straight out of Southern Living Magazine. We feasted on Shrimp and Grits, melt in your mouth brisket, salads, roasted vegetables, poached pears and cheese, Regina’s famous biscuits and incredible desserts of Blackberry Crème Brulee Trifle, Pecan Pie and wine. It was hard not to go back for seconds and many of us did! During dinner Regina entertained us with stories of her journey back to her hometown after having several award winning restaurants in San Francisco and cooking for celebrities including Mick Jagger. Darby Short of the famous Darby’s Fudge and Darby’s Store in downtown Natchez, stopped by to bring us a delicious platter of fudge to sample and tell us her journey to Natchez and her food story.Peggy, Darby, Regina, Fairleigh & Maleyia - Twin Oaks Plantation
This trip was perfect. Dining at Regina Charboneau’s was an incredible experience! I felt like we were in a Southern Living Magazine – Debra Minkus
Twin Oaks Plantation
After the first day and dinner at Twin Oaks, we felt we had received our money’s worth. The team that put this together was awesome! – Chris and Patrick Bella
On Saturday, after breakfast at the hotel, we headed to Our Lady On the Bluff, the beautiful and stately Rosalie Plantation for a wonderful tour followed by a fun lunch of Barbeque at the Pig Out Inn. The ribs and pulled pork were a highlight along with their great sides of baked beans, mac and cheese, coleslaw and potato salad. After lunch and a walk along the River Park to take a group picture at the Gazebo, our tour guide Carole LaMay, took us through town stopping at The William Johnson House, the Rip Rap House, St. Mary Basilica and a drive by tour of other Natchez plantations. We ended the afternoon shopping in downtown Natchez with a trip to Darby’s to buy fudge to bring home!Natchez on the Bluffs Gazebo - Group Picture
Being a history buff, I enjoyed the very comprehensive tour guides stories about the homes we visited. – Gene and Ollie Leblanc
On Saturday night, we headed to the Dunleith HistoricPlantation for a beautiful dinner of Marinated Pork Tenderloin or Roasted Chicken with sweet potatoes and greens, their famous Montgomery Salad and White Chocolate Bread Pudding. The dinner was followed by the Meanwhile, Back at Café Du Monde…. Life Stories About Food show emcee’d by Peggy Sweeney-McDonald. The storytellers sharing their food stories included Fairleigh Jackson (Executive Director of Preserve Louisiana), Regina Charboneau (cookbook author – Regina’s Table and Mississippi Current), James Fox Smith (Editor of Country Roads Magazine), Mark Brockway (Cocktail Consultant, Documentary Producer & Manager of Castle Restaurant at Dunleith Plantation), Lynn Beach Smith (Sales Manager of Natchez Pilgrimage), Bryan Price (Bar Manager of Natchez Grand Hotel), Myles Sweeney (a true Southern Gentleman) and Jeff Kleinpeter (former President of Kleinpeter Dairy). The stories were humorous, touching, entertaining and heartfelt! It was a great night celebrating the history and beauty of Natchez and the wonderful people.Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde....Storytellers
The Meanwhile, Back at Café Du Monde… closing night show was OUTSTANDING! The dinner at Reginal Charboneau’s home, Fair Oaks Plantation, was great. I could hear her speak for hours. We look forward to the next one. – Paul & BJ Arceneaux
On Sunday morning we all gathered for breakfast - one more meal together before heading home to Baton Rouge. New friendships were formed and so many great memories were made together! We are still basking in the glow of the fabulous weekend and excited to start brainstorming about the next tour. Stay tuned as we hope to announce another trip soon.
It was a pleasure working with Preserve Louisiana and creating/hosting the tour was a natural fit for Meanwhile, Back at Café Du Monde… Incorporating the food stories of the lovely town of Natchez add a tasty layer you usually do not get on a destination tour.
Working with Peggy was an absolute pleasure. Her organization, natural hospitality and creativity made our experience truly memorable! - Fairleigh Jackson, Executive Director of Preserve Louisiana
Peggy and Preserve Louisiana team did a great job in meeting the needs of the attendees. Peggy’s relationship with the Natchez people participating in the programs made it so much better! – Vic LeFeve