This weekend, for C's birthday, we and our 4 year old nephew, headed to Avery Island, home of the famed hot sauce, Tabasco! Is it an island - yes and no. Avery Island, located south of Lafayette, Louisiana is situated on one of the largest rock salt deposits in the State (maybe the country?) - surrounding this is lowlands and marsh, with waterways heading out to the Gulf of Mexico. The unique subtropical nature of Avery Island made for a long growing season for the peppers and the salt deposit is still actively use in the recipe and aging process of Tabasco.
Tabasco gives a free tour continually throughout the day; I really enjoyed the vintage labels and advertisements. Living in Louisiana all my life, Tabasco is one of those things I've taken for granted - it's just always been on every dinner table I've ever sat at through the years. I never realized how old a product it was, nor it's global reach...when I went to France as an exchange student, I brought over a bottle of Tabasco to which the lady I stayed with promptly pulled out her own bottle purchased in France! Quel surprise.
Adjacent to the factory is Jungle Gardens, this is the garden that the once McIlhenny Family home looked out upon and you can now tour the vast acreage. The garden, though, mostly dormant this time of year was active with egrets, songbirds, and alligators - um yeah...free range.
The Buddhist Temple really was the loveliest feature - this alligator was immediately outside of it and I was hoping he had embraced vegetarianism as I tipped-toed along.
A few camellias and sansanquas were in bloom and occasionally we would find ourselves in a large thicket of them with a carpet of petals beneath us. I've always been told camellias don't have a scent, but there was a definite fragrance to these in full bloom - perhaps when enough are in bloom their pale scent is enough to take notice, rather than one stand alone blossom.
Lastly, within the gardens is Bird Island, a small preserve for water fowl. Not a bird in sight; though I did see a frightened goose honk at me and then stick her beak back in the brush. I took the hint and moved along. We did see an inestimable about of turtles warming in the sun.
It was great to get away - even if it was only a mere 2 hours away. We definitely feel renewed to get the holiday season rolling at the shop plus we brought back a little something to add some kick to our step: Tabasco in new Raspberry Chipotle! AiYee!