After a week in Los Angeles, it was good to get back in time for the 4th New Orleans Oyster Festival. I feel a special connection to this fest because I’ve attended every year since its inception. Having made the move to the riverside Woldenberg Park last year (from a ridiculously scorching blacktop parking lot), the fest continues to expand and evolve. The stage was moved to the downtown side of the park and Drago’s super-long line for chargrilled oysters was given its own space away from the other crowded food booths.
We missed the first day of festivities in order to attend a picnic day at Raintree Children and Family Services, a non-profit benefitting foster children and the families who care for them. With no Bonerama and no Irma Thomas, I hardly recognized the Oyster Fest’s concert line-up but we did manage to catch the end of the Brass-A-Holics and The Revivalists show.
I’d been hearing that I should see The Revivalists and they definitely earned their reputation for putting on a good show. After some unfortunate sound issues during a great cover of the Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter, they delighted the crowd with soulful and high energy rock originals. Named Best Emerging Artist at Gambit Magazine’s 2011 Big Easy Awards, last year they were nominated for Best Rock Act 2012.
But as much as we love the free music, the star of Oyster Fest is the food. 24 vendors presented over 50 offerings. Other than the dessert stands, each booth had at least one dish of oysters but I started with Cafe Reconcile‘s Duck & Lamb meatballs with sweet potato grits ($8). Cafe Reconcile serves great food while training at-risk youths for the restaurant industry. My next dish, Oyster Dressing with Duck Confit & Micro Greens w Citrus/Thai Chili Vinaigrette ($8) came from Cafe Hope, another great cafe training at-risk youths.
Not all my food was for a good cause, but it was all good. Next up was a “St. Louis” Po-Boy – Fried Oysters, Bacon and Provolone Cheese from Katie’s Restaurant ($8). I also tried the Pepper Jelly Oysters from Gumbo Pot. If I’d had more room, I would’ve tried the Fried Oyster Taco from Red Fish Grill and Fried Green Tomato w/Shrimp and Andouille Cream from Arnauds. It was also hard to resist the Shrimp & Alligator Sausage Cheesecake from Jacques-Imo’s Cafe, but I already know how filling it can be.
As usual, I ran into friends and former costars. This time it was my onscreen husband from HBO’s Treme, Rob Steinberg as well as Treme’s ADA Renee Duffosat, Donna Duplantier. And it wouldn’t be a fest without a DancingMan504 siting!