Beignet There, Done That
By Victoria Principato
Stepping onto the platform in New Orleans, Louisiana on a mid August day, Cate and I were grateful when we made our way into the station to the welcoming air conditioning. Summer in New Jersey can’t even compare to summer in Louisiana! However, the stifling heat did force Cate and I to slow ourselves down, and before we knew it, these northerners had picked up on the southern pace of life. We had arrived in the Big Easy!
We made our way down to Magazine Street for some New Orleans cuisine for dinner! Joey K’s, a local favorite, was the perfect spot for a quick bite. Cate and I had the chance to sample New Orleans Gumbo, as well as the Fried Catfish! Sampling local flavor is always the best way (in our opinion) to fully experience a region of the country, so we made it our mission to eat our way through New Orleans! Next up: the French Quarter!
New Orleans’ historic French Quarter is the oldest section in the city, with beautiful buildings that display architecture from the 18th century. There are hundreds shops (and bars!) in the French Quarter, so for first time visitors, it can be a little overwhelming to try to see it all in such a short amount of time. Thanks to our wonderful guides Betsy and Lacey, we knew the best spots to try! We started out our food tour with a regional favorite: Pecan Pralines! I cannot begin to tell you how many shops offer Pecan Pralines in New Orleans, but after sampling a few different brands around town, I’ve determined my favorite is Aunt Sally’s. I definitely went into a bit of a sugar coma after this taste testing, but we had persevere and keep discovering the city. In the name of research, we moved onto our next food group: Beignets!
It has been on my bucket list to try beignets from Cafe Du Monde for ages now, and I was so excited to finally find out what all the buzz was about! Cafe Du Monde has been known for its beignets ever since its founding in 1862. Deep fried and covered in powdered sugar, beignets are traditionally served at breakfast, but Cafe Du Monde would argue that anyone can beignet all day! The Cafe is open 24/7, and serves hot, fresh, beignets to its loyal customers year round. We sat at a table and ordered our French treat, and after one bite of the light fluffy pastry, we were sold! If you ever find yourself in New Orleans, make Cafe Du Monde a destination, you won’t regret it! (Pro tip: don’t wear a dark shirt like we did, you will get absolutely coated in powder sugar!)
Even though the beignets at the Cafe were wonderful, I had to wonder: Were they really the best in all of New Orleans? Why were these considered the best of the best? Again, in the name of research, Cate and I made our way to a nearby competitor’s shop to put the best to the test. Cafe Beignet had an extremely similar menu to Cafe Du Monde, with beignets and chicory coffee. However, after the very first bite, we knew they just didn’t quite measure up to the beignets at Cafe Du Monde. Don’t get us wrong; they were still delicious, (fried dough with sugar just can’t taste bad!) However, the fried dough at the original Cafe Du Monde can’t be beat! They’re light as air, and delicious as could be. Try both for yourself, and see what your beignet preference is!
After a wonderful visit to the Big Easy, Cate and I were ready for more slow rolling in the south; Gulf Coast, here we come!