is a focus on things delicious, this is always a nostalgic event. For
me, it is a reunion of friends and colleagues who share common interests,
particularly carpe diem. Two of the high-profile program participants
in the 2004 New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, Michael Green and
John Larchet are alone worth the price.
Returning to New
Orleans is the culmination of a series of spring wine and food events
that took me from the island delights of Lauderdale By The Sea to South
Beach (where, of all people, Willie Nelson was one of SoBes Wine
and Food Festivals celebrity entertainers), to Atlantas
spectacular High Museum of Art Wine Auction extravaganza. New Orleans,
for many solid reasons, (not the least of which is the abundance of
renowned restaurants), is the venue that brings all the culinary and
taste experiences together.
The five-day galaa
rich gumbo of fine dining, wine enjoyment and genuine learning-- is
witness to the pouring of more than 800 vintages from around the world
at a series of unprecedented and elegant indoor and outdoor events,
beginning with Vintners Dinners at over 34 of the countrys
top restaurants. One of my favorite outdoor events is the fabled Royal
Street Stroll a festive walk down the legendary French Quarter
avenue of elegant antique stores and fine art galleries. With live
New Orleans music as a backdrop, wines and food are offered at some
of the citys most stylish shops and galleries. I always begin
at Brennans the world-famous Royal Street restaurant with a stop
in and tour of Brennans incredible cellar at the back of the
courtyard. Brennans Cellar Master Harry Hill becomes our tour
guide in one of the planets greatest on-premises restaurant wine
in New Orleans.
The New Orleans Wine
and Food Experience hosts two days of Grand Tastings with dishes from
more than 100 of New Orleans finest restaurants and wines from
producers from the earths four corners. Live Dixieland jazz is,
of course, played in classic Crescent City style during the tastings
and you really get into the festive mood by watching all the wine and
food being consumed by toe-tapping, hip-shaking revelers. The educational
aspect of the event is emphasized up front and has few equals. Three
days of seminars at a wine and food festival is rare indeed, but they
do such bold things in the Big Easy. Two of my favorites, Michael Green,
Gourmet Magazines esteemed wine and food consultant and the incomparable
John Larchet, president of Australian Premium Wines are seminar features
along with a special collaboration by Chef David McCelvey, culinary
director for Emerils restaurants and Matt Lirette, Head Sommelier
at Emerils New Orleans who will share their journey of choices
and prerequisites for creating an almost perfect marriage of food and
A New Orleans tradition.
Larchet, a charming
Aussie originally from Dublin, is a frequent lecturer at prestigious
wine-related events in America and throughout the world. According
to Larchet, he got the idea for his company when he was getting married
in Chicago 10 years ago and the available Australian wines for his
wedding reception were unacceptable to him. So, he had wines he liked
imported from down under and thus Australian Premium Wines was born.
Michael Green, on the other hand, is a familiar face in the fine wine
and gourmet food culture. His Thirsty for Knowledge" which
combines five wine courses in one sitting, will play to a packed auditorium.
From an inside source, I have learned that this seminar will be demystifying,
educational and highly entertaining.
The seminars also include
presentations by two Masters of Wine, D. C. Flynt and Joel Butler,
Simi winemaker Steve Reeder, Elaine Honig of Honig Winery, and third-generation
winemaker Michael Martini of Louis M. Martini Winery. The food seminars
are particularly popular and one is enticing: New Orleans Puts Its
Stamp on Italy. For those who visit this Deep South old world city,
you already know that dining in a New Orleans Italian restaurant is
not the same as anywhere else. Here, when traditional European cuisine
meets local talent, things really change. Its amore with a Southern
are vigorous competitions among winemakers for the hallowed Fleur de
Lis Awards which recognize the Best of Show. But, all the fun, food,
wine and merrymaking reaches its zenith at the finale, Bubbles
and Brunch, the ultimate champagne Sunday spread-- New Orleans
style-- at the luxurious Omni Royal Orleans. Gourmet food prepared
under the supervision of acclaimed Executive Chef Anthony Spizale and
brilliantly presented is consumed with ample flutes of the best Champagne.
After a few hours, there might be time for one last stroll through
Jackson Square or a final streetcar ride before returning.
New Orleans is a wine and
I was asked why this
very intensive event was important. During my first New Orleans Wine
and Food Experience, I had the great fortune to attend a seminar on
Champagne led by the authors of Wine for Dummies, Mary Ewing-Mulligan,
a Master of Wine, and her husband, Ed McCarthy, Certified Wine Educator.
In a memorable post-lecture conversation, Mary answered that same question.
Few cities on Earth have the food and wine traditions so embedded
as New Orleans. Knowing that this wine and food focus is a venerable
part of the local culture just makes learning even more enjoyable here.
New Orleans has much
to offer if you need a respite from fine wine and great food. Ride
the Streetcar to the world-renowned Audubon Zoo. The New Orleans Museum
of Art is a world-class facility. Likewise, Andy Attipas folk
art gallery, Barristers, is the best Ive seen in the country.
If you decide to sneak away from the French Quarter, go eat the turtle
soup and barbeque shrimp at Pascals Manale Restaurant on Napoleon
Avenue. Have someone take your photo with the statue of Ignatius J.
Reilly on Canal Street near the posh Ritz-Carlton. Then, buy the book,
A Confederacy of Dunces, and discover some New Orleans humor that earned
a Pulitzer Prize.
After all this, youll
need a glass of something cool and refreshing. After all, in May its
just starting to warm up in New Orleans.
EDITORS NOTE: Doc Lawrences
favorite city remains New Orleans and he describes this event glowingly:
The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience is an event of global importance,
he says, and at the top of my list for quality and affordability.
Doc adds that any readers interested in attending the event (May 26-30)
can buy tickets online at www.nowfe.com or call (504) 529.WINE. Contact
Doc for suggestions regarding New Orleans cultural attractions: theater,
museums, galleries, etc. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
KUDOS FROM TIM MCNALLY,
" Doc, I don't know how you continue to do it,
but your artistry with words and your kindness to us always amaze.
On behalf of all of us here, thanks.
In one fell swoop, you have confirmed what everyone knows about our
town, the end-of-the-thermometer temperature, matched equally by the
same number in percentages of humidity, but you, good sir, make it
seem positively like a brag from the local Chamber of Commerce. Yes,
you say, those elements are palpable, but they are also bearable,
made more so by establishments perfectly located and providing libations
of incomparable delight. Be well, dear friend. Tim"
One of the seminars at the 2003 New Orleans
Wine and Food Experience featured a wine list with the actual "descendants"
of President Thomas Jefferson's favorite wines. Click on the arrow
to read about our Renaissance man's viticulture
enhance your next New Orleans stay take a look at: