For locals and visitors to New Orleans, a morning ritual of “coffee and doughnuts” connotes the image of a steaming cup of café au lait paired with a trio of hot and airy beignets covered with a snowstorm of powdered sugar. But this year at French Quarter Fest, a new vendor hopes to reintroduce festival goers to the all-American version of the doughnut, albeit with the excess and outrageousness the Big Easy is known for.
One year ago this month, Blue Dot Donuts opened its doors and began serving hot doughnuts to the hungry Mid-City neighborhood that had been anticipating its debut. Although Blue Dot’s owners—Dennis Gibliant, Ronnie Laporte, and Brandon Singleton—had little experience actually running a doughnut shop, as members of the NOPD they had a stereotype on their side. “I would say that Ronnie and Dennis are regular doughnut eaters, and Brandon would not turn one down if you put it in front of him,” says Claire Singleton, wife of Brandon Singleton and manager at Blue Dot.
Not only does Claire handle the daily operations of the store, she also takes credit for what has become Blue Dot’s signature menu item: the maple bacon long john. Originally from upstate New York and born of French-Canadian heritage, Claire grew up putting maple syrup on just about everything, including her breakfast bacon strips. The manifestation of this childhood memory is a rectangular yeast doughnut covered in a thick glaze that fractures on the surface to reveal a sticky, sweet layer that complements the salty bacon pieces sprinkled on top.
But adding bacon to a doughnut was just the beginning of Blue Dot’s pushing the limits of America’s favorite breakfast food. Gibliant is credited with creation of the dough boy, a sandwich that employs a regular glazed long john as the bread. The original dough boy is filled with Thai-style pulled pork smoked for 12 hours in Laporte’s backyard. After this dough boy won the “best meat” category at the 2011 Po-Boy Fest, Blue Dot decided to apply as a new vendor to French Quarter Fest and was gladly accepted.
In addition to the maple bacon long john and the Thai pulled pork dough boy, Blue Dot will also be offering a boiled shrimp dough boy from its booth in Jackson Square. The owners are so excited about their debut at French Quarter Fest that they will be manning the booth themselves, hoping to convince the throngs that beignets are not the only doughnuts worth ordering in the Vieux Carre.