Boucherie is located uptown, in a little neighborhood house, not far from Jaques-imo's, another local favorite that unfortunately is not so local anymore. We were seated in an elegant yet cozy back room, that might have been a family's dining room at one point. Immediately, we were welcomed with an aesthetically beautiful amuse-bouche of puffed, fried parmesan cheese atop a cilantro pesto served in an asian style spoon. There is something wonderful about receiving a bite-sized appetizer as a gift from the chef, to set the tone for the evening. About this time, I noticed a chalk board listing a special appetizer described as a salted torchon of foie gras on a bed of micro greens with a kumquat chutney, served with homemade ginger snaps. While that beautiful description had me salivating, the dish somehow managed to even exceed my very excited expectations. The foie gras was rich and creamy with just the right level of salt to liven it. The micro greens were young and tender, and truly micro, which as a gardener who struggles to simply thin seedlings, I have huge respect for being strong enough to pick something that young. The kicker was the kumquat jelly/salsa/chutney, tender quartered kumquats, cooked down into what I would describe as a sweet salsa. Served cold along side the dish, the slight chew to the fruit added a sweet and tangy contrast to the lush, salty foie gras torchon.
|Salted foie gras torchon|
We also ordered boudin balls, a cajun specialty of white pork sausage, usually including heart and liver meat, mixed into a ball with rice, battered and then deep fried. Boucherie's were served crispy brown on the outside, piping hot and moist inside, with a perfect rice-to-meat ratio, made even better when dipped in the side of garlic aoli.
For the main course, I chose the duck breast served with roasted turnips and wilted arugula. The duck breast was tender, but the best part was the skin-on leg, which was crispy and flavorful. My new favorite vegetable this winter is turnip which I cook roasted in a honey butter glaze. Because of my infatuation with turnips, I was drawn to this dish and they did not disappoint. Sweet and melt-in-your-mouth tender, for me the turnips made the dish.
We could not leave the restaurant without trying one of their unusual desserts. While I was curious about the Krispy Kreme bread pudding, it sounded a little sickly sweet; instead we opted to share a Thai chili chocolate chess pie. I am here to tell you this dessert was designed for me! The heat of the chili cut through the rich chocolate flavor and left a slight feeling of heat in your mouth after the lushness receded. Admittedly, I am not a pie person, because I think pie crusts taste dull and are just the conduit to the goodness inside. This crust was an exception. It was slightly sweet, flaky and full of flavor.
After dinner, we popped into a club to hear renowned bluesman Benny Turner, brother of Freddie King, tear it up for an intimate crowd. Hip, smooth, and smiling the entire time, it would be impossible to feel down in his presence. As we left the club, I marveled at the beauty of New Orleans; it was a balmy February night, the doors to the club were wide open tempting passers by to drop in for a few songs, there was no cover charge, and musicians were playing with heart to small crowds. It struck me that this antithesis of the 15,000 seat arena where you need binoculars to see the performers, is what music is all about.
|Thai chili chess pie|
A visit to New Orleans would not be complete without a good breakfast. For the most part, we try to avoid the French Quarter with all of its crowds, and therefore headed to Satsuma in the Bywater. At this local alternative, hippie coffee shop, I had my fix of Chicory coffee alongside a croissant egg sandwich. Mellow flavors of avocado and swiss cheese, punctuated by the cilantro, and oozing egg yolk, were balanced by the sweet onions and buttery, chewy croissant. Mark's eggs benedict, were served with caramelized onions and crystal hollandaise sauce atop a jalepeno biscuit. For a coffee shop with a kitchen the size of a postage stamp, these dishes could go up against any French Quarter establishment. Save your money, and hours in line at Cafe Du Monde and head to the Bywater.