Monday, May 23, 2011


The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience kicks off tomorrow night with the Ella Brennan Award Dinner & Auction honoring Chef Paul Prudhomme, but that's just the beginning of a five day stretch of dinners, tastings, and seminars. For the uninitiated, deciding which NOWFE events to attend can be an overwhelming decision. Fortunately, a few days ago our friend Todd Price gave his own run down on how to budget your time, money, and propensity for hangovers during NOWFE.

As Todd astutely pointed out, NOWFE is one of those cases where (no matter what your tolerance level) attending every event is simply not possible. So what to choose? Well, if you are dumb enough to forego Todd's advice in favor of our own, then may God have mercy on your soul and continue reading at your own peril:
  • Vitners' Dinners (Wednesday) - We have had very good luck at the NOWFE winemaker dinners, both at Vizard's and La Cote Brasserie. The costs have risen markedly in the past 2 years, but even at $125, that is still a great value for a multi-course dinner with wine pairings. Think about how much you spent on your last 4 course meal with a bottle of wine. Plus the input of the winery representative is not to be underappreciated; this is a great way to make acquaintances before visting wine country. Now, to be honest, if you have not yet booked your table yet for a Vintner's Dinner, then you're probably too late in the game. But cancellations do happen, so get your name on a waiting list just in case.
  • Vinola (Thursday) - If I didn't work for a living and could take off a Thursday afternoon for a 3 hour wine tasting without the partners at my firm seriously questioning my value as an employee, I would have booked my tickets to Vinola a long time ago. This exclusive tasting offers the breadth of the Grand Tastings but in a more intimate setting. The only problem is that the $150 ticket may cost you $1500 in wine purchases later down the line if you like what you taste.
  • Royal Street Stroll (Thursday) - It's likely that many of you received the Living Social email in your inbox offering half-off tickets to this year's Royal Street Stroll, and kudos to those who pulled the trigger early before that deal sold out. I don't know if this year's stroll will be even more crowded than usual, but one thing for certain is that King Patrick and his Krewe of Cork will be having a grand old time.
  • Seminars (Friday & Saturday) - By far the most underutilized events at NOWFE, these hour long sessions can be quite educational if you are willing to spend the money. Two years ago The Pope raved about how the folks at Riedel taught him how the size/shape of wine glasses can noticeable affect a taste profile. What more do you need beside the La Papa seal of approval?
  • Grand Tastings (Friday & Saturday) - Ask yourself these questions: Do I mind eating and drinking stand up, occassionaly having to wait in line for a glass of wine, and grazing on small portions rather than being served at a sit-down dinner? None of the above bother me, which is why I enjoy the Grand Tasting. But some people may find better value by spending a little bit more for the formality of a Vinter's Dinner.
  • Cochon 555 (Saturday) - Unrelated to NOWFE but being promoted in conjunction with, Cochon 555 is a pork and wine lover's dream. The premise: 5 Chefs, 5 Pigs, 5 Winemakers. Attendees are treated to a whole hog cooking competition by the participating chefs, and then they get to taste the results along with other pork dishes and pours from the five representing wineries. Can you say... porkgasm?
Tickets to all NOWFE events (except for the vintner dinners) and to Cochon 555 can be purchased online. You can thank us later for taking care of your Memoral Day weekend plans.

No comments: