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Cochon Butcher's Muffaletta and the Warehouse District in New Orleans

The Warehouse District, or New Orleans Arts District, runs a dozen or so blocks north to south from Canal Street to the Pontchartrain Expressway and east to west from the Mississippi to Saint Charles Avenue. In the 19th Century, the industrial neighborhood served as the storage grounds for goods coming in off the Port of New Olreans. In 1976, the Contemporary Arts Center opened on Camp Street and gave rise to a shift in the neighborhood's dynamic. The Warehouse District was soon refered to as the "Soho of the South" and some of the city's revered chefs saw it as the perfect location for their forward-thinking, contemporary approach to cooking.

Donald Link has four restaurants in the Warehouse District: Peche, which opened about a week before we got to New Orleans, Herbsaint, Cochon, and Cochon Butcher. The last two share a three-story building on the corner of Andrew Higgins Drive and Tchoupitoulas Street. The ground floor houses the restaurants, the second floor holds offices, and the third is the bakery where Link has all the bread made for his restaurant group, which includes the sesame roll for Cochon Butcher's muffaletta ($12).

The iconic New Orleans sandwich is served around town (and most of the country) in hot or cold variations. Butcher takes the hot route, and housemade mortadella, Genoa salami, and capicola leave the griddle tender and dripping porcine goodness as a result. They're placed onto a layer of briny, salty olive salad and covered with a blanket of what turns into delicate, melty Provolone. Fatty pork products are offset by the subtle spice found in the capicola (cayenne) and mortadella (peppercorns). The bread, often considered the most important part of a muffaletta, is perfectly toasted, slightly crisp on the outside with a soft crumble that absorbs the sandwich's juices inside.

Our walk through the Warehouse District, Cochon Butcher's muffaletta, drinks at nearby Bellocq in the Hotel Modern, and eventual dinner at Herbsaint made for the most memorable evening spent in New Orleans.

Herbsaint | 701 St Charles Avenue | 504-524-4114 | www | map

Peche | 800 Magazine Street | 504-522-1744 | www | map

Cochon | 930 Tchoupitoulas Street | www | map

Cochon Butcher | 930 Tchoupitoulas Street | 504-588-7675 | www | map

Bellocq | 936 St Charles Avenue | 504-962-0911 | www | map

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