One of the places that was listed as a must try in New Orleans is Café Du Monde, for their coffee with chicory, café au lait and their world famous beignets. Beignets are similar to a fritter, a deep fried pastry, sort of like a doughnut but a square-shaped and without a hole.
We arrived at Café Du Monde just about half past ten in the morning after our brief walk through the French Quarter area of New Orleans, Louisiana. There was a long line up, but it seemed to move fairly quickly. When we walked through the entrance we saw a sea of small tables hidden inside the canvas-walled tent. After we were seated our waiter came to take our order, from a menu that was stuck on the side of the napkin dispenser. You could tell that this place was an institution; it has a cult like tourist following. By the way their beignet mix, coffee and souvenirs are sold in pretty much all souvenir and grocery stores.
Our order arrived quickly and we were excited to dig in. The coffees were extremely full and the saucers were put to good use by the hurried service. The coffee with chicory was strong, not enough to put hair on my chest, but strong; a dark, thick coffee. I can see why most people ask for café au lait, to bring it down a notch. Chicory is the bitter root of an endive or radicchio plant, used in the days of the civil war as a coffee additive when coffee beans were scarce.
Now onto the main event, the Beignets. They were served them three to a plate, covered with icing sugar, not dusted, but almost completely covered. It was now apparent why the floors, sidewalks near the coffee shop and people’s clothing was covered in white powder. I quickly regretted wearing dark clothing. The first bite of the beignet covered my lips with powdered sugar, as it was incredibly crunchy. Crunchy? I would say that it was more crunchy than it was crispy; perhaps it spent a little too long in the fryer? It was airy and light inside though. It tasted like a fritter, deep fried dough; it needed to be dipped into the icing sugar to give it a flavourful, sweet punch.
Café Du Monde has been stated as some as a tourist trap, and maybe they aren’t completely wrong. We tried others the following day and would say that beignets at Café Beignet were bigger and better. But Café Du Monde is still an experience to be had in New Orleans.
Note: I returned to Cafe Du Monde a couple more times and came across a revelation. Read about it in Third Time’s a Charm.
Restaurant: Café Du Monde
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana