Food. Fun. Golf.

Written by Mary Ann Fitzmorris May 05, 2022 21:00 in Dining Diary

It was a gorgeous weekend just begging for us to do something special. We don’t get out much these days, so special doesn’t mean what it used to. I wanted to go to the French Quarter Festival, so Friday after the show I dropped Tom off to visit his sister, and I passed the festival with a promise to myself that I would venture into it only if I got a good parking place. I did, and a block later I was inside the gates of the festival. 

What surprised me immediately was how light the crowds were, and this was prime evening time on a beautiful Friday afternoon, heading into a festive weekend.

I didn’t stay very long because the information given by the Food and Beverage director on the show was inaccurate: no credit cards were being taken at any booth. That turned out to be sort of a good development, because I wandered around for a few minutes at the first booth section, then left. 

Everything is different now and I don’t know what the future of any of these types of events is. A $ 6-inch poor boy is $9, a small bowl of grillades and grits is also $9, and all manner of food that used to be $6-$8 is now $9-$12. I don’t fault anyone for this. People have to make it work, but it then becomes cost-prohibitive for a fest-goer. Also, with one exception, I didn’t really care to eat anything I saw. There was a cute little soft shell buster crab poor boy sandwich.

Maybe I have just done too many festivals, but I left happy to be leaving.

On Saturday it was still perfect weather for something fun, and Food Show producer Patty mentioned the Zurich Classic earlier to me. An old friend gave us two passes for the sponsor tents, and we trekked across the river to the pastoral scenes of the boonies of Westwego. A lovely contrast to downtown New Orleans. 

Many years ago the Zurich Classic was a sponsor on the Food Show, and Tom even did a broadcast from there. I remembered how nice it was. And they have certainly come a long way since then.

It was so well organized, well-attended but not crowded, with a buzz about it that suggested a good time was being had by all.

The sponsor pass runs $175 to $225, and allows one portion from ten great restaurants, and all the booze you can drink. Bins of soft drinks and water are plentiful, PJs offered iced teas and lemonade, and bars were anywhere you turned your head. 

If a person wanted to spend the day leisurely enjoying the outdoors, golf, food, and drink with fancy portable bathrooms, you can’t top the Zurich Classic on a beautiful spring day.

Fair warning: it is a walk, but not a bad one if you are in good condition. We were a little compromised, and it was still okay. It just took longer. These VIP tents are at the back of the course.

There are closer tents with regular sport-type fun foods like hot dogs and burgers and the like, purchased individually, and those people were having a great time too.

It took a while to find the tent(s) which seemed way more spread out than I remembered. This is a beautiful place to behold, perfectly manicured, and set up functionally along nice pathways. It flowed very well.

Once inside the first tent perimeter, digital tickets are scanned and bracelets are issued, with ten pull-apart numbers hanging from the main bracelet. Each number corresponds to a restaurant from which you will trade the number for one portion. These little portions do not seem like much until you are completely full after three, and the best ones are last.

We first sampled the Desi Vega’s tenderloin sliders with creamed spinach as a side. This steak was tender and ample, and while the creamed spinach was definitely not the best, we liked this very well.

The next little tidbit we didn’t like so much, because it was not so much. Meril offered crawfish and pork won tons with an Asian chili sauce. And toasted sesame seeds. The sauce was the most interesting thing about this, but mostly it came across as a mouthful of dough. Meh.

The third thing we had in this tent may have been my favorite of the day. Jack Rose (of all places) offered a bowl of Cavatappi Bolognese. This was delicious, and I wish I had more of it.

We were encamped for all of this not far from a row of deep soft drink bins, brimming over with iced drinks. Tom was ecstatic to have unlimited Dr. Pepper, a favorite flavor of his youth and something in which he rarely indulges. Ditto for me with Coke Classic.

This first tent offered the most panoramic views of the tournament, but not the most exciting. It was the least crowded, probably for that reason, and the easiest place to get a seat. Finding an empty table wasn’t a problem at all until the last tent.

We moved to the second tent, where we had Galatoire’s shrimp remoulade, a nice portion of the classic served over shredded iceberg lettuce. Next to Galatoire’s in this tent was a surprise favorite. Tableau was serving a debris poor boy with spicy coleslaw. This was a great combination of flavors, made even better by the interesting spicy twist on this very creamy coleslaw.

The dud of this tent trio was from a place called City Pork from Baton Rouge. They were serving pulled pork over creamy grits. Except the grits weren’t creamy. They were boring and pasty. The pork didn’t have a lot of flavor either. This was the worst thing we had, which doesn’t make it bad. It just wasn’t up to the others here. 

We started to make our way to the very last tent. It was deceptively far. I started looking to flag down one of the many golf carts passing by.  I looked up to see Tommy Cvitanovich driving a cart. He offered us a ride as soon as he dropped off the people he was driving. We readily accepted, and within minutes he dropped us at the ramp into the tent. It overlooked a green that was very close. There were a lot of cameras here, and an excited crowd. 

A quick look in this tent brought to mind the saying, “Saving the best for last” It definitely applies. Here was Drago’s, and Acme, two crowd favorites no matter the crowd. 

 Next to Drago’s was Acme, with fried catfish and hush puppies in one of those cardboard boats, and a fried shrimp boat, also served with hush puppies.

As always, Drago’s was very generous with its wildly popular signature dish. Four chargrilled oysters were flanked by a cup of really tasty spicy and creamy rotini pasta with shrimp. They also offered sweet potato bread pudding as dessert.

Next door to Drago’s was Acme with its two fried seafood/hush puppies combos. I was surprised at the quality turned out of these two mobile kitchens. The seafood was crispy and greaseless. 

This tent was much more crowded than the others, perhaps because of food choices, proximity to the action, or both. There were long lines for the bar and tables were hard to come by.

By this time we were eating because we had to. One does not pass on Drago’s chargrilled oysters. Or Acme fried seafood, The spirit was willing, but we finally had to quit. I spotted Tommy Cvitanovich in the room and I took him up on his offer to drive us back. He took us right to our car, which was very Tommy Cvitanovich of him. He’s a great guy, and we had a nice visit with him on the long ride. We got caught up on the restaurant and his family and the growth of the Zurich Classic. It had been too long since we had seen him.

We drove off marveling at what a great day it had been, and how overdue we were for a visit to Drago’s.