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The second and last weekend of Jazz Fest 2007 in New Orleans kicks off tomorrow, and as I write this, I'm back in a midtown Manhattan office building instead of on a sun-soaked stretch of Louisiana grass. But my mind is elsewhere, namely on said lawn, where I'm (imaginarily) lounging in the sun and eating copious amounts of all my favorite foods from last weekend's Fest, and from other stops in and around New Orleans. For those of you lucky enough to be headed there this weekend, a few food tips:
At Jazz Fest:
1) Cochon de lait po-boys: The hands-down Platonic ideal of the pulled pork sandwich, made with bright-pink suckling pig meat jammed into a po-boy loaf with mayo. Add Lousiana hot sauce, and pair with a beer and a few rays of sun. It really doesn't get much better than this.
2) Soft-shell crab po-boys: Some of the meatiest soft-shell crab I've ever had, fried until perfectly crunchy and piping-hot, and then doused (by me) with hot sauce. As before, add beer and sun, and repeat as needed.
3) Fried crawfish bread. Chunks of fresh crawfish, Colby and Jack cheese, garlic and onions stuffed into a hunk of bread and fried until the cheese melts all over everything. Incredible.
At Cochon, the laid-back new restaurant from Herbsaint chef Donald Link, and one of my favorite spots to open anywhere in the past year:
1) Crispy-skinned Louisiana cochon (pig) with turnips and pork cracklins.
2) Fried chicken liver on toast smeared with tangy-sweet pepper-jelly.
3) Creamy, luscious spoonbread with juicy Creole tomatoes (they're in season now in Louisiana).
At Fiesta Latina, a casual, crowded El Salvadoran restaurant in an unlikely (but handy) location at 1924 Airline Dr., near the New Orleans airport:
1) Outrageously good pork pupusas: corn tortillas packed with chicharron (fried pork rind) and then, of course, fried.
2) The best caramelized plantains I've ever had.
Check out Gridskipper for more on what's cooking at Jazz Fest this coming weekend, when the music lineup will include Latin jazz pianist Danilo Perez, 1960s New Orleans-based girl group The Dixie Cups, R&B legend Allen Toussaint, and a few others I would've loved to see. But I'll content myself with all the excellent music I caught there last weekend (in between eating and taking food-coma siestas in the sun). I can't wait for next year.