Like a fat girl loves cake …

Over the past several years I have formed a somewhat unhealthy addiction to king cake. It’s an affliction you can chalk up to loving “all things New Orleans,” but I think it also goes deeper than that. The mammoth brioche-like rolls heavily iced with purple, green and gold seem to embody this extraordinary time of year, a holiday that I have taken into my heart and held closer than Christmas, Easter and Halloween combined. It is a sugary-sweet representation of all that’s wondrous about New Orleans and the multitudes of variation only expound that fact. More than anything, king cake is about ritual, from waiting till January 6th for that first annual bite to the obligation one inevitably feels when the baby is discovered in their slice.

Twelfth Night, the official start of carnival (and king cake) season, is just around the corner and I shamefully admit that king cake has been on my mind. For the past several days, I’ve had an internal debate about which fabulous creation I want to eat first. Honestly, I’ve been driving John crazy!

Should I start the season off with a classic like this sublime gallette des rois I purchased from Gracious Bakery a couple of years ago? Those luscious layers of buttery puff pastry with almond cream are enough to make this fat girl sigh longingly for just one more slice.

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Or perhaps I should hold out and see if Sucre will make another magical chocolate and gold king cake this year?

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John and I both love the more traditional king cakes to be had from Dong Phuong Bakery, Maple Street Patisserie or Toast.

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But I am always looking out for new, fanciful flavors like the Valrhona chocolate and caramel king cake Willa Jean made last year. This year’s flavor is Caramel Crunch with cream cheese frosting!

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Or one of the many flavors Gracious Bakery puts out every year like a Meyer Lemon or this Nectar king cake.

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The only thing I really know for sure is that I refuse to let a Mardi Gras slide by without a Chocolate King Cake from Bittersweet Confections.

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The cakes I’ve mentioned only skim the surface of the bounty available every year. My mom (who will be coming all the way from the Bay Area to spend Mardi Gras with me this year) will most definitely want her favorite from Haydel’s, but what about Cake Cafe & Bakery’s goat cheese and apple? Cochon Butcher’s famous “Elvis” filled with peanut butter, banana and topped with house-cured bacon and marshmallow? The Cajun Bouille king cake from Bywater Bakery? Ahhhhrrrgghh!

I better make up my mind before Saturday. Which one would you choose?

Looking back on 2017

Since 2013, Eater New Orleans (or should I say editor/writer extraordinaire Gwendolyn Knapp) would hit me up for dining reflections of the past year and predictions for the next. This year, I was not asked and I have to confess, I was a little bummed. Perhaps it was because the new editor, Stephanie Carter, doesn’t know me from Adam or perhaps my recent slump in food blogging deterred her from seeing me as a reputable source … whatever the reason, I still feel the need to share. Whether or not this information is valuable is for you to decide …

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Always blown away at Boucherie

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Corned Pork Belly … be still my heart!

By now, I imagine I don’t have to tell anyone living within a 300 mile radius of New Orleans how good the eating is at Boucherie. Hell, I’m positive its reach is quite a bit further considering I no longer am surprised when out-of-towners seeking restaurant recommendations already have the Carrollton neighborhood restaurant on their “to-eat” list.  Keeping this in mind, it can’t hurt to offer up reminders every now and again, can it? Continue reading

Mini-vacation at Angeline

Best okra ever!
Best okra ever!

Far too long ago, John and I ventured into the French Quarter to enjoy brunch at what has become one of the city’s most popular restaurants, Angeline. I don’t know about you, but whenever I go into the Quarter, especially on a sunshine-filled day, I like to pretend I’m on vacation. I imagine that my suitcase filled with summer clothes is stashed in an elegant room in the Hotel Monteleone or the Ritz Carlton while John and I explore the beauty of the city with no worries, no deadlines, no work … just a day of unadulterated fun. Continue reading

House of the week: Victorian on Belleville St.

The things I could do with this house!
The things I could do with this house!

The more I look at houses for sale, the more I am disappointed by the culture-eradicating renovations I discover. Developers and contractors are tearing the heart and soul out of New Orleans’ architecture and it honestly makes me want to weep. While I appreciate some new design, there’s a lot to be said for the creativity and elegance of the past. Don’t rip out transoms and dividing walls for an “open floor plan.” Go live in a suburban tract house if that’s what you’re looking for. Continue reading

House of the week: Mary Plantation on Hwy 39

While people are spending millions to live in a 500 sq. ft. flat in Manhattan or a tract home in Northern California, you could have your very own plantation for little over a million. Located in Braithwaite, Louisiana, approximately 22 miles from downtown New Orleans, there is for sale a property that is over two centuries old offering over 2500 sq. ft. of living area and over ten acres of land. Continue reading

Willa Jean: A Parking Story

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Grilled Gulf Fish Sandwich with tartar sauce and slaw on a Hawaiian Roll

Not to sound like a snot, but growing up around a major metropolis like San Francisco has taught me a few solid rules to follow when parking in the city. First, never park illegally or you will most definitely be ticketed, booted and/or towed. Second, never ever leave anything inside your car that can be seen from outside, that is unless you’re looking to have your window busted in and that item (and possibly your whole car) stolen. Finally, and central to the point of this blog, always pay the full amount on the meter whether you think your stay will be shorter or not. City time is different from any other kinds of time and there are tons of reasons one can get held up. Isn’t a $3.50 fee better than a $50 parking ticket? I would also add that when parking on a hill, be sure to turn your wheels, but in New Orleans that is (thankfully) not something anyone has to worry about. Continue reading

Twice as nice

While dining at the restaurant of a talented chef can be a choice experience, enjoying a menu created and prepared by a collaboration of two talented chefs is definitely twice as nice.

On Tuesday, February 23rd chefs Alex Harrell of Angeline and Jason Goodenough of Carrollton Market are joining forces to present a five-course prix fixe menu featuring California Olive Ranch olive oil plus meat and seafood sourced from Inland Seafood.  This synergistic experience will be held at Angeline located at 1032 Chartres Street in the French Quarter. Continue reading