I love New Orleans for many things. Everybody has music in his or her head, Creole cooking is immediately welcoming and comforting, and the town invented one of my favorite drinks, the Sazerac.
It's also the spiritual home of the praline, a sweet candy that's like rough brittle. I don't normally like sticky, sweet candies, but I'm a sucker for good pralines. It's easy to find them in New Orleans, but less so here.
I was surprised, then, to see a stand called Mabel's Pralines at the
Long Beach Marina farmers' market on Sunday mornings, distributing
samples. Curious, I tried it–and was hooked. The candies are
surprisingly tender, the nuts aren't overwhelmingly huge, and the
brittle is knocked into sensibly sized pieces, so you can have one
piece . . . all right, maybe two.
It's pretty much a one-item stand, though they do sell sweet-potato pies
and banana pudding that beats the late-but-not-very-lamented Nana
Queens truck. You can order online, but the prices are cheaper at the
market ($8 for a half-pound bag at the market vs. $10 online).
Mabel's Pralines, 625 Pine Ave., Long Beach, (562) 491-5354;
mabelspralines.com. Find them on Thursdays at the Bixby Knolls farmers'
market, on Fridays at the Long Beach Downtown farmers' market and on
Sundays at the Long Beach Southeast/Marina farmers' market.
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