April marks the beginning of festival season where you can’t go a weekend in NOLA without finding yourself in attendance of one.
Of all the festivals, The French Quarter Festival (FQF) has consistently been my top pick. The French Quarter Festival, now in its 36th year, is my favorite festival for 3 reasons: it’s free, the food is unmatched, and serves as an unplanned family reunion. With the festivals’ success and massive turnout of over 700,000 people in attendance last year, one would wonder why a fee to enter hasn’t been set in place, yet. (IJS) New Orleans’ French Quarter Festival is the largest free music festival in the South and that, you cannot beat. Now let’s get down to brass tacks, the FOOD.
I think I speak for the everyone when I say, “it’s all about the food!”. FQF gives a variety of selections, hosting over 60 restaurants to showcase their best eats. Food vendors are spread across Woldenberg Riverfront Park and throughout Jackson Square giving attendees ample opportunities to put these NOLA staples to the test. If you’re anything like myself, a pro when it comes to festival going, you are starving yourself days in advance in preparation for the food intake.
This year I indulged in shrimp and grits, crab beignets with red pepper remoulade, and a sugarcane glazed pork belly po-boy. The shrimp & grits, which is always a safe pick, was close to perfection. The consistency of the grits was neither too loose nor too thick, balancing the shrimp just right. Atop the shrimp and grits was a BBQ butter sauce that added the complete finish. Now when it came to the crab beignets I was skeptical. I had a previous experience with crawfish beignets that put a bad taste in my mouth, literally. However, I must say the crab beignets held it down for the home team.
My palette was overjoyed with the freshness of the crab it met with each bite. Also, the addition of the remoulade sauce was a brilliant finishing touch. The remoulade added the sweet & spicy flare that was much needed to compliment the beignet. Last but not least, we have our sugarcane glazed pork belly po-boy. I was immediately sold once I read “Sugarcane” and “glazed”, irresponsibly dismissing the “pork belly” part. I hauled my face towards the po-boy as if I had not scuffed down two crab beignets only a few minutes earlier. If you’re wondering about my reaction to this po-boy, I have the perfect picture. All I needed was a meme with Randy Jacksons face reading “It’s a no for me, dawg” to give the vendor.
I was turned off by the obnoxious amount of fat on the pork belly that took up majority of the sandwich. So, no I won’t be trying pork belly po-boys for a while, but maybe others will have a better encounter than myself. Per usual, the good food outnumbered the bad this French Quarter Festival season which attests to my why it remains my favorite festival.