Local Habit celebrates with relaunchAround the City, Online Only Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
The bustle of Hillcrest was rubbed with Cajun spice last Saturday night when executive chef Nick Brune, creator of Cali-Creole cuisine, celebrated the relaunch of Local Habit with more than 250 of his closest friends. Yes, there was King Cake, thanks to Nomad Donuts. Yes, there was a “second line” march thanks to Euphoria Brass Band. And yes, there was a big fat hog because what is “Le Grande Boucherie” without the guest of honor?
When family and friends gather in bayou-country to celebrate the butchering of a hog with music, drinks and a copious meal, it’s known as a boucherie. But the guest of honor wasn’t just any hog. No, it was a 325-lb goat milk fed hog from Taj farms, a sustainable enterprise in Valley Center. “And we pulled that hog a hundred different ways,” said Louisiana native Brune.
He wasn’t joking. The evening’s menu included: Hogs Head Cheese, Whole Roasted Leg, Boudin (liver and rice sausage), Pork Shoulder, Smoked Pork Butt, and Pork Belly. There was also jamabalaya, veggie etouffee, roasted potatoes and stewed greens. Diners were in “hog heaven”. Literally.
My extra invitation was quickly accepted by a dear friend. We entered the intimate lively space and grabbed a couple of seats. The bartender, Ren, said our golden wrist band entitled us to a free mug of craft beer, a glass of sangria, or a hurricane, which “is a little of everything.” We opted for New Orleans’ signature mix of vodka, gin, rum, fruit juice, and liqueurs. Matt, the bar manager, said the grenadine and amaretto used in the specialty cocktail were made “in house”.
Local Habit is all about using the freshest locally sourced ingredients when fusing Pacific Rim with Bayou flavors, which, general manager Rachel said, is what puts the “Cali in Cali-creole”. She also said the new menu, while still offering favorites such as cajun marinated jidori chicken, ramen noodle soups with andouille, and roasted brussels sprouts, will be 80% new. More importantly, Local Habit will soon introduce a new Sunday Brunch.
The conversation of nearby participants turned to the food, of course, and this is what they said…
The Meat: the wonderful goat milk fed pork had a “sublime mild flavor and tender bite”.
The Surprise: the boudins masterful blend of smooth pate and grainy rice produced a sausage with “a delightful light-coarse texture”.
The Favorite: although everything was delicious, the veggie etouffee stood out with the “most complex flavor profile”.
The Treat: the sweet taffy-like pork belly, thick cubes of bacon with a maple syrup, garlic, chili, lemon and green onion glaze, was nothing less than “man candy”.
The combination of finger-licking food and toe-tapping music filled our stomachs and lifted our spirits. Nick Brune wanted to thank everybody for their patience while Local Habitat underwent their remodel, and he did so in grand style. Now that the Local Habit is back and better than ever, it is time to laissez les bons temps rouler!
Local Habit is open daily. Mon – Thu 12pm – 10pm, Fri 12pm – 11pm. Sat 11am-11pm, and Sun 11am – 10pm. Check their webpage for specials and events.
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