NOLA on Tap, Fried Chick’n Festival, Hedwig, & a Haitian dance party: eating my way through the weekend

I was thinking I was due a very relaxing weekend because between October and December, I’m going to be a very busy – but very lucky – lady. (Think: dear friends from far shores are coming to visit; I’m going home to London for not too long, but long enough to breathe the air and be renewed; family time in Minnesota.) So imagine my surprise on Sunday evening when I realized I had to be back at work today. WHERE DID MY WEEKEND GO?! WHY DOES THIS COUNTRY HATE ALL OF US?! (Clearly, my coffee just kicked in.)

So let’s go through this, but don’t even start to judge me on my consuming habits of this weekend. I don’t even want to talk about it. Guess I’ll just write a blog on it… Strap in, Kids – this is a long one.

Friday night was date night. We do this at least twice a month since we’ve moved in together because otherwise I get all pissy. We had a bunch of salad fixins in our fridge so naturally, we decided to head to the Nguyen in NOLA pop-up at Bearcat Café (its own blog forthcoming). 100% vegan Vietnamese food. I love going to places where I can try everyone’s meals and it doesn’t matter if everyone tries mine because I still get a full meal. Times are exciting indeed.

Between us, we ordered:

  • Jasmine tea: iced and free refills. Refreshing, never-ending, very tea-like.
  • An order of the “pork” spring rolls. Again, I’m not a huge fan of faux meats unless they are clearly faux meats, in that the texture isn’t too meaty. These got a lot of nodding, a lot of “mmmmm-ing”, and a lot of shoving large bites into our mouths. Really good flavor and there was some crispy sesame thing in the middle which I now need in all my spring rolls. So thanks.
  • Spicy “beef” noodle soup. This wasn’t too spicy and it had weird faux meats in it which I think were supposed to be tripe but I kinda gagged every time I found a new one, which I then set on a side plate for us to stare at throughout the meal. It was pretty oily and had few vegetables to round out the tofu, “beef,” and “tripe.” It definitely lacked some freshness. Not too impressed with this dish, but at least now I know for next time.
  • “Beef” stew from the specials menu. Alex really enjoyed this and from the few bites I had, I did too. It was full of veg and flavor and it made me regret my decisions in life. All of my decisions.

Knowing that we were headed to Hedwig and the Angry Inch where popcorn, candy, and drinks awaited us, we skipped dessert. I could probably be talked into trying the Thai coconut cream and fruit dessert next time though. We paid just over $30 for the whole meal which was all right by me. Filling and cheap – yes, please.

Not food related, but we rounded out date night at Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Istanbul Cafe. IT WAS AMAZING. The acting was raw, and emotional, and powerful and I really think you need to go. So just go already. (Also, part of the proceeds from the play go to the LGBT Community Center and I’m all about that.)

Saturday, we biked down to the French Quarter for the Homer Plessy School fundraiser (and to buy me a Marrow Creative top). After Alex submitted silent bids on 110 of the 140 things they had for auction, we wandered the Quarter stopping for a drink and photo booth at Lafitte’s, got my Mardi Gras wig at Fifi Mahony’s, browsed the $5 vinyls at Skully’z, and just generally got caught in multiple rains. There is nowhere quite like this city.

 

Slightly soaked and teeming with shopping bags, we came back up to Mid-City to meet friends at NOLA on Tap in City Park. The park was alive with brewers – both well-established and home – dogs, music, vendors, mud (from the rains that AM), and a bunch of people. The sun beat down on us all. Mmmmm, just imagine the smells!

I could speak to the great ciders and beers that we tried, but at some point all the alcohol and the heat exhaustion mixed and it’s a little unclear if I was actually there or if it was all in my heat-fried brain. However, since we hadn’t eaten yet that day, we beelined for the food as our first stop. I went straight to Trillys which is definitely deserving of their own blog post because those vegan cheesesteaks are truly the stuff of my drunken, hungry dreams. BUT! Next door was Original Thought with an all-vegan menu and I was like “who are these peoples? How do I not know of them?” I took five steps to my left and got in their queue instead (which was way shorter than Trilly’s line, but it shouldn’t have been!)

Again, I’m the worst at making decisions so I couldn’t decide and ordered both the spicy loaded mac’n’cheese (I always have to try vegan mac’n’cheese – it’s like my baseline test for yummy veganness) and the pulled pork sandwich (because anything covered in BBQ sauce is okay by me). The M&C was interesting and very different, Mr. TWMVO compared it to American chop suey: sauteed peppers and onions, quinoa (!!), spicy eggplant crumbles, and pasta with a light “cheese” sauce on top – all of which you mixed in yourself. I’m not sure I would call it mac’n’cheese, but I would call it delicious. I would definitely eat that again. And I would even pay for it, too!

The pulled pork was pretty tasty, but could have used a bit more sauce IM(Humble)O. BUT, I live for sauce and it was a handheld food at a festival so…maybe they did it right. Pulled jackfruit, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, and pickles. It was tasty (as witnessed by me eating all of the innards and most of the bun), but not sure I would need to try it again. All that said, I’m super excited that I found a new joint I had no idea about and I’m very grateful for them for being out at NOLA on Tap where vegan options were going to be, uh, well just Trilly’s I suppose.

Sunburned, slightly drunk, and stuffed, we headed down to the Bywater for a BBQ put on by our friend, Meg who is a famous over-caterer. As the only veggie eating, they made two packs of vegan sausages for me (rude): Mexican chipotle Field Roast and Tofurkey Italian sausages. I had a big plate of sausage in front of me and I did my damn best, but it wasn’t good enough.

Sunday morning rolls around – let’s just have a restful day, shall we? Nope.

After doing some yoga in 102 heat at 9am (oh, New Orleans…) we headed down to Fried Chicken Festival along the river. Because nothing says “let’s eat fried food” like when you feel like your insides are melting. Parking was horrendous by the way, but I don’t think that’s why you’re here. (Why ARE you here?!)

Really exciting stuff: 2018 was the first year that the Fried Chicken Festival had vegan options. OPTIONS. Not just ONE option, but plural options from Atlas Monroe. Your choice of BBQ ribs & garlic fries, fried chick’n & garlic fries, just garlic fries, or a waffle. I started with the BBQ ribs and fries. Those ribs were so GD.DAYUM.GD good. They weren’t too real-meaty (y’know), the sauce was finger-lickin’. The garlic fries had clumps of garlic on them, which I was all about, but they were pretty soggy. I did cover them in the chipotle sauce that was for the fried chick’n and for that reason I ate them all. (And that is the only reason I ate them all… for sure.)

I bought a combo plate of ribs and chick’n to take to our next stop, y’know – share the love, and I also got to try the fried chick’n that way. Win-win. Soft, chewy, perfectly battered and covered in chipotle sauce. I didn’t think I’d be a fan (hence why I didn’t get it in the first go), but I was sold. I would eat that again and I will see you, Atlas Monroe, next time I’m in Cali. You should probably start prepping for me now.

But here’s my problem. NOLA has such an amazing local vegan community and Atlas Monroe – as delicious as their fare is – is from California. I really wish the organizers had given a platform to local vegan vendors and I’m hopeful that next year, they’ll not only expand vegan options, but make sure to focus on the local community as well.

Again, sunburned and a little drunk, we wandered the streets of the Quarter with our strawberry vodka lemonades (life) to Preservation Hall for one of their Salon Series: a Haitian party. Centered around a small exhibition, there was a live DJ, massive (srzly) fresh fruit offerings from Froot Orleans, a bar, and – of course – Fritai. Even though it was approximately 1,438,434 degrees outside, it was such a fun and lively afternoon. We danced, we sang, we ate food even though we weren’t hungry and probably needed our stomachs pumped because all we had done the entire weekend was eat, we laughed, and we learned.

We all know my love of Fritai, I haven’t been subtle about it in the slightest. But writing that piece, I had started to really crave a mushroom tofu Fritai sandwich and so…yea, we ordered one to share. Again, not hungry just really wanted to put that flavor in my face. Y’all, it is seriously so good. That spicy pikliz – I need that to be bottled and gifted to me in my Christmas stocking. I’m just throwing ideas at ya so you don’t have to think too hard.

We rolled home (almost literally, I was a round ball of food stuffs by this point) and laid on the floor with all the fans on and the AC on high.

It’s Monday now and the weekend went too fast: a blur of sun, food, and alcohol. I’m back to work and fasting for the next 5 days. Haha, just kidding. I’ll make it 5 hours.

Have y’all got your tickets to Hedwig yet? Great.

 

 

 

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