When I was invited to attend the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (NOWFE), I knew I was in for a good time. The food of New Orleans is big and bold, and New Orleanians sure know how to eat it up with gusto.
Our NOWFE fun kicked off in true NOLA style: with food, booze, music, and a parade spilling into the street. The Royal Street Stroll spans about seven blocks, and is designed so that revelers can wander in and out of the antique shops and art galleries that line the street as they sample bites from local restaurants and fill their glasses from one of the 36 wineries pouring tastings for the evening.
One of my favorite bites of the stroll was from Bourbon House – a hulking chunk of Leidenheimer New Orleans French bread hollowed out and filled with Bourbon Barbecue Shrimp, sopping with spicy, creamy sauce. (Dickie Brennan must not have gotten the memo on the tasting portion – this was an entire meal in itself…and what a lip-smackingly good meal it was.)
Drago’s charbroiling engine was out in full effect, grilling up their famous Charbroiled Oysters doused in garlic, butter, herbs, and cheese.
The Bombay Club served up Escabeche Gulf Fish & Shrimp Tacos. The fish was marinated in lime juice before it was fried, giving it a nice fresh zing.
The chilled Shrimp Regua from Antoine’s was just the thing for such a hot humid day. Named after the restaurant’s Executive Chef Michael Regua, the dish features baby shrimp swimming in a house-made horseradish, mayo, tomato sauce.
The Pelican Club dished out a classic Cajun Crawfish Ã‰touffée over Cheese Grits. In French, the word “étouffée” literally means “smothered” or “suffocated.” Indeed, the whole lumps of crawfish meat were smothered and gasping for air in a rich sauce spiked with cayenne, paprika, and other seasonings. The cheesy grits provided the perfect base.
Executive Chef Joshua Laskay of Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA Restaurant prepared a pretty bite of Yellowfin Tuna Ceviche with Fresh Watermelon & Lime Juice over a corn tortilla.
And then it was back to the shrimp and remoulade-esque sauce…two items I would become all too familiar with over the next three days. Oh yes. Me + Louisiana Shrimp + Remoulade = BFF.
GW Fins served their succulent and saucy Barbeque Shrimp over pleasantly chewy rice.
Rouses had a whole smorgasbord of Grilled Sausage, Peppers and Onions, Stuffed Mushrooms, Chicken Ã‰touffée, and Muffalettas.
Cucos brought some Mexican flavor to the fiesta with their Ranchera Chicken Taco Salad, and live music on the street kept the party pace going.
It started to rain but that didn’t stop the Krewe of Cork from showering the crowd with beads as they paraded down Royal Street.
Stay tuned…there’s a lot more NOLA noshing to be done! As they say down here: Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler…Let the Good Times Roll!
New Orleans Wine & Food Experience
May 24-29, 2011
New Orleans, LA