New Orleans Roadfood Festival rolls in March 24-25

new orleans foodThat New Orleans is a food town is no secret. What I just discovered, however, is that it’s host to a food festival spawned by one of my favorite pastimes ever: road food (and no, I’m not referring to this kind). Way back in the day, when I was a wee college student, I discovered the late, great Gourmet magazine, and became obsessed with “Roadfood,” a column (now a website) written by the road-trippin’, big-eatin’ couple Jane and Michael Stern.

In every issue, the Sterns would choose a micro-region of the U.S. and a local specialty on which to focus their column. Each month, I read about chicken and dumplings in Indiana, pasties from Montana, green chile from El Rito, New Mexico, or barbecue from Owensboro, Kentucky. Then I’d wipe the drool off of the pages and stash each article away in a manila folder to be saved for future road trips, both real and imagined.

Apparently, nearly half a decade ago, while I was lost in some “best roadside diner biscuit” reverie, the Sterns helped create the New Orleans Roadfood Festival. The 4th annual food fiesta will be held March 24-25 in the city’s historic French Market. It will provide a showcase for over 30 restaurants across the country, which will serve the dishes that made them famous. Attendees will be able to street-feast upon Texas and Memphis barbecue, Tucson’s best tamales, custard from upstate New York, Cajun and Creole delicacies from across Louisiana, and many other regional culinary specialties. There will also be cooking demos, live music, a beignet-eating contest for the N.O. Fire Department, and a kickoff party featuring the Sterns, local chefs, and noted cookbook author Lynne Rossetto Kasper.

And get this: admission to the festival is free. You’ll still have to pay for those good eats, but a portion of the proceeds will benefit Cafe Reconcile, a non-profit restaurant that uses innovative strategies to provide life skills and job training to youth from at-risk communities in area. Just in case you need a guilt-free reason to indulge. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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[Photo credit: Flickr user Adam Melancon]

Matador launches print magzine Beta

When I met Matador Network’s CEO Ross Borden for the first time we were in the Air New Zealand lounge at LAX. He was nestled at the end of the lounge, import beer at his side and furiously typing away at his Macbook — where he remained, working hard, through two weeks of adventure travel through New Zealand and Thailand — furiously committed to his empire and to all things Matador.

At the time, they were expanding, launching the successful travel writing school Matadoru whilst pushing forth strongly on the other dozen fronts already live on the site.

And now, Matador has expanded into a hard travel product. This March, Borden, colleague David Miller and their editor in chief David T. Page will be releasing the first issue of Beta, a new travel magazine painted in the classic, edgy Matador style. Says Miller in his 8 Reasons Matador is Launching a Print Magazine article:

Travel writing in its highest form is like a cairn. It’s tangible. It’s formed out of the local landscape. It registers and measures one’s relationship with place. It’s meant to remain for a long time. It can guide you at ground level. And it can guide on other levels too. This is our vision behind creating our new print magazine, BETA.

In an era of transitioning travel media it’s a big risk for Matador and the guys behind the network — but if they’re all as tenacious as Ross is, we have no doubt that Beta will take off. You can check out their full masthead here. beta invites for Gadling readers

We hate to break it to you, but there’s only a week left in summer. Why not get a jump on planning your fall and winter travel? Wanderfly, the new travel-planning and booking site we reviewed earlier this month has just unveiled a spiffy new beta site and is offering free invites to check it out to the first 500 Gadling readers to sign up.

What’s new and improved on the beta site?

– The search functions have improved: you can search by airport, and within specific countries. You can also modify your preferences as you browse results should you decide you want to add the great outdoors to your beach and culture vacation or want to move your trip forward a month.
-Results are better too, with more accurate recommendations and enhanced destination info, including new photos and Google Maps integration.
– Better communication and sharing with Facebook Connect to see where your friends are and ability to save and email itineraries to friends or to yourself.

Want to start searching for your next trip destination? Sign up for access here with code gadling and let us know what you find in the comments!