The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival began in 1970, with 350 people in attendance. By 1975 and with many headliners, attendance grew to 80,000. I began going to the Jazz Fest in the early 1980’s.
In the 1980s, Jazz Fest continued to experience a tremendous growth in popularity and began to gain wide acclaim as one of the world’s greatest cultural celebrations. By the end of the decade, more than 300,000 people attended the Heritage Fair, evening concerts, and workshops. The 1989 Festival marked the 20th annual event, which was commemorated with a classic poster featuring Fats Domino, ushering in an era during which the poster would celebrate many of Louisiana’s music legends with iconic portraits.
By 2001, the Festival celebrated Louis Armstrong’s centennial, and the total attendance eclipsed 650,000, shattering records for virtually every day of the Heritage Fair, including the all-time single-day attendance record of 160,000. Wein’s prediction that New Orleans would become the first city of jazz festivals had clearly come true.
Inspired by the spirit of Mahalia Jackson and the Eureka Brass Band back in 1970, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival continues to celebrate the culture of Louisiana with the combined fervor of a gospel hymn and the joy of a jazz parade.
Click here for tickets.
Food is a huge part of Jazz Fest, with many local chefs in the line up to show off their culinary skills on the Food Heritage Stage. Chef Donald Link of Herbsaint and Cochon, Susan Spicer of Bayona and Mondo, and Michael Gottleib of Red Fish Grill are just of view of the many talented chefs presenting culinary delights this year. Click here for the Food of The Heritage Stage.
Meat Pies are a big hit at the Jazz Fest Food Booths, as they are a popular eat-in-hand snack, making it easy for wandering around the music stages. Arnaud’s meat pie recipe is quick, and easy, making a wonderful snack or meal. The recipe calls for purchased puff pastry and commercial hot pork sausage combined with ingredients found in every pantry.
If you can’t make it to the Jazz Fest, put on some Fats Domino, Irma Thomas, Wynton Marsailis, Dr. John or you favorite Jazz tunes and create these delicious meat pies for your own festival at home. Follow Arnaud’s on twitter at @arnaudsnola to get more great classic Creole recipes like this one.
Arnaud’s, open since 1918, is located in the heart of the French Quarter steps from Bourbon Street at 1813 Rue Bienville, and is open at 6pm, seven nights a week. Remoulade, located at 309 Bourbon, is the casual side of Arnaud’s offering spectacular dishes from 11:30 am to 11 p.m., and also boasts a fresh raw oyster bar. For more information, or reservations, call 504-523-5433.
Arnaud’s Meat Pie
½ lb pound hot breakfast sausage and ½ lb ground beef
1 medium onion, finely diced
½ medium red bell pepper, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small Louisiana yam, (or sweet potato) peeled and coarsely grated
1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
¼ teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
3 sheets puff pastry, 9×9 inches, from the grocery freezer section
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water for egg wash
Place a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the meat, crumbling it into small pieces as it cooks. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan and add the onions, bell pepper and garlic and cook until soft. Add the grated yam and cook 10 to 15 minutes. Add the basil, pepper and Worcestershire and stir well. Remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to 1/8 inch thickness. Using a 4-inch plate as a guide, trace and cut out 4 circles of pastry from each of the 3 sheets. Transfer the 12 pastry circles to 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling and press with fingers or the tines of a fork to seal securely. Brush each pie lightly with egg wash.
Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.