Grown in the rich soil of Plaquemines Parish and technically considered a fruit, Creole tomatoes — though lumpy and odd-shaped — are meaty, yet tender, and sweet enough to be eaten like an apple. Dust them in cornmeal and fry them while they’re still green, or slice them at the peak of ripeness, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper for a delicious and healthy summertime snack or side to any main course.
But before becoming a culinary master of this special tomato, you’ll need to stock up — and why not have some fun while you’re at it?
Here are 10 things to do while sinking your teeth into a ripe and ready one at the Creole Tomato Festival this year, happening Saturday, June 10 and Sunday, June 11. Remember, entrance to the festival is free, as are many of its accompanying events! (And for even more, check out complete information on food booths and all that live music.)
10 Things to Do at Creole Tomato Festival
Try a Fresh Creole Tomato
This one is pretty obvious, but hear us out — while the tomatoes are the star of the show in many dishes, they’re worth experiencing all on their own. Purchase a bushel or buy a single, fresh Creole tomato to try. Head to either the Ben & Ben Becnel’s Farm tomato stand in the Farmers Market on Governor Nicholls Street near the Louisiana Cookin’ Culinary Stage; or the George’s Produce tomato stand, located on Barracks Street near the Old U.S. Mint.
Visit the Bloody Mary Market
The Bloody Mary is the definitive tomato cocktail, and local bars and restaurants are creating their own versions made with Creole tomatoes at the Bloody Mary Market in Dutch Alley, open during the festival from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Try two-ounce sample sizes of each concoction (for a lesser price) then order a full 12-ounce size of your favorite. We’ll be sipping on Green Goddess Restaurant’s “Aloha Mary” made with roasted tomatoes and pineapple and Cafe Dauphine’s “Smokin’ Cajun” featuring house-made, smoked tasso-infused vodka.
Jazz up your yoga
Sneak away for some meditative moments with Jazz Yoga on Saturday from 10-11 a.m. at the Old U.S. Mint stage. Flow along with live music from the Arrowhead Jazz Band.
At the Creole Tomato Eating Contest for kids and adults! Held at 12:30 p.m. each day at the Louisiana Cookin’ Culinary Stage, this eating challenge requires contestants to eat up to 3 tomatoes without using their hands (less tomato eating required for the kids!). All you have to do is sign up by noon each day, and the trophy could be yours.
Hear Robin Barnes
The Grammy-nominated songstress performs on Sunday from 3 – 4:30 p.m. at the Old U.S. Mint stage. Learn who’s behind the voice here.
Channel an era gone by
The Shotgun Jazz Band performs on Saturday from 1 until 2:30 p.m. at the Old U.S. Mint stage. Usually, you can find this band along Frenchmen Street in venues like the Spotted Cat, but they’re particularly fun to hear in a festival setting.
Sample last year’s tastiest, most creative dish
Head to the Loretta’s Pralines stand for the crab meat and Creole tomato beignets, winner of the Best of the Fest Tastiest category in 2016. They also snagged the award for most creative for the very same dish. Who says beignets have to be sweet? (We’ve got a savory recipe here)
Try last year’s healthiest dish
The 2016 Best of the Fest winner for healthiest dish went to George’s Produce for the sliced Creole tomatoes topped with Louisiana lump crab and remoulade. Simple and delicious.
Taste last year’s most traditional dish
Get to know Creole tomatoes with a traditional recipe from Andrea’s Restaurant: lightly sauteed eggplant layered with mozzarella Parmigiana cheese and fresh Creole tomato sauce.
Taste them, but don’t wear them
Purchase a Creole Tomato Festival “Ripe and Ready” apron while you’re at the fest. Because we all know nothing splatters quite like tomatoes!