The Creole Tomato Fest continues to evolve in its 28th year. Now that the Cajun-Zydeco Festival has moved to next weekend, the Tomato Fest has moved almost entirely to the French Market, but this year the layout was a lot easier to manage (thank goodness). With more manageable lines and crowds, we ended up eating far more starting with a beautiful Creole Tomato, Burratta Cheese & Pesto Sauce ($6) from The Three Muses.
I quickly found my new favorite, George’s Produce, with their “The Pontchartrain” – sliced Creole tomato with lump crab and remoulade dressing ($7). Despite the flavors being absolutely decadent, George’s tied for “Healthiest” in the Best of the Fest contest. My L.A. filmmaker friend, Mike Bruce, was in town scouting locations. He’s a vegetarian so I was glad it wasn’t the Seafood Fest or Po-Boy Fest, but even so – there wasn’t much in the way of vegetarian tomato dishes. Thank goodness for Susan Spicer’s Bayona/Mondo booth where they had a great Marinated Lentils with Creole Tomatoes and Feta ($5). Pocket Aces Brass Band was onstage with a crowd of sweaty dancers including DancingMan504 as we ate.
I was excited to try the Jumbo Lump Crab & Avocado Salad – marinated Creole tomato relish, crispy plantain chips served cold ($6) from Little Gem Saloon. I wasn’t surprised to find their tasty dish won “Most Creative” in Best of the Fest. Then we had the Savory Andouille Calas with Creole tomato jam ($4) from Purloo as well as their super-refreshing Fresh Ginger and Basil Lemonade ($3).
We took a break and headed to Harry’s Corner Bar for a cold Abita Strawberry Beer. Our bartender served us with sassy style then tucked a ball of yarn under her arm to finish working on a cap. Turns out she has sells these caps through Susie Kates Designs (about $20). She pulled out a stack of adorable animal caps including a panda, an elephant, an owl and a too-cute ladybug. As I was admiring a turquoise cap with pink flowers and tassels, I wondered if this was another only-in-NOLA moment. Maybe people in other cities go in for a beer and come out with cute caps crocheted by their bartender, but I’ve never seen it before.
We headed back to the fest and were only going to stay for a song or two when Billy Iuso and Friends took the stage, but we ended up staying for 8 or 9 before seeking shade. Then it back for more of Bayona/Mondo’s delicious dishes. The Fried Fish Cha Ca La Vong with Tomato-Cucumber Salad ($6) was very good but the dish of the day probably has to go to the simply perfect Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup ($6) grilled up by Susan Spicer herself.
I didn’t try the Best of the Fest’s “Tastiest dish” – Crepes a la Cart‘s Creole tomato, basil and mozzarella crepe. It gives me another thing to look forward to next year!