When I started planning my trip to New Orleans I got a ton of recommendations. And a “must” that was on every single list was a beignet. Usually from the famous Cafe du Monde, but a few people also recommended Cafe Beignet.
So of course, my friends and I dutifully tried out both locations (such a hardship eating warm fried dough covered within an inch of its life with powdered sugar). It’s mighty similar to a treat that I have enjoyed growing up in Maine, though in the north its served plate sized and just called Fried Dough (we Mainers like to keep things simple), and in my adopted state of New Jersey as a zeppole or in the more shareable funnel cake form. And these credit card sized puffs of dough were certainly yummy, but far from my favorite treat.
In all my recommendations or research, no one told me about the bread pudding in NOLA. People are either missing out, or keeping this a secret! I had bread pudding for the first time about 15 years ago at a BBQ spot, and have had it multiple times since then (it definitely got me through my sad divorce moments). But I don’t think I’ve ever had it prepared quite the way I had it in NOLA.
My first taste was at Snug Harbor, an unassuming spot on Frenchman Street with some solid local fare. The waitress assured me that I wanted the bread pudding, even though I was stuffed. She wasn’t wrong. It was dense and delicious and came covered in a dark rum sauce. Even with help I couldn’t finish it, but I happily took it home and had a few bites the next morning and it was even good at room temperature.
Then I ran across a Lyft driver who used to work at the famous Commander’s Palace. When I mentioned I was heading there for dinner he told me I had to have dessert. So of course when we were seated and our wonderful waiter told us that they had a bread pudding soufflé that needed to be ordered at the beginning of the meal as it took 20 minutes to make from scratch, well, I knew that was what I would be ordering.
It arrived in its beautiful puffy form, with a hard shell that a server cracked open for me and then poured in a light and cream rum sauce. The bread pudding I’ve had in the past has always been dense and heavy, and this was light and airy and quite literally just melted in my mouth. I was full from an exceptional meal, but I found my way to the bottom of this delectable dessert. And then our waiter came and gave me a tip, to take the spoon that still was covered in the rum sauce and mix that right into my cappuccino. And now my morning coffee has been spoiled for the rest of my life.
When I dream at night, its going to be about bread pudding. And when I get a chance to go back to the lively and vibrant city, I am going to skip the beignets (though I will revisit Cafe du Monde for its truly wonderful cup of black coffee) and head straight for the bread pudding.