Out & About

Making Music and Wine in New Orleans: Mario Palmisano

Making Music and Wine in New Orleans: Mario Palmisano
By Rebeca Pinhas

Click aqui para español- >Creando Música y Vino en Nueva Orleans: Mario Palmisano

Mario Palmisano and I have a couple of things in common: we are both musicians (I’m retired, Mario plays guitar with Flow Tribe), Loyola graduates, and obsessed with wine.
As a typical Covid-era acquaintance, we started discussing wine online before we met in person. Mario works at one of my favorite wine shops in the city, and I recently learned he is also into making wine. While winemaking in New Orleans may be the last thing that crosses one’s mind, the truth is that globalization makes the impossible a bit more plausible for all of us mortals. As he admits, Mario’s education in winemaking ranges from hands-on learning with a Napa winemaker to YouTube videos; and his first experimental wines came to life through DIY kits. In any case, I have learned that there must be a particular innate talent and a significant amount of patience when it comes to the art of making wine.

Thanks to his Italian descent, wine is “a cultural thing” always present in his life. Mario tells me how his grandmother let him try Marsala - a fortified wine from Sicily- at an early age and how much he hated it. “They weren’t great at keeping things fresh back then.” He then shares the outrageous and comical story about his great-grandmother, a Prohibition-era widow turned bootlegger to make ends meet. When a neighbor called the cops on her, she drained out an entire bathtub worth of alcohol to get rid of the evidence. Oh, the joys of Prohibition!

After his touring musician life took a mandatory break due to Covid, Mario had some free time and started taking some wine classes. As the pandemic continued and the opportunity came up, he decided to join harvest in Napa last year. There, he was able to physically work the vineyards and learn as much as possible from the in-house winemaker. “I was annoyingly asking everything,” he says when describing his experience in California. Mario was also a first-account witness of the wildfire that sadly affected many vineyards that year.

Mario’s approach to wine is that of low intervention and “let it do its own thing.” He thinks the winemaking process should be this “beautiful appreciation for and relationship with the land and nature.” He is not alone in this vision. A current trend of winemaking is going back to the process used millennia ago, before using the technology we can access nowadays, which is as helpful as tempting in terms of overly manipulating the grapes and the wine.
While Mario had made wine at home before, 2020 was the first year he followed the process from beginning to end: he picked, pressed, and fermented his own grapes (a red blend of Syrah and Grenache). After an epic drive all the way home with the precious cargo, he culminated the process in New Orleans by bottling his vintage. Still, his wine needs to age for a couple of months in the bottle to reach its prime. I am eager to taste it and share an update!

This year, Mario plans to bring in fruit and complete the whole process here in New Orleans, which will be an exciting experience as our weather is unpredictable. Even making bread -a process that also includes the use of yeast- is a challenge sometimes. I have no doubt, however, that Mario will pour his heart into his wine the same way he does into his music.

“Irma Thomas: The Soul Queen of New Orleans – A Concert Documentary Film”

“Irma Thomas: The Soul Queen of New Orleans – A Concert Documentary Film”
By Staff

Click aqui para español- >Irma Thomas, conocida como “La Reina del Soul”, ha construido una carrera musical y un legado inigualables.
Irma Thomas, known as “The Soul Queen of New Orleans”, has built a musical career and an unrivaled legacy.
At the start of her music career, Irma worked as a waitress and occasionally sang with R&B bandleader Tommy Ridgley. With his help, she landed her first record deal with Ron Records and released her first single, “Don’t Mess with My Man,” in 1959. The song reached as high as No. 22 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart.

Throughout the 1960s, Thomas found work playing locally and on the Gulf Coast at clubs, proms, and other high school dances. Thomas would go on to record for Imperial Records and Chess Records and ultimately moved to California in the late 1960s. In the early 1980s, she returned to New Orleans and opened a music club.

In 1991 she signed a recording contract with Rounder Records and received her first GRAMMY nomination for Live! Simply The Best. She continued to record numerous gospel albums and received yet another GRAMMY nomination in 1999 for the album Sing.

In 2005 Hurricane Katrina forced her to relocate to Gonzales, Louisiana, and she returned as soon as her home in New Orleans East was restored. Teaming up with Scott Billington and Rounder again, she recorded the album After the Rain, which was awarded the GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Blues Album in 2007.

Irma has performed with renowned musicians including James Taylor, Paul Simon and Marcia Ball and has performed around the world. Her 1964 rendition of “Time Is on My Side” inspired a version by the Rolling Stones, and she continues to play annually at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

To honor her legacy, the Emmy Award-winning production team from WLAE-TV and LAE Productions that produced Fats Domino: Walking Back to New Orleans and a Tribute to Toussaint announce the premiere of a riveting one-hour music documentary highlighting the storied life of legendary New Orleans Soul Queen and Grammy-award winner Irma Thomas. The documentary will chronicle and celebrate Irma’s 50-plus year music career.
Entitled “Irma Thomas: The Soul Queen of New Orleans – A Concert Documentary Film,” this informative and entertaining documentary will debut this fall on WLAE-TV just in time for the 51st Annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival where Irma has performed every year since 1974.

“Irma Thomas: The Soul Queen of New Orleans – A Concert Documentary Film” will feature a candid interview with one of New Orleans’ most celebrated musical icons as well as never-before-seen footage of Irma in concert in her early days through her 80th birthday celebration earlier this year.
Irma’s close friends and her local and national musical contemporaries tell the story of Irma’s humble beginnings in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, her days living with her grandparents in Greensburg, Louisiana, how she sang in the Baptist church choir as a young girl and how she quickly rose to national stardom with her first of many R&B Billboard chart singles “Don’t Mess with my Man” in 1959.
“The Soul Queen’ is a nice title. I appreciate the thought and energy that went into that honor, but I don’t get hung up on the title. You know, I’m just Irma,” explains the 2007 GRAMMY Best Contemporary Blues Album award-winning artist who talks openly this exclusive interview about her close faith in God.

“As Irma prepares for yet another Jazz Fest appearance this fall, our concert documentary on one of New Orleans’ true entertainment legends will focus not only on her music but her life story which is filled with hardship and triumph,” said Jim Dotson, vice-president of WLAE-TV & LAE Productions – the station producing the Irma Thomas documentary.

The production team includes Ron Yager, Executive Producer/Director; Jim Dotson, Executive Producer; Steve Schulkens, Producer; Ted Ochoa, Associate Producer/Editor; and Stephen Hunter, Director of Photography.

“Irma Thomas: The Soul Queen of New Orleans – A Concert Documentary Film” will air this fall on WLAE-TV in New Orleans and on Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB) across the state.

Why Rosé is Louisiana’s Perfect Pairing

Why Rosé is Louisiana’s Perfect Pairing

By Rebeca Pinhas, CSW, CSWS

Click aqui para español- >Por qué el Vino Rosé es el Maridaje Perfecto para Louisiana

Imagine this scenario: you live in a beautiful town near the water. Locals are loud, lively and love getting together and celebrating any occasion with excellent meals and plenty of drinks. Fresh seafood abounds, and it’s never too early to have a libation. People love listening to music and spending as much time outdoors as possible. There is only one minor inconvenience: it’s really, really hot for several months out of the year. Sounds familiar? You might have thought I was talking about a place in Louisiana, but I was referring to Southern France, the birthplace of rosé wine.

While you may be familiar with this pink wine and the famous catchphrase “Rosé all day,” not everyone knows its origins or how it’s become one of America’s preferred summer refreshments. Its popularity has had its ups and downs in this part of the world, but it looks like rosé is here to stay.

People from the South of France—which includes the wine regions of Languedoc, Roussillon, Provence, Bandol, among others famous for their rosé—might share that in the modern era, winegrowers made rosé to drink during the scorching hot summer months while working on the vineyards. Selling it to the general public was not necessarily their original intention, but it happened inevitably as people traveling to the region discovered this local secret.

If you want to go back in time even further, it is believed that the first wines ever made were rosés. Ancient civilizations, like the Phoenicians, would press red grapes via techniques that would prevent maceration (letting the juice soak along with the grape skins), therefore, preventing the extraction of more color.
Given that here in Louisiana, we face about six months of summer each year, drinking rosé comes as naturally as drenching our food in hot sauce. And it’s, in fact, rosé’s wide range and versatility, which makes it perfect for many of our favorite dishes. Spicy foods such as boiled crawfish pair amazingly with a high acidity Pinot Noir rosé from Oregon, a pale pink rosé blend from the Languedoc complements raw oysters, and grain-based seafood dishes—such as shrimp and grits, or paella— find a perfect pairing in a rosado from Rioja, Spain.

Rosé wine can be made from any red grape, including those that are known mostly for their red renditions such as Malbec, Tempranillo, and even Cabernet Sauvignon in the shape of Cabernet d’Anjou in the Loire Valley, France. There are three main methods to make rosé: though skin contact (the longer the grape must and skins remain together, the darker the shade); extracting a portion of red grape must intended for the production of red wine (saignée, which means bleeding in French); and by blending red and white wines (frowned upon amongst serious wine enthusiasts). In addition, rosé can also be sparkling, like rosé Champagne or rosé Prosecco, which was recently approved for production as such.

So if you are going to be drinking rosé this summer like the rest of us, be adventurous and try something you have never had before as there will always be a new style for you to taste.


ARTMazing - A Selfie Gallery with a Brazilian Twist

ARTMazing - A Selfie Gallery with a Brazilian Twist

By Cody A. Downey

Click aqui para español- > ARTmazing: una galería de selfies con un toque brasileño

From the world of exporting granite to creating a space for Instagram worthy photos, Brazilian artist Giselle Monteiro provides an experience that you shouldn’t take for granted with ARTmazing Selfie Gallery.

The idea to open a pop art selfie gallery came to Monteiro when she visited a selfie gallery in New York City for her birthday. After that experience, she knew she could do something like that herself in New Orleans.

“We started searching, and there was no place in New Orleans like this yet. That’s when we decided that we wanted to create a selfie gallery, and we started working on the project,” Monteiro said.

The process took almost a year, with ARTmazing opening up in October 2020. The 6,000 square foot gallery hosts 18 different scenarios for photos. Some of the favorites are the Money Room, which has loads of fake money hanging from the ceiling, and the Vogue Room, where the lights shine around visitors as if they were a celebrity.

Monteiro reached out to fellow Brazilian artist Bruna Petalla to help with the murals and art installations after seeing her art on Instagram.

“I was looking for an artist already, and then when Isaw that she is Brazilian, I thought it was perfect because I wanted to do something here to mix Brazil and New Orleans,” she said.

The pair collaborated on the different scenarios in the gallery, and Petalla created a signature mural on a tall wall up the stairs leading into the gallery.

Despite owning and designing for ARTmazing, it wasn’t until Monteiro began the project that she began exploring her more artistic side.

 “My background was really with exporting granites and marble from Brazil, and then, I started working with cabinets,” she said. “After I decided to do the gallery, I looked for ways to learn how to create the installations. I went to a sculpture class, calligraphy class, and painting classes, and it helped me a lot to bring some of the ideas to life.”

ARTmazing will change some of its scenarios seasonally. There will be unique installations for holidays such as Mardi Gras or Easter. Monteiro wants to give both tourists and locals reasons to visit the gallery every so often.

“Even though we are in the French Quarter, which is the heart of all the tourists, we wanted to offer something for the locals that is different from the nightlife bar scene,” she said.

Visitors to the ARTmazing Selfie Gallery range from family groups to bachelorette parties. The gallery also has a beautiful space that groups can reserve for parties, meetings, and events.

Some people make their first stop at ARTmazing before going out to party. “They come to ARTmazing because they are all dressed up and are ready to have fun, so it is a cool spot to come with friends, take pictures and have fun with each other,” she said.

As ARTmazing continues to change out its scenarios and grow, the gallery will always have something unique that everyone can enjoy.

“It is a place for pictures and videos and to bring the family. It’s for all ages,” Monteiro said. “The kids love the place. Even the dads when they come, at first, they may not be feeling it, but soon they get in the mood and get to take pictures themselves.”

When you visit ARTmazing Selfie Gallery and find your favorite scenario, you complete the artwork and become the masterpiece.

ARTmazing is located on 309 Decatur street in New Orleans, and it’s open Thursday to Sunday from 1-8 pm. On Sundays, locals get a 20% discount with the code LOCALS. Tickets can be purchased online at artmazinggallery.com.

Checking on Our Musicians!

Checking on Our Musicians!

By Claudia Vallejo

Click aqui para español- > ¡Apoyando a los músicos!

We need music today more than ever. In stressful times, there is nothing like it, and musicians have not stopped playing.

However, the pandemic has greatly impacted artists. With festivals canceled and gatherings restricted, musicians have

been trying to figure out how to do what they love. They also need to survive. From virtual concerts to front porch

performances, they have been reinventing themselves. Viva Nola Magazine interviewed six New Orleans’ musicians about some positive outcomes and challenges during this time.


Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown

Grammy-award winner. He enjoys performing but believes the message the act of performing during the pandemic sends is more important than the music itself.

How have you reinvented yourself during the pandemic?

By deciding to be more prolific as a songwriter and artist. I have used this time as the world stands still to write and release more music.

What are some of the advantages of virtual concerts?

It is an opportunity to empower musicians and artists to have sole control and responsibility for their performance earnings after decades of complaining and bickering with venues for fair pay.

What are some of the disadvantages?

The most obvious is not having that up close and personal interaction that we are used to having. It has been awkward trying to represent the vibrations that we would usually conjure at a live show through a virtual Livestream. Those vibrations are the whole point of performing live. It does not just come from us. It comes from the audience too. 

*Check out Leon “Kid Chocolate” on Instagram @Kidchocolatejazz and Facebook @ Kid Chocolate Jazz.


Brent Rose

Saxophonist, and founder of the Latin group “Muevelo.” He has been doing porch concerts where musicians and bands get together and perform in front of their house to play for tips.

How have you shifted your performances after lockdown?

I do a concert for my neighbors every Tuesday.  We bring different bands, and we play music. I have become the owner of my music club, right on my front lawn.  But it is not enough.  It is just something.

Any new outcomes to this new way to perform?

Maybe when New Orleans and the world gets back to normal, I can still do these porch concerts. I have gotten to meet so many more neighbors. These concerts have helped create a real sense of community.

Any disadvantages?

I feel like a lot of musicians are currently progressing as individuals, but the bands are not progressing at all.

Rene Coman

A bassist, and long-time member of the band Iguanas, Rene Coman, says that musicians had to figure out how to continue to play since the lockdown.

How have you reinvented yourself as a musician during this time?

It has been a million different things to add to the toolbox of all the things we have already learned to do as musicians. I have a weekly podcast, The Troubled Men Podcast, that I continue to put out. It is one way that I could consistently stay engaged.

Do you see any advantages for virtual performances?

Once we figured out how to successfully have products that sound good on the internet, then every job and performance going forward, I can be available to fans in any country. It was kind of a revelation.


Robin Barnes

Jazz singer Robin Barnes has been live-streaming a show with her husband and her baby daughter every Monday since the lockdown started.

How have you adjusted your musical career during this time?

Venue closures have forced us in a positive way to being more digital and having a more substantial online presence.  It will be great that our fanbase may not be only in New Orleans, but because we are digitally updated, we will have those people involved, even if they are not here physically. Once we can work again, we will have the best of both worlds.

Any disadvantages?

Most of us have been full-time musicians. We lost our work and all our income.  It is challenging to find ways to make income and ways to navigate through this time of uncertainty.  In the beginning, people were donating, and now people do not contribute as much to the live stream.

*Follow Robin Barnes on Instagram@neworleanssongbird and Robin Barnes Music on Facebook and Twitter.


Mario Abney

Mario Abney, a jazz trumpeter, was frequently traveling to perform in Chicago and New York. But when the pandemic hit, he started to work more on his video presentation, making more music videos and composing new songs.

How have you reinvented yourself during the pandemic?

I noticed that my following began to grow because I was video streaming myself on the street. People from all over the world were watching because of New Orleans’s gravity for music and culture. Some other musicians wanted to fight over a street spot that I was playing on. I have been going online from the house since December.

What are some of the disadvantages?

You get the people’s energy, but when you play online, you only read the comments.  I have started a new band, Mario Abney’s Quintet, and the idea is to stream weekly jazz concerts with green screen with technology, pretty much like live videos. We are still working on the sound.

*You can follow Mario Abney every Tuesday night live on Facebook, Instagram, and letsliveradio.com

Oscar Rossignoli

Oscar Rossignoli, a Honduran-born piano player, had to learn how to live stream his concerts. He points out that “the first challenge was to make sure that the internet connection, the sound, and the camera were all working well.”

How has your career changed since the pandemic?

I have been working lately as a solo piano artist.  Before the pandemic, I did not have too many solo concerts.  I was very busy playing with different bands. To make a living and because of Covid-19, my solo playing has forced me to study, practice, and compose songs differently.

Have there been any benefits?

I felt that I needed time to rest, but at the same time, it is very stressful not to have more work.  I have done other projects, and I have focused on my individual growth as a musician.  Another advantage is that we are pre-recording our concerts and sending them to different jazz festivals and jazz clubs like Blue Note in New York and Milan.

*Follow Oscar Rossignoli’s announcement about his live stream shows on Instagram and Facebook @Oscar Rossignoli

Bayardo de Murguia: Leaping into Hollywood on His Own

Bayardo de Murguia: Leaping into Hollywood on His Own

By Cody Downey. Editorial Artwork by Vince Trupsin

Click aqui para español- > Bayardo de Murguia y su salto a Hollywood

After graduating from the University of San Diego, Bayardo De Murguia moved from San Diego to Los Angeles to become an actor. The former college football player moved to the city not knowing one person, but he decided to pave his way to success through his determination.

“I didn’t have a guide. I just immersed myself in Los Angeles,” De Murguia said. “Everyone has a different journey in their careers as an artist. So, you just take and learn from everybody and all of their experiences and fix your own.”

During his time in college, De Murguia transitioned from football player to actor thanks to a theater class and his growing love of film and performance.

“Just the ability to tell stories, make people laugh, make people cry using myself as a tool was so awesome, and it’s such a fulfilling feeling,” he said.

Throughout his career, De Murguia has found himself in numerous projects, from one-episode roles on series like “CSI” and “Shooter” to voice acting roles.

De Murguia said he enjoys doing some of his voice acting roles because it makes him feel like a kid again. Initially, as a Spanish-only speaker, he said he learned English by copying things he would see in cartoons and video games.

“I was this little Mexican kid that would like to mimic everything,” he said. “So, I was always fascinated by that, and then as I got older, voiceover acting was something that I wanted to get into.”

However, for De Murguia’s upcoming role, he moves from the world of cartoons and cop dramas to the world of competitive ballet in Netflix’s “Tiny Pretty Things.”

Based on the novel by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton, “Tiny Pretty Things” follows a young ballerina who enters an elite ballet school filled with drama and rivalries in a story described as “Black Swan” meets “Pretty Little Liars.” In the series, De Murguia plays Ramon Acosta, a strict Cuban-American ballet instructor who will do everything it takes to get his students to perform the best.

De Murguia was initially unsure about getting the role when auditioning for the teen drama as “it’s all pretty people.” However, with some insistence from his fiance, he eventually kept working on his audition tape and then getting the role in what he described as the “easiest, most streamlined, perfect audition situation.”

“Normally, you hear horror stories of, ‘I tested, and I did a chemistry read, and then I didn’t hear anything for three months, and then I got fired and this and that,’” he said. “Mine was like, ‘I auditioned. All of a sudden I met everybody and then I was in Canada.’”

In playing Ramon, De Murguia described his character as a very passionate and honest person who uses any method he can as a teacher to get the best and worst out of an artist.

“He embraces the darkness. He embraces the crappy parts of the world and what you go through, and if he can get the best out of you as an artist by focusing on that, that’s what he is all about, which causes conflict with others,” he said.

De Murguia said he prepared for the role by studying Cuban ballet dancer Carlos Acosta and watching films and documentaries about ballet to immerse himself in that world and learn about ballet’s Cuban style. He also said that the cast spent time before filming to do ballet rehearsal, working alongside different choreographers.

“It was the sorest that I had ever been, and although I joke that my bar technique is superb, my centre work does need a little help,” he said. “But, it was cool just to be there early and focus on ballet.”

In being a Latino actor, De Murguia said he looks to always bring truth and authenticity into whatever role he plays, whether it be a cop or a cartel member. However, with his role in “Tiny Pretty Things,” he said it was nice not to try and be something he already is while also stepping into a new type of role.

“The thing about Ramon that was great was that not only am I learning about a new world, I’m also creating a strong Latino character within it. But, with the liberty of not focusing on that,” he said. “The focus was on who Ramon is, and what he is as a person, and then in the background, the fact that he is Cuban-American.”

With the push in the film and television industry to feature more diverse voices behind the camera, De Murguia said that he hopes for more opportunities to give accurate and authentic representation to his fellow Latino-Americans.

“Even though I was raised in Mexico and then came here when I was young, I view myself as an American and having both cultures within me. That’s just who I am,” he said. “The more opportunities I can just be me and have my background in the background and not be the focus, I think that’ll be awesome.”

As he awaits the release of “Tiny Pretty Things” on December 14, De Murguia says that he has spent his time during COVID-19 working on his acting skills, staying creative, and thinking about what is most important.

“The one thing about COVID is that it has reminded myself and friends and other artists what we need to focus on because stuff can be taken away very quickly, and we’ve got to remind ourselves to stay focused and stay healthy,” he said. “It reminds us sometimes of how expendable we are.”

Though De Murguia hasn’t been to New Orleans yet, he said that his goal is to ride his motorcycle from somewhere like Miami or Atlanta to New Orleans next year. When he comes to New Orleans, he said he would focus his time on music and food.

“As much as people are like ‘I want to go down Bourbon Street’ and Mardi Gras and all that, I just think the music scene is awesome,” he said. “There isn’t a lot of opportunity for that [live music] at the moment but, I’m definitely a big fan of jazz and blues and Cajun food and seafood.”

As he continues to look forward to the next year, De Murguia hopes for “Tiny Pretty Things” to get a season two and learn more about directing to tell stories and become a resource to others.

“I came to L.A. knowing no one and then just slowly built from there. I’d love to be that person in the future to give opportunities to people like me, like us, that come to build their way,” he said. “Sometimes, you may not know who to ask or what’s going on; I would like to be that voice in the future to help give opportunities.”

The Gift of Wine (Knowledge)

The Gift of Wine (Knowledge)

By Rebeca Pinhas
Click aqui para español- > El Regalo del Vino y su Conocimiento

As the end of year holidays approach, many of us struggle to find the balance between normalcy and safety. COVID-19 has been around for almost a year (even longer in other parts of the world), and although it has become part of our daily life, it is impossible not to feel a little bit down about not spending time with our relatives and friends. There is no easy answer to the dilemmas we have faced in 2020, but finding new ways to enjoy what once was normal –such as sharing a glass of wine with our friends – is vital to overcome challenging times.  

During one of my recent classes, I stopped and thought about how fortunate we are to have the resources and technology to taste the same wines and the same food bites while each one of us is in our own home. If there is something this year has taught us is that experiences are more valuable than material things since we do not know when they will occur again. After all, wine is not as meaningful or enjoyable if we do not share it with others.   

If you are thinking about what to get your loved ones this holiday season, consider the gift of wine knowledge, as well as the opportunity to share a tasting with those who are important to you. 

Vino Mom offers private classes/tastings scheduled at your convenience. Choose between a fully online experience – a personally curated tasting kit for the participants to taste during a virtual meeting -, and small-format live classes. Packages start at $175 for up to 6 participants, and your class/tasting is fully customizable, from the quantity, type, style to the cost of the wines.   

You can find further information below. I am available and happy to answer all your questions! 




Instagram: VinoMomNola

Facebook: @VinoMom

The 31st Annual New Orleans Film Festival Celebrates Southern Voices




The New Orleans Film Society (NOFS) announced the lineup for the 31st annual, Oscar®-qualifying New Orleans Film Festival (NOFF), which will take place from November 6th through the 22nd showcasing 160+ films through NOFF Virtual Cinema available globally, and a selection of films at two screens at the NOFF Open-Air Cinema on Lafitte Greenway (between Dorgenois and Tonti Streets), and Broadside, the new outdoor venue of the Broad Theater. The festival lineup is now live and passes & tickets are available at neworleansfilmfestival.org


For 31 years, the Oscar-qualifying New Orleans Film Festival has been a labor of love, and that is true more than ever in 2020. After receiving 4,655 submissions from 105 countries for the 31st anniversary of the festival, the festival’s seasoned team of programmers selected a slate of 165 films that represent a wealth of perspectives. Overall, the directors of selected films represent 44 different nationalities. This year, films made in the American South represent 45%, and Louisiana-made films represent 26% of the lineup. Films directed by women and gender non-conforming directors account for 57% of the lineup, and films helmed by directors of color make up 58% of the lineup. Additionally, the lineup boasts 36 world premieres.

“Our programming team celebrates work that, in its form and construction, offers a rebuke to conventional means of filmmaking and forges new storytelling pathways,” said New Orleans Film Society’s Artistic Director Clint Bowie. “Through this year’s lineup, we invite audiences to engage with work that addresses the social and political inequities of our collective past and present.”

NOFS Programming Manager Zandashé Brown added “We feel it’s vital to make space for Southern art. The South is our home, and we recognize that the American South and South Louisiana more specifically are sites where stories and inspiration have been thoughtlessly mined by outsiders, a harmful, extractive practice that sidelines artists with a greater connection to the region and often results in stereotyping and a lack of authentic representation in the work.”


The 31st New Orleans Film Festival feature film competition brings together 8 narrative feature films and 17 documentary feature films from 12 countries. The Louisiana Features Competition will host 7 feature films made in Louisiana. See the film guide at neworleansfilmsociety.org/film-guide/


Individual tickets are now available to book by NOFS members and NOFF pass holders, and will be available for the general public on October 20th at neworleansfilmfestival.org

Open-Air Cinemas on the Lafitte Greenway and Broadside at Broad Theater will screen films from November 6th to the 15th, see schedule at noff2020.eventive.org/schedule

Festival goers can purchase an All Access Pass, good for all Open-Air Cinemas and NOFF Virtual Cinema screenings, or purchase individual tickets for the Open-Air Cinemas.

Watch this “How to Fest?” video to learn all about #NOFF2020 under 5 minutes:


The Significance of Harvest in Winemaking

The Significance of Harvest in Winemaking

By Rebeca M. Pinhas, CSW, CSWS  IG@vinomomnola

Click aqui para español- > La Importancia de la Vendimia en la Elaboración del Vino

Fall brings many things worthy of celebration: beautiful weather, vibrant colors in nature, and the harvest of a variety of crops. From root vegetables to leafy greens, those who work the land prepare to receive the fruit of their year’s hard work.

Since ancient times, many cultures have celebrated and thanked the Earth for their crops through yearly festivities that have survived over time. Sukkot in the Jewish tradition, the Indonesian Rice Harvest Festival, and the Festival de la Vendimia in Mexico are some examples of celebrations at the time of harvest in different parts of the world. And, in my humble yet biased opinion, the harvest of wine grapes remains one of the most meaningful and wonderful in the world.


The harvest of wine grapes starts in September in the Northern hemisphere (and six months later in the Southern half of our planet) and may last a couple of months depending on the varieties to be picked in a determined vineyard. This stage is the culmination of the vine’s life cycle and just the beginning of the winemaking process. After all the fruit is removed from the vines, these lose their foliage and enter dormancy, a state where minimal energy is used to perform vital functions until the following Spring. As temperature rises, the sap moves from the root of the dormant vine into the rest of the plant and the productive cycle resumes. 

After reaching and assessing different milestones during the growing season, the winemaker/grower must make a difficult decision as harvest approaches: when to start picking. Too early, and the grapes may not be quite ready; too late and they may get overly ripe or face unexpected natural phenomena like storms or hail. To be able to make the best decision possible, many factors are to be considered: typical harvest time of each variety, the determined region, and its climate, the balance between sugar (which will later be converted into alcohol) and acidity, the particular vintage (sometimes it gets unusually hot, cold, or wet during the growing season), and the maturity of the components which provide structure to the wine.

Once the grower has weighed in all this information and the green light has been given for harvest, there is no turning back.         

This year has been unusually difficult for the wine industry. Not only have we had to deal with COVID and its consequences on the overall market as well as with the risk over the workforce’s safety, but we have also witnessed man-made disasters.

The most important wine-producing regions in the United States –California, Washington, and Oregon– were dealt unusually large, dangerous, and long-lasting wildfires. The effects go from entire wineries burning down to great amounts of fruit that has been smoke-tainted and might no longer be suitable to make wine. As those who work the land best know, the effects of climate change, pollution, and overall human impact on our environment manifest more and more concretely every vintage.

Fortunately for us, wine lovers, sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices are on the rise as farmers know we must take care of our planet to keep enjoying its wonders.          

So next time you enjoy a delicious glass of wine, pause and think about how many decisions were made and how many things could have gone wrong. Understanding the work behind each glass truly gives your wine a different meaning.

30 Films to Keep Celebrating Hispanic Heritage

30 Films to Keep Celebrating Hispanic Heritage

By Cody Downey

Click aqui para español- > 30 películas para seguir celebrando la herencia hispana

Hispanic Heritage Month ends on October 15th, but why limit the celebration of beautiful heritage and history? One of the best ways to explore our culture is through the media of film. Though the amount of Latino and Hispanic representation in Hollywood has been lacking, many films have focused on different parts of our life and history. From historical dramas to family comedies to stories during the Mexican revolution to the activist movements during the 1960s, these films show it all.

I have created a list of 30 films that include Latino and Hispanic representation. We will describe 5 movies per month. To make this list more interesting, I decided to stray away from the typical films that are usually suggested such as “La Bamba,” “Selena” and “Stand and Deliver.” I hope you find a new favorite and broaden your scope of films.


As you can see, there are plenty of movies out there focusing on Latinos and Hispanics and their experiences. This list doesn’t even cover everything such as the films of icons such as Rita Moreno, Jennifer Lopez, and Andy Garcia or films released outside of the United States. Make it a point to watch some of these films or maybe come up with a list of your own. Either way, find a unique way to honor our history and keep it alive.


Zoot Suit (1981) Directed by Luis Valdez

The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1983) Directed by Robert M. Young

Born in East L.A. (1987) Directed by Cheech Marin

The Milagro Beanfield War (1988) Directed by Robert Redford

El Mariachi (1993) Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Blood In Blood Out a.k.a. Bound by Honor (1993) Directed by Taylor Hackford

 Mi Vida Loca (1994) Directed by Allison Anders

I Like It Like That (1994) Directed by Darnell Martin

My Family (1995) Directed by Gregory Nava

A Walk in the Clouds (1995) Alfonso Arau

Fools Rush In (1997) Directed by Andy Tennant

 The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit (1998) Directed by Stuart Gordon

Girlfight (2000) - Directed by Karyn Kusama

In the Time of the Butterflies (2001) Directed by Mariano Barroso

Real Women Have Curves (2002) Directed by Patricia Cardoso

Chasing Papi (2003) Directed by Linda Mendoza

Maria Full of Grace (2004) Directed by Joshua Marston

Goal! The Dream Begins (2005) Directed by Danny Cannon

Walkout (2006) Directed by Edward James Olmos

Nothing Like the Holidays (2008) Directed by Alfredo De Villa

The Perfect Game (2009) Directed by William Dear

A Better Life (2011) Directed by Chris Weitz

The Book of Life (2014) Directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez

Spare Parts (2015) Directed by Sean McNamara

Hands of Stone (2016) Directed by Jonathan Jakubowciz

Lowriders (2016) Directed by Ricardo de Montreuil

El Chicano (2018) Directed by Ben Hernadez Bray

Miss Bala (2019) Directed by Catherine Hardwicke

Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019) Directed by James Bobin

Sergio (2020) Directed by Greg Baker


Here are the highlights for this edition:

Zoot Suit (1981) - Directed by Luis Valdez

In this adaptation of the play inspired by real-life events, Henry Reyna, played by Daniel Valdez, and his group of friends are wrongfully accused of murder due in part to the negative connotations surrounding their wearing of zoot suits, a common clothing choice of Chicanos during the 1940s. As the group fights to be freed, Henry battles with El Pachuco, played by Edward James Olmos, who serves as Henry’s conscience and the film’s narrator.

“Zoot Suit” brilliantly brings the story of the Zoot Suit Riots and the events that preceded it mixing music and drama to tell about this often forgotten part of history. The film helped Luis Valdez, now referred to as the father of Chicano theater in the U.S., grow his career as a director and go on to make other classics such as “La Bamba” and the 1994 “The Cisco Kid.”

My Family (1995) - Directed by Gregory Nava

After walking to Los Angeles from Mexico, tracing back his father’s journey, Paco Sanchez, played by Jacob Vargas, narrates the story of three generations of his family trying to make it in America. The Sanchez family goes through a series of trials from imprisonment, wrongful deportation to controversial love affairs throughout the years.

“My Family” features an all-star Latino cast with icons such as Edward James Olmos, Esai Morales, and Jimmy Smits as they help tell the tale of a Mexican-American family’s journey through fifty years. The film also helped propel the career of director Gregory Nava, who would direct Jennifer Lopez in films such as “Selena” and “Bordertown.”

In the Time of the Butterflies (2001) - Directed by Mariano Barroso

Minerva Mirabal, played by Salma Hayek, comes into conflict with Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, played by Edward James Olmos after she refuses his advances. Minerva and her sisters soon begin to join a group of Dominican revolutionaries known as the Butterflies.

Based on the true story of the Mirabal sisters, “In the Time of the Butterflies” helps tell the stories of these brave women and what they did to stand up to a dictator. The film also features singer Marc Anthony in the supporting role of Minerva’s first boyfriend.

Nothing Like the Holidays (2008) - Directed by Alfredo De Villa

As the Rodriguez family gets together for Christmas, matriarch Anna Rodriguez, played by Elizabeth Pena, announces to the family that she is going to divorce her husband Edy, played by Alfred Molina. Worried about what this will mean for their family, the Rodriguez children come together to enjoy what may be their last Christmas together while dealing with their problems.

 “Nothing Like the Holidays” brings together an all-star Latino cast to present a Christmas story with tons of drama and heartfelt moments. Similar to the previous year’s “This Christmas,” the film takes a view of a different kind of family and how they approach the holiday.

Spare Parts (2015) - Directed by Sean McNamara

With the help of their engineering club advisor Fredi Cameron, played by George Lopez, a group of four students works together to compete in a robotics competition. Despite being underfunded and competing against bigger schools, the team doesn’t give up and works hard to get a chance at improving their lives.

“Spare Parts” is yet another underdog tale in the vein of “Stand and Deliver” replacing academics with robotics. This story based on real events features up-and-coming Latino actors as well including “The Baker and the Beauty” actor David Del Rio and “The Casagrandes” actor Carlos Pena.


Latinos in the Movies 2020

Latinos in the Movies

Para español clic aquí -> Latinos en el Cine

By Cody Downey

“In the Heights” was going to be the biggest Latino film of 2020. Directed by “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon Chu, the film featured an almost all-Latino cast in a story written by Latinos about Latinos. However, due to the spread of COVID-19, “In the Heights” will no longer be coming out this year.

Now moving to June 2021, 2020 has been left without one of the biggest films for Latino representation in years. Though nowhere near the same level as “In the Heights,” there are numerous films that do feature Latinos in prominent roles throughout the rest of this year. Here are some of the most prominent of these films. (Releases may move as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.)

Hamilton - July 3, 2020

Releasing in time for the celebration of the United States’ independence, “Hamilton” moves from its home on Broadway to the comfort of your homes via Disney+.

The film follows Alexander Hamilton, played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, as he fights for independence against the British to eventually become one of the founding fathers of the United States. Instead of an adaptation of the musical, the film instead chooses to use recordings of previous performances.

One of the things that “Hamilton” is known for is their non-traditional casting, which has given the ability for Latino actors to participate in roles they previously wouldn’t have had the opportunity to play before. As previously stated, the film has Puerto Rican-American playwright and actor Miranda in the titular role. The film also stars Puerto Rican-American actor Anthony Ramos in dual roles as John Laurens and Phillip Hamilton.


Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo - July 7, 2020

We all know Danny Trejo from his appearances in “Spy Kids,” “From Dusk till Dawn” and “Machete.” But, in this new documentary, viewers will get to know more about Danny Trejo and how he got to be where he is.

Directed by Canadian documentarian Brett Harvey, “Inmate #1” tells the story of how Danny Trejo went from being in prison to be an extra in Hollywood. The film goes onto show how Trejo became an icon and changed what it meant to be a Latino in cinema.

Along with Trejo himself, the documentary will also feature prominent Latino celebrities such as director Robert Rodriguez, “Fast & Furious” actress Michelle Rodriguez and “Up in Smoke” actor Cheech Maron.


The Tax Collector - August 7, 2020

Helmed by “Suicide Squad” and “Bright” director David Ayer, “The Tax Collector” looks to take viewers on a gritty thriller following two “tax collectors” in Los Angeles.

David, played by “A Better Life” actor Bobby Soto, and Creeper, played by Shia LaBeouf, are “tax collectors” for a crime lord known as Wizard. However, with the return of Wizard’s rival, the pair’s jobs and lives are in jeopardy causing them to need to find a way to protect their families.

Being set in Los Angeles, it is to be expected to have a Latino cast, and “The Tax Collector” doesn’t disappoint. From “Once Upon a Time” actress Lana Parilla and “Predator” actress Elpidia Carrillo to comedian George Lopez and MMA fighter Brian Ortega, the amount of representation in this film is off the charts.

The Tax Collector Movie


The One and Only Ivan - August 21, 2020

Adapting the award-winning children’s book, “The One and Only Ivan” looks to provide a new heartwarming tale for the current generation.

Ivan, voiced by Sam Rockwell, is a gorilla who lives in a cage on top of a mall with an elephant, voiced by Stella, and a dog, voiced by Danny DeVito but has no memory of how he got there. After the animals take in a young, abused elephant, they decide that things need to change for them.

With a film mostly starring animals, much of the human cast is made up of Latinos. Puerto Rican-American actor Ramon Rodriguez plays George, a custodian at the mall where Ivan and his friends live. Starring alongside Rodriguez, Puerto Rican-American actress Arianna Greenblatt will play Julia, George’s daughter who befriends the animals.

The One and Only Ivan

The New Mutants - August 28, 2020

After years of setbacks and reshoots, “The New Mutants” will conclude the “X-Men” franchise with a horror twist before being added into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

A group of five young mutants from all over the world have been placed into a secret facility and are looked after by fellow mutant Cecilia Reyes, played by Alice Braga. However, the mutants discover that the facility isn’t exactly what it seems to be and plan to escape.

Special from many of the other superhero movies out there, half of the cast of this film is Latino. Brazilian Alice Braga plays the mutant’s mentor in the facility, who may be hiding something from them. Joining his fellow Brazilian, actor Henry Zaga plays the Brazilian mutant Roberto da Costa, who has the ability to control solar energy. Playing a non-Latino role, British-Argentine actress Anya Taylor-Joy plays Russian mutant Illyana Rasputin, who can teleport and wields a magic sword.

Wonder Woman 1984 - October 2, 2020

Bringing the most iconic female superhero to the big screen once again, “Wonder Woman 1984” takes the heroine to a new time for a new adventure.

Operating as Wonder Woman during the Cold War, Diana Prince, played by Gal Gadot, comes into conflict with new enemies Cheetah, played by Kristen Wiig, and Maxwell Lord, played by Pedro Pascal. As she prepares to battle these foes, Diana is also reunited with her believed dead lover Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine.

Taking a departure from his usual heroic roles in “Narcos” and “The Mandalorian,” Chilean American Pedro Pascal takes the role of media mogul Maxwell Lord. Lord is a constant foe of the Justice League in the comic books, having even killed some superheroes.

Wonder Woman

The French Dispatch - October 16, 2020

Bringing his unique and eccentric style back to the cinema, Wes Anderson returns with yet another quirky film in “The French Dispatch.”

Working for the French bureau of a Kansas newspaper, a group of American journalists covers a variety of events from the kidnapping of a police officer’s son, a student-led revolution, and the work of an incarcerated man.

Despite the film being set in France, this doesn’t mean that there is no Latino representation to be had. Puerto Rican actor Benicio del Toro plays Moses Rosenthaler, an artist serving a term in prison. Also appearing in the film is Guatemalan-American actor Tony Revolori in an undisclosed role once again working with Anderson after starring in “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

The French Dispatch

Snake Eyes - October 23, 2020

Rebooting the iconic “G.I. Joe” franchise, “Snake Eyes” takes a look at the character who has been around for almost 40 years.

After the death of his father, Snake Eyes, played by Henry Golding, trains to become a ninja to seek revenge. Along the way, he will meet his rival and adversary Storm Shadow, played by Andrew Koji.

Taking on one of the most iconic villains from the “G.I. Joe” franchise, Spanish actress Ursula Corbero is set to play Baroness. The character is well-known for being a prominent member of the evil organization Cobra and constantly coming into conflict with the Joes.

Henry Golding in 2014

West Side Story - December 18, 2020

Returning to the big screen almost 60 years after its’ first adaptation, “West Side Story” takes another look at these iconic star-crossed lovers.

In 1950s New York, Tony, played by Ansel Elgort, and Maria, played by Rachel Zegler, fall in love with each other. However, the two are torn due to their allegiances to rival street gangs, with Tony belonging to the mostly white Jets and Maria belonging to the mostly Puerto Rican Sharks.

Differing from its’ 1961 original, this version of “West Side Story” features more Latinos cast in the roles of the Sharks. Maria is played by Colombian American newcomer Rachel Zegler. Cuban-Candian performer David Alvarez will play the role of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. Afro-Latina Ariana DeBose will play Anita, the girlfriend of Bernardo. Even Rita Moreno, who won the Academy Award for playing Anita in the 1961 film, will appear in the film as Valentina, a reworking of the character Doc.

As you can see, just because “In the Heights” won’t be coming out this year doesn’t mean there will be no Latino representation in film. This list doesn’t include all the films with Latinos in supporting roles with high-profile films such as “No Time to Die” and “Monster Hunter.” It shows that slowly, but surely, Latinos are working their way into bigger and better roles in the film industry.



Domestic Wine Beyond California

Domestic Wine Beyond California

By Rebeca Pinhas, CSW, CSWS

Para español clic aquí -> Vino Nacional Más Allá de California 

Although most people are familiar with Napa and Sonoma when it comes to domestic wine, there are some *246 legally defined wine-producing regions in the United States, known as AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), throughout 33 states. This is quite a bit of domestic winemaking! However, not many of them are known as destinations for wine tourism. 


After months of different degrees of quarantine, our family took a trip to Elijay, Georgia. Being the wine enthusiast, I am, I naturally researched wineries and vineyards in the area, and to my surprise, this town located some two hours north of Atlanta had plenty! Most were not only beautiful venues but also offered a family-friendly environment which allowed me to taste new wines while the little ones rolled down the hills. I wouldn’t say the wines were life-changing, but that does not mean they were not interesting, especially because they were grown and produced in a place that is not known for viticulture.     

Grapevines are not the easiest crop to grow, and in fact, quality grapes are only produced in zones located (roughly) between the 30 and 50 degrees of latitude, both north, and south. While most of the United States is located within those parameters, high humidity, extremely hot temperatures, and freezing winters rule out a great part of the territory. All that being said, grapes also manage to sneak their way into borderline regions, where certain varieties and even different species of vines (we will get to that in a moment) manage to survive and even thrive. If you take a walk down the French Quarter or even Uptown -as some acquaintances report-, you may find a vine here and there growing amok on walls and iron gates. 


Most wine produced worldwide utilizes the Vitis vinifera species, which is of European origin, but native North American species like Vitis labrusca (mostly for table grapes and grape juice production) and Vitis rotundifolia (used to produce wine) grow around the country. While in Georgia, I was able to taste for the first-time wines made from native grape varieties like Muscadine, and hybrids (the offspring of two different species) like Seyval Blanc. In general, wines made from these grapes are a little rougher on the palate, but many wineries have evolved and become able to create more refined wines from native varieties and hybrids. 

So, if you ever want to plan a family-friendly trip to wine country, look for those areas that may not be as known and will offer both great value and something different to taste. 


To learn more about wine and book a wine class by the glass, visit vinomomnola.com


I Scream, You Scream, we all scream for…Mexican Treats

I Scream, You Scream, we all scream for…Mexican Treats

By Angela Hernández

Click aqui para español- >Yo quiero, tú quieres, todos queremos los postres mexicanos


I stumbled upon La Michoacana by accident. I was on the hunt for some elote, but when I quickly peered through the window it seemed like the place was just like any other Kenner Latin store. The bright pink and green walls did call my attention, so I looked in and saw they served ice cream, which I wasn’t in the mood for. I turned to my brother and said, “This is just an ice cream shop, let’s go somewhere else.”
Two days later, my friend Melisa posted an Instagram story of what looked like the tastiest mangonada I have ever seen.

It was from the same place I had ignored before, so I immediately regretted not going in. Melisa had discovered La Michoacana on Instagram, and she decided to check it out because “being from California, this type of stuff is big back home, so I just had to try it.The elote and the mangonada are my two favorites. It tastes just like back home and it brings back memories,” she told me.

I’ve only had a mangonada once before in Laredo, TX, and back then, it was foreign to me. I remember the taste of mango chunks drenched in a sweet and spicy syrup called chamoy. It was unlike any dessert I have ever tried with a mixture of tangy, spicy, and sweet flavors all at once, so I decided to head back to La Michoacana and get one before the weekend was over.

The following day, I stood in a long line on a hot afternoon. La Michoacana was only allowing six people to enter at a time due to social distancing guidelines. This time, I peered in the window with great anticipation, trying to figure out what to order. I saw their large menu that listed items like exotic flavors of ice cream, milkshakes, popsicles, and ironically, they also had the elote that I was longing for a few days earlier. 

While the bubble waffle ice cream cone and concha ice cream sandwich were tempting, I decided to get the mangonada. This one was way better than the one I had in Texas. Chamoy syrup lined the cup filled with generous amounts of freshly made mango sorbet. It is topped with fresh mango chunks, traditional sweet and spicy Mexican candy, an additional drizzle of chamoy, and a Tajin rim.

After the first bite, I was hooked! I even devised a plan to get my dad to treat me to another visit to La Michoacana arguing “I’ve never been.” Within one week, I visited the ice cream shop again and tried their fresh fruit paletas, ice creams, elote, and mangonadas. So much for trying to stay fit during the self-quarantine!

The thing that I like most about La Michoacana is its ties to Mexican and Latino food culture. No one gets it if I sprinkle Tajin on my mango slices. The concept of kernels of corn covered in Valentina hot sauce, cotija cheese, mayonnaise on top of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos may be disgusting to some people. The masses can keep their synthetic fruit popsicles. I’ll be enjoying my paletas with real fruit inside. These snacks are more than snacks, they are a part of the culture I grew up in and that makes me proud to be Latina.

For years snowballs were my favorite treat to beat the New Orleans heat. But it’s time to make way for an array of Mexican frozen desserts and snacks. La Michoacana is located at 2309 David Dr., Ste D, in Metairie, Louisiana. If you visit there, you might just catch me trying to decide which dessert to try next. 

Food-Friendly Wines

Food-Friendly Wines

By Rebeca Pinhas

Click aqui para español- >Vinos de fácil maridaje

Very rarely is wine enjoyed alone: a bottle is usually shared with others, and a glass accompanied by something to nibble on. While the relationship between food and wine is millenary, it is certainly true that some wines are more food-friendly than others. Given that New Orleans is a city where people talk about what’s for dinner when they are having lunch, it is always fitting to talk about some wines that, in the utmost general sense, go well with everyday foods.

It is important to understand what “food-friendly” wines mean. Sometimes, said term is used to indicate a wine that lacks complexity and sophistication –just as a similar “easy-drinking” denomination– but that is certainly not always the case and not a negative thing either. Who said a wine needs to be complex and sophisticated to be enjoyable? Choosing wine is like choosing a movie: sometimes I’m in the mood for a rom-com that will demand none-to-little attention, sometimes I crave a psychological thriller that will keep one guessing until the end. While the latter has the potential to be life-changing, they both provided the entertainment you sought. Similarly, some wines will remain in your mind and palate forever, while others will be drunk and gone. 

Food-friendly wines are those that will go well with different types of food due to some of their consistent characteristics regardless of the production method: low to moderate alcohol, low tannins (for red wines) and low to medium acidity (for white wines), they are people pleasers (you could serve it at a party and most people will like it), and they are meant to be drunk young rather than after years of cellaring (which would add complexity). Also, they are readily available at most stores, which facilitates its everyday consumption along with everyday meals.  

These are some types of wine that are usually food-friendly.


Food-friendly Reds

Zinfandel: Zin is great to be enjoyed on its own or paired with uncomplicated meals, such as beef stew or roasted chicken. This variety has somewhat of a negative light around it because people often associate it with White Zinfandel –a sweet concoction that gained popularity some decades ago. Red Zinfandel, on the other hand, is available in several price ranges, which presents the chance to taste and try without investing too much. California -more specifically Sonoma and Napa counties– produces amazing Zinfandels that are much more accessible than those regions’ Cabernets and Chardonnays.

Cabernet Franc: Noticeable body but not as heavy and tannic as Cabernet Sauvignon, who in fact is Cab Franc and Sauvignon Blanc’s offspring. This variety is great for those who don’t usually drink red wine and is grown in several regions around the world.


Food-friendly Whites

Riesling: When the general consumer thinks Riesling, they can’t help but to imagine sweet wine, which could be the case, but dry* Riesling’s availability, production, and popularity are increasing. And I will not deny that my tiny cellar never lacks a few bottles of this. Riesling comes in all levels of dryness, yet it always provides great texture and flavor which is great to accompany food that may be light in body but rich in flavor. Off-dry Riesling (some perceivable sugar left) is great for spicy foods such as Indian and Asian, and of course, hot Louisiana dishes.

Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris: These two white varieties –both mutations of Pinot Noir– are often overlooked by most consumers as they are not as recognized or widely planted as other grapes such as Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. Their mostly neutral profile, however, along with moderate ABV (alcohol by volume), makes them suitable for a wide variety of meals, from vegetarian dishes without a lot of spices, to chicken in different few ingredient preparations.

For questions or suggestions on upcoming topics, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


*When discussing wine, the term “dry” refers to the amount of sugar left in a wine after fermentation rather than how you would use it to describe food (ie: dry vs. moist chicken)

Malbec: The variety that found a new home in Argentina

Malbec: The variety that found a new home in Argentina

By Rebeca M. Pinhas @vinomomnola

Click aqui para español- >Malbec: La variedad que encontró un nuevo hogar en Argentina

When a solution against phylloxera - a parasitic insect with a taste for vine roots - was finally found, its passage had almost completely devastated the areas of most important and historical wine production in the world. Although the plantations eventually recovered after the arduous effort and the implementation of new agricultural techniques to prevent the spread of the destructive insect, many winegrowers lost the interest and ability to harvest again certain varieties of grapes that were once abundant in certain regions. The Malbec grape is one such example. 

Malbec was one of the originally authorized varieties in the recognized blends of Bordeaux (France, where it is also known as Côt and Auxerrois) and the main ingredient of Cahors Black Wine in the Southwest of the same country. However, growing this grape was not an easy task in these regions, so the winemakers decided not to invest more time or money in replanting it after crises such as phylloxera, other pests, and adverse natural events such as frost.

The first Malbec vineyards arrived in Argentina around 1850, and their affinity for the terroir (a French term used to describe all the characteristics and physical circumstances of a wine region) was evident from the beginning. The conditions that this stock so longed for in France were provided through a dry climate, abundance of sunlight, and steep altitudes. Today, Malbec is the characteristic red variety of Argentina, where most of the production is concentrated in the province of Mendoza, with 85% of the current crops. The province of Salta, to the north, has one of the highest elevation vineyards in the world, Altura Máxima, which sits 2,300 meters above sea level.  
 Some of the main characteristics of Malbec are its purple color, the intensity in which it reaches almost a black tint, as well as a magenta variation that is evident towards the edges. It has aromas of red fruits such as raspberry and plum, and it has soft tannins and can be enjoyed young or after a few years in the cava. The customary pairing is the equally desired Argentine meats and roasts, as well as other typical dishes such as lamb ragout.
Although other varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the most popular in the American market when the consumer is looking for a heavy red wine, the reputation of Argentine Malbec is establishing itself in the market, where it can be found in a wide range of prices. It is definitely a variety that should be considered as the barbecue season approaches. 

A Guide to Netflix’s Latino TV Shows

A Guide to Netflix’s Latino TV Shows

By Cody Downey  @codyalexdowney

Click aqui para español- >Guía de series Latinas en Netflix

In modern television, it is very rare to find a series that prominently feature Latino Americans’ stories and casts. With the exception of shows like Freeform’s reboot of “Party of Five” and FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” spinoff, “Mayans M.C.,” the number of representation Latinos get is few and far between. However, Netflix makes up for this including many different shows focused on the Latino experience. 
Here is a quick guide to the shows both old and new that Netflix has to offer.

The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez
Limited Series / Serie Limitada / Episodes: 6

Following the trial for the murder of an eight-year-old boy by his mother and her boyfriend, this documentary questions how the system looks after children in terrible situations.
Though not the most fun viewing, “The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez” looks at an important topic and isn’t afraid to shy away from the disturbing details.

Seasons: 1 / Episodes: 10

Running their family taco shop in Los Angeles, the Morales cousins must work together to save their shop from the gentrification going on in their neighborhood while also trying to accomplish their own goals and dreams.
With an almost unknown cast, “Gentefied” takes a look at something that many Latinos already deal with in real life in a light-hearted yet serious way.

The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia
Seasons: 1 / Episodes: 8

Graduating from MIT at the age of 15, Ashley Garcia, played by Paulina Chavez, moves in with an uncle in Pasadena for the opportunity to work for NASA. Created by former “Saved by the Bell” star Mario Lopez, “The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia” provides a more family-friendly look at Latino life and provides a role model for all the young Latinas in the family.

On My Block
Seasons: 3 / Episodes: 28

A group of friends transition into their freshman year of high school as they deal with gang members, first loves and conspiracies about stolen money.
“On My Block” mixes drama and humor to provide an engaging and realistic tale of a group of teenagers trying to grow up when they know they may not make it out of their neighborhoods.

Narcos: México
Seasons: 2 / Episodes: 20

Changing locations from Colombia to Mexico, this “Narcos” spinoff takes a look at the rise of Felix Gallardo, played by Diego Luna, in the 1980s as he is chased by DEA agent Kiki Camarena, played by Michael Pena.“Narcos: Mexico” follows up on the success of its predecessor bringing a new story that connects to the current tensions between the United States and Mexico. 

The Circle: Brazil
Seasons: 1 / Episodes: 4

Going off of the same premise as both the British and American versions of “The Circle,” this Brazilian edition of the reality show makes people compete against one another only able to communicate with one another through an app called The Circle.
“The Circle: Brazil” takes the already-established concept of “The Circle” and gives it a Latino twist. If you already like the other versions, you will love this one as well.


Mardi Gras 2020 Parade Schedule

02/01 - Krewe of Chewbacchus..........................Marigny, 7:00pm

02/07 - Krewe of Boheme......................French Quarter, 7:00pm

02/08 - Krewe de Vieux...........................French Quarter, 6:30pm

02/08 - Krewe of Bilge............................................Slidell, 12:00pm

02/08 - Krewe of Poseidon......................................Slidell, 6:00pm

02/08 - krewedelusion............................French Quarter, 7:00pm

02/09 - ‘tit rex.........................................................Marigny, 4:30pm

02/09 - Krewe of Little Rascals.........................Metairie, 12:00pm

02/09 - Krewe of Perseus.........................................Slidell, 1:15pm

02/09 - Krewe of Slidellians.....................................Slidell, 1:00pm

02/09 - Krewe of Pearl River Lions Club.......Pearl River, 1:00pm

02/09 - Krewe of Nefertiti.................New Orleans East, 11:00am

02/14 - Krewe of Cork.............................French Quarter, 3:00pm

02/14 - Krewe of Cleopatra..................................Uptown, 6:00pm

02/14 - Krewe of Eve........................................Mandeville, 7:00pm

02/14 - Krewe of Excalibur..................................Metairie, 6:30pm

02/14 - Krewe of Oshun.......................................Uptown, 6:00pm

02/14 - Krewe of Alla.............................................Uptown, 7:00pm

02/14 to 02/16 - Family Gras..............................................Metairie

02/15 - Mardi Gras 5k................................Clearview Mall, 8:00am

02/15 - Magic Krewe of Mad Hatters................Metairie, 5:00pm

02/15 - Krewe of Centurions...............................Metairie, 6:00pm

02/15 - Krewe de Paws of Olde Towne...............Slidell, 10:00am

02/15 - Krewe of Choctaw....................................Uptown, 2:00pm

02/15 - Krewe of Freret.........................................Uptown, 3:00pm

02/15 - Krewe of Olympia................................Covington, 6:00pm

02/15 - Krewe of Tchefuncte.......................Madisonville, 1:00pm

02/15 - Krewe of Ponchartrain............................Uptown, 1:00pm

02/15 - Knight of Sparta........................................Uptown, 5:30pm

02/15 - Krewe of Pygmalion.................................Uptown, 6:15pm

02/15 - Mystic Knights of Adonis.................West Bank, 11:45am

02/15 - Krewe of Titans............................................Slidell, 6:30pm

02/15 - Knight of Nemesis...............................Chalmette, 1:00pm

02/16 - Mystic Krewe of Barkus.............French Quarter, 2:00pm

02/16 - Krewe of Atlas..........................................Metairie, 4:30pm

02/16 - Krewe of Kings.........................................Metairie, 5:30pm

02/16 - Krewe of King Arthur..............................Uptown, 1:00pm

02/16 - Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale...........Uptown, 11:00am

02/16 - Krewe of Carrollton...............................Uptown, 12:00pm

02/16 - Krewe of Dionysus.......................................Slidell, 1:00pm

02/16 - Krewe of Push Down.....................Abita Springs, 2:00pm

02/19 - Krewe of Nyx.............................................Uptown, 6:45pm

02/19 - Krewe of Druids........................................Uptown, 6:15pm

02/20 - Knights of Babylon...................................Uptown, 5:30pm

02/20 - Knights of Chaos......................................Uptown, 6:15pm

02/20 - Krewe of Muses........................................Uptown, 6:30pm

02/21 - Krewe of Hermes.....................................Uptown, 5:30pm

02/21 - Le Krewe d’Etat.........................................Uptown, 6:30pm

02/21 - Krewe of Morpheus.................................Uptown, 7:00pm

02/21 - Krewe of Bosom Buddies.......French Quarter, 11:30am

02/21 - Krewe of Selene...........................................Slidell, 6:30pm

02/22 - Krewe of Iris............................................Uptown, 11:00am

02/22 - Krewe of Tucks.......................................Uptown, 12:00pm

02/22 - Krewe of NOMTOC...........................West Bank, 10:45am

02/22 - Krewe of Endymion.................................Mid City, 4:15pm

02/22 - Krewe of Bush................................................Bush, 9:00am

02/22 - Krewe of Isis................................................Kenner, 6:00pm

02/23 - Krewe of Bacchus.....................................Uptown, 5:15pm

02/23 - Krewe of Mid City...................................Uptown, 11:45am

02/23 - Krewe of Okeanos..................................Uptown, 11:00am

02/23 - Krewe of Toth.........................................Uptown, 12:00pm

02/23 - Krewe of Athena......................................Metairie, 5:30pm

02/23 - Krewe of Pandora....................................Metairie, 6:30pm

02/24 - Krewe of Red Beans................................Marigny, 2:00pm

02/24 - Sub-Krewe Feijao.....................................Bywater, 2:00pm

02/24 - Dead Beans Parade.....................Bayou St. John, 2:00pm

02/24 - Krewe of Orpheus....................................Uptown, 6:00pm

02/24 - Krewe of Proteus......................................Uptown, 5:15pm

02/25 Mardi Gras Day

02/25 - Krewe of Argus.......................................Metairie, 10:00am

02/25 - Krewe of Elks Jeff ersonians.................Metairie, 11:00am

02/25 - Krewe of Jeff erson.................................Metairie, 11:30am

02/25 - Krewe of Zulu............................................Uptown, 8:00am

02/25 - Krewe of Rex...........................................Uptown, 10:00am

02/25 - Krewe of Elks Orleans...........................Uptown, 10:30am

02/25 - Krewe of Crescent City..........................Uptown, 11:00am

02/25 - Covington Lions Club........................Covington, 10:00am

02/25 - Krewe of Covington...........................Covington, 10:30am

02/25 - Krewe of Folsom........................................Folsom, 2:00pm

02/25 - Krewe of Chahta....................................Lacombe, 1:00pm

Hispanic Chamber Receives Grant

NEW ORLEANS - On Tuesday, January 14, 2020, at 11 a.m., Verizon presented a $100,000 grant to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana (HCCL) in support of its various workforce and enrichment programs available in New Orleans and throughout the state.

While the Hispanic population of Louisiana continues to grow, it remains vastly underserved. The HCCL is taking a leadership role in making New Orleans and Louisiana a more inclusive community and state, one that is open to diversification. One of the HCCL‘s most important efforts to encourage this change is the expansion of its Bilingual Workforce Training and Business Development Program and the Financial Capacity Building Series. The Bilingual Workforce Training and Business Development Program (BWTDP) is the only web-based bilingual soft skills workforce training program in Louisiana. This center provides numerous services with personalized assistance in Spanish and English.

Verizon has joined forces with HCCL to help build programming focused on digital literacy, technology workforce development, and STEM education to prepare more people for meaningful careers in a digitized workforce. Verizon‘s vision is that such partnerships will help to reduce social disadvantages, increase economic equity for all, and offer opportunities for program participants to improve their financial lives and those of generations to come. For more information about the program, visit hccl.biz.

The Music of Cimafunk

The Music of Cimafunk

By Claudia Vallejo

Click aqui para español- >La Música de Cimafunk

Things in life must be taken slowly.” That’s what the first line of one of Cimafunk’s songs would translate to, a statement quite the opposite to the rapid rise of the musical career of this Cuban artist. He dances on stage with tremendous “tumbao”, spinning from side to side and moving his arms rhythmically. It seems he’s reminiscing the past with his flare pants, open-chested gold shirt and big sunglasses; yet his music is very much about the present, the people, the party, and even about a broth of beans or “El Potaje,” a Cuban staple that his most recent production is named after.


Billboard Magazine named Cimafunk one of 2019 Top Ten Best New Latin Artists. His career began less than two years ago, and he’s already debuted at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin and at the SummerStage Festival in New York’s Central Park. He has sold out concerts in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, and several other cities throughout the United States, in Latin America and Europe. His name has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Miami Herald and numerous media outlets.


Cimafunk visited New Orleans for the second time to play at the music venue Tipitina’s.  A surprise performance took place during a press conference where local bands Tank and the Bangas and The Soul Rebels played along Cimafunk and ten music students from the Trombone Shorty Academy. The impromptu performance was a tease of an encounter between the artists that will take place during the Jazz Festival in Havana, Cuba next January.

Viva Nola Magazine spoke to Cimafunk about the cultural ties between these two cities, about his album “El Potaje,” and about his dazzling career.

VIVA NOLA: There is a very special connection between New Orleans and Cuba...

Cimafunk: Totally! There is a very strong musical and cultural relationship. Overall, the music of both places is very spiritual, deep, and very much of the town’s folk, which connects us and it’s nice to be able to feed of each other.

In other articles, the press has named you “a bridge between Cuba and the United States.” Isn’t that a big responsibility?

I’m not really the bridge. There are many people who have been collaborating for some time between the two countries and bringing musicians from both places. There are people who are very committed to that mission and it’s because of them that I’m here. I’m just doing my part within my time doing what I love, bringing my music everywhere.

What is the real meaning behind the title of your single “El Potaje”?

You add water to a pot, add some chili, pepper, seasoning, and throw in some food: sweet potatoes, malanga, pumpkin... a piece of chicken.  You pressure cook it and once it is well done, you get El Potaje. It’s an analogy to those who took part in making the song.

In “El Potaje” you bring together great artists such as Omara Portuondo, Pancho Amat, La Orquesta Aragón and Chucho Valdés. It’s like grouping the old avant-garde with the modern...

But it is the most up-to-date avant-garde we have right now in the Cuban entertainment industry. We live by recycling what they invented. We are feeding off of them. It’s not the same thing writing a song that I’m going to sing on my own, than writing a song that Omara or Aragon will sing.  You have to think it through because their dialogue is very different; you have to think about the advice they would give you. It’s like the advice I’ve received from my mother and my grandmother who are from their same generations and who possess the same wisdom about life. [Collaborating with them] was a beautiful experience. It was a constant learning process. Getting Omara to the studio to record in an instant. Chucho, was also amazing; he recorded his piano solo in thirty seconds. Pancho Amat gave a master class in the studio. The Aragon, all the arrangements, they were key.

Cimafunk singing with Alejandro Sanz at Madison Square Garden; Cimafunk singing with Fito Paez, how were those experiences?

Those are magical experiences in life. And this whole year has been full of gifts. Fito started it all. He gave us such a boost when we were just getting started. With Alejandro, it was something very casual. He liked the project, he liked our music, and he asked us, “do you want to close with me at Madison Square Garden and then open two concerts in the Miami arena?”. We were super excited; we got to learn and enjoy a lot. After all, when you get to do those things, you realize that everything is going well, and you must thank life.

The name Cimafunk gives recognition to the Maroons (rebel slaves who escaped in search of freedom). Is that an analogy to the type of music you play?

In the end music explains the way you live, and who you are. Regarding the cimarrones, they were very important characters in the Afro-Cuban movement because they were living outside the barracks, they had escaped to live in the mountains, and they were creating a new culture, playing something different. They were slaves from different regions who mingled to live with a common enemy and with a culture of their own. That’s a fundamental of the Afro-Cuban culture because they were creating freedom. For me, Funk is very similar. Funk was a process of developing an expression and a detachment from things, it was a way of expressing what we like with a groove. With funk, I can express the things that fill my soul, so, in that sense, the two parts, the genres that influence my music are very similar.


Cimafunk is a phenomenon, but Erik Alejandro Iglesias Rodríguez, the former medical student from Pinar del Río, is a simple, quiet pinareño, who, like the guajiros in the provinces of Cuba, talks with leisure and goes without haste... “That fame thing, I still don’t focus too much on that. It makes me waste my time.”

Dia del los muertos Festival

The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana (HCCL) to celebrate annual Dia de los Muertos Festival


NEW ORLEANS (October 25, 2019)— The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana and its Hispanic Young Professionals Committee  will proudly present its Día de los Muertos Festival at the New Orleans Baby Cakes Stadium on Sunday, November 3rd,  from Noon to 6:00 pm. Hispanic integration has become essential to the economic and cultural vitality of our area. The Día de los Muertos is a celebration of life that originated in central and southern Mexico and dates back 3,000 years. The free festival will celebrate this cultural tradition and attract the local community to enjoy local food, music, kids’ activities, shopping from local vendors and much more.

The Lineup

The event will have an afternoon filled with top entertainment and family friendly activities for all ages. Talent includes jams to the tunes of DJ Emotion, the contagious rhythms of La Tran-K Band, modern dances by Ritmeaux Krewe and Viva mi Tierra Folklore, las rancheras with young prodigy Madison Guzman, interactive entertainment from Krewe de Mayahuel. Our featured closing act will be in charge of Big Easy Award for Best Female Entertainer, Louisiana Music Hall of Fame Future Famer, Offbeat Magazine’s Best of the Beat and Louisiana’s fiddler, Amanda Shaw & The Cute Guys.

The Food

Enjoy a gastronomic experience that will satisfy diverse and adventurous palates; including a variety of vendors such as Chilangos Seafood, Don Cruz Roasted Corn, La Cocina de Jose Antonio, La Michera Grill, Lucky Dogs, Los Jefes Grill, Sully’s Mangos, Lilly’s Pupuseria, and Lillie’s Cajun Kitchen.

Our Children’s Corner will be filled with art and crafts, face painting, spacewalk and free snacks including ice cream and snowball courtesy of CRC Global Solutions; popcorn and cotton candy courtesy of Bounce World.

Other activities will include an attractive marketplace with unique finds such as jewelry, pottery, art and more. Don’t forget to bring your Ofrenda, and honor your loved one at our authentic Altar. Lastly, dress to your best Dia de los Muertos attire and participate in our Costume Contest open to all. We will be awarding first, second and third in children’s and adult categories.

About the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana

The HCCL is a non-profit organization with a mission to foster the continued economic growth, development, and promotion of Hispanic businesses and their associations in the state of Louisiana.

Economic Development

Leveraging Technology for Women Empowerment

Leveraging Technology for Women Empowerment

Leveraging Technology for Women EmpowermentBy Alejandra Guzman Click aqui para español- >Utilizando la tecnología para empoderar...


The País Grape, Our Heritage in America.

The País Grape, Our Heritage in America.

The País Grape, Our Heritage in America. By Rebeca M. Pinhas, CSW, CSWS   Instagram @vinomomnola Click...

Pacos Tacos: The New Kids on the Block

Pacos Tacos: The New Kids on the Block

Pacos Tacos: The New Kids on the Block By Cristy Cali     Instagram @drcristycali Click aqui...

Summer Sippin' in new Orleans

Summer Sippin' in new Orleans

Summer Sippin' in new Orleans Bartenders share cocktail recipes to make at home Bars have been one...

Quality: Cheap vs. Expensive Wines

Quality: Cheap vs. Expensive Wines

Quality: Cheap vs. Expensive Wines By Rebeca M. Pinhas, CSW, CSWS    @vinomomnola Click aqui para español-...

The story behind the food we eat on Easter Sunday

The story behind the food we eat on Easter Sunday

The story behind the food we eat on Easter SundayBy Marcella Escarfuller @bubblegumcatering Click aqui para...



Mezcal By Marcella Escarfuller @bubblegumcatering Click aqui para español- >Mezcal Tequila is inarguably one of the most popular spirits...



Chocolate By Marcella Escarfuller Click aqui para español- >Chocolate One thing comes to mind when I think of...

King Cake

King Cake

King Cake By Marcella Escarfuller Click aqui para español- > King Cake The King Cake, named for the three...



Tamales By Marcella Escarfuller Click aqui para español- >Tamales Aside from family, the one thing synonymous with the...

New Orleans Premier Multicultural Magazine