Living life between the barrel staves in Bourbon Country

High Hope Steeplechase 2009 Tailgate Party


Well, the party is over now. You can read about the results, our adventures and view some great pictures at “The Party That Almost Wasn’t”.  Below is the story of how it all started. Hope to see you in 2011 for “A Pirate Looks at Forty – Featuring the High Hope Pirates of the Paddock” tailgate party!


This is without question the earliest I’ve ever finalized a menu for the High Hope tailgate party. Granted, I’ve had the idea for this year’s theme for a long time, but the menu development usually doesn’t even begin until January. On New Year’s Eve 2005 my friend Kevin and I hatched the idea to do a bourbon based menu, and five months later I walked away with my second “Best Food” award. The Tiki Bar theme for 2007 was actually a hold over from the aborted 2005 Steeplechase – I ended up not even attending that year – so even though I knew in advance what the next party would be I didn’t start worrying about the food until about six months before the actual race date. A new twist in 2007 was when I announced at the end of the day what the theme would be for 2008 (my version of an unveiling, one day maybe I’ll hire Ty Pennington for the announcement), and as everyone left High Hope that day they knew that the next go around would be inspired by the cuisine of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and the Baja Peninsula of California. Likewise, at the close of last year’s party I had the announcements ready and printed for this year’s “Party at Congo Square” – I just liked the sound of that better than “Mardi Gras in May”. The people of New Orleans know how to party, and the annual Jazz Fest along with the Crawfish Festival are both held in the month before the start of summer. It would seem then that are plenty of reasons to celebrate New Orleans and Louisiana cuisine during the month of May. And so it is that as I write this on the weekend following New Year’s Eve the 2009 Tailgate Party is ready to go in only four months. In breaking with tradition, I am publishing the usually top secret menu in advance for everyone to enjoy, discuss and probably scratch their heads over a little. Hopefully it will whet your appetite and encourage you to come out and enjoy the party and the races.

For more information on the High Hope Steeplechase visit Information on our previous years’ adventures can be found on the Tailgating Steepelchase Style page on this site.

In May 2009, you are invited to a Mardi Gras in May

“Party At Congo Square!”

“Well it might be superstition but some kind of somethin’
Goin’ on down there
It’s an old time tradition when they play their
Drums at night in Congo Square”
lyrics by Sonny Landreth


Join us May 17th, 2009 for our 9th Annual and

Four Time Award Winning Tailgate Party

Winner “Best Food” 2003 (Wasting Away In Margaritaville)
Winner “Best Food” 2006 (The Kentucky Bourbon Trail)
Winner “Best Theme” 2007 (The Tiki Bar Is Open)
Winner “Best Food” 2008 (Let Me Take You Down To Cabo)

Featuring Bourbon Street Hurricanes, New Orleans’ style Bloody Mary’s, Bayou Barbecue Shrimp, Creole Gumbo, Alligator Meatballs, Banana Foster Bread Pudding, Praline Cream Pie,and an authentic Cajun Crawfish Boil!!!

“Here come the Big Chief, the Big Chief,
Big Chief of the Nation
Wild, wild creation
He won’t bow down, down on the ground
Oh how I love to hear him call my Indian Red.”
Traditional Mardi Gras chant

“It’s a Mardi Gras in May Party at Congo Square” Menu

(all recipes are original unless noted otherwise)


  • The Bayou Bloody Mary
    My spicy version of the Bloody Mary, just add a crawfish and enjoy!
  • The Bourbon Street Hurricane
    Pat O’Brien’s may have created the original, but I think this one is the best. Made with a combination of oak aged rum, bourbon, passionfruit, orange and lime juices, grenadine and dash of bitters
  • The Bayou Margarita
    Bourbon, Southern Comfort Peach Liqueur, homemade sour mix and a squeeze of lime
  • Backdraft Brewery’s New Orleans Red Voodoo Ale
    The homemade sensation, brewed and bottled in Kevin’s basement

Bar Snacks

  • Gulf Shrimp Gazpacho Shooters
    A shot glass full of spicy, Tabasco laced gazpacho garnished with a succulent Gulf shrimp
  • Bourbon Street Pecans
    A little sweet with a kick. We added the bourbon because serving snacks just wasn’t good enough for a High Hope tailgate party – these nuts needed booze!


  • Bayou Barbecue Shrimp
    Shrimp and red bell peppers grilled and topped with Creole Barbecue Sauce and served over french bread.
  • Gator Wings
    If the only wings you know from from Buffalo, try this Louisiana inspired version. You’ll be saying Oooo-weeee! I gar-ron-tee!
  • Creole Gumbo
    The New Orleans classic, served over white rice.


  • Cajun Crawfish Boil
    With potatoes, corn on the cob and andouille sausage
  • Muffaletta Sandwiches
    Hollowed out Italian bread filled with mortadella, cappocolo, mozzarella and provolone cheese, roasted red peppers, fresh arugula and topped with a creole olive salad
  • Alligator (Meat) Balls
    Yes, it’s really alligator – and no, it’s not that part of the alligator – served with a homemade Southern Comfort barbecue sauce

Side Dishes

  • New Orleans Fruit Salad with Poppyseed Dressing
    This one is straight out of a Paul Prudhomme cookbook and always a crowd pleaser
  • Creole Remoulade Slaw
    Not the normal picnic slaw you might be used to. Tossed with a remoulade dressing
  • Macque Choux
    Corn and bell peppers sauteed in butter, a recipe straight from Patout’s Restaurant in New Orleans.


  • Banana’s Foster Bread Pudding
    The bread pudding is made with banana bread instead of the traditional French bread and topped with fresh banana’s sautéed in rum and banana liqueur.

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