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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Good Day for Coffee

by Elizabeth Courville, intern

February 3, 2018 was a good day for coffee in Southern Louisiana; not just any coffee, but specialty coffee to be exact. Specialty grade coffee refers to the use of beans that are produced in special and ideal microclimates. The SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) makes the standards and scores coffee beans on a 100-point scale, with anything above 80 being graded as “specialty.” The specialty coffee industry in the U.S. is growing more and more each year, but Baton Rouge has been a little behind on the game… until now.

The Cafeciteaux Cupping at Java Mama
The Cafeciteaux Cupping at Java Mama

Cafeciteaux Coffee Roasters out of Baton Rouge hosted a free/public coffee cupping and tasting at Java Momma. Steve and Chris are fairly newer to roasting, but don’t let that scare you off – they are producing some delicious coffees. Participants got to taste 3 of their coffees which included their new, outstandingly balanced and tasty Guatemala San Pedro La Lagunana single origin. Their coffee can be found in multiple local grocery stores here in Baton Rouge including Calandro’s Supermarkets, Redstick Spice Company, Oak Point Fresh Market and Alexander’s Highland Market.

In the same weekend New Orleans hosted the kick-off of Coffee Champs. This was the US Coffee Championships qualifying event hosted by the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America). A $17 ticket bought you access to 2 days-worth of tasting both sponsor and competitor coffees, information sessions with some of the best roasters in the country, learning how to brew - by true professionals, barista competition viewing and tons of awesome merchandise.

Exploring the Roaster Village
Exploring the Roaster Village

In the “Roaster Village” there were two local roasting companies based out of Louisiana – Rêve Coffee Roasters (locations in both Lafayette, and one opening up in the White Star Market in mid city Baton Rouge) and also French Truck Coffee (multiple locations in New Orleans, and one in mid city Baton Rouge). Rêve Coffee Roasters is a specialty coffee company that micro-roasts every batch and ships the beans on the day they are roasted – guaranteeing some of the freshest coffee that you will ever taste. French Truck is another local roasting company that uses super fresh beans and roasts in small batches. Representatives from Light House Coffee could be found perusing around Coffee Champs as well. Light House Coffee is a specialty shop with a cause, that is looking to open its doors in March 2018. Light house will be hiring and helping refugees and displaced people coming into Baton Rouge.

The schedule for Coffee Champs looked like 10:00am-6:00pm days, followed by after parties at local New Orleans coffee shops. It was certainly a caffeine packed weekend! There are a lot of new and exciting things happening in the Baton Rouge coffee world! Give these local specialty shops some love whenever you get the chance! Your taste buds will thank you later.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Burgers with Chuck: The Return of Dearman's

by Chuck P

Since opening its doors in the late 1950’s at the Bocage Village Shopping Center as a pharmacy and soda shop, Dearman’s has been a Baton Rouge landmark. Throughout the years their classic cheeseburger became known as one the best in town with people crowding the tables and counter for lunch and dinner to get their hands on one.

Unfortunately, on March 1st of 2016, a fire roared through the back of the restaurant causing over $500,ooo in damages. To add insult to injury, their lease was terminated a week later. With no plans of opening at a different location it seemed like Dearman’s legacy had come to an end.

Eventually with a rallying cry from its loyal customers and Save Dearman’s Facebook Pages being created, the future of this beloved establishment was shining bright once again. With a new 5 year lease in hand construction started to bring Dearman’s back to life and at 11pm on December 18th the doors opened again to greet hungry and loyal fans who were craving one thing: that delicious classic cheeseburger.

Dearman's Classic Double Cheese Burger with Bacon and Grilled Onions
Dearman's Classic Double Cheese Burger with Bacon and Grilled Onions

There’s really not much you can say about the Dearman’s burger that hasn’t already been said before. It’s a simple burger that needs no gimmicks. My only additions when I order are bacon (because...well, bacon) and grilled onions. The juiciness of the perfectly seasoned patties (don’t be a fool, get a double) covered in melted cheese is absolute perfection and the buns are always soft and fresh. Every bite leaves you wanting more. Add to that some tasty house cut fries and one of their signature malts or milkshakes (vanilla milkshake every time), and you’ve got yourself one hell of a meal.

After many years spent eating Dearman’s I was worried that after the fire I’d never get a chance to enjoy one of their delicious burgers again. I’m sure glad I was wrong. It’s good to have such a beloved local staple back in business. Welcome back Dearman’s! A true Baton Rouge classic!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Fremont Brewing's Bourbon Barrel-Aged Dark Star Imperial Oatmeal Stout

by Eric Ducote

Hello everybody, and welcome to the first Bite and Booze edition of Feature Beer Friday!  This is a reprisal of a segment I used to write (nearly) weekly for my old beer blog, BR Beer Scene.  Basically every Friday I'll be featuring a new beer with some background information, a review, and if I'm sharing it, what my friends think about the beer.  I used to score each one based on a 100-point scale focusing on 4 critical aspects, but this time around I think it'll just be a general review.  There is never a shortage of beer laying around the Bite and Booze HQ, so look for an eclectic mix of beers both locally and from around the world.

Today's choice is one from the Bite and Booze cellar, the 2015 Coffee Edition release of their Bourbon Barrel-Aged Dark Star Imperial Oatmeal Stout from Fremont Brewing out of Seattle, Washington. I recently hosted a baby shower (good times ahead!) over at the Bite and Booze HQ, and Jay was more than willing to break this one out for everyone to try! If you think there's a lot going on in that lengthy beer name, you're absolutely right. This stout features layers upon layers of flavor.  The base beer is their Dark Star Imperial Oatmeal Stout, which is then aged for up to 18 months in bourbon barrels, before being blended with barrels of different ages and bottled with coffee added.  Fremont Brewing releases this specialty once a year around the middle of October.

First thoughts on the appearance is that there is minimal head, but that's not really surprising for a 2+ year aged beer that clocks in at 14% alcohol.  As long as it's not flat it should still be good to drink, and this one was perfectly carbonated for an aged imperial stout.

The nose on this one is crazy complex, with roasted chocolate notes coming through from the base beer, coffee present but not as strong and the bourbon aging dominates giving a bright oak and vanilla overtone to the richly dark base.  If I was still keeping score this would earn a nearly perfect mark for the aroma.

The taste is more of the same, just a well layered complex imperial stout where all the flavors play well but also compliment each other.  The bourbon barrel aging is still the star of the show, but the coffee and dark malts support it extremely well.  A bourbon barrel aged beer without a strong and flavorful base can start to taste too much like whiskey without body, and this beer's base more than supports the bourbon flavors imparted upon it.  It finishes smooth, the 14% abv is well concealed by the stronger flavors, maybe too well as this is an easy sipper!

Fortunately I had a few friends to share this beer with, or the strong abv and amazing flavors would have combined to sneak up on me.  If you are ever up in Seattle or see some Fremont Brewing beers on the shelf elsewhere, give them a try.  And if you see some of their Dark Star series, bring me one!  Cheers!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Jay D's Bites: Pimento Cheese Cornbread

Cornbread is a staple in the typical Southerner’s diet. It is used to soak up your favorite stews, as a side with your collard greens, or simply serve it with butter for breakfast. While delicious just as it is, cornbread adapts to all kinds of personal touches. So we added our famous pimento cheese to this cast iron cornbread. The star in this recipe is Jay D’s Spicy and Sweet Rub; mix it in the butter slathered on top before chowing down.

Pimento Cheese Cornbread

Serves 8-12

1½ cups cornmeal
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter, melted
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
16 oz Jay D’s Pimento Cheese (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350℉. Combine dry ingredients. Add all wet ingredients plus pimento cheese. Mix until combined. Place in buttered cast iron skillet. Bake 35-40 min or until golden brown and is pulling away from skillet.

Jay D’s Pimento Cheese:
2 Tbsp Jay D’s Spicy & Sweet BBQ Rub
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp Jay D’s Louisiana Molasses Mustard
12 oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
12 oz Smoked Gouda Cheese, grated
1, 4-oz jar diced pimentos, rinsed

Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl and allow to marry flavors for at least 30 minutes.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Cane Land Distilling's Original Mississippi Floated Whisky

by Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, and a fantastic Mardi Gras to you all!  My employer graciously gives us all the day off for Fat Tuesday, so what better way to celebrate the culmination of Carnival than a little wakey whiskey?  For this morning's selection I went over to the Bite and Booze HQ and found a local Louisiana whiskey from Cane Land Distilling in downtown Baton Rouge.  Cane Land is a relative newcomer to the Louisiana alcohol scene, having opened their doors on St. Phillip St. in 2017.  They produce their rum and vodka from their Louisiana sugar cane plantation and mill, making it a true "estate" product that is harvested, mashed, distilled, and bottled all by the same company.

Cane Land's whisky on the other hand is not grown locally but instead hails from the historic practice of floating barrels of American whiskey on barges down the rivers of Kentucky and Tennessee into the Mississippi and subsequently South to the ports of Louisiana. Cane Land recreated that process by sourcing Tennessee whiskey at a minimum of 5-years aged and transporting the filled oak barrels by barge all the way down to Louisiana, and then finishing the spirit in cognac vats before being bottled locally.  Harking on this process, Cane Land refers to their whiskey as Original Mississippi Floated Whisky. I reached out to Cane Land and their GM John Landry told me that so far they have brought down one barge full containing 150 53 gallon barrels, and they intend on doing it again. They bottle their whisky at 80 proof, or 40% alcohol and it's sold directly out of the tasting room, in local retail outlets, and can be found at several local bars.

OMFW Original Mississippi Floated Whisky from Cane Land
Cane Land's OMFW - Original Mississippi Floated Whisky

Enough background, it's time to get into the whisky. The color is in the amber range, darker than straw but not quite getting into copper territory.  The aroma is extremely pleasing, a strong oak presence followed up by a fruity sweetness from the cognac finishing.   I feel like the cognac really improves the aroma by balancing out the candy corn sweetness typical from a corn mash whiskey.

The taste is more of the same, surprisingly smooth, with delicate fruity sweet notes playing well with the more bold oak char flavor of the barrel aging.  The alcohol sensation is minimal, and there is a lingering vanilla and cinnamon finish that adds an additional layer of complexity.  I think it was a smart move by Cane Land to source their whiskey rather than start out with a young and unpleasant offering.  I don't know for sure if they intend to produce their own whiskey mash in the future, but we can only hope that it turns out as tasty as this offering.

With that, I hope you all have a fantastic Fat Tuesday, enjoy yourself a #wakeywhiskey of your own, and cheers!