it's okay to play with your food

Monday, May 26, 2008

Chapter 4: New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

Music festivals are rarely known for the quality of their food... not the case with the New Orleans Jazz Fest. In a city that takes it's food as seriously as its music, it shouldn't have come as such a surprise.

Much like the festival roster, the food showcases the diversity of New Orleans. We saw dixieland, zydeco, hip-hop, country/rock, jazz vocals... we ate shrimp mache choux, alligator pie, cochon de lait po-boys, crawfish beignets, snowballs...

Stalls staffed by local caterers and restaurants offered up classic Louisiana cuisine. The mache choux was delicious, a corn and shrimp chowder, with a nice kick. The alligator pie was awesome. I can't say what was in it, but it was damn good. The crawfish beignets were actually disappointing, too much breading, too little actual crawfish.

The cochon de lait po-boy deserves its own spotlight. Recommended to me by an old friend I happened to run into at the festival, cochon de lait is shredded suckling pig that has been seasoned and slow-roasted in a BBQ pit for up to 12 hours. The po-boy is the specialty of Wanda Walker, a New Orleans caterer. Like most po-boys, it's a french bread sandwich, but this one is dressed with fresh cabbage and a homemade horseradish sauce. The warm, tender meat and cool, crunchy cabbage was perfection.

The whole day was great. Daniel and I saw excellent music, the weather was close to perfect, and obviously, we ate very well. The Zydepunks were as cool as their name, Leah Chase is a dynamo, and Allison Krauss makes some beautiful music with Robert Plant. A complete list of the musicians we saw is below.

The Original Dixieland Jazz Band
The Zydepunks
Leah Chase
Allison Krauss & Robert Plant featuring T. Bone Burnett
Ozomatli featuring Chali 2na of Jurassic 5
MOOV of Martinique
Buckwheat Zydeco

And please forgive the lack of photos... it was rather hard to take pictures while walking with a po-boy in my hands.

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