New Orleans Jazzfest Weekend

8 May

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been gone the past few days…..I went down south to one of my FAVORITE cities: New Orleans! I love the charm of the city, the friendliness of the people, the delicious food, the HURRICANES (drink, that is), and I LOVE visiting my good friend, Melissa! And if all of that wasnt fabulous enough, it was JAZZFEST WEEKEND and our friend, Renee, was coming in to celebrate with us as well.

Here we are at Foo Fighters on Sunday

Jazzfest Background:

If you dont know much about Jazzfest, I can only briefly tell you that you NEED to experience it at least once in your life. But I promise you that once you try it, you will want to go back every year. It’s a 2-weekend music festival at a race track in New Orleans with multiple stages and acts of varying sizes – some headliners in recent years have been: DMB, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, Foo Fighters, Tom Petty, Beach Boys, Allman Brothers, Widespread Panic, Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Buffett, etc.

About 400,000 people attend the festival over 2 weekends. The festival features great music, crafts, and some of the most amazing food. It’s not typical “carnival” food -it’s all food that is unique to the local area. Here are some items you can find: Mango Freeze, Crawfish Beignets, cochon de lait sandwiches, alligator sausage po’boy (sandwich), boiled crawfish, softshell crab po’boy, Cajun jambalaya, jalapeno bread, fried green tomatoes, Oyster patties, muffulettas, red beans and rice, and crawfish Monica. All food vendors go through a strict screening process to ensure quality and sanitary food handling practices. In addition, most foods are made with fresh, local ingredients, and are prepared by hand. All food vendors are small, locally owned businesses. There are eight food areas, all with different foods – and people FLOCK to them. The food is also VERY fairly priced. They dont try to capitalize on the crowd (which is rare at an event like this).

Our Experience:

We went to Jazzfest on Saturday to see The Eagles. They were amazing and sounded fantastic. They played a solid 2-hour set of songs that EVERYONE knew so we could all sing and dance along. The weather was amazing – sunny with a couple big puffy clouds and a great breeze.

I love this pic

We got a LOT of food on this day since we got there well-enough in advance of the Eagles start-time. Unfortunately, we were so excited to be getting the food that I forgot to take pics! So I will post some pics I found on the internet of the food that we got and/or saw there:

First of all, if you dont know, New Orleans is famous for their crawfish (we grew up calling them crayfish and caught them in streams near my house up north in PA). A crawfish looks like a miniature lobster and tastes sort of like a cross between lobster and shrimp – but mostly takes on the taste of the spices that are used to cook it. You can eat them by themselves or put them in a myriad of dishes. Here is a big ole plate of them:

Boiled Crawfish

This is Crawfish Bread. It is one of my absolute favorite food items at Jazzfest and I look forward to it each time I go. It’s cheesy and filled with spices and peppers and crawfish in every bite. The bread is lightly baked and charred in a couple spots. It is similar to a calzone if you are trying to imagine it.

Crawfish Bread

This is also a really great jazzfest treat – the Crawfish Pie! I didnt get one this time, but Melissa’s husband did.

Crawfish Hand Pie

Now, I have not tried this dish yet but everyone swears it’s amazing. Mostly, I have a problem with the idea of eating hot creamy pasta when it’s 95 degrees outside and the sun is beating down on you. I know, I know…..I will try it the next time I go. This is Crawfish Monica – I believe it’s almost exclusive to Jazzfest – it is basically pasta with crawfish and spices and a creamy butter sauce. It looks delicious.

Crawfish Monica

Here is what the typical food stands look like. This one happens to be the one where you can find Crawfish Monica. I dont know who this dude is. I dont care.

Crawfish Monica Booth Jazzfest

I havent had this dish yet, but it looks divine. There are crawfish beignets on the right – crawfish and a dough mixture that’s fried – and a crawfish sack on the left – crawfish and a creamy sauce on the inside of a purse and fried. I know, lots of fried foods! That is probably why I didnt go with this choice. But it does look yummy…..

Crawfish beignets and crawfish sack

Melissa got this dish – it’s supposed to be some of the most amazing spicy sausage in the area. And they made it into a Po’Boy. Now, if you are unfamiliar with a Po’Boy, let me tell you that it’s one of the best sandwiches around. It’s a french baguette that has a form of hot protein – fried chicken, shrimp, oysters, soft shell crab, catfish, crawfish, Louisiana hot sausage, and roast beef and gravy. They usually include lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Talk about yummy. We had a fried shrimp one on my first day in New Orleans (but I didnt get a pic).

Vaucresson Sausage Po’boy

On Sunday, it was just the girls going to Jazzfest! YAY!!!! So we had our ritual of spending some time at Touche in the French Quarter for some drinks. My favorite drink in New Orleans is the hurricane. Lots of people flock to Pat O’Briens for their famous Hurricane, but I find theirs to taste like cough syrup.

Hurricane

The best in town that I’ve had is made by Donna at Touche. Donna is a true character and wears the best eyeshadow ever. She is quick like a whip with her sass and heavy with her pour – two great combos! She carries on with the regulars and it is pure entertainment to sit and join in all the fun. We usually end up getting sucked in for hours here…..thankfully today I was watching the clock so we could make it out of there in time to catch the bus to Jazzfest and see the FOO FIGHTERS!

Foo Fighters were amazing. They really BROUGHT IT to Jazzfest and gave it their all. If you’ve never seen the Foo in concert, you are missing out. The weather was PERFECT – sunny with big giant clouds and just when we got extremely hot in the 86 degree heat, a ginormous rain cloud appeared. It sprinkled on us (not a full-on rain thankfully) for about 10 minutes and gave us just the cooling-down that we needed.

We didnt have time to get anything to eat before the Foo went on stage since we got caught up in Touche a bit longer than we thought we would. As soon as the Foo Fighters were finished, and before spending some time in the Gospel Tent watching large southern choirs do their thing and then seeing Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings shake it all over stage…..WE GRABBED SOME FOOD!

Melissa’s husband got this dish on Saturday and I tried a bite. It was so good, that I knew I would have to get it on Sunday! It was Jamaican Jerk Chicken. But the chicken was cooked to perfection – moist and delicious with just the right amount of spice! It came piled high with greens and rice (I asked for no rice) and also came with a spicy stuffed bread thing. We still dont know what that was – but it was AMAZING.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Plate

Melissa got this yummy Steak Pita that looked so good I was almost envious! It was sort of like bits of grilled steak with a Thousand Island Dressing and salad stuffed into a pita. Yum!

Steak Pita

Renee likes to keep it healthy and fresh – so she usually gets the Greek Hummus and Tabbouleh plate:

Greek Plate

Ahhhhhhhhhhh Jazzfest is amazing! You could spend all day eating and still not have tried everything!

I couldnt come to New Orleans without going to Cafe du Monde….it’s a must-stop-spot in the morning (even though they are open 24/7). They have the best beignets ever – they come out fresh from the kitchen in a mound piled high and covered in powdered sugar! And they have new orleans-famous chicory coffee. I’ve bought some of this coffee to bring home and make, but it never tastes the same as it does down there. I got an order of beignets and iced chicory coffee to go (the line to sit down at a table is ALWAYS too long for me). One tip – DONT wear black when you go because you will be covered in white powdered sugar:

Beignets and Coffee….with a mound of powdered sugar

I cant wait to go back to New Orleans again and I swear, next time I will try to resist the urge to dig in and first take pics to capture the magic…..and if you have never been, I highly suggest you make it there to experience the magic for yourself.

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5 Responses to “New Orleans Jazzfest Weekend”

  1. chris M May 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    I think this entry about new orleans food is just cover for the foo fighters concert!

    • lmullane May 10, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

      Hahahahaha I needed some sort of venue to talk about my love for the foo and to talk about what a good time i had!

  2. dskrzycki May 9, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    I also caught them as a kid, growing up calling cray-fish. I never ate them though. I really liked this entry…painted a nice picture of your weekend. I NEED to make this happen

    • lmullane May 9, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

      Thanks, Dennis! You NEED to get down there soon and re-experience it all. It’s a foodie paradise – and such amazing foods and flavors that we dont have up here!

  3. lmullane May 9, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    Love it!

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