Le Diner en Blanc New Orleans

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The worldwide phenomenon that began 25 years ago in Paris has finally hit the Big Easy. It’s part flash mob, part picnic, part gourmet and full fun and festivity.

It’s Le Diner en Blanc!

The impromptu picnic where you bring your own food and wine, you meet a lot of new people, you dance the night away and you actually have to bring your own table and chairs.

Yeah, I know it sounds like a lot of work. It’s  totally worth the effort though.

New Orleans hosted its second Le Diner en Blanc last Saturday  at the Hyatt Regency Grand Ballroom.

That wasn’t the intended location.

We were supposed to be along Bayou St.John but the weather didn’t allow for that to happen.
It rained cats and dogs the night before and if we would have been on the Bayou, it would have turned into

Le Diner en Mud.
Not too cool since we had to attend the gathering dressed in all white.

Now, I know that this is NEW ORLEANS and we’re supposed to be wayyyy too laid back to want to attend some “she-she-poo-poo” sort of thing.
Especially when we  have beaucoup festivals that we can go to for free…white linen night being one of them.
But really!
This IS New Orleans and if there’s another opportunity for us to kick back with friends  and eat a fantastic meal while listening to Big Sam’s Funky Nation bring the house down,

this born and bred New Orleanian will be all up in it!

And with over four thousand people on the waiting list hoping to get an invitation and 1600 able to get the coveted invite…

it seems to be the hottest ticket going around.

The event was lovely.

This was my first year attending. I was on the waiting list hoping to get an invite and it just so happened that a fellow Nyx Sister was already a member so, she sponsored me.

Once that happened, I received an invite immediately.
And because I attended the event, I am now a member and will receive an invite every year.

Getting the invite doesn’t mean you’ll get to go every year though. There’s a cap on how many people  attend the event so  if you receive an invite and really want to go, register early.

We had to meet at our  rendezvous spot for 6pm. That’s where the buses picked us up and brought us to the secret place of the picnic.

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We didn’t know where we were going until the last minute.

Let me rephrase that.

Uhhh, I didn’t know where we were going until the buses pulled up.

Once there, we had a bit of trekking to do. We had to get to the 2nd floor.

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Yeah, I know this looks very congested…but it beats being out there in the mud in white.

Once we were in the ballroom, everyone began setting up their tables.

Someone actually got a pic of me doing just that.

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Folks began decking out their tables. As you can see, mine is already decked. We had to move over a bit…not a problem.

My table turned out pretty nice.

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A lot of people were taking pictures of it. That’s always a good sign..lol

One of my dear friends gifted me with this beautiful cake she created. And talk about delicious!

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Once everyone had their tables set up,

it was on.

Big Sam’s  Funky Nation  had everyone jamming while we dined and danced the night away.

Big Sam

Big Sam

The infamous napkin wave to begin the dinner.

The infamous napkin wave to begin the dinner.

 

Elegance in white

NOLA Elegance

 

So many people had beautiful tables.

So many people had beautiful tables.

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A lot of folks were going all out with their attire!  I loved it!

A lot of folks were going all out with their attire!
I loved it!

 

Moi with my Nyx Sister

Moi with my Nyx Sister

 

Life is for the living!

Life is for the living!

Just another great event in the Crescent City!

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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hogs for the cause

Originally posted on the mosquito coast:

This weekend the Hogs for the Cause was held in City Pork, a benefit for families that have been impacted by pediatric brain cancer. It was an incredible event, with great music and great pork. The mud made the event complete! If you want to see some more pictures and read more commentary, browse through the #hogsforthecause hashtag.

I got there early and upon entering, the Pig Sexy booth was ready to go, serving up steamed pork buns, which were delicious!!!

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The 555 Sauciers were ready with the best chocolate covered bacon!

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Mr. Pigglesworth’s booth had a hawker in pink pig costume, one of many booths with team members in costume!

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Pork was the star of the day, but I managed to find the LA 23 BBQ team selling brisket!

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Kevin Bacon’s Balls representing!

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And of course the all femmes team, Sweet Swine O’ Mine were representing as well!

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Bucktown Bash – 4th of July

Bucktown was established over a hundred years ago as a fishing village along the 17th street canal. Bucktown has been somewhat of an enigma, straddling the boundary of New Orleans and Jefferson parish unlike anywhere else in the well defined city, with both sides peacefully claiming the village as part of their own. A variety of entertainment venues hugged the lake in Bucktown with brothels, bars, restaurants and dance halls coexisting alongside the boats. Mother nature however has not been very kind to Bucktown, virtually flattening it 6 times, with the most recent being Katrina.

After the storm, the fleet of fishing boats and trawlers formerly docked along the canal were relocated to the Bonnabel boat launch, after the Army Corps of Engineers took over the mouth of the canal to install a new pumping station. So finally with the money from the storm and the impetus to build, the Bucktown Marina came to life after the initial proposal to build it in the 1960′s. To celebrate, the Bucktown Bash was held today, complete with bands, food, kids activities and the Blessing of the Fleet at noon. Here are a few pictures…

The Marina sign

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There was a $5.00 entry fee, and temporary fencing was erected

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There were vendors and booths selling tickets for food and drinks

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The crowd got thicker as the afternoon progressed

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There was a kite building tent that the kids were enjoying

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About a dozen vendors were selling food, drinks, beer, daquiris and snowballs

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The boats were decked out for the blessing of the fleet in 4th of July bunting

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The Navy brass band was having fun

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The Bucktown Allstars had the crowd on their feet dancing

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The weather cooperated and a good time was had by all

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Happy 4th of July!

The greasing of the poles kicks off this weekend’s carnival festivities in the French Quarter!

The French Quarter’s Royal Sonesta Hotel originated this 43-year tradition of greasing the hotel’s gallery support poles to “deter over zealous revelers from shimmying up to coveted Bourbon Street balcony space during carnival season.” This year’s venerable yet humorous Mardi Gras spectacle delivered wonderfully, featuring “celebrity guests, great local music, and a whole lot of petroleum jelly!”

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The Pussyfooters of New Orleans warming up the crowd and kicking off the spectacle!

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Royal Sonesta’s President & General Manager Al Groos welcoming the participants and spectators.

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Zulu King Cedric George Givens was on hand to witness today’s event.

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A performance to the tune of “Big Spender” set the mood for the pole-greasing contestants: “Hey, pole greaser! Grease that big ol’ pole for me!”

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This year’s celebrity pole greaser, actor Laura Cayouette of HBO’s “Treme,” Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” and “Kill Bill Vol. 2,” appears enchanted by the song performance tailored to this year’s event!

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The competition begins with three special guest Pussyfooters of New Orleans and celebrity pole greaser Laura Cayouette…

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The competition heats up as Laura realizes that the Pussyfooters are greasing to win!

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Actor Laura Cayouette steps up her performance today, giving her challengers some real competition!

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I salute this Pussyfooter of New Orleans for bringing artistry and grace to today’s messy festivities!

While I’m still not yet certain who officially was voted the champion pole greaser for 2013 (and, really, that’s never been the point of this event), I know for a fact that a fun and unusual “only in New Orleans” tradition was enjoyed by all in attendance!

As my friend @CaptainSwallow quipped, “only in New Orleans could ye use the term ‘celebrity pole greaser’ politely!”

Guest Post: It’s your party and I’ll cry if I want to: Why the St. Claude Night Market needs to talk to its neighbors

This past Saturday night, there was a community event on my block. Or at least that’s what the people there told me was going on. I wouldn’t have known about it if I hadn’t been home and wondering what all the noise was. My first thought was that Treme was filming in the lot across the street from my house, but then I realized there hadn’t been any signs up, nor any flyers stuffed in my shutters.

Even before I went to check out the event, I had a flash of resentment towards it, akin to the anguished feeling of not being invited to a classmate’s party in grade school. Why didn’t I know a planned “community” event was going on across the street from my own house? Who is organizing such things and not telling the neighbors?

This feeling turned closer to anger when I opened my front door and found a stranger’s bicycle locked to my elevated(!) front porch, and my neighbor distraught at the possibility she might not be able to park directly in front of her home if she went out again. Far from lazy, this is actually a serious concern given her caretaking responsibility for her disabled mother-in-law (which necessitates quick and easy access to a vehicle in the event of a medical issue), as well as the very real threat of violent crime, particularly against women, in our city.

When I went to see what was happening, I found that it was an art and food market coinciding with the monthly St. Claude Avenue “walk” amongst and through the neighborhood’s art galleries. Though the market was festive and interesting, I felt a little strange attending a party on my block that I didn’t feel invited to, or even informed about.

It wasn’t so much that I felt awkward or unusual navigating the space of the market; it was more that I experienced it as an imposition on my neighborhood. This was especially weird because the majority of the market vendors and attendeees were young white scruffy people, just like me. As the presumed intended audience demographic, I was perturbed that I did not know who the organizers were, they didn’t seem to care to know me or even tell me the event was happening on my block, and so the whole thing felt forced.

While I should have been happy that a normally desolate corner of my street was inhabited by brightly lit creative enterprise, I felt like a bunch of people just came, had their party, and left, with no thought as to their physical or psychological impact.

This impact was echoed in my neighbor’s concerns about parking, my feelings of invasion when I saw that bike on my porch (and there was even valet bicycle parking at the market!), the overall sense of disorder brought by the vendors’ cars parked in all kinds of directions on my one-way street, and the slipshod approach to neighborhood ingratiation. It seemed that the people behind the event expected that such a thing would be embraced and celebrated by the “community,” but they didn’t even check in with their next-door neighbors about it, some of whom are artists and craftspeople themselves and might have wanted to participate in the market as vendors.

So, to the organizers of this market, I think that you should take a look at your goals and the realities of this city we inhabit, and come to a more sensitive threshold from which to make future decisions. You may be artists and entrepreneurs, social movers and shakers, concerned citizens and the like, but you are also a mostly white gentrifying force, bringing all the baggage that entails.

Yes, you bring your clever jewelry made from repurposed materials, but you also bring an anxiety to residents who do not know your intentions. You bring your “shamanic consultations,” along with a sense of unrequested spatial appropriation.

What I’m saying is that while your aims may not necessarily be antithetical to those of the neighborhood, it would do us all a great service for you to come to an immediate understanding of how your presence imposes upon your surroundings.

I do not object to you as individuals, to your DIY aesthetic, to your livening up the block with art, people, much-needed street light; in fact I was intrigued by much of your crafts and goods. I do object however to your lack of community outreach and to your overall neglectful attitude towards the very residents of the block you occupied last Saturday night, however briefly.

Indeed, when I tried to look up your event on Facebook (which is not a medium easily accessible to all my neighbors, it should be said), I found that you had listed the address of the market space completely incorrectly – there is no 3600 block of Independence Street – betraying at best a sloppy approach to event-planning, at worst a lack of localized knowledge.

I suggest for the next time – and I do hope there is a next time, as your intentions seem to be from a sincere and good place – you do some meaningful outreach in the neighborhood beforehand and gauge the residents’ mood towards your event: What are the concerns? What bothered us about last time? What would we want to see next time? After all, when you look around your event in Bywater – or anywhere in New Orleans, for that matter – and the faces you see are almost exclusively white and young, you are not having a community event.

I say this as a person who looks very much like you, who moved here post-Katrina, and who grapples with the very same conundrums of racial, economic, political, and social life that beset your operation. I did not ask my neighbors if it was alright if I moved to the block. But I do invite them to my parties.

Sincerely,

Arielle Schecter

PS: Also, please do a better job of cleaning up your trash when you leave next time. I don’t think that organic empanada detritus was there before you arrived.

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Editor’s note: Arielle’s post was first published on her blog, Shtetl Chic, where she received quite a response to this issue including the event organizer here.

Sailing with Mount Gay Rum; TOTC 2012 is off to a huge start

My first 2012 Tales of the Cocktail event took place Tuesday July 24 at the Yacht Harbor in Lakeview here in New Orleans, and it was so much fun, though in true TOTC fashion, it was a marathon.  I spent the day photographing the sailing regatta with the Mount Gay crew and what a great time was had.  Here are some from this fun sailing event; and of course, wherever there is rum, water, and sailors, there is eye candy.

Balloons!!!

We made the trek to Foley, Alabama for the second year in a row to attend the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival. Now in it’s 8th year, the festival attracts balloon teams from Ohio, Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, Missouri, Louisiana and Alabama.

While the real action takes place at 6 A.M. both days of the Festival and at sunset, the grounds offer vendors from photography, jewelers, artists, clothing and home made soap the Disc Connected K9′s and carny food.

To pass the time during the day when there wasn’t much going on we paid a visit to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo (the little zoo that could). It was fantastic and will be the subject of another post.

The following pictures were taken on the second day of the festival. This year there were 45 balloons competing. Right around sunset, the crews inflate their balloons and take off. Well, only half took off; the second half inflated their balloons and participated in the “glow and twinkle” part of the festival. Glowing is where the pilots light up the balloons using the same propane that helps them ascend into the sky. It is absolutely awesome to watch. Twinkling is short glows.


There is nothing more awe-inspiring than watching the balloons inflate.


Notice the size of these balloons!


First balloon to fly is “Hope Floats” from Alabama


One balloon rises above the others


The Constitution balloon, “Freedom Flyer” from Florida.


The “Smiley” from Ohio balloon was a big hit.


I kicked myself for not bringing my wide-angle lens!

The black balloon is “Wind Spirit” from Alabama.


Here’s “Wisdom Racer” from Baton Rouge rising into the sky


There’s “Cheaper than a Wife” from Missouri.


Flying over the tree line…..


Left to right “Touchstone Energy” from Texas, “Smiley” from Ohio, “Let’s Get High” from Alabama and “Big Red” from North Carolina.


Here’s “Dean’s Dream” from Mississippi


I liked the way the setting sun was reflected on these balloons.


One of our favorites: “Synchronicity” from Nevada.


Floating away…..


“Smokey the Bear” from New Mexico.


The “Budweiser” balloon’s from Mississippi.


After the first half of the balloons took off, the “Glow & Twinkle” started.


It’s fun to watch and try to get the pictures as they glow.


“Sunrise Fellowship” from Arkansas is dwarfed by “Oggy the Friendly Dragon” from Indiana.


Here’s another shot of the glow.

It was a great weekend and we learned to eat before we went to the festival because carny food is not so good. So if you’re ever looking for something unique to do for Fathers’ Day weekend, keep this festival in mind. It’s worth the trip. Plus Foley and the Orange Beach area have quite a few attractions.

Creoles and Zydeco

This past weekend was the Creole Tomato and Cajun Zydeco Festival in New Orleans. Despite the wet, wet weather, we were lucky to catch the fun in between rain bands. It was well worth the gamble.

This festival duo took place from the Jackson Square area down to the U.S. Mint. There was food and beverages, music and shopping, happy people and happy dogs everywhere!

As we arrived the U.S. Navy Brass Band was performing

We spotted this beautiful ice sculpture before it melted away. When we passed by later in the day there was a different sculpture.

(it’s a pelican in case you couldn’t figure it out)

At the Mint we watched Bruce Daigrepont perform. Good stuff! The crowd thought so too.



We watched a cooking demo by Chef Chris Montero of Cafe B (a new Brennan Restaurant). He made creole tomatoes with green tomato relish, topped with crabmeat. It was tasty!



But that’s not all we ate. We enjoyed a catfish poboy from Ninja Restaurant . The fish was perfectly fried in a tempura batter with a wonderful remoulade.

The spring gazpacho from Covey Rise Farms was quite refreshing.

Crepes a la Carte was serving Creole Tomato, Bacon and Mozzerella Crepes. Decadent!

And the crawfish bread!!! mmm-mmm-mmm!

We spent the night in New Orleans at the Westin because we planned on going to the House of Blues to see Kenny Wayne Shepherd, a Louisiana native.


Here’s his bus outside the venue. The show was EXCELLENT. We’re hoping to see him in Orange Beach this August. It was a great staycation!

Crawfish!

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here. We moved into our “final house” at the beginning of this month. I never realized how much stuff we had crammed into our old house!! Since the new home is less than a mile from the old, we moved everything ourselves. It took over a month to pack, move and unpack.

During that time there was no “play time” for us. We finally are settled in enough just in time for the festival season! Last weekend we attended French Quarter Fest and had a fantastic time. This weekend we had to decide what to do, as there were many events taking place in Slidell. But we chose our favorite event: the 9th annual Hospice Foundation of the South’s Crawfish Cookoff, where 60 teams compete for the title of best in show. Despite forecasts it never rained and was a cool, breezy day and the crawfish were fantastic. Needless to say, we got our fill of crawfish.

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Today we hope to visit the tall ships in NOLA before they leave.