Bastille Day Food Fest A La Nouvelle Orléans
If I ever moved back to New Orleans, I’d turn into Bibendum (the Michelin Man) and you’d have to roll me home!
It’s been a non-stop eat fest since landing here Thursday night, beginning with my mother’s home-made gumbo, fresh boiled blue crabs, my sister’s barbecued shrimp, my niece’s (New Orleans chef Allison Gorlin) Doberge cake with chocolate ganache icing (you want to bath in!), Drago’s famous charbroiled grilled oysters on the half-shell (sold out of a firetruck to celebrate their 91st birthday in a fund raising effort for the Second Harvest Food Bank)…topped off by an extravaganza six-course dinner at Tujague’s on Bastille Day.
All this has been under the premise of celebrating my mother’s 96th birthday (July 13th) with most of the family present going from one party to another and happy to be here. It’s been hot as you-know-what, with the threat of showers every afternoon (as is the norm in July) and thunderclaps like you’ve never heard before — one was so loud and so sudden that we all thought a bomb had gone off near Jackson Square and people on the street jumped out of their skins.
None of this stopped the Bastille Day festivities in the French Quarter. The annual Bartenders and Waiters Race took place at French Market, resurrected “AK” (After Katrina) in 2010, this year won by Aurora Walker of the French Quarter Courtyard Grill who crossed the finish line just after I snapped this shot!
Josephine and Napoleon Bonaparte were on hand for the race to claim their adoration of waiters and mime Marcel Marceau-ish was getting a laugh making fun of the waiters who came in last. Earlier in the day, the Louisiana Car Club paraded vintage French cars from Bywater along Chartres Street to Canal Street through the French Quarter area to their final destination along the 700 block of Frenchmen Street and along Washington Square Park in the Faubourg Marigny.
Earlier events we missed (while we were stuffing our faces and singing “Happy Birthday”) included a French Dog Contest (French dogs or dogs dressed in French style), a walking tour of the French Quarter, live music at the Old Mint and at Trinity Church on Jackson Avenue and of course, Helen Gillet performing at Snug Harbor on Frenchman Street, random block parties, a wreath-laying ceremony at the Joan of Arc Statue on St. Phillip at Decatur Streets, a French cooking demonstration at French Market, etc., etc., etc.
Let’s face it. If you have to be somewhere other than Paris or France on Bastille Day, it might as well be in New Orleans! Sadly, I missed the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower, but old New Orleans friend, Tom Regan, sent some photos from his iPhone just to make me homesick.
Tujague’s made me homesick, too. Long time staff member (since 1998), Schuyler Hoffman, met us at the bar for drinks before the waiter’s race. (He moved to New Orleans “AK” and runs a B and B there named “Chez Palmiers.” I took pleasure sitting on the “thrown” where recently deceased owner (and my cousin) Steven Latter sat and schmoozed with his clientele for more than 30 years. His son, Mark, is now managing the restaurant in his place (read more about it in French Property Insider). As I stepped off the plane Thursday the sad news came that his mother, Miriam, had a stroke that day — now doing better and in recovery. What will be next for the clan?
Meanwhile, in his father’s style, Mark put out a no-holds-barred Creole dinner for us (tujaguesrestaurant.com) in the back room on the main level where we once held a Living and Investing in France Conference. (One time many years ago, Steven moved us to a much bigger table, just to make room for the over-the-top number of dishes to be served!)
First came the Shrimp Remoulade Salad, then Tujague’s own traditional beef brisket with Creole horseradish sauce served with warm crispy French bread. After that, shrimp and sausage gumbo was placed before us followed by our main course — a choice of four or five different dishes.
Mark didn’t think that was enough, so he added plates of their famous garlicky “Bonne Femme” chicken that Steven always claimed was his mother’s recipe topped with thin crispy potato chips that are ‘to die for.’ All that came to the table before the banana bread pudding, another one of Allison’s Doberge cakes and rich dark-roast coffee and chicory served in their traditional glasses, rather than mugs.
The food was too delicious to be believed and yep, we ‘rolled’ out of there like Binbendums…all vowing never to eat again, but at the same time planning tonight’s extravaganza at “Kenner Seafood” where we intend to crack crabs, swallow raw oysters and crunch on fried oyster po-boys.
My mother, Gertrude Beerman, at the ripe young age of 96 is showing us all how to have a good time at any age. When my daughter asked her how it felt to be 96, she said, “Ninety-six is 69 backwards and that’s a good number!” She never stops being witty, never complains about any ailments, shows us the new clothing she just bought, how she mopped her kitchen floors to a gorgeous shine and told us how she got ‘laid off’ from her volunteer position of 26 years by the new director at the Ronald McDonald House for no good reason at all except she wanted to ‘clean house’ like so many new directors do! (We all want to voice a complaint! If you do, too, write Janet Goforth at [email protected])
Everyone is sweating from the heat, but after Paris’ long, cold, gray winter, the sun and heat are welcome changes. With a bit more meat and fat on my bones, I may not be so happy with the sultry south…but for now, it’s a great reminder of what I like so much about living in France and what I miss most about my home town, La Nouvelle Orléans.
A la prochaine…
Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC
(on the Tujague’s Throne)
P.S. We just got word that another new House Hunters International is airing soon! Episode #HHI-5501: “Nice from Nice” will air Tuesday, August 13th at 10:30 p.m. EST and 1:30 a.m. EST. You can find more details by following at hgtv.com/house-hunters-international or by visiting our Web site at adrianleeds.com.
P.P.S. Attend the Living and Investing in France Conference, September 27-29 in Nice, to learn about property purchase and investing from the best professionals France has to offer! You’ll learn why France is a great investment, how to obtain a French mortgage, how to minimize tax and maximize benefits, how to reduce your currency risk, how to renovate and decorate for profit — and much more! Plus, enjoy a three-course lunch and closing cocktails! To see the full schedule and register, visit Living and Investing in France