Mardi Gras 2013

January25

On many calendars Wednesday, February 13, 2013 is the beginning of the time before Easter known as Lent. “Mardi Gras” when literally translated means Fat Tuesday or a time to indulge in sugars and fats before the Lenten fasts begin.

I am often in Mexico for this day, when Carnivale is celebrated with the same intention. The time is spirited and festive with colourful costumes, all night dances, parades and other such merry-making.

We love New Orleans. The city, especially the French Quarter is a fascinating place to stay and the eating adventures are unequalled. So any time an opportunity arises to dine Louisiana style, we grab it.

Now if you can’t get away to celebrate Carnivale or Mardi Gras, fear not, for Mardi Gras is once again coming to Winnipeg! We plan to attend and have an authentic Louisiana dinner at the Food, Oyster & Wine Bar that will seat 300 and be set up at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

We will have the opportunity to choose between French Quarter Gumbo, Crab Cakes or even Alligator Fritters.

I was recently invited to a preview event at the Winnipeg Convention Centre- a “Mini” Gras, so to speak and was able to sample some amazing food!

At the preview, my first taste was of a Fried Oyster and Provolone Po’ Boy Sandwich.  These are served on every corner in the French Quarter and are the equivalency of a sub.  Authentic Po’ Boys start with a classic French baguette that is sliced open and smeared with a spicy mayonnaise.  If you decide to order yours “dressed”, then it will be adorned with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and pickles.  A huge fried oyster in a crunchy batter is then wedged inside before the baguette is closed.  If you are not inclined to oysters, not to worry, as the result is a very mild flavour or you can choose beef or pulled pork when you attend one of the two evenings.

My next visit was to the pasta station for a treat that I remembered not from New Orleans but my previous visit to the Winnipeg Convention Centre’s Mardi Gras-Cajun Carbonarra. Smoky bacon is first sautéed with mushrooms, onions and crushed red pepper and then tossed with a parmesan cream sauce, Cajun chicken, spicy sausage and penne pasta.  The result is appropriately spicy and satisfyingly hearty.

I was also pleased to sample the Louisiana Crab Cakes and Crawfish Etoufee but my favourite of the evening was yet to come.  The Shrimp Creole did not contain the baby gulf shrimp that I recalled from Bourbon Street but enormous ones with their tails intact.

They were expertly prepared before my eyes and pulled off the heat just as they changed texture, which ensures a firm and crunchy shrimp to bite into and savour.

There is a nightly Parade and over 30 entertainers including many directly from New Orleans. I have a collection of Mardi Gras beads from our time in New Orleans. How I earned them is a story in itself and a secret that I am not quite ready to tell.

Warm up winter in Winnipeg! See http://www.winnipegmardigras.com/for more details.

Kath’s quote: “New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.”-Mark Twain

Love-that is all.


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