My second day back, my dear friend Crystal Kile insisted that she bring me to a new restaurant that had recently opened in New Orleans, Boucherie.  Traditionally, a boucherie is a cajun pig roast held in communities where everyone would contribute dishes made possible by their seasonal stores and in turn, everyone would take home food to eat.  Families took turn hosting and providing the pig so that everyone in the community would have enough to eat through the winter.  It’s this spirit of community and generosity that Chef Nathanial Zimet intends to instill in Boucherie.

Before opening the restaurant, Zimet made a local splash with the Que Crawl, a K&B purple food truck renowned for its late night barbecue and fried grits.  Crystal would message me photos of the fried grits and swore that the next time I came down she would take me to the truck.  By the time I finally made it back to NOLA, we had an even better option!

Boucherie is located at 8115 Jeannette Street, on a quaint and mostly residential block off of Carrollton Avenue in a small restaurant row.  My first off-campus college apartment was up the street on Carrollton Avenue at Spruce Street, and we used to walk up the street to the same block to eat falafel at the Lebanon Cafe which is now called Cafe Garanada or to eat Thai food at the Basil Leaf.  One of the few Jamaican restaurants in the city occupied Boucherie’s space long before Katrina, but I’m not sure what happened to the place after.  Some parts of Carrollton Avenue used to flood badly even on a regular rainy day, so maybe there was damage, maybe there wasn’t.  It was a street by street thing.  I digress.

We walked into Boucherie and encountered local students, lunching businessmen, and familiar shades of purple reminiscent of the old Jamaican spot that was.  Whisked to a cozy corner table near the entrance, we were immediately greeted by miso spoons full of cold summer squash soup…  creamy (but not milky) with a vinegary twang.  I don’t even like squash and I was an instant convert.

After being flabbergasted by the options on the menu, I ordered a glass of Poema Cava and settled on the mussels w/grit cracker (yes, deep fried grits on top of mussels in a light worcestershire reduction – can I give these kinds of secrets away?) and then the roast beef po-boy (thin shaved, deliciously juicy beef on a pistolette).  We also split the parmesan fries (drizzled in garlic butter, the newest local food trend), and the chilled peach au poivre soup (w/sherry/balsamic red onions – divine!).  Crystal ordered the pepper stuffed with pimento cheese topped with roasted squash chips, and then for dessert we ordered the Krispy Kreme bread pudding and the bacon brownie.

All that, and the bill was just $70.  I left with the sincere conviction of having eaten one of the best meals of my life.

And that was only lunch!

The other stop I’d been dying to make, one that I often reminisce about while in New York, was to eat at Taqueria Corona.  Good tacos are hard to come by both in New Orleans and New York, and I dreamed of the homey familiarity of Taqueria Corona often.  Although I’ve heard that there have been some enterprising latinos moving into the New Orleans area post-Katrina that have opened up spots, I needed to experience the original on my reunion tour.

One of my fondest memories of Taqueria Corona was of my mother and stepfather (mechanical engineers) on the day their small company lost its biggest contract, which is the day Harrah’s casino filed bankruptcy (circa 1992).  It was summertime because I was out of school and helping out around the office, filing papers and whatnot.  There were rumors around of a possible bankruptcy, but my mother kept working until she heard from the horse’s mouth…  on the front page of the newspaper that morning.  So at 11:00 AM they closed the office and the entire staff drove over to Taqueria Corona and got plastered on margaritas.  We stayed, ate, (they) drank, laughed, and cried until they were drunk and then sober again, some 6 hours later.  I spent many more tense moments there over the years, joyfully abandoning my sorrows over the steak tacos and Cuervo Gold margaritas.

So I ordered a la carte everything I missed most: a ribeye taco, a chicken taco, and a beef flauta.

Then went over to Maison on Frenchmen to dance it off a bit with dear friends before I collapsed at 3:00 AM.  Can you believe I actually asked if the kitchen was still open there?  I wanted to try their fries.  They’d just stopped serving.

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