Southern Living names Lafayette, Louisiana, the "Tastiest Town in the South," in its April 2012 issue, on newsstands March 23.
To celebrate the many distinct hometown flavors that define today's Southern cuisine, Southern Living named the "10 Tastiest Towns in the South" in December and then let consumers decide the winner. Over a half-million votes were cast. In this month's issue, the magazine looks at the tastemakers, chefs, artisans and restaurants that give each food destination its distinct local flavor. The magazine outlines "the perfect eating day" in each city, and includes recipes created by the Southern Living Test Kitchen that feature iconic ingredients from each of the 10 winning cities-from andouille-stuffed pork chops to "Jefferson" Virginia ham pasta.
"Southern Living veered way off the hot sauce and barbecue trail to get at the deeper story of who and what is shaping the South's incredibly rich, diverse and delicious culinary landscape," said editor Lindsay Bierman. "We're pleased to highlight the South's vibrant food scene in each and every town we profile."
"Lafayette's distinct culinary identity as the capital of Cajun country, its spicy, sausage-laden roots, and a new generation of locals devoted to preserving their heritage while putting a fresh spin on tradition have made it an incredibly satisfying place to eat," writes Senior Editor Paula Disbrowe in Southern Living.
The Southern Living Top 10 "Tastiest Towns in the South" are:
Lafayette, LA: Cayenne-spiked Acadiana
Baltimore, MD: Harboring Chesapeake flavor
Birmingham, AL:Refined Southern comfort
Charleston, SC: A homegrown heirloom revival
Charlottesville, VA: Toasting Jefferson's Legacy
Decatur, GA: A suburb made from scratch
Houston, TX: A distinct ethnic twang
Louisville, KY: A bourbon-soaked renaissance
New Orleans, LA: A gumbo of beloved excess
Raleigh, NC: Where farm fresh never expires
Southern Living editors chose the Top 10 "Tastiest Towns in the South" based on the following criteria:
* Food as a cultural identity: The unique food or ethnicity that defines a particular Southern region
* Growth of a culinary-minded community: The influence the culinary industry has on the community and tourism
* Diverse cuisine at a variety of price points: Accessibility to hearty, flavorful meals at any budget
* Local, sustainable food practices: The focus on sourcing products from local purveyors to geographically define where each meal comes from
* Hot chefs on the rise: The influence of the area's culinary talent in the media and pop culture.
* Abundance of buzz-worthy food events: The number of festivals in the area that celebrate food and drink
The public can still enter for a chance to win a $2,500 trip to the Tastiest Town of their choice until Monday, April 30, 2012, 11:59 EST on www.southernliving.com.
Thank you to everyone who voted for Lafayette and all of the restaurants and chefs who made Lafayette the Tastiest Town in the South. For some great Lafayette recipes, check out our recipes page.
Southern Living's Perfect Eating Day in Lafayette:
Line up for lemon-filled glazed donuts at Meche's Donut King (337-981-4918).
Start your smoked-meat marathon at The French Press with a Sweet Baby Breesus (buttermilk biscuit slider with bacon, fried boudin balls, and Steen's cane syrup from Abbeville) and a pint of Bayou Teche Brewing's LA-31 Bière Pâle ale, made by brewers so devoted to their Acadian background that there are local organizations that promote Creole culture listed on every bottle.
Roll up your sleeves for slow-smoked, countrystyle barbecue ribs served with sticky jambalaya at Johnson's Boucanière. Lori Walls' restaurant is an homage to Johnson's Grocery, the market her family ran for 60-plus years.
Finish with duck confit with braised white beans, sausage, mizuna, and satsumas at Cochon Lafayette, Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski's stunning restaurant on the Vermilion River.