The trees came first, long before the house was even a thought.
The clock on the landing is stopped at the hour of the last owner’s death. You stroll through the grounds, under magnificent trees and hear nothing but the whispering ghosts of another time and life. I’ve been five times now. Twice all alone. There’s absolutely nothing that compares to the first time you glimpse that 800 ft. Allee of Oaks as you approach the plantation from the small road hugging the Mississippi River (btw, is there anyone who doesn’t sing the “M-I-S-S-I….” song when they’re spelling Mississippi?) I took these photos about two years ago. It was the first time I had returned to New Orleans since the hurricane and I couldn’t wait to get to Vacherie, to check on my beloved Oak Alley. It takes only about 45 minutes from the centre of New Orleans. Please don’t miss it if your travels ever take you to Louisiana.
Down the road there are two other plantations worth visiting. One is the Laura Plantation and the name of the other escapes me at the moment (woops), but it’s almost right next door. The plantations are much smaller than Oak Alley but the family histories are fascinating- ie; the neighbouring plantation had a lovely teen-age daughter who possessed every gift except that of good skin. The parents decided to take her to Paris for a cure, and shortly after taking the cure, she died. The mother, who never forgave the father for insisting they travel to Paris, returned to the plantation, shut herself in her bedroom facing the Mississippi and never left the room again. These are the things you learn when you attach yourself to tour groups. How were they to know I wasn’t on the bus??
Slim Paley Photo
Classic Mint Julep
Makes 1 (8-ounce) julep
3 fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon Mint Simple Syrup
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) bourbon
1 (4-inch) cocktail straw or coffee stirrer
1 fresh mint sprig
Powdered sugar (optional)
Place mint leaves and Mint Simple Syrup in a chilled julep cup. Gently press leaves against cup with back of spoon to release flavors. Pack cup tightly with crushed ice; pour bourbon over ice. Insert straw, place mint sprig directly next to straw, and serve immediately. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.
Southern Living, MAY 2003