by Ian McNulty
Going to farmers markets is a great way to keep up with which local foods are in season. These days, though, such visits are also pretty helpful for keeping up with what’s new in the local food truck scene.
For instance, the truck Geaux Plates is serving today, Dec. 27, at the Uptown edition of the Crescent City Farmers Market. This truck specializes in sandwiches made on Vietnamese-style baguettes, such as its bayou banh mi filled with lemongrass grilled chicken and boudin. They’ll be dishing at the market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
A little later in the week, the truck la Cocinita begins one short-term stay and one longer residence at two farmers markets. On Thursday, the truck will be at the Mid-City edition of the Crescent City Farmers Market, serving from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., for what’s expected to be a regular weekly visit there by the American Can Apartments.
And then la Cocinita will truck on over to Hollygrove Market & Farm, where it will serve this Saturday, Dec. 31, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and next Tuesday, Jan. 3, from noon to 2 p.m.
La Cocinita serves Latin American street food (“comida de la calle” is its motto). It’s easy to assume this makes it a taco truck, but its fare actually goes quite beyond the usual tacos and burritos. The truck is run by Benoit Angulo and Rachel Billow, who both also work as front-of-the-house staff at Commander’s Palace. Angulo trained at a culinary school in Venezuela and many of his specialties for la Cocinita are inspired by lesser-known South American savories.
When I caught up with the la Cocinita crew at Hollygrove a few weeks back, they were serving arepas — cornmeal cakes stuffed with meat and cheese, not unlike pupusas — and patacones, which are fried cakes made from mashed green plantains (see photo at top). La Cocinita makes these patacones into sandwiches filled with braised pork or chicken, beans and cheese or, appropriately enough for its farmers market locale, vegetables from the Hollygrove selection (kale, beets and turnips, most recently). The selection of sauces is unique and impressive (see below).
La Cocinita serves food at other events and outside various bars. You can catch them on Thursday nights starting at 9 p.m. at le Bon Temps Roule (4801 Magazine St., 895-8117), in conjunction with the long-running Soul Rebels Brass Band performances there, and on Saturday’s la Cocinita serves outside the Rendezvous Tavern (3101 Magazine St., 891-1777), usually starting at 10 p.m. (though they’ll be setting up a bit later this weekend due to New Year’s Eve schedules).