Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 7:35 PM
America's Hometown Eats
From the very best version of American classics -- fried chicken brought to New Orleans by Gus's of Memphis:
....to wonderful, wild, crazy inventions like Oceana Grill's Grilled Oysters Rockefeller Nachos:
... and from traditional upstate New York white hots served by LDR Grill of Rochester:
...to fully-dressed crawfish sausage from New Orleans' own Dat Dog:
... FOODFEST: America's Hometown Sweets was a bonanza for aficionados of American regional food at its finest.
Sunday's crowds in the French Market were huge, and by the end of the day, many vendors were totally depleted of their specialties ... but not before the big event, mid-day, which is the annual Beignet Eating Contest. This year, it wasn't even close. Bryan Schindler of the Jefferson Parish Fire Department cleaned everybody's clock by downing ten beignets in 90 seconds! After receiving his trophy (see photo below), we swear we saw Bryan grab just one more of those fine Morning Call beignets for the road!
Return of the Crawfish Boil
Saturday night's highlight was the return of the crawfish boil out at Bayou Barn, complete with crawdads at the peak of their season (above), a whole roasted pig, jambalaya, steamed shrimp, and bread pudding, plus great Zydeco music and, of course, the local alligators (who were thrown leftovers from the pig roast at the end of the evening!)
Sweet Friday Night
The weekend began with Friday night's America's Hometown Sweets party at the fabulous, reborn Cafe Reconcile (Foodfest's partner since the beginning, five years ago). In addition to two floors worth of cake, candy, ice cream, Key Lime pie on a stick, and cafe au lait from Morning Call, the evening featured presentation of the 2013 Blue Plate Award to Robert Stehling of Charleston's Hominy Grill (pictured above with Michael, Stephen, and Jane). Saturday and Sunday at the street festival in the French Market, Robert served sensational Hominy Grill boneless pork spare rib sandwiches and lowcountry catfish stew. (Note the table-sign at the bottom left of the photo: apple pie baked in a paper bag from the Elegant Farmer of Mukwanago, Wisc., was one of the evening faves.)