What a busy weekend in the French Quarter! The 29th French Market Creole Tomato Fest fed us music and delicious dishes all weekend while the women of Festigals partied and paraded and the World Naked Bike Ride rolled past bewildered tourists.
We started Saturday at the Creole Tomato Fest with my annual favorite, Sliced Creole tomato with lump crab and Remoulade dressing ($7) from George’s Produce. Good thing because they sold out early. Paul Sanchez and his all female band played while we tried the gator sausage and tomatoes ($7) from A Bite Outside, Who Dat Coffee Cafe‘s delicious Remoulade tossed with boiled shrimp with Creole tomato slices and a salad garnish ($7) and yummy Crawfish beignets with roasted corn and Creole tomato sauce ($6) from J’s Seafood Dock.
Next onstage were the New Orleans Nightingales, a group easily as magical as the name implies. We got to catch up with Margie Perez between songs then headed out for Andrea’s Restaurant‘s Creole Eggplant Parmigiana ($7) and Creole Tomato Crabcake ($7).
101 Runners played as the World Naked Bike Ride rolled past the stage. There are many times I wonder what tourists must make of this place and our culture. Watching the faces filled with confusion, hilarity and sometimes disdain – I figured that probably summed it up.
Then it was my turn to be one of the confusion, hilarity and sometimes disdain-inspiring parts of our local color as I walked from one end of the Quarter to the other in my pink and orange burlesque-inspired Pussyfooter uniform to be in the Festigals Stiletto Stroll Parade. I finally got to see the Stiletto Sprint. It’s as thrilling as it sounds – women in high heels racing to the finish line. One of the racers wiped out but in true Festigals fashion, she was embraced by those who admired her bravery for even trying.
The Festigals Parade was the first event I did when I joined the Pussyfooters, a women’s dance organization in 2013. Each year, the parade grows larger. This year, we shut down Canal St. (the main drag downtown) at 8pm on a Saturday night before arriving at a private party at Harrah’s Casino to perform one of our signature dances. It was a big, celebratory ending to a great day.
Sunday, we tried some of the winning dishes at the Tomato Fest starting with Best of the Fest winner for “Tastiest,” Crepe a la Cart‘s Creole Tomato, Basil & Mozzarella Crepe ($7) (with Bacon $8). Purloo had sold out of their Seafood Stuffed Creole Tomato ($7) twice on Saturday, so we grabbed one of those as well. And, I didn’t want to miss another shot at my favorite dish so I got a second Creole tomato with crab and Remoulade from George’s Produce.
Flow Tribe put on a heck of a show. The highlight was when the lead singer and the guitarist jumped onto the lawn and played in the delighted crowd.
In the mood for a sweet treat, we headed to Winks Bakery for a slice of chocolate cake with coconut and pecans and another of Red Velvet topped with raspberries ($3.50). Famous for their Buttermilk Drops (and owner Dwight Henry of Twelve Years a Slave and Beasts of the Southern Wild), they decorated a tray of the Drops like adorable tomatoes. We sampled the cake slices while a dousing of rain moved through.
A tomato-clad M.C. was introducing wonderful Jon Cleary as we began our last round of fest food. We couldn’t resist trying Food Drunk‘s Drunken Pig Cone ($7). I was skeptical about a waffle cone filled with pulled pork and slaw but it was tasty (though I can’t say I found any tomatoes in it). My recent Food Fest favorite, Fried Green Tomato Chips with Remoulade ($5) from Chartres House, was back and won Best of the Fest’s “Best Use of Creole Tomato in a Dish.” I finished the fest the way I started it, with a third bowl of Creole tomato with crab and Remoulade from George’s Produce. Yum.
Enjoy the photos. Please be aware that many of the photos of the World Naked Bike Ride include NUDITY. Feel free to scroll past them to enjoy more fully-clothed photos and Creole tomato dishes. Thanks to the few Pussyfooters whose photos I copied.