Saturday, April 5, 2008

Trip Report - Taste of the Town

"OH. MY. GOD." That is the only thing that I could text Rene on Friday night when he asked me how everything was going at Taste of the Town. Quite honestly, I did not want to waste precious time. There was just too much to eat and drink. Words cannot describe the amount of food and booze that was there for the taking. But I'll try...

I mean, you have to love The Pope. His Holiness was able to secure an additional two free tickets, so we invited our lifelong friend Blondie to join us. But while most of you are thinking, "Oh, that is so nice of them to ask their old friend to come along," we really just knew that we would need a babysitter for the night. And let's face it: she has put up with us since we were like 7, so who better to (at least try to) keep us in line.

Due to the prospect of rain, the event had to be moved to the parking garage of East Jefferson General Hospital. No big deal to me, but there were a lot of people in attendance and not much airflow. So needless to say, it was a tad humid and warm. OK, really I was sweating like a whore in church, but so was everyone else.

Now, when you attend one of these functions with The Pope, you have to play by his rules for at least the first hour or until a member of the group drinks enough so that playing by said rules is no longer feasible. One of the Pope's cardinal rules of grazing is start at one end or the other and work your way around - none of this jumping from side to side, people. There is a proper method to his madness. Unfortunately, I was too busy holding my drink in one hand and eating with the other, so notes from the event are, shall we say, nonexistent. But the between the 3 of us we came up with a rather complete recollection of the night's delicacies.
  1. Ruth's Chris - Ravioli filled with what I think was minced duck meat and mushrooms. I would have preferred the filet sandwiches that they serve at some of the other large events.
  2. Arnaud's, Galatoire's, La Petite Grocery - Shrimp remoulade. Yes, all of them. Don't get me wrong, I love shrimp remoulade, but come on. Blondie spoke with one of the higher ups from the back of the house at Galatoire's and asked why they did not serve crabmeat maison. His simple answers: "It is out of season right now, and we could not afford to serve that anyway." Can't say that I blame him.
  3. Muriel's - Voted the best dish of the night by my triumvirate. Goat cheese crepes topped with crawfish cream sauce. Absolutely incredible.
  4. Wolfe's in the Warehouse - Voted winner for best presentation. Duck breast over asian slaw on top of a crostini. Inside sources tell me that the duck breast had been brined and pastrami cured, then smoked, and then either deep fried or seared. Very tasty.
  5. Zea - Crispy Asian oysters - deep fried oysters topped with a sweet and spicy sauce.
  6. Acme - Huge (and I mean huge) raw oysters on the half shell. Oysters this time of year are not as salty, and hence not as tasty, but that fact made these oysters easier to eat. The Pope knocked out a dozen (on 2 separate stops) in about 4 minutes.
  7. Drago's - We spent a lot of time camped out in front of their booth in the corner just waiting for new batches of charbroiled oysters to come out. Once again, these bivalves were gigantic, liberally covered in garlic butter and Parmesan cheese, and served with a piece of french bread for sopping up the delicious sauce.
  8. Besh Steakhouse - BBQ Shrimp. These shrimp had to be U-12 (that would be an average of 12 shrimp per pound), but they were overcooked - an unavoidable problem of preparing and serving upwards of 1500 people in such a short period of time. The sauce was as good as it always is though.
  9. Vincent's - Extremely rich veal and cheese cannelloni. One was more than enough, so I of course had two.
  10. Chops Bistro - Grilled skewers of beef, cherry tomatoes, and oysters. The inclusion of the oyster kind of through me off, but the beef was tender and succulent.
  11. Sucre - Tri-layer of banana custard, vanilla custard, and a lemon gelee of some sort. Refreshing and delicious.
  12. Lagniappe Luncheonette - Bite-sized peanut butter pies. It was a chocolate cookie topped with peanut butter whipped with condensed milk and powdered sugar and then a dollop of whipped cream. Best dessert of the night.

The following stations I decided to skip for the reasons in "quotes."

  1. Court of Two Sisters - Seafood Louise - "I need another mojito."
  2. Mr. B's - Gumbo - "Too freaking hot."
  3. NOLA - Ribs - "How am I supposed to eat this thing while still holding onto my Gentleman Jack & 7?"
  4. Brennan's - Bananas Foster - "I want to try that new plum vodka that we saw."
  5. Antoine's - Baked Alaska - "Did you know that they are serving Jagerbombs?"

OK, I realize that I skipped a lot of the booths, but it was sensory overload in that place. I remember that there was a BBQ Tasso Sandwich (Corky's, possibly) that was better in concept than it actually tasted. Besides that, Blondie and I watched The Pope talk shop with other restaurant big wigs such as Tom Wolfe, Melvin Rodrigue, and LRA CEO Jim Funk. Other highlights include numerous cougar sightings and The Pope complaining to one of his liquor reps for not bringing the 150 year old Grand Marnier that he oh so loves.

Overall, the night was undoubtedly a success. I was glad to see the Commodore Couple in attendance. We all did what we came to do, which was to eat and drink till we could eat and drink no more. Well...actually...The Pope and I must have had some room left in our tanks because we met up with a group of friends and ended up making it to both The Goldmine and The Red Eye later on in the night. But that is another story for another time.

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