Dallas has few diversions other than eating, drinking and shopping.....and shopping does not interest us.
So we spend our time hopping from restaurant to restaurant and to every pub that we can find in search of the perfect meal and the perfect beer.

We randomly review restaurants and bars, dishes and beers at whim and give our brutally honest opinions of our findings. And while we concentrate on Dallas, we travel far and wide to sample cuisine from all regions of the country and beyond.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Road Trip Dining - Festival International de Louisiane

Louisiana International Festival - Lafayette

Yep, another binge eating road trip to Louisiana.  I didn't want to go .... really.  But on our last road trip through Acadiana our server at Prejeans in Lafayette assured us that if we really liked to eat (and we do) that we absolutely had to go to the International Festival in May.  So you see, the intense pressure by our server forced us to attend.

Festival Internation de Louisiana, one of the great unknown music festivals in the nation, celebrated its 25th year and is completely overshadowed by the New Orleans Jazz Festival which occures at exactly the same time.  While the New Orleans music festival embraces all types of music, including a little Jazz, the Lafayette festival embraces the music of its French heritage and the music of many of the former French colonies.  It also showcases the food heritage of Acadiana from the local restaurants located in booths in food court areas scattered around the downtown  (yes, there is a downtown, who knew?) area where the festival is located.  The festival is free to attend.

I have never really taken the time to visit Lafayette.  It was seen as a place to stop and eat, or as a convenient bathroom stop on the roadtrips to New Orleans and I didn't really know what to expect.  In my visions I saw a whole bunch of potbellied, toothless, rednecks wearing camo and asking me "you want another heapin' helpin' of possum?".  Being from a rural area you would think that I would think that I would not be so judgemental, but I must admit to being an unmitigated ass at times.  What?  Ok, all of the time, sheesh.  But surprise Lafayette is clean, progressive and swimming with oil money.  Having a university in the middle of town (UL Lafayette) goes a long way to de-bubba-ing (new word, feel free to use it) a city.

The Six Stages in downtown Lafayette, which is surprisingly clean and pleasant, all have continuous schedules of music throughout the 3 days of the festival so it is quite difficult to choose which acts to see.  It is impossible to see every act so choose carefully.  Music acts from Africa, Europe, Canada, India, South America, from the U.S. and local bands present every style of music imaginable.  One of the stages featured the music of the cajun country and we particularly enjoyed watching the locals dancing to and singing along with songs that would be unfamiliar to anyone not raised Cajun. 

Some of the notable acts that we enjoyed the most were:
Mousta Largo ( ), a Belgian/Moroccan with infectious, multi-cultural pop tunes.  I was a bit surprised to find something that I enjoyed besides beer and chocolate from Belgium.

Red Baraat ( ) which is an Indian brass band that plays a most bizarre blend of Indian, jazz, funk and was supremely enjoyable to watch and hear.  Download their new single for free on their website.
The Soul Rebels Brass Band ( ) is a New Orleans based brass band that plays music of the style of the soulful jazz that you see brass bands play on the streets of the French Quarter.  Solid.

Master Drummers of Burundi ( ) were by far the biggest surprise of the festival for us.  Playing on drums made from tree trunks and cow hides we were blown away by their enthusiasm, their energy and their obvious joy of performing for us.  This is music at its most basic level and was the precursor to Stomp.  They should not be missed.

Food.  Crap, I almost forgot to mention the food.  How can you go to Louisiana and not be overwhelmed by the food?  With dozens of local restaurants participating it would be impossible to try everything, right?  But I may as well try! 
From Poupart's Bakery ( ) we tried crawfish and spinach prepared in a spicy cream sauce served inside a sourdough bread bowl.  Delightful, but not light.
From Norbert's Restaurant in Broussard we tried the pork Jambalaya.  Excellent.
Bon Creole Seafood from New Iberia supplied us with perfect Red Beans & Rice w/ andouille.
Alligator Shakes supplied us with superb Boudin balls (poor little Boudins) and our chicken and sausage gumbo.
Zeus Cafe ( ) provided us with the lighter side of life with creamy, delicious hummus and pita.
Meat pies, alligator poboys, Andouille sausage sandwiches, shrimp and crawfish in every form, Hooters wings, snowcones, daiquiris, oysters, hamburgers ... I am become the god of gluttony!  The selection, quality and quantity defies belief. 

I cannot believe that I have not heard of this festival before or how pleasant the city and people of Lafayette are.  My bias and bigotry almost led me astry and I am so, so very happy that I was wrong in my preconceptions.  We will absolutely attend this festival again and hope that you will join us next year at the:
Festival International de Louisiane

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