I’ve never been to Mardi Gras or, for that matter, to New Orleans. In fact, I’m not even sure I’ve ever been to a Cajun restaurant, although I did win a Cajun cookbook on Velva Knapp’s blog a few years ago.
It was time for my Dearly Beloved and me to step out of our evening routine.
Mardi Gras night, here we come! DB wasn’t as enthusiastic as I. He’d pictured an evening by the fire with a glass of wine, watching the New Hampshire primary returns.
We were stepping out, all right, but at our age, we step cautiously. Our favorite little neighborhood restaurant was doing up Fat Tuesday. Close enough! They’d promised a King’s cake direct from New Orleans. How much more authentic could it get, I ask you?! Not only that, one of the restaurant owners is a Louisiana native and used to march in the Mardi Gras parade.
He was 8 years old at the time and played clarinet.
Even though we arrived before 6, all the tables and booths were full. They had outdone themselves; decorations adored the walls and hung from the ceiling, and twinkle lights in Mardi Gras colors encircled the room.
We bellied up to the bar to wait for a table. I passed up a Hurricane drink in favor of my usual glass of red wine, content to watch the bartender mixing a steady stream of the cheery-looking drinks in large glasses. I slipped several strands of the necklaces around my neck. They were strewn around everywhere. Authentic beads! Oh yeah!
Dearly Beloved could not decide between the specials for the evening, so he ordered a trio of Red Beans and Rice, Shrimp Creole, and Shrimp and Crayfish Étouffée. He pronounced it one of the best meals ever.
When our server came around with the King’s cake, I chose carefully, not so much in search of the baby, but opting for a slice that wouldn’t turn my teeth purple. I selected one in the golden yellow section. DB told me too bad, that if I’d gotten the Baby Jesus, all my sins would be forgiven for the year.
I think it meant I’d get a free dessert.
DB said he’d had King’s Cake often during our years in Memphis because one of the guys in their office went down to New Orleans and picked one up every year. He hadn’t particularly liked it–he remembered it as tasting very vanilla-ish. This one wasn’t; it was deliciously light, with a hint of lemon. I was glad that DB is gluten-free these days–he’d have loved this one. In fact, I was tempted to order a second slice to bring home for breakfast this morning.
The atmosphere was festive and bright, yet cozy. DB admitted that it was much better than the evening he’d planned.
Laissez les bon temps rouler!
This morning I was telling a friend about our evening and how much we enjoyed it. DB came in toward the end of our conversation and asked, “Did Mary tell you about our big Mardi Gras night?”
“She said it was fun and that the food was great,” our friend answered.
I knew what DB was going to say next before he opened his mouth:
Did she tell you that she ordered pot roast?
sigh. No. I’d omitted that part.