Because we live in New Orleans, any post-holiday downtime is impossible because Mardi Gras comes right on the heels of the New Year. The traditional start of the Mardi Gras season is on Epiphany, the 6th of January.
In some Catholic countries, Epiphany is the major gift-giving holiday -- children receive their presents not from Santa Claus, but from the wisemen, which makes sense given they brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Messiah.
In New Orleans, Epiphany begins Carnival, or Mardi Gras. Instead of just one day for "Fat Tuesday," a New Orleans Mardi Gras lasts from Three Kings all the way to Ash Wednesday. It's a big "farewell to the flesh" blowout that counts down to the austerity of the Lenten season. Most folks around here kick the season off with their first bite of King Cake on the 6th, and don't stop until they've eaten their last on Mardi Gras day.
In a city renowned for food, you can find as many different styles of king cakes as there are cuisines. Most locals have "their" favorite king cake, and it's often a loyalty bred from the formative years. I'm always interested to hear which type of cake a friend prefers, and why.
I prefer the "traditional" style of king cake popularized by McKenzie's, a local bakery that is no longer. McKenzie's king cake was heavy on the bread, light on the frosting, and honestly...not all that exciting compared to all the choices available today. What it represented to me, though, was Mardi Gras with my New Orleans cousins, which is one of my best childhood memories. Being a Baton Rouge cousin, eating king cake for breakfast before a day of parade-watching was an unbelievable occurrence to me, and McKenzie's king cake was on the menu.
My oldest daughter is a January baby, and has had every form of king cake imaginable for her birthday over the years. She's never declared a favorite, but did request we send cream cheese filled king cake to her college address this year.
My other daughter "hates" King Cake. We don't know where she came from, but I'm glad that District Donuts finally came up with something purple, green and gold that I can feed her during Mardi Gras. Otherwise she might only eat Popeye's fried chicken, and we all know how dangerous that is.
I asked around the gallery for other King Cake preferences, and this is what I came up with.
My favorite type of king cake is almond. It's not easy to find, but so good! It's like an almond croissant but amped up for Mardi Gras. Yum. (we recommend trying La Boulangerie's version)
I don't have a favorite flavor, but I'd say I like Sucre the best! (Sucre king cakes are known for being culinary works of art, so it's fitting that an artist would choose it as a favorite)
I like plain. I don't need fillings or stuffings or extra icing. I also don't want my king cake to be dry. (True to form, when I got to work this morning there was a plain traditional king cake from Breaux Mart in the kitchen.)