The Halloween fear factor in “America’s most haunted city” has escalated even further with Oct. 5 debut of the new Scout Island Scream Park. Spread over 14 acres in scenic City Park (on the site that once housed Voodoo Fest, which now takes place at the sprawling Festival Grounds), the $2-million, outdoor production offers a frightfully fun time amid the park’s moss-draped oaks.
The Bearded Lady, killer clowns and other creepy characters roam among guests, as they sneak peeks into sideshow tents (Step right up, folks! See the sword swallower and the grinder girl!) and queue up for carnival rides. Tops among the various attractions is the Devil’s Swamp, which guests explore by lantern light, and the aptly named Scream Factory, a veritable funhouse of fear.
Scout Island is the brainchild (mmm, brains!) of City Park COO Rob DeViney and local audio-visual guru Jeff Borne, who is also credited with creating the nearby Mortuary Haunted House in 2007. Set in a legit former funeral home with a real-deal cemetery just next door, the Mortuary offers even more thrills for hardcore fright fans…if you dare. —DB
OK, true confession: I’m not a big fan of smoked foods. It’s sensory overload for this food gal—strong flavor and a clingy, long-lasting scent that can be disruptive and end my day. However, every now and then I get a craving for bbq, and my favorite meat is brisket.
Recently I spent a late morning with Phillip Prejean, pitmaster at Central City BBQ. I arrived an hour or so before the briskets were coming off the pit. Many hours prior, Phillip had built and been stoking the fire for the enormous pit smoker. Before that he had generously seasoned and wrapped the briskets in paper to protect the meat and keep it juicy. Once loaded onto the pit’s grill, Phillip then tended the pit, keeping the heat constant and adjusting the amount of smoke to let in or not; the air heavily scented with wood, fire and pepper. This type of cooking is a true labor of love and, for Phillip, a passion. He cradles and coddles those briskets like babies. He’s selective about the wood, knowledgeable about smoke and fire, thoughtful to the flavors he helps coax from fine cuts of beef. I have mad respect for food-passionate folks; I know their ilk.
At just the right moment, Phillip removes the briskets (he’s also cooking chickens that look damn good too) onto trays, leaving one brisket behind on the giant cutting table in the center of the pit room. The now burnished paper is folded back, steam floats up and out, revealing dark bark-covered brisket. Bark is the crusty exterior that has formed around the pink-tinged smoke ring of the glistening smoked beef.
A knife appears, whipped from Phillip’s side, and the brisket is sliced open. There are lots of oohing and ahhing, as thick slices are cut and the juices run. Everyone reaches for the burnt ends and charred fat-like candy. I grab a tender slice of brisket, inhale deeply and eat. This is heaven. There is smoke, salt, pepper and other seasonings swirling with fatty richness and beefy iron. No sauce for me, I don’t want to mask the meat’s flavor.
Inside, the menu board is updated with the day’s barbecue offerings of platters, sandwiches and more. There are cool sides like soft corn spoonbread, hefty pit-house beans, tangy coleslaw and creamy mac and cheese. Central City BBQ is a pit house restaurant, cool cocktail bar, event space and live music venue. For bbq fanatics and the occasional indulger, it’s deliciously, cool, smoky comfort. —LG
Stained glass worshipper? You’re here at right time. In conjunction with the city’s yearlong tricentennial celebration, the Preservation Resource Center’s latest iteration of its biannual Stained Glass Art in Sacred Places Tour spotlights three of the city’s most historic churches.
The Oct. 28 outing guides guests to St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest parish in Louisiana and the oldest Catholic cathedral in the U.S.; the Mission-style Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, the oldest religious building in the state; and St. Augustine Church, the nation’s second-oldest African-American Catholic church. In addition to rich histories, each offers stunning stained glass windows. The bus tour departs at 2 pm from the PRC’s Tchoupitoulas Street headquarters and is followed by a reception.
Louis Comfort Tiffany fan? Study up on the famed designer’s stained glass works at Tulane University, which counts the largest collection of Tiffany windows in the state. Commissioned by philanthropist and Newcomb College founder Josephine Louise Newcomb in 1894, Tiffany’s “Resurrection” triptych is located in Tulane’s Newcomb Art Museum, which offers tours of numerous other windows installed throughout the Uptown campus. The free excursions take place on the second Thursday of each month (Oct. 11); advance registration is required. —DB