Nobody does oysters like Louisiana, and ’tis the season to get in on these local delicacies. The time is almost here for the 2013 New Orleans Oyster Festival. Come June 1, Woldenberg Park will become a stomping ground for lovers of New Orleans seafood and music, and let’s not forget the plethora of oyster-inspired dishes, including ice-cold, freshly-shucked oysters for your slurping pleasure. Here’s what’s going down June 1 and 2 at the New Orleans Oyster Festival.
The Stooges Brass Band kicks things off at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and the crowd will no doubt go wild for their hits “Wind it Up” and “Stooges Party.” Wear comfortable shoes because these guys will definitely have everyone on their feet. Watch some serious shucking talent at the P&J shucking contest at noon. Joe Nichols closes out the day with a performance starting at 5:15 p.m.
Sunday promises just as much fun (and food) with a lineup including the Revivalists, the Brass-A-Holics and The Gin Blossoms. Be sure to catch ACME Oyster House’s Oyster Eating Contest at 11:45 a.m. to see if Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas can beat her 2011 record of 47 dozen in eight minutes.
Entertainment aside, Oyster Fest has an incredible list of restaurant participants this year and all vendors (more than 20 this year) are required to serve at least one oyster dish. Those who aren’t keen on the briny beauties, or those who want to take advantage of the full spectrum of New Orleans eats, can enjoy things like Jacques Imo’s slow roasted duck poboy, Galatoire’s Shrimp Remoulade and Cafe Reconcile’s duck and lamb meatballs with sweet potato grits. Non-oyster eaters can rest assured they will not leave hungry!
I am particularly excited to try the oyster dishes that showcase the unique flavor and culinary versatility of this delicious mollusk. Rio Mar’s chilled raw oysters sound normal enough, but they up the ante by topping them with a Mignonette sorbet. A sauce made traditionally from minced shallots, either red or white wine vinegar, peppercorns and oftentimes some sugar, a Mignonette transformed into a chilled sorbet to accompany cold oysters sounds just heavenly. Also on my list is Elizabeth’s Oyster Foie Gras, Superior Seafood’s Oyster Quesadillas, Cafe Hope’s Louisiana Oyster Rockafeller Soup with Herbsaint and Oyster Crackers, Arnaud’s Shrimp and Oyster Eggrolls, and Grand Isle’s Oyster Gazpacho Shooters. Clearly, there’s no wrong way to enjoy an oyster!
After all of those salty oysters, you’re sure to want something sweet. Save some room for Antoine’s Baked Alaska, Desire Oyster Bar’s bread pudding with whiskey sauce, GW Fin’s strawberry shortcake, or an original New Orleans snoball.
Over the years, Oyster Fest has gained tremendous popularity, bringing people from all over the South to celebrate and support the cultivation and preservation of Louisiana oysters. They are not just a menu staple in our restaurants, oysters are a way of life for many people here in Louisiana. On June 1 and 2 you can show your support by festin’ along the Mississippi River. See y’all out there!
New Orleans Oyster Festival
June 1 and 2
Cash only for food and drink
Emily Smith is a native New Orleanian and writer of Fleurdelicious. She is enthusiastic about food here, there, everywhere!