by Ian McNulty
Once, this little patch between Mardi Gras and the big music festivals of April was a relatively quiet time. Then people figured out that also made it a good time to schedule other events, and now the March calendar is full of them too.
Hogs for the Cause is the biggest food event next weekend, but it’s not the only one. In fact, the weekend starts early, on Thursday, March 21, with the Edible Evening, a foodie-focused garden party at the Samuel J. Green Charter School (2319 Valence St.), and it continues at the French Market and other venues for a newly revamped event called FoodFest: America’s Hometown Eats.
The Edible Evening is hosted by the Edible Schoolyard program, which incorporates organic gardening and healthy cooking into the curriculum and campus life at Green Charter School. Some 30 restaurants set up booths amid the beds of this teaching garden, including many of the school’s neighbors from the nearby Freret Street restaurant scene and others ranging from Atchafalaya to Pizza Delicious. Wine flows from the Presqu’ile Winery of Santa Maria, Calif., a family-run company that has made major contributions to the Edible Schoolyard.
The Edible Evening begins at 7 p.m. and tickets are $45 ($50 at the door). Details are here.
Next up is FoodFest is the new name for the annual event previously called the New Orleans Roadfood Festival.
Like its predecessor, FoodFest gathers a diverse range of restaurants and other food purveyors to offer samples of their signature dishes, this time at the French Market on March 23 and 24, beginning at 11 a.m. each day. Many of the vendors this year are familiar New Orleans names — from Acme Oyster House to Plum Street Snowball — though there’s also barbecue from Memphis and Charleston, S.C., tamales from Tucson, Az., and a type of mini calzone called panzarotti from New Jersey. Admission is free. On Sunday, there’s also a beignet eating contest, beginning at 1 p.m.
FoodFest begins March 22 with a dessert-themed opening night event at Café Reconcile, where sweets from around the country will be in the spotlight (pralines and bread pudding from the home team, chocolate potato chips from South Dakota, Mexican wedding cookies from Albuquerque, etc.). Dubbed America's Hometown Sweets Opening Night, this event begins at 8 p.m. and costs $50.
On Saturday night, beginning at 6:30 p.m., there’s a field trip for a crawfish boil at the Bayou Barn in Crown Point, a small settlement on the bayou about 20 minutes driving time from downtown New Orleans. The $99 ticket includes transportation, crawfish, a cochon de lait and live music.
For details, see nolafoodfest.com.