Thursday, October 8, 2009

AFJ 2009: Second line parade and Taste of New Orleans

Taking a cue from Leah Chase, the Association of Food Journalists conference attendees decided to eat, drink and enjoy after the day's sessions. So when the brief downpour cleared, we followed the Storyville Stompers through the streets over to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum on the Riverwalk near the Convention Center. We had our beads, and our hankies and strutted as best we could on the damp streets. Once there, we were greeted by a cacophony of chefs, including Emeril Lagasse, who has three boites here in New Orleans. Others present were Donald Link from Herbsaint, Cochon and Cochon Butcher, Susan Spicer of Bayona, Tommy Cvitanovich of Drago's, Allison Vine-Rushing and Slade Rushing of MiLa (where some of us had lunch earlier), Adolfo Garcia of RioMar and La Boca, David and Torre Solazzo of Ristorante del Porto, Aaron Burgau of Patois and Beth Biundo, the pastry chef at Lilette. While sipping Sazeracs and a fantastic champagne cocktail with brandy, lemon juice and zest, we looked around the museum and gorged ourselves on tuna with a dried baconlike substance that was heavenly. So were the sweetbreads and grits from MiLa as were Emeril's braised pork cheeks with dirty rice. Being fatally allergic to oysters prevented me from sampling offerings from Drago's and RioMar, but the oyster eaters were raving.

Also part of the Museum is the independent Museum of the American Cocktail, which was founded and is run by Laura and Chris McMillian. The museum houses artifacts including mini-stills, old bottles, tiki bar artifacts from the first wave of this renewed fad and headlines from Prohibition and its repeal. Ann Tuennerman, founder of Tales of the Cocktail, organized the pouring of New Orleans drink specialties featuring mixologists Chris Hannah of Arnaud's French 75 Bar, Michael Glassberg of Swizzle Stick and Marvin Allen.

All in a good night of good company, food and drink.

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