Again, preparation is key and the first order of business was early morning breakfast at Royal Blend on Metairie Road. It's my hangout before business during the work week, but it's base camp before City Park opens for shuttle parking. Usually I eat light, but I was in the mood for one of their Sunday specials I never had before:
Grillades and cheese grits with a homemade biscuit from Royal Blend (204 Metairie Road in Metairie)
Their version is very good. Basically beef debris cooked down with tomatoes, peppers, onions, etc., and ladled over grits. It gave me a good start to the day since I'd be in the grandstand for a few hours.
Once I arrived at City Park, the traditional parking mecca had been moved to the Rugby Field across from the new dog park, "City Bark". Once I parked, another part of my Jazz Fest tradition commenced: slathering myself in sunblock. I wait until that moment because I don't want to sit in my car with my legs covered in goo. I don't use SPF 4. I'm far too fair for that. I get the industrial strength SPF 50 and cover every patch of exposed skin. I use baby wipes or the equivalent to wipe off my hands and leave them in the car.
My arrival in the Fairgrounds and through the gate was around 11am. I knew the first food demo would be around 11:15am, so I made a dash to the Strawberry Lemonade stand and then to get my first taste of Jazz Fest since last year:Crawfish strudel; white chocolate bread pudding; strawberry lemonade
The strudel is flaky phyllo dough with a filling of crawfish meat, onions, peppers and all in a stuffing-like consistency. They give you a spork, but I usually eat it like a hot dog. It is spicy, salty, and wonderful. White chocolate bread pudding has a great blend of soft French bread that has been baked with custard and vanilla and then bathed in a white chocolate sauce. I'm grateful that Jazz Fest is only two weekends out of the year or I'd have serious weight problems. The strawberry lemonade never disappoints, always refreshing, and helps with any energy zap from the heat.
Once the last food demo had concluded, I wasn't hungry. But Jazz Fest is, in my opinion, like dieter's heaven -- throw the rule book out the window for a day or a weekend. You never eat like this normally. This is the food that is only available at the fest and only for a limited time. Get your feed bag on! So I'm eating what I want whether I'm hungry or not, I decided. I went past the Grandstand past the blues and gospel tents to the food area behind the crafts area. It was there I found my final repast for the day:
Peach cobbler and rosemint herbal tea
Just what I was looking for. The cobbler has a hearty crust, fat peaches, and just enough balance of nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar. The rosemint tea is a popular manufacturer's blend with a hint of mint. I always add lemon juice offered at the booths and use my personal favorite sugar substitute.
Now I haven't mentioned prices and don't plan to because "sticker shock" is not the reason for the season. This is my vacation every year and normally people spend more and eat more than they normally do. I buy beverages that are created, not bottled. I eat whatever I want without fear of counting calories or pennies. Life is too short to get stuck on trivialities and it's important to support the local culinary talent by tasting their wares.
So if you need permission to do what you normally wouldn't do, then I grant it with all my heart.