Friday, February 5, 2016

Beers with Chuck: Who Says Beer and Radio Don't Mix?

by Chuck P

Ever since I began my craft beer journey years ago, I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself with a great group of knowledgeable beer geeks I proudly call friends. And there’ve been a few times where we’ve all gotten together to drink and discuss our love for all things malt and hops.

Such was the case recently when we met up at the Running Monk Brewery for a beer tasting episode of the Bite and Booze Radio Show.
If you’re trying to figure out where this brewery is, don’t. It’s technically a homebrew set-up at the home of my buddy Brenton Day (aka The Ale Runner).
Also joining Jay, Brenton, and me was Buddy Ethridge, the man behind Baton Rouge Adventures in Beer.
Once the recording began, we started on our first two beers, a couple of local Louisiana favorites, Parish Brewing Company’s Envie Pale Ale and Great Raft Brewing Company’s Commotion Pale Ale.

Envie commotion
Envie and Commotion Pale Ale

Parish Brewery recently tweaked the recipe on their latest batch of Envie, and after trying it I can understand why it’s been unofficially nicknamed “Baby Ghost” after their highly popular Ghost In The Machine Double IPA.
Envie might be the most easy drinking Pale Ale I’ve ever had. The hop profile is pretty much perfect and the nice dry finish leaves you craving that next sip. Coming in at 5.5% ABV this is a beer I could find myself drinking plenty of at a house party or tailgate.
Great Raft’s Commotion comes straight out the gate with a great aroma of grapefruit and a nice sweet balance of citrus. A bit darker in color than the Envie and coming in a little over 5% ABV, this is another one that’s great for any occasion and definitely a go-to beer when I’m out.
Sticking with the same breweries, we moved on to Parish’s aforementioned Ghost and Great Raft’s Grace & Grit Double IPA. After pouring both beers side by side, we were all a little surprised at how similar these two beers looked to their previous “little brothers.” 

ghost grace
Ghost in the Machine and Grace and Grit

What can be said about Ghost In The Machine (8% ABV) that hasn’t already been said? The beer is just flat out delicious, especially if you’re a true hop head. From the aroma to the first sip, your taste buds are assaulted (in a good way) by a massive hop bomb of awesomeness. There’s a reason this beer flies off of the shelves when it’s released.
The Grace & Grit is as equally delicious. Not the hop bomb that Ghost is, this Double IPA (8% ABV) still packs a nice hop punch, but is very subtle in its delivery. The honey malt gives it a slightly sweet finish that lingers on the palate in just the right way. This one comes packaged in 750ml bottles in case you want to share with a friend or drink the whole thing yourself.
After finishing the radio show and thinking our night was just about over, Brenton’s wife Teresa brought out a plethora of delicious food for us to finish out the evening. Another perfect ending to an awesome evening of great friends and great local craft beer.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Fresh Takes on King Cake

by Daniel Harris, intern

The only time it's acceptable to accidentally bite into a baby, be it plastic or not, is when your slice of King Cake is the hiding space for the small trinket traditionally placed inside the cake.

Louisianans know King Cake as a large ring of cinnamon dough, sometimes with a fruit or cream filling, topped with icing and purple, green, and gold sprinkles, like this one from Calandro’s Market, one of our personal favorites at Bite and Booze.

But King Cake, like many things in the food world, is being constantly revamped to include an individual’s personal style and touch. This can mean transforming it into anything from a burger to a cocktail.

Keep scrolling for some of our favorite takes on the King Cake!

Copeland’s King Cake Cheesecake

I like King Cake, and I like cheesecake, so why not combine the two? That’s exactly what Copeland’s did with their King Cake cheesecake.

Fat Cow’s King Cake Milkshake

Fat Cow's King Cake milkshake

Fat Cow has some of the best milkshakes in town, but this one takes the cake!

Twin’s Burgers and Sweets Boudin King Cake

Boudin stuffed King Cake topped with bacon and Steen's syrup

When you get tired of sweets, swing over to Twin’s Burgers and Sweets in Lafayette to get your savory fix with their Boudin King Cake.

Tiger Deauxnut’s Maple Bacon King Cake

Bacon makes everything better, and King Cakes are no exception.

Next time you have a craving for King Cake, why not branch out and give something new a try, because Mardi Gras is right around the corner, and they won’t be around much longer!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Barbecue Bites: Barbecue Chicken Tacos

Looking for a way to spruce up your go-to chicken tacos? Fresh, local ingredients can make all the difference. It's amazing how choosing the right ingredients can immediately elevate a dish.

Recently Jay made these barbecue chicken tacos for lunch using all fresh ingredients from Indie Plate, and the result was amazing! Take a look at these bad boys, cooked with Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce and Spicy & Sweet Barbecue Rub and topped with a from-scratch salsa and local goat milk feta.

Thinking about trying Indie Plate for the first time? New customers get 30-20-10% off their first, second, and third orders!

barbecue chicken tacos
Barbecue chicken tacos, made with ingredients from Indie Plate

Barbecue Chicken Tacos

Makes 8 tacos

8 chicken thighs
2 tablespoons Jay D’s Spicy & Sweet BBQ Rub
1 tablespoon pecan oil (can use canola oil)
1 bottle (12.7 fl oz.) Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce
8 flour tortillas
Goat milk feta cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place pecan oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Coat chicken thighs with Jay D’s Spicy & Sweet BBQ Rub, and brown skin side down in oil. Sautee for 5 minutes.

Using tongs flip the chicken thighs over so the skin side is up. Drench thighs in Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce, and transfer skillet in oven for 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Once chicken is cooked through remove from oven and shred. Add some leftover barbecue sauce from the skillet to the shredded chicken, and toss.


1 Tomato, diced
1 Tomatillo, diced
1 Serrano pepper, diced
1 Red onion, diced
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
2 limes, juiced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine tomato, tomatillo, serrano pepper, red onion, cilantro and lime juice. Salt and pepper to taste.

Toast tortillas in a heated pan. Assemble tacos with shredded chicken, a scoop of salsa, and crumbled goat milk feta. Enjoy!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Vanessa Gomes: Crusader of Craft

by Blair Loup

Vanessa Gomes posted up amongst mountains of beer at Champagne Beverage
Vanessa Gomes posted up amongst mountains of beer at Champagne Beverage
The craft beer industry has increasingly captivated my interest over the past two years. I've learned more about brewing processes and styles of beer than I ever thought I'd care to know.

But what interests me the most is the elaborate, Game of Thrones-esque story of the growth and shifting of the Louisiana craft beer industry.

Obviously, it lacks much of the drama and violence of the critically acclaimed HBO series, but watching the movement and growth of new and established Louisiana breweries reminds me of the shifting and growing map in the show's title sequence. It can be hard to keep up.

It’s all very entrancing, much like talking to Vanessa Gomes. Vanessa, the Craft Brand Manager for Champagne Beverage, has been a titan of the local craft beer industry on the Northshore for the last seven years.

With a German mother and a Brazilian father, this first-generation American didn't have a typical South Louisiana upbringing. In fact, English is her second language (they spoke German in her household). Though the dual citizen of Brazil didn't try a poboy until she was in her teens, Vanessa claims her culturally diverse upbringing made her the well-rounded individual she is today.

In 2009 while working in the service industry, Vanessa met Nick Powers. He told her about his plan to open The Barley Oak, a craft beer bar in Mandeville, in hopes that she would come work for him.

“I thought he was absolutely crazy,” she said.

Six years ago, Abita and Covington were the only Louisiana breweries up and running, with Bayou Teche soon to follow. A craft beer concept in that area seemed doomed, and Vanessa hesitatingly agreed to work one shift per week at the newly opened bar The Barley Oak.

That one shift turned to full-time, then to salary, and soon enough she was practically running the joint.

According to Vanessa, soon after she started at The Barley Oak, the craft beer industry finally took root in Louisiana.

"It was a fun time to be running a craft beer bar and keeping the tap selection interesting, cool, and unique," Vanessa said.

After four years at The Barley Oak, Vanessa’s wealth of knowledge had grown, and others took notice.

Around that time, Champagne Beverage, a distribution company, had acquired Glazer's craft portfolio and was on the cusp of launching New Belgium. They hired Vanessa on as their crafts brands manager, putting her immense beer knowledge to use.

Handling Champagne's craft brands requires Vanessa to know everything about the beers and suppliers in her charge, to be able to communicate that to the sales staff, and to place the beers appropriately so they sell.

At first, Vanessa admitted, she was overwhelmed.

"I had no idea what I was doing or how I was going to do it," she said.

But she's managed to pull it off. In her last three years at Champagne Beverage, she's taken their craft beer sales from zero to 1.8 percent.

Vanessa is also in charge of brand development, order placement, inventory balance, and coordination of special events like beer launches, dinners, and festivals.

She may be the crusader of craft for the Northshore, but she didn’t get where she is without tribulation. Vanessa said being a woman in this role has been her greatest challenge.

“You have to be that much more knowledgable,” she said, “if you’re not an expert, it’s not enough.”

In her experience, no one will give you respect, you have to command it. It’s one thing to face the every day challenges of being a woman, and being a woman in the beer industry comes with an entirely different set of challenges.

In a matter of days, Vanessa will be utilizing her many talents in her new role as Lead Brewery Rep with Bell's Brewing out of Kalamazoo, Mich. Soon, Bell's will be distributed in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi markets with Vanessa leading the charge.

While she's excited to start her new job, she's grateful for her years with Champagne.

"The Champagnes have given me full support on everything I need to do my job and enhance my education," she said. "They've truly gone above and beyond."

I’m extremely excited to continue to watch Vanessa’s career unfold over the brim of my glass.

Needless to say, it will be exciting to continue to watch Vanessa's meteoric rise over the rim of my glass. Cheers to you Vanessa on your last day at Champagne Beverage!

This post is part of a monthly series spotlighting Louisiana women in the business of booze. Previous features include:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Behind the Scenes: Calandro's Supermarket Celebrates 75 Years in Baton Rouge

Calandro's Supermarket has been the title sponsor of the Bite and Booze Radio Show since it hit the airwaves in 2011, and since then, our relationship with the store has grown in immeasurable ways.

landry vineyards
Behind the scenes at Landry Vineyards, Jay Ducote chats with Jeff Landry

In many ways, if I hadn't had the store's support, I wouldn't be where I am today. That's why making this video for them didn't require a second thought. They play a huge part in the local community and should be celebrated as much as any locally owned restaurant for contributing to the Baton Rouge food scene. 

panola pepper
Jay talks with Mike Coullard of Panola Pepper Company, where Jay D's sauces are bottled

When I launched Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce over a year ago, Calandro's didn't just put it on their shelves. They threw me an over-the-top launch party timed with the Fourth of July. They helped roll out my Blanc du Bois collaboration with Landry Vineyards and more recently Jay D's Louisiana Molasses Mustard.

In a small way, this video gave me a way to give back to the Calandro family. I'm really proud and happy with the resulting ad celebrating Calandro's 75th year in Baton Rouge.

Working with tommysTV always makes the process easy and fun, and the finished product is always gorgeous. Some of my favorite shots are the ones we took at Landry Vineyards and the ones just driving through the state. 

If you haven't watched the video, take a look! Happy 75th year, Calandro's!