So this past weekend, Cookie Monster and I headed to New Orleans with Half Hopi and Spiderman. Being fellow food lovers, they invited us along to the city known for its delicious food, culture and music. We were all so excited to be there. We got in really late Thursday night so our first real meal was Cochon – a fantastic choice by Half Hopi. She heard great things about this place and I’m so glad we did because hands down, it was my favorite meal of that weekend.
The place reminded me very much of a Thomas Keller restaurant: sparse, lots of wood and simple. Photos of pigs/hogs everywhere – a very farmhouse feel. No frills but still warm and inviting at the same time.
Half Hopi and I started with this really refreshing drink that had vodka, St. Germain and something bubbly and fresh lemon in it. Went down a little too easy but it packed a punch! We were both tipsy after just one!
Very refreshing for the hot day it was in New Orleans.
We shared a bunch of appetizers.
Wood fired oyster roast:
OMG we all still talk about this appetizer to this day. The oysters are cooked in a wood fire so they had a slight smokiness that worked really lovely against the creamy oyster meat. They were dressed in a slightly acidic, slightly spicy and generously garlicky sauce. Combined altogether it was a perfect bite. We wanted to sop up all the remaining sauce but a) there was no bread on the table at the time and b) the oysters sat on a bed of huge rocks of salt. We all agreed to try and recreate these this summer. Can’t wait because I hope to eat more than two.
Deep fried balls of crawfish:
The inside was soft and moist….crispy fried outside. I didn’t really think much of this aside from that fact that anything deep fried tastes pretty good albeit the same. Shot of innards:
Generally speaking, it tasted like a seafood flavored meatball? sorta?
Braised pork cheeks on top of grits and pickled shredded peppers atop:
Braised beef cheeks taste like brisket. It’s incredibly tender and when eaten with the cheese grits, you knew you were in Southern territory. As large as this portion looks in the photo, it is actually small bites. You can pop one cheek into your cheek.
I almost forgot to mention my favorite condiment. At every restaurant we visited that weekend, hot sauce was always available (my kind of town cuz I like it SPICY). Cochon not only had their own special labeled bottle but they had this great homemade vinegar that had hot hot tiny peppers marinating inside. The vinegar was spicy and I was dousing everything in it. I’m going to make it at home.
Back to the meal. Suddenly the table bread showed up…albeit a little late to the party. It was piping hot buttery cross buns:
For main course, Cookie Monster got the smoked beef brisket with horseradish potato salad:
YUM. God I love brisket. I simply cannot say no to a melting tender piece of meat. Give me anything braised and I’ll eat it! This was great. Soft and fork tender with a nice smokiness. The potato salad had just enough mayonnaise to hold it together, a little heat from the horseradish and a right amount of tang.
Half Hopi, Spiderman and I all shared our mains because we are gluttons and couldn’t just pick one lol.
This is heaven on a plate for me and the restaurants famous/signature dish: the Louisiana cochon with turnips, cabbage and cracklins.
First, of course, we ate the crispy cracklins (deep fried pork skins). So wrong but so right. Now what is a cochon? It is shredded pork that has been made into a patty and then deep fried! You have to go in there with a fork and basically re-separate out all that pork goodness, add some pickled radish and cabbage (to cut the richness) and you got yourself a party in your mouth. SO GOOD. I’ve never in my life seen anything like this. The frying added texture to the outer parts of the patty leaving the inside pieces still really moist. A little bit of crunchy, a little bit of moist.
We also got the deep fried oyster sandwich with mayo, lettuce, tomato and BACON:
UM….so much luscious deep fried oysters!!! The greenery added a nice freshness and you can’t go wrong with a bun that has been grilled in butter first. Briny, sweet, a little creamy, smoky baconness…you got all the elements to a great sammich.
Ok so finally we were full but grinning from ear to ear. This meal was delicious and I’m sorry to say, the beginning of a VERY gluttonous weekend for the four of us. This was a great start to our mini vacation and we were excited to see what else NO had in store for us. For now, we decided to waddle out and check out some sights before we got……dessert!!!!! Powdered beignets coming up next.
As for Cochon, all I can say is, if you are in the NO area for any reason, make sure you stop by and have a meal here.
Cochon, 930 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA