By Polly Campbell
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Mardi Gras isn't until next week, but celebrations don't need to wait. Down in New Orleans, they've been having parades and parties since January. Here are a few special restaurant events that can help you enjoy les bon temps. Assume there will be beads and masks available:
For a big Mardi Gras event with tons of food, Dixieland jazz, hurricanes on tap and a good charitable cause, check out the annual Northern Kentucky Restaurant Association fund-raiser at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington.
This year, it will be March 3, the Monday before Fat Tuesday, from 6:30-10 p.m. (Mardi Gras is all about celebrating on days of the week you usually go to bed early.) More than 30 Northern Kentucky restaurants will donate food for the event, and distributors and others will donate drinks. The Pete Wagner Dixieland Band will play traditional jazz, and a silent auction will be conducted.
Food highlights: corn and crawfish chowder from the Grand Cafe, Zebo's balsamic bourbon chicken and voodoo chocolate bread pudding, a New Orleans seafood combo from Mitchell's Fish Market and Mike Fink's jambalaya.
All the proceeds - they hope to raise $60,000 - will go to four organizations that serve homeless children. The donation is earmarked for food. For tickets, $40, call (859) 291-6572.
Wild Bill's New American Grill in Lebanon always has a few items of Louisiana origin on its menu - it's a favorite style of owner Bill Schroeder. For Mardi Gras, there will be an expanded menu of Louisiana specialties, available Friday through March 4, including classics such as red beans and rice, gumbo, fried oyster po' boy and a fresh crawfish boil. Shrimp remoulade, a New Orleans favorite, will be served as a parfait, and the salad will be wilted spinach with pecan-crusted goat cheese and warm andouille vinaigrette. Dessert: banana, white chocolate and pecan bread pudding with bourbon sauce.
There also will be live music: Cajun band Lagniappe Friday and March 4, Back Forty Blues Band Saturday and the Other Whitemeat Playboys March 3.
20 E. Silver St. Call (513) 934-1300 for more information.
DeSha's in Symmes Township will host an event March 4 with the president of Maker's Mark Bourbon, Bill Samuels. The "Where Bourbon Street and Red Heads Meet" party (referring to the distinctive red wax seal on the top of Maker's Mark bottles) will include a shot of Maker's Mark, a chance to chat with the man behind it, jazz from Kenny Poole and Pam Kneer, lots of Mardi Gras atmosphere and appetizers made with bourbon: beef negamaki, salmon/boursin puffs and havarti/crab fondue.
The event, 6-9 p.m., will benefit the Leukemia Society. Cost: $25 per person. Reservations required: 247-9933.
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