Throwback Thursday: NOLA bits and bites + a recipe

I’m just back from visiting family and friends in New Orleans. If at all possible, I like to time my return visits with the Jazz and Heritage Fest, one of my favorite festivals for music and food. An important note to those who don’t go to festivals to eat: This is not your average fair fare. The organizers don’t even allow vendors to sell “carnival” food.  You won’t find any fried Oreo cookies or funnel cakes.  You will, however, get to sample some of the best flavors of Louisiana, including gumbo, jambalaya, po-boys, beignets, Caribbean jama-jama, Vietnamese fresh rolls, Indian fry bread, etc.  Here are some more photos from this year’s Jazz Fest, including clips from concerts by Brandi Carlile (whose voice and lyrics can break your heart) and the sassy, soulful Irma Thomas.

What are some of the best bites at Jazz Fest? Everyone has favorites. I always start with a hot fried softshell crab po-boy (dressed simply with sliced pickles and hot sauce) and Prejean’s dark-roux gumbo of pheasant, quail, and andouille. And rosemint herbal iced tea.  It’s good to go with a group so you can sample lots of dishes.  Other favorites include the cochon de lait po-boy, boudin, meat pies.  Here’s a list to whet your appetite.  The music schedule comes out mid-January, so you can start booking flights and hotels for April/May.

As much as I love to eat with family and friends when I’m back home, it’s a bit of relief to get back and cook up something lighter and greener. So, the Mr. Okra truck in the video above (you can hear him singing: I have broccoli, I have okra, etc.) reminded me of this fresh green pea and mint crostini. You can make it totally vegan by omitting the Parm in the recipe, but the cheese adds a bit of richness to the clean bright flavors of mint, pea, and lemon.

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