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Beaujolais, Part I
Le Meridien Hotel's (614 Canal St.) annual Festival du Vin Nouveau is scheduled, as usual, for the third Thursday of November -- the day every year when the newest Beaujolais Nouveau wines are released for sale. The festival will begin with a parade of carriages, mimes, stilt walkers and can-can dancers through the French Quarter. The carriages will deposit 20 area chefs at the hotel, where they will offer tastes of their respective cuisines to accompany wines imported from both France and California. New this year, the $45 ticket will buy your way down an indoor installation of a Parisian street scene. A portion of the evening's proceeds will benefit United Way. For reservations, call 527-6708 or 527-6717.

Beaujolais, Part II
In a competing event on the same evening (Nov. 15) at the Windsor Court Hotel (300 Gravier St.), the French-American Chamber of Commerce, Louisiana Chapter, will hold the "official" event celebrating this year's Beaujolais Nouveau wines. The Grill Room Chefs James Overbaugh and Philippe Pinon will supply French eats, while Ronnie Kole tends to the music. The evening, also featuring a silent auction, will honor U.S. Sen. John Breaux for his promoting close relations between Louisiana and France. Tickets are $70. Call 962-4915.

And finally ...
Or, pop into North Shore Wine Merchants (1501 N. Hwy. 190, Covington, 985-809-8000) on Nov. 16 between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. for a free Beaujolais Nouveau tasting.

New Market Watch
The new, Thursday evening Crescent City Farmers Market, located outside the American Can Company, has a vibe of its own. In the words of Market Director Richard McCarthy, "It has kind of a happy hour feel." On opening night, our local Slow Food leader, Poppy Tooker, was frying up airy rice calas. Bunches of drying lavender, farm-fresh eggs and ravioli waited further down the line. Among them, Jane Greene of Edible Herbs offered what must be the area's best and least expensive collection of fresh herbs at $1 per bag: Spanish tarragon, scented geranium leaves, lemon basil, thyme and chives, to name a few. Greene also sells condiments made using ingredients from her Bywater garden, plus one ready-made soup each market day. Although the soup variety ultimately will depend upon what's fresh, Greene's projected November menu includes herbed potato, pumpkin with Tunisian spices, vegetarian bean chili and poblano-corn chowder. The Thursday market is at 3700 Orleans Ave. and runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Call 861-5898 or visit -- Roahen


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