Every once in a while, life hands us opportunities that leave us thinking how fortunate we are. This past weekend, I joined four other VIP bloggers as part of the 2012 Zatarain’s Ambassador Program, aka the Zatarain’s Krewe. In New Orleans, a krewe (pronounced “crew”) is an organization that puts on a parade or a ball for the Carnival season. And let me tell you… the five of us paraded around town from restaurant to restaurant with the fantastic people of Zatarain’s and had a ball!
We began our weekend with a tour of the corporate office and the facility. Wow! just upon entering you could smell the spices! If you’ve ever opened a box of Zatarain’s jambalaya, you know what I am talking about! We learned many interesting facts about the brand that even an imported “local” like me didn’t know. For example: Mardi Gras traditions, the difference between Cajun and Creole cooking, and some interesting uses for root beer extract.
We also enjoyed an amazing jambalaya for lunch made in a big, I mean… BIG pot! It was… delicious. What’s great about jambalaya is that you can literally add anything and it usually comes out great. Because I am only a southern “import” I still personally rely on the Zatarain’s box when I make it; and so do most locals unless you are Chef John Besh.
I’ll admit that I rely on the jambalaya, dirty rice or gumbo mix when I’m entertaining at my house. When I am cooking for large crowds (like our monthly family get togethers or tailgating parties) I like that Zatarain’s captures authentic local flavor that is consistent to what southerners are used to. Hey, if I lived in San Francisco like Steph and Jim my guests wouldn’t know the difference… but I have the most experienced and pickiest palates for Cajun and Creole cooking!
The weekend continued with exquisite meals at Borgne, Domenica, August and Brennan’s restaurants. We were treated to a historical culinary tour of New Orleans that was beyond informative and fun. We also closed the weekend watching a Mardi Gras parade with the Zatarain’s team and our amazing hosts (Desta and Mananya).
Although I’ve been living here for over ten years, there were many things I didn’t know about the New Orleans culinary culture and Mardi Gras. Ok, it is true that New Orleaneans live to eat… and that we possibly have some of the best and oldest restaurants in the nation in one place. Since I can’t possibly share all the fun in one post… stay tuned for recipes from this past weekend, more photos, restaurant reviews, and a little culinary history. Like they say down here… “Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez”
A few teaser photos:
**Starred with Photo Credits thanks to the Amazing Steph at Lick My Spoon
Disclaimer: I wrote this post while participating in the Zatarain’s 2012 Ambassador Program. I was compensated for my time but all opinions are my own.