Washington, DC is like a bajillion miles from New Orleans, but thanks to politicians and DC transplants that represent and are from Louisiana, there are no shortage of DC-based Mardi Gras parties. The festivities begin with Louisiana Alive on February 20th with events throughout the weekend. Then there’s a break to recover before Fat Tuesday on March 4th. This is when the restaurants, bars, and other places throw their “real” Mardi Gras party.
Acadiana‘s party this year took the cake as far as quality of food and entertainment. If you are looking for something that doesn’t involve college students throwing fistfulls of beads at thirty miles an hour at your face, then this my friends is certainly for you.
Everyone was decked out in their finest Mardi Gras attire featuring masks, beads, and various fleur de lis themed accessories.
The place was decorated with masks and beads at various tables, and large streamers hanging from the ceiling.
The band was a southern jazz-zydeco hybrid very similar to exactly what you’d find in New Orleans.
And the food and various bourbon vendors were both great.
Redemption Rye had a set up at the event providing tastes to all who stopped. This rye is very balanced with a hint of spice or kick if you will. Great for a Old Fashioned. They say that, “The U.S. Government Standards require “rye whiskey” to be made from a mash of at least 51% rye grain. For Redemption Rye we use a mash of 95% premium rye grain for a spicy and bold flavor and we use premium rye, which costs more but is well worth it, because when you use good ingredients you get good rye whiskey.”
Old Forester Bourbon was there with a delightful set up and friendly host pouring samples. Once of the more converse tables at the event. The bourbon dates back to 1870 and “Old Forester is twice-distilled using a “thumper” for a cleaner, crisper spirit as it comes into contact with the barrel. And we distill only 500 barrels at a time. That’s right – we were small-batch before smallbatch was cool,” according to their website. I have to say it was very smooth.
Makers Mark was at the party as well (aren’t they always) with regular and Marker’s 46, which is aged, “a bit longer inside barrels containing seared French oak staves. The staves create bolder, more complex flavors — while eliminating the bitterness that usually comes with whiskies that are aged longer.” Personally, I thought it rather strong, but hey, I did try this one first.
My personal favorite F.E.W. was there and they were offering my favorite variety of their spirit, F.E.W. Rye. Now, it is F.E.W. and not FEW because the letter are an acronym. “As the Temperance Movement approached boiling point, America’s most beloved liquid vice found itself under heavy siege. While connoisseurs saw abstinence creep across the country, the city of Chicago began its preparations to host the most elaborate of fairs. Only a few miles North, Frances Elizabeth Willard and her league of temperance supporters had turned Evanston into a stronghold for their cause.” Therefore, F.E.W. are the initials of Frances Elizabeth Willard. This rye is smooth, I mean drink straight or just with one ice cube smooth.
Oh right, there was food too, and just like everything served year-round at Acadiana, this mass-produced food for a large event did not disappoint.
There was a huge raw bar with steamed shrimp with Old Bay on them and freshly shucked raw oysters with cocktail sauce.
The oysters were salty and clean while the shrimp were plump and spiced. A tad bit on the well done side for my personal preference, but hey, you can’t risk serving undercooked shrimp to a crowd can you?
Being passed around among many things were mini muffalettas. A traditional style muffuletta sandwich consists of a muffuletta loaf split horizontally and covered with layers of marinated olive salad, mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham, and provolone. The sandwich is sometimes heated to soften the provolone. The signature olive salad consists of olives diced with the celery, cauliflower and carrot found in a jar of giardiniera, seasoned with oregano and garlic, covered in olive oil, and allowed to combine for at least 24 hours. This version was served open-faced on a piece of toasted french bread and was salty and authentic.
The shrimp and grits were rich and satisfying. The shrimp were cooked perfectly in a luxurious creamy sauce while the grits where not too runny, or too firm. They actually were the best grits I’ve had outside of the south.
The crawfish etouffee was thick and perfectly seasoned with all the right vegetables included. Also enjoyed served over grits because why not and also America.
The jambalya was good, fairly standard but good. Could have used more sausage and heat in my opinion, and I’ve always been partial to gumbo myself.
All in all a great night, well worth the price for unlimited food and a open bar serving Abita, and classic New Orleans cocktails.
Until next Mardi Gras, laissez les bon temps rouler!