Boucherie – Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding and So Much More

It happened…Boucherie, that is.

The meal that I had been waiting for for months. I had heard nothing but outstanding things about this NOLA area restaurant.

Did it deliver?

Wait and see…

20150314_210845 The service is excellent – friendly and knowledgeable. The pace here is relaxed, but it’s that way all over the South. Get used to long, lazy dinners and “relaxed” seatings for reservation times.
20150314_210852 The restaurant is dark and relaxed but still upscale-homey-chic. Like your Southern grandma started a restaurant in Santa Monica. 
20150314_211655 Smoked drum amuse bouche

Whitefish salad with a southern name. Smokey, creamy, whitefish salad on tiny toasts. I loved it, but if you aren’t into fish, this might be too strong for you. 
20150314_215644 Shrimp and grits cake

Fabulous. The shrimp is sweet and very mild, coated in a spicy, peppery, garlicky glaze. The grit cake is like fried polenta – a thin disc, but still creamy inside and wonderfully crispy without.  20150314_215725 Boudin balls

EXCELLENT. Not as creamy as I prefer, but with a very complex, porky, sweet and savory falvor that surpasses other boudin balls I have enjoyed. Similar to chicken croquettes, but with more texture and that fabulous pork. 20150314_225932 Baby back ribs with pimento cheese toast

Standout of the night. These are not wet, sweet ribs. These are dry rub ribs, with a sugary, sticky crust that conceals juicy, tender meat. It has a deep, pleasantly charred taste and a wonderful soft but not mushy texture. The meat really tastes of meat, not of sauce or spices. And the pimento cheese toast…well, that’s just a cheesy, spicy, gooey, garlicky slice of heaven. Much enjoyed. These are unmissable.
20150314_225954 Pan fried drum with artichoke and crab

The fish is good – light, flaky, crispy yet moist – but that artichoke and crab relish is where it’s AT. Room temperature and almost disarmingly sweet, this is the stuff that makes me think that artichokes are the unsung hero of the veggie world. reminiscent of artichoke-spinach dip but with the addition of sweet crab and some fresh herbs. This isn’t too salty or at all fishy. It’s sublime with a piece of toast or bread. Or, ya know, your mouth.  20150314_231716 Krispy Kreme bread pudding

Say it with me, y’all. Krispy. Kreme. Bread. Pudding. FULL STOP.

Pound cake. Doughnuts. Homemade vanilla ice cream. The crispest, moistest, most fragrant bread pudding ever.

GET THIS. GET 2 ORDERS OF THIS.

Boucherie isn’t conveniently located, but if you are looking for a special occasion dinner, they do a great job with large parties. The food is VERY reasonably priced, the atmosphere is lovely, and the food is delish. don’t be in a hurry, don’t skip dessert, and don’t be kosher, and you will do well here.

Till we meet again, NOLA!

Brunch in NOLA: Cafe Amelie

If you are looking for bunch in The French Quarter, you could do worse than Cafe Amelie.

This sweet little cafe, with ample outdoor seating and a spacious dining room, offers elegant Creole-inspired food at excellent prices. Plus they take both reservations AND walk-ins – great for whatever you need.

Just be sure to wait in line early if you want to be seated at 11 am when the doors open.

20150314_121734 Bread and butter

True to its French roots, New Orleans offers only exceptional bread in its restaurants. The carbs here are unbeatable. And the butter is pretty damned good, too.  20150314_123453 Egg sandwich

My girlfriend ate this so quickly that I didn’t even have time to steal a bite. Of course, I repaid her by snarfing down my entre just as quickly.  20150314_123510 Sunny side up eggs with cochon de lait and spicy gravy over a chive biscuit

Beautifully fried egg atop a dense, buttery biscuit that soaks up all of the spicy, smoky, porky gravy. That cochon is soft and juicy, with a slightly earthy, almost gamey taste. It goes will with the rich egg and that buttery biscuit. The portion is huge, but clearly…
20150314_124639 I had no problem cleaning my plate.

What a find! Cafe Amelie is very fairly priced, the Bloody Marys are strong and spicy, and the food (while rich) is totally New Orleans. It’s a wonderful place for brunch with a group and it couldn’t be better located – right near Bourbon and Royal streets yet secluded and charming. If you’re in a rush, there is even a casual offshoot at the corner that looks like a great spot to grab a very quick bite.

Just don’t miss that insane cochon de lait…it puts roast pork to shame.

Tomorrow: Dinner at Boucherie.

Muffaletta at Central Grocery, New Orleans

On my first trip to The Big Easy, I ate quite well.

But I left without trying something that I have always dreamed of eating.

No, not some ultra expensive caviar or deluxe champagne.

An original muffaletta from Central Grocery.

20150313_160333

Legend has it that Salvatore Lupo, the store’s original owner, invented this sandwich in 1906 for the dock workers and produce grocers of the city. The Sicilian immigrant layered cold cuts, cheese, and a spicy relish onto freshly baked loaves of round bread and served them to hungry customers.

The rest is history.

20150313_160349 This tiny grocery store is packed full of Italian and European imports. Cheeses, meats, olives. Preserved fruits, breads, olive oils, and vinegars.  20150313_160358 The real pull here, though, is that mufaletta. Just line up, wait your turn, and order a half  ( each quarter of the sandwich is HUGE).

20150313_160902 This is a great example of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” What appears to be an ordinary sandwich is, in fact, quite extraordinary.

It’s the best damn cold cut sandwich I ever had in my life.
20150313_160845 Garlicky salami, ham so sweet and thin that it might as well be prosciutto, and creamy, tangy provolone. Bread that is thick but not dense, substantial, but not cottony. And that relish. THAT RELISH. Garlic, olives, capers, peppers, vinegar, and love? That’s all I can guess that’s in there. Both my sister (olive-hater) and I (olive-lover) were crazy about this relish. If we had done stow-away luggage, we would have brought some home! Here, the whole is really greater than the sum of its parts. I don’t like ham – never have, never will. When it comes to sandwiches, I ALWAYS need more veggies than meat. And I have always thought that this sandwich looked a little too dry for my tastes – where’s the mayo or mustard?

This. is. perfect. I had no fewer than 2 of these in 36 short hours.

And I brought one on the plane.

Sure beat that packet of peanuts.

Don’t miss this sandwich – stand and eat it at the counter or bring it home for a midnight snack.

Next up: A real Southern brunch, y’all.

On Flying Days, We Eat Fried Food

I just finished a whirlwind trip to New Orleans for my girlfriend’s bachelorette trip, and there was everything you might expect.

There were fluorescent drinks.

There were ghost tours.

There were 4 hour naps which resulted in 3 AM bedtimes.

But, first, there were flights. 

And for me, flying means fried food for breakfast at my layover. 


20150315_103941 If you are in Charlotte International Airport, head to Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar. It serves breakfast and burgers from morning through evening, the service is sweet and efficient, and the food is good. 

And by good, I mean fried.  20150315_104013 (1) Sure, the pimento cheese is just Velveeta with some hot sauce and red peppers mixed in, but the potato chips are fresh, not too salted, and wonderfully crispy.  20150315_103945 The chili isn’t fried, but it is blanketed in a thick layer of tangy cheddar cheese. It’s filled with beans and spicy ground beef that would be perfect hot dog chili. This is just what you need after waking up at 4 am for your first flight. 

20150313_150037 Cheddar Jalapeno Poppers

Johnny White’s Pub and Grill is in no way a destination restaurant, but you could do a lot worse for a bar on Bourbon Street. During the daytime, at least, it’s clean and breezy with a large menu, great prices, and competent (if surly) service. The gumbo is savory and smoky and the jalapeno poppers are GOOD. Molten cheddar cheese inside a tender jalapeno pepper encased in a thick, crunchy breading. The ranch dressing that comes alongside is homemade and it is downright addictive – more like blue cheese than standard ranch dressing. And be warned – these are real N’awlins poppers. They are SPICY.

Next up: The world famous Central Grocery Mufaletta!

Commander’s Palace – A Blow-Out Fine Dining Experience

I played fair. I went every small, mom and pop joint I could. I ate sandwiches. I even walked Bourbon Street.

There is no way in hell I was leaving New Orleans without having an honest-to-goodness fine dining experience.

I mean, New Orleans is one of the premiere dining destinations in our country. You can spend 10 dollars a day there and eat very well.

OR

you can  max out the credit cards, plan on eating ramen for the next month at home, and really go to town.

We obviously had to do both.

Commander’s Palace isn’t somewhere that you can wear jeans. Gentlemen wear jackets and black napkins are provided if the ladies have dark dresses. There are at least 3 servers per table, and the moment that your water glass has a sip taken from it it, is refilled. If you get up to use the restroom, the servers standing in the dining room part ways as if they are the red sea and you are Moses. If a mistake is made in service, you know that the staff feels personally responsible and they could not be more apologetic.

It’s warm and friendly but very much a “the customer is always right and thank you SO MUCH for dining here” experience.

Not as much like those places in NYC that ask for your blood type when you make  a reservation.

IMG_20131027_194009_277

Garlic toasts

Every meal starts with these.

You know, New Orleans loves its garlic.

These are exemplary in how familiar they are. You are in an exquisitely beautiful room, with servers all around, yet they want you to feel at home. This is like a better version of what your mom made growing up on spaghetti nights. The toasts are small but there is a whole loaf of them – don’t worry, you won’t go hungry. The tops are crisp and the innards are soft. The garlic is fresh and the herbs are plentiful, but the flavor is not aggressive. It just lets you know that, hey – you aren’t at The Olive Garden.

DSC_0242

Oyster and absinthe dome

Briny Gulf oysters poached with bacon, artichokes, tarragon, Swiss absinthe, and cream under a pastry dome

A unique, shockingly light, oyster stew. The oysters take well to the cream, and their mild flavors really do taste brinier and saltier, but not too fishy. The bacon is very mildly smoky and the tarragon is alight, sweet twist. I don’t takes absinthe, but he cream isn’t at all cloying or heavy, which may be where the absinthe comes in. Dunk the buttery crust into the creamy broth and you are in shellfish heaven. This is mild and elegant – a wonderful starter.

IMG_20131027_200629_968

Turtle soup

The kitchen’ one misstep, though my tablemate loved it. I found it very muddy.

DSC_0240

Roasted foie gras with basil syrup and apple beignets

I love pairing the meaty, buttery foie with light, cinnamon dusted doughnuts! Foie is best with sweet counterparts and pairing it with sweet, yeasty doughnuts is nothing less than whimsical. The accompanying basil syrup taste dlike water when tried alone, but when drizzled over the foie, it adds a light, vegetal note that really brought a whole new facet to the dish. Though  the foie could have been seared a little better and served a little warmer, it’s still a wonderful dish.

IMG_20131027_203147_671

Seared gulf fish with habanero oil and seasonal vegetables

I wish I remember more about the other ingredients in this dish, but it’s hard because the fish is so exemplary. It’s light and flaky, similar to sea bass. Here, it is seared so the flesh is moist but the skin is crispy and salty, almost like a potato chip. The habanero oil is punchy but not overwhelming – it kicks up the sweet flavor of the fish and the earthiness of the roasted tomatoes and thick stalks of asparagus. I don’t know where they get such awesome sweet vegetables in the middle of October, but I’ll take them! This is a genius main dish to order, because when you are eating so much food, you might not have enough room for the wonderful fish stuffed with buttery, rich crabmeat or the venison schnitzel that my dining companion pronounced as “life changing.”

IMG_20131027_210503_738

Apple root beer strudel

Lovely. Buttery pastry encasing sweet, soft apples infused with the aromatic, sweet taste of root beer. Served with soft vanilla ice cream. It’s comfort on a plate.

But let’s not beat around the bush.

DSC_0251

Bananas Foster

If you come here without ordering the tableside bananas foster, you might as well go to Popeye’s and call it a trip to The Big Easy.

Your primary server approaches your table with a rolling cart with various ingredients. Then, in front of your eyes, hem mixes butter, sugar, and bananas in a saucepan. He adds rum and…

Voila! Tableside theatrics that put Benihana to shame!

DSC_0254

The dessert is so tasty. Buttery, sweet, warm, cool. Bananas, ice cream, caramel, rum.

And it’s prepared tableside.

That’s the best part.

That’s the thing about Commander’s Palace – it’s not just the food that makes it famous. Yes, the food is good – the food is GREAT. But it’s more than that. It’s eating in a room with glass walls that look out onto a tropical garden. It’s having your chair taken out for you and being called ma’am. It’s walking up a staircase lined with so many James Beard awards that they are uncountable. It’s having a blow out New Orleans experience.

It’s making me want to go back to NOLA asap

Jacques-Imo’s: Deep Fried Po Boys and More

When I went to New Orleans, I was told two things:

1) Start drinking early

2) Go to Jacques-Imo’s

I’ll be damned if I didn’t follow directions perfectly.

Jacques-Imo’s isn’t on the beaten path. It’s in a dodgier part of town and they don’t take reservations for parties under 5 people – you have to wait for at least an hour. You just show up wearing torn jeans, order a glass of wine or a beer at the dark, crowded bar, and clamor for a seat as people around you inhale plates of crisply fried green tomatoes. If you are lucky, you might see Jacques himself, a true bon vivant. He is a real character, and goes around the bar taking pictures, taking names, and taking shots with the patrons. It is the kind of crazy place that you might see a fraternity, a couple of well-to-do lawyers,  and a rabid foodie.

It’s the kind of place where too much is just enough.

The time you spend waiting goes quickly thanks to strong drinks and the infectious laughter of the place. Also, you are actually quoted the time that you wait – none of that “15 minutes becomes 90 minutes” crap.

By the time you sit down, you should be – if you did it right – tipsy and starving. That’s where this stuff comes in:

DSC_0161 Garlicky corn muffins

Not just any corn muffins. Moist but not mushy with a garlicky-licious explosion of flavor. They are very savory, and moist enough to enjoy sans butter.

That’s obviously due to the intense amount of butter already in these suckers.

They are sweet but not sugary and a really great start to an unconventional meal.

DSC_0163 Shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake

It sounds gross. It sounds repulsive.

It tastes like angels singing on high.

It’s that miraculous.

It’s a rich, garlicky quiche. The bits of shrimp are sweet and snappy and the alligator sausage just tastes like very seasoned pork sausage. It’s the classic combo of pork and shellfish – salty, sweet, and savory. The cheesecake itself is served with a creamy seafood sauce that isn’t muddy or fishy at all – it’s really just buttery. This is a dish I would never have ordered but I am so glad that I got to try some!

The unpictured interlude of spinach salad with sesame dressing and one perfectly fried, crispy-crusted oyster, is a welcome reminder that no dish can be too healthy if it really wants to call itself Creole.

DSC_0165 Deep fried roast beef po boy

What, you want a closer look at one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten in my life?

IMG_20131026_205113_001 Yeah, there it is. Soft French bread filled with tender, wonderfully moist(though well done) roast beef, and melty Swiss cheese. It’s all fried to a very soft golden brown then dunked in hearty beef gravy. Let’s not forget the pickle – for some reason the rest of the country hasn’t picked up on how fantastic pickles are. They are all over N’awlins and always to spectacular effect. Here, they are vinegary and bright and TOTALLY cut through the heavy sandwich. This is just so delicious. It’s saucy and melty and cheesy and beefy – like a Big Mac gone Creole. I loved this dish so much that I ate it past the point of comfort.

It was worth it.

That’s the whole thing about Jacques-Imo’s. Everything is just a little too much. A little too noisy. A little too small. A little too out of the way. Certainly too cheap and with far too sweet and friendly service for how busy it is.

But, somehow, it’s all perfect.

Because, for a few days a year, too much is just enough.

Royal House Oyster Bar – The Butter, The Garlic!

I had grand plans to eat at Acme Oyster House.

I was going to order at least 3 different preparations of oysters. I was going to have my photo taken. It was one of my nonnegotiables on our New Orleans sojourn.

Needless to say, we never made it there.

We were too late, too early, too tired, too hungry, or all of the above to wait the line.

PS, lines for restaurants are a thing in New Orleans. They are outside almost every restaurant and everyone just waits pleasantly until they are seated. The open container laws might have something to do with how patiently everyone waits. 

However, being whiny New Yorkers, we all settled for a little oyster house down the street. And we are SO glad that we did!

IMG_20131027_143626_949 Royal House Oyster Bar is located in a typical French Quarter style home on the totally charming Royal Street. Flanked with antique stores and vine-lined iron trellises, the restaurant’s most lovely aspect is its second floor which opens onto a narrow balcony.

The whole time we ate, we heard jazz musicians down in the street playing. Eating whilst listening to jazz waft up from the historic street below? Does it get any better? IMG_20131027_143632_546 The restaurant is very relaxed, with a bar-meets-casual restaurant atmosphere. It is perfect fora  relaxed, boozy lunch, but it would be good for a low-key dinner, too.

IMG_20131027_144314_572 Bloody Mary

This city just loves my favorite cocktail! And this one was almost…almost…as good as my famous 3 Day Bloody Mary. It’s made with olive and pepper infused vodka, so the alcoholic kick is very slight. It’s zesty and very vegetal tasting – You really get that oniony-garlicky-tonatoey-olivey kick. It’s practically healthy! I drank two…and then I napped.

New Orleans involves a lot of napping, post eating. IMG_20131027_145811_783 Redfish beignets

Because our server told us that you can’t go to NOLA and not eat redfish. These are, as a dining companion put it “like General Tso’s chicken meets fish fingers.” By Jove, he is right! Meaty, mild redfish is encased in a thick, beignet batter and served with a sweet, spicy dipping sauce. The finishing touch is…wait for it…powdered sugar. It sounds horrible, I know, but somehow the sweetness negates any muddy taste and makes the clean flavor of the fish shine though. The bit of heat in the sauce keeps it from being too weird or sweet. This is a surefire way to get non-fish eaters to like a seafood dish! IMG_20131027_145817_754 Crab claws in garlic butter sauce

A misnomer. This appetizer should be called crack. Just plain old crack. It’s that addictive. Miniature crab claws, already cracked, swim in a buttery ,creamy, vaguely spicy sauce that is so garlicky that you might smell my breath right through your computer screen. It’s bright with lemon and the crab meat is so insanely sweet that I was gobsmacked. The sauce is just unreal. The server told us the garlic makes it special, but I’m pretty sure that the butter helps too. Wow.

chargrilled oysters Chargrilled oysters with butter, garlic, and Parmesan cheese

Notice a theme here? Garlic and butter are big players in the seafood dishes here, and with good reason. I find gulf oysters to be a little dull tasting and they really benefit from strong seasonings. This topping is perfect. The cheese might sound unconventional to pair with an oyster, but it just creates a nutty, crunchy aspect that enhances the mollusks mild salinity. The garlicky butter sauce is bread dippin’ good. This may be the best dish I had on the entire trip. It’s just so tasty – big and bright flavors in an unexpected combination. oyster po boy Oyster BLT po boy

Awww yeah. Fully dressed. Now THIS is a po boy. Lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo, bacon, fried oysters, and chipotle remoulade all layered on soft, dense French bread. The sandwich did need some more mayo, but it is a totally satisfying meal. A crunchy crust surrounds the piping hot oysters – soft but not mushy – really fabulous. The bacon is the perfect additional salty crunch and the pickles – what a revelation! Pickles and oysters are just delicious together – the salty, bright flavors work so well together and lighten up a rather heavy sandwich. I am a po boy lover, and though the accompanying fries were mediocre at best, this po boy is a winner.

The whole restaurant is a gold medalist! Royal House was a last minute stop, but it had some of my favorite food of the trip. Those buttery, garlicky oysters. That buttery, garlicky crab. The butter…the garlic! The atmosphere is totally delightful and just what I had imagineed before I visited The Big Easy. It’s all jazz and balcony and seafood and…lovely. Fair prices, efficient service, and really great food.

It’s relaxed NOLA at its best. 

What Not to Eat: New Orleans Edition

I loved the food in New Orleans. Most of it was intensely flavorful, totally diffrent from the food I usually eat, and actually lived up to the high reputation that it has.

Most of it, being the key word.

There were a few iconic N’Awlins eats that I just couldn’t seem to enjoy. These foods weren’t truly awful, they just paled in comparison to the shining stars that are the rest of New Orleans cuisine. I am bummed that I wasted stomach space on these items, and want to save you the same disappointment:

IMG_20131026_111918_517 Hurricane

BLECH! Like cherry flavored cough syrup pumped full of ice and enough alcohol to make you go blind with one sip. Know what’s worse than getting so drunk off one drink you have to take a nap? Getting brain freeze along with it. I love booze and I love sweet drinks but this is a mucus-y  saccharine concoction that makes Robitussin look like a gourmet treat. This was literally horrible and I couldn’t stand it – If you are not a fan of fake cherry flavoring, avoid this at ALL costs!
IMG_20131026_153856_243 Raw gulf oysters

I hate myself for not liking these. I had many preparations of oysters in NOLA and while I found that I love them cooked, raw they don’t do it for me. They have a very muted, bland taste compared to the salty, briny east coast and creamy, buttery West coast oysters that I know and love. They are watery and extremely liquidy, and need massive amounts of horseradish to be anything other than palatable. I feel just dreadful for not loving them and, truth be told, when I make it back to New Orleans, I intend to try them yet again to see if I can grow accustomed to their mild flavors.
IMG_20131027_103823_802 Court of Two Sisters

Form over function. This place has gotten rave reviews for its jazz brunch, and while its spicy turtle soup (like a very zesty Manhattan clam chowder) and King cake (doughnuts gone wild) are delicious, nothing else is memorable. The buffet is filled with New Orleans specialties, but they are not done well. They are made to please the masses, and as such, forgo any sense of seasoning or cooking methods. That’s a danger with buffets, but if you are a Creole joint, I expect to have some really pronounced flavor in most of your dishes. The surroundings are lovely, with expansive, elegant dining rooms and a gorgeous courtyard, and the service is quite good.  They even have jazz musicians on Sunday, which make for a fantastic atmosphere. But for the money, you can do so much better.

Like, for example, the fabulous lunch you will read about tomorrow. Vampires, beware: garlic ahead. 

Court of Two Sisters on Urbanspoon

Mother’s – Debris and Grits in The Big Easy

When you want breakfast in New Orleans, you have a few options. You can go to Cafe du Monde for some world class beignets. You can go down the street for a beer and a hot dog, at any time of day. Or you can go to Mother’s, one of the most delightful down home restaurants I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.

DSCN5404 The line for Mother’s is unrelenting. From the time it opens at 7 AM, you will be on line for at least 20 minutes, usually closer to an hour. It moves quickly from outside to the cafeteria line up inside.
DSCN5405 The walls of the uber-casual (verging on dumpy, but in that “you know you’re in for a good meal” way) space are lined with the rich and famous who have dined here.
DSCN5409 As you approach the counter where you order, you see the food in its steamed dishes – ham, grits, sausage, biscuits, and any other number of really traditional southern dishes. Bring some Lipitor.  DSCN5413 And above all, stay on line. There are always enough tables and it moves so quickly. It’s worth it.  DSCN5414 Bloody Mary

From a machine that usually dispenses fruit punch – what a brilliant idea! Especially when they are this tasty – really tomatoey and bright with a zippy, zesty spice and – thankfully – VERY little salt. It’s actually the flavor of the Bloody Mary, not a salt lick, that comes through. It’s strong enough to put a little pep in your step but not so strong that it will get you blitzed.  DSCN5417 I just love a place that has 3 kinds of hot sauce on the table. FYI, that’s almost everywhere in N’Awlins.  DSCN5420 Grits with debris

Yes, debris means garbage. And yes, I ate it. And it. Was. AWESOME.

You know when you make pot roast and there are all those wonderful bits of meat and crispy fat and charred bits at the bottom of the pan? THAT’S debris. The most savory, salty, meaty, crispy, juicy bits of the beef. Served to you with creamy (if under-seasoned) grits and a wonderfully round, homey tasting gravy. Add some Tabasco and it may just be the best breakfast that you ever ate.

Followed, of course, by a food coma.
DSCN5421 Ham

Mother’s is famous for it. It’s a little “hammy” for me. I prefer thin, salty Virginia ham, while this is thicker and a little more barnyard-y.  DSCN5422 Biscuit

The biscuit to end all biscuits. Steaming hot and soft. The perfect mix between rich and light. Flaky enough to dissolve in your mouth but substantial enough to hold eggs and ham if necessary. Slather it with some of the softest, richest butter I have had outside of Europe. Don’t eat more than one because they expand in your stomach like those little animal sponges the minute that you have a sip of water.

The bloat is worth it. These biscuits are legit.  DSCN5423 The prices are dirt cheap and the food is wonderful. More than that, the atmosphere is really special. Where else can you stand in line with people so overjoyed at eating soon that no one pushes you? Where else does the woman behind the counter call you “hon,” and recommend that you change your order so you get the best the house has to offer? Where else can you sit with some of your favorite people in the world for an  hour and a half without being bothered for anything except another cup of coffee?

Mother’s is a must-visit in N’Awlins. And don’t forget to eat the garbage.

Cafe du Monde’s Sugar Bombed Beignets

I went to New Orleans this weekend.

For the first time.

Yes, my pants are 2 sizes too small today.

And yes, I am totally proud.

Most of that weight was gained at this spot:

DSCN5424 Cafe du Monde. The world’s most famous maker of beignets, serving them up all day every day, 24 hours a day, since 1862. If you come her on Christmas, you will be disappointed by its closure, but any day other than that you are in luck. Just hop on the very fast moving line and inhale the scent of fat and sugar as you get hungrier and hungrier.
DSCN5426 New Orleans has extremely temperate weather, and even in late October, it was warm enough to sit outside in the cavernous, covered dining space. There are also inside tables or you can get your fried goodness to go. As you reach the front of the line, pay attention to the paper-capped servers who will direct you to a tiny table.

There’s only one thing on the menu. Order it.
DSCN5428 Beignets

Not those fluffy, puffy, ethereal bits of air from Disneyland. No, these are beignets on a mission. A mission to weigh you down and stop you in your tracks. They are incredibly dense – not quite heavy, but totally substantial – and are not sweet at all. They are just fried dough, lovely and golden on the outside and almost custardy within. The sweetness comes from the mountain – the avalanche – the Swiss Alps mountain of powdered sugar atop of them. This is where the genius lays – they are not too cloyingly sweet. They are actually perfect!
DSCN5429 Well, not quite perfect. They are really a little dense for my tastes. I prefer that light, whispery, Krispy Kreme style fried dough. But this is a New Orleans tradition and one that can not be missed. it’s delicious, it’s cheap, and it’s no frills dining at tis best. You aren’t rushed out of the door, you can get a phenomenal frozen cafe au lait (Deeply coffee flavored with a thick texture and a light vanilla aftertaste), and you can experience one of N’awlins’ most venerable traditions.

Next up: I eat garbage for breakfast?