Sunday, April 5, 2009

Eater's Remorse: Festival Blues

There are much, much longer posts to come about the Taste of the Town benefit, my recent dinners at Boucherie and Zoe, as well as other guilty pleasures that I've indulged in, but I just wanted to address, first, the disappointing day I had yesterday. Saturday, April 4, was one of the most jam-packed days of the spring food festival season, with the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival taking place all weekend-long up on the North Shore above Lake Pontchartrain, the Crawfish Festival, celebrating the mass return of the mudbugs to our brown waters, the inaugural Louisiana RoadFood Festival, and the Oyster Jubilee.

Being that I only like crawfish at certain establishments and not as a whole, I opted out of that. The strawberry festival was one that I'd already been to, and it was far away. Not only that, but I'm allergic to strawberries in large quantities, but man, do I ever love strawberries in large quantities. A recipe for delicious disaster.

Obviously, then, I opted for the Oyster Jubilee in the French Quarter and the Louisiana RoadFood Festival the next street over.

Both were extremely disappointing.

For one, the oyster festival seemed have went missing. I arrived to the Quarter after running errands with Boy, and from all that activity, both he and I were famished and looking forward to this legendary "longest fried oyster po-boy ever," a Leidenheimer sandwich that was put together by several different restaurants and lining the sidewalks of several city blocks. Well, by 1PM, no such sandwich existed, there were no vendors to see, and Bourbon Street was its usual mess of drunken frat boys and degreaser water running down the street. I found out later that the festival was not until 4, but ended right after the ceremonial cutting of the sammich at noon. But honestly, this festival should have begun later to end later. Who gets up at 9AM, interested in fried mollusks? So yes; I am very, very saddened by the missed opportunity to eat fried P&Js. Especially since the photos online show that it was probably, crunchy, moist, and delicious.

So onward to Royal Street to partake in some of Louisiana's "best" road food. Well, apparently, we don't have a whole lot of road food because the showing of vendors was poor. Boucherie was there in their signature purple truck, but they're listed on the web site as "The Que Crawl." The Tabasco Country Store appeared, too, as did Dunbar's and Cafe Reconcile, which some of the proceeds went towards. But that was about it. And one of the saddest moments was when I saw a shrimp dish that looked pretty good, only to read the little board with their offerings: "Shrimp in Zatarain's Crab Boil."

Wtf?! What the hell kind of lame cop-out is that? To come to a festival advertised as some of the state's "legendary" eats to offer shrimp cooked in seasoning from a box?! Um, no thanks. This even kind of offended me, since it was such a poor representation, especially in the most tourist-occupied area of the city, of the food we really have to offer.

I thought I'd at least get something to drink, but found that the wine offering was basically a joke. Barefoot was the company supplying it, and we all know that you can't really trust $6 supermarket wine in shoddy, outdated branding. I know I'm coming off as a massive snob here, but cheap wine is often exactly that -- cheap wine. And a pox on cheap wine. Ugh.

One thing that actually did stand out, however, was the recently relocated (into a smaller space, oddly enough) Saltwater Grill's fried green tomato and shrimp remoulade po-boy. For only $6, they were selling a foot of this delectable treat, with freshly cornmeal battered fried tomatoes and topped with (get this!) FRIED shrimp. Ordinarily, all shrimp remoulade is generally served cold and boiled, but this shrimp was delectable in a crispy shell of floury chicken-fried goodness. The remoulade sauce came in a bottle from the supermarket, but the brand was at least local. The bread was flaky Leidenheimer, but although the po-boy was considered dressed, it wasn't really, since the lettuce was sparse. But still, this was a fantastic deal, and it must be remembered that this is street vendor food, and still better than most places in the country. I look forward to doing to Saltwater up the block from my house for the real deal.

So that was the shining star of the day. Live music, there wasn't much of, unless you count the usual Royal Street musicians and tap-dancers performing with hats out. I'd be willing to give the RoadFood Festival another chance next year if the lineup doubled, and make sure to check out the oyster one earlier, but for now, I'm sorry I missed the strawberry event and sorry I talked this one up.


  1. THIS IS SUCH A BUMMER! I pretty much posted a novella about the RoadFood Fest earlier this week trying to communicate my joy and anticipation. I didn't get out there yesterday but it's in the works for today. Now I'm not sure if I should make a change of plans... sad.

  2. Dude, I love your blog but you can't be disappointed about the lack of po boy action when you are an hour late! It was posted on two different sites when the longass, crustaceaonous bastard would be cut, so if ya wanna blame something, blame it on your errands...

  3. oh, and the road food fest did suck.

  4. Lol, thanks Bob. I know, I blame the my upcoming wedding and Boy's inappropriately scheduled haircut! It's my bad that I missed the oysters, but for some reason I had it in my phone as 11-4 ...? Not sure where I got that from now. Hope you had plenty of P&J's for me!

  5. Dr. Sab (me lady) and I had a lot of p&js for you and boy... BBQ and bleu, sweet hot and spinach and, most poignantly, corn dusted and pate drizzled! Great, now I'm hungry.

  6. Omg, yummmm. So jealous. Definitely will be there EARLY next year.