Follow Me Foodie to the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience!
A recap of the Royal Street Stroll kick off event to the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience.
I don’t even know where to start with this one. The Royal Street Stroll at the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE) was almost like the Mardi Gras for foodies. It definitely wasn’t as big or as crazy as Mardi Gras, but it was still a delicious party with a parade and all. It was part of the Follow Me Foodie to New Orleans itinerary and it was my kind of entertainment!
There was way too much food and booze to count, but I do have 92 photos (after edits) and a scratch and sniff camera to help me remember every moment. I also have a red wine stain on my dress, some plastic beads that came with a kiss from “The Pope”, and a bunch of promotional wine merchandise and New Orleans Hornets swag which I picked up along the way. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I hope to have happen again.
When it comes to festivals, New Orleans has almost enough to last them one a week throughout the year. There’s always something going on and more than half the festivals are food and music related. There were so many I never even knew existed like New Orleans Oyster Festival, Coolinary New Orleans, Oak Street PoBoy Fest, French Market Creole Tomato Festival, New Orleans Seafood Festival, Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival and of course the more familiar Tales of the Cocktail. That’s only naming a fraction of them too.
I’ve been lucky enough to experience Tales of the Cocktail because for the last two years the travelling cocktail show has made an annual stop in only one Canadian city, and that was in my home town Vancouver, BC! While the cocktail scene in New Orleans can easily hold its own, I decided to trade in my cocktail glass for a wine glass especially for this occasion.
The event kicked off with a media reception featuring hors d’ouevres at the Montelone Hotel which also houses the famous Carousel Bar. It’s the only carousel where you need to be 21 years old to ride. This revolving bar is known to locals, tourists and celebrities alike. I never actually saw it revolving, but it does.
I was invited to the 20th Annual New Orleans Wine and Food Experience which is a festival showcasing New Orleans’ local food scene, nationally recognized celebrity chefs, and national and international wines. It’s a three day event with seated dinners, tastings, seminars and many other food and wine related activities. It was my first time in NOLA and I had a pretty packed foodie schedule outside of this festival, so the Royal Street Stroll kick off event was the only NOWFE event I managed to attend.
Here are the hors d’oeuvres catered by Montelone Hotel.
Alright and short break from the food because I have to introduce you to Margarita Bergen. She’s the local New Orleans socialite and she apparently owns a million hats… maybe not a million, but a lot! Paris Hilton who?!
After all that food and wine I had almost forgotten that the event hadn’t even started yet! The 12 hors d’oeuvres were just the amuse bouche and off to the Royal Street Stroll I was! The Royal Street Stroll was the highlight launch event. It’s a ticketed event open to the public and it was $75/person for pretty much all you can eat and drink in one evening. The party lasted 8 blocks featuring various restaurants and their food stations. Although the stroll was a comfortable and easy walk, I probably wasn’t walking in a very straight line by the time I reached the 600th block… actually to be honest I was already swaying before we started. Pacing is important.
I have to point out the hot sauces in the back. That Tobasco Pepper Sauce is the Tobasco of choice in New Orleans, but the Lousiana’s Pure Crystal Hot Sauce is the New Orleans “foodies” choice. Apparently the Cheese Grits with Crawfish Étouffée is something locals eat for breakfast or dinner. Everyone has their own version of it, but most agreed that everyone born and raised in Louisiana should be able to make this at home.
No fancy shakers required. This was “boss” making me a Sazerac Cocktail, which I could not drink more than half a sip of. They were really generous with the pouring and it tasted like 4 ounces of Sazerac Rye with a splash of simple syrup and Marchino Cherries.
New Orleans Original “Sazerac Rye Whiskey” Cocktail Recipe
1 cube sugar
1 1/2 oz Sazerac Rye Whiskey
1/4 oz Herbsaint Liqueurd’Anis
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1. Pack an old fashioned glass with ice.
2. In a second old-fashioned glass place the sugar cube and the Peychaud’s Bitters and crush them together.
3. Add the Sazerac Rye Whiskey to the second old fashioned glass.
The official restaurants participating in the Royal Street Stroll were all set up in stations outside, but some other restaurants on Royal Street joined in with their own features. You could walk into a few restaurants and sample some of their specialities. This was Latrobe’s on Royal.
Latrobe’s on Royal’s Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya, Latrobe’s Crawfish Penne Pasta, and Fresh Berries with Amaretto Whipped Cream. Yes, I put my dessert on the same plate… but it didn’t touch! Not a big deal if it did though.
The desserts were actually from Sucré which is a dessert shop located in Uptown (another area). I had walked by it after my lunch at La Petite Grocery the previous day, but was too full to try anything. Apparently it’s an amazing dessert shop and I did go inside and everything looked phenomenal with funky flavours for chocolate, home made artisan ice creams, and desserts pretty enough to be plated at nice sit down restaurants.
Okay stop. I have to stop here for another break. This was probably one of my favourite food stations from the Royal Street Stroll. I had many locals recommend me Drago’s Chargrilled Oysters so I was so happy that they were part of the party. They featured their signature Drago’s Chargrilled Oysters which were freaking fantastic. They were cheesy, garlicky, buttery, rich and oily and I was lucky to get two. Almost every restaurant in New Orleans has their version of Chargrilled Oysters, but these ones seem to be the local favourite. Although different styles, I also enjoyed the ones at Cochon – see their Wood Fired Oyster Roast.
600th block featured Aperol and Bourbon House, but the party ended early because Bourbon House ran out of Shrimp for their Bourbon Barbecue Shrimp. I hear they have excellent oysters though and that was a tip from the chef at Cochon. I would trust him.
And at this point I had to leave because I had dinner reservations at Emeril’s Restaurant. :)
I ended up missing…
Half of 700th block
Barefoot Bubbly and Wine
Mountain Valley Water
Music: Debbie, Parl and Mary Trio
Pam Bay – Taste of Italy
Galvex Restaurant – Tomato and Cucumber Gazpacho
Trinchero Family Estates
Music: The Honeypots
I’d say I did pretty well!