Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Celebrating My 27th Birthday At The 40th Annual Jazz Fest

I just wrapped up my fourth trip to New Orleans in five months, which is definitely a record since moving away from the city in December 2004. We were celebrating my 27th birthday and it was definitely a memorable one.

On Saturday morning, Ashley & I drove into the city to meet up with our friends Freddie & Kadee. Freddie is a Shell employee, so he was able to get us onto the surrey leaving from One Shell Square to the New Orleans Fairgrounds, and then into the Shell hospitality tent for free food & drinks.

Although we were able to get free food in the tent, I still wanted to check out some of my favorite dishes from the vendors. Throughout the day I ate Crawfish Monica, a Crawfish Pie, Crawfish Enchiladas, Seafood Stuffed Mushrooms, and a Snowball.

On the music front, I was able to catch several acts during the Saturday performances including the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Deacon John, Dr. John, Irvin Mayfield, and the 50th anniversary tribute to Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" album. That last performance even included the original drummer from the recording of "Kind of Blue."

Saturday evening we had dinner at Emeril's NOLA restaurant. A bottle of Pinot Noir, a filet, garlic mash potatoes, stuffed portabello mushrooms, and barbeque shrimp made for an exquisite birthday dinner. Afterwards, we went to Arnaud's bar which was pleasantly quiet compared to most venues in the Quarter that evening.

We had a few cocktails, and then I struck up a conversation with the bartender. I asked him if any bars in the Quarter carried the recently re-legalized authentic Absinthe. I was specifically looking for Jade Liquers Nouvelle-Orléans, which I've been researching since 2005. He said he didn't think any bars carried that particular brand, but recommended we check out the bar in Pirate's Alley, next to the St. Louis Cathedral.

Pirate's Alley was only a few blocks away, so we headed that direction. Upon entering the bar, I immediately recognized the bottle for which I was searching. I indulged in two glasses of Nouvelle-Orléans Absinthe, which was even more enjoyable given the historic location of the establishment. It really was an amazing cocktail. After finishing, we walked across Jackson Square, got some beignets & hot chocolate from Cafe Du Monde, then headed back to Embassy Suites to call it a night around 3AM.

On Sunday morning, we checked out of the hotel and then Ashley & I headed back to the Fairgrounds for a second day of Jazz Fest. One of my friends from Houston, Alfred, also made it out to Jazz Fest that day and linked up with us at the Acura Stage for the Allen Toussaint performance. During the rest of the day, we caught the Ellis Marsalis Quartet in the WWOZ Jazz Tent, and then Buddy Guy in the Blues Tent. Buddy Guy was actually the reason I wanted to go the second day, and it worked out even better since heavy rains descended on the Fairgrounds after we were already safely inside the Blues Tent with 3 seats.

As for food on the second day, I went for another round of Crawfish Monica & a crawfish pie, a softshell crab poboy, and crawfish beignets. Deliciousness.

An eventful birthday weekend, to be sure. Below I've included a link to the pictures from our adventures, as well as two videos I've put together with the various music clips from the performances of Jazz Fest that I captured.


40th Jazz Fest & 27th Birthday Photoset On Flickr


(Note: Be sure to click the HD button at the bottom of the video player to see in High Quality)

JW's Jazz Fest Montage - May 2, 2009

JW's Jazz Fest Montage - May 3, 2009

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