Imagine the spectacle. Not the drag queens traipsing around or the stilt walkers. No, the theatre at this year's Mardi Gras celebration is provided by the chefs -- 29 of them -- flambéeing, sautéeing, shucking, tossing and stirring Creole specialties for up to 4500 people. "It's a party atmosphere," says Quentin Harty, executive chef at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.
Sizzling up a storm (Winnipeg Mardi Gras)
The centre will host the annual Mardi Gras on February 15 and 16, a
big bash designed to heat up a Winnipeg winter and get people into the
120 pounds of alligator is being shipped up from
Louisiana for the occasion. Yes, you read that right. "Alligator has its own very
unique taste," Harty says. "I guess it's kind of like a cross between
fish and chicken." The meat will be ground up, blended with spices, then
fried up into fritters.
Also on the menu will be crawfish
étouffée, a rich stew-like concoction thickened with black roux. "It's
the most challenging of all roux to make," explains Harty. "The
blackening of it and the cooking of it to that degree gives it somewhat
of a nutty flavour."
Roux also thickens the gumbo, Louisiana's classic soup redolent of okra. "We're also offering a dish that is synonymous with Louisiana and New Orleans and that is shrimp creole," Harty adds. Rounding out the menu offerings will be crab cakes, freshly shucked oysters, deep fried oyster po'boys and sweet potato fries, all made to order.
Shrimp creole (Winnipeg Mardi Gras)
Once you've popped back enough peel-and-eat shrimp to satisfy your hunger you can dance the night away to authentic zydeco provided by C.J. Chenier and The Red Hot Louisiana Band, do some shopping on Bourbon Street, join the parade and enjoy the aerial acrobatics, showgirls and more. It will definitely be a carnival atmosphere.
And feel free to wear an outrageous costume. You'll fit right in.
Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit JDRF, the Juvenile Diabetes Resarch Foundation.
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