Hard as you may find it to believe after the shrimp po’boy, the fried eggplant and the beignets, but I actually went to dinner last night too. I know, I feel mildly ill just thinking about the amount of butter I’ve consumed in the last 48 hours. New Orleans has taught me that I need to prepare better for travel, perhaps by fasting for a week or three. Anthony Bourdain has an elaborate technique for extending the stomach with water prior to high-impact meals, so you are both empty enough to eat a lot and physically prepared for the avalanche of food that’s coming your way. I haven’t been doing that and it’s starting to show.
All of which is to say that I wasn’t quite as ready to appreciate Cochon‘s high-end take on Cajun and country Southern food as I would have liked. I’ve been looking forward to visiting this restaurant for a while, having read really exciting words on the menu like ‘crispy pig’s ear’ and ‘pickled watermelon’. Cochon is unapologetically meaty, focusing on home-cured meats and sausages, long braised pork shoulder, ribs and hocks, and beef brisket. I think the vegetarians in the group subsisted on salad, although I actually looked rather enviously on their plates of beautiful fresh greens, committed as I was to ingesting as much animal fat as possible in a 24 hour period.
I started with deep fried rabbit liver, served on toast with hot pepper jelly. The jelly is a New Orleans standard, and gave a snappy, peppery-sweet edge to the dish. I had no idea rabbits had such substantial livers (have they been drinking as much as everyone else here?) but they were soft and creamy, contrasting beautifully with the crispy breading and sweet jelly. This dish was a major win, as were the homemade zucchini pickles with mint.
For an entrée, I had the Louisiana cochon, which is pork shoulder, slow braised and then formed into patties and — guess what? — fried! It’s like a crab-cake made out of pulled pork. It’s then served with pickled turnips, cabbage, and giant slabs of pork crackling. Seriously, can you understand why I feel the heart failure creeping up on me? Once again, it was sublime and I ate about half of it.
Here’s the ham hock that my friend had. More wonderful pork swimming in butter, this time with greens and (I think) black beans. It was deeply smoky and also very good.
I don’t think I need to tell you that we didn’t make it to dessert.