Week of Jan. 9: Kick Off Carnival Edition

Carnival 2023 is off to a great start, with many enjoying Twelfth Night festivities last Friday (not to mention all of the king cakes eaten over the weekend.)

But first…

Now that Carnival season has begun, Christmas tree recycling is back. The city of New Orleans will be collecting trees in town to help restore land in Bayou Sauvage. See @nolaready for information and pick up times. Additionally, Glass Half Full NOLA is accepting natural trees free from bases, trimmings and lights at five locations around town. Collected trees will benefit Bayou Bienvenue wetland triangle and marshland restoration with The Pointe Au Chien tribe. Visit their Instagram page here for more information and drop off locations.

Dames de Perlage theme reveal

I am lucky enough to belong to the Carnival krewe Dames de Perlage. We debuted our Carnival theme for this year at our own Twelfth Night/Phunny Phorty Pfellows viewing party get-together. This is our 10th anniversary of marching and creating hand-sewn, unique beaded corsets. To toast the season, our theme “We Make Mardi Gras Happen,” celebrates Carnival krewes both new and historic. Check out our Instagram for photos and to see when you can catch us on the parade route.

Dolly’s Birthday Bash

In addition to the Dames, I am also a member of the Krewe of Dolly, which celebrates all things Dolly Parton, plus supports literacy in New Orleans and beyond. To celebrate Dolly’s birthday, the krewe is having a special fundraiser on January 19, 7 to 10 p.m. at The Solari Orleans, benefitting the Imagination Library in New Orleans. There will be a Dolly costume contest, live music, food, drinks and a signature cocktail from Happy Raptor. Mark your calendars and get your tickets here.

King Cake season

As usual, I will be tasting and featuring a different king cake each week. This year, I kicked things off with the classic from Gracious Bakery. We like it for its pretty icing and fancy sprinkles, light texture plus the lagniappe ribbon of dark chocolate throughout. This year, in addition to Gracious’ three location, cakes can also be found at select Whole Foods to make it even easier to grab one for the office, your home, a party or Saturday morning breakfast (it’s Carnival time, so king cake counts as a breakfast food.) You can also special order in advance through Gracious’ website.

The iconic Dong Phuong also has opened online ordering for pickup from their New Orleans East location, and has teamed up once again with hubs around the city, such as Urban South Brewery on Tchoupitoulas Street (along with their new king cake beer.)

Cochon Butcher and La Boulangerie have their decadent “Elvis” king cake (exclusively at Butcher) filled with peanut butter and roasted banana and topped with bacon, toasted marshmallow and sprinkles, plus classic flavors such as cinnamon, strawberry and chocolate almond. Lovers of the classic French king cake can also enjoy the “Galette des Rois” (available at La Boulangerie) featuring puff pastry filled with almond cream.

Lastly, the King Cake Hub returns at Zony Mash in Broadmoor offering a wide variety of unique and classic king cakes in one great location. I’ll definitely be stopping by multiple times throughout the season to sample some of the best. Plus, you’ll want to check out our Persona profile of owner/organizer Jennifer Samuels in our January issue of New Orleans Magazine.

Carnival is just beginning, and there are so many more king cakes to go, so don’t forget that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. King cake wisely!

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