You read the title and thought, “This article is going to be about football,” didn’t you? What with the culminations of the annual gridiron pastime fast approaching, media all over the country are talking about it, so why wouldn’t we? Superbowl XLVII will actually be in New Orleans, after all. How could we not talk about it?
Even more specifically, you might have believed this article would be about fantasy football…that oh so popular game-within-a-game that extends the excitement of season into something interactive, digital and oh-so geeky, though even jocks like to play. But it’s not.
This reverie has absolutely nothing to with how your Aunt Katie has drafted a better team or who you think will be in the Dome on February 3rd, 2013. It’s not even about how pig intestines were once used to line the inside of footballs which gave rise to the term “pigskin,” which is what started this miscommunication in the first place.
What it is about, in fact, what it raves incessantly about about, are wondrously delectable plates of pork that are so amazing that until you actually taste it, they will remain nothing but highly sensationalized fabrications.
So, for those of you still listening, let’s talk pig.
Lately, one of the top names when it comes to getting “high on the hog” is Toups’ Meatery. Chef Isaac Toups’ near legendary ability with charcuterie and sausage has blossomed at his own restaurant in Mid-City where pig is playing a starring role. I could wax poetic about the crispy, spicy boudin balls or melt-in-your-mouth, Double-Cut Pork Chop served with the finest dirty rice I ever did eat. But what truly reached mythical proportions in my mouth were the spicy, chewy, crispy and delicious Cajun cracklins that should probably come with some kind of warning label – “Warning: Highly addictive substance. If affected, please call 504-252-4999, for immediate assistance.”
There’s another dish in the Riverbend that, according to local lore, is enough to send any pork lover into a swoon. Every Saturday and Sunday, brunch fanatics solemnly swear by Dante’s Kitchen’s self-named Eggs Benedict. Rosemary-rubbed pork loin is sliced thin and served over a house made, buttermilk biscuit with local honey, perfectly poached eggs and creamy hollandaise. If you can’t make it for brunch, there is always some pig-perfect plate on the dinner menu like Crispy Confit Pork Steak with root vegetable hash and cauliflower cream.
Located inside the Westin Hotel, The Green Bar not only has a spectacularar view of the river on the 11th floor, it has Niman Ranch Crispy Pork Belly served with squares of chilled watermelon drizzled with a hoisin vinaigrette. A simple, but dangerously seductive combination of salty and sweet, you might want to make sure you’re sitting down.
It wouldn’t be a piece about pork without mentioning Cochon. Award-winning chefs Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski will seduce you with swine from the classic Cajun “Louisiana Cochon” to dishes of smoked ham hock or roasted shrimp with hog jowls and chili. The menu is constantly changing but you will not believe your mouth if you happen to catch his crispy pork cheeks, feta and fried sauerkraut cake. You might have to get two orders so you can be positive it’s real… you know…for science.
Finally, you’ll think you’ve entered the world of make-believe when you sink your teeth into Lilette’s version of a “BLT” featuring rich pork belly, fresh tomato, baby greens and herbed aioli on toasted sourdough. It’s served with amazingly thin and crispy house made potato chips. You won’t believe it, till you taste it. Just go, right now if you can. It’s on the corner Magazine and Antonine Streets. Just you wait and see . . .
*Article originally published in the January 2013 issue of Where Y’at Magazine
**Dante’s Kitchen and The Green Bar are closed.