Chef Hubby and I try to go on a short vacation at the end of every summer to celebrate our birthdays- he’s in August and I’m a September baby. This year, we are being vacation-blocked by 17 pounds of baby and probably an equal part weight of new puppy (to be discussed in a later puppy-blog.) I will have to settle for reminiscing about our past trips to our favorite city: New Orleans.
I adore New Orleans. I love that I step out onto cobblestone streets that have been around for longer than America itself. I love that the residents are so happy and helpful and positive even though that poor city has been dealt a lot of shi**y hands over the last decade or so. I love the history. I love the food. I love the booze. And I love that all of these came together into one amazing experience for us on my first trip there.
Chef Hubby and I are former Ann Rice vampire geeks. Before that Twilight nonsense made vampires all popular and mainstream, I was eating up the fictional life stories of Marius, Armand, Vittorio, and yes, Lestat. So when we went to New Orleans, we just had to had to had to go on a vampire tour of the French Quarter. We had our day planned out: breakfast beignets at Cafe du Monde, a street car ride out to the Audubon Zoo, quick stop back at the hotel and then on to the starting point of the tour.
Things went according to plan until the Zoo. I got into a staring contest with a Komodo dragon. Staring contests with 8 foot long lizards last a long time. Then they were having a demonstration at the Asian Elephant exhibit and I was just going to explode if I didn’t get to pet the elephant. Which I did. Then there were the orangutans. One of them was wearing a shirt and hiding her head inside. Chef Hubby wouldn’t believe me that there was an ape in the shirt. He thought it was a dummy or something. We had to stay until she popped her head back out, proving herself a flesh-and-blood primate. Then the streetcar to get home ran late. Which made us run even more late than we already were. So we missed the vampire tour. Sadness. But as we were about to turn around and find a bar, a tour guide named Ernie asked us where we were going. He said that there was a ghost tour starting in a half an hour and would we like to wait with him at a bar and then go on that tour. Ernie didn’t seem like a danger. He had a name tag. People with name tags tend not to be murderers.
We followed Ernie to the bar.
We got to the Pirates Alley Cafe. It is textbook hole-in-the-wall. It was not in my New Orleans guidebook or on our little map but it is definitely a landmark. It used to be a jail. Then the land was sold and it became a bar. Pirates used to go there and talk about pirate-y stuff, which is presumably about good peg-leg carvers and where to find a qualified parrot veterinarian in Barbados.
Ernie ordered for us. He ordered us 2 classically served absinthes. I can’t remember which bottle the bartender grabbed. She could’ve grabbed a bottle of antifreeze for all I knew because she was explaining the history of the scandalous beverage as she prepared the glass, spoon, and sugar cube. The preparation was beautiful. The sugary water spiraling into the green liquid.
And the taste didn’t disappoint at all. It was delicious. I love licorice (as previously mentioned here) and, although not exactly a licorice flavor, absinthe fit right into those same taste buds. And what could be better than having an outlaw drink in an old jail/pirate hangout? Getting a mini tour of the French Quarter while drinking said outlaw drink!
Eerily green libations in hand, Ernie escorted us to the starting point of the ghost tour. On the way, he pointed out some cool thing to us (I guess you can’t take the tour guide out of a tour guide.) He told us about the streets and alleys we were walking down and the hurricane damage and pirates. It was awesome.
We bid Ernie adieu (until tomorrow- he was heading up our cemetery tour) and left on our ghost tour with a vampire hunter. I wish I had a pic of him because he looked like Van Helsing. The ghost tour was cool. The cemetery tour was trippy, but that is a whole other blog worth of awesome-ness. But that micro-tour and absinthe tasting with Ernie was one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had.
A New Orleans vacation is probably out of the question at least until X can walk. So to bring a little of the French Quarter to my little splotch of a village in New York, I made some absinthe donuts one fine Sunday morning.
I followed Iowa Girl’s recipe. Oddly enough, she wrote her donut-making blog after purchasing the same donut pan that I bought the day before.
For making 6 Donuts:
1 cup all purpose flour
6 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoon Absinthe (I used Mansinthe- Marilyn Manson’s brand- because that’s what I had, other bottles might require less volume to get the same effect)
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
For the glaze:
1/2 cup or more powdered sugar
1 tsp Absinthe
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
Add buttermilk, egg, absinthe and butter. Whisk to combine. It will thicker than pancake batter, but thinner than cookie dough.
Pour or pipe batter into a 6 donut pan. Iowa Girl piped hers, but I poured it from my spouted mixing bowl. It didn’t seem to be any messier than me trying to transfer the batter to a ziploc or piping bag.
Bake for 9-10 minutes or until the good old toothpick test says so.
To make glaze, mix together powdered sugar and absinthe. Add a teaspoon or so of milk and whisk. Add more powdered sugar to thicken, more milk (or absinthe) to thin to desired consistency.
WeightWatchers PointsPlus Value = 6 per donut