This weekend, the Superdome hosted the Sunday Night Football game bringing lots of Cowboy fans and the NBC Sports film crew into town. One of the film crew wives organized a dinner for the crew by getting some of her favorite local chefs to open a “pop up” restaurant in the Golden Feather Mardi Gras Indian Restaurant on Rampart. Surrounded by staggeringly beautiful, elaborately beaded and fully-feathered Indian suits, Melisande Short-Colomb and Venessa Williams of Cajun Moon Catering treated us to a paper plate feast.
Cajun Moon Catering normally serves special events and festivals, but they invited some friends to join the one-night-only Po’GirlZ NOLA Cafe for an evening of amazing food. Members of the Neville and Boutte musical families were among the diners. Cajun Moon strives to use, “locally grown, manufactured and sustainable products.” Irma Thomas sang (You Can Have My Husband But Please) Don’t Mess With My Man on the stereo as we were served Hibiscus Tea by one of the chef’s supportive sons.
We ordered the Prix Fixe Menu which included Okra Gumbo w/ Chicken & Andouille Sausage and insanely tasty and wonderfully textured Shrimp Etouffé Boulettes w/Creole Remoulade Sauce. The Fresh Seasonal Salad Greens & Three Onion Tart w/ Housemade Louisiana Citrus Vinaigrette was topped with a thin slice of persimmon – my favorite part. The meal also included tasty Cajun Moon’s Funky Fried Chicken or Thin Cut Catfish w/ eXtraOrdinary Mac & Cheese & Seasonal Mixed Greens. We got the catfish and it was as good as Dunbar’s – my favorite in the city.
The Prix Fix ended with a Dessert Sampler of absolutely incredible Ambrosia Bread Pudding w/ Liquid Gold Sauce, a Mis’Issipi Mud Pie w/ Whipped Creole Cream Cheese and Syrop de Gateau w/ Sweet Potato Mousse & Ginger Spiced Cream ($30). We also ordered from the À là Carte Menu – Spicy Red Beans & Coconut Rice Bowl ($7) and Funky Fried Chicken & Cornmeal Waffle w/ Housemade Apple Cider Cane Syrup ($12). Everything was delicious and clearly made with love.
As if that evening weren’t enough good food for a lifetime, Saturday and Sunday brought the Treme Creole Gumbo Fest from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation (the same folks who bring us Jazz Fest) to Armstrong Park. There were many craft booths selling beautiful jewelry, clothing, artwork and more. The contest this year was in the category of Vegan Gumbo so every booth had to provide a vegan option and a tasting sample ($3).
Though I tasted many gumbos, I must confess I didn’t try any of the vegan offerings. You may agree to disagree with me, but I love seafood, chicken, andouille, gator and all the other proteins used in gumbos – and I love a roux made with butter or animal fat. So, I’m going to have to take the judges’ word for it that Brocato’s Eat Dat (first place), Cafe Carmo (second place) and Miss Linda’s Soul Food (third place) were the best offerings. The Audience Choice awards went to Miss Linda’s Soul Kitchen (first place), Cafe Carmo (second place) and Woody’s Fish Tacos (third place).
The Seafood Gumbo Carmo ($8) from Cafe Carmo was delicious and I was delighted to see a booth from Dunbar’s Soul Food. As I said before, their Fried Catfish with Potato Salad ($8) is my favorite and we enjoyed their Andouille & Sausage Gumbo ($6) as well. We also had Red Beans & Hot Sausage ($8) from Li’l Dizzy’s Cafe and their Creole Filé Gumbo ($6). I was delighted so many of the gumbos had okra. The veggie seems to have fallen out of fashion but brings back my childhood.
We missed Hot 8 Brass Band and several other musical offerings but returned to the fest in time for Glen David Andrews. I’ve now seen him perform at least a dozen times and continue to be blown away. You never know what kind of show you’re going to get and each is memorable in its own way. For Gumbo Fest, we were treated to standards and old favorites but his new songs from upcoming album Redemption were a big hit. We all sang along with him, “I like who I see…” The heartfelt serenity tune is so catchy, I heard people singing it even after we’d left the park. The band came out into the audience at some point and we had plenty of opportunities to “jump around.”
The show was high energy, as always, but after a raucous finish, Glen David led us in another sing-along round of “I like who I see…” I wondered how wise it was to end a high-energy party with such a mellow refrain but Andrews once again came into the crowd, singing mic-less with all of us, then walked off into the night toting his trombone. It was like a hauntingly beautiful ending of an action-packed movie.
I missed all the festivities on Sunday in order to spend time with family across the lake and arrived back in the French Quarter just as Bonerama was wrapping up. But the weekend brought one more treat – the Saints! We didn’t make it to the Dome, but I sat in my Saints earrings, necklace, shirt, jacket and pajama pants with my Saints slippers over my black and gold fleur de lis pedicure while covered in my Saints blanket and leaning on a Saints pillow and watched them beat Dallas 49-17. Lest you think our bathroom breaks are Who Dat-free, we also have a Saints shower curtain and hand towels!