It’s Carnival time in New Orleans, and even if you’re not heading to the Big Easy to celebrate in the weeks ahead—Mardi Gras is creeping up quick, on Feb. 25—three exceptional NOLA pop-ups are landing in our city in the very near future. Actually, as early as this Sunday.
These pop-ups will most definitely get you in the mood to, as Rebirth Brass Band suggests around this time every year, do whatcha wanna. Because we all know whatcha wanna do is eat and drink like the best of 'em.
Jan 26 | Camerata | Free (small plates and wine available for purchase)
Houston’s very own celebration of Basque cider and wine, ¡TXOTX! (it sounds like choach ... or, erroneously, chach if you’re life has been as heavily influenced by 1980s sitcoms as ours apparently has), was founded by Camerata’s resident sommelier/marathoner Chris Poldoian in 2016, and is back once again with special pours and events at restaurants and wine bars around Houston and elsewhere in Texas until Jan. 31.
Particularly exciting and new this year? The crew from James Beard-nominated Ninth Ward wine shop and outdoor oasis Bacchanal will host a Basque takeover at Camerata this Sunday, Jan 26, from 2 to 8 p.m.
Bacchanal will bring its dream team—wine director Joe Briand, renowned for his eclectic wine inventory and ability to procure RIESLING temporary tattoos, and chef Joaquin Rodas, whose delicious small plates have delighted guests for years—to curate a Basque-inspired menu and wine selections for the event. It's is free to attend, open to the public, and, girl, you know it's going to be dang good.
Jan 27 | Brennan’s | $55 per person
The James Beard-nominated food writer, photographer, and inimitable Southern Foodways Alliance personality Pableaux Johnson is largely known in New Orleans for his Monday-night red beans and rice suppers—you can learn more about this tradition here. Thankful for everyone outside of NOLA, he's taken that show on the road, quite literally. In collaboration with Camellia, purveyors of the best red beans, Johnson's Red Beans Roadshow hits Brennan’s of Houston this coming Monday. Fittingly, owner Alex Brennan-Martin is the son of renowned New Orleans restaurateur Ella Brennan (there would be no Paul Prudhomme or Emeril without her), who sadly passed away in 2018.
Brennan’s chef Joe Cervantez will cook up a three-course family-style feast alongside Johnson at 7 p.m.—that’s after passed apps and cocktails at 6:30 p.m.—including shrimp remoulade, red beans and rice with Andouille sausage and cornbread (the reason you're attending), and Creole bread pudding in rye whiskey sauce. You will want to wear the pants with the forgiving waist-band for this one. Also cool: Camellia Brand will be donating beans to The Houston Food Bank.
Feb 19 | Central Market Cooking School | $75 per person
GW Fins is one of New Orleans’s most prized seafood restaurants, the place of power lunches, romantic dates, and ravenous hoards of French Quarter tourists and locals seeking out … fish collar? Yes. The restaurant's chef Tenney Flynn is also a longtime spear-fisherman, and was one of the first Gulf Coast chefs to actively seek out invasive species—lionfish, anyone?— and serve it up at his restaurant amidst many other incredible, creative seafood dishes.
He's renowned for his handle over all things seafood in the kitchen, and now he's sharing those skills in a new cookbook, The Deep End Of Flavor, which he wrote for fearful home cooks. Sound like you? Catch him at his Central Market cooking class on Feb 19 at 6:30 p.m, and you'll walk away with the know-how to create a Creole-inspired seafood feast at home. The menu will include tempura shrimp with Vietnamese glaze and a Thai mirliton salad (it's a squash and please don't pronounce the "r"); a tuna muffuletta-Nicoise salad with cripsy poached and fried eggs; a parmesan-crusted catch of the day topped in heavenly brown butter, asparagus, capers and crabmeat, and maple and bourbon pralines.