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Eat Dessert First

September 06, 2017
Ernestine Ulmer was a writer without much of a resume. She doesn’t have her own Wikipedia page, and nothing she wrote is available at Amazon. It’s hard to even find out when she worked; some on the Internet credit her as a 19th century writer, while others say she was born in 1925.  But she wrote one line that has survived through the years, one saying that has long outlasted anything else on her resume: “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.”

There may be no better time to indulge a sweet tooth than while on vacation. And, like cuisines or certain cocktails or wines, where you are may decide with what you finish your meal.

At Mitch-Stuart, we love sending your donors to cities with great food, via our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages. While many foodies travel to celebrate their favorite meal, dessert can also be a compelling reason to hit the road.

Some of our favorite desserts, and their home cities:

The line outside of Café du Monde in New Orleans rarely abates, and it’s with good reason. The coffee’s fine, the menu is pretty good, but the main event here is the beignet, a French-style doughnut sprinkled with powdered sugar. Paired with a cup of java, the beignet is the city’s unofficial breakfast, and while others bake them, du Monde’s is still considered the gold standard.

The lineage of cheesecake can be traced all the way back to 14th century England. But the New York version is worth celebrating as its own creation; with a slightly-browned and smooth top, it is distinctive enough to be in its own category. Finding the best in the city is as tough as picking a best pizza slice; Junior’s in Brooklyn may be the most famous, but there are plenty of contenders for top prize.

Any great French meal – and there are lots of great French meals, of course – isn’t complete until the after-dinner macaron. While they’ve taken off in America as well, Paris still leads the league; there’s even a version sold in France’s McCafe’s (the coffee shop version of McDonald’s). Find a Laduree bakery, which is said to sell 15,000 macarons per day, for a quintessential French experience.

Invented in Italy in the 1960s, tiramisu is as omnipresent on menus at Italian restaurants as is pasta. With its coffee flavor and sweet finish, the custard pairs perfectly with a post-meal espresso or amaro as a way of lingering at a dinner table that’s lively with conversation.  Pompi in Rome can often feature lines out the door for the dessert.

Travel to Key West at the right time of year, and you can take part in a whole celebration dedicated to a particular dessert. The Key Lime Festival gives thanks for the local specialty, Key lime pie, with a pie hop (a bar crawl, but with pie), an eating contest and a “pie drop,” where people try to figure out how to drop one of the sweet, tart pies from the top of the Key West lighthouse and have it land without breaking apart.