As most babes, wine and gourmet food are two of our favorite things. We are often found in restaurants around New Orleans trying exciting new cuisine or creating party apps in our own kitchens for our babes to sample (recipes to come). The remainder of our time is spent sipping wine on our front porches NOLA style or wherever we can find it. A couple of our favorites are the patio at Bacchanal and the free wine tastings every Friday at our favorite local wine store, Bin 428 on Magazine St.
The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE) is the ultimate wine and food festival held in New Orleans each year. We are lovers of all NOLA festivals, but this is one of the chicest we’ve ever had the privilege of attending.
NOWFE brings together hundreds of wineries, restaurants, winos and foodies from across the nation over a five day span for wine dinners, culinary seminars, demonstrations, wine tastings and other fun events in the city that loves food and beverages more than any other. What’s even better is that NOWFE is a nonprofit organization and 100 percent of the proceeds from the week’s events go toward supporting culinary education in New Orleans. Read more here.
We only wish we could make it to all of the NOWFE events, but of course we had to make choices. The Royal Street Stroll and the Grand Tasting experience were the two that caught our attention most and we were very satisfied with our choices. We’ll fill you in on what made these two events so special to make your choice a bit easier when next year rolls around! Read more about all NOWFE events here.
ROYAL ST. STROLL
The most New Orleans of NOWFE events, we felt right at home as soon as we approached Royal St. One of the most babe-friendly, refined streets in the French Quarter, Royal St. is lined with boutiques and jewelry stores, antique shops, art galleries and elegant hotels and restaurants. Royal St. Stroll is the only outdoor event during NOWFE. Unfortunately, this year’s event got rained on, but the great thing about New Orleans is that didn’t stop people from strolling, eating, drinking and even the marching band from playing!
It was a bit of a struggle to hold an umbrella, a glass of wine and munchies, but thanks to Rouses, once we got our plastic plates with wine holder we were good to go. Whoever thought of these was genius, they definitely make the experience more manageable.
Babes tip: Visit the Rouses tent first to grab one of these nifty plates!
We love cheese and some of the most amazing cheeses we have ever tried in our lives were from a display by Kerrygold, an Irish cheesemaker. The blue cheese and aged cheddar were literally melt in your mouth. We were happy to hear it’s available locally at Whole Foods.
Rouses was serving brisket and pork tacos. You already know we love tacos and the brisket tacos with corn grits and cheese were to die for. We spoke with a representative from the the Texas Star Beef farm where the brisket came from who let us know that it is sold exclusively at Rouses in Louisiana. Do yourself a favor and pick up some of this stuff for your Memorial Day barbecue!
We sipped on several refreshing white wines from various vineyards as we strolled including a Chloe chardonnay (we love the packaging on this wine) and a Kim Crawford sauvignon blanc. The most unique was 13 Celsius, a sauvignon blanc from a small family-owned New Zealand winery. They came all the way to New Orleans just to be at NOWFE! Our favorite non-wine beverage available was a cucumber concoction made with Hendrick’s Gin. We aren’t gonna lie, we had to go back for several of these!
Many of the beautiful art galleries had their doors open so we found ourselves strolling in and out of galleries browsing at all the magnificent artwork as well. The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience wine glass you receive at check-in is the perfect souvenir! We hope the weather is better next year, but rain or shine the babes will be returning.
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but lets just say this event was ALL about the food. The Grand Tasting experiences (Friday evening and Saturday afternoon- we opted for Friday) feature more than 75 of New Orleans best chefs preparing delicious dishes alongside more than 1,000 domestic and international vintages.
Each chef prepares a creative culinary offering for competition in hopes of winning the Fleur De Lis Culinary Award. We personally think they all deserve the award, but are excited to see who the winner is after this afternoon’s event.
When we first arrived to the event we started at one end with a plan to visit each table to taste their offerings, but quickly realized we needed to be more strategic. We were filling up on fried food and hearing rumors that the “Best in Show” winners from previous years such as the Fricassee of Joyce Farms Chicken with Creole Corn Maque Choux, Tomato Jam & Smoked Oysters (from Broussard’s) were running out. We reconvened and began visiting the restaurants that had won awards in previous years or were serving dishes particularly of interest to us. We sipped on wines from California, Washington and more along the way.
Here were some of our favorites:
One dish we tried right when walking in that we wished we’d gone back for more was Centerplate catering’s Swamp Pop Glazed Pork Belly with Root Vegetables and Cajun grain salad topped with Herbed Frisee Slaw. There were several Pork Belly options but there was something special and different about this one. It stood out from all of the fried food options surrounding it.
The Gulf Tuna Tostada with Ghost Pepper Caviar, Avocado and Yuzu from Johnny Sanchez was another one of our favorites for both taste and presentation. Our only wish is that they would give you more than one to the plate on this one!
Others we loved were of course the Hummus with Curry Roasted vegetable from Shaya, the Crawfish Boil Caprese from Palace Cafe, the Petite Raviol De Royan from Hyatt Regency and we highly recommend the Strawberry Ricotta Ice Cream with pistachios and a basil coulis from Creole Creamery (the best of several desserts we tried).
Experiencing wine and food is always amazing, but this was particularly enjoyable! We loved the photo booth where you could take fun pictures as well. We can’t wait to return next year- we did learn to be more strategic from the get go and not miss out on any of the crowd pleasers!
There’s still time!
The fun’s not over yet! Part 2 of the Grand Tasting is this afternoon at 2 p.m. at the convention center and the final experiences and seminars will be held Sunday including a brunch at Broussard’s with classic cocktails and a fishing trip with Chef Justin Devillier followed by a meal at his new restaurant Balise where guests will cook and eat the day’s catch.
If you missed this year, we highly recommend attending at least one NOWFE event next year! Until then, we plan to continue eating and drinking plenty of food and wine.
Contact us or comment below to fill us in on your NOWFE experiences and suggestions!
Babes & Beignets