At first bite, I realized I had tasted a bit of history wrapped up in a candy. A well-crafted praline has that effect. Fortunately for Charlotte, a New Orleans native will be sharing her culinary heritage here. Chassidy Justice is the owner of New Orleans Sweet Traditions. On March 14, she will open her shop near the seafood counter in the 7th Street Public Market.
Justice has been selling her regular and espresso flavored pralines at Reid's Fine Foods, which is where I found them. In her shop, though, she will also sell coconut, peanut butter and pralines dipped in chocolate. Justice says the recipe she uses has been passed down in her family for 200 years. "I've been making these since I was 7 years old. My whole family cooks. We are culinary experts."
After graduating from high school in New Orleans, Justice joined the U.S. Army, served in Iraq and returned home in 2005. Hurricane Katrina hit. She says that although her neighborhood has been rebuilt, her childhood home is now a vacant lot. After Katrina, she moved to Charlotte, but she returns home each year — this year for Mardi Gras.
In addition to her delicious pralines, Justice will offer other Big Easy classics: red beans and rice, jambalaya, crawfish, and shrimp. (Pralines cost $3 while entrees are $7 to $8.) And muffalettas? Anyone who has lived or visited New Orleans has developed an affection for these classic sandwiches. Justice says she will sell them and I'm holding her to it.
Look for a food you can't find? Or do you know of other food items unique to the Q.C.? Whether it's regional foods or international, talk to me: [email protected] or 704-522-8334, extension 136.