There are a number of events coming up in the next few weeks about which you should be aware.
On Friday, March 23, the New Orleans Road Food Festival will hold a kickoff party at the Royal Sonesta Hotel at 300 Bourbon St. It's the fourth anniversary for the event, which will include a taping of WWNO's radio show "Louisiana Eats." Host Poppy Tooker will interview Lynne Rossetto Kasper of the NPR show "The Splendid Table" and RoadFood.com's Jane and Michael Stern. The Sterns will also present their annual Blue Plate award, which this year goes to Doug Sohn of Hot Doug’s Cased Meat Emporium in Chicago. Local chef Frank Brigtsen will play a game of “Stump the Chef” against Kasper, with the winner chosen by the audience, and Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes will perform. The festival benefits Café Reconcile, and tickets cost $50. (Learn more.)
On Saturday, March 24, another event marks its fourth anniversary. Hogs for the Cause is a pork-centric cook-off and fundraiser that benefits pediatric cancer research. Hogs started off small, with a single suckling pig on a spit and a bunch of raw oysters. In the last couple of years it has grown exponentially, and this year I expect them to far surpass the 7,000 attendees who helped raise over $100,000 in 2011. (Check out the event details.) Tickets are $10 in advance and $20 at the gate, but kids under 12 get in free. Which is super-awesome for me, since I can pass as a 10-year-old in a pinch.
On April 1, the Young Lawyers section of the New Orleans Bar Association puts on the 10th annual New Orleans Bar & Grille at the Peristyle in City Park. Though my experience with this particular event is bittersweet – bastards never gave
me our team the credit we deserved – it's absolutely worth attending this year, if only to see me as a “celebrity” judge. No shit, read that again. I am a celebrity – at least by the lax definition employed by the Young Lawyers section of the New Orleans Bar Association. I'll take it. The event starts at 1 p.m. and runs until 5, and tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Like Hogs, kids under 12 can attend for free. There's usually some outstanding food at this shindig, and you can hobnob with a lot of lawyers, judges, and other dregs of society. Please do not throw things at me if you do attend. I will be focused on my celebrity judging and all.
I received an email the other day which asked a question I could not answer. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of New Orleans wants to know what happened to the school. My meagre google-fu failed me in this instance; I learned only that the school apparently closed during the 2007 term, but I don't know any other details. I told the fellow who asked that I'd put the question to you, my several readers, on the assumption that one of you may just have an answer. If you do, please either leave a comment here or email me at the address helpfully provided by my cruel masters here at MyNewOrleans.com.
I had a pretty good meal recently at Salsas Por El Lago, a Mexican restaurant at 124 Lake Marina Drive, in a two-block section of Lakeview that is pretty much entirely occupied by restaurants. It's an odd little place, with décor that reminds you more of Cuco's than the kind of place that has a decent rendition of barbacoa on the menu. But ambiance aside, I tend to judge mexican restaurants by the quality of their tortillas and whether they have lengua (slow-cooked beef tongue) on the menu. The tortillas at Salsas, at least the soft corn variety, are good, and if the tongue isn't the best I've had, it was definitely passable. So too was the pastor, marinated grilled pork which comes in both mild and a spicy versions. I didn't specify spicy when I ordered, but if I got the mild, the spicy is probably volcanic. The restaurant has a decent selection of beers, and service was friendly if not all that knowledgable about the menu. Salsas is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and you can call them at (504) 286-3057 for more information.