Cajun Country

L’Auberge du Lac
Pinnacle Entertainment Inc., has been as busy as a spinning roulette wheel these days in Lake Charles. Construction on L’Auberge du Lac, Pinnacle’s $365 million casino and resort, has been intense, with a targeted opening date in spring 2005. Not unlike Indiana Jones, tourists roughing it on the nearby Creole Nature Trail will be able to transcend from bushwhacker to high roller once this resort opens. With a casino, championship golf course and 745 rooms decorated in contemporary rustic themes, the resort will also offer a heated pool with lazy river and swim-up access to the poolside bar. Lifeguards, take note.
The 48,490-square-foot riverboat casino will be the only single-deck riverboat in Louisiana, but it will be one of the largest single-deckers in the world, filled with the bells and whistles of slot machines and the clicking of roulette wheels. Two bridges provide access to an event lawn and waterfall. A barbecue restaurant, coffee bar, ice cream parlor and retail shops provide diversion from gaming.
Kerry Andersen, manager of community and public relations, Pinnacle Entertainment Inc., 3202 Nelson Road, Lake Charles, (337) 474-2773.
Wild truffles wouldn’t drag you away
La Truffe Sauvage (The Wild Truffle) Restaurant glows like a transplanted Eiffel Tower rising over the Cajun prairie. Epicurean European staples such as Dover sole are served here a la amandine, with haricot vert. There’s also crab meat Mary Louise, a crisp puff pastry filled with crab meat tossed in champagne-cream sauce and chives and flanked with asparagus spears. Boeuf and pomme de terre devotees will be lifted to the upper echelon of eating enjoyment by the pan-roasted Angus beef New York strip topped with butter swirled with Burgundy and served with flavorful companions of Gorgonzola dauphinois potato and caramelized onions. Travel the road of this gourmet Tour De France to its end with a dessert. Clear influences from the City of Lights are apparent in La Truffe Sauvage’s white chocolate crème brûlée, which layers creamy French custard and white chocolate under a crispy crust of caramel. Choose the souffle du nuit (souffle of the evening) or a deep chocolate génoise with chocolate as dark as ground coffee. White chocolate mousse layered between crisped meringue and raspberries completes the white chocolate and raspberry vacherin.
La Truffe Sauvage Restaurant, 815 Bayou Pines West, Lake Charles (337) 439-8364.
Too blessed to be stressed
The wild dust storms of her native Oklahoma carried Margie Midkiff to Louisiana many years ago. Twenty-nine years ago, at Highway 27 and Henning Drive, this Sulphur resident began work as a school crossing guard for the children of Calcasieu Parish. Now, at age 81, Midkiff has crossed generations of children to safety in the same location. She even remembers guarding parents of the children currently in her care.
Midkiff and her late husband, Red, once owned a gas station on the same corner – Red likewise did his part in safely transporting children by driving a schoolbus in Maplewood for 23 years. This mother of six laughs that some of her own children are retired. “Work is what keeps me motivated,” says this venerable go-getter. Clearly retirement is not on her horizon.
Midkiff attends functions at Mount Olivet Baptist Church, loves to sew and managed the Sulphur Senior Center for eight years. She has lived in the same home since 1962 and still lovingly tends its colorful garden filled with ivy, assisted by DeeDee, a pet Dachsund. “I’m happy with things the way they are. I like staying put,” she states.
“I get to see my grandchildren every day,” she adds. “I am so blessed, I couldn’t ask for more.”

Jefferson Island