When I woke up this morning, I remembered that it was the first day of fall. But lying in bed with the windows open, the sunny warmth reminded me of the last time I was in New Orleans in late September. You can call it autumn, but as long as it's still hot, I'm happy.
And somewhere in my reverie about fall in the Big Easy, it occurred to me that it was beignet day at Louisiana Flair. Glancing at the clock, I saw it was 10:15 and I had no idea how late they served beignets, but surely not much longer. You never saw someone jump out of bed so fast, but a quick phone call confirmed that beignets were available until 10:30.
Throwing on a sundress, I was walking in the door of Louisiana Flair at 10:32. Using my very best manners, I asked if I could still get beignets. The guy behind the counter gave me a look from behind his glasses and asked, "Are you the one who called?" Found out! "Did I sound desperate?" I wondered.
"A little," he said laughing. "We still got 'em, but you're lucky today. We usually run out by 10." As far as I was concerned, that was just proof that I was meant to have my beignets. I took a seat nearby and in two minutes I had my three beignets and blueberry sauce.
The charming gentleman who had fried them up (two minutes, one on each side) sat at the table next to me so I had some breakfast company. He said they'd made up five pans of beignet dough last night and had less than half a pan left now, a miracle since they almost never have leftover dough.
I expressed my gratitude for today's slower sales as I ate the confectioner's sugar-dusted fried dough, drizzled in sticky blueberry sauce and making a mess everywhere.
"You should have been here yesterday for the alligator etouffee. Sold out by 1:00," he bragged. I said I wasn't surprised since alligator isn't regularly on the menu, but I was definitely interested in coming back the next time they have it.
"You're mighty quiet over there," the counter guy called to me from across the room. "Everything okay?" It's hard to stuff your face and convey complete satisfaction, but I did my best.
Owner Nate heard my regret at missing the alligator and assured me he'd be serving it again soon. "Like when?" I nosily asked, not wanting to miss out a second time. "Let's see, how about October fifth?" he countered.
I inquired if it would be etouffee again, but he had another idea. Next time it'll be fried alligator in a sauce picante (tomato-based brown gravy) over rice with green beans and grilled bread. 'The sauce will be cooked down until that alligator is fork-tender," Nate promised.
Telling him I'll definitely be back for that, he let out one of his belly laughs. "Guess I better write it down then so I don't forget." Good point, because I have a big mouth and obviously I'm not the only alligator fan.
When my counter bud came to clear my plate, he noted the clean table and said, "You didn't even make a mess," something he had warned me would surely happen. I pointed to the pile of crumpled napkins, saying I'd done my best to erase my mess.
"Honey, I was just trying to make you feel better!" he teased.
I don't know that I could have felt much better than sitting there licking powdered sugar off my lips on a hot fall day. Shades of New Orleans in September.