Puffy Pillows of Decadence
Beignets are delectable little baubles, (pronounced BEN-yays) impossible to spell, but heavenly to eat. The doughnut-like pastry comes in many varieties in New Orleans (pronounced N’arlins—keep the name to no more than one and a half syllables. Don’t over do it).
One of the popular beignet varieties can be found at Cafe du Monde, (est. 1862), in the French Quarter and open 24-7. The powdered sugar topping goes every which way, so it’s best to give the petite puffs a hearty shake before taking the first bite. After that you won’t care.
Even the decorous Ritz-Carlton gets in the act with their version, that’s more like a cream puff, light and airy with a hollow interior suitable for a filling or syrup. La Petite Grocery serves a savory model, the blue crab beignet, that’s melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
In St. Louis, I’ve only had beignets at the Brasserie in the CWE and Cafe Provencal in Kirkwood. Both excellent.
Mr. B’s Bistro, a Brennan’s Spin Off
When I inquired of our Uber driver about nearby places to eat, he suggested Mr. B’s Bistro. It’s one of the 10 restaurants in New Orleans owned by the Dickie Brennan family—7 of them are located in the French Quarter, including famed Commander’s Palace. The place was loaded with locals having Christmas parties, so the costuming and noise level were both loud.
Oysters R in Season—Always!
In New Orleans, oysters are available year-round on every street corner, or so it seems.When I was a kid growing up on the East Coast, there were signs to remind seafood lovers, that oysters were available, but only in the months that included an “R.” I’ve since heard it had to do with red tide toxicity, that was more likely to occur during the warmer months.
On the Streets of New Orleans
The best way to get ready for the next meal is to walk or shop along the narrow, bustling streets in the French Quarter.
A Tour for Any Time and Taste
We got on the St. Charles trolley and spent an hour riding along streets lined with huge, live oak trees and old homes. On the plantation tours, you get to see the historic mansion used in filming Gone with the Wind. I’ve got that tour on my “Next Time” list—which is growing.
At Christmas, hotels have gingerbread creations on display. Seven hotels took part this year, with models ranging from doll houses to a Super Dome. One hotel had a life-size streetcar in the lobby. The car windows featured famous natives of New Orleans, such as Quarterback Drew Brees, Louis Armstrong, and Mahalia Jackson.
The edible trolley took 2 months to build; 444 pounds of flour; 400 eggs; 142 pounds of sugar, and 80 pounds of butter. The recipe reminds me of one I have for Elephant Stew: “Take one medium elephant and cut into bite-size pieces (this will take about two months). Cook for a couple of days with 500 lbs. assorted vegetables and enough broth to cover. Add 2 rabbits, ’cause most people don’t like to find hare in their stew.”
Okay, enough nonsense. Onto Christmas at Tom and Lisa’s.