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Nov 27 / Josh

A Deep-Fried NOLA Hallowen

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Laura: New Orleans, Halloween, Hurricanes and Music?  After a morning of sitting by the bayou we headed on over to finally see what people had been pouring into City Park all weekend for. While Voodoo was all about the music, there was so much more than that to the “voodoo experience”.

Having never been in City Park, it was a site to be seen in and of itself and a venue unlike any other. It made a great setting for all of the elaborate stages, groups of chill people, parades and vendors. With all of the people dancing and hanging out (and waiting in the super long line for the bathroom) there was still more than enough room to do your thing and still get a good, close-up view of the stages from any angle. While it was packed on a gorgeous Saturday, the New Orleans crowd was laid back and relaxed – no rowdy crowds, just people enjoying the music and a chance to get really close to some great bands.

Adding to the scene was art including everything from a giant Voodoo sign as you walked in to a voodoo library, handmade sculptures and local arts and crafts. To top it all off, it was Halloween weekend! It didn’t seem like anybody needed that as an excuse to get dressed to the max judging from the parades and elaborate costumes that everyone was wearing. Overall awesome people, unbeatable location and up close access to amazing music!

Sam: One of the most exciting aspects of Voodoo Fest was the dual emphasis on national headliners as well as local artists and musicians. A highlight for us was the Bounce performance by Katey Redd on Saturday afternoon. For those of you not familiar with Bounce, it is an energetic form of hip-hop originating in New Orleans. Bounce is derived from urban hip-hop but incorporates Mardi Gras Indian chants as well as call and response lyrics. Check out the music video for Katey Redd’s single “Where Da Melph At?. The style of Bounce music is hyper-local to New Orleans, and the lyrics often feature streets and businesses in New Orleans.

The best part of the Katey Redd performance was the energy of the crowd, many of whom “bounced” in the audience while the pros were bouncing on stage. Bouncing is a learned skill (and a great workout)- so the rest of us followed along the best we could.  Katey Redd’s bounce style is also referred to as sissy bounce, because it is overtly queer.  We were really glad bounce was included in Voodoo Fest, because it’s a unique aspect of New Orleans culture. Katey Redd’s performance underscored everything we love about New Orleans- it was great music, a lot of fun, very diverse, everyone was dancing, and it was just a little bit sexy.

Dara: If you’re even a casual watcher of the Food Network, Travel Channel or Bravo these days, chances are you’ve heard an earful about New Orleans food institutions like Commander’s Palace or Casamento’s. I usually dismiss these “Best Thing I Ever Ate” love letters as TV fluff, meant to fill up Emeril’s pocket as they fill up an hour timeslot of mindless TV. With that being said, I’m always willing to give a few of these types of places a shot, hoping that the food and atmosphere live up to the talking heads’ recommendations.

The first brand name restaurant we tried was Willie Mae’s Scotch House, known for their fried chicken and southern cuisine. The fried chicken did not disappoint. It was both moist and crispy and came at the right price. While we were less impressed with the sides, we were struck with how friendly and downright awesome the staff of this restaurant was. Full of real southern charm, Willie Mae’s was the perfect place to sip some sweet tea. Later that weekend we hit up Café Du Monde, another New Orleans default spot. Once again I was impressed by my surroundings. Tourists mixed evenly with residents. Our waiter seemed to be high on something, though this only enhanced the experience of grabbing a French Quarter coffee. I can honestly say that these beignets were exceptionally delicious and they did not skimp on the powdered sugar. For a popular place, they could have been charging a lot more, but the snack was cheap and the service relaxed.

We filled the rest of our trip with more under the radar, local eats but I do not regret visiting these Frommer’s favorites. Overall, our food experiences left us with the feeling that New Orleans is an incredibly genuine place. The people and food that call it home are fun and real- though it may be hard not to love everything in a city where it’s legal to walk down the street with a daiquiri. Despite my cynical attitude towards TV chefs, the next time I’m in New Orleans I may just hit up Emeril’s.

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