Celebrations

We give you all the ingredients for a rockin’ Mardi Gras.



Celebrations

 

Throw a perfect Mardi-Gras party in six easy steps—

or skip to step No. 7 if you just want to go out and get wild.

 

By Marisa LaScala

with Carol Caffin

and John Bruno Turiano

 

 

Mardi Gras falls on February 5 this year. Looking to celebrate without buying a ticket to Nawlins? Consult our no-fuss, do-it-yourself guide to all the beads, booze, and beignets you’ll need. Just try to keep your shirt on.

 

 

Step 1: Dress the Part

Gold, purple, and green are the colors of Mardi Gras. “The more elaborate the costume, the better,” says Sue-Ann Ryan, manager of The Bayou in Mount Vernon, the hub of local Mardi Gras experts. So break out those sequins and feathers that stay in the back of your closet the rest of the year. Oh, and don’t forget a mask. “Masks are huge,” Ryan says. (Don’t own a mask or a big, gold boa already? See No. 6 below.)

 

Step 2: What’s Cookin’? Cajun!

What to serve? Jambalaya, of course. Not up to cooking? Call Howard Feigenbaum, owner of Mom’s Homestyle Cooking (525 Gramatan Ave, Mount Vernon 914-665-2258) and order this traditional rice-based dish of South Louisiana.

 

“My recipe is based on the one at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans,” Feigenbaum says. “If you want authentic jambalaya, you have to go to the source.” 

The thick, filling hodgepodge of a stew is the perfect big pot meal for a large group of Mardi Gras revelers. A half tray, which serves 12 to 15, costs $55.

 

 

Step 3: Here Comes the Hurricane

 

Chef and owner John Reynolds of Bungalow Restaurant and Lounge
(166 Stoneleigh Ave, Croton Falls, 914-598-3008) has taken this classic New Orleans cocktail and added a Caribbean twist. “We take the ‘cane’ in ‘hurricane’ to heart,” says Reynolds. “We garnish the drink with real sugarcane so you can chew out every last drop.”

 

The Bungalow’s Hurricane

(Serves 4)

 

4 oz lite rum (Bacardi)

4 oz spiced rum (Captain Morgan)

4 Tbsp passion fruit syrup (Torani or     

    Monin)

8 tsp Key lime juice

4 tsp simple syrup

sugarcane for garnish

 

For simple syrup:

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil and add sugar. Stir until the mixture reaches a syrup-like consistency. Let cool.  

To prepare drink: Pour ingredients into ice-filled shaker. Shake, strain, and serve in “hurricane glass” with sugarcane-stick garnish.

 

Step 4: Don’t Forget Dessert

If there’s any room left over after that mind-obliterating hurricane, the official sweet treat of any bona-fide Mardi Gras fête is the King Cake. This cinnamon-and-sugary cake, shaped into a hollow circle (like a giant doughnut) and topped with colored sugar, has one unusual twist: a little plastic baby is baked inside. Yes, it’s weird, but it has something to do with the Bible. The important thing is, whoever gets the slice of cake with the baby inside becomes the king of the party—an excuse to drink more hurricanes—and has to supply next year’s cake.

 

You can find the recipe on the official New Orleans Mardi Gras website: www.mardigrasday.com. Better yet, you can buy a King Cake mix—or the whole darn cake—from the website as well.

 

Step 5: Play the Right Music

Jockamo Fee Na Nay! Think of Mardi Gras music as a gumbo for your ears and, like any good gumbo, it should contain a spicy mix of heady ingredients; in this case, a blend of Cajun (Acadian), Creole, Caribbean, Zydeco, funk, blues, soul, jazz, gospel, and Dixieland. You’ll definitely want to have accordions, saxophones, and fiddles somewhere in the mix, and you probably should go for some traditional tunes as well as more contemporary ones. After that, it gets personal—adjust the measurements according to taste. Here are 10 Mardi Gras music must-haves:

 

1. Go to the Mardi Gras - Professor   Longhair;

 

   2. Fiyo on the Bayou - The Neville Brothers;

 

3. Buckwheat’s Zydeco Party - Buckwheat Zydeco;

4. Gris Gris - Dr. John;

5. The Wild Magnolias - The Wild Magnolias;

6. Do Whatcha Wanna - The Rebirth Brass Brand;

 

   7. Street Parade - Earl King;

 

 

8. The Essential Louis Armstrong - Louis Armstrong (right).

 

 

9. Mardi Gras - Zachary Richard;

 

   10. Across the Parish Line - Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience.

  

Of course, if you don’t want to get that specific or can’t find a particular title, remember you can’t go wrong with most selections by Louis Armstrong, the Neville Brothers, Buckwheat Zydeco, or Professor Longhair. Or, you can take the really easy way out and opt for one of the gazillions of Mardi Gras compilations available online. For some really authentic and esoteric Mardi Gras compilations, check out www.mardigrasrecords.com or www.louisianamusicfactory.com.

 

Step 6: It Wouldn’t Be Mardi Gras Without Cheap, Plastic Items

 

 

What immediately comes to mind when you hear “Mardi Gras”? Beads, gold doubloons, and other cheap, plastic baubles. “At The Bayou, beads are just constantly being thrown,” says manager Ryan. You can pick up beads at party supply stores like Party City (2642 Central Park Ave, Yonkers, 914-961-5900; 3 Main St, Mount Kisco, 914-242-0055; 435 Boston Post Rd, Port Chester, 914-939-6900). Even lazier, I mean, tech-savvy party hosts can order the trinkets from www.mardigrasoutlet.com.

 

Step 7: Outsource the Festivities

If all you want is to down some gumbo without all the effort, The Bayou Restaurant (580 Gramatan Ave, Mount Vernon 914-668-2634; www.bayou restaurantny.com) is the closest you’ll get to the Bourbon Street experience. “There’s a real carnival going on,” says Ryan. We’re talking four courses of Cajun food, live music straight from New Orleans featuring the Craw Daddies, authentic hurricanes, as many beads as you can catch, and even a 300-pound bellydancer. “Basically, anything goes,” she says. The Bayou hosts three different parties (at 6, 8, and 10 pm); a ticket costs $50 and includes dinner.

 

 

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