Friday, February 20, 2015

King Cake in New Orleans, LA: (PJ's Coffee, Mardi Gras World, and Gerald's King Cake)

I was in New Orleans while Mardi Gras celebrations were happening. Because of this, I felt the need to eat some King Cake. For the uninformed, my basic uninformed understanding of a King Cake is that they are vaguely based on Catholic traditions and are supposed to be eaten between the Epiphany and Lent. A toy baby representing Jesus is hidden inside the cake. Whoever gets the slice of cake with the baby is then responsible for providing the King Cake at the next Mardi Gras party. I'm sure Wikipedia can do a much better job at describing the cakes than I can. My first King Cake experience happened at PJ's Coffee on Canal Street.
I didn't realize it at the time, but PJ's Coffee is a big chain on the Gulf Coast. After my visit to this PJ's location, I started noticing them everywhere. They were much more prevalent than Starbucks in New Orleans, and I saw them in Mississippi on the drive home as well. I initially wasn't planning on getting King Cake when I walked into PJ's, but their signs for King Cake Lattes peaked my interest. Once I ordered the latte, I decided the next logical thing would be to have a slice of the cake to go with the beverage. The King Cake Latte was really sweet, but I'm not sure if I would have identified it as King Cake flavored if I didn't know that's what I ordered. The slice of King Cake was tasty enough, although not my favorite that I tried on my trip. I did enjoy dipping the King Cake into the King Cake Latte. There wasn't a chance of getting a baby in this cake. According to the cashier, PJ's used to put the babies in the King Cake until someone broke a tooth on one. This apparently didn't go over well with corporate, so now you just get cake.

PJ's Coffee & Tea on Urbanspoon

My second King Cake experience was at Mardi Gras World. This is the Kern Studios location that is open to the public for tours where you get to see all sorts of giant styrofoam and paper mache creatures being made to go on Mardi Gras floats. They begin their tour by giving everyone a slice of King Cake while they show you a video. I'm not sure who made this particular cake, but this was my favorite. It had a strong cinnamon flavor swirled into the slice of cake.
The last and final King Cake from my visit to New Orleans was made by Gerald's King Cakes. I bought this from a Praline store in the French Quarter to bring back to Florida. It came with a baby, although not in the cake itself. There may have been a slight cinnamon flavor, but nowhere as strong as the cake from Mardi Gras World. I also detected somewhat of a lemony flavor, either in the cake itself or in the icing.

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