We all watched in horror as poor New Orleans was devastated by Katrina, which resulted in a sky-dive in tourism (their economic powerhouse), extensive property damage, to say nothing of their population loss and resulting labor shortage.(The labor shortage was in full evidence when I stopped in at the world famous Cafe Du Monde for cafe au lait and beignets and noticed that 15 out of about 16 of the wait-staff were Asian with absolutely no southern drawl— which I sorely missed.)
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived last week for the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience. The good news is that all the touristy nabes: The French Quarter, Warehouse District and the Garden District are up & jammin’ once again. As a matter of fact, until I was driven about 30 minutes out-of-town, not only was their little evidence left of Katrina’s destruction, but there has even been a bunch of new restaurant springing up like crocus. This influx of newbies is generating some major culinary excitement. Chefs are bsuy tweaking traditional cajun standards by adding creative touches which utilize new flavor or ingredient combos, as well as some interesting international fusion cooking. Emeril calls it the ” New” New Orleans Cuisine which is typified on his menu with Gumbo of the Day being offered next to Abita Root Beer Braised Niman Ranch Pork Belly with Citrus Slaw, Marinated Yucca, Heirloom Radish, Shaved Jalepeno, Goat Cheese and Pork Cracklings.
I am thrilled to report that after 3 days of non-stop eating at the 17th annual New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, that the food is BETTER than ever. The old, the new, the classic cajun and creole, the creative twists..this is one event you do NOT want to miss next year or else, you’ll be forced to turn in your foodie merit badge! With 5 days of events, over 75 restaurants participating and 175 wineries, this is one BIG event-so BIG that this year they had to hold it in the Superdome, which could still barely contain all the excitement.
Stay tuned to read more.