Celebrate Mardi Gras in the Triangle (Update)
Posted February 17, 2012
Updated February 20, 2012
As a New Orleans native, I always get a little homesick this time of year. Seeing photos of my friends at parades, and my mom telling me about the King Cake she just bought, leaves me a little sad.
But there are many ways to celebrate Mardi Gras (also known as Fat Tuesday) in the Triangle:
Head to Durham for a carnival parade on Tuesday. The party starts at 7 p.m. at the CCB Plaza, 201 Corcoran St.. The parade will be led by the Bulltown Strutters second-line group.
The route goes right past Geer Street Garden, which is serving a 3-course Mardi-Gras-themed menu plus a cocktail for $28 per person. Selections include: Crawfish Ravioli, Red Beans & Rice, Fried Oysters, Shrimp Creole, Vegetarian or Chicken & Andouille Gumbo and Jambalaya. For dessert there is King Cake!
Fullsteam is hosting a Masquerade Ball from 4 p.m. - midnight. The night will include food trucks, music, prizes and a King Cake competition.
Also in Durham, Papa Mojo's Roadhouse will celebrate Mardi Gras with zydeco music from Mel Melton and the Wicked Mojos, Cajun country band Shamu Garcon and Rhonda Robichaux with her sultry vocals and swampy guitar.
Tuesday at Papa Mojo's will also include free face painting for the children and caricatures. Also expect traditional beads and masks. It is $10 to get in and every attendee gets a free copy of Mel Melton and the Wicked Mojos CD, Papa Mojo's Roadhouse.
In Raleigh, Battistella's has special lunch and dinner menus through Mardi Gras Day. The three course lunch menu ($15 per person) features Crawfish Salad, Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo, Red Beans & Rice and Fried Oyster Po'Boys. The dinner menu ($30 per person) offers Pecan Crusted Catfish Amandine plus other picks and several tasty-sounding desserts. I personally enjoy their Bread Pudding with white chocolate sauce, but they also have King Cake, Praline Pecan Fudge and Rum Raisin Rice Pudding.
UPDATE: The Big Easy in Raleigh is hosting its regular Tuesday night trivia on Mardi Gras. Trivia starts at 8 p.m. with Big Chief hitting the stage at 11 p.m. There will be prizes, beads and more with no cover charge.
The London Bridge Pub is also getting into the Mardi Gras spirit with a zydeco band, drink specials, free food and giveaways on Tuesday.
(Note: A King Cake is a traditional New Orleans pastry made for carnival season. It features sugar and icing on top and can be stuffed with fruit, cream cheese, chocolate, etc. A plastic baby is placed inside and the person who gets the slice containing the baby has to buy the next cake. I hear Whole Foods is selling these cakes in the Triangle. But I haven't tried them! I typically order mine from Haydel's Bakery back home and have it shipped. WRAL's Ken Smith is a big fan of microwaving his slice for a few seconds to melt the sugar.)
So who has been to Mardi Gras? It isn't all just Bourbon Street debauchery. There are lots of family-friendly parades in the New Orleans and suburb areas. When we go, we like to make some sandwiches and make a picnic on the route while waiting for the parades to start. Some people even make it into a tailgating event by bringing barbecue pits!