New Year’s Day is normally a pretty mellow time around New Orleans compared with the big celebrations of the night before. But this year, Jan. 1 is not normal.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl lands on Thursday as part of the inaugural College Football Playoffs, and for the thousands of Alabama and Ohio State fans in town and plenty of other college football followers, New Year’s Eve is but a prelude.
Naturally, food takes a central role in the pre-gaming. For instance, at Little Gem Saloon (445 S. Rampart St., 504-267-4863; littlegemsaloon.com), the restaurant and music hall within fantasy field goal distance of the Dome, the local food advocacy group Slow Food New Orleans (slowfoodnola.com) will host its first edition of “slow tailgating” on Jan. 1, from 2-8 p.m. The indoor party is open to the public, with a cash bar and barbecue plates for sale.
In keeping with Slow Food’s ethos for sustainable agriculture, Little Gem chef Miles Prescott will barbecue a pair of whole hogs, sourced from George Family Farm in Eclectic, Alabama, along with greens harvested from Slow Food’s Mid-City gardens, plus black-eyed peas and other sides. Not coincidentally, local Slow Food organizer Gary Granata is an Alabama alum, so you can expect a lot of Roll Tide rah-rah here.
There’s more barbecue, and much more Bama in store nearby at the Rusty Nail (1100 Constance St., 504-525-5515; therustynail.biz). The Warehouse District bar is a home-away-from-home for Alabama fans, and both today (Dec. 31) and tomorrow it will host a pop-up from Uptown’s McClure’s Barbecue, along with food trucks, to feed the crowds.
For Ohio State fans, the bulls-eye for Buckeyes is up the road a bit at the Mid-City Yacht Club (440 S St Patrick St., 504-483-2517; midcityyachtclub.com), where proprietor M.J. Sauer is president of the local chapter of the Ohio State alumni club (cajunbuckeyes.com). Her tucked-away neighborhood bar (tip: it’s not really a yacht club) will get a visit from the school’s pep band on Dec. 31 at 7 p.m., and on Thursday it hosts a daylong block party, a Buckeyextravaganza if you will, with a New Orleans-themed bar food menu of, among other things, meat pies, crawfish etouffee, gumbo and alligator sausage po-boys.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.