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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Nora McGunnigle: Head Mistress of Hops

by Blair "B-Rex" Loup

Nora McGunnigle at Avenue Pub in New Orleans
Nora McGunnigle at Avenue Pub in New Orleans
The world as it pertains to Louisiana beer bloggers is what the average person would expect: a small group of white men who have nice day jobs, but when night falls, they're cloaked in a cape of Untappd beer patches, home brew tools in hand, and opinions in tow.

For a moment, let me suggest a alternative image: a New England native with a degrees in Theatre and Higher Education Administration transplanted in New Orleans to drink beer like it's her job, because it is.

Clad in blue jeans and a Gnarly Barley Catahoula Common t-shirt, Nora McGunnigle is the "it girl" of craft beer writing (my words, not hers). I had never formally met Nora until I joined her for a beer at Avenue Pub on St. Charles, but I knew instantly we would get along because of the shirt. I've said it many times, but Gnarly Barley is my craft beer spirit animal. Anyone who shows up in one of their shirts is automatically on my good side.

Patrons of New Orleans' top craft beer bars treat her like the nice popular girl in high school. She's knowledgable, she's friendly, and she is cool.

Nora decided to move to New Orleans after a few visits, and like any female in charge, made it happen. Thankfully her lovely husband is a talented software engineer and was able to bring a valuable skill set to the New Orleans market; they were able to move just in time for American Craft Beer Week.

I learned from the Women in Booze segment I wrote on Lindsay Nations of Great Raft Brewing that it was not unusual for women to not be taken seriously in the beer industry. When I asked Nora if she had encountered anything similar to Lindsay's experiences, she gave me an interesting response.

"I definitely feel like it took me a long, long time for people to take me seriously as a beer person. In fact, it probably wasn't until I quit [my day job] and started writing professionally," she said.

Nora said there are definitely instances where she feels out of the loop on a new beer, or doesn't get a media sample some of the other beer writers receive.

I feel like everyone in the business of blogging has experience that at some point, even Bite and Booze.

What I found interesting was that she didn't make it into a, "Woe is me, I am woman," thing. She said she wasn't sure if those instances of exclusion were due to her gender or her status as a Louisiana transplant.

"Being a transplant, I think, and justifiably to some extent, people in Louisianan and New Orleans are very wary of transplants coming in and telling them what's what and what's going on," she said. She mentioned that it was hard to see the difference in the beginning. 

I find this disheartening because in my opinion Nora is very much an authority on craft beer. To leave her out of anything cool going on in the industry would be an injustice. I look forward to a day where it's not noteworthy to be a female beer blogger.

Until then, I sleep soundly at night knowing that Nora is looking out for giving everyone, including females in the beer industry, credit where credit is due. Cheers to Nora McGunnigle and to those like her striving to make Louisiana a better/cooler place.

You can find Nora on NOLA Beer Blog and as a writer for Gambit Weekly, Eater, or Thrillest just to name a few. Follow her on Twitter @noradeidre.

This post is part of a monthly series spotlighting Louisiana women in the business of booze. Previous features include:
Natalie Parbhoo: Duchess of Distribution
Lindsay Nations: Baroness of Beer
Dori Murvin: Sorceress of Service

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tour the Kentucky Bourbon Trail with us this summer: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Lock & Key

by Sydney "Brown Nose" Blanchard, intern

You know what sucks? Being a broke intern. Pinching pennies gets old, and things can look pretty bleak until Treat Yo Self day.



But here's the thing: Team Bite and Booze is heading to Kentucky this summer, and it's a trip even a broke intern can afford.

Really. It's, like, alarmingly affordable.

For $1,850 per person, you can come with us on a trip to explore the Kentucky Bourbon trail. From July 9 to 13, we will be staying in the state's fanciest historic hotels and having lunch and dinner at the best local restaurants, all while tasting the best drinks bourbon country has to offer.

This is an all-inclusive trip. You don't have to worry about where you'll be staying, what you'll be eating or how much you'll be drinking.

We've got all that covered.

For three days we'll be touring distilleries across the state hand-selected by Jay. The only thing not included in the price is airfare. You'll have to arrange your own flight.

You can get a look at the more detailed itinerary by filling out the form here or by sending an email to our tour guide and favorite sommelier Myrna Arroyo at myrna@rouxwinetours.com.

Registration closes on March 15, so get in touch with Myrna to pay your deposit and save yourself a spot! This is a trip you won't want to miss out on.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Lifetime of Achievement...& Sausage! The BRES honors Manda CEO with a pre-Fête Rouge Dinner

The Baton Rouge Epicurean Society does a lot of amazing work for childhood nutrition in the area, and we just heard that at their Annual Awards Dinner they'll be honoring the co-owner and CEO of Manda Fine Meats, Robert "Bobby" Yarborough! Congratulations, dude! We love Manda sausage.

This year's honorees at a luncheon, with Yarborough in the center. Can you spot one of our Women in Booze, Dori Murvin? 

The Baton Rouge native has dedicated much of his life to serving the community, notably through his support of organizations like the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, Family Road, YMCA, Boys & Girls Club and the Baton Rouge General Hospital.

The honor couldn't be going to a more deserving guy.

Yarborough will be honored with the Grace ‘Mama’ Marino Lifetime Achievement Award on August 27, 2015, at the Annual Awards Dinner held at L’Auberge Hotel & Casino.

A seven-course dinner will be served in his honor by local area chefs and will feature a selection of fine wines paired with each course. The dinner kicks off the Fête Rouge Weekend, which showcases prominent Baton Rouge area chefs and some of the finest wines from around the world.

Tickets are $200 per person or $1,600 for a table of eight. For more information and tickets to the festival, check out www.feterougebr.com.

Off-Kilter Nostalgia: Botsky's Premium Hotdogs

Premium Hotdogs at Botsky's in Downtown Lake Charles, Louisiana
Premium Hotdogs at Botsky's in Downtown Lake Charles, Louisiana


by Blair "B-Rex" Loup

Not long after my start at Bite and Booze, I accompanied Jay and the crew at TommysTV on a Louisiana Culinary Trails shoot. Each video in the web series highlights an area of Louisiana and the cuisine that makes that particular area special.

Jay told me we would be going to Sulphur/Lake Charles for this shoot, which I found perplexing. Being from that area, I didn't remember ever being blown away by the food scene.

The Lake Charles "Seafood Sensation" video wound up being one of my favorite videos in the series because of Botsky's owner, Mike Krajicek.

Being on camera is not easy for everyone. Like I always say, "Not everyone can be Jay Ducote." Not only was Mike completely natural on camera, he had a way of describing Southwest Louisiana that made me proud to be from that area of the state.

Mike has lived elsewhere, but he came home to do something cool, because when you think about it: nothing is going to become cool if all of the cool people keep leaving to do cool things everywhere else.

He has since gone on to double the size of the now year-old business and has recently been named "Restauranteur of the Year" by the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association.

Botsky's has a modern, grayscale interior with pops of color from framed pictures and wall decor to napkin holders featuring movie characters holding a Botsky's hotdog with talking bubbles singing the restaurant's praises.

It's unique, it's real, and it's just what the Lake Area needs more of.

With a main focus on high quality franks and sausages with fresh and outlandish toppings, Botsky's has something for everyone.

But seriously, I took my mom there.

While she loves hotdogs, she doesn't like things that are different. She ordered her hotdog pretty standard, but was stunned by its deliciousness and started picking at my mess of a creation.

If you're ever swinging through Lake Charles, these dogs are a must-eat.

P.S. They now carry Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce, so there's that.

Kobe Beef Frank topped with Mac n' Cheese, Feta, Pickled Jalapeños, Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce and Bacon
Kobe Beef Frank topped with Mac n' Cheese, Feta, Pickled Jalapeños, Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce and Bacon

Beef Frank topped with Dill Pickle Relish, Chili, and the most beautiful array of Ketchup and Mustard you've ever seen
Beef Frank topped with Dill Pickle Relish, Chili, and the most beautiful array of Ketchup and Mustard you've ever seen

How about this dog topped with Shrimp Creole with a side of sweet potato fries topped with Steen's and powdered sugar?
How about this dog topped with Shrimp Creole with a side of sweet potato fries topped with Steen's and powdered sugar?




Thursday, February 19, 2015

Grubbin' and Crawlin' for a Cause


I was pretty excited when Jay told me about the first annual 3rd Street Grub Crawl happening in March. 

As a life-long Baton Rouge resident, I've spent years wishing my city would step it up and aspire to be more like Austin, Atlanta, Houston, or even D.C. Now I feel like my wishes are coming true.

This event sounds like a righteous time, totally causal and easy on my wallet. A bunch of fun downtown venues will play host to Baton Rougeans looking for a night of live music, food and drink specials. Ten bucks buys you a wristband and access to all the night's activities including food and drink specials at participating venues. For a broke college student, a night of food and drink specials coupled with live music can't be beat. 

This is really exciting not only for the BR party scene, but also for THRIVE Baton Rouge. THRIVE, created four years ago by former Teach for America corps member Sarah Broome, is a charter school for at-risk children and has been helping out local kids immeasurably since its inception. 

Not only is 3rd Street Grub Crawl a party, it's also a benefit. Your $10 wristband buys you a night of fun and helps to support a local non-profit doing its damnedest to educate kids who would otherwise be left behind by the school system. 

I can't think of a better reason to drink and eat to my heart's content. And as an added bonus, the folks at Dudley DeBosier are paying for you cab ride home. Just hop in a taxi and say this one's on Dudley DeBosier and they'll pay for your ride home from the Grub Crawl!

Come out and celebrate for a good cause on March 26, 2015, 6 to 9 p.m. We'll see you there! 

– Sydney "Brown Nose" Blanchard, intern