Roadside Dining: Community Fare
When the urge strikes for a trip down to the end of the road before it falls off into the water consider a stop for a meal break in Chalmette before you head off to Delacroix and the like to take in the singular culture of southeast Louisiana’s fishing villages.
Located across the road from the Chalmette Oil Refinery, Rocky & Carlo’s rebuilt following the Katrina flood (2005) and again after a kitchen fire (2013). I recall going back to the Chalmette institution immediately after its post-Katrina reopening in 2006.
We stood in line with our trays laden, cafeteria style, with veal Parmesan, lasagna, fried catfish and rich macaroni and cheese made from bucatini pasta and drenched with thick red gravy alongside rolls of beef Bruciolone and little dishes of bread pudding and spumoni ice cream.
When we reached the cashier to pay there were gold boxes stacked alongside the register and they were filled with curious-looking little necklaces made entirely from fava beans and gold beads. It turns out the “necklaces” were rosaries a regular customer had made and was selling to raise money to properly re-bury his mother, who had been lifted from her resting place during Katrina’s flooding.
That pretty much sums up the vibe at Rocky’s, which despite its justifiable fame, is really all about the immediate community in which it exists. If more evidence is needed, just check out the seats of honor reserved closest to the buffet line for the guys who come for lunch every day from the refinery across the street.
Relatively new to the menu are fried spicy green beans. The freshest of long green beans are generously battered and rolled in a light dusting of breadcrumbs before they are fried in clean, fresh oil. The addictive little bits are served with a Creole mustard-based dipping sauce. There is a 20-minute wait for a four-piece order of perfectly-executed fried chicken, but that time spent anticipating the meal to come is well worth it.
Rocky & Carlo’s613 W. Saint Bernard Highway, Chalmette
Clean Course Meals1800 E. Judge Perez Dr., Chalmette
After losing 100 pounds and shedding the threat of pre-diabetes, Kim Sawyers, 29, learned how to eat fresh, non-processed foods and to move more. In 2016, she founded Clean Course Meals, a gourmet, health-focused meal prep and delivery service out of her New Orleans home. Her mission is to educate low-income communities.
“Prevention is the most significant principle in building a healthy community. Nutrition education is necessary. We accomplish this through the Clean Course Healthier Families Initiative,” Sawyers said.
Last year, Sawyers, a mother of three, won the fourth annual Startup St. Bernard pitch competition: a $100,000 prize package that would help take Clean Course Meals to a brick and mortar location.
The storefront opened in St. Bernard Parish in November. Now, in addition to subscribing to the company’s meal preparation and delivery service, customers can shop at a storefront cafe for quick grab-and-go meals (with vegan and vegetarian options), including wraps, salads and grill bowls, as well as daily plate lunch specials.