Fat Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras, is March 4 this year, and you don't have to be in New Orleans to enjoy the culture and cuisine of that wonderful city. Here are some local happenings. Note, not all of them are actually on March 4:
•Columbia Street West, 135 W. Columbia St. on The Landing, is having its annual Mardi Gras bash Saturday. The evening includes burlesque shows 6-8 p.m., samplings of Abita beer, samples of New Orleans-style food provided by Bourbon Street Hideaway, beads and Mardi Gras music. Columbia Street opens at 4 p.m. There is no cover charge.
•On March 4, Bourbon Street Hideaway, in the basement of Columbia Street West and accessible by steps on Harrison Street, will be open serving chef's features. Call 422-7500 for reservations.
•For the 15th year, Deer Park Pub has planned a heck of a Mardi Gras Party. Festivities start at the pub, 1530 Leesburg Road, at 6:30 p.m. March 4. Cajun Skip and the Zydeco Troup Band plays 7-11 p.m. The Ragin' Cajun food truck will be on site selling shrimp gumbo and crawfish. Specialty seasonal beers served that night are “Night Tripper,” a Mardi Gras Imperial Stout beer from New Holland, Mich., and Jockamo, an IPA from Abita Springs, La. King Rex and Bacchus will visit Deer Park and present the “King's Cake.” Beads and trinkets will be given out to patrons.
•What would Fat Tuesday be without a paczki? If you don't know, head to Richard's Bakery, 1130 N. Wells St., early on March 4. The bakery will sell its traditional paczki treats, a filled pastry that comes in apple, Bavarian cream, red raspberry and strawberry and is rolled in powdered sugar. Also available and Mardi Gras-related: cinnamon king cakes. Richard's is taking orders now at 424-4012. Bakery hours are 6 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
Ivy Tech Community College Northeast's Special Cuisines class has a Scandinavian buffet planned for Thursday. The buffet will include appetizers, vegetables, salad, soup, entrees and desserts. Here's a sampling of the menu:
•A selection of traditional open-faced sandwiches and salads.
•Lihapullat, Finnish-style meatballs seasoned with allspice and sour cream and served with a brown beef gravy.
•Sabayon Lingonberry Mousse, a creamy dessert with tart red lingonberries.
Reservations, which are required, are taken for times between 5 and 6:30 p.m. For reservations, call the Special Cuisines line at 480-2002. Dinners are served in the Hospitality Room on the Coliseum campus, 3800 N. Anthony Blvd., and run $20, cash or check only.
Students in the class take turns creating, preparing and serving world-cuisine themed meals for class credit.
The Bagel Station Uptown Cafe at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory will change its Saturday hours starting this Saturday. The new Saturday hours will be 8 a.m.-3 p.m. The change is in response to customer requests for earlier service. The Bagel Station Uptown is at 1100 S. Calhoun St. in the conservatory. The cafe has its own entrance and opens earlier than the conservatory. The cafe also is open 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday and 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. It is closed Sunday. For information or a menu, call the cafe at 426-9000.
We've already reported Fresh Thyme Farmers Market has signed a lease to open a store where Borders used to be at 4310 Coldwater Road. The company recently sent out a news release saying it would open its store here this summer.
The store's emphasis will be on fresh, healthy, natural and organic food, with the heart of the store being a bountiful produce department. The company plans to find local sources for much of its produce.
Fresh Thyme's first store will open this spring in Mt. Prospect, Ill. It plans to open 60 stores in the Midwest over the next five years. For more information: www.freshthyme.com.
Something happening at your eatery? Call Cindy Larson at 461-8284, fax 461-8817, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write Restaurant Notes, C/O The News-Sentinel, PO Box 102, Fort Wayne, IN 46801. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel. To read other columns, go to www.news-sentinel.com/section /food.