Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Two Chicks in The Big Easy, Day 3: Our beignet addiction takes hold

Catch up! Day 1 and Day 2.
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Here is the one fried item that MH and I were always unable to resist.

On our third day, after MH's declaration that the beignets and coffee at Café du Monde had been her favorite dinner so far, we split an order of the fried pastries at Café Beignet at breakfast for comparison.

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The ones at Café Beignet turned out to be adorably rotund little pillows with soft, tender insides, coated with a lighter sprinkle of powdered sugar than Café du Monde's. Though MH wished there was more of the sweet stuff, and despite them being slightly oilier, we ended up agreeing that Café Beignet's puffier, more delicate version was superior to CDM's overall.

Their café au lait was excellent as well, and we loved the peaceful, sunny courtyard, which wasn't jammed with tourists like at Café du Monde. And since two of Café Beignet's three locations were serendipitously within one or two blocks of our hotel, we knew that we'd be back. In fact, we would end up stopping by for breakfast pretty much every morning for the rest of our trip.

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After breakfast, we hopped on a bus to check out the shops and cafés along Magazine Street. Our first stop was at The Creole Creamery, where the Food Network television show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives happened to be filming the place for one of their episodes. I could see why—the place was super quaint, and featured a ton of quirky flavors.
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We took a while to place our orders, since there were so many interesting choices available. In the end we had six half-scoops before us: Bananas Foster; Black and Gold Crunch (a mix of French vanilla with chickory and chocolate chips); Chocolate Guinness; Roasted Pineapple; Amaretto Cheesecake; Red Velvet. The best one was the Amaretto Cheesecake, and the oddest was the Chocolate Guinness—I thought I would be into the combination, as I like Guinness beer, but somehow all the beer's flavor showed up without any of its charm.
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Sated with sweets, we moseyed our way along Magazine Street, stopping at clothing and antiques stores and spending almost two hours at a bead shop where MH picked out stones for a pair of earrings she wanted me to replicate for her. Along the way, we ran into the brightly painted Tee-Eva's Creole Soul Food stand.
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I picked up a mini sweet potato pie, which was great. The filling was moist and had the perfect level of sweetness, so the pleasant flavor of the sweet potato was able to show itself. The crust was thin and slightly salty, which played well against the filling.

The pie tided me over until we headed to Casamento's in the evening for dinner.

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When we sat down, the waitress came over and asked if we wanted to start with some oysters, and before I could protest, MH had agreed to a half dozen. About five minutes later, our plate was set down before us. I took one look and was totally sketched out. I know the restaurant had been serving oysters for years and probably knew what they were doing, but the bivalves arrived un-iced and with the sort of sheen on them that seemed to signify they had been sitting out for a while. Still, MH seemed unconcerned and when I touched the shells they were cold, so I decided to take my chances.

They turned out to be fine, though strangely muddy on the outside, so I couldn't slurp the oysters directly from the shells as I usually do. And I think my fear of food poisoning kept me from really enjoying them. All throughout the rest of the meal I waited for stomach pains to begin, but they never did. Whew.

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We wanted to get at least one healthy dish, so we opted for a grilled shrimp salad. This turned out to be nothing more than about a dozen shrimp scattered over a bed of iceberg lettuce and a few mealy slices of tomato. This was fine, but not very interesting.
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The oyster loaf, which had been the original draw for me, ended up being a little disappointing as well. I had envisioned something more like a hollowed-out loaf of bread stuffed with fried oysters, but this was essentially an oyster po'boy with large slices of buttered, toasted white bread substituted for French. It was good, but not as good as I had hoped.

I was still waiting for the cuisine of New Orleans to blow me away, and I was starting to wonder if it would ever happen.

To be continued….

Two Chicks in The Big Easy:
Day 1: All fried, all the time
Day 2: Too much buffet, and bad fried chicken
Day 3: Our beignet addiction takes hold
Day 4: Still fried, but deliciousness at last
Day 5: Food court and dive bar surprises
Day 6: Giant salads, muffalattas, and no beignets
Day 7: "Beignet...done that"

4 comments:

  1. dang so sad! I hope you end up eating good food by the end of the trip!

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  2. Beignet and Cafe Au Lait for breakfast every morning sounds like the way to live.

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  3. Zach@MidtownLunchApril 4, 2008 at 7:20 AM

    while Cassamento's isn't my favorite place in the city (amazing charm and history, but the food is just decent), no non-touristy place serves raw oysters over ice. it's just not necessary... they are so fresh, and are almost *always* shucked to order (or at least at a crowded restaurant are just being constantly shucked and served in a steady flow). i don't think you had anything to worry about at cassamento's...

    (i'm loving these posts btw!!!)

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  4. my favorite ice cream flavor was the red velvet! although the amaretto cheesecake was a close second.

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