Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tennessee Williams Festival: Pre-Festival Night

I hadn't intended to go to the pre-festival night festivities of the Tennessee Williams Festival on Wednesday (March 24), but something got into me at the last moment and I decided, Hey, why not go? The festivities began at 7 p.m. at the Chateau Bourbon Hotel in the 800 block of Iberville Street, but I drove down to the French Quarter early, arriving at about 5 p.m. I decided to park in the hotel's parking garage and to pay extra for valet parking. (Self parking in the garage at 5 p.m. would be okay, but self unparking alone in the garage at 10:30 p.m. I felt would not.)

Since I was early, I trotted over to the Gumbo Shop for supper and had a great meal in the courtyard - tossed green salad and gumbo z'herbes. Gumbo z'herbes is a green gumbo (vegetarian) that I hardly ever eat. I grew up with my grandmother's seafood gumbo and later got into chicken and sausage gumbo but never gumbo z'herbes. Anyway, the gumbo z'herbes at the Gumbo Shop was a light relaxing gumbo that I just loved. I will certainly order it again!

After this supper, I strolled along the Mississippi River until time for the festivities.

The first part of the festivities was a cocktail contest at 7 p.m. in the Clock Bar of the Chateau Bourbon. Now why would you name your bar the Clock Bar? Because the Chateau Bourbon is in the location of the former D. H. Holmes Department Store, which was famous for its large clock on Canal Street. I remember the days when we would say, "Meet you under the clock at Holmes." Now we can say, "Meet you in the Clock Bar."

Anyway, we all met in the Clock Bar, and three bartenders - also called mixologists - competed to create the best Tennessee Williams inspired drink. Official celebrity judges actually sat at the bar and commented on each drink, but everyone got to vote - samples of each drink were passed among the crowd on trays, and we each had a ballot to cast our vote. These were the three drinks.

  • Big Daddy's Stella - a fruity drink with a slice of mango in it
  • Pink Honey - some sort of almond liqueur with milk and honey
  • 19th Hole - I don't know what it was, but it was strong
I very rarely drink, but I really wanted to try these drinks, so I took the samples and had two sips of each. (For my own larger drink, I had non-alcoholic fruit punch.) I voted for Pink Honey, but it didn't win. I missed the announcement of the winner, but someone told me it was Big Daddy's Stella. This now becomes the Stella Drink (or did they say the Stellar Drink?) of 2010.

The second part of the festivities was a screening of the movie version of Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire, starring Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh. This took place outdoors by the light of the moon on the hotel's rooftop courtyard - a really nice setting. A Streetcar Named Desire is nothing if not intense - and the acting is masterful. Marlon Brando is Stanley Kowalski, and Vivien Leigh is Blanche Dubois. It was a great way to get into the spirit of the Tennessee Williams Festival!

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