WOW! The first weekend of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival ranks up there with the best of the best. I couldn’t wait to get back in front of the computer to tell you all about it! Granted, I could have Tweeted my way through it all to keep you in “real time.” I simply chose not to. I needed to disconnect. Truly live in the moment. Besides, my hands were full. Very busy. Occupied with great food and lots of cold adult beverages. But hey, it’s all good. I’m sharing some high points right here and now!
- For starters, the weather R-O-C-K-E-D. Cool. Breezy. Lo-midity (that’s low humidity). We couldn’t have ordered a better weather weekend. It was so good, in fact, I feel the need to thank someone. Carl Arredondo? Jonathan Myers? Thank you. I know you didn’t plan it, but you did predict it–and predict it well.
- Mia Borders. Soulful. Funky. Amazingly talented. Authentic. So cool to discover such a young artist whose music is filled with the spirit of New Orleans.
- New Orleans folk artist, Bruce Brice. Did you know he created what is now considered to be the very first Jazz Fest poster? I stopped to talk to him and found out it wasn’t anything like the collector edition posters created these days. It was a simple, hand-drawn sketch of the festival area which, back then, was held on the grounds of the New Orleans Municipal Auditorium in an area that is now known as Louis Armstrong Park. The posters were nailed to telephone poles around the City to advertise the upcoming event. Man … I’d give anything to have one of those!
- Abita Amber on draft, finally! I think sales are limited to the one purple, green and gold beverage tent closest to the Blues Tent. Well worth the hike back and forth.
- The two lovely ladies serving Pilsner Urquell on draft in the Grandstand. They were so friendly and sweet. Made my day. And thanks again ladies for the silver horseshoe!
- The artist duo of Teri Walker and Chad Ridgeway of Ridgewalker Glass. Many of the beautiful pieces they had on display included handblown glass Mardi Gras Indians, metal and glass sculptures and oil paintings.
- Prejean’s Pheasant, Quail & Andouille Gumbo. Dark roux. Smoky. Rich. Brothy. Just the right amount of rice. Don’t share yours with anyone. Make your clan get their own!
- Shannon McNally–another young, very talented musician with an old musical soul. Think alternative country meets Deep South blues. Unique and enjoyable.
- N’Awlins Punch and Margarita Daiquiri “swirl.” Enjoy them during your beer breaks.
- Gator with Fried Jalapenos & Onions. Oh so good (as was the Fried Gator Poor Boy, which was basically the same thing tucked inside a French bread pistolette). Crispy, tender, spicy. It tastes just like chicken! No, really! Alligator tastes much better than chicken–those “Swamp People” are really on to something!
- “Bunny Bread” (the song, not the carb) by Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots. “What you gonna get for $1.44?” A little blues, a little zydeco and lots of Bunny Bread!
- Chef Chris Montero’s dissertation on the finer points of Turtle Soup-making (at the Zatarain’s Food Heritage Stage). I was so inspired by his helpful hints that I snagged two pounds of turtle meat on my way out of town so I could recreate the family Turtle Soup recipe on Mother’s Day (yes, I like to cook for myself on Mother’s Day). Stay tuned for that one!
Well, the second and final weekend of Jazz Fest 2011 kicks off today. I’m there in spirit and already looking forward to 2012!