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Experience fine wine, good food in New Orleans

By By Stan Torgerson
April 18, 2001
For those who truly love fine wine and good food, there is nothing more enjoyable than attending a first-class event which features both.
Unfortunately, most of them are in California or New York or some other location far from Meridian and this area. The cost of just getting there can equal or exceed the price of the event itself.
Nine years ago, the city of New Orleans decided it was famous for both and the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience was born. This year marks year 10 and they have absolutely outdone themselves. This is one you can and should attend.
The dates are July 11-15 and it is difficult to know where to start. At the beginning, I suppose, which always makes sense. Let's simply say this five-day event may well be the most memorable time you have ever had in a city most people in this area know well.
For simplification purposes, let us refer to the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience from this point on as the NOW&FE. Here is what awaits you.
It opens with the Wednesday night Vintner Dinners. Thirty three of New Orlean's finest restaurants will serve a four-course pre-selected meal with two complimentary wines actually selected and served by the winemakers themselves. The restaurant chefs and and the vintners plan the menu together.
The lineup of restaurants includes the city's greatest. Andrea's, Arnaud's, Brennan's, Broussard's, Christian's, Commander's Palace, Galatoiri's, Mr. B's, Pelican Club and Victor's are only a few.
The Vintner's Dinner is not part of the NOW&FE overall package. Its cost is $85 per person and space is definitely limited. You must call your favorite restaurant and make your own reservation for this one. It will require a credit card confirmation.
Thursday is the Royal Street Experience. The cost is $49 per person. For that you will be given a glass and proper identification and you will wander up and down Royal going into literally every store and antique shop there. Inside in addition to browsing among the antiques and art, you will find complimentary fine wine and food at each stop. The street will be closed and live jazz music will be everywhere for those of you who like to dance.
Friday and Saturday there will seminars relating to food and wine and you can pick the five which most represent your interests. The list is extensive.
The seminars, however, are merely warmups to the Grand Tastings which will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday. The Grand Tastings will feature complimentary servings of the world's best wines. Wander from table to table and ask for what you wantthen go back again if you wish. Each day's tasting will feature different wines from many of the finest vineyards in this country and the world. That is $79 each. And yes, there will be a selection of New Orleans appetizers prepared by the city's best chefs.
Sunday morning closes the NOW&FE with a champagne jazz brunch at the Ritz Carleton Hotel on Canal Street. The brunch starts at 11 a.m. and is $59 per person.
So far, we've quoted you the price of individual tickets. There is a package at $395 per person that includes everything but the Vintner's Dinner. You must register prior to May 1 to get that price. After that date, the package will cost $425 per person.
Rooms have been reserved at nearby hotels and at hotels in the quarter for those who need a place to stay. Prices will vary.
For more information call the NOW&FE at 1-800-535-8747 or e-Mail them at res@travelneworleans.com.
Now, as to our own next tasting scheduled for April 26 at Northwood Country Club. It will feature Napa Valley cabernets, some of the best from California.
The list of reservations is getting long already and I urge you to call as soon as possible. The number is 482-0930. Those of you who have already made reservations but who have not sent your checks covering the $20 per place fee, must do so in the next few days because we cannot hold reservations without advance payment. Make the check out to Wines Unlimited and send it to Post Office Box 5223, Meridian
As you may know, the demand for the Riedel tasting last month was such that we had to decline 12 requests and this one appears to be nearly equally popular. Remember, you do not have to be a member of Northwood to attend and you can eat dinner at the club following the wine tasting if you wish. Separate checks will be given to non-members.
We look forward to joining you in tasting the best of California red wines on April 26.
Stan Torgerson, a longtime Meridian resident, has written a wine column for several years.

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