Let’s state straightaway that I don’t mean the headline in a negative sense. Of course it can be taken that way. And who would blame us?
With the continuing efforts to claw our way back to the current century from the devastation of the result of the Corps’ inept levee construction and now BP dumping crude oil literally at our doorstep, we’ve seen our share of government and corporate “large mess.” Thanks, guys, but we are fully capable of creating chaos all by ourselves. We don’t need your help.
No, what I am referring to in the headline is that despite it all, we are fortunate individuals, blessed, if you will, to be living in this maddening yet wonderful place. We have access to incredible cuisine prepared by truly talented chefs. Our restaurants offer amazing dining experiences, and, unlike most towns, our restaurants are ours. They are based here, invested in by people who live here and staffed by folks who are your neighbors. It’s not a landscape embraced by “chains.”
We have great activities that are geared to every member of the family. Our museums take a back seat to no one. The art on display every day in New Orleans is simply astounding, both in scope and in quantity. Visitors come from all over the world to stroll our shops, seeking every manner of jewelry, furnishings and art to take home and enjoy. It’s like a goodwill ambassador from New Orleans living in homes and around pretty necks all over the globe.
Then there’s the music. There’s nothing like a great Crescent City drum-line or a horn section or a keyboard beat. Sweet!
And, more to my designated area, there is the abundance and creativity of liquid refreshments. New Orleans practically invented the cocktail, and we continue to expand the horizons of that classification in every way. Here again are local folks who are truly world-class at what they do, plying their talents and satisfying your thirsty desires at all hours, day or night.
All of this and more is happening under the umbrella of good times in a culturally important place.
Just when it seems we have turned the corner and the last note has been heard, the last crawfish has been served, the last drink has been poured at some festival, there’s another one coming right behind. Festivals and celebrations here are not “sometimes” things. They are all welcome constants.
If you lived in another place, you would certainly have such fun gatherings to look forward to. But every weekend? That is pretty incredible, in a truly New Orleans sort of way.
For instance, we’ve just come down off the high that was created by a great New Orleans Wine & Food Experience. Four days of nonstop fermented assaults on all the senses, culminating with what had to be the most kick-ass closing any wine festival ever had: Big Sam’s Funky Nation blowing the Dome away with high energy and all the right notes, right across from Tulane’s own James Moises serving absolutely incredible pinot noir wines from Oregon that he made.
Oh, that was a moment, don’t you know?
If you missed those moments, others are coming quickly, so don’t hesitate this time around to get out and really participate in festive events that this city does like no one else.
This coming weekend, June 12-13, we will enjoy three festivals simultaneously in the same place, the historic French Market. Can’t beat that. The beloved Creole Tomato Festival –– and we always look forward to the arrival of the Creoles –– will be joined this year by the Louisiana Seafood Festival, which has special meaning considering what is unfolding in the Gulf, and then there’s the Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival.
This may set a trend of stacking festivals at the same time in the same place. Wouldn’t that be incredible? Most festival organizers take great pains to avoid other major events, but the folks with the tomatoes, the seafood and the music may break new ground here and cluster great events. It’s more fun for us, and once you find a parking place, you’re in.
You wine-lovers have not been forgotten. No, we would never do that. The French-American Chamber of Commerce, a group that has done terrific work over the years to strengthen our ties to the country that gave us birth, is ready to roll with its 11th annual Everything French Festival on Saturday, June 26, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Taking place on the third level of Canal Place, the event will feature a plethora of French wines, fine foods and music.
A recent poll, taken in such key wine-drinking countries around the world as the U.K., the U.S. and Australia, noted that when wine-lovers rated countries who made great wine, in all the countries tested, consumers put France in the No. 1 position. It’s good to see the world has not taken complete leave of its collective senses. The countries ranked in second and third place, by the way, followed provincial lines, with the U.S. rating its wine in second place and Australia doing the same for its wines. That is as it should be.
And for those of you who like to plan ahead, an important first step given the way these events fill up very quickly with eager participants and attendees, July 21 to 25 will be another edition of Tales of the Cocktail. Gosh, has it been a year already?
This completely crazy event will bring together spirits aficionados from all over the world into the hot and humid environment of New Orleans, where everyone will stay in the air conditioning and be treated to cocktails made by great and talented mixologists.
If you have ever been or if you never have and have always been meaning to go, this is your year. Ann Tuennerman and her staff do an absolutely amazing job of covering all the bases in the complicated and creative world of mixed adult beverages. You will be tasting and mixing and meandering and passing a good time with like-minded souls who are more than happy to share with you their views about what works and what doesn’t.
It’s sort of like a convention of molecular chemists, but you might understand what they are saying.
What else can I say? Where else can you be? It’s just like when we all returned home after Katrina: Maybe we thought for a moment about living someplace else, but where else do we fit in? Only New Orleans, hawt.