The French Market kicked off summer with its second annual Summer Harvest Gala, a fundraiser in advance of the market's annual Creole Tomato Festival, held this upcoming weekend. It was a sultry evening for the outdoor event, but the cool cocktails were flowing and the food was bright, refreshing, and tasty.
Local chefs Justin Devillier, Slade Rushing, Kristen Essig, Rebecca Wilcomb, and Vishwesh Bhatt (from Oxford, Mississippi) put together a seasonal meal that celebrated the Creole tomato as well as the other summertime bounty of the Gulf Coast. Passed hors d'oerves included corncakes topped with goat cheese and pickled Mississippi blueberries and a Louisiana tomato tartare. The sit down meal started with a crab and mango salad with local tomatoes and cucumbers, followed by grilled "city ham" glazed with rosemary pepper jelly served over an Italian rice salad. Then came a beautifully and perfectly grilled leg of lamb topped with salsa verde. Dessert was rice pudding with grilled peaches.
Nick Detrich and his team from Cane & Table crafted two refreshing summer drinks for the crowd, both featuring Cathead Vodka: the Jackson Tropicalia, with notes of fresh lemon, pineapple, and Kafir lime; and the watermelon and tomato juice based Becnel's Bounty. Abita provided two of its summer beers to quench the guests' thirst - Seersucker Pils and Lemon Wheat.
City Council members LaToya Cantrell and Susan Guidry were in attendance, and the Creole String Beans provided the music.
The Market's Creole Tomato Fest will be this weekend, June 13-14, with food from vendors including Purloo, Food Drunk, and Crêpes a la Cart. Flow Tribe, Paul Sanchez. Honey Island Swamp Band, and many others will provide music on three stages.