Images from New Orleans, beignets edition.

Beignets with a cafe au lait from the Cafe du Monde.
Beignets with a cafe au lait from the Cafe du Monde.

[Scene: at the Cafe du Monde, at an outer table near the fencing. MICHAEL and ELIZABETH have just finished eating beignets and are sipping on their coffees.]

MICHAEL: (happily, eagerly gesturing to a guy standing in the growing line, outside of ELIZABETH’S view)

ELIZABETH: (turns to see said guy in a Duff’s Wings sweatshirt with similar enthusiasm, and makes confused expression)

ELIZABETH: What the hell was that all about?

MICHAEL: (jumpy) He was wearing a Duff’s Wing’s shirt! It was awesome! I wanted to show my appreciation!

ELIZABETH: (now more distrusting, giving him a look of complete disbelief) What the fuck is up with you?

MICHAEL: (visibly twitchy and excited) I don’t know. I just want to hug everybody!

[end scene]

It probably goes without saying that sweets aren’t normally our thing, especially as evidenced on what’s shared here. I only bring out the stand mixer to make pizza dough, or fresh pasta dough, or empanada dough, or focaccia dough, because that’s the kind of food I know we’ll eat. Sweet baked treats are awesome, but with only two people in the household it’s way too easy to have a surplus with one baking session.

DSC_3669But I was told time and time again that Cafe du Monde was a must-visit place, and after a night of drinking some stiff cocktails at the Carousel Bar and French 75, it was the perfect breakfast to ease us into a day of lots of walking (we went from here to the WWII museum). We were lucky in being able to set out fairly early, as we were able to make it to the Cafe du Monde prior to 10AM and therefore able to snag a table before a ginormous line had formed in front of the restaurant.

There is a distinct feeling of anarchy at Cafe du Monde as you prowl around the premises, searching for the telltale signs of a finished table: napkins piled high, piles of powdered sugar everywhere, empty coffee cups. With the scads of huge groups inevitably wanting to eat breakfast the same time you do, you must be sharp and unrelenting in your quest. Besides, it takes a little time for one of the waitstaff to come over and wipe the table down and take your order, so patience should only be reserved for them and not the other tourists who just want what you do, after all.

And patience is exactly what you need when you see plate after glorious plate of beignets brought out to tables other than yours, accompanied by steaming-hot cups of coffee and cafe au lait. That waiting does make the eventual arrival of your plate and your coffee all the more rewarding, of course, and if you’re anything like us, you’ll spend a good ten minutes quietly eating your doughnuts and sipping your coffee because that’s all that matters in that moment. Powdered sugar will fly everywhere and end up on everything, but why do you care?

Of all the food we ate during our few days in the city, these beingets were among the few items that I had no desire to try to bring back with me. (The other was crayfish, but that’s another post.) Food this special deserves to be savored and remembered and revisited, and sometimes the only way to do that is literally revisiting the place where you enjoyed them once again. Grabbing a few more orders of beignets is reason enough to come back to the Crescent City; as much as I enjoy seeing Michael hopped up on sugar, I also like having a way for him to walk it off quickly. It’s too unnerving, otherwise.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. I was in New Orleans for the first time a few months back, and also went to Cafe DuMonde. I was actually expecting to be disappointed, just because of all the hype. But, it was totally amazing, if only because one of my friends ended up with powdered sugar on his butt 🙂 But seriously, the beignets were unbelievable, and I agree with you – I wouldn’t bother trying to re-create them at home. They deserve to be savored there, in New Orleans. I DID bring home a can of the chicory coffee, and even that isn’t nearly as good at home 😦

  2. Sara Davis says:

    When I lived in New Orleans, even when I worked in the French Quarter, I only ever went to Cafe Du Monde after dark, usually after a night of drinking and dancing. Doughy pastry and sweet hot coffee taste AMAZING when you’re tipsy and hungry. Besides, no lines and no crowds after midnight.

    Can’t wait to see where else you eat. I’m sure Michael has places he wants to go, but don’t hesitate to Email me if you want suggestions!

  3. ErinGoBrawl says:

    You captured Cafe du Monde and the best beignet experience perfectly. Someone once complained that you can get the same thing as a funnel cake at a fair. I was wounded, but argued that it is all about being in NOLA, sippy on coffee with Chicory and scarfing beignet, as the Square turns hazy and hot and you have your whole day ahead of you. It’s the experience.

  4. sharon z says:

    may I have permission to use this photo with credit ? please email me.

    1. elizabeth says:

      I’ll shoot you an email now–sorry I just saw this!

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