ST. CHARLES AVE.: The Dish

Nancy Nguyen prepares bread at O’Delice.

Street Sweets

It is both an understatement and a cliché to state that every block of Magazine Street yields a new surprise. But given the fact that one canshop for both a rubber chicken and a Biedermeier breakfast table within the same block, I’m afraid the understatement stands. Magazine Street’s offerings are indeed multifaceted, and one facet that deserves a little more attention is its selection of shops which offer something sweet.

The new kid on the block is Sucré (3025 Magazine St.), opening later this month
orin early March. The store is the long time dream and latest realization of owner and managing partner Joel Dondis. Dondis’ love of pastry and dessert kept the idea of a high-end pastry shop in the back of his mind, but it was time spent in Europe that provided the inspiration. Noticing that chocolates worked well as a stand-alone product, as didgelato and coffee, a light went off: Why not put them all together inone store?

“In New York, you can have shops that carry onlyone item, since you have a high population density,” Dondis explains.“But here in New Orleans if you want to succeed, you need severalseasons of product. For example, if you only sell chocolate, there will be times of year it is not going to sell. The same goes for gelato.Therefore, I wanted to do each of these in the same place as a fullline of product to balance demand.”

Moving into the spaceformerly occupied by Hemline, the Lee Ledbetter-designed shop will feature seating for 40, along with confectionary and gelato cases and a
brand-newpastry kitchen in the back. Supplementing its 24 flavors of gelato will be a special menu of hot and cold coffee and chocolate-based drinks, along with a range of rack-brewed boutique coffees, individually groundand brewed to order. “If you are a coffee aficionado, this is the placefor you,” Dondis says.

Sucré will offer more than 20 handmadechocolate confections, as well as French macaroons and pastries. Everything will be made in-house with an eye oncustomization—individual pastry items that a customer particularly enjoys can be
made to order in sizes ranging from six to 12 inches. A Web site under development will make online ordering a snap, andDondis has his eye on expansion as well. “We’re trying to strategically place the brand, like they’ve done with Ladurée in Paris.”

Dondis says that while everything offered will be unique, nothing will be too far off the beaten path. “It will be recognizable stuff with a classical foundation in cooking. I think people will get it. Once they taste it they will be like, my God!”

Hopping to it
At Blue Frog Chocolates (5707 Magazine St.), owners Ann and Rick Streiffer offer
auniquely sweet shopping experience. Part boutique and part confectionary, Blue Frog offers something for everyone. Signature items such as their imported Italian candy flowers appear transposed from the world of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and a broad range of artisan sweets and cheerful favors make shopping here an upbeat sensory experience. Everywhere you look you see something new, from a colorful gift box presenting a spectrum of lemon, lime and tangerine fruit jellies to specialty chocolate bars from Michel Cluizel.

“We make some chocolates here ourselves and we bring in many more from allover the world, including our popular Truffettes de France,” AnnStreiffer explains. “We also do special arrangements for parties, weddings, and Bar Mitzvahs, along with
Mardi Gras favors and varying sizes of party trays for other occasions.”

The chocolates made in-house include truffles featuring caramel and marshmallow, espresso, and Grand Marnier. The idiosyncratic spirit of New Orleans is captured through sweets with items such as solid milk chocolate houses sporting FEMA blue roofs and foil-wrapped Sewerage and Water Board manhole cover chocolate medallions. Purple, green and gold Mardi Gras “doubloons” are available as well, making for a great Carnival favor. Items can be ordered online from Blue Frog’s expansiveWeb site (www.bluefrogchocolates.com) and shipped almost anywhere.

For upcoming Valentine’s Day, Blue Frog imports seasonal items sure to please
girlfriends, wives, or anyone else with a sweet tooth. “You can get something for
your sweetheart, or something for yourself,” Streiffer suggests.

Eclairs await customers at O’Delice.

Traditional Tastes
Tuckedaway in the 6000 block of Magazine Street is O’Delice, a French-stylebakery specializing in cakes made to order. Owner Nancy Nguyen headsher family-run
operation, which has been in business since 2002.

Nguyencame to the United States from Vietnam in 1985. As a former French colony, French cooking styles and techniques have informed Vietnamesecuisine, particularly with regard to pastries and baking. Having workedin the highly regarded pastry kitchens of such hotels as the Windsor Court, Nguyen has more than two decades of professional experience todraw upon when making her creations.

“I use real buttercream and use a French style of baking that is not overly-sweet
or too heavy with the icing,” Nguyen says. “Mostly I do cakes. Birthday cakes are
popular.I also make some pastries in the morning, because people like to comein and have nice, fresh pastries with their coffee.”

Along withboth chocolate and almond buttercream cakes, she offers up chocolate mousse cake, individual flourless chocolate cakes, and jewel-like petitfours. The quality of her goods has elicited requests from area hotelsand restaurants, but thus far Nguyen has turned them down. “I can’thandle anything too big. After all, it is just me here making the cakes! I just want to do family and group things. No wholesale.”

Lackof advertisement has kept O’Delice under the radar to some degree, but business has been steadily increasing thanks to word-of-mouth. “That’s how I get a lot of my customers,” she says. “After the hurricane, therewere not many bakeries open. Now I have a lot of people coming in here. I’m busier now than ever before.”

Made to Order
Pastry chef Beth Biundo of Lilette is now offering up custom desserts throughher new start-up outlet Cakes by Beth (782-9736). “Everything is madeto order by me using only high-quality dairy and seasonal organic fruit.” Biundo says. “My menu is short but professional!” Items on the menu include cakes such as triple chocolate
and lemon, individual fresh fruit tarts and specialty cupcakes. For fans of Lilette’s
excellent desserts, distinguished by thoughtful compositions with an emphasis on
seasonal fruits and herbs, Cakes by Beth promises very good things.

It’s that time of year again. Girl Scout cookies are on sale now through March 18, with deliveries starting after March 3. Call the Cookie Hotline at 733-8220 to place an order, and representatives from anearby troop will be dispatched to deliver the goods and collect themoney. This year’s cookies boast zero trans-fat per serving, and a sugar-free cookie called “Little Brownie” has been introduced to the lineup as well. Proceeds will go to help troops rebuild their camps damaged by the storm. I have dibs on the Samoans.

try this
Coconut curry shrimp from Nine Roses (1100 Stephen St., Gretna). The curry broth is spicy, sweet, rich and fragrant all at the same time. Spoonedover rice, this is comfort food for a chilly February night.


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