Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Jazz Fest

I headed to New Orleans last weekend with Tim for the final days of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. We stayed Uptown with my friends Pedro and Tommy. Here we are in front of the Gentily Stage on Saturday afternoon.
Sugarland delivered a great set as the closeout band on the Acura stage Friday. Tim and I were able to squeeze our way right up to the front lines. The only downer was the drunk Yat standing next to me who kept pushing me and knocking into me during the show.
Some Mardi Gras Indians in elaborately beaded costumes joined Sugerland for one of the group's closing numbers.
My favorite performance was by Cowboy Mouth, a New Orleans rock band, whose drummer and lead singer, Fred LeBlanc, is famous for his high-caffeinated performances. They did a few numbers from their new album, Fearless, along with some great post-Katrina tunes like "The Avenue" and classics like "Jenny Says."
We caught the end of a set by Doreen (center) and her jazz combo. I've know Doreen since the early 90s when I would listen to her and the group play every Saturday morning on Royal Street in the French Quarter. It was great to see her on stage at Jazz Fest. She plays that clarinet like no one else.

Of course, Jazz Fest is about food as much as it's about music. And we did our best to gobble down everything possible. I started here with one of my favorites, a duck poboy.

We also ate jambalaya, soft-shell crab poboys, crawfish bread, sweet potato chips and a few other things that I can't remember now.

We washed everything down with rose mint iced tea.

This was our final meal of the Fest, a puff pastry topped with oysters, some crawfish beignets smothered with horseradish sauce and a crawfish pouch sitting in étouffée.
After it was all over, we headed to a house six blocks away for a huge crawfish boil (500 pounds of the critters) where Tim tasted his first boiled mudbugs. The crawfish were the best I've ever had.

The cook, a guy from Lake Charles who now lives in Las Vegas, used a couple of special techniques. First, he purged the crawfish for 24 hours in fresh water rather than doing the traditional quick purge in salt water. Then, after the crawfish were cooked, he let them soak for a few minutes in butter seasoned with tons of garlic and a Cajun spice mix.

We kept telling Tim that the rest his crawfish-eating experiences probably never will match this one.

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