Friday, March 22, 2013

Hog Wild Weekend

There is not much else that I can say about Hogs for the Cause that others have not already said. So instead of retelling the same stories, here are a few links to some great articles about Hogs:

That should be more than enough literary encouragement to get your hog-lovin self out to City Pork tomorrow, but if not here is one last anecdote for motivation.

This past Wednesday night I embarked on an evening trot through City Park, with the specific purpose of checking out how City Pork was coming along.  Unbeknownst to me, the temporary fence was already up, so a full survey of the grounds was unlikely. But as luck would have it, Becker happened to be on the other side of the gate as I passed by, so he beckoned me inside.

"Wow" was my immediate reaction.

The sheer magnitude of the operation is mind-blowing considering the humble beginnings of Hogs only four years ago. In 2009, there were two 10x10 tents out at the fly. Tomorrow, there will be more than 80 tents for the competing teams, some as large as 40x40. In 2009, the music at Hogs was limited to Rene's iPod blaring "Wagon Wheel" on repeat for seven hours. Tomorrow, there will be two stages of live music for alternating sets such that good times keep on rolling strong all day long. In 2009, there was but one hog that Becker and Rene personally kept watch over the previous night at the Fly. Tonight, the Fatback Collective - a group comprised of some of the best chefs in the South - is hosting the Asado Gala Dinner for 300 people.

In 2009, I am pretty sure that this blog post was the only "media" exposure leading up to Hogs.  Word got out to about 50 people that year. Tomorrow, Hogs is hoping that more than 25,000 show up to help the Cause.

"Man, I just really hope that the weather holds up," said Becker on Wednesday night. "We really need to get grants out to these families."

The Cause needs you - rain or shine.

Hogs for the Cause
Saturday March 23rd
City Pork a/k/a the City Park Festival Grounds
Gates open at 11:00 a.m.
Chance of Rain? - NEVER

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Corned Beef at the Irish House.  Photo by renee b. photography.
On Sunday New Orleanians of all races, creeds, and colors will be donning their favorite green attire in celebration of the patron saint of Ireland. Copious amounts of potatoes, corned beef, and cabbage will be consumed. Over on Third Street between Magazine and Constance, roast beef will be the celebratory sustenance of choice. Old men will quench their thirst with glasses of emerald hued Bud Light - liquid courage to proposition the young lass standing next to them with four simple words: "Kiss me, I'm Irish."

About a half mile down the road on the corner of St. Charles and MLK, a true Irishmen will be wrapping up a week long celebration of his native culture. Chef Matt Murphy decided that his homeland deserved a week long celebration leading up to St. Patrick's Day, and so he has flooded this week's calendar with traditional Irish music, special whiskey tastings, Irish film screenings and more.

In this month's issue of OffBeat Magazine, we review the Irish House, Chef Matt's local take on the traditional Irish pub. The menu includes much of the stereotypical Irish fare that we associate with the Emerald Isle - corned beef, pot pie, and plenty of potatoes. But Chef Matt has also successfully incorporated local flavors into his menu with Irish twists - such as the boudin cake with colcannon and smoked tomato sauce.

Chef Matt welcomes all to the Irish House this week to raise a glass in celebration of his heritage. Your last name need not be O’Brien, Callaghan, Fitzpatrick, or Flanagan to take part in the festivities. You only need to be Irish in spirit... or simply enjoy a well-poured pint of Guinness.

The Irish House
1432 St. Charles Avenue
(504) 595-6755

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Vendys

No, not the Dundies.  The Vendys.

Tonight at the French Market, nine of New Orleans' favorite food vendors will vie for "street food glory." Begun in 2005, the Vendy Awards are a yearly cookoff whose goal is to celebrate the street food vendors of NYC. After the competition expanded to L.A. and Philly in recent years, organizers decided that New Orleans was ready for its own satellite competition.  The Vendys are the brainchild of The Street Vendor Project, and cult favorite Brooklyn Brewery lends a helping hand by offering libations.

After tallying up nominations from the public, the list of competitors has been chosen:
  • Woody's Fish Tacos
  • Vaucresson Sausage Co.
  • Taceaux Loceaux
  • The Ya-ka-Mein Lady
  • La Cocinita
  • Hot Tamale Mama
  • Empanada Infitada
  • Fat Falafel
  • Foodie Call
A team of distinguished judges will score these finalists and decide who earns the coveted Vendy Cup.  (Note: the Vendy Cup is not as iconic as a Dundie Award). The general public can also vote for a people's choice award.

A limited number of tickets are available, so purchasing in advance is strongly suggested.  Prices start at $6 for the pay-as-you-go option and up to $36 for premium package, which includes samples from each vendor and unlimited beer.  Proceeds from the event benefit the New Orleans Food Truck Coalition and Slow Food NOLA.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Quick Drink: Roussanne

Roussanne is not a wine that is going to win any popularity contests anytime soon. Kevin Zraly's nearly universally used Windows on the World fails to mention the grape at all. Grown mainly in the Rhone valley of France, this is a grape which more often than not turns up in other wines. Consider it the studio drummer who seems to play with every band in town. To my eyes, its straw color is one of the prettiest hues in the wine rainbow. As far as heft, it generally falls somewhere between a sauvignon blanc and a chardonnay with medium acidity.

Have you ever walked by a citrus tree or sweet olive in full bloom and become intoxicated by its scent? Roussanne is a liquefied version of that experience. Now, that is awful wine geek language but it is pretty damn accurate. Some Roussannes have a touch of residual sweetness which makes them nearly perfect for something spicy like a thick pork chop rubbed down with Szechuan peppercorns or  crawfish etouffee. It also makes a spectacular aperitif and a damn fine sangria with peaches come summertime. Roussane, it isn't popular, its just delicious, versatile, and affordable.