New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (NOWFE 2012 Recap)

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.

Black Sesame Coated Seared Tuna Chopstick with Ponzu Sauce

Blue Crab Avocado (Guacamole) Shooter with Lump Crabmeat

Lump Crabmeat Mac n’Cheese with White Truffle and Gruyere

Rohan Duck Prosciutto with Fruit Tartare and Fig Crisp

Braised Collard Greens with Smothered Beef Cheeks and Turnip Chiffonade

Maple Glazed Pork Profiterole with Jicama Slaw

Tuscan Shrimp Pancetta with Orange Mostarda

Five Mushroom Brunoise in Flint Polenta Cup

Ancho Chile Seared Chicken Served on Grilled Cornbread with Chipotle Mayonnaise

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?!

Okay now back to the food… Chinese Spoon of Vodka Gravlax served with Dilled Wasabi Cream

Pomegranate Glazed Pork on a Sweet Potato Cake with Grilled Pineapple and Cilantro

Stilton Caramelized Pear Tartlet

Louis Jadot Macon Villages Chardonnay 2010 from Burgundy, France

Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages 2010 from Beaujolais, France

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.

200th block

Music: Robin Barnes

The Hotel Montelleone Criollo Restaurant – Seafood and Avocado Napoleon

Fine Cooking Magazine presents Chef Tash DeSerio…

Chef Tash DeSerio’s Fried Chicken Salad with Buttermilk Vinaigrette

Fine Cooking Magazine presents Chef Bill Taibe’s Smoked Trout & Caviar…

Chef Bill Taibe’s Smoked Trout Dip on 9-Grain Toast with Trout Roe and Dill

Fine Cooking Magazine presents Chef David Guas

Chef David Guas’ Chocolate Pudding with a Bacon Brittle Topping

Rouse’s Chicken Satay with Asian Peanut Sauce

300th Block

GW Fins’ Lobster Dumplings

Pelican Club – Cheese Grits with Crawfish Étouffée

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.

Sazerac – The Sazerac Cocktail is the signature New Orleans cocktail. It’s just a standard cognac or whiskey cocktail, but they use rye whiskey instead.

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
Lemon Peel

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 moment before I got kissed on the forehead and beaded by “The Pope”! You can see him coming!

And there she is! Miss Margarita!

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 Beef Tenderloin Sliders with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

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.

They also had a tray of desserts: Lavender Macaron, White Chocolate Mousse Cup, and a Lemon Tart.

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.

400th block

Drago’s Chargrilled Oysters

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.

Music: Washboard Chaz

500th block

Antoine’s Shrimp Regua

Bombay Club

Shrimp Étouffée with Stone Ground Grits

Stella Artois Thirsty Girl Wine Selections

Chocolate Shop – This actually smelled and tasted like chocolate with a mix of black cherry red wine.

600th block

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.

I don’t think this musician was officially part of the Royal Street entertainment, but that’s the energy and vibe of New Orleans… it’s not every day that I saw this, but it wasn’t rare either.

700th block

Rouse’s Fresh Green Onion Sausage and Armadillo Eggs

Fresh Green Onion Sausage and Armadillo Eggs

Nola Restaurant – Gulf Fish and Bay Scallop Ceviche

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
Stella Artois
Milgaro Tequila
Mountain Valley Water
Music: Debbie, Parl and Mary Trio

800th block

Pam Bay – Taste of Italy
Stella Artois
Galvex Restaurant – Tomato and Cucumber Gazpacho

900th block

Trinchero Family Estates
Music: The Honeypots

I’d say I did pretty well!

6 Comments

  • mimihui says:

    yum…yummy …..So good~

  • Linda says:

    HOLY GUACAMOLE, look at all that delicious food! nomnomnomnom! 🙂 i wish we had more street food fairs here in vancouver but alas, only the nightmarket lol

  • Mijune says:

    @linda – it’s our tight laws here!!! 🙁

  • Matt says:

    OMG this post was way too long (in a good way). There was like 8 things I wanted to comment on…before I was halfway through…k gotta go…the kitchen is calling

  • Margarita Bergen says:

    Darling, I just ran across your blog. It was so detailed and I loved it and I also loved my photos. As a media I do get a chance to go to all the parties but when I walk with the Krewe of Cork, as a former Queen II and IX I enjoyed being in the Stroll as well but I do not get to eat and see all those delicious dishes . Thank you very much for including me in your photos
    and sharing those exquisite decadent photos. Margarita Bergen,M.Ed.
    Society Editor – New Orleans Living Magazine
    Hostess of Royal Sonesta’s Round table Luncheon
    Social/Cultural Columnist – http://www.bayoubuzz.com
    811 Marigny Street, Unit C
    New Orleans, Louisiana 70117
    Tel/ Cell 504-495-9181

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