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Taste of Fest
Three cochon de lait po-boys later, I'm more convinced than ever that if someone opened a restaurant serving these sandwiches alone, he could retire just a few years later. (Please email me if you know of a restaurant currently serving buttery cochon de lait on a po-boy or Love at First Bite's recipe.) In more Jazz Fest food notes to keep under your hat for next year: Hard as it was to keep away from the rosemint and mandarin orange teas, I branched out to Scale's strawberry lemonade this year and wasn't the slightest bit disappointed. Then, after staining both arms with dribbling orange crawfish juices (Ledet and Loque), after marveling that Prejean's can make a crawfish enchilada in which crawfish and cheese actually taste like a happy couple (does Prejean's do anything wrong?), and after devouring ultra-ripe strawberries with shortcake (Cecelia Husing) as my final snack on Sunday, I wonder if it's mere coincidence that the Festival falls smack in the middle of crawfish and strawberry season. As for other sweets, Creole sweet potato pone (Ten Talents) was like a chunky sweet potato coffee cake; if Mr. Williams were still alive, he would be happy to learn that one of his coconut cakes survived in good form for three days in a Jazz Fest backpack -- from Thursday afternoon until I rediscovered it during the Neville Brothers' set on Sunday. Finally, by happenstance I learned the easiest way to acquire either a friend for life or a stalker: get lost from your regular crowd. Then, when a gutsy stranger asks for a bite of the Pedro's Cuban sandwich with ham and dilly pork you're happy to be lost with, give him one.

Laurel for Lilette
Lilette (3637 Magazine St., 895-1636) Chef-owner John Harris learned on Feb. 25 that he is one of 10 Best New Chefs chosen by Food & Wine magazine for 2002. He was asked not to tell anyone until April, when the news was also leaked to the press -- not an easy secret to keep for a first-time restaurant owner who paid his dues over the years at Bayona, Gautreau's and Gerard's Downtown, as well as kitchens in France. Harris traveled to New York City for a photo shoot and a gala weekend in April. He and his nine peers will cook at the Food and Wine Magazine Classic at Aspen in June, and then appear on the cover of Food & Wine in July. -- Roahen

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