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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Bit of New Orleans - Jazz Fest

Mention to someone in passing that you're going to New Orleans in the Spring and odds are they'll ask “Are you going for Jazz Fest?”  Next to Mardi Gras, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (nicknamed “Jazz Fest”) is the biggest reason people come to the Crescent City.  In 2013 the Jazz Fest attendance was over 425,000 visitors.  This year we're right on track to beat it.

If you’ve never been the Jazz Fest is a seven day event that’s spread over two weekends. It takes place at the Fair Grounds Race Course, located near City Park.

Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
With twelve (12!) stages throughout the park there is always something going on somewhere.  Each stage has a certain vibe to it, covering everything from rock & roll to blues to jazz to zydeco to brass bands to local artists.  Thus far we’ve seen Santana, The Avett Brothers, Public Enemy, Phish, Boz Scaggs, Robin Thicke, Robert Plant, Eric Clapton, and Vampire Weekend, and that’s just the first weekend.

Not enough for you?  Maybe you’re more interested in artwork.  This year there will be over one hundred artists and crafts available to browse and purchase.

(Images courtesy of http://www.nojazzfest.com/crafts/congo-square-african-marketplace/weekend-1/ because my photos really suck!)

Hot Sausage Po-Boy, Crawfish Sausage Po-Boy
Still not amazed?  You eat, don’t you?  Like the variety of music, food-wise there’s somethin’ for everyone.  Be you a vegetarian, or omnivore, conservative or daring, needing homestyle or exotic, they got it!  These aren’t your “funnel cake and cotton candy” type of food stands.  Here are representatives from eateries and restaurants all over Louisiana. 
Cochon De Lait (one of my faves!)
Spinach Artichoke Casserole, Seafood Au Gratin, Sweet Potato Pone

Alligator Pie, Fried Green Tomatoes and Crab-meat Stuffed Shrimp

Mango Ice (another of my faves!)

(Again, images courtesy of http://www.nojazzfest.com/food/food-list/ because I can never remember to take pics before I start devouring.)

Need more reason? All this happens from the hours of 11 am until about 7 pm.  You read that right.  When you’ve had enough fun and sun you can go back to your hotel, take a shower, and still have time to go out and hit some of our awesome restaurants and nightlife.  I mean, what could be better?

Still time this year for you lucky ducks who can swing a last minute trip.  If not, keep your eyes on this website (http://www.nojazzfest.com) for next year’s info.

Hope to see y’all there! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

NOLA Food - the French Quarter Fest

This past weekend New Orleans had the largest free music festival in the entire United States. The French Quarter Festival. And, yeah, you heard me — FREE!!!

The organization, French Quarter Fest Inc., started the event back in 1984 as a way to encourage people to move back to the French Quarter.  Bounded from the Esplanade to Canal Street, Rampart to the river, there are over twenty stages and venues with hundreds of musicians, playing everything from jazz to gospel to country to hip hop to Zydeco to brass bands. Something for everyone. And did I mention it was free?

Well, there is a price of sorts. The food. You can’t bring your own cooler and brown bags — you gotta eat here.

Vendors from all over the city (everything from food trucks to chefs to restaurants) set up booths and just a smattering of their delectables. Patrons are asked not to bring their own food and drink because the entire event is paid for by the food vendors. So, you buy food, you get free music.

Thankfully, this is not a hardship. This year they had seventy (70!) vendors for you to choose from. And there are over 200 more on a wait list.

It’s a good thing the festival goes for four days; this gives you time to plan your eating frenzy. I mean, what do you choose?

Can I interest you in a Cajun Boudin on a Stick, or a Bugogli Poboy?


Or some BBQ Shrimp and Grits, or Crawfish Pie?

A vegetarian? Try the Veggie Lo Mein, or a Vegan Frank with Red Beans and Rice. Heck, you don’t need to be a vegetarian to enjoy that!

How about a little Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding for dessert or a Bacon & Nutella Crepe?

I confess, the reason you’re seeing menus instead of the food is because by the time I realized I needed to take a picture I ate it already. I saved you a bit of the Bulgolgi Poboy with Feta Fries, though.

Okay, you’re sold. Sadly you’ll have to wait until next year.  I recommend putting it on your calendar now!  April 9 - 12, 2015.

If you really want to be a part of it all they are always looking for booth volunteers. You can sign up for which booth (merchandise, beer, tickets) at which location for whichever time works for you. You get guaranteed shade, a free t-shirt, and some tickets for food. And did I mention free music? http://fqfi.org/frenchquarter

Like you needed another reason to come to New Orleans.  See y’all next year!