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Let the good times roll on Fat Tuesday

Who doesn’t love a good party before Lent? Fat Tuesday (also known as Shrove Tuesday) hits early on Feb. 9.

As folks celebrate the last day of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, here in Buffalo there are celebrations, too. For those who will be giving up all kind of things before Ash Wednesday, it’s the last hurrah. Here’s a few ways to eat and drink your way through Fat Tuesday:

Toutant (437 Ellicott St.) will celebrate on Feb. 8 with its “Lundi Gras.” Chef/owner James Roberts notes the restaurant is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, so the plan is get the party started early with special food and drinks, and if possible, he hopes to live stream the parades and the French Quarter from New Orleans. There will be $5 frozen daiquiris and a dangerous sounding drink along the lines of the iconic Hand Grenade found in New Orleans. Traditional Mardi Gras fare in both the main dining room and bar includes Red Beans and Rice, Crawfish Étouffée, Seafood Gumbo and King Cake for dessert. Hours are 5 to 11 p.m. for dining, 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. bar menu dining, bar stays open until 2 a.m. Visit the restaurant’s Facebook page for updates.

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Down by the bayou, or rather on Grand Island by the Niagara River, Dick & Jenny’s (270 Baseline Road, Grand Island) celebration begins Feb. 4 and continues over the weekend to Feb. 9. It is from 5 to 10 p.m.

Dick & Jenny’s is owned by New Orleans/Hurricane Katrina transplants Dick and Jenny Benz. The restaurant serves New Orleans cuisine year-round. For this Mardi Gras celebration, a special menu begins with starters like crab cakes served over fried green tomatoes, Mardi Gras deviled eggs served with southern slaw and bacon jam, and a dish called Gimme Grits!, Palmetto Farm sweet potato grits topped with your choices of seared pork belly or barbecued “dynamite” (we are thinking hot and spicy) crawfish tail.

If you bring a friend, a Squad Platter for Two features four fried green tomatoes, four smoked shrimp, two jalapeno hush puppies and two Mardi Gras deviled eggs.

Of course jambalaya is on the menu, this time it’s a Louisiana Farm-raised Alligator Sausage Jambalaya. Also planned is a Crawfish Andouille Cheesecake served with a smoked shrimp and lobster butter as well as Smothered Duck Étouffée over jalapeno corn cakes.

Oysters make an appearance. Have them Drago-style (garlic chargrilled with lemon, Parmesan cheese, parsley and sea salt butter) or on the half shell fresh from Louisiana, Connecticut or Maine.

The entrée menu is extensive delights like Pecan Crusted Delta Catfish with a Crab Meat Creole Meunière, Buttermilk Southern Fried Chicken and classic Shrimp Creole along with po' boy sandwiches including shrimp, pulled pork or blackened sole.

Rounding out the fabulous feast are delicious drinks including Hurricanes, a New Orleans Bloody Mary, Abita Beer from New Orleans and a drink called "Gingeroo, I love you!” which features Old New Orleans Crystal Rum, fresh ginger and Louisiana sugar cane on the rocks.

Sweet endings include New Orleans Bread Pudding, a Southern Coconut Cream Pie and Tchoupitoulas Cheesecake — a fluffy banana and dark rum dessert.

Live music is from 6-9:30 p.m. (Don Burns, Feb. 4; Mumbo Gumbo, Feb. 5; Black Rock Zydeco, Feb. 6 and Critt’s Juke Joint, Feb. 9).

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Fat Tuesday at an Italian restaurant might sound strange it makes sense when talking with Mary Ann Giordano, chef/owner of Gigi’s Cucina Povera (981 Kenmore Ave.).

“New Orleans has a very large Sicilian population. They also have one of the largest Saint Joseph’s Day celebrations in country. I actually went there for cookbook signings right before I opened my restaurant,” said Giordano.

For Fat Tuesday, Giordano has a special menu planned that starts with some Mardi Gras cocktails.

While we like the idea of a fun Hurricane drink, the fluffy Ramos Gin Fizz is more our style. The cocktail was invented in the 1880s by famous New Orleans bartender Henry Charles Ramos.

Even older is the Sazerac. It was created by in the 1830s by Antoine Amedie Peychaud, owner of a New Orleans apothecary and his famed Peychaud’s Bitters, which are still sold today. The Sazerac is the official cocktail of New Orleans and widely regarded as America’s first cocktail.

Start your Fat Tuesday dinner with a cup of rabbit and sausage gumbo and then head in two directions — oysters or shrimp — or both. Small plates include the classic Oysters Rockefeller or cormeal fried oysters served with a Creole remoulade.

Shrimp and Grits is a featured entree. The shrimp is barbecued and Tasso (New Orleans-style ham) cooked in a spicy beer broth. All is served on top of creamy cheddar garlic grits. Also on the menu is Seafood Jambalaya.

A Muffaletta sandwich — ham, salami, provolone and olive relish — comes with hand-cut fries. Rounding out the selections are Cajun Catfish served with collard greens.

Dessert choices include a tried and true trio — Banana’s Foster, Crème Brulee and a Bourbon Bread Pudding.

Live music from The Tune Babes will be part of the festivities from 7 to 10 p.m.

Mary Ann Giordano’s “The Saint Joseph’s Day Table Cookbook,” is a collaboration between Mary Ann and her father, Paul. It features traditional recipes of her family. St. Joseph’s Day is March 19 this year.

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Shango Bistro (3260 Main St.) plans to serve a special $30 prix fixe menu in addition to the regular menu. The dinner will include a first course, dinner and dessert. There will be drink specials on Hurricanes and Abita Beer. Live music from Mumbo Jumbo.

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Chester’s Cajun Grill (9416 Transit Road, East Amherst) has a countdown calendar on its website telling folks exactly how long they have left until Mardi Gras. Food and drinks specials are planned.

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