Falling between Mardi Gras and the music festivals of April, March is a good month to plan other events. So many event planners have figured this out, however, that March is very busy itself, as a look at upcoming food events on the calendar next week confirms.
The weekend starts early, on Thursday, March 22, with Edible Evening, a fundraiser for the Edible Schoolyard program, which incorporates organic gardening and healthy cooking into the school curriculum. It's held at the Samuel J. Green Charter School (2319 Valence St.), where 30 restaurants set up booths amid the garden beds.
The cause, the setting and the enthusiasm of the participants made last year's Edible Evening one of the more memorable food-themed benefits I'd attended in a while, and this year's edition looks just as promising. The event is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. General admission is $45. Visit www.esynola.org for details.
Next up, the New Orleans Roadfood Festival rolls back into town with a block party in the French Quarter and a kickoff party featuring visiting food media heavies. The festival is based on Roadfood.com, a website from Jane and Michael Stern, the husband-and-wife team of country-roaming food hounds who have written several books (and for years wrote a column for the late Gourmet magazine) about the casual eateries. The Roadfood Festival collects a sampling of restaurants — mostly from New Orleans, plus a few from elsewhere around Louisiana — and on March 24 and 25, starting at 11 a.m., they'll sell samples of their food at the French Market. Admission is free.
The Sterns contribute to the weekly NPR food program The Splendid Table, and the host of that nationally distributed show, Lynne Rossetto Kasper, will attend the festival's kickoff party at the Royal Sonesta Hotel on March 23. The evening begins with a cocktail reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by onstage interviews with Kasper, the Sterns and Poppy Tooker, the host of Louisiana Eats on WWNO 89.9 FM. Tickets are $60, and proceeds support Cafe Reconcile, the nonprofit teaching restaurant in Central City. Visit www.neworleansroadfoodfestival.com for details.
In last week's feature on the city's growing barbecue scene, I wrote about Hogs for the Cause, a cookoff and benefit to fight pediatric brain cancer that has turned into a full-fledged festival with bands, beer and lots of food. It's March 24 at City Park, and details are at www.hogsforthecause.org.
The same day brings the New Orleans International Beer Festival to Champions Square, that festival area in the shadow of the Superdome. Previously held in Mandeville and called the Top of the Hops Beer Festival, this event features a campus of beer gardens pouring 150 brews and a pay-one-price admission to sample the field. The event is from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and details are at www.neworleansinternationalbeerfest.com.
The weekend also sees the return of Taste at the Lake, a civic-minded food festival in Lakeview scheduled from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, March 24, adjacent to the Robert Fresh Market (135 Robert E. Lee Blvd.). Lakeview neighborhood associations and other sponsors host the event, now in its second year, and they've invited about 40 restaurants and other food and drink purveyors to serve samples. Proceeds benefit a project to illuminate Lakeview's New Basin Canal Park. Tickets start at $45. For details, visit www.tasteatthelake.com.