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Everything You Need To Know About NOWFE 2014

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 NOWFE's Royal Street Stroll
NOWFE's Royal Street Stroll
Photo: Official Website

The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE) kicks off next Thursday and runs through Saturday, May 21-24, with a wide range of wine and food events in addition to wine dinners at restaurants across town, pairing chefs' dishes with individual wineries. It's time once again for New Orleans chefs to show what they've got, teaming up with wine producers from around the world to do so.

It's all for a good cause, as NOWFE has raised over $1 million for local non-profit organizations over the past two decades. Now in its 22nd year, the festival will donate 40% of proceeds to Reconcile New Orleans, the Central City organization that runs Cafe Reconcile, offering job training skills to at-risk youth, among other things. Here's everything you need to know about May's hottest food event, NOWFE.

The Kick Off: A slew of wine dinners kick of NOWFE feasting on Wednesday, May 21. Many of these are sold out, but here's the list of participating restaurants (with menus) including August, Galatoire's, Commander's Palace and many more. Call them directly for reservations.

The Hallmark Event: NOWFE's famous Royal Street Stroll rolls on Thursday, May 22, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. along the 200-900 blocks of Royal Street. Enjoy wine, food from local restaurants including GW Fins, Kingfish, Rio Mar and more. There a parade led by the Krewe of Cork, and of course tons of galleries and shops are open for perusing. This year there is also a Zonin Proesecco food truck area with bubbly and food from Food Drunk, Boxcar, and more. This is a fun, casual event that pretty much embodies the epicurean marathon that is NOWFE, and a good choice if it's going to be your only NOWFE event. But watch out: It gets insanely crowded. $89 in advance/$109 day of.

The Sold Out Already: The Vinola Tasting has already SOLD OUT at $150 per person, as it always does. Why? 200 wine enthusiasts get to shmooze with notable winemakers, sample rare and highly-coveted wines, while also experiencing some of city's hottest restaurants, including Coquette, La Petite Grocery, Martinque Bistro, and Mopho.

The Informative Side: In NOWFE's seminar series, Fri-Sat/ May 23-24, local chefs discuss what's going on in the food world, with food samples/wine pairings as well. Topics range from Link Group pastry chef Rhonda Ruckman's tututorial on chocolate called Temper Tantrums, to Michael Gulotta (Mopho), Phillip Lopez (Root/Square Root) and Michael Stoltzfus (Coquette) talking "Homegrown" products at hot restaurants. $65-$125 per seminar.

The Sweet Side: The Big Gateaux Show is NOWFE's after party/pastry chef competition, hosted and judged by celebrity chefs with performances by Trixie Mink & The Beauties of Burglesque Ballroom, and lots of desserts paired with bubbly. The winning pastry chef gets a $5000 prize. $75 for tix.

The Main Attraction: The Grand Tasting is exactly what it sounds like... food and wine tastings served in a pretty grand way. 75 of New Orleans finest chefs will sling dishes and 1000 vintages will be paired during the two-days of grand tastings, Friday May 23, and Saturday May 24, when the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off also goes down. $99 in advance/$119 at the door.

· At the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, the good times benefit a good cause [NOLA.com]
· New Orleans Wine & Food Experience [Official Website
· All NOWFE Coverage [-ENOLA-]

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