St. Joseph Plantation
New Orleans, LA - events of Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4, 2013
On Friday, there was more rain. There is a seafood market that is made up of 15 or 20 individual stalls less than a quarter mile up the road from the entrance to Bayou Segnette State Park. Since sightseeing was down the tubes because of the weather, we decided to go over to the market and get some shrimp for dinner.
We have bought shrimp at the market on our other stops in New Orleans, but we never before noticed the masts of the boats that were docked at the end of the road that is next to the market. We decided to drive down the road and have a look. There along the Bayou Segnette Waterway were a couple of dozen fishing boats docked and a shrimp packing plant.
Later, we checked it out on Google Maps and found the waterway connects with Gulf of Mexico. We weren't aware Bayou Segnette was as big as it is and that it connected to the Gulf. That helped explain why the seafood market is located where it is.
When we stop at the market, we always have trouble deciding where to buy our shrimp. Each stall has several coolers filled with ice and different sizes of shrimp. The prices are all relatively uniform making it even harder to decide.
After walking by and looking at a couple of vendors, we finally asked one woman when the shrimp were caught. She said "today," which is what they all probably say no matter what, but the colors on her shrimp were pretty bright indicating her shrimp probably were fresh. She also offered us a $.50 a pound discount for cash so we made our purchase.
We really got spoiled by Joe Patti Seafood in Pensacola where we got our shrimp cleaned, de-veined, AND steamed. At the market near Bayou Segnette, not only are the shrimp not cleaned, they also have their heads on. We figure about a 40 to 50% loss in weight for the heads and shells.
It's always Paul's job to take the heads off. It's not hard, just a little unpleasant.
We had the shrimp sauteed with a little butter, garlic powder, white wine, and Old Bay seasoning. When dipped in melted butter, they taste a lot like lobster. Yum!
Saturday was a bit cool, but the weather finally cleared. We don't normally sightsee on weekends; but with so many cloudy, rainy days, we decided take advantage of the first completely sunny day since we arrived here to go to see one of the plantations located upriver from New Orleans.
There used to be over 1,000 plantations between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, but now there are only a handful left. We previously visited four of the dozen or so plantations that are located within about an hour of New Orleans that are open for tours - Houmas House, Laura Plantation and Longue Vue in 2009 and Oak Alley in 2010. This year, we decided to see St. Joseph Plantation.
The plantation was started in 1830 by the Scioneaux family as a sugar plantation. Remnants of the old ways of producing sugar, like the sugar kettles shown in the next photo, can be seen around the property.
Another of the early owners of the plantation was the Priestley family. Catherine Priestley married Henry Dickerson Richardson. In 1838, their son Henry Hobson Richardson, who became a famous architect, was born at St. Joseph Plantation. At that time, the plantation was known as Priestly Plantation. Henry Hobson Richardson developed an architectural style known as Richardson Romanesque. It is characterized by rounded turrets, Romanesque arches and heavy stone or brick construction. Some of the buildings designed by Richardson include the Marshal Field Store in Chicago, Trinity Church in Boston, and the Allegheny County Courthouse in our old hometown of Pittsburgh.
Priestley Plantation was purchased in 1858 by Alexis and Josephine Ferry using money given to Josephine by her father, Gabriel Valcour Aime, as a wedding gift. The Ferrys renamed the plantation Josephine.
Following the Civil War,
the Ferrys could no longer support the plantation, and it was
sold to Joseph Waguespack at a sheriff's sale. Waguespack renamed the plantation St. Joseph Plantation in honor of his patron saint.
The plantation, which is still owned and maintained by descendants of the extended Waguespack family, grows sugar cane to this day. The current owners of St. Joseph also own the plantation next door - Felicite. Felicite is not currently open to the public, but the family does want to restore and open it someday. Felicite was a gift from Gabriel Valcour Aime to his third daughter, Felicite.
Tours of the plantation house are given on the hour. We arrived between tours, so we walked around the grounds first. The building in the next photo was the chicken coop. The tomato plants growing at the left of the chicken coop already had a number of good-sized green tomatoes on them.
The house is built in a raised Creole style. The ground floor was originally open due to periodic flooding of the Mississippi River. It was enclosed by Alexis and Josephine Ferry.
Also on the property are several slave quarters. Each house would have been inhabited by two families.
The tour started on the ground floor with a short video on growing sugar cane and the production of sugar. Modern methods of producing sugar using vacuum kettles are much more efficient than the old method of boiling in open kettles.
Following the video, we went upstairs to the main living quarters. The house is furnished with antiques mostly from the time of Joseph Waguespack. Only a few of the furnishings and artifacts are original to the house.
After the tour, we made our way back to Bayou Segnette, but we made a little detour to DiMartino's Muffulettas, which is located a couple of miles past the state park.
Muffulettas (also spelled muffalettas, muffelattas, muffulettas or muffulattas) are sandwiches that are made from salami, ham, provolone and mozzarella and served on round, Sicilian bread that is covered in sesame seeds. The sandwich is topped with chopped olive salad.
We had our first muffuletta several years ago on our first trip to New Orleans at Central Market in the French Quarter where muffulettas were supposedly invented. On our second stop in New Orleans, a local resident who was spending the weekend at Bayou Segnette State Park, told us about DiMartino's right up the road from the campground. We tried the muffulettas at DiMartino's, and we liked them better than the ones from the Central Market. For one thing, DiMartino's serves their muffulettas warm, which toasts the bread to a nice crunch and melts the cheese.
DiMartino's has a fairly extensive menu of sandwiches and po' boys, but we have never considered anything except muffulettas. They offer two sizes - 6" for $9.20 and 9" for $17.10. The 9" easily feeds two, so we split one of those. DiMartino's has take out and dine in. We opted to eat there so we wouldn't have any dishes to do.
With our bellies full, we headed back to the motor home. We have more sightseeing planned, so look for our next post.