French Quarter Hotel in New Orleans
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Explore Creole Tomato Fest This Weekend

Juicy, bright red Creole tomatoes are one of New Orleans’ favorite harvests. The tomatoes come to super-sweet fruition in late spring after growing in Louisiana’s nutrient-rich, alluvial soil (soil that is deposited by running water like the Mississippi River). And because we love ’em so much, we host a festival in their honor! Creole Tomato Festival takes place this weekend at French Market, practically across the street from our French Quarter hotel.

Photo courtesy Flickr user Melanie Innis.

Photo courtesy Flickr user Melanie Innis.

Eat Up

Almost every dish gets the tomato treatment at Creole Tomato Festival. Crabcakes with Creole tomatoes? Yes, please. How about crawfish Monica with the added sweetness of vine-ripened tomatoes? We’ll order that too. We can’t wait to try the Creole tomato shrimp ceviche from Superior Seafood, plus an order of the rice and andouille fritters with Creole tomato aioli from Purloo. Sometimes, you need something sweet… and Creole Tomato Fest has you covered. Try the  Quintin’s Natural Creole tomato sorbet for dessert. We always like to plan ahead, so if you’re like us, you can check out the full menu (complete with pricing) here.

Boogie Down

Plenty of music and entertainment like cooking demonstrations and kids activities give Creole Tomato Fest all the quintessential components of a New Orleans celebration. Musicians like Flow Tribe, Jon Cleary, and Honey Island Swamp Band will all perform, and you can catch live cooking demonstrations from local and up-and-coming chefs. On Saturday at 12:30 p.m., chef Emily Vanlandingham of Locally Preserved uses the Creole tomato in a unique way as part of her cocktail demonstration. You can also pick up a jar of her homemade Creole tomato and basil jelly while you’re there. On Sunday, Ryan Haigler at Grand Isle will present a cooking demonstration at 2:30, directly following the Creole tomato eating contest at 1:30 p.m.

Even More Tomatoes…

Our sister hotel’s restaurant, Criollo, has plenty of  tomato-laced dishes like a shrimp, blue crab, and avocado appetizer with spicy tomato coulis and a stuffed Creole redfish with green tomato crust and Creole tomato jam. Does all this tomato talk have you craving a Bloody Mary? Our restaurant Latitude 29 serves up fanciful, tropical cocktails, but they have a full bar stocked to sate your tomato craving.

Summer Rates at Bienville House

Summer vacation on a budget? Easy. Bienville House’s reduced summer rates mean you can enjoy the best of New Orleans’ French Quarter at an unbeatable price. Just like summer, though, the rates won’t last forever. Book now! Just think of what you’ll enjoy when you stay at our hotel…

Relax by the pool during summer, when Bienville House offers special rates.

Relax by the pool during summer, when Bienville House offers special rates.

A Courtyard Pool

The pool at Bienville House is as refreshing as it is picturesque. Many rooms overlook the pool, but we always think it’s best to dive right in. Swim a couple laps or simply enjoy your favorite book or magazine from one of the provided lounge chairs.

Vacation-Worthy Cocktails

Famed bartender Jeff “Beachbum” Berry created Latitude 29 to much buzz and acclaim. Even better? It’s located right inside our hotel. Choose from exotic, tiki-inspired cocktails or order your favorite standby from the fully stocked bar. 

An Exotic Meal

Latitude 29 also boasts a full menu with Polynesian and Asian-inspired fare (in fact, they refer to it as “PolynAsian cuisine). Try clever innovations on American classics, like the Caesar salad served up with squid instead of chicken. The Mahi Mahi banh mi is a nod to the robust Vietnamese culture in New Orleans, and the crispy duck with miso cheese grits is bridges the gap between Southern cuisine and Asian flavors.

 

 

Plan Your Oyster Fest Itinerary

New Orleans Oyster Festival takes place on Saturday, May 30, through Sunday, May 31 at Woldenberg Park at the Mississippi Riverfront. Since our hotel is a quick walk from the park, you can get to the festival with ease and enjoy the tastes of one of New Orleans’ favorite foods: the oyster. Here’s what you’ll find at the fest!

 

The fried oyster po-boy is a crowd favorite at Oyster Fest. (Photo courtesy New Orleans Oyster Festival on Facebook)

The fried oyster po-boy is a crowd favorite at Oyster Fest. (Photo courtesy New Orleans Oyster Festival on Facebook)

Music and Contests
In addition to a vast array of oyster-centric foods (more on that below!), Oyster Fest has selected some of the city’s favorite musicians to play at the riverfront during the festival. Our picks? Get there early on Saturday morning to hear the Treme Brass Band, who takes the stage at 10:30 a.m. Other noteworthy acts include the Bucktown All-Stars (playing at 2:15 on Saturday) and Marcia Ball, who closes out the fest starting at 5 p.m. on Sunday. In addition to music, the fest features several oyster-related competitions. The oyster-shucking contest pits top shuckers against one another on Saturday, while the oyster-eating contest on Sunday sees just how many oysters you can eat in one sitting. 

Plenty of Food
Take your pick from oysters raw on the half-shell, charbroiled, or fried at the festival, plus other inventive (and delicious) preparations. Try oyster pasta as a main or, for an easier-to-carry option, order a fried oyster po-boy. Oyster dishes from French Quarter restaurants like Acme Oyster House, Antoine’s, and Royal House are all on hand plus iconic restaurants from all over the city, including Jacque Imo’s Cafe in Uptown, Katie’s Restaurant in Mid-City and Borgne in the nearby Central Business District. Craving dessert? NOLA Snow has you covered with a variety of snowball options.

Even More to Do

The fest ends relatively early both nights, but your evening doesn’t have to end there. Head to our hotel’s restaurant, Latitude 29, and try other seafood dishes paired with gorgeous, tiki-style cocktails. Afterward, walk to Hotel Monteleone for live jazz music at the whimsical and elegant Carousel Bar & Lounge.

Memorial Day Weekend is Here! Celebrate in NOLA

 

Memorial Day in New Orleans allows visitors and locals to honor fallen military members: the country’s National World War II Museum is located in New Orleans. However, there are plenty of other ways to commemorate the long weekend, whether you choose to attend a cultural festival or sample rare wines from around the world. As a French Quarter hotel, Bienville House is close to it all. Plan to walk to almost all of these Memorial Day events as you enjoy the beautiful architecture and scenery of the neighborhood. Enjoy!

the-national-wwii-museum

The National World War II Museum. (Photo courtesy TripAdvisor)

Wine and Dine

We recently wrote about NOWFE, the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience that’s happening over Memorial Day Weekend. NOWFE participants will get to try incredible wine and food from rare vineyards and popular restaurants all over the city. Our sister property, Hotel Monteleone, is even part of the event: their restaurant, Criollo, will be serving dishes at NOWFE.

Visit the National World War II Museum

The National World War II Museum will hold festivities honoring Memorial Day all weekend. The museum itself will showcase materials related to Memorial Day and fallen soldiers, and it will also host special performances like a 1940s-themed dance performance and live music from the U.S. Marine Corps Band. You’ll also have plenty of other opportunities to hear the band (more info below).

Listen to a Marine Corps Band

The New Orleans Marine Corps Band will play all over the city during Memorial Day Weekend. The National World War II Museum hosts the band on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday; you can also hear them at 7 p.m. at St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter.

Get to the Greek

The 42nd annual New Orleans Greek Festival happens in Bayou St. John in Mid-City this weekend, featuring Greek food, entertainment, and culture. The festival isn’t within walking distance from Bienville House, so we suggest taking the Canal Streetcar toward City Park for a scenic trip. Ask our concierge for comprehensive directions; they also will be happy to schedule a cab for you!

 

 

NOWFE: What to Do at New Orleans Wine and Food Experience

The annual New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (NOWFE) draws in gourmands from all over the globe craving a glimpse (and a taste) of authentic New Orleans flavors. Our hotel’s French Quarter location makes it the perfect destination during NOWFE: head to special NOWFE events on foot, or even plan a beverage break at our on-site restaurant Latitude 29, home to authentic tiki-style cocktails from legendary bartender Jeff Berry. Take a look below at some of the standout events at NOWFE!

criollo chef

The culinary experts at Criollo, located in our sister property Hotel Monteleone, serve up gourmet meals in an elegant setting. (Photo courtesy Criollo on Facebook)

Royal Street Stroll
NOWFE’s annual Royal Street Stroll, happening rain or shine, is the perfect chance to second line, New Orleans-style. The Krewe of Cork leads the parade, and elite winemakers will serve as its Grand Marshals. Royal Street is one of the city’s most memorable streets: you’ll see antique shops, historic architecture, and live jazz as you parade.


Vinola!

We’re personally partial to tiki drinks, but we’d never pass up the chance to sample rare wines from around the world. NOWFE’s Vinola! event features a huge variety of wines, and the winemakers themselves will present many of the selections. Vineyards like Antica Napa Valley, Selby Winery, Pernod Ricard, Espirit du Vin Fine Wine, and more will all have a presence at the event.

Grand Tasting
Some of New Orleans’ best restaurants pair up with international wines at Grand Tasting, one of NOWFE’s premier events. Restaurants like Shaya (from recent James Beard Award-Winner Alon Shaya) and Criollo, the restaurant of our sister property Hotel Monteleone, will be offering up samplings of their gourmet dishes.

The Big Gateaux Show

Pastry competition meets burlesque performance art in New Orleans. The Big Gateaux Show combines two unlikely activities on Friday evening: the event typically sells out, so plan to purchase advance tickets!
Family-Friendly Activities in the French Quarter

Summer vacations are a tradition for many families, and our French Quarter hotel is a great choice. Bienville House boasts close proximity to lots of family-friendly activities. Take a look at some of our favorites!

insectarium

The Audubon Institute’s Butterfly Garden & Insectarium houses gorgeous butterflies in an open environment. (Photo courtesy Louisiana Travel on Flickr)

Watch a Summer Blockbuster or Nature Film

Two theaters within short walking distance of one another are a great option for hot or rainy NOLA summer days. The Theaters at Canal Place meet the demands of kids and adults with sumptuous seats and full-service dining. Kids can munch on popcorn studded with peanuts, bacon, and chocolate while adults can choose from a wide selection of small plates, flatbreads, and a full list of wine/beer and cocktails. If you’d like to treat your kids to an educational movie, the Entergy IMAX Theater is an excellent option. Operated by the Audubon Institute’s Aquarium of the Americas, the theater shows 3-D films about great white sharks, humpback whales, and other animal life.

Admire Beautiful Butterflies

Open daily from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., the Audubon Butterfly Garden & Insectarium on Canal Street lets children learn about butterflies and other insect life in a fun way. The insectarium features a variety of butterfly species in an open environment (they might even land on you) plus educational activities. CNN voted the insectarium “a top museum for you and your kids” – we second that!

Shop for Back-to-School Duds

Get your back-to-school shopping finished early at the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk. Name-brand clothes at a fraction of the price are available at several outlet versions of popular stores like Neiman Marcus, Gap, Coach, Gymboree, and more. Worried your kids won’t agree? Order them some beignets (there’s a Café du Monde inside) and watch riverboats cruise down the Mississippi – the mall boasts a fantastic view of the river.

Learn About Sea Life at the Aquarium

The Mississippi River isn’t the only home to sea life in New Orleans. The Aquarium of the Americas, part of the Audubon Institute, is open daily from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and gives kids an up-close look at aquatic animal life. One of the most memorable facets of the aquarium is its stingray touch pool and feeding sessions – learn more about these fascinating creatures as you touch and feed them.

Don’t Stop the Music! Jazz Fest Continues

Though it ends on Sunday, the second weekend of Jazz Fest is a can’t-miss event that celebrates the history and heritage of jazz in New Orleans. We’ve outlined some of our favorite acts this weekend, plus what to do after Jazz Fest is over each evening (hint: it involves even more music). Happy festing!

Saturday

Elton John takes the stage at Jazz Fest for the first time ever this year. Securing him to perform has been a mission over the years according to Jazz Fest founders, so Saturday is a particularly special day representing years of hard work.

elton john

Elton John performs at Jazz Fest on Saturday. (Photo courtesy NOJazzFest.com)

This legendary performer, whose career has spanned five decades, takes the Acura Stage at 4:50 p.m. for one of the Fest’s longest sets: it lasts until 7 p.m. Our recommendation? Get to the Acura Stage early and stick around for another famous piano man, Jerry Lee Lewis, who starts his set at 3 p.m. Other standout acts on Saturday include:

  • Kermit Ruffins & the BBQ Swingers, Congo Square Stage, 2:45 – 3:45 p.m.
  • Big Freedia, Congo Square Stage, 4:10 – 5:10 p.m.
  • Aaron Neville, Blues Tent, 4:20 – 5:35 p.m.
  • Ed Sheeran, Gentilly Stage, 5:15 – 6:55 p.m
  • T.I., Congo Square Stage, 5:45 – 7:00 p.m.
  • Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Blues Tent, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

After the fest is over Saturday night, head to Hotel Monteleone for their Jazzy Jam series in the elegant Carousel Bar & Lounge. It’s a fitting end to a full day of music.

Sunday

The last day of Jazz Fest! Take the last day to soak in all you might have missed from smaller stages. For example, check out Cynthia Girtley at noon in the Gospel Tent and clap your hands to uplifting spirituals. Or, listen to “Cajungrass” (a Cajun/Bluegrass hybrid) at the Lagniappe Stage at 12:45. Still, there are plenty of big acts worth waiting for on Sunday.

dr. john

Another John – Dr. John – plays at Jazz Fest on Sunday. (Photo courtesy NOJazzFest.com)

At the bigger stages like the Acura Stage, Gentilly Stage, and Congo Square Stage, you’ll find the following:

  • John Boutte, WWOZ Jazz Tent, 2:40 – 4:40 p.m.
  • The O’Jays, Congo Square Stage, 3:40 – 4:50 p.m
  • Lenny Kravitz, Acura Stage, 3:50 – 5:15 p.m.
  • Steve Winwood, Gentilly Stage, 3:55 – 5:25 p.m.
  • Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Acura Stage, 5:45 – 7:00 p.m.
  • Kacey Musgraves, Fais Do Do Stage, 5:45 – 7:00 p.m.
  • Dr. John, Gentilly Stage, 5:55 – 7:00 p.m.

The Hotel Monteleone also hosts their last night of Jazzy Jam on Sunday starting at 9:00 p.m. The Luther Kent Jazz Band will take the stage in the Carousel Bar all the way on through until midnight.

Jazz Fest: A Full Day of Music, Food, and Fun

Jazz Fest is New Orleans’ biggest festival, and it’s finally here! Here’s how to make the most of the festival, before, during and after your Jazz Fest adventure.

jazz fest

The Fais Do Do stage is seen through the trees at the 2014 Jazz Fest. (Photo courtesy Jazz Fest on Facebook)

Before

Fuel up, folks. There are plenty of food vendors at Jazz Fest, but we recommend getting something to eat in the French Quarter before you travel to the festival grounds. If you’re going early, get your caffeine fix at Spitfire Coffee on South Saint Peters Street. They typically have a rotation of light pastries as well. For something heartier, head to Criollo in our sister property, Hotel Monteleone. From daily Benedicts to breakfast classics like pancakes and fresh orange juice, Criollo is an ideal destination for a little morning fuel. 

Not heading to the fest until a little later? Our on-site restaurant Latitude 29 at noon on Saturdays and Sundays. Enjoy Polynesian-inspired dishes like a pork and ginger dumpling burger or luscious pineapple bread with a fanciful tiki cocktail.

During

Know your stages. Take a look at the complete Jazz Fest lineup, and plan out your must-see acts in advance. Sometimes, you’ll have to choose between two of your favorites if they’re playing on different stages at the same time… there are just too many acts to see at this massive festival!

Plan for a little downtime. Jazz Fest can be overwhelming if you don’t work in a bit of time to refuel. Choose refreshing vendor items like the famous Mango Freeze from New Orleans radio station WWOZ and remember to drink plenty of water. Seek out a misting tent to cool off for a few minutes… you’ll be ready to enjoy the music again after a quick rest.

After

By the time you’re ready to leave Jazz Fest, you’ll probably be craving air conditioning. Head back to our hotel and rinse off (or take a dip in our pool), but don’t lie down just yet! Walk just outside our doors and over to the Hotel Monteleone, our sister property, where you can enjoy their Jazzy Jam series inside their Carousel Bar & Lounge. You’ll hear incredible live jazz music in an intimate, elegant setting. A bar bites menu, craft cocktails, and thorough wine list are the perfect way to cap off a memorable day.

 

Jazz Fest: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is Almost Here

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, more commonly known as Jazz Fest, is arguably the biggest and best festival of the year in New Orleans. Seven full days of performances from world-renown performers like Elton John, Lady Gaga, Wilco, and The Who (to name just a few) treats Jazz Fest patrons to a lifetime’s worth of concerts in one single festival.

trombone shorty

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue will play on the last day of Jazz Fest. (Photo courtesy New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on Facebook)

Although the festival isn’t as close to our hotel as, say, French Quarter Festival, it’s definitely one worth attending. You can take a scenic streetcar trip up Canal Street and over to City Park or have our concierge arrange a taxi. Plan to spend the full day at Jazz Fest and check out ample food vendors, crafts presentations, and, of course, music.

Every night after Jazz Fest, our sister property Hotel Monteleone is hosting their annual Jazzy Jam concert series. The music will go all night long in an elegant (and air-conditioned) atmosphere – the perfect way to relax after a full day at Jazz Fest!

Take a look at a few of the Jazz Fest headliners each day below. 

Friday, April 24

Keith Urban

Wilco

Saturday, April 25

The Who

Ryan Adams

John Legend

Treme Brass Band

Sunday, April 26

Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga

Pitbull

Irma Thomas

Allen Toussaint

Rebirth Brass Band

Thursday, April 30

Widespread Panic

Alison Krauss & Union Station

Friday, May 1

No Doubt

Paloma Faith

Chicago

Saturday, May 2

Elton John

Ed Sheeran

T.I.

Aaron Neville

Sunday, May 3

Lenny Kravitz

Steve Winwood

Dr. John

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue

Good Eats for French Quarter Festival: Come Hungry!

New Orleans festivals are often as much about the food as they are the music. Fortunately for your appetite, French Quarter Fest is no exception! We’ve had the pleasure of trying many of the foods available at French Quarter Fest (after all, our central location puts us just steps away from the best of the festival), and we’re more than happy to share our favorites with you.

Read on for the tastiest festival treats at this four-day festival! Craving a sit-down experience? Our on-site restaurant, Latitude 29, has creative menu and drink items in a fun and festive setting – the perfect way to cool off after a day at the festival.

snoball

The Plum Street Snoballs stand at French Quarter Fest gives guests the option to add tequila, whiskey, and other liquors to their snoballs. (Photo courtesy Flickr user Tim Gonzalez)

Savory

Some of the city’s most iconic restaurants have a presence during French Quarter Fest. Head to Antoine’s for Oysters Bonne Femme and Shrimp Regua or try the Crawfish Louise from Court of Two Sisters. If a po-boy is more your speed, there are plenty of options available. Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse is offering a prime rib po-boy, and Bourbon House is serving up a barbecue shrimp version. Galatoire’s, another iconic New Orleans restaurant, is serving gluten-free Shrimp Remoulade in addition to a fried shrimp BLT po-boy. Check out the complete list of vendors here!

Sweet

Whether you’re craving Pontchatoula strawberry shortcake (from GW Fins), white chocolate king cake bread pudding (from Haydel’s Bakery), or a cool, café au lait ice cream (from Quintin’s Ice Cream), practically any dessert you can think of is available at French Quarter Fest. You can also get snowballs – a New Orleans classic – from Plum St. Snoballs with your choice of boozy extras like tequila, whiskey, or several liqueurs.

Beverages

Speaking of liqueurs, French Quarter Fest has beverage stands that serve a variety of drinks from daiquiris to refreshing, cold draft beef. Wine and cocktails are available, too – just remember to put a dollar or two in the tip jar! Proceeds from beverage stands go directly to French Quarter Festival musicians.

With our location in the heart of the French Quarter, any day of the year feels like a festival. Come join us and see for yourself!