It was sublime. A real king cake from some famous New Orleans bakery. I went back for another piece. And then another. And another. Within a couple of hours, I’d eaten three-quarters of this very large cake. Filled with custard. As I stepped over to check out the last bit, I hit "the wall." And then I hit the floor. Doubled over in pain from a belly too full of custard, flour and sugar. My co-workers thought I was kidding around until they looked in the box and realized what I’d done. It’s among their favorite stories to tell about me to this day. And, unsurprisingly, I have not had a bite of king cake since. However, I am reconsidering my boycott this Mardi Gras season.
City Paper food columnist (and Bitester emerita) Nicki Pendleton Wood alerted me of the king cakes made by Wolfe Gourmet Cakes, and a little research indicated that some of my East Side friends have been fans for a while. Baker Nicole Wolfe — a New Orleans native — makes the cakes from scratch, using premium ingredients, including naturally dyed sugars. Small and large sizes are available in plain (cinnamon brioche) or with blueberry, raspberry, lemon curd (my weakness), or cream cheese fillings.
The best plan is to order a cake directly from Wolfe (see the website for details; a 48-hour notice is generally required), but a limited number of cakes are available at Porter Road Butcher in East Nashville and at The Food Company (the cafe next to the Greenhouse bar) in Green Hills.
If you aren’t able to get one of Wolfe’s cakes, I hear from a trusted source that the cakes available at The Turnip Truck are delicious. They are also made with naturally-dyed sugars and premium ingredients. Wherever you choose to get your cake, do it soon. Mardi Gras is this Tuesday, February 12 and the king cakes will disappear as quickly as a lemon-curd-filled cake anywhere within my reach.