Beignets. They are everywhere in New Orleans, the sweet, enticing smell of them scents the air and there’s no question that you have to try them, but which ones? Are they all the same. I can’t say I’m an expert, but I can say two things. One, there are clearly differences in quality and two, don’t buy them from a stall in your hotel lobby unless you are (as I was) just really hungry and will eat anyone. So that was one of my experiences… grim, stodgy, and just very sad. The other, however, was nothing short of exquisite. The very first morning in New Orleans, up at 5.30am with jetlag, I was out walking the streets with my friend by 8.30am, map in hand. The streets were quiet, with just the sound of the revels of the night before being sluiced away by street cleaners. I was sure I knew where we were going but in fact, I led us to exactly the place we weren’t planning to go – Café du Monde. Not that I had anything against it, except that I’d read about Café Beignet being amazing and wanted to try that first.
Walking along Royal St (not realizing we were on Royal St), we passed the Café and found it already full. Perhaps a good sign, but my rule against queuing for food kicked in and we turned on our heels and headed for Bourbon St, only to walk straight past it. Café Beignet, if you’ve not been there, is set back in a little alcove off Bourbon, and that was how we missed it. Hardly anyone there, great music playing and after staving off our hunger with some hashbrowns, we dug in. They were divine. I cannot express this in strong enough terms. Heaven. Soft. Light. Sweet. Crisp. Just… perfect. Expect to see some attempts at making these here very soon.
Next up, ice cream from Sucre. I think they have a couple of branches. We went to the one on Conti st. The cakes looked great, but I went for ice cream because the array of flavours was just too good. Here you will see the glorious Peanut Butter Cup and also Lemon Cake. Peanut Butter was softly sweet, richly flavoured, while the Lemon Cake walked perfectly that line between tart and sweet and creamy.
I’d highly recommend checking out their macarons, which looked lovely and even come in ‘flavours of NOLA’: Salted Caramel, Southern Pecan, Bananas Foster, and Chicory.
Final stop was Cochon Restaurant for lunch. After a spectacular meal of fried alligator, wood-fired oysters and twice-baked sweet potato, we each indulged in a Blueberry Skillet Pie with Cream Cheese Ice-cream. I had thought we should share but was desperately relieved after its arrival that we chose not to. I would have struggled to give away even one bite. It was staggeringly good. Filling was so filled with blueberry-ness, if you know what I mean. The ice-cream was the perfect complement, the flavours coalescing into something beyond description. The pastry was crisp, buttery and sweet and the bottom not remotely soggy. Eat it. Just eat it.