New Orleans Wine & Food Experience

It is that time of year again. Memorial Day Weekend May 23 - 27, 2007

Last May was our first time to attend the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience & we had a blast. We knew we would be back down for the event this year, where 15,000 glasses of wine will be poured from 1,000 different wines from 200 different wine makers. That is a lot of juice......oh, and the food. You can't even mention the NOWFE without salivating. There will be 100 local Crescent City eateries stepping up to show off their best stuff.

The five day event kicks off Wednesday night, May 23rd with the Vintner's Dinner, where chefs from premiere New Orleans' restaurants partner up with featured winmakers & create tasting menus pairing each course to a wine picked by the winery's winemaker.

The festivities continue on Thursday afternoon with a new event to the NOWFE, the The 1st Annual “Vinola”. Muriel’s Jackson Square, will host 30 winemakers pouring their most revered and highly rated wines. This tasting is a rare opportunity for 150 wine enthusiasts to mingle with notable winemakers, while sampling up to 120 elite wines from around the world.

Later on that night the Royal Street Stroll kicks off on Royal Street where you can meander & view rare antiques, fine art, live jazz and historic architecture with outstanding wines being poured in your glass.

Friday & continuing into Saturday are many food & wine seminars that cover topics from Rosé to local Louisiana Gulf caught shrimp to the wines of Sonoma County. Last year we thouroughly enjoyed the duck seminar at Galatoire's.

Friday & Saturday night after getting your fill of food & wine knowledge at the seminars The Grand Tastings kick off with a wide array of wines from around the world & food being offered by the cities best restaurants. It is best to hit these tastings with a plan because there is so much to choose from.

Sunday if you still have room for more food & libations there is the Bubbles & Brunch a traditional New Orleans Champagne brunch featuring Perrier Jouet Champagne.

We will be there blogging from the event & are so excited. If you want to check out our coverage from last year check it out here.

For more info on the NOWFE visit their website at

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Risotto with Brie, Bacon and Peas

Saturdays are generally the days that we have to get pretty creative for meals. Since Sunday is grocery day, Saturday is spent scavenging and scheming to come up with something palatable for lunch. Using the word palatable to describe yesterday's lunch would be the understatement of the Millennium.

Risotto with Brie, Bacon and Peas
1 cup Arborio rice
3 tablespoons of butter
1 cup white wine
Chicken stock as needed (heated)
1 Shallot diced
3 pieces of bacon chopped
1/2 cup of oyster mushroom chopped
1 cup green peas
1/3 cup brie, chopped

1. Cook the rice as you normally would for risotto. Melt the butter, sauté the shallots, add rice and coat with butter. Then add the wine, cooking over low heat. Once the wine is absorbed add chicken stock, a little at a time. Wait until stock is almost completely absorbed before adding more.

2. In the mean time, sauté the mushrooms in olive oil and set aside. Cook the bacon until crispy. If the peas are fresh, blanch in boiling water for about 5 minutes. If they are frozen, just make sure they are thawed.

3. When the rice is almost completely tender but has just a little bit of bite and all of the liquid had been absorbed, stir in the mushrooms, peas and cheese. Keep over low heat until the cheese is completely melted. (brie melts super quick) Remove from heat and let stand for a few minutes. Serve in bowls and sprinkle bacon pieces on top.

We eat risotto all the time. It's so easy and super versitile. I still think this may be my favorite that we have tried so far. The brie made this risotto super creamy, and the bacon really set it off. Peas are a staple for my risottos so there was no way they could get left out of this one. I used the mushrooms because I am a fiend for the texture of oyster mushrooms.

Recipe: Fried Chicken or KFC's got nothin' on me.

I have been dying to try my hand at fried chicken for some time now. For some reason the thought of it has always been extremely intimidating. I found a recipe that didn't call for the use of lard or shortening (those two things still intimidate me) and it looked easy enough. So last night I decided to have an all out southern fried chicken dinner complete with mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, biscuits and brussel sprouts (not too terribly southern but so very good). It turned out absolutely perfect after I figured out how to maintain the oil heat for 25 minutes without burning the batter.

Super Crispy Chicken

One whole chicken cut into 8 pieces (drumsticks and thigh are preferable for this recipe so you could use those instead.)
6 cups buttermilk
3 cups all purpose flour
salt, pepper and cayenne to taste
vegetable oil for frying

1. Toss chicken pieces with buttermilk, cover and refrigerate 8 hours or over night.
2. Combine flour, salt, pepper and cayenne in a large ziploc. Place to wire racks over baking sheets. Working in batches drain buttermilk off chicken, trying to scrape off as much excess as possible. Place chicken in bag and toss until covered in flour. Transfer chicken to racks, pressing flour to help it stick to the chicken.
3. Pour 1 inch of oil into a cast iron skillet or other pot with heavy bottom, and heat oil to 350º. Add as many pieces of chicken as you can without crowding the skillet. Fry over moderate heat until the chicken is crisp, golden and cooked through, about 20-25 minutes. Drumsticks and thighs should be 165º and breasts should be 160º. Drain chicken on paper towels and start a new batch keeping the oil at 325º during frying.
4. Serve warm, or at room temp.

I can see why fried chicken day was a treat for my mom when she was younger, this recipe takes a while. I finished the whole chicken in 3 batches which took about an hour and fifteen minutes, so you need time. You also need a cool house, I sweated through almost the whole process and don't think I will be preparing any fried chicken dinners in the dog days of summer. It was so worth the time and effort though. It is some of the best fried chicken we have ever had and the leftovers are phenomenal as well.


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