Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sugared up for Fat Tuesday: Sucre

Fat Tuesday will soon be here.  Are you a Mardi Gras fan?  Texquiem is.

I think it started when I was a child, and my mother once brought me souvenirs from New Orleans.  Never an "all-I-got-was-a-lousy-T-shirt" traveler, Mom instead brought home an iconic jazz poster and a beaded, beribboned mask for Mardi Gras.

Texquiem is not a fan of the crowds, mind you.  I'm more a fan of the legacy.  The tradition.  I admit, too, it's appealing to shed the staid and reserve of your usual you.  One last hurrah before Ash Wednesday, its reverence, its fasting, and the Lenten season to follow.  (But no, I'm not flashing you the goods for a strand of cheap beads.)

For my finicky children, Mardi Gras is all about two things:  the cake and the baby.

King Cake to be precise.

About six years ago, a Hurricane Katrina transplant started ordering and sharing his King Cake with me.  He always ordered one from Manny Randazzo's from New Orleans, shipped fresh to Houston.  I've only had the regular, but last year Manny Randazzo's pecan praline was crowned best by New Orleans's newspaper, the Times Picayune.  So, the last two years, finicky children and I have been eating Manny Randazzo's.

This year, Texquiem read and researched and finally decided to try something new.  My choice?  Sucre, a New Orleans bakery that has been highly praised in the Times Picayune and elsewhere, like the Washington Post.  Sucre's King Cake is less sweet, with cream cheese filling, and a luster dust that makes it more shimmery than iced.  When it arrived this week, finicky children asked to try it right away.

2013 Sucre King Cake packaging
  In ordering, I was sidetracked by the macarons.

Strawberry, almond, bananas foster, pistachio, chocolate, hazelnut, pecan, and salted caramel.

I did say that finicky children like Mardi Gras because of the cake and the baby?  Yes, most King Cakes come with a plastic baby Jesus to tuck hidden into a piece.  Used to, they baked them in the cake.  And they weren't always plastic.  The way I learned it, the person whose slice has the baby must throw next year's Mardi Gras party.  Finicky girl child has won it two years running, but she hasn't lived up to the party part yet.  I think I'll blackmail a tea party out of her with the macarons as leverage.  Still, finicky male child is determined to win the baby this year.

I'm sure there are all sorts of wrong in having a green, plastic baby Jesus with a glob of icing on his foot and a Chuckie-type smile on his face.  I think I'll wrest this one from whichever child wins him and add him to my nativity scene for next year, just for the shock value.

I'm also on the hunt for a good King Cake in Houston.  I keep circling the Acadian Bros bakery on West Alabama but can't hit it in open hours.  I refuse to buy one from HEB or Kroger.  That feels like a greater sacrilege than the Green Baby Jesus.  Forgive me, Lord, that's sure a sin.

*Sucre says it shipped a King's Cake to all 50 U.S. states.  Not bad for a bakery that's been doing this only since 2009.


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