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Two Food Festivals In New Orleans This Weekend-June 8, 9, & 10 2007

8 June 2007

Tom Fitzmorris, a local food writer reports on two food festivals–one new, one old, both worth going to–they take place this weekend in the French Market neighborhood. Each will have cooking demonstrations, music, food, drink, and its own special events.

The Creole Tomato Festival is the French Market’s annual production surrounding the peak of the Creole tomato season. They’ve done this for twenty-one years now, always adding something to the mix. This year, they have to work around the construction in the farmer’s market area, where the Creole Tomato Festival usually takes place. Most of the action will instead be on Dutch Alley. That’s along the floodwall in back of the main French Market buildings, between Dumaine and Ursulines.

This year, the theme is Cocina Latina, taking advantage of the recent, welcome Hispanic influx into the city. All along  they’ll have Latin American food, crafts, and music all weekend long. Also on the program are cooking demonstrations and samplings from a very good bunch of not-so-Latino chefs:

Saturday, June 9
12:30-1:30 p.m.–Chef Danny Trace, Café Adelaide
2:30-3:30 p.m.–Chef Tory McPhail, Commander’s Palace
4-5 p.m.–Chef Chris Montero, Bacco

Sunday, June 10
12:30-1:30 p.m.–Chef Scott Snodgrass, One
2:30-3:30 p.m.–Chef Michael Sichel, 7 on Fulton
4-5 p.m.–Chef Leah Chase, Dooky Chase

The music is pretty good, too: Frankie Ford, the Zion Harmonizers, Li’l Queenie, Charmaine Neville, and others will perform. The admission is free; they just want you to visit the French Market. If you buy $25 worth of anything from any French Market business, you’ll get a five-pound box of Bennie Becnel’s fabulous Plaquemines parish Creole tomatoes.

While that’s going on–and for two days day before–the first New Orleans Seafood Festival comes together at the Old Mint, at the foot of Esplanade Avenue. That’s just two blocks away from the French Market’s event, and the program is similar–just with different players. So for all practical purposes you can treat it like another part of the same event.

The Seafood Festival is spearheaded by the Louisiana Seafood Marketing Board, which has been tireless in its efforts to improve the image of this tremendous natural resource. (They had that oyster event right before Mardi Gras, for example.) For this, they partnered with the Cajun Zydeco Festival, which has a full slate of musical acts on two stages at the Mint through the entire weekend.

On Friday, the food booths will be open at the U.S. Mint, starting at one in the afternoon, going till six. The food booths will reopen Saturday and Sunday (June 9 and 10) from noon till five. Cooking demonstrations by local chefs will also be in the mix, with music playing constantly. Admission is free.

The event promises to be a very good one, in a league (but smaller, in this first year) like the French Quarter Festival. Don’t miss it!

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