Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I Bet You Think It’s Easy…

attending all of these festivals, I mean. It’s hard work. (Snark, Snark.)

Chuck has described the first of two important criteria for successful festival attendance—determining your music venue and finding a place in the shade at said venue. But there is much more to consider than that.

Yes, you might have shade at 11:00 a.m., but will it still be there at 2:30 p.m.? Is this shady spot in direct line of a cooling breeze? Now that you have found a breezy and shady spot at your chosen music stage, are you near (but not too near) the porta-johns? And finally, how close is the nearest desirable food source? As I said, there is a lot to consider—the least of which is sustenance.

The French Quarter Festival organizers describe their event as the “World’s Largest Jazz Brunch.” “In a city known for its delicious and diverse cuisine, even festivals are known for serving world-class food…. The French Quarter Festival annually features authentic local cuisine from the area’s finest restaurants, including festival favorites such as crawfish and goat cheese crepes, cochon de lait poor boys, crawfish bisque, Oysters Bonne Femme, hot boiled crawfish, grilled chicken livers with pepper jelly, sweet potato pie, bourbon bbq shrimp, prime debris poor boys,… In order to maintain the authenticity and quality of the cuisine, the Jazz Brunch Committee follows specific criteria for participating…. (V)endors must be dine-in restaurants and New Orleans restaurants are given first preference” (

Our system is to have Chuck, a.k.a. “The Hunter” or “The Procurer of Provisions,” go for food, while I stand guard over the lawn chairs, backpack, and other festival going paraphernalia. And we order from one food stand so that he isn’t balancing one plate of food while pulling his wallet from his pocket to pay for the second. Our choices on Thursday included—but were not limited to (as shown in the first three photos)—Antoine’s, Broussard’s, Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House, Galatoire’s, and K-Paul’s. But we chose the Vaucresson’s Sausage stand.

“Since 1899 the Vaucressons have been mainstays of the meat business in New Orleans’ 7th Ward. Robert Levinsky Vaucresson was a butcher. His son Robert ‘Sonny’ Vaucresson made sausage his specialty. Sonny was one of the first cooks of Creole heritage to have a restaurant on Bourbon Street. From 1966 to 1974, he operated Vaucresson’s Café Creole, where the filé gumbo was famed. Today, Vance Vaucresson carries on the tradition with Vaucresson’s Sausage Company. Restaurants throughout New Orleans swear by Vance’s smoked sausage, andouille, and chaurice for their gumbos. Many of his customers were his father’s customers. For more than a century the Vaucressons have held on to their Creole roots and shared them with their community” (

He returned with the Creole Crawfish Sausage Poor Boy (right in photo below) (the sausage is described as “A delicate blend of crawfish, fish and pork, and the addition of bell peppers, celery, green onions and garlic make this an extremely flavorful sausage that can stand alone on a poor boy or accompany some of our city's favorite dishes. A true Jazz Fest favorite.” [vaucresson sausage. com]) for me and the Creole Hot Sausage Poor Boy for himself.

This latter sausage is “a spicy Creole favorite (left, in photo) made with a mixture of beef and pork that will send your taste buds into a tizzy. With special emphasis on our seasoning rather than just pepper, our Creole hot sausage continues to please our loyal customers since it was first made in 1899” (

Both were quite good, and Chuck’s hot sausage certainly lived up to its name. I heard frequent cries of “Kate, where’s the water?”

About an hour later, I wandered off to one of the Festival Merchandise stands to purchase an official festival t-shirt. And that’s where I got into trouble.

I had read about these. I knew that they were available at Jackson Square. I was determined to be resolute. And there standing next to me was a man holding a Maple Bacon Long John from Blue Dot Donuts.

“Blue Dot Donuts…is not just another donut shop. They take the ordinary donut and make it into something amazing. Have you ever eaten a donut covered in bacon? I have and it is amazing! Maple glazed with bacon is one of the most decadent items I have ever eaten….Blue Dot is owned by three local police officers” (

This was amazing. Sweet and salty. Soft and crunchy. Just perfect for a mid-afternoon festival snack.

The following day found us at the Old U.S. Mint, which, being the smallest of the music venues, had the smallest number of food vendors. But that was all right, since one of these was The Joint, which is on my list of New Orleans restaurants to try. Since our time in New Orleans is getting shorter, this was a way to cross another restaurant off the list.

“The Joint opened in 2004…in the Historic Bywater District.... Since that time it has developed a national reputation for some of the best barbecue around. It has been in top 10 BBQ lists in publications from Bon Appétit to Zagat. In July 2008, The Joint was featured in Guy Fieri’s Food Network program ‘Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives’” (

The Joint’s menu included three sandwich selections--a Pulled Pork Sandwich, a Beef Brisket Sandwich, a Chaurice Sausage Sandwich (these three came topped with cole slaw)--and baked beans. Chuck’s pulled pork (left in the photo below) was nice and juicy with a light smoke, but I still like the pulled pork at 2Paul’s in Lafayette (LA) better.

Chaurice (shore-EESE) “is a Creole sausage that is comparable to Spanish chorizo, and like chorizo, there seems to be a huge number of versions out there. Some versions are hotter than others. Chaurice is considered the hottest in Creole and Cajun cuisine. It was a favorite in Louisiana dating back to the 19th century, and it’s believed to have come to Louisiana with the Spanish” ( After my Chaurice Sausage Sandwich (right in the photo above), it was my turn to be looking for the water bottle.

It’s Sunday, the final day of the festival. Now I am sure that this has happened to you. As I am sitting there, I suddenly say to Chuck, “Boy, some falafal would taste good right now!” Fortunately, I am in luck since one of the food vendors along the riverfront was Mona’s Café, another restaurant on my “to visit” list.

After giving him a few minutes to catch his breath—he had just returned from photo-graphing the dancers at Casa Samba Ex-travaganza (see yesterday’s entry)--I sent him forth to get me Mona’s Falafal Plate with hummus, salad, and parsley.

This was wonderful. Every element on the plate was well prepared and flavorful. I will admit that I gave Chuck most of the hummus, since the plate contained more food than I could eat. And the hummus was the perfect accompani-ment for his traditional gyro wrap (right).

No Addies here. I am not going to evaluate food stands the way I would any sit-down restaurant. But I suspect that many of these same vendors will be present for the upcoming Jazz Fest, so we won’t have to worry about getting great food.

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