A well-intentioned over-indulger who hits the new year and the gym with vigor and a rigid diet only to putter out and give up by Mardi Gras. 

The Best Excuse: Carnival Season!
Galette du Rois | Photo provided by La Boulagnerie

For all of you resolutionaries already feeling the lifestyle cramp from your New Year’s resolutions it’s time for you to perk up. While everywhere else tomorrow is just Friday, January 6, here it is Twelfth Night, the start of Carnival Season. 

You will be free to dust your well-intentioned health goals and put them off until “after Mardi Gras.” This will give you more than six weeks to continue your shenanigans before you can knock it off again for Lent, toning your game just in time to blow it anew for Jazz Fest weeks.

As a lifelong, committed five-day-a-week-at-least gym rat and one who has pretty much burned out forms of excess, I’ll not be joining you should you slip down the rabbit hole. But I’ll not judge you, either.

For those so inclined, let me show you the way down.

The Best Excuse: Carnival Season!
Ceasar Salad, Photo provided by The Bower

If you want to get the debauchery going a day early, tonight and every Thursday evening through February 23, The Bower will host Prime Rib Night from 4-9 p.m. Executive Chef Marcus Woodham has created a menu sure disarm the discerning carnivore. Priced at $49 per person (excluding tax and gratuity), the three-course special includes The Bower Caesar; Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe with green and pink peppercorns; and a 12-ounce Herb and Mustard-Crusted Prime Rib served with a basil and horseradish pesto. Optional wine pairings are available by-the-glass and by-the-bottle.

The Best Excuse: Carnival Season!
Credit: Randy Schmidt

In only seven years, Bywater Bakery has become THE spot to celebrate Twelfth Night/King’s Day/The Feast of the Epiphany with a big open street party. Tomorrow from noon – 4 p.m. there will be plenty of live music to herald the launch of the season. This year’s lineup includes performances by Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, Nathan Riviera, Josh Paxton, Soul Brass Band, and David Torkanowski.

The bakery will open tomorrow at 8 a.m. with a parade of king cakes. This year’s lineup includes old favorites Like Traditional, Chantilly, Praline, Cheesecake, Carnival, Azul Dulce Blueberry, and last year’s hit, Lemon Cream. Newer flavors include Brownie Bomb—if a brownie and a chocolate lava cake had a baby this would be it; and Bywater Bourbon Cinnamon Swirl—this completely plant-based king cake is made from a soft sweet potato dough, smeared with a cinnamon bourbon filling. I have become a fan of BB’s savory king cakes—Crawfish, Boudin, and Spinach Artichoke.

The Best Excuse: Carnival Season!
Elvis KIng Cake | Photo provided by La Boulangerie

Also per usual, tomorrow Executive Pastry Chef Maggie Scales of the Link Restaurant Group will roll out several flavors and sizes of king cakes at both Cochon Butcher and La Boulangerie. Look for the famous “Elvis,” a soft brioche filled with peanut butter and roasted banana, topped with house-cured bacon,  toasted marshmallow, and Mardi Gras sprinkles. In place of the iconic small plastic “baby,” all king cakes contain a petite pink pig as their signature “baby.” The traditional New Orleans king cake is a sweet, soft brioche, frosted and adorned with a sprinkling of sugar. Over the years, New Orleans bakers have expanded on the king cake, lavishly decorating them with icing and sugar in the classic Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold, and adding delectable fillings. This Carnival season, Chef Maggie will offer the New Orleans king cakes in these flavors: Cinnamon, strawberry, and chocolate almond. Chef Maggie creates her king cakes in two sizes: a 6-inch individual ($9)- exclusively available at the Butcher – and a 9-inch large ($30), which serves up to 12 people and is available at both La Boulangerie and Cochon Butcher. The Elvis will be sold at Cochon Butcher daily by the slice or as a full-size special-order cake ($45) with required 48-hour notice.

In addition to the typical New Orleans king cake, La Boulangerie will be selling a traditional French Galette des Rois, two rounds of puff pastry filled with delicate almond cream. The Galette des Rois is topped with a small porcelain feve, comes in two sizes: 8″ ($25) and 10″ ($40). La Boulangerie also offers a savory option: The 9-ich Pretzel king cake, decorated with Mardi Gras colored salt, is served with Cochon Abita mustard ($18). 

Wow, Carnival season is already here.