Indulging My Delicious D-List
There are very few things I wait on line for in this town.
But, when I’m in precious pursuit of a classic confection, I always seem to be on the dessert D-List.
On Lundi Gras morning, at 6:30 a.m., you’ll find me standing in line, at least 200 strong, waiting for the doors at Manny Randazzo’s to open. It’s there, at 3515 N. Hullen St., in Metairie, I wait patiently to buy my “Royal” to serve at my Mardi Gras party the following day.
A King Cake large enough to serve 2-inch slices to 2-dozen of my select pre-Lenten guests, my favorite Carnival treat is baked into 4 sections boasting cream cheese, apple, lemon and strawberry fillings. Caressed in cinnamon, drizzled with purple, green and yellow sugar, and laced with gooey icing, the sweet, moist, seasonal delight is worth waiting in line for.
This month, I chased an early craving and resorted to waiting on line not once, twice or thrice, but 4 times until I was able to score a Royal Randazzo. Even though the bakery advertises storefront hours from January 3 through Mardi Gras Eve, they often shut their glass doors early because they sell out daily. You can’t even order a King Cake from their website anymore to ship before the big day. A running scroll across the top reads, “Shipping dates ONLY available after Mardi Gras, Feb. 17. Check for availability!”
Waiting in line to get a blissful Baba au Rhum and decadent piping hot chocolate with whipped cream at Angelo Brocato’s Gelateria and Pastricceria is often an epic poem. Every visit to the Mid-City pastry palace starts outside the front door at 214 N. Carrollton Ave. There, through the windows, I watch with exquisite envy as fellow foodies start to beam once they approach the large glass cases housing rows of mouth watering Cannolis, Chocolate Eclairs, Napoleons, Raspberry Frangipane Tarts, Tiramisu, Sicilian Cassata Cakes and Cream Puffs. There are 20 types of Biscotti and 20 types of Gelato to choose from in addition to their specialty fresh Italian fruit ice Granitas, nougat-based vanilla gelato with toasted imported almond and cinnamon Torroncinos, and tri-colored tutti frutti, lemon and pistachio almond gelato Spumoni.
Once inside, seated and served, it’s easy to forget the sublime struggle and, I hate to admit it, I rarely feel bad watching others languish in line, fighting the good fight to get their just desserts.
At Emeril’s you can wait weeks for a reservation, wait on line with desperate walk-ins or wait for a seat at the bar, but no matter how you wait, it’s never too late to order one of the Master Chef’s most resplendent desserts. Emeril Lagasse always puts his exceptional BAM! in his Banana Cream Pie. The graham cracker crust, caramel sauce, chocolate shavings and banana pudding all add up to an ambrosia worthy only of the cream pie gods.
Emeril’s banana cream dream reigns supreme in 9 of his 14 restaurants. In addition to his flagship on 800 Tchoupitoulas St., you can find the prized pie at Emeril’s and Emeril’s Tchoup Chop in Orlando, FL, Emeril’s Chop House in Bethlehem, PA, e2 emeril’s eatery in Charlotte, NC, and at all 4 Las Vegas locations – Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House at the MGM, Delmonico Steakhouse at the Venetian and Table 10 and Lagasse’s Stadium in the Palazzo.
Burgers and More by Emeril in Bethlehem, PA, offers Banana Splits, NOLA in the French Quarter serves up Banana Pudding Layer Cake and there’s Bananas Foster at Emeril’s Delmonico on 1300 St. Charles Ave.
Chef Nicholas Scalco is not a fan of cheesecake. That’s why his Creole Cream Cheesecake at Irene’s Cuisine is so coveted. Each of his 12-inch cakes takes 24 hours to prepare, and Scalco makes the batter, subbing out the New York style cheesecake sour cream staple with creole cream cheese and cooks each cake in a water bath no hotter than 180 degrees.
Accompanied with sumptuous strawberries and a sublime elixir of vanilla bean simple syrup and Grand Marnier, Scalco’s version of the cheesecake is celebrated at 539 St. Philip St.
“It’s not really a cake,” Scalco said of his Creole Cream Cheesecake creation. “It’s a custard or pudding.”
“People from all over the Unites States call in and ask us to ship these cheesecakes out to them,” he said, “but we don’t. I’m not too confident in the shipping methods and the cakes taste a certain way when served inside the restaurant when they’re made fresh.”
The delicate and divine dessert is definitely worth the wait at Irene’s, where locals and tourists alike don’t seem to mind shuffling around for several hours before being seated in one of Irene’s 3 dining rooms.
Scalco makes only 3 Creole Cream Cheesecakes a day at Irene’s, and estimates he’s made about 14,000 during his 15-year career.
There’s always a line to get into the Gumbo Shop at 630 St. Peter St., and it’s there I often wait to get a delicious dollop of warm Bread Pudding and a side of Whiskey Sauce. While I sometimes bob and weave through the crowd, to get to the bar to order one to-go, I’m never averse to practicing some patience if it means getting one step closer to my goal.
The exceptional dessert hits all the right notes, and the Whiskey Sauce is nothing short of extraordinary. When it cools in the refrigerator it resembles butter, and one teaspoon manages to satisfy a sweet tooth for hours. When it’s heated and melts over warm bread pudding, it becomes a glorious glaze of sublime, smooth sweetness.
The Gumbo Shop cookbook says their Whiskey Sauce is made of only a mixture of butter, confectioners sugar and Bourbon, but I believe there’s got to be some kind of ancient lagniappe additive that renders it so addictive.
New Orleans is a Doberge town and I cut my teeth, like so many others, on Gambino’s, 4821 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, half-Chocolate, half-Lemon masterpieces. Their 6 layers of buttermilk cake are separated by their secret recipe custard filling and covered in buttercream icing and glazed with rich fondant.
Maurice’s, 3501 Hessmer Ave., Metairie, serves up a scrumptious 5 layer Doberge butter cake alternative filled with fresh custard and lightly iced with butter cream and poured icing in Chocolate, Lemon, Strawberry, Vanilla, Caramel, Irish Crème, Amaretto and Praline varieties.
But, when I get an insatiable urge for a luscious, melt-in-your-mouth, velvety piece of Doberge there’s only one place I go…. Zuppardo’s.
Located at 5010 Veterans Memorial Blvd. in Metairie, this 5th generation, family-run supermarket is the oldest self-service supermarket in the New Orleans area, and they serve the most scrumptious Doberge squares I’ve ever tasted.
Their bakery offers many Doberge options, including a terrific Boston Cream, but the Chocolate Doberge squares are my go-to temptations.
I’m not sure if it’s the superior thick layer of Chocolate cream smeared on top, or if it’s the fluffy yellow cake layers that separates Zuppardo’s Chocolate Doberge squares from all the rest, but I never, ever, mind waiting in the long checkout lines if it means bringing home a dozen of these delicacies to dine on for days to come.
800 Tchoupitoulas St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
539 St. Philip St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
630 St. Peter St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
5010 Veterans Memorial Blvd.
Metairie, LA 70006