The Daily Feed, We Green DC

Stay Warm, Save Dough with Free Green Classes

Photo courtesy of
‘Happy and Warm’
courtesy of ‘maxedaperture’

Did someone say “free”?

That’s right — this week, Greater Goods is holding two free classes on how to save money and stay warm, while being green.

On Thursday at 7 p.m., a Green Incentives class will tell you all about alternative energy sources and saving money through tax credits, rebates, and other incentives.

On Saturday at 11 a.m., at the Seal the Deal – Weatherproofing Your Home course, you can learn how to make your place warmer through inexpensive, easy-to-do project such as caulking, weatherstripping, and adding window films and insulation.

Love those? Come back the same time the following Saturday to learn how to clear the air and make a healthier home. And stay happy and warm.

Dupont Circle, History, The Features, Tourism

Mystery Mansion in Dupont: The Heurich House

Photo courtesy of
‘Hidden Bronze Lion’
courtesy of ‘CathyLovesDC’

Tucked away in plain view, the Heurich House is the most intact late-Victorian home in the country. Right in the middle of the action in Dupont Circle – on a corner you have probably walked by at least a dozen times – you are absolutely transported back in time – easily envisioning the family who lived there enjoying a meal in the German beer tavern-styled breakfast room and needle pointing doll clothes and tapestries in the ladies’ retreat room. The furniture, furnishings, wall and ceiling canvas paintings, and even the gas and electric lighting are all original to the house.

The Heurich House museum was home to Christian Heurich, who was regarded as the patriarch of the American brewing industry. After moving to America from Germany in 1872 at the age of 30, he purchased an old, declining brewery and within 10 years, became the largest and most successful brewer in the nation’s capital.

Nicknamed the “Brewmaster’s Castle,” the Heurich House sounds more like a Brickskellar’s with a spiral tower, but the initial disappointment you’ll have to get over first is: they don’t serve any beer. A more fitting nickname for the mansion might be “Fireproof Fortress.” Continue reading

Food and Drink, Life in the Capital, The Features

First Look: Masa 14

Masa Interior

Unless you live under a foodie rock, you’ve noticed that 14th street has exploded lately. Eatonville, Policy (though Jenn says don’t go there), Birch and Barley, and, of course, Masa 14. Masa 14 is the new small plate concept by Kaz Okochi (Kaz Sushi Bistro) and Richard Sandoval (Zengo). The kitchen is led by Chef de Cuisine Antonio Burrell, who used to be at CommonWealth Gastropub.

Masa 14 has a large, industrial feel. Sleek and trendy, noisy, and totally packed. Fritz Hahn was right when he said it is the new thirty-something destination on 14th street. The crowd wasn’t the typical young quasi-hipster crowd I’ve grown accustom to at places like Eatonville or Saint Ex. But don’t for a second think this isn’t a stylish crowd – red lipstick, cuff links and afros all made statements there Friday night when Jenn and I stopped by to check it out. Continue reading

The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: A Flea in Her Ear

Joe Brack, Katie Atkinson, and Heather Haney in "A Flea in Her Ear," photo courtesy of Constellation Theatre Company

Joe Brack, Katie Atkinson, and Heather Haney in "A Flea in Her Ear," photo courtesy of Constellation Theatre Company

Missing suspenders, snapped frilly garters, a revolving bed, a man who can’t pronounce his consonants – Georges Feydeau’s “A Flea in Her Ear” takes some uptight French aristocrats and rattles them around in the Frisky Puss Hotel. It’s a tightly constructed “bedroom farce” that Constellation Theatre Company attacks with frenetic physical comedy. Lots of scenery is chewed in this production, but that’s a good thing!

Woeful Raymonde Chandebise (a sprightly Katie Atkinson) suspects her husband is unfaithful, because he’s stopped fulfilling his conjugal duties. Until she solves the mystery of his failed desire, she can’t rest – and certainly can’t take a lover until her mind is at ease! Devising a ruse with best friend Lucienne (Heather Haney, butter wouldn’t melt) to catch her husband in the act, she sets off a series of wildly implausible and ever more ridiculous situations of mistaken identity. Don’t bother trying to keep track of it all, just let the riot take over.

Anchored by a strong cast all showing great vocal and physical command, the production is clearly rooted in the world of farce. I honestly laughed to tears at several points. It makes for a truly hysterical night at the theater.
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The Features, Where We Live

Where We Live: Columbia Heights

Photo courtesy of
’11th Street NW Rowhouses’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

Another Friday, another neighborhood.  This week’s Where We Live focuses on a neighborhood that has reinvented itself over the past ten years, Columbia Heights. Columbia Heights has a lot to offer, from beautiful residential areas to the massive new DC USA development, and it’s got a pretty neat history too.  Read on to learn all about Columbia Heights.

History: Columbia Heights was originally a horse track and farmland directly outside the boundary of the City of Washington, and it was also the original home of Columbian College (which eventually became George Washington University).  In 1881, Senator John Sherman purchased a whole bunch of land in the area and named the development Columbia Heights, in honor of Columbian College.  In 1904, the college moved down to Foggy Bottom.  The federal government purchased some land and built Meridian Hill Park, and the area became an upscale neighborhood that attracted federal workers and military officers.  In the early 1900s Columbia Heights was one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city, and attracted a number of notable residents.  By 1914, four streetcar lines connected Columbia Heights to downtown DC.

The neighborhood began to transform from a suburban neighborhood to an urban center in the early part of the twentieth century, with the construction of larger apartment buildings and the Tivoli Theater in 1924.  Columbia Heights was adjacent to the thriving black communities of Shaw and U Street, and became home to more African Americans during the first half of the twentieth century.  Then, of course, the 1968 riots happened.  Residents moved out, stores remained vacant for decades, and Columbia Heights lost its luster.

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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Cork

"roseflight" by Il Primo Uomo, on Flickr

"roseflight" by Il Primo Uomo, on Flickr

There’s a slew of new boozy places in town, and I’m going to be busy trying to hit them all. So I thought for this week’s edition of Drinks I’d focus on a bar that has been on my list for a while, but somehow haven’t gotten around to writing about. 

Well, maybe I was being selfish!

Cork was a raging success before it even opened. Just the initial rumours of a wine bar on the 14th Street Corridor was enough to send us Shavians into a frenzy, pros and cons fiercely debated. Though owners and Logan Circle residents Diane Gross and Khalid Pitts were strongly dedicated to keeping it a neighborhood spot, the advance chat was so good that it was impossible to get in for weeks, if not months, after it opened. Suddenly the brave little wine bar that could was the toast of Food & Wine. And with Cork Market & Tasting Room opening this fall a little across the way, there’s no sign of a slowdown.

Sad to say, I still can’t recommend Cork on a weekend night. It’s just too crowded, there isn’t much space to wait for a table in the bar area (there isn’t much of a bar area for a wine bar, actually) and the decibel level is extreme. Of course if all that doesn’t bother you, go for it. It’s certainly a lively scene. But I’m more an off-night girl myself.

On a quiet mid-week night, the owners’ mission to “demystify the world of wine” really comes through, and it’s a true pleasure. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Mid City Caffe

Mocha, Mid City Caffe

"Mocha, Mid City Caffe" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

Within an hour of finishing a mocha at Mid City Caffe, I’d sped through the end of a dense Turkish mystery, sent some twenty frantic texts, moved mountains, healed the sick, and dropped way too much decor dough at Miss Pixie’s downstairs, lifting a huge wool rug effortlessly above my head the several blocks home. I did almost everything after that divine cup of chocolate and coffee except leap tall buildings in a single bound. And was already dreaming of my return to try a morning cappuccino or drift away a whole afternoon with a french press. Now that’s prime bean.

Mid City may be a small bare bones cafe, but it’s already popular with the Logan Circle crowd salivating over the prospects of a regular coffee stop. This is an area long bemoaning the death of Sparky’s, 14U, Mocha Hut – we want a basic place to lounge with high-quality java that isn’t Starbucks or Caribou, simple as that. I’d argue the ‘hood needs more cafe-type joints – sure I’m super excited about restaurants like Masa 14 opening but really, we’re an underserved area for just plain – basic - good. 

Up the stairs you’ll find a cafe divided into two small rooms – one with the friendly bar serving espresso drinks and french press coffee, pastries and a few goodies like cinnamon raisin brioche toast with a choice of spreads (like nutella… drooool). Continue reading

We Love Food

We Love Food: Marvin

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Erica Wissolik’

Marvin is #100 on Washingtonian’s Best Of list. I thought I should put it out there in front, just because in my mind, it sums up Marvin. It’s not #10 and it’s not even in the top 50, but it’s still a choice pick. Plus, people’s opinions of it, even on our We Love DC authors list serve, vary considerably. Some people believe it to be a hidden gem (not so much on the hidden part any more) and some people consider it totally crap. Me? Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s #100. A neighborhood joint with above-average food, a rooftop deck, and some excellent fried chicken.

Marvin, named after DC native Marvin Gaye, is at the intersection of 14th and U. Thanks to the savvy folks behind Eighteenth Street Lounge, The Gibson and Local 16, Marvin is both a bar hot spot and a tasty evening dining destination. The menu pairs southern with Belgian, and has a little something for everyone. On a recent pilgrimage to The Gibson for an after-work drink, a friend and I stopped by Marvin for dinner and had a mostly pleasant experience. Continue reading

Dupont Circle, Food and Drink, Night Life, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Fox & Hounds

"17th Street Patios" by M.V. Jantzen, on Flickr

"17th Street Patios" by M.V. Jantzen, on Flickr

Seriously. Who hasn’t had a drink at Fox & Hounds? The quintessential DC dive bar. Completely schizophrenic depending on season and time of day. Always unglamorous and unapologetic. The grande dame of 17th Street since when, the 60′s? What’s summer in Washington without a visit here, sinking into a plastic patio chair at a perpetually wobbling table and watching the world go by, with some of the best people-watching in the city?

Its official name is “Trio’s Fox & Hounds,” and you can easily order food from the adjacent Trio’s diner to enjoy while you drink (my god, this means you can even get your teetotaller a milkshake). But eating is not the primary activity. If you’re a mixed drink inbiber, be warned – this is the sort of establishment that gives you a glass of vodka with a side of bottled tonic. That is all part of the tattered charm of a true dive. The beer is cheap (no pints or bottles over $6, with $17 pitchers) and the Guinness perfectly poured.

Don’t feel like hanging out on the patio (or find yourself still there after noise ordinances close it down)? It’s a whole different experience inside.

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Adams Morgan, Essential DC, The Features, Where We Live

Where We Live: Adams Morgan

Photo courtesy of
‘Adams Morgan’
courtesy of ‘citron_smurf’

Welcome to another edition of Where We Live. This week we’ll be covering the ins and outs of one of the District’s coolest neighborhoods, Adams Morgan. Adams Morgan is unique in DC in that it actually feels like a neighborhood during the weekdays and weekend days, and completely changes character on weekend evenings as it transforms into a concentration of drunk non-residents.  Unfortunately, some people only ever see the drunken frat party of 18th Street in Adams Morgan and don’t get to understand the really wonderful neighborhood behind it.  Here’s your chance to learn what else there is to it!

History: Adams Morgan gets its name from the two formerly-segregated elementary schools in the area, the all-white John Quincy Adams school and the (now closed) all-black Thomas P. Morgan school (therefore, the area is not actually called Adam’s Morgan or Adams’ Morgan, both of which I’ve seen everywhere).  In 1956 the Adams-Morgan Better Neighborhood Conference formed to improve the neighborhood, and jump-start urban renewal (not the Southwest Waterfront kind, though).  Interestingly enough, the neighborhood’s name was hyphenated as Adams-Morgan in the Washington Post up until 2001.

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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Eatonville

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

So I’ll let you in on a little secret, new restaurants. Sometimes two of the blonde single lady authors of We Love DC hit the town together, and judge you. You can spot us, cause we ask a bunch of questions, giggle to ourselves, and take tons of pictures of our food and drinks. One of us is southern, the other northern. One twentysomething, one thirtysomething. We try and represent all demographics. We also try not to make a scene. Maybe one day we’ll get fabulous enough to don disguises Ruth Reichl-style, but for now, we aren’t particularly incognito. I’m pretty sure our server last week at Eatonville knew something was up, but he was a good sport, as we grilled him all about the menu, the best picks, and even the decor. He wound up asking us a bunch of questions back to our questions about the restaurant. Bending over our table, conspiritorially, he asked us “do you twitter?” (Yup.) “Will you tweet about this?” (Sure will.) “Even if you don’t like it?” (Uh huh.) Luckily for him, we liked it just fine.

Eatonville had come up with mixed reviews from my foodie crowd, but ever the southerner, I was excited. Jenn was ready to judge with me, and she’s always good to have around to bounce thoughts off of. We dived into the menu headfirst, ordering the two most popular appetizers, the Hushpuppy (singular, that’s right, find out why after the break) and the Fried Green Tomatoes. (I don’t think it’s in my genetics to say no to a fried green tomato!) Continue reading

Life in the Capital, The District, The Features, Where We Live

Where We Live: Mount Pleasant

Photo courtesy of
‘Shrine of the Sacred Heart’
courtesy of ‘NCinDC’

The diverse and eclectic Mount Pleasant neighborhood is the topic of this week’s Where We Live.  It was once a streetcar suburb and is now a mix of housing types  with a main street of its own.  It has great access to downtown and is right in between Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights, two very developed areas, but it has retained a quieter residential character.  Read on to hear the very cool history of Mount Pleasant and what to check out next time you’re there.

History: The neighborhood dates back to 1727, when a large area of what is now Columbia Heights/Adams Morgan/Mount Pleasant was granted to James Holmead.  The area was named Pleasant Plains in 1750, and then became part of the District when it was established in 1791.  During the Civil War, the area was home to a hospital, and after the war the neighborhood became known as Mount Pleasant Village.  The area was separated from the rest of the District by rural land, as DC hadn’t grown into its 10-mile square yet, which is why Mount Pleasant doesn’t quite line up with DC’s orderly grid of streets.  In the 1870s, the area became the District’s first streetcar suburb, and many middle class residents moved in to take advantage of the quick commute to Washington City.

The area has changed a lot since then.  In the 1950s, the neighborhood became racially segregated, with many white residents leaving the city altogether.  The 1968 riots only made things worse, and the area entered a period of decline.  However, throughout the 1960s Spanish-speaking immigrants began moving to Mount Pleasant, establishing vibrant communities of El Salvadorean and Dominican Republic immigrants.  In the 1980s and 1990s, affluent professionals began moving into the area for its access to jobs downtown and its historic residential housing stock.  And today, the population is a mix of all those eras: approximately one third of residents are white, one third are African-American, and one third are Hispanic.

Neighborhood Character: Mount Pleasant has a strong historic residential character throughout the neighborhood and a pedestrian-friendly commercial strip along Mount Pleasant Street.  Rowhouses and smaller apartment buildings make up the neighborhood, and many historic structures from the early 1900s remain.  The area is very walkable, with strong transit access and a variety of neighborhood destinations.  In recent years, Mount Pleasant has been changing due to the nearby development of Columbia Heights.  Tim, author of the neighborhood blog The 42 and Mount Pleasant resident of six years, had this to say:  ” There obviously have been hundreds of changes, some from within and many from without.  We’ve been greatly affected by the development of Columbia Heights.  Most of that has probably been good for Mount Pleasant in terms of access to amenities.  On the other hand, we’ve seen stagnant development of out own commercial strip at the same time.”

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Food and Drink, Night Life, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Policy

Light Fixture, Policy

"Light Fixture, Policy" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

Right from the start, you know something’s off at Policy. Standing in the luridly lit stairwell, a sickly yellow gleam gives everyone the look of a mental patient. Not even the most nubile twenty-year-old looks good in light like this. It doesn’t get much better inside. The whole place is lit like a lighting designer who hates his actors. I was originally going there to write it up for my usual We Love Drinks but, any cocktail menu that has a drink mixing my beloved espresso vodka with Red Bull is off my list. But the food menu seemed at least potentially interesting.

However, I had reservations about Policy the first night I walked by and saw they had valet parking. At 14th and T, I really wonder. What does that say? Your clientele is too scared to park their own cars? What are they doing in the neighborhood anyway?

After you get past the mental hospital stairwell, the dining room greets you with a look rather like the Diner From Hell. Ceiling tiles seem to drip blood all night. Awful lighting in your booth gives you a migraine. Bad club “hits” from a decade past pound away. Contrast the forced clever black-and-red motif here with the crazy kitsch black-and-red motif at Jimmy Valentine’s, and it doesn’t take Dante to tell you where the Devil would rather hang out.

Ok, I keep getting distracted, because all these things are actually not the worst part about a night at Policy. It’s the overpriced mediocre food. Another bad sign is when your server explains to you the “concept of small plates” because “not everyone gets it.” Um, right. 14th and T again, remember? We’ve got Cork and Bar Pilar already. Or is this explanation for the people who want the valet parking?

Right, distraction. Sorry. Here we go. We tried six dishes at Policy. Two were good. Four were disappointing. The Madras Curry Lamb Sliders may have had curry in them, but I wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t in the title. The three little sliders for $13.95 were juicy, sure, but had no flavor at all. For lamb, that’s… odd. Continue reading

Food and Drink, Night Life, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Ben’s Next Door

Citrus District, Ben's Next Door

"Citrus District, Ben's Next Door" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

Catching up with friends who’ve been away from DC for a while is always interesting. You want to take them someplace that’s different, that shows the changes of the city over the past five years or more, but also you require a vibe which allows you to actually hear each other. I had this challenge recently with a friend who’d returned to DC from living in London, so naturally I wasn’t going to kill myself trying to impress her, I just wanted to find a place that simply said “Welcome Back to Washington.”

We found it at the bar at Ben’s Next Door. What could be more Washingtonian than the new bar and restaurant opened by the Ali family of Ben’s Chili Bowl fame? I mean, have you seen the crazy lines of tourists outside Ben’s lately? I had to show her how the legend of U Street continues to grow. 

Funnily enough, we made it just before the news of chef Rock Harper’s departure. I’m really glad we both had the instant instinct to stick to the bar. It’s a looooong one (53 feet, to be exact), which always makes me a bit nervous about service, but there was no need to worry. We spent several hours catching up under the careful eye of bartender Anthony, who made sure we never wanted for anything. 

It was a real locals crowd that night, U Street denizens cheering on the Caps against the Pens, but it never got too loud and there was a happy buzz to the place. Continue reading

Downtown, The Features, Thrifty District

Thrifty District: Shoe Repair

"shoe repair in metro" by sacasterisk, on Flickr

"shoe repair in metro" by sacasterisk, on Flickr

“Thank you for keeping me in business.

They say one of the leading indicators of hard times economically is the rise of people getting their shoes repaired. It’s a pity, really, that in flush times people don’t appreciate as much the wonderful profession that used to be known by the old-fashioned term “cobbler.” Even after being sexed up when Daniel Day-Lewis went off to Italy to learn the craft, it still doesn’t get much attention or respect.

Well, besides learning how to fix your own hems, sew your own buttons on, and darn your socks (ok, even I draw the line at the last one) the best thing you can do is find a cobbler you like and bring in your shoes regularly for a shine and a spruce-up. I had three shoes that needed some help in varying degrees of complexity – here are two happy results, and one sad one.

I went to my local go-to guy downtown, the reliable 12th & G Cleaners & Shoe Repair. With a full shoe repair facility in the back, he was able to fix the first two with relative ease. 

Pair 1: ‘Dollhouse’ Three-Strap Mary Janes. Oh so demure, with a touch of dom around the ankle. They needed some touch-up where the leather was running raw at the toes, new heel taps, and a good polish. A relatively easy job nicely done. $18.

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Getaways, Tourism, Travel

Getaways: Artists Inn Residence

Lionshead Faucet, Artists Inn Residence

"Lionshead Faucet, Artists Inn Residence" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

Sigh. Stupid economic apocalypse. I really wanted to get away for my birthday this year. Rough times on all fronts. Originally I had some fantasy about skipping town to Barcelona or Marseilles. But, no such luck. So, I settled for a staycation and escaped for the night to exotic Dupont Circle. The bed and breakfast that I discovered, however, turned out to be the best birthday idea I’d had in ages.

The Artists Inn Residence, run by the incredibly kind Terry Gerace, is an amazing B&B at 18th and R Streets NW. If you have any out-of-town guests to house or are looking for a romantic or peaceful escape, this is the place. Beautifully renovated, it’s filled with light and gives the impression of a gracious Parisian mansion with a modern twist. Six suites are lovingly decorated like perfect jewelboxes – each with a different theme that is never heavy-handed. The rooms are also completely outfitted with the technophile essentials like high-speed wireless internet, crazily hidden HDTVs, heated floors, mood lighting… I easily spent half-an-hour just fiddling with the gadgets like the TV hidden in the mirror over the massive stone fireplace.

I stayed in the Da Vinci suite, with its bed constructed out of massive carved doors making me feel like I was nestled in a Tuscan farmhouse. Upon arrival I was even sweetly greeted by a little chocolate cake. Now that’s a class act. Continue reading

Entertainment, Fun & Games, Night Life, The Features

No Ball? No Problem

Photo courtesy of
‘__ _______ __ __’ courtesy of ‘Sexy Fitsum’

Former WeLoveDC blogger (and currently preparing to make her way here from CA for next week’s festivities) Brittany hooked us up with a BYT event coming up that promises to be one heck of a party…but not a ball.

Brightest Young Things is having their “Inauguration Classic 2k9 Spectacular” on Tuesday evening at the Bohemian Caverns / LIV night club, located at 2001 11th and U St. NW. Party starts at 9:30 a.m. and runs until 4 a.m. That’s right – it starts early and goes all day long, celebrating in true BYT fashion.

They’re promising “Inaugural viewing, food, fun, games, happiness, general merriment and much rejoicing.” At 5 p.m. Tig Notaro from The Sarah Silverman Project kicks off a rocket-ride of live performances, featuring the likes of WALE, the Mathematicians, Fatback DJs, Art of Junk, the Buildings and more. (See their online flier for the full list of performers and specials.)

You have to secure tickets, but the souvenir glitter band gives you in and out access all day / night long, plus bag and coat check. Continue reading

Downtown, The District, We Love Food

We Love Food: Little Fountain Cafe

little fountain cafe

I believe I’ve already shared with everyone that I’m a regular reader of the local dc foodie blog Metrocurean. Matt and I were looking for a good date spot to celebrate Christmas together before I head home for the holidays, so I turned to Metrocurean’s “date spot” recommendations. Metrocurean author Amanda suggested a bunch of places I’ve been before, but one I’d never even heard of, Little Fountain Cafe. It’s getting pretty hard to stump me when it comes to good eats in this city. Between writing for WLDC and spending lots of time researching this town, most of the time I’ve at least HEARD of a place if it’s worth anything. But this one was new. A little googling, and an online reservation later, Matt and I were booked, and I was super excited. Everything I had read about said we were in for a treat.

Little Fountain Cafe is located on 18th street, right in the bustle of Adam’s Morgan. In the english basement below Angles Bar, Little Fountain is a hidden gem.

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Food and Drink, Penn Quarter, The DC 100

DC Omnivore 100: #67: Beignets, period

Photo courtesy of micky mb
Cafe au lait and a beignet, please
courtesy of micky mb

Item 67 on the Omnivore 100 list is “Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake,” but I have to say – this is one place where I take issue with the list. I grew up in Miami and had family in New Orleans, so I’ve bought many a pack of churros while stopped at a streetlight on Calle Ocho and eaten my fair share of beignets at Cafe DuMonde. Calling elephant ears and funnel cake the same thing is one matter, equating them with beignets and churros simply because they’re variations on fried pastry is just…. wrong.

I leave you to your own devices to find an elephant ear; the circus comes through town on a regular basis and you have a decent chance at any street fair of finding a booth selling the drizzled fried dough. Churros we might re-address later – feel free to share any local location you think is worth out looking into.

For a beignet, however, my devotion to you, constant reader, is such that I compared two locations where you can try one of the few Louisiana exports to surpass zydeco. Continue reading