New Orleans has always been a down and dirty in your face kinda place. Debauchery, moral corruption, and a sense of danger have been at the heart of the experience for nigh on 300 years. The food, the music, the people, the culture. It’s a marmite sort of place; you either love it or you don’t, there’s no in-between.
Then, there’s Gumbo… the official Louisiana State cuisine, which essentially refers to a stew. There isn’t just one kind of gumbo… it’s what you make of the experience. Likewise, New Orleans is what you want to make of the experience… but generally, it’s an open celebration of life.
For me, on a 5th visit, it’s looking for more of the new whilst hoping some of the best of the old is still there (post-Covid)! Maybe that’s why this visit can best be summed up as chocolate alligators in search of a good cappuccino. Read on… it still probably won’t make any sense, like New Orleans… who knows? This determined looking guy had more than chocolate on his mind!
Finding a good cappuccino in the US, well… needles and haystacks come to mind. Cafe Beignet is an institution with new locations open across the city. They say certain things really should be tried before you die… then again, trying certain things may hasten on the demise. Believe me, the search for a good cappuccino doesn’t start here! And, as the powdered sugary topping of a deep fried coating of a tasteless gloop… this does take some beating. However, in the Cafe Beignet v Cafe du Monde debate (does such a challenge really trouble the world?), the latter plumbs even greater depths, in my opinion!
Surely, I could rely on my good friends at Who Dat Coffee Cafe…over in the Marigny district of the city, way off the usual tourist radar. They’ve always been my go-to place for a relatively good cappuccino, and the humorous welcome bodes well. Unfortunately for me, now they want to spoil the experience by insisting on plastic cups! What’s that about? The Rueben sandwich certainly demanded a better side.
Perhaps technology will provide the answer. Googling best cappuccino brings up the interesting sounding Streetcar Cafe on St Charles Avenue. The promise did manage to beat the standard fayre so ubiquitous of anywheresville, but that’s a low bar. Then again, the experience did offer an opportunity to sample that strange (to us foreigners) breakfast of Biscuits & Gravy! Meanwhile, the search continues…
My erstwhile native US travel companion kept up her nearly 3-decades attempt to persuade me of the tempting and strangely sweet world of desserts… my resistance to which would be something Juno would be proud of. But, unbeknownst to me, this just maybe the gateway to good coffee… who’d have thought it?
On a planned stroll around the Garden District, she witnessed what looked like a local chocolate emporium, and it just happened to come with a side of coffee making. Piety & Desire source and make their chocolate ingredients locally with loving detail. With such admirable principles, they also get their coffee from neighbouring fellow purveyors who happen to roast their own beans on site. Heaven, if it exists at all, can be found in strange and quiet quarters, and that delightful green piece of chocolate includes duck fat… but no alligator fat, apparently!!!
Fortified with chocolate… I mean a good cappuccino… I’m ready to take on a range of what this unbelievable city has to offer. I tried a few of those dreaded desserts (but the incriminating evidence that I actually enjoyed the experiences shall remain under wraps). In order to possibly satisfy my quirkier side, how about some art… galleried as only they can down in the Bywater district:
Alligators… chocolate or otherwise, on the Swamp Tour had a habit of showing as much interest in the floating can of people as we did of them:
Though, as the second photo suggests, some had already had their fill of cappuccino for the day… any later than 1.00 pm and rumour has it they don’t sleep as well at night!
Then again, peace and harmony along the Lafitte Greenway through Mid-City and Treme helps to burn off some of the inevitable calorie intake more usually associated with visiting almost anywhere in New Orleans:
Until we speak again, there was an obvious solution to any of us influenced enough by levels of alcohol consumption… at the tried and trusted Avenue Pub on the wonderful St Charles Avenue… a Coffee Stout. The problem is that at 9.3 per cent, a few of these cause mobility issues… if you catch my drift. And, yes, please do catch my drift!
P.S. No alligators were hurt or injured in the making of this production! Chocolate, on the other hand, was consumed in a range of weird flavours!