You can expect to find good food, fun and festivals all the time in New Orleans. We always try to experience different restaurants when we go too. This visit we checked out Chef John Besh’s brasserie restaurant ‘Lüke’ and Emeril’s Delmonico where we enjoyed a delicious garden salad, perfectly cooked Cajun seasoned redfish with roasted red pepper veloute and cinnamon beignets with chicory coffee crème anglaise. On the weekend we attended ‘Vieux To Do’, a festival trio of the Louisiana Seafood festival, Cajun-Zydeco music festival sponsored by the Jazz and Heritage Foundation and the Creole Tomato Festival sponsored by the French Market. Along the way we admired magnificent artwork: paintings, drawings, portraits and sculptures by the many artists surrounding the park at Jackson Square. The festivities stretched eight city blocks from Jackson Square to the old U.S. Mint. My distress for the hard working carriage horses in the hot southern sun lessened as the festive music penetrated my soul. A highlight of the festival included New Orleans top chefs and their food demonstrations.
Some of the top chefs at the festival were: Chef Chris Lusk, Café Adelaide; Chef Patrick Henry, Taste and See Catering; Chef Tory McPhail, Commander’s Palace; Chef An Howard, Rouses Market; Chef Diana Chauvin, La Thai Cuisine; Chef Brian Katz, Red Fish Grill; Chef Keith Frentz, LOLA and Chef Ryan Gall of Salu.
New Orleans Culture
Horse and mule-drawn carriages are an integral part of New Orleans culture. They can be boarded in the heart of the French Quarter, on the side of Jackson Square throughout the day. We always see them; I saw the carriages on Friday taking tourists around to see the sights. It was a hot day, over 92 degrees, but not as hot as New Orleans gets in July and August. One of the horses caught my attention because he was heavily frothing at the mouth. Globs of white foam dripped to the hot street beneath his harnessed mouth (not an acceptable small amount of foam indicative of a wet mouth). I asked myself, am I the only one to be concerned by this? Why is the carriage rider just sitting back and ignoring this? The horse appeared to be breathing heavily too.
Vieux To Do
The next day began the big weekend in New Orleans - three festivals rolled into one, known as the Vieux To Do. The streets were packed, the day was sunny and hot - the carriages were busy. The horses tongues were hanging out, some were breathing harder than others. I saw the same horse I had seen the previous day, still frothing at the mouth, but not as much. I had to approach the carriage driver. He leaned forward as I approached. I looked at him - then at his horse, “He doesn’t look too healthy,” I said. “He’s fine,” the carriage driver replied. “I do this every day for a living,” he added in a somewhat arrogant tone. I walked away feeling helpless and said a prayer for the animals.
Upbeat Zydeco music filled the air as we approached the French Market Creole Tomato festival. The market was packed with visitors from around the world. The Creole tomatoes weren't quite ripe yet, but hey, the show must go on! A huge fan blew a cooling mist to anyone who stood in front of it. We cooled off and enjoyed some music before strolling to the neighboring tented area featuring chefs doing cooking demonstrations. Top U.S. food bloggers were invited to sit in the front row, we sat in the back as we listened to Chef John Folse talk about the history of New Orleans cuisine. He also mentioned ‘Restaurant R’evolution’ his new business with former executive Chef Rick Tramonto of ‘Tru’ (a Chicago restaurant offering progressive French cuisine) set to open in 2011 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans.