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Eat to the Beat at the New Orleans Jazz Festival

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People who love New Orleans celebrations but have written off Mardi Gras for its raucous crowds often find the city's gentler Jazz & Heritage Festival just the ticket.

More than 400,000 tourists are descending on the Big Easy for the more subdued but no less spirited event, which begins tomorrow and runs through May 4.

No matter how alluring the sights and sounds, festivalgoers will want to graze on the city's world-famous food. From haute cuisine at Emeril's to down-home fare at Mother's, Cajun cafes in the bayous to temples of Creole in the French Quarter, New Orleans is nirvana for food lovers.

For starters, "Breakfast at Brennan's" can't be beat. In the early 1950s, Owen Edward Brennan started this culinary tradition at his French Quarter restaurant; his three sons, Owen Jr. (Pip), Jimmy, and Ted, who inherited their father's business, have carried out his vision ever since.

If you go, leave your watch (and calorie counter) at home. Fast food Brennan's is not. In keeping with the legacy of leisurely French aristocrats, breakfast is an all-morning affair. The morning meal is served to 1,000 people each day, and even diners with a reservation can expect a wait.

After settling down and tasting Brennan's signature eggs, all distractions are forgotten. We're not talking the standard plate of scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. Not even traditional Eggs Benedict, although that's always an option. Poached eggs on artichoke hearts nestled in a bed of creamed spinach, or fried trout, or andouille Cajun sausage and Holland rusks - all topped with hollandaise sauce, are just a few of the imaginative egg dishes served at the salmon-pink mansion on Royal Street.

Brennan's flair for creativity shows up all over its morning menu, which also features such atypical breakfast fare as Oysters Rockefeller, Blackened Redfish, and even New Orleans Turtle Soup, a house specialty.

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