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First time in New Orleans at Jazz Fest

I'll be in New orleans for the first time ever (yahoo!) at Jazz Fest... Don't know how many days I'll be in town (performing at Jazz Fest) but I've heard the food is very good there. What are the essentials I MUST try there?

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  1. I don't know if the food cubes are out yet, but here's my go to at JF:

    Pecan Catfish Meunière, Seafood Mirliton Casserole, Fried Crab Cake w/ Smoked Tomato & Jalapeño Tartar

    Spinach Artichoke Casserole, Seafood Au Gratin, Sweet Potato Pone

    Alligator Sauce Piquante, Shrimp & Okra Gumbo, Shrimp Etouffée

    Cochon de Lait Po-Boy, Fried Eggplant w/ Crawfish Sauce, Fried Eggplant w/ Marinara Sauce

    Crawfish Sack, Oyster Patties, Crawfish Beignets

    Ya Ka Mein (great for hangovers)

    Fried Soft-Shell Crab Po-Boy from Galley Seafood

    Pheasant, Quail & Andouille Gumbo from Prejean's

    Tagine of Lamb (Lamb Stew w/ Basmati Rice), Merguez (Grilled Lamb Sausage),
    Crawfish, Spinach & Zucchini Bisque from Jamila's

    Oyster Rockefeller Bisque

    Crawfish Strudel (better than the crawfish bread, but get a go crawfish bread at the end of the day to eat on the way out as traffic can make you hungry)

    Jamaican Chicken, Curry Chicken Pattie from Palmer's

    Jama-Jama (Sautéed Spinach), Fried Plaintains, Poulet Fricassee (Chicken on a Stick)
    from Bennachin

    Trout Baquet from Li'l Dizzy's

    Shrimp Macque Choux, Shrimp & Sausage Macque Choux, Fry Bread, Indian Tacos in the Folk Area from the Houma Indians

    9 Replies
    1. re: edible complex

      That's a strong list that EC put up for you as far as the food at Jazz Fest, honestly with all the music out there and then after at the bars, I won't even bother suggesting places to eat outside of Jazz Fest as I never make it to a nice place, as we end up at some bar afterwards for a bit, hit the hotel to freshen up and then go out and catch more music.

      1. re: edible complex

        EC has a good list. If you can't manage them all, don't miss:
        Cochon de lait
        softshell po boy
        pheasant etc. gumbo
        eggplant w/ crawfish sauce
        mango freeze
        I also like the meaty white beans.
        Eat oysters/halfshell elsewhere. They are not always cold My husband foolishly ate them one year. They were cool, not cold and he paid the price.

        1. re: JazzyB

          My never miss dishes are the cochon po-boy and the white beans.

          Also keep an eye out for who is giving a cooking demonstration in the clubhouse. Not only can you get some good cooking tips but you can get a free taste of what was made. Last year while putting on a demo Chef Spencer of Delmonico's accidently let slip a secret ingredient that goes in their dirty rice which led me to use it in similar dishes.

        2. re: edible complex

          Last year was my first time at JF. My favorites are all listed above. They were the Cochon de Lait and Soft Shell Crab Po'Boys and the Pheasant Gumbo. I also liked the Red Beans and Rice. Probably not a big deal to NOLA residents, but was wonderful for a California native. I also absolutely lived on Rosemint Ice Tea. So good and so refreshing.

          1. re: edible complex

            Ate the best of the fest last weekend and now that I'm back in PDX, I'm dreaming of cochon du lait, which is not to be found here. Anyone have a recipe --- including that great slaw?

            1. re: redhead515

              BION, this morning I found a cochon de lait po-boy (one of several I brought home last weekend) that we missed in my fridge this morning and had to pitch it. Now, that hurt . . . So I know what it means to miss cochon de lait . . .

              You can do a close approximation of the JF cochon de lait by slow roasting some pork shoulder/butt. I actually do a 3 1/2-4 lb. roast in a lg. (Reynolds) baking bag. I shake a tablespoon of flour in the bag as directed, then season the meat w/lots of salt and pepper. I chop several cloves of garlic, rub it on the meat and put what's left in the bag. Put the meat in the bag, cut a few slits in the top, and put the whole thing in a roasting pan. Cook at 275 for 6 1/2 -7 1/2 hours; you'll end up w/a falling-apart roast w/ a slightly crusty exterior and lots of drippings in the bag that you can de-fat for a tasty au jus to pour over the chunks of meat. (Sometimes I add fresh herbs to the bag; if making this recipe for pulled pork sandwiches, I also rub the meat w/vinegar, sometimes w/smoked paprika.)

              My guess is that the slaw is a simple mix of shredded cabbage, a bit of shredded carrot, mayonnaise, horseradish, a little creole mustard.

              Hope this satisfies your "envie," as we might say down here.

          2. Raw oysters under the grandstand
            Soft shell crab po boy
            Cochon de lait po boy
            Crawfish enchiladas
            Crawfish sacks
            Mango freeze

            Crawfish bread USED to be one of my favorites but the past few years it's been hit or miss. If they use LA crawfish..they're great. If not...it's not that good.

            Other festivals REQUIRE vendors to use LA crawfish. JF should too!

            3 Replies
            1. re: nikinik

              How interesting, I was such a fan of crawfish bread pre-K but have been (mostly) dissappointed in it since then.

              1. re: Ciao Bob

                The crawfish bread has gone so far downhill that I don't even bother anymore, it was once my favorite item when I started going 20 years ago, maybe my tastes have changed. I just find it very greasy now.

                1. re: roro1831

                  there's a lot of that going around at Jazz Fest. I'm expecting serious trouble with crawfish deliveries in the next few weeks just on account of how many are going to be sacrificed out there. Time was you couldn't hardly find a live crawfish in the city..

            2. Crawfish Monica IMO is a must have

              1. If, heaven forbid, I could make only one day, I would have:
                --Prejean's pheasant, etc. gumbo (which, I always forget, is the BEST gumbo I've ever eaten in New Orleans although it is from Lafayette)
                --cochon de lait po-boy
                --meaty white beans
                --fried oyster-spinach salad
                --crawfish strudel (not bread)

                And if you have more time, start working your way through EC's very comprehensive list.

                6 Replies
                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                  I'm coming down this year too...staying deep in the Bywater...any thoughts for that nabe?
                  (Omnivore, likes veg, likes spice. My favorite jambalaya is at Coops, so far anyway.)

                  1. re: pitu

                    Bacchanal, The Joint, Elizabeth's, Jack Dempsey's, New Orleans Cake Cafe, Snug Harbor, Taco San Miquel, Mona's, La Peniche, Sukho Thai, Wasabi, Cafe Bamboo

                        1. re: pitu

                          not all bywater, several of those are in the neighboring Marigny area. the marigny is between bywater and the french quarter.

                      1. re: pitu

                        Adolfo's...also in the Marigny

                    1. OH YEAH! your going to have an incredible time.

                      Cochon de lait po boy all the way
                      Crawfish monica--always good. nuthin' too fancy.. just a classic, simple beauty
                      Pheasant and Quail Gumbo
                      meat pies (easy to transport, they stay hot and are wrapped nice for pocket travel!)
                      mango freeze
                      (crawfish bread used to be essential for me but like others I agree, it has gone downhill and is hit or miss. get one small and split with a friend to try)

                      PS..EDIBLE, I love your list! hardcore!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: mcegielski

                        Here is the best tip I can give to you. If it is hot, which most days it is, stand in line for a large strawberry lemonaid. It is the coolest , most refreshing drink at Jazzfest. Get this in the early afternoon before you begin to melt. My daughter who hates lemons drinks them. That is how good they are. Or get a Rosemint Tea (my wife's favorite).

                      2. One week to go... Any last minute advice or late breaking food news?

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: rschwim

                          Try to hit at least some of the food demonstrations in the Grandstand area on the Food Heritage Stage. Good information and free samples of what they cook. Also a good place to cool down and get off your feet. And clean bathrooms are there!

                          1. re: mkleinbart64

                            there's a Food Heritage Stage? o my...
                            (I'll be there for the 2nd weekend)

                            1. re: pitu

                              Yes, it is in the Grandstand. They have presentations all 4 days. Here is the schedule- http://www.nojazzfest.com/foodcrafts/....

                              There is also a Cajun Cabin stage with presentations Friday-Sunday. Here is their schedule- http://www.nojazzfest.com/foodcrafts/...

                              1. re: mkleinbart64

                                looking at that list, I'm sorry I won't be there for weekend one
                                thx mkleinbart64!

                                1. re: mkleinbart64

                                  THANKS for this. We are newcomers -- have only been to Fest a few times -- and we didn't know about this food stage. We will be checking it out.

                                  (rschwim -- "See" you at Fest - and in St. Paul.)

                          2. Calvin Trillin's wife accused him of just going tothe Festiva to eat. "To you ajazz festival is just an excuse toeat". "Jazz and HERITAGE festival" I corrected her. "What do you think th heritage of New Orlean is, macrame? In New Orleans, heritage means food."


                            1. Soft-shell CRAWFISH po-boy if they have it. They didn't last year.

                              1. here's a quick report back, from the Jazzfest bounty

                                High praise for Pheasant, Quail & Andouille Gumbo from Prejean's and Fried Eggplant w/ Crawfish Sauce.
                                Shrimp n Grits were good but some of my shrimp were iodine-y. The Crawfish Strudel tasted like pizza to me. Boudin is lovely livery riceyness, not as good as what we tasted in Lafayette but pretty durn nice. Stuffed artichoke is a bit of a mess, but also fills that salty bready need with a little green if you have that.

                                The iced tea is great, as is iced or frozen coffee from Cafe Du Monde. Couldn't face the beignet in the heat of the day, but they smelled great. Mango freeze is fantastic - pure purée goodness from what I tasted. Snowballs are snowballs. Frozen stuff gets you through those hot afternoons before it's time to pick the next wonderful taste treat of the day.

                                Duck Po-Boy was nice but I'd only have it again if I stop eating pork because WOW that Cochon de Lait Po-Boy is smokey meat heaven, esp w a little hot sauce.
                                Thx for the great recs...still have a little more time at this food fest phenomenon...

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: pitu

                                  I didn't like the crawfish strudel as much as I have in the past few years, not because I thought it tasted like pizza, but it seemed heavy on green pepper (or something that dominated the filling). i also thought the crawfish tasted slightly off--Chinese, maybe?

                                  1. re: pitu

                                    I loved the fried chicken...very moist, neither over- nor under-seasoned; to my taste, it was just right.

                                  2. Downhill alert - soft shell crab po boy is not as good this year. The bread was different, mediocre; and the crab was not as juicy. Talked to a few other people who agreed. Another downhill- the fried tomatoes, they just didn't have the taste.
                                    Still great - pheasant gumbo at prejeans, anything at lil izzy's -trout baquet (one of the best trout dishes I've ever had) seafood gumbo and crawfish bisque. Strawberry shortcake and the cochon du lait. Perfection!
                                    Good but not great - white choc. bread pudding, crab beignets, white beans, peach cobbler

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: dpastor

                                      The longer, colder winter affected soft shells; they're behind schedule, not at their best yet--as you, and I, and many others noticed at Jazz Fest. Thankfully, lots of other wonderful stuff to fill that void: Prejean's gumbo and the cochon de lait were, once again, my favorites. (And I found the meaty white beans as tasty as ever.)

                                      1. re: dpastor

                                        +1 for the gumbo from prejean's and cochon du lait.

                                        Softshell crab was just OK. Not as meaty as I've remembered, too much fried skinny legs and not enough of a body. I think I might be the only person who didn't like the crawfish bread - too cheesy for me, and I like cheese.

                                        I didn't see any vendors offering boudin :( Was it around and I missed it?

                                        1. re: dpastor

                                          +1 on the Trout Baguet. Made a perfect breakfast for me while my friends had fried dough