French Quarter Fest 2011! (Post 1 of 2)

I decided to split this topic into two posts, simply because I went to FQF two days this year, and each day involved different food, experiences and people. It was a lovely time, full of old friends and new, and of course, old food favorites and a few new ones, too!

As I’ve mentioned before, French Quarter Fest is my favorite festival. And when I say favorite, I mean absolutely positively most FAVORITE festival of all time. I know that it’s expected that I love Jazz Fest, but I just don’t. It’s a great time, I am sure, if you don’t mind the heat, lack of shade, dust and long lines for food. I, for one, do not like any of those, so French Quarter Fest is the next best thing (and it’s FREE!).

I won’t get into a long-winded explanation about my Jazz Fest experiences, but I will say that I will miss the Crawfish Monica, which is a Jazz Fest staple. Of course, I can always get it at Cafe Rani, so I will be doing that soon enough.

So! French Quarter Fest! 2011! WOO!

A friend from Philly came down to visit that weekend at my suggestion that she’d love the vibe. Turns out she loved it so much she might make it a regular annual trip. Knowing thatΒ  Philly is still pretty chilly in April, I am sure she will welcome the warmer weather and good food.

This year was the first year that FQF has been 4 days. The lovely folks over at FQFI added on that extra day and unfortunately, I was unable to attend the new day. In fact, by the time I slowed down enough to go, it was Saturday already. We started off the day with breakfast at the MidCity Ruby Slipper Cafe with mimosas! I was so excited that my favorite server took care of us! Lee is AWESOME! For eats, I had the Eggs Sardou, and my cohorts had the special pancakes and a breakfast sammich. YUM.

Ruby Slipper Mimosas!
Eggs Sardou

The Eggs Sardou, as you can see, were pretty soupy. I wasn’t expecting quite as much spinach and artichoke goodness, but it turned out alright. I had to add a bit of salt to the mix, which is unlike me, but once I did, it was perfect. The eggs were poached perfectly and the biscuits (which you can’t see underneath all the spinach) were dry enough to counteract the soupy nicely. I wasn’t able to finish it. I got a special pancake on the side, too!

Strawberry Pancakes with Spiced Pistachios and Bacon!

The Special Pancakes were Strawberry and Spiced Pistachio Pancakes, and I have to say, BOY! They were tasty. Though I would have liked them to be more “strawberry-ey” they were good. Fluffy and buttery, they were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. I know I’ve said this before, but man, these pancakes are the best pancakes around. Again, we couldn’t finish the pancakes either … what was WRONG with us?! Don’t worry — I finished the bacon. πŸ™‚

Breakfast Sammich

My final cohort had the Breakfast Sammich but couldn’t even finish it. It sounds strange to write that since it’s so small of a sammich, but the sausage was apparently very rich and a lot to handle. Apparently, it was also ordered under the assumption we were in the mood for it, but when it arrived, it was not what was expected.

All in all, it wasn’t the best experience at Ruby Slipper for anyone at the table, but it was certainly acceptable. You know I’ll go back, but I won’t be having the Eggs Sardou again, and I doubt the Breakfast Sammich will hit the table either.

After breakfast, we headed back to the house to meet up with more friends and caravan downtown. We packed up the bags and the chairs and departed. By the time we reached Canal Place, the lot was full, which was shocking, so we had to park over at the Hilton instead. Covered parking is a MUST in Spring in New Orleans!

We got down to the riverfront and found a perfect spot far enough from the stage to still hear but close enough to the food. It was as though the Fest goddesses were looking out for us!

The View! πŸ™‚

As you can ALSO see, it was HUGELY full when we got there. I don’t know how we found the spot we did, but boy am I thankful.

Now, there’s something you need to know. There are two types of Fest’ers. The first sets up shop and stays put all day (save food and beer runs). The second wanders like a nomad. Being the little crab I am, I tend to stake out my spot and stay there. Day One was no different than normal. I held down the fort, taking turns with the gang in runs for beer and food.

So, let’s get the shock out now: I only ate one thing that first day: Crawfish Bread. I had several beers, but I wasn’t craving anything but Abita Light and Crawfish Bread. Imagine that! As always, the Audubon Nature Institute did an incredible job. Fluffy pastry on the outside, gooey crawfish cheese goodness on the inside. Oh my.

Crawfish Bread and Abita Light!

I think the breakfast filled us all up so much that we weren’t really hungry at all, but a few other dishes did hit the blankets (which, by the way, Rule Number One for which is NO SHOES ON THE BLANKIES!!).

Pulled Pork Tacos
Alligator Sausage Gumbo
Crawfish Bread less half πŸ™‚
Chicken Teriyaki!

All in all it was a swell day. Day Two was far more exciting. That post is a-coming, but for now, just know that there were tastier more interesting views on Day Two than Day One. While it was nice to take a nap and set up shop on Day One, Day Two brought new friends and old, new tastes and MORE OLD (hint, it’s crawfish bread!) and led to a completely different experience.

Look out for the next post. Soon, soon, I hope! πŸ™‚

~ nolafoodie

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