This past week has been jam-packed with festivals! New Orleans itself is known for its myriad of fun and quirky festivals ranging from those in honor of tomatoes, oysters, mirlitons, and swamps to film, music, art, and wine. The city does not need an excuse to host a party and a parade! Last weekend I was lucky to have Saturday off, which meant that I could attend the New Orleans on Tap beer festival. It is hosted by the Bulldog bars (one on Magazine Street and one in mid-city) and Abita beers. There were over 200 local and international beers on tap, and it was easy to taste any number of them with the pre-purchased tickets. One ticket got you a 3-oz cup; three tickets bought an 8-oz cup. In addition, they had some great food vendors including the Crescent Pie and Sausage Company, Dat Dog, and Crepes a la Carte. And of course, any festival would be incomplete without live music by local bands. The 70-something degree weather and location by City Park’s Big Lake made for a perfect Saturday afternoon.
Tuesday was Diwali, the Indian holiday also known as the Festival of Lights. It commemorates the triumph of good over evil and candles are lit all over the world to celebrate. It is the first Diwali I have spent with my husband! To mark the occasion, I cooked two traditional Indian sweet dishes. The first was sooji halwa, a lightly sweetened dessert made with semolina powder, golden raisins, almonds, and cardamom topped with crushed pistachios. The other was a favorite South Indian dessert — semiya payasam — using my mom’s recipe of vermicelli noodles, milk, raisins, cashews, and cardamom. Both are extremely simple and quick dishes and made the busy day a little brighter!
Saturday was the 4th annual Magazine Street Blues Festival. It is one of the smaller festivals, taking up just about one block with a few food stands and a stage for live music. The beloved Soul Rebels were playing, and the beautiful weather made it fun to walk around and take in the scenery, including the 610 Stompers in their deliciously ridiculous costumes.
Finally, this Sunday was the annual Oak Street Po-Boy Festival. Po-boys are the famed sandwiches that were initially served free of charge to the “poor boy” streetcar workers who went on strike in the 1920s. Since 2007, this festival has been a local favorite. This year over 30 vendors cooked up the best po-boys in town, and two stages hosted many musical performances throughout the day (including, of course, Los Poboycitos). One needs to come with a large appetite, for the po-boys at each food station are quite sizeable! There were Abita vendors shouting out, “Ice cold Abitas!” and lemonade stands to quench your thirst after the salt-load. Seeing people from all walks of life out and about, walking together and enjoying the cooler temperatures and delicious New Orleans food, reminds me that this city is truly like no other.