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Eater's Guide To All Things Jazz Fest Food & Drink

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The soft shell crab po' boy, at Food Area II.
The soft shell crab po' boy, at Food Area II.

Well, weekend one of Jazz Fest has come to a close, and New Orleans is now in full-fledged fess mode, readying itself for the second weekend. All anybody will be talking about this week are pressing Fest matters like: Where do I find draft beer at the fess? What is the best food this year? How spicy is the new spicy tofu at Congo Square? (Answer: VERY spicy). Of course, the sheer quantity of coverage is pretty overwhelming, so again Eater is here help sift through all the new food guides. Here, now, is all you need to know about pressing Jazz Fest food and beverage matters before the second weekend starts.

Don't see any coverage of a dish or drink that really impressed/unimpressed you? Feel free to add your own food and drink recommendations in the comments.

Jazz Fest food 2014 [Photos: Paul Broussard]

Allen Toussaint's advice for Fest food: "Eat anything with crawfish." [Twitter]

A nutritionist's top food picks: Molly Kimball suggests splurging on one or two gluttonous items (and sharing them w/ pals), and sticking with healthier fare the rest of the time. Try Ba Mien's shrimp bun, Gambien Food's spicy tofu, and Bennachin's poulet fricassee (chicken on a stick) and Jama-Jama. [NOLA.com]

Oyster dishes to try or to avoid: Todd A. Price admits that his basket of boiled crawfish from Smitty's was better than the raw oysters at the Grandstand. Prices also finds the oyster patty quite messy and the oyster rockefeller bisque too peppery and thick. Stick with Vucinovich's fried oyster salad or po' boy, both of which feature oysters fried to perfection. [NOLA.com]

Critic's tasting guide to Jazz Fest food: Ian McNulty had a 'delicious' first day of the Fest. His food crush? Li'l Dizzy's trout Bacquet (in Heritage Square), "a golden-edged trout with crabmeat sluiced in butter sauce." On Carmo's pao de queijo (small cheese bread buns): "Be prepared for the dense, tapioca texture of its cassava flour. Imagine a cross between grilled cheese and chewing gum. I thought they were great, though some didn't like the mouth feel." [Advocate]

More on newcomer Carmo: strong>Todd A. Price on the new food offering, the acaraje ($7/each), which is the perfect street (and fess) food as it can be held in one hand: The black-eyed pea fritter is fried to a "dark brown hue" and "stuffed with a spicy cashew sauce called vatapa and topped with tomatoes, green bell peppers, red onions and -- if you ordered the non-vegetarian version -- shrimp." [NOLA.com]

The classics for beginners: Crawfish Monica is one. Other classics include the soft shell po' boy, the cochon de lait po' boy, pheasant, quail and andouille gumbo, the mango freeze, and cracklins. [NoDef]

What's for dessert: Judy Walker brings on the sprinkles with her look at Fest desserts. Options about from Jazzy cupcakes in the kids area, to pralines, macaroons, snoballs, key lime pie, chocolate bread pudding, and even sweet potato pone that's also good from breakfast. [NOLA.com]

Where to find Abita on tap: The only place that serves Abita Amber on tap is a booth outside the Blues tent. Also on tap: Pilsner Urquell and Blue Moon, the faux craft beer from Coors at $6/cup. (Lagniappe stage also has beer on tap, but not Amber). [NOLA.com]

Where to find espresso: Todd A. Price reveals a little secret... You can get a double shot of espresso at La Divina Gelateria's booth for $2.50 even though it's not listed on their food list (they the espresso for their affogato, which is also amazing). [NOLA.com]

Not-to-miss food demos the second weekend: Judy Walker gets pumped for Ryan Prewitt's first appearance at the Fest. The Peche chef will be doing pan-braised Louisiana drum with spring onion broth. Also on tap, Chris Lynch, Rhonda Ruckman, Tenney Flynn, and more. [NOLA.com]

A legendary Jazz Fest vendor: Vance Vaucresson's family has been a staple at the festival for 45 years. His father, Robert "Sonny" Vaucresson, was "the first man of color to own a restaurant in the French Quarter... it was there... where the festival's first brainstorming session took place. His father joined George Wein and other players to come up with the idea." [Eatocracy]

Another legend, and a not-to-miss discussion: Judy Burks, of Burks & Douglas food vendors in Food Area 1, is another legend, having been at 41 out of 45 years of the Fest. Catch her along with Vaucresson on Friday, May 2, at 11:15 a.m. on the Food Heritage Stage, where they'll discuss being long-time food vendors. [NOLA.com]

Jazz Fest performers with 'culinary side hustles': Here's a look at artist's that delve into culinary side projects in their spare time. Apparently, Boz Scaggs has his own vineyard, and Flavor Flav has his own fried chicken and rib joints around the country. [Gambit]

Alligator dishes to try or to avoid: Todd A. Price doesn't choot 'em but he does eat 'em at the Fest. Try: Alligator sauce piquante and the gator bites. Avoid: Alligator Pie because "greasy puff pastry" is overwhelming in flavor. [NOLA.com]

Where to eat after the Fest: Anne Berry takes a look at the best places to eat by neighborhood, including Algiers Point, Freret, and Uptown. [Gambit]

How to work off your Fest food:Lots of new bike lanes around town are making riding to the Fest safer and easier. Biking is one of the best ways to avoid the traffic nightmare and to work off that crawfish strudel. [Advocate]

· All Jazz Fest Coverage [-ENOLA-]

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