Ralph Melton (ralphmelton) wrote,
Ralph Melton

New Orleans Roadfood Festival, March 28

I'm entering the home stretch of this report now.

Lori got up early to attend Mass at St. Louis Cathedral; I took a long walk around the French Quarter to work up an appetite. Neither my notes nor my memory have any record of eating breakfast, but apparently we did not succumb to starvation.

We stopped to look in a beautiful store called Maskarade, whose proprietor encouraged us to take pictures:

We made it to the Festival just as the beignets-eating contest was about to start. The police department had apparently forfeited the contest, with the excuse that they were to appear on the Biggest Loser. So the match was firemen versus firemen. Our cheering for a trio of firemen we had never met and whose names we had not learned was not enough to shift the tide of victory in their favor.
I sampled one of the competition-certified beignets after the contest. It was sturdier than the Cafe Du Monde beignets, but still nice.

Royers' Round Top Cafe served us buttermilk delight pie, dense with chocolate chips and other goodies:

K-joe's served me red beans and rice, another of the short list of New Orleans foods I really wanted to try on this trip. Again I digress with a story: I first came to know and like red beans and rice as they were served by the food service in college, and though I liked them, I didn't assume they were authentic. I had since tried red beans and rice in a few Pittsburgh restaurants and self-cooked from a few recipes, and had found most of those results lighter and blander than what I'd enjoyed in college. So I feared that this might be a dish that I preferred in inauthentic form, and wanted to try an authentic preparation to know for sure.
These red beans and rice were sublime. The beans were not quite falling apart, with just about the firmness of a good kiss. The flavors were rich, broad, deep, and slow, like the Mississippi River or like Louie Armstrong singing "St. James Infirmary". I yearn to make red beans and rice like this myself.

We replenished our supply of turtles at Turtle Alley, because our take-home supply had gotten depleted during the night. This day, we got photos:
Hallie and Lori:

The Que Crawl Truck was selling a pulled pork po-boy with purple cabbage slaw and french fries. I heard the guys in the truck talking about the french fries, so I wanted to try them, but I didn't want to eat a lot of french fries with limited stomach capacity. So after ordering my po-boy, I asked, "Could I get just fifty cents worth of french fries? I just want to sample a few, not a whole order." The guy grinned and said "we'll take care of you." This joke has been running too many times for us to be surprised: he didn't charge me anything, but added a big handful of fries to the plate. The po-boy was very nice, with spicy barbecue playing against cool slaw; the fries were not much different from other seasoned fries I've had, and I would have been satisfied with just a few.
Que crawl: pulled pork po-boy with purple cabbage slaw
The Que Crawl Truck:

I got the roast beef po-boy from Cafe Reconcile, and this was excellent, with strong beef flavors and lovely debris. Of the two po-boys with debris I had on this trip, I enjoyed this one much more than the Ferdi Special from Mother's.

Uglesich's was serving a new recipe, Shrimp Gail. This was more flavorful than the Shrimp Uggie (with horseradish, I heard), and accompanied with some great peppery sauteed potatoes. I felt this was much tastier than the Shrimp Uggie.

I got chargrilled oysters from Royal House. I enjoyed these quite a lot, but I didn't actually taste the oysters much; I suspect that with that much butter, cheese, and garlic, I might enjoy the shells just as much.

More brisket from Louie Mueller's. Please imagine me saying "check out the smoke ring on that brisket" in the tones other men might use to recommend the features of attractive women. Hubba hubba.

Michael Stern escorted us down the line, introducing us to the various vendors. Louie Mueller's opened up the smoker to show us the briskets smoking:

We stopped several times on Saturday and Sunday to watch and listen one jazz band in the festival. Not only did they have several players, they also had a pair of dancers who tap-danced and danced together. We enjoyed their performances enough to buy a CD.

We then had to leave for home.

Foods we never got to sample from the festival:
Hot sausage po-boy from Vaucresson Sausage
Gumbo from Prejean's
Alligator burger
Fried Catfish
Crawfish cakes (like crab cakes, not like the crawfish boil cake from the party) from Royal Oyster House
Grilled Chicken and Sauce Piquante over Roasted Corn Grits from Blue Dog Cafe
Hot Pops from Turtle Alley

My favorites of the foods we tried at the festival:
brisket from Louie Mueller's Barbecue
shrimp and ham stuffed bell pepper with corn maque choux from Deli at the Cellars
red beans and rice from K-Joe's

Runner-ups from the festival that could easily be the best I ate in a normal week:
turtles from Turtle Alley
crawfish pie from Lasyone's
roast beef po-boy from Cafe Reconcile
shrimp Gail from Uglesich's
chargrilled oysters from Royal House
pulled pork po-boy from Que Crawl Truck
pie from Royer's Round Top Cafe
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