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Places To Visit: Jessica’s Fun, Spicy Trip to Avery Island

Finally, a little bit of time to talk about an awesome experience, making really cool friends and eating more food than I’ve had all year.

Back in April, I was invited to attend a special trip as a Tabasco Tastemaker. I got to experience Louisiana first hand and stay in a 200 year old house located on Avery Island. While we weren’t required to write about our trip, I had an amazing time and love looking back through the photographs.

The home of world-famous TABASCO Sauce, Avery Island, Louisiana, lies about 140 miles west of New Orleans. Surrounded by swamps and marshes, Avery Island is a mysteriously beautiful place where the pepper fields grow, the factory hums, and the McIlhenny family and their employees continue to live and work much as they have for generations.

Avery Island is one of five salt dome islands rising above the flat Louisiana Gulf Coast. These islands formed over the eons when alluvial sediment covered a vast plain of salt left behind by an ancient saltwater ocean. Surrounded by low-lying swamps and marshes, Avery Island stands at 163 feet above mean sea level.

A botanical treasure, Avery Island is inhabited by exotic plant and animal species from around the world. And under the Avery/McIlhenny family’s careful management, it has remained that way to this day.

In popular culture:
On Avery Island, a Neutral Milk Hotel album, is named after this location.
– In Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, the island that the gang visits, “Moonscar Island”, is evidently based on this island.

First stop: Lafayette, Louisiana, view from my room at the Hilton

That night, we had a welcome dinner at The French Press in Lafayette (love)

First time trying seafood (crazy, I know). It was.. interesting but I loved the experience.

Once we arrived at the Marsh House, we all took in the beautiful view:

Visited McIlhenny Company Archives with Dr. Shane Bernard, Historian & Curator:

The next week was spent seeing the sights, going behind the scenes, into labs, seeing production, how things were made, how things were grown, made, stored, you name it, we saw it.

Next up, it was time for the Pepper Fields, Barrel Warehouse & Processing with Took Osborn, Senior VP & the Mash Inspection & Tabasco Factory Tour with Tony Simmons, President & COO:

After that, we had lunch at Tabasco Deli and yes, I finally tried Tabasco Ice Cream:

And Pepper Jelly…

Annnd, every type of Tabasco Sauce they make.

For lunch, we had a cooking demo with Chef Alon Shaya of Domenica, New Orleans

Spicy Chocolate? Yes, please. It was dang good.

After lunch, we went on an Avery Island Tour – Jungle Gardens & Bird City.

The next day, it was time for our first ever Seafood Boil, Airboat Rides & Cajun Music.

For the last night there, we were able to create Tabasco Cocktails with Cure Mixologist Neal Bodenheimer.

This was my cocktail concoction, see the recipe here: The Strawberry Buffalo

At this point, I ran out of room on my camera but we ate dinner that evening in New Iberia, had a wonderful breakfast the next morning (Persimmon Pies!) and visited the Boucherie before heading on a plane to come home. We had a wonderful time and are very thankful for the experience!

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