Taste new wine and nosh on small plates while strolling through the lush grounds of Houmas House at the first-ever Spring Fête this Sunday, proof that Baton Rouge’s culinary scene is beginning to return to normal.
“We’ve been wanting to do this for a while,” says Mestizo chef owner Jim Urdiales, a board member with organizer Baton Rouge Epicurean Society. The event highlights wines and a few spirits, along with tapas-style bites prepared by 10 participating restaurants and food purveyors.
“It’s a wine-driven event,” Urdiales says. “We plan to start holding it every year along with all of our other regular events.” The Epicurean Society hosts the annual kick-off to crawfish season, Crawfête (rescheduled to 2022), the summertime Fête Rouge award dinner and chefs’ competition and the fall Fête du Vin, a high-end wine tasting event. “Spring Fête will round out the calendar,” Urdiales says. All Epicurean Society events raise money to help local charities fight childhood obesity.
Urdiales says Spring Fête patrons can expect to sample a good balance of varietals from both domestic and international wine makers. Look for some high-end pours, he says, along with sparkling wines, as well as local spirits from regional distilleries and beer from Tin Roof Brewing Co. Among the dishes to sample are yuzu and avocado blue fin otoro, (the prized portion of the tuna belly) prepared by Beausoleil; paella, made by Spanish restaurant Solera; and braised short ribs with blue corn grits, the handiwork of incoming Epicurean Society president Jeremy Langlois, executive chef of Houmas House’s fine dining restaurant, Latil’s Landing. Additional vendors showcasing small plates include The Francis, Ruffino’s, Mansurs and others.
Attendance is capped at the outdoor event, which will shift inside in case of rain. But the weather looks good this weekend, giving ticket-buyers a chance to take in recent changes to the Houmas House grounds, once a River Road sugarcane plantation. The complex, known for its inn, mansion, restaurants and 38-acre gardens, now also includes The Great River Road Steamboat Museum, which opened last summer and depicts the culture, folklore and commerce of the lower Mississippi River.