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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Beers with Chuck: Firestone Walker Stickee Monkee Barrel Aged Quad 2015

by Chuck P

Back in the summer of 2015 I made a trip up to Portland, Oregon on a guys trip with Jay and a few of our friends. Portland is a destination spot for craft beer lovers with a plethora of local and regional craft breweries spread throughout the city. One of my goals for this trip was getting my hands on some local beers to take back home as well as any other West Coast brews that are unavailable here in Louisiana. Luckily, I was able to find some brews from Firestone Walker out of California and had to bring this particular brew back with me: The Stickee Monkee Barrel Aged Quad.

A Quad or Quadrupel is a Belgian style ale whose ABV normally runs between 10-13%. It’s a full bodied beer with a rich malt backbone. Normally I’m not drawn to this style but after having a taste at a local pub I was hooked.

Unfortunately Jay’s brother Eric had bought the last bottle in the cooler, but my disappointment was short lived as the bartender informed me he had a bottle in the back he could sell me but it wasn’t cold. This was perfect because that meant I could take it home and enjoy it back home. Success!

Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2017. I was about to head to a Friendsgiving that my buddy Damon was hosting and I was trying to decide what beverages to bring. After searching through my cellar I spotted the Firestone Walker box hiding behind a few Bourbon County bottles. With two years of aging on it, I decided to open the bottle up and see how she was doing.

Pouring it into a glass the beer was a deep mahogany color with a nice foamy head that dissipated quickly. While pouring, the booziness made itself known in a big way. I smelled it immediately which is just the way I like it.

Hiding behind the booziness you get scents of oak, coconut, vanilla and toasted brown sugar.

Flavor wise, the booze is right up front but very smooth. Other flavors that I picked up were caramel, fig, dates and some cocoa along with the vanilla and brown sugar I got from the nose. The long, warm boozy finish was absolutely perfect and had me reaching for another taste.

The few people I shared this with at the party really enjoyed it and were sad to see it go so quickly. Hopefully I’ll be able to get my hands on another bottle again.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Chuck P's Best Bites of 2017

by Chuck P

Another year has come and gone and now with 2018 here it’s time to reflect back on 2017. It was definitely a busy one here at Bite & Booze headquarters with road trips, pop-ups and private events filling up the calendar on a regular basis. Somehow, in between all of that, we found time to try some delicious dishes both locally and regionally that inspired and satisfied our ever expanding palates.

Here are just a few of my favorite dishes from 2017. I promise it won’t be completely filled with burgers.

The Fried Chicken Biscuit at Willa Jean

If you’ve never eaten at Willa Jean then I highly suggest you change that the next time you’re down in New Orleans. Listed under their “Biscuit Situation” section of the menu, this beast of a meal is a must have. A juicy chicken breast sitting between two warm, flaky biscuits in a pool of Tabasco honey. It’s big enough to share, but I’m not giving up a single delicious bite!

The Brisket at Franklin BBQ

This is absolutely without a doubt THE BEST brisket I’ve ever had. Franklin in Austin, Texas is well known, especially their brisket, and it totally lived up to the hype. 

Juicy, smokey and packed with deliciousness. I think I could have eaten it all by myself. Every time I look at that picture I start trying to figure out when I can get back there for more.

Deep Dish Cheese Pizza from Giordano’s

Unfortunately I didn’t get to travel to Chicago to try this but I was lucky enough to try it thanks to my lead singer Hana who ordered one for our guitar players birthday. Giordano’s ships their pizzas packed on dry ice with sauce packaged separately and cooking instructions as well. This true Chicago deep dish is fantastic. The red sauce was really good and it was packed with cheesy goodness. I’m hoping the next time I get to try one of these it’ll be at the restaurant, but I’ll be happy ordering one online until then.

The Slamburger at Brickyard South

I love the fact that one of my favorite hangout spots also has one of my favorite burgers. Danny Moore and Danny Wilson serve up this classic burger every Friday night at Brickyard South for the insanely low price of $5. A simple burger that’s perfectly seasoned, smashed flat and topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato and Danny Moore’s signature sauce. No gimmicks just a great tasting classic burger.

Jumbo Carrot Cake at BRQ

I’m sure you’re asking yourself why I’m choosing a dessert from a BBQ restaurant. The answer is simple. This is the best carrot cake I’ve ever had. Period. No contest. I mean look at that thing! You can feed four people off of that slice! After having this cake I had dreams about it for like, a week after. IT’S THAT GOOD!

Fried Chicken At Willie Mae’s Scotch House

There’s a reason that Willie Mae’s is famous. Their fried chicken is otherworldly; the flavor of the crust and the juiciness of the chicken is unreal. It’s been a staple in New Orleans since it opened in 1957. Presidents and celebrities have eaten here and Food Network declared it as having America’s Best Fried Chicken. There’s no other fried chicken that comes close to it.

The LIT Pizza Burger At Curbside Burgers

This was a special burger for their ‘Curbside Turns One’ anniversary celebration and although every burger that week was really good (and yes, I had all of them) this was the one that stood out for me. An awesome Italian sausage patty, swiss cheese and gremolata sandwiched between two pepperoni pizza buns. The flavor profile for this thing was off the charts. It was everything you would want out of a pizza burger and so much more. I’m hoping this pops back up on their menu as a special soon.

This was a tough list to put together. There were so many dishes I had this year that were really good but these definitely were the ones I still talk about. I’m hoping that 2018 will be just as delicious.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Chicago Distilling's Blind Tiger Bourbon

by Eric Ducote

Good morning Bite and Booze readers, and welcome to 2018! This morning's wakey whiskey is serving a dual purpose, as not only is it the start of a new year (at least according to the Gregorian calendar) but it's also an LSU football bowl gameday! I hope 2017 treated everyone well enough, and I definitely wish you all the best in 2018.  LSU is in Orlando today to face off with Notre Dame... the Tigers lost to this Irish on a last second field goal in the Music City Bowl following the 2014 season in the most recent meeting. I think it's time for a little revenge for the seniors, plus a little 3-game bowl win streak would be nice.

For this selection, I went with a whiskey that I picked up on a trip to Chicago earlier this year, the Blind Tiger Bourbon Whiskey from Chicago Distilling out of, duh, Chicago. This is a "small batch" bourbon that is distilled and bottled by Chicago Distilling and I actually have batch 3, bottle 503. The name Blind Tiger comes from prohibition era where watering holes would place a tiger icon in the window to let patrons know that they were serving whiskey inside. How this didn't alert the authorities, I don't know, but hey maybe they were on the take as well?

On to the whiskey on this cold morning, the aroma is a little on the weak side at first, then comes through with a strong candy corn note, follows up with hints of vanilla. That candy corn note is an indicator of a young whiskey, and this 90-proof bottle has no age statement, nor is it called "straight" bourbon which indicates a minimum of two years in the barrel. The taste is a lot of the same, a definite candy corn flavor with hints of vanilla, a bit of cinnamon, and a little maple-ish sweetness. It's really not a bad whiskey despite the candy corn descriptor, I can tell this is a well produced mash that just needs a little more time in the barrel, but that's the real catch-22 of a small distillery.

I suppose in some ways this Blind Tiger whiskey reminds me a bit of the LSU football team, good but not great. I think the folks at Chicago Distilling are on to something though, this mash bill could be terrific in a few years if they are saving some barrels for a good aged product. It hits all the right bourbon notes except the mellowing that can only come with time. Best of luck to them, best of luck to everyone out there in all your endeavors this year, and best of luck the Tigers this afternoon! Geaux Tigers!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Dinner Dominicana at Red Stick Spice Company

by Jay Ducote
all photos by Jordan Hefler

The Dominican Republic is a special place to me. I've been able to travel there four times now, including twice in 2017. I've seen, or at least traveled through, the majority of the country, and I've fallen in love with the people, the food and the culture. I could go back there time and time again.

On my first trip in 2013, I had one of the most memorable meals of my life. Upon my returns to the country, those expectations have only been matched... other than in Punta Cana, where all-inclusive resort food does not live up to any sort of authenticity standards.

Presidente, the ubiquitous beer of the Dominican Republic
Presidente, the ubiquitous beer of the Dominican Republic

Last year I launched Jay D's Single Origin Coffee, a project that sources coffee beans directly from Dominican coffee farmers then roasts the green coffee with Baton Rouge's Cafeciteaux Coffee Roasters. I spoke about how it all came together at TEDxLSU.

After a trip to the coffee farms in May and then another culinary media trip  in August to Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata, I felt like it would be a great time to bring some of my Dominican bite and booze experiences back to Baton Rouge.

We've been organizing a series of dinners at Red Stick Spice Company on Jefferson Highway, so putting together a Dinner Dominicana at Red Stick just made sense!

Goat empanadas with coconut habanero hot sauce
Goat empanadas with coconut habanero hot sauce

We started the meal with an appetizer while guests were able to walk around the store and browse the selection of spices, oils, vinegar, teas and local products. Our goat empanadas were formed into yucca flour dough and fried to crispy. They were served with a coconut habanero hot sauce. This dish reminded me of empanadas available from street vendors in Santo Domingo.

Anne Milneck from Red Stick Spice speaks to the crowd at Dinner Domicana
Anne Milneck from Red Stick Spice speaks to the crowd at Dinner Domicana

As the group of hungry diners took their seats on the classroom side of Red Stick Spice, Anne Milneck, the store's owner, welcomed everyone. She gave them each packet of Adobo seasoning, commonly used in Latin American cooking, as party favors to take home. I also greeted the guests before the second course arrived, a Dominican beef and root vegetable stew called sancocho. 

Santo Libre made with Brugal Extra Viejo Dominican Rum and Sprite
Our second course was paired with a Santo Libre made with Brugal Extra Viejo Dominican Rum and Sprite

Back when Blair and I were in the Dominican Republic we brought back a couple bottles of Brugal Extra Viejo, one of my favorite Dominican rums, so that we could use it for a dinner like this. We used the tasty sugarcane elixir in a batch of Santo Libres, a simple beverage of rum and lemon-lime soda. Used to rum and Coke? Next time try Sprite or 7up!

Jay Ducote serving up the Sancocho at Red Stick Spice Company
Jay Ducote serving up the Sancocho at Red Stick Spice Company

The Sancocho is a thick and hearty stew of beef and root vegetables like sweet potato and yucca. It could be equated to the Dominican (and Puerto Rican) version of gumbo, and sometimes even served with rice, but it uses the starches from the root vegetables instead of a roux as the thickener. I had an absolutely fantastic sancocho from Chef Martin Omar at Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando in Santo Domingo. All I could do was try to do that stew justice.

Pollo Guisado, Rice, Beans, Avocado, Fried Plantains
Pollo Guisado, Rice, Beans, Avocado, Fried Plantains

The main course of the evening was my play at the most quintessential dish in all of the Dominican Republic: pollo guisado. This is also the dish in my previously aforementioned memorable meal post. Chicken, which can be found free-ranging all over the country, is stewed in a bath of tomato and garlic then served with rice, beans and fried plantains. It is a nurturing, comfort, home-cooked kind of a meal that has slight variations anywhere and everywhere you eat it. No two cooks make it the same, and you can have great versions and some very mediocre versions, but all in all, it's the lifeblood of the nation. 

Coconut Cake with Jay D's Single Origin Coffee

For dessert, we took a trip to the more tropical side of Caribbean cuisine. Our Gov't Taco Majority Whip, Therese Schneider, took the lead on making a rum-infused coconut cake that we served with a cup of Jay D's Single Origin Coffee. I wanted the opportunity to talk about my coffee and the people in the Dominican Republic who grow the beans. The coffee, as well as all of my products, can be found at

Now I just need to figure out when I'll be able to make a return trip to the Dominican Republic. I'm sure it won't be long!

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...