Over the past decade, local bakeries and pastry chefs have made a concerted effort to elevate the Carnival Season favorite to something worthy of fine china and in varieties that delight every palate. Here are four you should pick up before Fat Tuesday.
'Cochon Butcher' on Serious Eats
When I tried my first piece of king cake I was about five drinks deep standing on a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street. Or as they call it in New Orleans, at a rehearsal dinner.
One of the few places that was a non-negotiable on my list of New Orleans places to visit? Cochon Butcher. Chef Donald Link's artisanal butcher shop/sandwich joint/wine bar is next to Cochon, his homage to all things Cajun, porky, and meaty. My favorite sandwich is the Cochon Muffuletta ($12), a cheffy version of the classic New Orleans sandwich first made in Central Grocery in the French Quarter.
While their muffuletta, layered with house-cured meats, is among the very best in New Orleans, Cochon Butcher's other sandwiches are almost as irresistible. I was particularly fond of the buckboard bacon melt ($9)—thick-cut lean bacon with smoky stewed collards, a pepper aioli, and Swiss cheese melting into every bite.
After a whirlwind tour through the cities and fisheries of Southern Louisiana a couple weeks back, it's clear to me that the flow of misinformation and apprehension about the quality of the seafood coming from the Gulf of Mexico has been far more detrimental to the industry that the oil itself. Tasting my way through cities like Lake Charles, Houma, New Iberia, and New Orleans, it's clear that seafood is the heart and soul of the Cajun and Creole cuisine of the area—indeed, for a solid five days, I had blue crab in some form or another at every single meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) not to mention copious amounts of local shrimp, oysters, fish, and crawfish.
Yesterday, we gave you our price-no-object recommendations for New Orleans eats. But one of the many great things about this city—you don't have to spend much to eat well. If you're looking to keep your vacation costs down, here's a guide to serious eats on the cheap: oysters, drinks, and all.