April 8, 2013

The World’s Largest Jazz Brunch: The French Quarter Festival

The World’s Largest Jazz Brunch: The French Quarter Festival

The 30th Annual French Quarter Festival

It’s almost here: the French Quarter Festival’s 30th Anniversary – April 11th -14th in New Orleans.

The French Quarter Festival is known as the “largest free festival in the South,” and leading tourism officials call it the “kickoff to the festival season in New Orleans.”

What is the French Quarter Festival?

The French Quarter Festival is four days of live performances by local musicians that draws people from all over the world. On twenty-one of its twenty-two stages, only Louisiana musicians are featured. One stage is reserved as an “international stage” where traditional jazz bands from all over the world perform. This year the French Quarter Festival will feature more that 400 hours of live music and welcome more than 1300 local musicians to its stages. In addition to traditional jazz, attendees will also be treated to contemporary jazz, Cajun-Zydeco, world, brass band, blues, rock, and pop from some of New Orleans’ most well-known musicians.

Authentic New Orleans

This is New Orleans, so there has to be food, right?

One of biggest draws of the French Quarter Festival is that attendees get an authentic experience of New Orleans… they get to experience New Orleans as a local does. In addition to the traditional jazz music flowing from 22 stages, festival goers also get to sample authentic New Orleans cuisine from over 60 critically-acclaimed local New Orleans restaurants. Some of the restaurants at the French Quarter Festival include Antoine’s, Galatoire’s, Muriel’s, R’evolution, Jacques-Imo’s, Boucherie, Crescent Pie and Sausage, GW Fins, Trey Yuen, K-Paul’s, Tujague’s, the Praline Connection, and more.

In order to maintain the authenticity and quality of the cuisine at the French Quarter Festival, a Jazz Brunch Committee was formed to evaluate the vendor applications. To qualify, vendors must be dine-in restaurants. Local New Orleans restaurants are given first preference. Many of this year’s restaurants were part of the very first French Quarter Fest in 1984.

There is a reason why the French Quarter Festival is referred to as the “World’s Largest Jazz Brunch,” and festival goers will get to taste why. 😉

I am also delighted that our local brewery (and my personal favorite) – Abita Beer – will have plenty of Abita Amber, Light, Purple Haze, and Jockamo on tap. Abita Strawberry will also be available.

Cochon de Lait Po-Boy – French Quarter Festival

New Orleans Cuisine That’s Calling My Name

Below is a list of what I am looking forward to sampling this year. Will I get through all of it? I don’t know. I am bringing the whole family, so we share plates. And we will be there for two meals, so we just might make it through this list.

  • Shrimp & Crabmeat Stuffed Merilton with Creole Sauce, and Brisket of Beef with Horseradish Sauce – both by Tujague’s Restaurant (vendor since 1984)
  • Satchmo Dog with a Zesty Beef Frank, Topped with Red Beans and Rice – by Dreamy Weenies (a brand new vendor this year)
  • Prime Beef Debris Po-Boy, and Bourbon BBQ Shrimp Po-Boy – both by Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse (vendor since 2011)
  • Hot boiled crawfish with all the fixins – by Rouses (vendor since 2008)
  • Fried Shrimp “BLT” Po-boy, and Shrimp Remoulade – both by Galatoire’s Restaurant (vendor since 2012)
  • Slow-roasted Duck Po-Boy, and Shrimp & Alligator Cheesecake – both by Jacques-Imo’s (new vendor this year)
  • Crawfish and Goat Cheese Crepes – by Muriel’s Jackson Square (vendor since 2002)
  • 12-Hour Roast Beef Po-boy with Horseradish Cream and Pickled Red Onions – by Boucherie (vendor since 2010)
  • Grilled Chicken Livers with Sweet Hot Pepper Jelly, and Fried Jumbo Chicken Wings with Mustard Greens – both by Praline Connection (vendor since 1994)

It’s a long list, I know. I may have to go for two days this year!

To see all the food available at the “World’s Largest Jazz Brunch,” visit http://www.fqfi.org/frenchquarterfest/fqfi_food.html

Other Entertainment Available this Year at French Quarter Fest

  • In an effort to promote the cultural heritage of the City of New Orleans and the Vieux Carré, French Quarter Festival presents the return of Let Them Talk: Conversations on Louisiana Music. This addition will feature a new film series titled TimeCode:NOLA to be screened at the Louisiana State Museum’s OLD U.S. Mint. Both series focus on the creativity New Orleans has fostered in music and film through the use of storytelling and interactive discussions with musicians and filmmakers. These informative films will give insight to the local culture of our unique and ever-evolving city.
  • The French Quarter Festival also showcases other one-of-a-kind, family-friendly special events, including free dance lessons from the NOLA Jitterbugs, two children’s areas exhibiting activities in nutrition, fitness, arts, culture, and history… Dancing at Dusk, Battle of Bands, Opera at Dusk, and much more!
  • Locals and early bird visitors are invited to the return of the French Quarter Festival’s “Locals’ Lagniappe Day,” where locals can appreciate a full fourth day of music, food, and fun Thursday, April 11th from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at both the Riverfront Park and Jackson Square.
  • The 2013 French Quarter Festival will feature a special 30th Anniversary Gala, on April 11th at Antoine’s Restaurant. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased by calling (504) 522-5730. A portion of the proceeds from the Gala will benefit The Roots of Music (www.therootsofmusic.com).
French Quarter Festival Fun

New Orleans Classic Brunches

Last year, French Quarter Festivals, Inc. announced the release of a special French Quarter Festival edition of New Orleans Classic Brunches by Kit Wohl… and it makes sense, doesn’t it?

The French Quarter Festival is referred to as the World’s Largest Jazz Brunch. And Kit Wohl’s cookbook features many of the classic dishes you will find at the French Quarter Festival each year.

Gorgeously presented with beautiful photographs, New Orleans Classic Brunches features fifty recipes from the city’s legendary restaurants and chefs, complete with straightforward instructions for attaining easy elegance any time of the day.

“We‘re toasting New Orleans greatest entertainers: food, music, and the leisure to enjoy them. Festival executive director Marci Schramm and her colleagues give us that opportunity,” says author Kit Wohl. ”The city’s legendary and quirky restaurants provided both traditional and unconventional recipes for a close-up of our magical customs. The chefs comprise an honor roll of New Orleans’ best. From highfalutin to down home, they create the greatest neighborhood food in America. We know this to be true—that’s a promise.”

The French Quarter Festival serves up the World’s Largest Jazz Brunch, spread throughout historic Jackson Square, the Vieux Carré parks, and the riverfront. Each spring is a free showcase of traditional and contemporary jazz, rhythm and blues, New Orleans funk, Zydeco, brass bands, folk, opera, and gospel.

“Seasoned with fun in a four-day second line, it’s a fest with a feast celebrated by New Orleans best: great food, music, and dancing in the streets.”

New Orleans Classic Brunches doesn’t just give us the recipes. No, we are also given tips, techniques, culinary escapades, and inspirations from the master chefs featured in the book.

If you know what it means to miss New Orleans, this cookbook is for you. If you’ve never been here, plan a visit for the French Quarter Festival, and relish a meal you’ve only dreamed about.

The French Quarter Festival is produced by French Quarter Festivals, Inc. (www.fqfi.org), the 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, which also produces Satchmo SummerFest in August and Christmas New Orleans Style in December. French Quarter Festivals, Inc. promotes the Vieux Carré and the City of New Orleans through high quality special events and activities that showcase the culture and heritage of this unique city, contribute to the economic well being of the community, and instill increased pride in the people of New Orleans.

Family Fun at the French Quarter Festival

*Featured photo of St. Louis Cathedral courtesy of Tulane Public Relations on Flickr.com.