Creole Tomato Festival set for June 11-12_lowres


The Creole tomato will get its annual attention during a two-day festival starting June 11. The French Market Creole Tomato Festival, now in its 30th year, is dedicated to the Louisiana tomato, which is popular during summer and is widely used by many restaurants in New Orleans.

  "I cook with Creole tomatoes as soon as I can get my hands on them, when they are in season from May to August," says chef Andrea Apuzzo of Andrea's restaurant in Metairie. "They are pulpier than the regular tomatoes. Also, they are very flavorful and have a really nice aroma." Apuzzo will demonstrate how to make tomato mozzarella caprese salad on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at the Louisiana Cookin' Culinary Stage. Other chefs conducting cooking demonstrations include Kevin Belton, Brad McGehee, Michael Farrell and Ryan Haigler.

  "It's a very pleasant way to see what's new at the French Market and see excellent live music, sample a lot of local food and see the market 'alive' and in action," says Amy Kirk, marketing director for French Market.

  A second line will kick off the festivities on Saturday, which also include a tomato eating contest. The festival grows from two to four live music stages this year and will include performances by Big Daddy O, All Around Brass Band, Smoky Greenwell, Royal Rounders and others. Food vendors include Bistreaux at the Bank (deep-fried BLTs), Cafe Dauphine (catfish courtbouillon), Loretta's Authentic Pralines (crab-tomato beignets), Superior Seafood (Creole tomato shrimp ceviche), George's Produce (Pontchartrain salad) and more.

  The free festival will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. both days.