New Orleans Oyster Festival 2014 (schedule, tips, map)

The 2014 New Orleans Oyster Festival is this weekend (May 31 and June 1). The food is the same both days, but the music is different.

Want to see the oyster shucking contest? That’s Saturday at noon. Interested in the oyster eating contest? That’s Sunday at 11:45 a.m.

We’re tagging along with a Meetup group going Sunday at 11 a.m. Join us 🙂

The Oyster Fest serves up all sorts of bivalve goodness. Here are some of eats in 2013. (photos by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

The Oyster Fest serves up all sorts of bivalve goodness. Here are some of eats in 2013. (photos by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

The fest is at Woldenberg Park, which is next to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas (map). We like this festival because it is free admission and there’s parking around the French Quarter. When we take a car, we usually park in the garage above Saks Fifth Avenue. Tip – if you get in before 9 a.m. at most garages, parking is $10 for the entire day.

You can also take a bus or streetcar and not fool with parking at all. It takes a little longer than driving, but it’s cheaper than parking and you don’t have to worry about a designated driver.

We went to the fest last year and had a really good time. See our pix.

Tips we learned about the New Orleans Oyster Festival:

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How to make crawfish chowder (recipe)

Have leftover crawfish from a boil? Try this easy recipe for crawfish chowder. We Southerners smugly think “chowder” (or “chow-dah”) is something Yankees invented and shouldn’t be trotted out in kitchens south of the Mason-Dixon line. Fear not, intrepid cooks. Chowder is just a milky stew of goodness, no matter where it comes from.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

This recipe comes to me from a colleague when I worked at my alma mater, the University of Mississippi. I gotta tell you, it’s so good that you’d serve it to Prince Charles and Prince Harry, if they were lucky enough to be in your dining room.

Add a crusty loaf of French bread or steamy cornbread and butter for soaking up the juice, and you’ll be dancing! I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve gotten from this recipe, which has become a favorite with my friends. Now, it’s yours!

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How to cook liver and onions

Liver smothered in onions? So, 99% of you just went, “She’s cooking what?”

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

I am among the 1% of people who love liver and onions atop rice. Likely, it was presented to me by my grandmother, the beautiful and willful Rosalie Dial, who wasn’t one to forgive a turned-up nose at dinnertime. Likely, I ate it, agreed it was good, and the rest is history.

It’s not something I think about often, but this weekend, it came to mind. I make a batch and freeze everything but the rice for another dinner.

It’s also an emotional meal for me because my dearly departed mother, Betty, made me weekly batches while I was pregnant with my two kids and needed boosts of iron to fortify my system (and theirs). When I eat liver and onions, I think of all three of them. Sappy, but true.

And so, for you folks whose grandmothers and moms made this and never showed you how, here it is. For you folks who’ve got the curiosity to try it, the recipe couldn’t be simpler. Go for it!

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red beans

Mondays mean red beans in New Orleans

New Orleans restaurants are fairly predictable during Lent – they have red beans and rice on Mondays and a seafood special on Fridays.

photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook

photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin’ Cook

The Monday special is a long-standing practice. Mondays traditionally were laundry day in New Orleans and red beans and rice was an easy dish to put on the stove and leave. The dish is a standard offering every Monday in New Orleans restaurants.

During Lent, Catholic believers often give up meat (beef, pork, chicken, lamb, duck, etc.) on Fridays. Seafood is OK though, so restaurants offer tasty seafood dishes on Fridays. FYI – Lent starts Ash Wednesday (the day after Mardi Gras) and ends on Easter.

Want to try your hand at red beans while you knock out your laundry this weekend? Check out this recipe from our food columnist, Patsy R. Brumfield.

Since there are so many different recipes for the classic dish, here are a few more to peruse:

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Good places to get raw oysters in New Orleans

Happy Oysters on the Half Shell Day! Really, it’s a holiday. How do you like your bivalves – raw or on the half shell?

Our favorite oyster restaurants in New Orleans so far:

• 50 cent oysters during happy hour at Superior Seafood. This restaurant is right next to the streetcar line at St. Charles and Napoleon. It has nice indoor and outdoor seating. Happy hour is from 4 to 6:30 daily. It also has tasty frozen drinks.

Superior Seafood on St. Charles has happy hour specials for raw oysters. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells, NewinNOLA.com)

Superior Seafood on St. Charles has happy hour specials for raw oysters. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells, NewinNOLA.com)

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How to make white chili

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

I like chili, period. But white chili is a special treat with the tang of cilantro, yogurt and a slice of lime. It’s perfect for a wintertime crowd, especially as Super Bowl Sunday approaches.

Make a big ole pot with a skillet of cornbread, or hot pita bread, and you’ve got a tummy-warming delight.

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How to make homemade chicken-vegetable soup like a real Southerner

BY PATSY R. BRUMFIELD – THE SOUTHFACIN’ COOK 

Cold weather just sets my soup-cooking emotions to stirring.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

After a look into my post-Thanksgiving freezer, I realized I had a variety of frozen vegetables I’d like to do something with because I’m not going to make them individually just for myself.

That’s when “soup!” came into my mind. I’ll have some for myself and some to share with friends, which is why I make a big pot of it. It’s also great to freeze in quart-size Ziplock bags for a no-trouble supper or lunch. Just add a salad or a toasted roll and you’re in business.

My only word of advice is to refrain from adding the chicken until the soup’s almost done. Otherwise, it will cook out all its juices and taste dry, even in the midst of the broth.

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How to make a Southern Thanksgiving meal

We’ve been doing some of our favorite activities this week – cooking, eating and enjoying time with friends and family. And of course, Southern food makes everything better.

Our resident cook, Patsy R. Brumfield, has been sharing her go-to Thanksgiving dishes the past few weeks. They are:

Roasted turkey (how to brine and roast one)

Cornbread dressing

Turkey giblet gravy

‘Sweet Potato Queen’ casserole

Sour cream pound cake
Homemade mayo
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How to make turkey giblet gravy like a real Southerner

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

Gravy sometimes is overlooked during the cooking process but it is the unsung hero of holiday meals. You do it right and no one thinks about it. You do it wrong and everyone is disappointed. This smooth giblet gravy makes everything better, from the turkey to the cornbread dressing (recipe) to the mashed potatoes.

This is a recipe that was passed down from my wonderful mother, Betty. Hope you enjoy. And make sure to check out my other Thanksgiving recipes.

Header image via Angie’s Southern Kitchen and used in accordance with the Creative Common license agreement.

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How to make cornbread dressing like a real Southerner

Thanksgiving turkey isn’t complete without moist, yummy cornbread dressing. It’s taken me years to get this one right, so I’ll share my experience with you.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

First, my wonderful mother, Betty – who adored Thanksgiving and cooked for weeks in anticipation of hosting a crowd that day – died on Halloween 1999 and left me, the eldest child, to make our first holiday meal without her. I had no idea what to do. Thank goodness she left recipes, although some have taken years to get just right. (You know how cooks are about secrets.)

This is her cornbread dressing, which I like topped with a splash of smooth turkey giblet gravy (recipe). It’s also fabulous to slice thinly onto leftover turkey sandwiches with homemade mayonnaise (recipe) and a sliver of cranberry sauce (easy recipe). Goodness, my mouth waters just thinking about it.

Header image via Angie’s Southern Kitchen and used in accordance with the Creative Common license agreement.

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