Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Big Easy

For those foodies out there who have been not getting enough lately about the food part of this travel adventure, my wife and I had a blow out meal at Cochon here in New Orleans. My morning started at a small country restaurant near Tallahassee, Florida where I had a simple grits, biscuits and 2 eggs over easy breakfast. Sitting at the counter next to me were 2 older black men drinking coffee and talking about food. They started out discussing some friend milking his dairy cows and how they don't drink milk anymore. That led to how they ate as kids--lots of greens and not much meat. Then they moved onto venison sausage and how good it was because it was such a lean meat which brought them to how pork was bad for you, but putting vinegar on your pork reduced its impact on your health.

So what did my wife and I chow down mostly on last nite at Cochon (french for pig)--several kinds of pork dishes. Our good friends, neighbors and world class chefs, Ben and Karen, set up the reservation for us, which meant we broke the cardinal rule of over-ordering to begin with, and then the kitchen sent out more dishes to try. We started with the wood-fired oyster roast, and the fried alligator with chili garlic aioli. Both were superb. We thought about trying the fried rabbit livers, but fortunately did not order them because the kitchen sent out an order of fried boudin sausage with pickled peppers plus the warm hog head cheese with field greens. I thought the head cheese was by far the best I have ever eaten.

We ordered a cucumbers and herbs in vinegar dish that we thought might be a palate cleanser, but the vinegar and hot chili pepper dominated the cucumbers. It was quite good nevertheless. The evening's small plate special was first of the season crawfish in a gratineed kind of dish that we thought was a bit rich and did not work very well.

The pork dish of the nite was the paneed pork cheeks with cane vinegar glazed beets, kumquats (sliced razor thin and fried), onions and herbs. Wow was this amazing! I think Ben (who has pig daddy on his license plate, and loves all things pig) would have really enjoyed this dish. It might have been the best pork dish I have ever eaten.

By now we were quite full, but we still had a lovely piece of grilled redfish to eat, and a boucherie plate of various kinds of pork cold cuts produced by Cochon's butcher shop. The fish was light and went down easily. Unfortunately we did not do full justice to the boucherie offerings because we had hit our stomach limit. The pork rillettes were yummy. The different cold cuts were all unique and good, but Ben's porchetta is even better. While we left some of the boucherie on the plate, we did manage to finish up a fine bottle of '07 pinot noir from Sanford that was recommended by our very helpful waitress.

In honor of Karen (pastry chef without peer), we did try the lemon-buttermilk pie with strawberries and vanilla whipped cream. It was a bit sweet for our taste but well made. We both left the table feeling like you do sometimes after Thanksgiving when you loved all the food too much.

We are headed out the door to make the 500 mile trek to Austin to see our friends Craig and Renee. I will be getting some good home cooking there--the first in a month. Stay tuned!


  1. Ooh Yum, that sounds like a very porky and tasty meal at Cochon. I know you will be enjoying some home cooking for a change there with C&R, say hey to Austin for me.

  2. Sounds amazing! Enough to make anyones tastebuds tingle! Though I don't think I would've been brave enough to try the rabbit livers...chicken livers were too much for me already =) Have a great time in Texas.