Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival

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Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/14 23:02:42 (permalink)
Saturday morning, we were anticipating a trip to the Camellia Grill, which Lori had proclaimed to have utterly perfect pancakes on our previous trip. 

I remembered reading a forum post on Roadfood that mentioned that the Camellia Grill had opened a second location in the French Quarter. This opened up a debate about location. Last year's trip through the Garden District to the Camellia Grill and back had made us too late to attend the World's Longest Oyster Po' Boy, and I didn't want to miss it again. On the other hand, utterly perfect pancakes are not to be trifled with. The French Quarter location won out based on two arguments: (1) If we went to the French Quarter location, we would then know whether it measured up to the original, and (2) we could visit the original location on Sunday if the French Quarter location proved wanting.

The outside did not have the stately Greek columns of the original. (The original has the most elegant exterior of any diner I've patronized.) Inside, though, it looked almost exactly the same. The two locations have the same W-shaped marble counters, the same pink walls, the same uniforms, and even the same banter between cookstaff and servers. The first picture is a picture of the French Quarter location; the second picture is a picture of the interior of the Uptown location last year. 


Lori again ordered the pancakes. I asked her to describe them just now, and she said, "they are light, buttery, fluffy, and perfect - and you must emphasize 'perfect'." Camellia Grill adds to the pancake experience by providing pitchers of melted butter for you to apply to your pancake, as shown in this action shot:


(A lady dining next to us asked what the pitcher contained, and we informed her. This led to a story from her: she would separate egg yolks out in order to cook just with egg whites, so she would accumulate egg yolks in a pitcher and feed them to her dog. One day, she was interrupted in her baking, and left a pitcher of melted butter in the fridge. Her kids then misidentified the pitcher and fed the butter to the dog. The results were messy.)

I ordered the red beans and rice, because I had studied the Roadfood Festival flyer and seen that there would be no red beans and rice available at the Festival. The Camellia Grill offers its red beans and rice with a "hamburger or hot sausage patti" [sic]. I chose the red beans and rice without; I wanted plenty of appetite for the festival ahead. I didn't miss the patti; there was lots of sausage in my dish. These red beans didn't have the rich, soulful depth of K-Joe's at the festival last year, but these were excellent in a different way, a clear tenor instead of a gravelly bass.


Our judgment: the French Quarter location of the Camellia Grill is fully the equal of the Uptown location in all but outdoor columns.

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#31
Stephen Rushmore Jr.
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/16 08:55:46 (permalink)
Fantastic - Glad to hear the FQ location of the Camellia Grill has the same standards.
#32
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/17 23:25:05 (permalink)
 

(I learned that the World's Largest Oyster Po-Boy was not actually a single super-long po-boy roll, but a string of rolls each a yard long.)

First, though, there was an auction: one by one, each chef prepared one or two yards of their special variation of an oyster po-boy, a few inches were delivered to the judges for their tasting, and the rest was auctioned off, with the proceeds benefiting the local seafood industry. The largest price I heard in the auction was well over one hundred dollars.


I found a space in front of one of two tables for K-Joe's. The one I was in front of advertised a remoulade coleslaw oyster po-boy; the other K-Joe's booth advertised an oyster po-boy with a sweet Thai chili glaze. I got to meet Joseph Faroldi, chef of K-Joe's, shake his hand, and tell him how much I'd enjoyed the deep, rich, sumptuous red beans and rice K-Joe's had provided at the 2010 New Orleans Roadfood Festival. He said that he remembered me from my photo-taking on our visit the previous day–I wish I'd realized that there was that opportunity to chat with him.
I'm still not quite ready to endorse K-Joe's as a Roadfood restaurant, but from watching Chef Joe at the oyster po-boys, I've learned that he was born and raised in the French Quarter, and everyone who passed by greeted him with respect and affection.

Once the auction was nearly concluded, the po-boy assembly began. Runners (including Chris and Amy) carried pans of fried oysters (all fried by Acme Oyster House) out to all the chefs. Chef Joe had already opened the po-boy rolls and lined them with his remoulade coleslaw. He then carefully placed the oysters one by one along his po-boy territory.
This video includes oyster assembly, Chef Joe's voice, and the po-boy auction going on in the background.
[Flickr continues to thwart my attempts to embed videos. Video at http://www.flickr.com/pho...435163@N04/5573736639/ ]

After the official measurement, the po-boy was sliced and served. The remoulade coleslaw was zesty and flavorful, and nicely balanced the light oysters. I thought to sample something from another table, but the crowd had descended upon the po-boy like a school of piranhas; the block-long po-boy was consumed in a few minutes.

After that, a brass band led a second-line parade over to Royal Street. This was my first second-line experience; as far as I understand it, a second-line is an informal parade, with folks dancing and following the music like Hamelin children following the pied piper.


The woman with the pink umbrella is Jennifer Jones, whom we met and talked with on Sunday. She is apparently a second-line leader of note; it wasn't quite clear to me whether she's a professional or a renowned amateur. (I wouldn't expect there to be much money in doing it professionally, but if any city could support a professional ruffled-umbrella-twirling second-line leader, it would be New Orleans.) Poorly shot video:
http://www.flickr.com/pho...435163@N04/5574330882/

Another second-line dancer we admired was one we just called the Blue Guy. I wish I were as cool as the Blue Guy. The jerkiness of the video is a perfect example of the inherent tension between chronicling things like this and participating; the video is erratic because I was dancing while I shot it.

http://www.flickr.com/pho...435163@N04/5573742651/

   
 
#33
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/18 23:14:29 (permalink)
 three weeks and sufficient time to forget everything, I'm finally chronicling the Roadfood festival itself.

First, a piece of buttermilk delight pie from Royer's Round Top Cafe. "Buttermilk delight" means that although there's buttermilk pie as a basis, there's a lot of coconut, pecans, and chocolate chips added. I like Royer's pies, but I feel it should be possible to outdo their pie crust.


The Farmer's Kitchen from Iowa was providing breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches. I was very curious about the pork tenderloin, because I've never had one before. I was expecting something sturdy and flavorful, like a country-fried steak. But this was more like the chicken biscuit I had in February; it was tender and very juicy, with a very gentle pork taste.


This was crawfish Louise from The Court of Two Sisters, which demonstrates yet again that I should take better notes. I remember being told that it contained tomatoes, garlic, bread crumbs, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, but I don't think I remember everything I was told. It was tasty, but heavy enough that I didn't want to eat the whole thing early in the Festival day. I looked for people to share it with, but failed to find sharers and kept nibbling at it. I think Lori finally disposed of it for me.


We were delighted with Louie Mueller Barbecue last year, and so we made sure to visit them early this year. They weren't serving sausage this year, and they weren't serving brisket as less than a half pound. On the one hand, my reaction to the thought of being told that we'll have to eat at least a half pound of brisket is along the lines of "please don't throw me into that briar patch!' But on the other hand, I was trying to save my appetite for all the good things at the festival - and you can't throw away food that good. The brisket is tender and moist with melted fat, and enormously flavored with smoke and black pepper.


The strawberry balsamic sorbet from La Divina Cafe e Gelato was good, but tainted with bitter memories: Lori had received execrable service when she tried to get gelato last year. I found the sorbet a bit too sweet for a really rich flavor.


Chris Ayers joined us in a 12-hour roast beef po-boy with horseradish cream and pickled onions, from Boucherie (the new name of the folks driving the Que Crawl Truck). This was splendid, with wonderfully rich and juicy beef and debris, cooled and polished by the horseradish cream. But when it was served, a nonexistent voice said, "this sandwich will self-destruct in five minutes." And passing the sandwich back and forth added extra delay - we finished the sandwich just before it utterly lost all structural integrity.




#34
ayersian
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/18 23:37:44 (permalink)
Ralph, again, excellent!  Not my most fetching photo above, but I'll take it.  It fine-tunes my taste memory as to how tender that sandwich was...ye gods, we ate like kings that day!    Chris
 
P.S.  You probably already saw it, but I linked this report in my "Part 7" Digest post -- you did a much better job with the details than I!
#35
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/19 16:30:50 (permalink)
Chris, I commend your ability to continue eating despite appearing sound asleep!
 
Ralph, this tremendous report has been a real pleasure to read.  Looking forward to more!
#36
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/19 17:01:09 (permalink)
Chris, I chose the photo because I felt it captured the challenge of eating such a fragile sandwich. I doubt I looked any prettier as I was easing it to my mouth.
 
buffetbuster, thank you for your kind words. I feel chagrined when I can't remember details to share - and I feel this is happening often. By my count, I've got about seven food installments left to go, plus one non-food interlude with a great many pictures. So if I work hard, I might be able to finish this by the end of April.
#37
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/19 17:14:03 (permalink)
Ralph, because I often write my reports long after getting home, I started with notes or at least photographing the menu of what we ordered.  So you are not alone on this.
#38
ayersian
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/19 22:06:36 (permalink)
Ralph, I used to travel with a little notebook for taking down details, but I got out of the habit for whatever reason.  I think it's high time to buy another and keep it with me from now on!  Thanks for the inspiration...  Chris
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/19 22:21:26 (permalink)
Listen, eating faces are almost the most private, intimate faces you make.  Don't ever judge an eating face.  :)
 
Ralph I'm impressed you took the time to put up video--and gave directions too ('I was dancing'). 
 
And please tell Lori that I understand the pancakes were perfect. 
#40
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/19 23:04:39 (permalink)
Chris and Amy invited us to join them in their plan to meet Anne and Michael at Central Grocery for muffalettas. This plan pleased me greatly. I've been curious about the Central Grocery muffaletta, but my impression was that the muffalettas were the size of a hubcap, so I feared that a muffaletta would eliminate our appetite for other New Orleans delights. So eating a muffaletta with several other people was just right for me.

Central Grocery is a classic Italian grocery, with piles of Italian imports on wooden shelves. Pittsburgh does have some Italian groceries with some of this atmosphere, but I can't think offhand of a Pittsburgh grocery with quite as much of this air of homely comfort.


I forgot the training I'd received on muffaletta-eating last year; according to the folks at Rouse's booth at last year's festival, I should have pressed down on the sandwich to force the oils of the olive salad into the bread. The muffaletta was flavorful, with bright flavors from the salad muted by the cheeses. But it wasn't as bright and flavorful as I'd hoped it would be.
Untitled by Ralph Melton, on Flickr

(I took a picture behind the counter where the muffalettas were being assembled, but then I saw the "no photos behind counter sign. I haven't yet decided what to do with that; apparently I'm still in a limbo in which I don't delete it, but don't flaunt it.)

Here's the sort of geek I am: I noticed a discrepancy in this sign. I invite you to study it before reading my explanation below.

It says "108 year tradition", but it also says "since 1905". 108 years from 1905 is 2013. Some possibilities: they might be preparing for the year 2013, or they might have invented the muffaletta before opening the grocery. (Another discrepancy: Wikipedia says that Central Grocery was founded in 1906.)

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post edited by Ralph Melton - 2011/04/19 23:07:13
#41
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/19 23:54:43 (permalink)
Ralph,
I am enjoying all of your New Orleans Roadfood posts.  We enjoyed participating in the festival and are looking forward to returning next year.  We made tons of new friends from all different parts of  the country.
Best,
Greg Walls - Johnson's Boucaniere
#42
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/20 02:56:15 (permalink)
I'll second that recommendation of Swan Oyster Depot; you can't go wrong with seafood that fresh.  I ordered a plate of picked crab meat, which provided a little variety between rounds of different types of oyster.
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/20 08:19:15 (permalink)
I am filled with homely comfort at the sight of that sandwich. ;)
#44
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/20 09:22:13 (permalink)
Great post. Thanks :)
#45
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/20 09:30:01 (permalink)
Ralph, wonderful recap, just wonderful!!  You and Lori truly took full advantage of everything there was to offer and I can almost smell and taste the drool-worthy foods in these excellent pictures!  Thanks!
#46
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/20 15:16:24 (permalink)
ayersian

Ralph, I used to travel with a little notebook for taking down details, but I got out of the habit for whatever reason.  I think it's high time to buy another and keep it with me from now on!  Thanks for the inspiration...  Chris

 
On other trips, I've taken notes on my iPhone, so that I at least remember what I eat, if not all the gustatory details. On this trip, I slacked off a bit, assuming that my photos would carry the load. They might have done so, but I got busy with work and wasn't able to start posting as quickly as I'd hoped, and I don't think I ever knew the names of all the things we got at Galatoire's.
#47
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/20 15:31:16 (permalink)
Nancypalooza
Ralph I'm impressed you took the time to put up video--and gave directions too ('I was dancing'). 
 
 
It's actually almost as easy to do video as pictures for me.
I take all my pictures with the iPhone, and taking video instead is as easy as flipping a switch.
And syncing the video with iTunes and then uploading to Flickr uses the same flow as for pictures.
Where it breaks down is including the video in posts; Flickr gives Flash-based HTML for viewing the video, so the HTML version not viewable on the iPad. And Flickr doesn't provide a BBCode option for video, and I haven't yet figured out how to embed Flickr video in forum posts.
 
The other more minor issue with my video workflow is that I keep forgetting to flip the switch back. For example, in Charlotte, I ended up with several seconds of video of buffetbuster's biscuits. 
 
I also have some social concerns about the etiquette of recording video of buskers. I feel there's one level of tipping that's appropriate for listening to a musician and taking a few pictures. I'm willing to take a brief video in order to capture a "snapshot" of what a busker's music sounds like, or what a dancer's moves looked like - but I feel that recording a whole song would be kind of weaselly at that level of tipping.
So I record brief snippets, which would be even better embedded into posts than long videos.
#48
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/20 15:43:33 (permalink)
I can't remember what I had for Breakfast, so I carry a little voice recorder with me and make verbal notes to myself on all kinds of things. Without it, a thought comes and goes and sometimes it comes back at the most inopportune time to remember so I record it when I get the fleeting thought. Senioritis!
 My biggest problem is remembering to take it with me!!
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/20 17:04:58 (permalink)
Great report so far. My family and I had a great time in New Orleans bringing the breaded pork tenderloin to NOLA. I had runners getting food throughout the festival, but your report shows I STILL missed a bunch of good eats!
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/20 23:36:56 (permalink)
Lori split off to attend Mass at St. Louis Cathedral, and the other five of us strolled back to the festival for more food.

We stopped to watch a music performance that featured the cutest trombonist I've ever seen. He looked like he was only about three years old. However, although his embrasure was no doubt better than mine, he wasn't really focused on playing; he had to be coaxed to play. I felt that he siphoned some attention away from the inconspicuous nine-year-old girl playing drums behind him; she was really holding her own with the rest of the band.


I'm not certain of my facts here, but I'll claim that Anne ordered the crawfish enchiladas with cumin mornay sauce from Blue Dog Cafe. I liked these better than I did last year; the flavors seemed a bit zestier and livelier.


Another non-food picture: I was struck by the costumes of this pair, and asked if I might take their picture. Lisa (the one on the left) explained that they'd been participating in a run-and-follow-clues event across the city, and the costumes were adding to the fun of that event. Lisa's wearing a nametag that says "Sue" with a circle-slash over it, and her partner is wearing a nametag that says "Nami" with a circle-slash, for a punny reading of "No Sue Nami". Their costumes represent waves.
I believe that Sue is holding a soft-shell crab po-boy from Oceana Restaurant, and Nami is holding the husk of a tamale from Tucson Tamale Company.


Chris and Amy introduced me to Charlene Johnson of Farmer's Kitchen, and I really enjoyed chatting with her. I remember her talking about her struggles to find a way to bring her highly-praised sour cream raisin pie to the festival (sadly unsuccessful, alas).


One of these three pronounced that the right way to eat a pork tenderloin is with mustard and pickles. I tried it that way, but I didn't add enough condiments to alter the fundamental gentleness of the sandwich.
A behind-the-scenes pork tenderloin shot:



post edited by Ralph Melton - 2011/04/21 09:12:11
#51
Nancypalooza
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/21 08:28:44 (permalink)
Now is Charlene blizzardstormus or related to blizzardstormus?  Or do I have that wrong?
#52
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/21 08:29:58 (permalink)
Nancy-
Charlene is the mother of blizzardstormus, who owns The Farmer's Kitchen.  She also has her own local cable access cooking show and makes the best sour cream raisin pie I have ever had!
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/04/21 08:33:02
#53
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/21 08:44:22 (permalink)
This is such a wonderful report to follow.Thanks, Ralph.
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/21 09:33:38 (permalink)
I did get to see that band the next day. The toddler trombonist was just darling, and I'm sure he'll go on to great things musically!  But really, the nine year old girl playing the drums  was the one who impressed me. 
 
I thought the pork sandwich was great. I guess we'll have to do some driving to taste the sour cream raisin pie. It sounds delicious!
 
Speaking of pie, the "Buttermilk Delight" deserves a special re-mention. I thought it was perfection on a paper plate. Buttery and chocolatey are two great tastes that go great together! 
 
I must add another mention of the Camellia Grill. I love this place like no other. It is named for a flower, the walls are pink, the atmosphere is friendly, and the pancakes are possibly my favorite anywhere. I highly recommend them! I prefer the Garden District location for its white-columned charm, but the French Quarter location is equally charming inside, and had a much shorter wait for a seat. I wonder if they'd consider a third location in Pittsburgh? ;-)
#55
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/21 21:31:33 (permalink)
Great report, Ralph! The parade video of the umbrella twirler is great! And then I studied the video a little closer and lo & behold! I see a little white-haired old lady taking pictures in the background. It's my mom, Charlene! And then I went through her pictures and voila!

 
The SAME EXACT MOMENT only from 180 degrees apart!! And there you are, filming in the background!
#56
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/21 23:05:47 (permalink)
That's a pretty awesome picture!
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/22 00:07:38 (permalink)
I made sure to sample the green corn tamale from Tucson Tamale Company, because we had met the proprietors at the opening party and enjoyed talking with them. We had been reassured that the tamales were mild enough that even Lori could eat them, but I was doing a scouting run to make sure. The tamale was indeed very mild, and very steamy and fragrant - but tamales are one of those dishes for which I have some deeply ingrained misconception, such that tamales never taste the way I expect them to taste.


The fried artichoke hearts from Chad's Bistro were one of the highlights of the festival. The breading was crisp and a little bit spicy, the artichoke was delectably soft, and the spicy ranch sauce really made it bloom in the mouth. The five of finished these very quickly.


We talked for a while with Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller's Barbecue. Exciting news: he plans to start shipping barbecue this year!


Antoine's Annex was serving baked Alaska, which was on my bucket list of things to try someday. Baked Alaska is a layer of pound cake, a layer of ice cream, and a layer of browned meringue, topped with chocolate sauce. I thought it was no better than an ordinary sundae, but Lori deemed it so delicious she made sure to get another bowl on Sunday.


Chris said to us, "You've got to try the grilled cheese boudin sandwich," so we strolled over to the Johnson's Boucaniere booth. "You got the five-hundredth sandwich!" we were told. "Woohoo! What do we win?" We won nothing, but we were still far more fortunate to get the five-hundredth sandwich than the five-hundred-first, because the five-hundredth-first did not exist. The sandwich was too spicy for Lori, but I enjoyed the boudin and the nice toasty bread - though since I don't know boudin well, I found myself wishing that the flavor of the boudin wasn't obscured by cheese. Unfortunately, I didn't make a chance to return for the boudin by itself.


If you're only going to watch one of my videos, make it this one: as we were finishing the grilled cheese boudin sandwich, a wedding procession came second-lining along Royal Street past the food booths. I particularly like the parasol-twirling from the bride and the groom. (The major jitter in the middle comes from my cheering; again there's that tension between participating and recording.) Lori proposed that we should get married again, so that we could have a procession like that.
Lori says that this was the fourth or fifth wedding procession she saw that day. Why didn't we have a procession like that at our wedding? Aside from it being a rainy day in Pittsburgh with a driving distance between church and reception site, and our having no knowledge of this tradition, that is?
http://www.flickr.com/pho.../set-72157626262108989
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/22 00:10:05 (permalink)
blizzardstormus, that's a fabulous picture of Jennifer Jones!
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MiamiDon
Filet Mignon
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival 2011/04/22 10:13:12 (permalink)
Ralph, I've very much enjoyed your report.  It's been a while since I have been to N'awlins, but your photos and videos bring back fond memories.  I got so hooked on the cuisine that I order various food items every year from Louisiana for home use.
#60
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