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Don't miss out on one of the best culinary events of the year:

Friday, August 11, 2017

South American Supper: A Private Dinner at Red Stick Spice Co.

by Sophie Spring, intern

Gov't Tacos Chef Aimee Tortorich, Jay Ducote and their culinary team were able to take a break from slinging tacos and focus on the latest Red Stick Spice Company private dinner, South American Supper for 24 lucky guests. The four course meal featured traditional South American foods, with a Bite and Booze twist.

The guests starting arriving around 7, with the tantalizing scent of roasted potatoes filling up the store.

Our first passed course was red snapper ceviche with a crispy fried plantain chip and glasses of bubbly Prosecco. The guests enjoyed this course while perusing the store, allowing them to see all of the delicious oils, vinegars, and spice mixtures Red Stick Spice Co. has to offer.

Photo by: Jordan Hefler Photography

Once the guests were seated it was time for the second course, a seafood paella. Our paella was traditional, using Supreme Rice with saffron, mussels, shrimp, and green peas. The dish was complimented nicely by Jay D’s Blanc du Bois. An added bonus for the guests were the extra prepared mussels that were served family style to each table.

Chef Aimee Tortorich plating the paella. Photo by: Jordan Hefler Photography 
The third course was a real show stopper: Cafeciteaux coffee rubbed tri-tip served over fresh green cilantro chimichurri with a side of creamy paprika roasted potatoes a la plancha. This course was probably the biggest hit of the night. Every plate brought back to the kitchen was licked clean. Our guests enjoyed this course with a glass of robust Malbec.

Photo by: Jordan Hefler Photography

For the dessert course, the culinary team put a spin on traditional tamales, making a dulce de leche tamale served with homemade bananas foster ice cream. The tamales had a subtle sweetness and the bananas foster ice cream melted beautifully over the warm masa. The guests loved this unexpected dessert. Served alongside the tamale was Jay D’s Single Origin Coffee, with a splash of Frangelico hazelnut liqueur and cinnamon whipped cream.

Photo by: Jordan Hefler Photography

The dinner went off seamlessly, thanks to help from Anne and the Red Stick Spice staff there to help us out. After the dinner was over, the team received such great feedback that we were inspired to plan another SOLD OUT Red Stick Dinner, North African Appetite on August 16!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Pico's: A Houston "Mex-Mex" Institution

by Blair Loup

Since establishing Pico’s in 1984, it has become a shining beacon of “Mex-Mex” cuisine in the holy land of Tex-Mex. The Richards family treats their customers like relatives. When you enter the sprawling restaurant you can hear fresh margaritas shaking, smell the hand-pressed tortillas on the flat top and see the genuine smile across the faces of their employees. You can’t have a bad time at Pico’s; they simply won’t allow it.

It’s a large restaurant, but don’t let that fool you. Chef, and owner, Arnaldo Richard has his hand in every dish. The attention to detail that goes in to the flavor built on each plate is extremely authentic. If you’re looking for true Mexican cuisine in the Houston area, you need not look any further.

The depth of flavor isn’t just in the food though. Arnaldo’s daughter Monica Richards is at the helm of their fantastic tequila program. Even the most baseline of margaritas at Pico’s is top-notch. Whether you’re looking to demolish a couple of shakers of their house margaritas or taste from some of Monica’s select barrels, she has taken the time to curate a truly special tequila experience for their guests. The tequila selection alone is a worth the trip.

Jay, Chef Aimee and I have had the pleasure of dining with Monica and visiting with Arnaldo on a couple of occasions and each trip has only made our hearts grow fonder. Here are a few of the best bites and sips we had the last time we were there:

Ontiones Carlos Slim is one dish that I think speaks to the attention to detail and flavor building Arnaldo's cooking is centered around. With this take on Oysters Rockefeller, Arnaldo uses an intricate blend of celery leaf, tarragon, chervil, parsley, herb saint, spinach, collard greens and purslane and tops each bite with cotija and parmesan cheeses.

Ontiones Carlos Slim
Ontiones Carlos Slim

These mussels are sautéed in a white wine and crema sauce with Spanish chorizo and topped with micro cilantro. After we got a hold of their bolilla (similar to French bread) these babies didn't last long. The creaminess of the sauce combined with the flavor of the mussels and the little kick and umami from the chorizo made each one more poppable than the last.

Mejillones a la Gallega

I'm not going to lie. I think about this next dish all the time. In a section on their menu called Al Ajillo you can find some of the tastiest dishes in the whole joint. Ajillo is a condiment in Mexican cuisine that is made by infusing olive oil with dried chilis and fresh sliced garlic for a minimum of 72 hours. It's even more amazing than it sounds. They sauté different types of seafood in this delectable concoction, but my favorite version is the octopus. So tender, it feels like you're biting into a cloud that's soaked in garlic/chile olive oil; insane.

Pulpo Al Ajillo
Pulpo Al Ajillo

Mole holds a very special place in my heart. There's a lot that goes into each mole, but you can always be sure of one thing when it comes to this comforting dish: whoever took the time to make it, undoubtedly stirred in a lot of love. In this case Arnaldo moved me to feelings. The duck fell apart in the rich, decadent mole and the tostones hit the hearty, but sweet notes. I would order this dish again and again.  

Until next time, Pico's! If you're ever in the Houston area, Pico's is a must. Keep a look out for some of their phenomenal tequila dinners as well! 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Bonut Baker’s Dozen: Batch 13 Biscuits & Bowls

by Paige Johannessen

Before the new Copeland’s concept opened, the Bite and Booze team had the chance to try out Batch 13 Biscuits & Bowls. If you haven't been by to try the fun and inviting bright yellow restaurant, you're missing out. The menu is certainly different than the other restaurants under the Copeland's name, featuring a “Grab-and-Go” wall lined with salads and bowls, as well as a dine-in option for the guests that want to hang out and enjoy the quirky signage and dozens of succulents.

We had the chance to try a few of their signature menu items as well as grab a "bonut" or thirteen. I wasn’t starving when we made the trek over to Batch 13 so I opted for the “It’s All Greek To Me” lunch bowl. The hummus and vegetables were light and delicious, a perfect refresher for a warm summer afternoon. Not exactly filling for those who want a complete lunch, but could definitely serve as a sharing item for a table.

Herbed hummus, cucumber, feta, mixed tomatoes, olives, roasted peppers, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic reduction sauce and sumac, with lavish chips.

The “Wild Wild (South)West Hot Bowl” was my personal favorite. A rice bowl, served with spicy chunks of chicken, veggies and pickled jalapeños...right up my alley.

Spicy chicken cutlets, pickled cabbage, charred corn, pickled onions, roasted red peppers, pickled jalapeños, black beans, cilantro, warm seasoned rice and Southwest Ranch.

The table favorite was definitely the "Spicy Fried Chicken and Andouille Gravy Smothered Biscuit." This classic spoke to the hearts of all of the Popeye’s lovers out there. Fried chicken and a warm buttermilk biscuit, what else could a South Louisianan need? 

Andouille sausage gravy, fried marinate chicken and Copeland's hot sauce on a toasted buttermilk biscuit.

To cap off the meal we tried a handful of Chef Darryl Smith’s signature creation, the “bonuts.” This fusion of a donut and biscuit is something that could get my wallet in trouble if I lived closer to Batch 13. I recommend the apple cinnamon bonut. It's like a gooey apple pie that is meant to be eaten for breakfast. Glorious.

From top left going clockwise: Apple Cinnamon, Hot, Choc & Bacon, Cinnamon Sugar and Glazed bonuts.

Batch 13 Biscuit & Bowls is a must lunch spot for those of you who frequent the Essen/Perkins area. It's quick, convenient and darn good! A great fast-casual breakfast and lunch addition for that part of town.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Jay D’s Backyard BBQ at Tin Roof Brewery

by Sophie Spring, intern

Our Bull Grill from Goodwood Hardware loaded up with meats at Tin Roof Brewing
Our Bull Grill from Goodwood Hardware loaded up with meats at Tin Roof Brewing
photo credit: Jordan Hefler Photography

The Bite & Booze team was excited to throw a Backyard BBQ party at Tin Roof Brewery to help celebrate the release of their new Watermelon Wheat. The day started early, cleaning ice chests, loading red beans and Supreme Rice into the Goodwood Hardware trailer, lugging heavy cast iron pots to the brewery, cooking up cheese sauce and slicing smoked sausages. Aimee and Therese planned the schedule for smoking the chicken, ribs and sausage days in advance. The pimento cheese sauce was made with love the morning of the event, proportions of rice and beans and seasonings were calculated carefully, and lists of supplies covered tables in the office.

What was on the menu for the event, you ask? Tender, fall of the bone ribs, juicy smoked chicken, and flavorful sausage. The trio of meat was accompanied by impossibly creamy pimento mac and cheese, dirty rice and BBQ beans.

Chef Aimee Tortorich shows off some Jay D's smoked ribs!
Chef Aimee Tortorich shows off some Jay D's smoked ribs!
photo credit: Jordan Hefler Photography

All of which was served with an iconic slice of white bread to sop up all the juices that gather in the bottom of the red checkered trough used to serve our “Full Monty” (a plate of all three meats and each of the sides). The team used Jay D’s Spicy & Sweet BBQ Rub to season the meats, Louisiana Barbecue Sauce to mop the meats as we finished them on the grill and Louisiana Molasses Mustard and barbecue sauce were available for dipping and slathering.

The weather was perfect for the event, sun shining and clear skies. It was the ideal day to relax in the yard at Tin Roof Brewery, Watermelon Wheat in one hand a smoked BBQ rib in the other. As we anticipated, the “Full Monty” was our best seller. No one wanted to miss out on any of the meats or sides. We were so happy with the turnout, it felt like there was an endless line of people from the start to when we sold out of meat.

Sophie Spring and Chuck P. scooping the Supreme Rice dirty rice for service
Sophie Spring and Chuck P. scooping the Supreme Rice dirty rice for service
photo credit: Jordan Hefler Photography

The team was running back and forth with hot trays of ribs and sausage, using paddles to scoop steamy dirty rice into hotel pans, pulling BBQ beans out and rushing to get them to our customers.

Sold out BBQ!
Sold out BBQ! photo credit: Jordan Hefler Photography

The food was gone before we knew it, and at the end of the night all we had left was the bottom of the pot of dirty rice and BBQ beans. Overall, the event was a success: beer, BBQ, and a good time!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

All Aboard The Gravy Train: The Darrell’s Special

by Charles Pierce

The culinary scene in Lake Charles has grown significantly over the past few years. There has been a growth of new restaurants doing truly fantastic dishes and they are making their presence known with local foodies. But, along with that rise, there are a few old favorites that have stood the test of time. Personally, the one place that keeps me coming back is Darrell’s Famous Poboys and their mouth watering Darrell’s Special.

Since 1985 Darrell’s has been serving up some truly awesome poboys. Their commitment to quality shows in their food and has been rewarded by the loyalty of their customers who have been returning time and time again for lunch and dinner since they’ve opened their doors. It’s no surprise to see the parking lot packed no matter what time of day you visit. And I am willing to bet the majority of orders coming out of the kitchen throughout the day and night are the exquisite Darrell’s Special.

It’s actually a pretty simple sandwich. You’ve got fresh cut ham, turkey and made-in-house roast beef, lettuce (I normally pass on this’s lettuce), mustard, mayonnaise (regular or jalapeno), your choice of cheese (American, Swiss or Provolone) and the absolute best roast beef gravy I’ve ever had. The beauty lies in the simplicity. Or is it the gravy? It might be the gravy.

While sitting at the table awaiting your order you’ll notice a very large stack of napkins. 
SPOILER ALERT: You will need these. 
The Darrell’s Special is as messy as it is delicious. They’re very generous when it comes to the roast beef gravy, which is certainly not a bad thing. To quote their website “Unless you use at least 10 napkins, you’re doing it wrong”.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are other great tasting poboys on the menu as well. The BBQ Beef is really good and I’ve heard the Surf & Turf is almost as popular as the Darrell’s Special. Almost. But for me, it’s that signature sandwich that gets me every time.

No matter what I’m doing in Lake Charles, I make it a point to stop in and grab a Darrell’s Special. It truly is that good. Next time you’re in Lake Charles stop by and see for yourself.