If you think the war between New Orleans beignet titans Morning Call and Café Du Monde had simmered down, you’re wrong. The powdered sugar is still being tossed around in the ring, or dare we say, kitchen? With the news that Morning Call is suing Café Du Monde out and beignet connoisseurs taking sides, it is only fitting that digital startup Very Local New Orleans put these fried delights to the test to see which one local foodies preferred and to answer a highly debated question: Is there really a difference between Café Du Monde’s and Morning Call’s beignets?
The beignet showdown took place at PJ’s on Magazine Street. Although it was hot and sunny (typical of New Orleans), the weather couldn’t stop local Instagram foodies and bloggers Lorin Gaudin (@nolafoodgoddess), Jessica Steel (@fatgirlnola), and Paula (@nola.bites) from sitting in the coffee shop courtyard, laughing and anticipating the blind food test they were about to take part in. Before the test began, Kiri Walton, the marketing manager of Very Local New Orleans, asked the trio which beignet camp they were in. Lorin and Jessica responded that they were stalwart supporters of Morning Call, whereas Paula couldn’t make up her mind. (And who could blame her!?) As someone who has been a strong supporter of Café Du Monde’s sweet, doughy creations, I was shocked and thought to myself, “Could they possibly tell the difference between two fried pieces of dough andsay that Morning Call was the clear champion?” Boy was I in for a treat: These ladies could tell the difference between the two beignets like only true local food experts could.
As an observer, I was surprised when I saw the two beignets side by side. Café Du Monde’s doughy mountain was covered in powdered sugar on all sides, while Morning Call’s smaller, golden brown version of the treat had a tidy pile of sugar in a central divot. Sure, there was a clear difference visually—but they could not see the beignets first-hand, so I was skeptical that these foodies would be able to pass the challenges their palettes were about to face.
Once they were blindfolded and the beignets were set in front of them, the trio was ready to sample away. As the tasting kicked off, their first task was to smell the difference between Café du Monde’s and Morning Call’s creations. Immediately, a difference became clear. Café Du Monde’s beignet, piled high with powdered sugar managed to coat the women’s noses when they took a whiff of the sweet treat. (Don’t wear black when eating beignets, trust me!)
For round two, the foodies were asked to see if the beignets were different based on touch. As with the first test, these pros weren’t fooled at all. Lorin immediately noted that Morning Call’s beignets had “crispier edges” and felt “lighter.”
Next, it was time to really dig in. As soon as the gourmands bit into the beignets, they immediately tasted a difference. Team Morning Call recognized their favorite New Orleans treat and savored the airy, less-doughy confection. As Jessica ate her share of Morning Call’s offering, she lamented about them leaving their City Park location. After all, where would she be able to get her double portion (we agree, beignets are just too good for a single serving) of her favorite local treat with the Metairie location closed and the City Park location in jeopardy?
Finally, it was time for the blindfolds to be lifted and the last test to take place. Just like I had noted earlier, the Instagrammers were able to spot the difference between the two doughy treats right away. Just as I had noticed a difference in color and shape, the foodies did, too. But just like true food experts, they deduced much more than I could with my limited culinary knowledge and expertise. What struck me the most was that they seemed to believe Café Du Monde’s beignets looked “mass produced,” whereas Morning Call’s appeared “handmade.” With eight stands under their belts, perhaps the food connoisseurs aren’t wrong about Café Du Monde’s beignets—but we aren’t the judges of that.
It appeared that although Café Du Monde may have won a new location, Morning Call won the palettes of these beignet lovers. In fact, after watching and talking to the expert food panel, Kiri, who orchestrated the local coffee shop event as a way of getting out into the community, promoting local businesses, and exploring New Orleans life and culture, thought aloud: “I’ve never really been a fan of Morning Call. Maybe I need to go try them again.” As someone who visits Café Du Monde around Christmas time with my family religiously every year, I was confounded as well. Perhaps like so many locals, it’s time for me to put my palette to the test in the battle of the beignets myself.