The 2012 New Orleans Wine & Food Experience has come and gone, the three (or more) days of wining and dining ending with the second of two Grand Tastings on Saturday. With a mind-bendingly huge number of wineries present throughout the event's series of tastings, tastings, more tastings, cakes and seminars, the Memorial Day rest was likely needed by everyone who attended. Eater attended Thursday evening's Royal Street Stroll, as well as the Grand Tastings on Friday and Saturday. Here are some observations from those events, including a local food personality having trouble with a hot tub, lots of good food and a couple of bad seeds who don't know how lines work.
· The crowds for Thursday's Royal Street Stroll weren't as bad as expected. It was actually really pleasant. According to some, the best plan of attack was getting as far away from the Monteleone as possible before heading back up Royal, basically moving against the current to beat the crowds. Note to self for next year.
· Also from the Royal Street Stroll: What was that party at Latrobe's? The event space had its doors open with food and wine, but the crowd was about half strollin' folks and half not, and the bartenders there seemed confused by the people with NOWFE glasses. But presumably if it was a private party there would've been a doorman?
· The whole deal with the Royal Street Stroll is that the street's art galleries and shops open up their doors, pouring wine and offering light snacks. But then there was the offering at the Shop, which consisted of Natty Ice and Funyuns.
· At both the Royal Street Stroll and the Grant Tastings, there's obviously not much time to chat with winemakers and learn much about the wine without getting totally sloshed. Of course, that was probably intentional?that's what the seminars are for.
· Iconic food personality Poppy Tooker on the amount of wine at the Grand Tastings: "Last year I almost drowned in my hot tub afterwards. It's a great event, but it's dangerous." Truth.
· Saturday's Grand Tasting seemed like New Restaurant Day. Among others, present at the second tasting were Phillip Lopez, with his Best in Show winning dessert, as well as Brian Landry from Borgne and Matthew Farmer from Apolline. The team from Dijon was there as well, but when Eater went by chef Chris Cody was not around.
· Also present on Saturday: Juan Carlos Gonzalez, the extremely good looking chef from the Commander's Palace spinoff, SoBou, set to open in late June. Gonzalez's shrimp and tasso pinchos were off the charts good, which is a good sign for that restaurant.
· This one is a complaint, but it's not really NOWFE's fault: Line etiquette was terrible at the Grand Tastings, though it was (hopefully) just a case of a small, but very rude and very visible, part of the overall attendance. Still, how do people who can afford things like the Grand Tasting not know how a line works? This spilled over into the cab line on Friday, where things nearly got ugly.
· Saturday featured a Louisiana Seafood Cookoff. The winners were Keith and Nealy Frentz, of LOLA Restaurant in Covington.
· And while Eater didn't make it to the Big Gateaux Show on Friday night (the centerpiece of NOWFE's 20th Anniversary celebration), the winner of the cake contest was Bronwen Weber of Frosted Art Bakery & Studio in Dallas, who made a cake inspired by Trixie Minx. The Times-Pic has a recap.
· All New Orleans Wine & Food Experience Coverage [-ENOLA-]