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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Wakey Whiskey: Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 15 Year

Good morning and welcome winter to South Louisiana! Snow days don't happen down here all that often, and when they do there is usually not REAL snow, just a little that barely sticks to the ground.  Yesterday morning though, the most legit snow I've seen down here, several inches all over covering the yard and cars and roofs, it was pretty awesome, so I broke out my Wakey Whiskey rule book, and sure enough, snow days call for a wakey whiskey.  If you ever want to consult the Wakey Whiskey rule book, let me know.  There's only one copy in existence as of now, but I'll be happy to share some knowledge.

Coincidentally since I didn't have to go to work yesterday I had time to head over to the brand new Bite and Booze HQ to help Jay and the crew unpack all the liquor before a party.  While unpacking a box of whiskey I stumbled upon a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 15-Year, and I wasn't really going to take "no" for an answer.  I had already broken out a pour of Jefferson's Presidential Select 18-Year for a wakey whiskey at my place, but two pours are better than one, right?

As far as the Pappy goes... any good whiskey fan will know that it's one of the most sought after bourbons in the world.  The whiskey originated at the Stitzel-Weller distillery (now producing Bulleit whiskey), went through the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery branding, and is now produced by Buffalo Trace (owned by the Sazerac Company out of New Orleans) to the exact recipe that was originated by Julian "Pappy" Van Winkle back in the day. It's now the signature whiskey range of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection that you'll probably see mention of coming up soon, as it's popular for stores that get some to raffle it off.

Now on to the whiskey itself, and it's amazing.  Complex, incredibly smooth, dark color with a rich oakey flavor that comes from all the time in the barrel.  There are definite fruity notes, dark fruits like cherries and strong hints of vanilla and molasses. This whiskey lives up to the hype, and I'm sure I don't have to spend time convincing anyone reading this to buy a bottle if you have the chance.  If you see one and don't want it for yourself, buy it and I'll pay you back.  Well, unless the secondary prices have gone through the roof... one of the bad things about whiskey gaining in popularity is that demand exceeds supply and the prices reflect it.

That's all for this morning, I hope everyone out there is enjoying this winter weather (we all know Chuck is) and stay safe!  Oh, and here's a bonus wakey whiskey picture of the Jefferson's Presidential Select 18-Year...

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Wakey Whiskey: Basil Hayden's Dark Rye

Good morning to everyone, and I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are thoroughly enjoying this holiday weekend!  The Fightin' Tigers of LSU have a chance tonight to beat Texas A&M (again) and move to 9-3 on the season, which would be pretty remarkable when you look back at how the first 5 games of the season played out. One thing I'm thankful for this year, is Bite and Booze whiskey samples!  This morning I'm trying out the Basil Hayden's Dark Rye, a blended whiskey out of the Jim Beam small batch collection.  

Basil Hayden's brand itself is named after Meredith Basil Hayden, Sr. who was one of the early figures of the American whiskey industry around the time of the American revolution.  This Dark Rye is actually a blend of three different spirits, starting with Kentucky Rye produced by Basil Hayden's, then some Alberta Rye (which you might remember from an earlier wakey whiskey post!) which is owned by the same parent company, Beam Suntory, and finally a little bit of California Port.  Due to the addition of the port, you actually won't find this referred to directly as a "whiskey" on the bottle, but make no mistake, this is still without a doubt a whiskey, just with a bit of 'natural flavors' added.  

The "Dark" in the name is quite apparent, with a deep amber verging on solid brown apparent even though the small media sample bottle.  It's not quite as dark as the Alberta Rye Dark Batch from that earlier wakey whisky post, but it's getting close.  The aroma is strong with sweet molasses and spicy cinnamon which really play together well and create a complex and intriguing bouquet.  On the taste, the complexity is still there with a pronounced cinnamon spiciness, a pleasant oakiness, and hints of vanilla and fruit.  This whiskey (at a modest 80 proof) finishes smooth with one last hint of cinnamon spice that is characteristic of a rye-heavy mash.  

In conclusion, a very pleasant sip, easy drinking and complex enough to keep me interested throughout the pour.  This would be a great addition to any liquor cabinet, and I could see it really being a good choice for someone looking to learn more about rye whiskies. Happy holiday weekend everyone, have a great gameday and Geaux Tigers! 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Back To Basics: Rotolo’s Craft & Crust

by Chuck P

Rotolo’s Pizzeria has been a Baton Rouge institution for over 20 years, especially to LSU students living in the Tigerland area where they first opened their doors. We all have our favorites from their menu like the classic Sweep The Floor (now known as The Krewe), the delicious Chalmette Cheesesticks and their insanely popular $5 calzones every Wednesday.

Through the years owner Mitch Rotolo was able to open more locations and now has over 30 franchises spread out across the south. But after a while he felt like the original spirit of Rotolo’s got lost somewhere along the way. Mitch was looking to get back to his roots and focus on scratch ingredients and new takes on classic recipes that would re-ignite his creative spirit; and just like that, Rotolo’s Craft & Crust was born.

With a new outlook and focus on authentic recipes with a twist mixed with an impressive draft beer selection and laid back atmosphere, Mitch, Jr. and his crew are determined to have the new concept reflect their new company motto: Good food, good vibes, no bullsh*t.
Recently the Bite & Booze team took time out from our busy schedule and headed over to have a team lunch and check out their new menu. Here’s just a few of my favorites.

The Game Warden

This appetizer caught my eye immediately. Beer-battered fried alligator and almond crusted duck tenderloin with pieces of fried pineapple. It was calling to me from the menu and it did not disappoint.

Carona 126

The layers of flavor on this one were fantastic. The fresh tomato sauce, grape tomatoes, prosciutto, burrata and white truffle oil together made for the perfect combination of flavors.

Uncle Tony V

Another great combination of flavors similar to the Carona 126 but with pulled mozzarella and basil added with more burrata and finished off with a balsamic reduction glaze which lately I’ve been adamant about adding to my pizzas.

It’s truly hard to pick a favorite from the many pizzas that we had as well as an off-menu order of stuffed shells that I demanded they add to the menu to the delicious Chocolate Chip Brownie topped with vanilla ice cream and drizzled in caramel. Add to that the great craft beer selection and truly relaxed vibe, I would say that Junior succeeded in the Rotolo’s vision of getting back to his roots and restoring the true heart and soul of Rotolo’s.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Burgers with Chuck: Curbside's Anniversary Collaboration

by Chuck P

One year ago today my dream of once again having a Curbside burger became reality when owner Nick Hufft finally opened the doors to the Curbside brick and mortar on Government Street. Sitting next door to Calandro’s Supermarket, Hufft took what was once the most popular food truck in Baton Rouge and created the perfect setting for burgers, frites and boozy milk shakes anyone can enjoy either inside or on their awesome patio area.

Last week, to celebrate their anniversary, Nick reached out to a few of his culinary friends and with their help created five collaboration burgers that were available for a limited time. I of course took on the task of visiting Curbside during those five days to try each of the specialty burgers. Let’s take a look at the gloriousness of it all:

Monday: The Tiger D with Tiger Deaux-nuts

This was the perfect way to start off my week! Crispy chicken topped with sharp cheddar, honey sage sausage gravy nestled between two glazed donut buns in a happy dance of salty and sweet harmony. Hopefully, this one will show up from time to time on their brunch menu.

Tuesday: The Gov’t Burger with Gov’t Taco

I was really looking forward to trying our collaboration burger and it did not disappoint. A juicy patty rubbed with Chef Aimee Tortorich’s coffee/chile rub, melty chihuahua cheese, poblano pico with roasted garlic mayo and Hola Nola tortilla strips.

Every bite was a flavor party in my mouth. The poblano pico was exceptionally good.

Wednesday: The Pho Real Burger with The Overpass Merchant

The cool and overcast weather on this day made for an ideal situation for this burger. A pork patty topped with hoisin, pickled onions, sriracha mayo, bean sprouts and herb salad. The clincher was the cup of pho that came on the side to dunk the burger in. I was almost tempted to come back for dinner and get another one!

Thursday: The Get LIT Burger with LIT Pizza

Hands down my favorite of all the burgers! This was everything and more: a delicious hot Italian sausage patty with swiss and gremolata between two pepperoni pizza buns. I could literally eat this burger every day.

Friday: The Barbie Burger with Barbosa’s BBQ

Curbside ended the week strong with this offering from pitmaster Alex Barbosa. The fact that it starts off with being described double Texas hot gut beef patties should have you ready to dive in. Finished off with American cheese, smoked onion jam and a roasted poblano aioli, this was a fantastic burger.

A huge congrats to Nick and everyone at Curbside Burgers! Here’s to many more years of great business and great burgers!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Wakey Whisky: Jura Single Malt Scotch

by Eric Ducote

Good morning Tiger fans, are you all as excited as I am for an 11 AM kickoff? And by that, I of course mean not excited at all... who's really excited about football at 11 AM? That's not enough time for decent tailgating, not enough time to get the smoker going for some good BBQ, not enough time to enjoy this hint of Fall weather and barely even enough time to wake up and get ready for some football.  It is enough time, though, for some #wakeywhisky! This morning I'm going to the Isle of Jura in Scotland for some Jura Single Malt Scotch.

The Isle of Jura lies between mainland Scotland and the Isle of Islay, but is sparsely populated (less than 200 inhabitants) and the only way to get there by car is to take a ferry from the mainland to Islay and then over to Jura. The island is home to a single eponymous distillery known as the Isle of Jura Distillery which produces several vintages, including the 10-year variety that I have this morning. Jura is technically a Highland-region scotch, as all the islands (other than Islay) are grouped together with the Highland malts, but it shares a lot of characteristics with the neighboring Islay region.  This scotch is bottled at 40% alcohol after primary aging on used bourbon barrels and finishing on sherry casks.

This scotch pours a deep gold, with a blend of peat, smoke and sugar on the nose. The sweetness is best described as a candied fruit, like a sweet dried up piece or apricot or peach, which works really well with the hint of peat and touch of smoke. I feel like the sweet notes come through the strongest, but it still blends together very well.  On the tongue the smokiness comes through more, and the peat a little less, with the sweeter notes giving way at first and reappearing on the back end of each sip.  Other flavors come through as well, a hint of leather and something that resembles a bit of burnt BBQ.  It's quite complex, extremely enjoyable and overall a very pleasant sip.

This is a fantastic scotch for a fall football morning, the smokiness fits right in and the price is very reasonable for a 750ml bottle of scotch, somewhere in the $30-40 range. I hope you are all enjoying some wakey whisky or #wakeywhiskey of your own this morning, and GEAUX TIGERS!