I am ashamed to admit this but until last weekend it had been a very long time since I truly took a moment to take in City Park. I took a long slow drive, looping my way from one end to the other and I do not think I saw a single open parking spot. Scores of people of all ages and ethnicities were out enjoying the sparkling weather and I was amazed to see the soon-to-open world class Louisiana Children's Museum rising up over one of the park's lagoons, adding yet another attraction to over 1,300 acres already teaming with things to do, the simplest of which is a picnic under the oaks. This weekend I will pair that simple pleasure with another I recently discovered: The $3.99 roasted turkey and Provolone cheese sandwich on ciabatta from the snack bar at nearby Costco (3900 Dublin St., 484-5220). A cheap thrill for sure, this fresh hearty sandwich, served all hot and melt-y, is dressed with grilled sweet onions, a slice of fresh tomato and pesto aioli. The snack bar is accessible from outside of the member-only store, so this amazing sandwich is available to anyone for a bargain price.
Like pretty much everyone else on Earth, I have developed a little thing for kombucha – the refreshing, effervescent, fermented tea that is naturally sweetened but low in sugar, making it the perfect soda alternative. Launched in 2014, the women-owned Big Easy Bucha is New Orleans' original artisanal, probiotic-packed beverage made with regionally-sourced and organic ingredients whenever possible, including Ponchatoula strawberries, Ruston peaches, chicory coffee and Plaquemines Parish satsumas. They seem to be launching new flavors constantly but right now my favorites are "Front Porch Peach." which is infused with peach and a hint of magnolia, and "Parade Punch" with jasmine and pear. This is an expensive little habit so I an definitely hitting up the 50 percent off flash sale tomorrow (Friday, March 29) in the tasting room (4040 Euphrosine St., bigeasybucha.com) from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. If you cannot make it by on Friday you can email an order to email@example.com and pick it up at your convenience. Ten percent of the proceeds from the flash sale will go to the LASPCA.
With weather so glorious and myriad outdoor seating, you will find me enjoying Happy Hour at Apolline (4729 Magazine St., 894-8881, apollinerestaurant.com). The chic hotspot offers $2 mimosas, $4 beer, $5 glasses of house wine and $6 classic cocktails throughout the entire restaurant. As well as small plates, priced just right at $6.
A bargain to consider for next week: Apolline offers $5 glasses of wine and select bottles for $20 all night long on Wednesdays beginning at 5 p.m.
Now that Mardi Gras has finished its annul run, it’s time for “Bonnie-Gras,” a celebration to honor Bonnie Warren this Sunday (March 3) from 3-5 p.m. in the Rouses Culinary Innovation Center at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFab) (1504 Oretha C. Haley Boulevard, 569-0405, southernfood.org).
Warren will be honored by Les Dames d’Escoffier New Orleans Chapter for her longtime involvement in public relations, publishing and hospitality.
The event is also a benefit for Les Dames and Southern Food & Beverage Museum, with food including flavors from Warren’s heritage (she was born in South Africa to missionary parents before settling in New Orleans).
As the museum's Director of Culinary Programming and a long-time friend to Bonnie, I will be the one creating much of the food, with the exception of 17-hour smoked pork shoulders, which will be provided by barbecue pit master and SoFAB Curator of Meat Science, Dan Robert.
Tickets are $20 per person and include wine, beer and food. Visit natfab.org for tickets and click on "events."
Have a great weekend, everyone. Use it to celebrate the people and the community you love.