Many annual occasions, after being planned for and observed and celebrated, can find their way to the proverbial back shelf, at least in many of our minds.
There's always a new holiday on the horizon, something else to prepare for, and remembering what we did a month ago is a luxury our busy brains can't indulge.
Mardi Gras, however, might be an exception. Not only is it brighter -- think of all those shiny beads -- and brassier -- think of all those big horn-tastic sounds -- but it is tied to a particular city, one that's at the forefront of jazz and celebration. New Orleans reigns royally in hearts across the land, and when Fat Tuesday dances back into view, we want to party.
Not to mention, of course, that Fat Tuesday revelers have a way of hanging any beads they catch on their mirrors or doorknobs, making it one of the most unforgettable dates on the calendar.
So, SoCal, where will you go on Feb. 9, if not NOLA? You can grab your decorated parasol and dance for...
Amoeba Records: The good times roll early in the afternoon at the Sunset Boulevard record-a-torium, with live drumming and dancing from Congo Square at 3:30. Things get going an hour earlier, at 2:30, with DJ-spun tunes. Want to join the convivial, oh-so-mirthful Mardi Gras parade around the aisles of the store? It truly is a Tinseltown tradition. Just be sure to dress in your greens, purples, and golds.
Aaron Neville Quintet: The legend is headed for the Broad Stage in Santa Monica to do some Mardi Gras-style celebrating, though not on Feb. 9 proper. Listen for the jazzy, New Orleans-vibrant note-making on Friday, Feb. 12 and Saturday, Feb. 13. If the wintertime holiday is very much about the music for you, this should be your destination.
The Original Farmers Market: The Mardi Gras goings-on began in late January, but they're still going, or at least will be on the evening of Tuesday, Feb. 9. Listen for Eddie Baytos & The Nervis Bros. on the landmark public market's West Patio, which happens to be exactly where The Gumbo Pot is located. The show? It's free to see.
Terrine: No one needs to be told that tempting cuisine is a savory centerpiece to the holiday, and French-forward bistro Terrine is going all out on the vittles front. The special Mardi Gras grub on the menu? Crawfish gumbo, shrimp and grits, red beans and rice, beignets, pudding with a chicory-coffee zing, and NOLA-nice cocktails like the Sazerac. Cheers!
Messhall Kitchen: You're up near Griffith Park, and it is Feb. 9, and you're craving a shrimp boil that has all of the hallmarks of bayou-close cuisine. This restaurant can deliver on that front, as well as the fronts of cinnamon raisin pudding with praline sauce and a twist on the famous Hurricane. Will your shrimp boil be served on newspaper, though, as is standard? You bet.
Little Dom's: The Los Feliz favorite is doing up a few nights of Big Easy eating, with Tuesday, Feb. 9 being the final evening to order up the Louisiana-yummy dishes. Boudin balls, jambalaya, roast beef po'boys, and King Cake are all on the roster, as well as other standards like gumbo and red beans with rice. Have you dined as though you're on Bourbon Street yet? There's still time.