Guess what happens on May 22 through May 25. No, it’s not my wife’s
birthday. It’s an event that food lovers and oenophiles (that’s a big
word meaning wine lovers – I looked it up) circle on their calendars.
It is the world renowned New Orleans Wine and Food Experience
(NOWFE). A few days looked forward to by us homegrown gourmets like
Pandas pant for their five-day mating season.
In short, it is a four-day extravaganza of the best food and drink in
the solar system. And this year’s festival is the 21st renewal of the
food and drink orgy in New Orleans, the city that prizes wine and food
over that other thrill. A city that never puts down its fork or wine
goblet. This year to brighten the event even further NOWFE, on
Saturday night, is partnering with the John Besh Foundations – a
restaurant group dedicated to the training of future world class chefs
by awarding scholarship loans. Both organizations are nonprofit.
They’ll sponsor a unique experience featuring exceptional cuisine with
music and an auction; the Vinola dinner, a cherry on top of the sundae
we call Nowfe.
NOWFE is a cornucopia of 1) Food seminars. The seminars even include
one on glassware and crystal. And you get to take the glasses home!
2) Strolls down Royal Street where every antique shop tempts your
appetite as well as your purse – they fill up your wine glass, too.
3) A grand tasting where New Orleans’ finest eateries display and fill
your plate with their culinary creations. Seconds and thirds? Sure.
And 175 wineries pour their favorites – thousands of wines are
offered. Seventy-five prizewinning chefs present their best. There’s
even Barbecue which New Orleans chefs have just discovered. The
vintners, too, are anxious to soothe your soul with their liquid
ambrosia. 4) Then there are special dinners at select restaurants
where chefs try hard to show you why they’re the best in their class
and deserve your returning appetite. This includes such names as
Antoines and Arnauds.
No self-respecting gourmet or even gobbler should miss NOWFE. Picture
yourself walking down Royal Street; plate and glass ready for
filling. One shop after another. Survey the pictures, figurines, and
furniture. Sample their food that they have especially prepared for
NOWFE. It’s hard to be bored; one after the other – each offering a
mouthwatering treat. And out on the street marches the sassiest,
brassy band you’ve heard since John Philip Sousa hit the scene. Like
the song says, “Who Could Ask for Anything More?” A couple years back
on the Royal Street stroll as we observed an amply-fleshed gentleman
mixing a batch of Jambalaya, I whispered to my wife, my tablemate of
58 years, “hey, his jambalaya looks as good as mine”. The gentleman
must have had ears like a rabbit before he’s stewed in onion and wine
sauce. “Come on over here shorty, let’s get a picture.” It was Paul
Prudhomme himself. And he filled my bowl with his jambalaya. Yeah,
you never know who you’ll bump into. And his dish was as good as
mine, I told him. Such is his good nature that he appeared flattered.
But it’s hard to beat the Champagne Seminar where bubbly that retails
for $85 to $185 awaits your pleasure and the vintner of each explains
his wares. My mouth hasn’t been so happy since I put in my new
bridge. And there are several of such seminars. You learn and you eat.
What makes NOWFE memorable in culinary history is not just the
overwhelming choice of food and drink. It’s the fact that world
famous chefs are catering to your tastes. And the vintners are on
site to educate and delight you with their finest. And each event is
There’s a fantastic legend that the angels, busily working their magic
on earth, complained to the Master Chef above, “We miss our heavenly
meals. There’s no place to eat on that planet called Earth.” And God
made New Orleans. A taste of NOWFE and you can believe it.
I’ve only scratched the surface. Go to NOWFE.com for details and
The humor of Ted, the Scribbler on the Roof, appears in newspapers around the U.S., on National Public Radio in Huntsville, Alabama and numerous web sites.