The kid was staring at me, and I didn’t blame him. He was having lunch with his parents at the next table over and he was fixated on the king cake milkshake that I was eating all by myself.
This was at Frey Smoked Meat Company, a Mid-City barbecue restaurant known for making milkshakes the size of milk cartons. This one was trimmed with Carnival-color sugar sprinkles and whipped cream and had a wedge of king cake rising from the mug like a cream cheese-frosted crown.
It got that kid’s attention alright, and it also stirred something in the kid within me.
I didn’t feel even a little guilty. It is Carnival after all. In fact, this week means we’re about halfway through a shorter-than-usual season. That brings a new urgency to the perennial question of which king cakes you’ve tried and which are next on your list. And yes, these questions do feel weighty.
If you’re playing catch up, you’re in luck this Sunday, when Champions Square by the Superdome hosts the annual King Cake Festival. Cakes from a couple dozen bakers are arrayed for wide sampling. There’s a fun run beforehand if you’re looking for justification, or you can simply remind yourself that the event is a fundraiser.
Me? I’ve been trying king cake every chance I get, from the unheralded brioche braid that turns up at the office to explorations of king cake’s many modern guises. I’ve had king cake gelato and king cake doberge cake, I’ve had crawfish king cake for lunch and ended the day with a king cake made with beer – yes, beer king cake actually exists, you can look it up.
And that brings us back to the king cake milkshake, with the wide-eyed audience of that kid staring at me. I wanted to tell him “look, don’t worry, some day you’ll be middle-aged too and you can make great decisions just like this.”
But hey, it’s not my job to be a life coach. And I have my hands full chasing king cake around New Orleans.
Get details on the examples I mentioned and about the King Cake Festival below:
King Cake Milkshake at Frey Smoked Meat Co.
4141 Bienville St., 504-488-7427
King Cake Gelato at Angelo Brocato’s Ice Cream
214 N. Carrollton Ave., 504-486-1465
King Cake Doberge at Bakery Bar
1179 Annunciation St., 504-265-8884
Crawfish and Goat Cheese King Cake at the Station
4400 Bienville St., 504-309-4548
Beer, Cider and Bonbon King Cakes at Piety and Desire Chocolate
2727 S. Broad St., 504-491-4333
Sunday, Jan. 28, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Rep Run and Fun Run at 8:30 a.m.)
Champions Square at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome