Last month I entered a little place called food heaven. It was a land filled with seafood, spice, pastries and pork. I may have gained 5 lbs and taken 5 years off my life in the process, but it was all worth it. Where is food heaven you ask? Well honey, its down on the bayou of course!
I could go on and on about how amazing the New Orleans Jazz Festival was (and believe me, I will in another post) and about how I plan on going back every year (because I do) but today I want to talk about the food. The glorious, glorious food. Every single food item that I sampled was fantastic. I was lucky enough to attend the festival with some seasoned veterans who guided me through all things Jazz Fest related. Now I want to pass my new found knowledge on to you so you will be prepared when you visit (because you REALLY SHOULD).
THE BEST PO BOYS: You absolutely CAN NOT go to Jazz Fest and not eat a Po Boy (or three). They are the classic New Orleans sandwich. We all agreed that the Cochon de Lait Po-Boy, a flavorful shredded pork sandwich with an out of this world sauce, was one of the best. I don’t know what they do to that pork but I do know that I have found myself waking up in the middle of the night screaming “I need more Cochon de Lait!”. The Fried Softshell Crab Po-Boy was unlike any other crab sandwich I had ever had before. So crunchy, so crabtastic, so perfect. I never knew you could eat the shell of a soft shell crab and I certainly couldn’t imagine it would taste so good. Finally, you HAVE to try alligator while you are in New Orleans so why not try it in a po-boy? The Fried Gator Po-Boy is actually very good and yes, alligator does taste like chicken.
BEST USE OF CRAWFISH: Crawfish is a Jazz Fest staple and the Cajuns know how to turn those lowly mudbugs into some of the most tasty cuisine you will ever experience. The Crawfish Beignets are so rich and flavorful. The flakiness of the beignets compliments the tender meat of the crawfish beautifully. However, the award for best use of crawfish of all time goes to whoever created Crawfish Monica (I am assuming it was someone named Monica). Wow. In this dish pasta goes Cajun and let me tell you, its the best decision pasta has ever made. Its creamy, spicy, crawfish heaven. I also have to recommend staying at the French Quarter Suites while in New Orleans. The rooms are spacious and accommodating and every Saturday of Jazzfest they do a crawfish boil for all their guests. All you can eat crawfish, fried chicken, potatoes, corn, salad, beer, and soda. It was wonderful. I have never eaten so much crawfish in my life. It just kept coming!!!!!
Photo Courtesy Kajun Kettle
BEST SWEET TREATS: You can’t come to New Orleans without trying Cafe Du Monde’s Beignets and Cafe Au Lait. Lucky for everyone in attendance, Cafe Du Monde has a stand at the New Orleans Jazz Festival. In my opinion, there is no bad time for beignets and an iced Cafe Au Lait is perfectly refreshing after spending hours in the hot sun. If you are looking for a dessert to go with all that Cajun goodness, try the Mini Pecan Pies. Nothing says sweets from the south quite like a pecan pie and these little tid bits of heaven are sure not to disappoint.
BEST POST JAZZ FEST STREET PARTY EATS: I never liked bloody marys. That is, until I tried a bloody mary from Luizza’s. They are so fresh and tasty that you almost feel like you are doing something healthy by drinking them. Every day after Jazz Fest ends, the streets around Luizza’s are filled with people celebrating the end of an incredible day of music. Join them for a bloody mary, and be sure to grab a Cajun style tamale from a street vendor along the way. Still hungry? Try a barbeque shrimp po-boy from Luizza’s. In New Orleans, barbeque doesn’t refer to some tangy sauce smothering a hunk of meat. It refers to the way the food was cooked. And this shrimp is cooked to perfection and paired with a lovely garlic sauce. Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my computer…
Photo courtesy Nola.com