Monday, January 25, 2010

New Orleans and Portland: Sisters in Pork

New Orleans could easily be Portland's sister-in-pork-products city.  The proof is in the pralines:

We've had lunch twice now at Cochon Butcher; it's close to the hotel, easy for Pavel to get to from his conference, and, most important, it's good.

Today we had a quick lunch: smoked chicken and andouille gumbo, and duck crepinettes with housemade bread-and-butter pickles.

On Saturday we also took pictures...of the boiled peanuts, a revelation--they didn't quite look real, more like lacquered peanuts.

and closer up:

They slipped out of their shells so easily.  Cooked in salt water, they're basically brined peanuts.  When you split them open it hits you:  they're peanuts on the half shell--complete with their own briny liquor.  And in the end, just like after a raw oyster feast, you're left with the pile of shells, and a little brine:

But we ate more too...Here are Pavel's hands around a headcheese and cheese sandwich:

and my muffulleta:

I have to admit, and I'll probably make some enemies here, that I have a few problems with muffuletta sandwiches.  The first is the sheer volume of meat (though the sandwich at Cochon was a bit more reserved, I think, than the usual thick affair).  The second, bigger issue, is the salami.  While I love the fact that there's mortadella in there (one of my all-time favorite sliced meats), the salami is generally the cooked type, one I'm not fond of.  On the other hand, I've got no problem with the olive, cauliflower, celery, and carrot salad that's layered on top and soaks into the bread.  I'll be sure to get one at the Central Grocery, whence the muffuletta originated, before I leave town.  And I'll eat it with an open mind (and slightly more open mouth!).

An aside: I actually made muffuletta sandwiches long before I ever ate one, at Borelli's delicatessen in Berkeley.  I'm pretty sure they were made with provolone cheese (another of my gripes, the mild domestic provolone has always seemed closer to jack cheese than to the sharper Italian provolone).

Cochon Butcher, incidentally, is a butcher shop and a lunch and light dinner shop.  There are salamis hanging behind the counter, and all sorts of sausages, cuts of meat, pork rillettes, and even foie gras butter in the case.

  Next door is the restaurant, Cochon, where I have yet to eat.  Fried pigs ears with cane syrup mustard? Rabbit and Dumplings? Creamy Grits? Lima beans? I hope to eat there soon.

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