I am still in the arduous process of unpacking and acclimating to New Orleans (literally, the humidity is killing me), but I wanted to take a moment to share with you about a fabulous way to taste the the City of New Orleans.
A visit to New Orleans is not complete if you do not sample the illustrious Cafe Du Monde beignets (pronounced "been-yay") in the French Quarter.
A beignet is a doughy square that has been deep-fried until it has inflated into a golden-brown pillow of spongy, soft cake-like bread. Unlike a glazed Krispy Kreme donut with its glistening sheen, a beignet is not light or airy, and does not go down "smooth" without the need to chew. Unlike a danish or croissant, a beignet is not buttery, flaky, or overly rich. Rather, it is like a piping hot funnel cake freshly fried at the state fair. When you bite into a beignet, expect to be greeted with a hearty crunch as you break open the textured surface. The interior will release a plume of steam and I am sure you will be taken aback by the deep nooks, pockets, and tiny tunnels made by the yeast in the beignet. Although the fried beignet bread is good enough to eat alone, Cafe Du Monde generously blankets the hot fritters with mini-mountains of powdered confectioner's sugar. If you order the beignets take out, they provide you with a one to two pound bag of powdered sugar for you to "do the honors" yourself.
The classic accompaniment to a beignet, is Cafe Du Monde's cafe au lait, which is made with whole milk, ground coffee beans, and chicory. I am unfamiliar with chicory, but I must say, I was amazed at how silken and sweet the coffee was. I needed to be repeatedly convinced by our server that there was no sugar in the coffee. The coffee was fragrant and full-bodied, and as my friend the Taste Tester says about her wine, the coffee went down with a "smooth finish." There was no trace of bitterness or burnt coffee grounds at all.
If you are in the area, stop by Cafe Du Monde at any time of the day. They are open 24 hours--merci mon dieu for that!