Monday, November 30, 2015

Mary Lewis: Superintendent of Suds

by Blair Loup

Mary Lewis grew up in the small town of Gloster, Mississippi with a graduating class of sixteen people, but growing up in an LSU family, she had her sights set on planting roots in Baton Rouge.

Mary Lewis, Sales Manager at Mockler Beverage Company
Mary Lewis, Sales Manager at Mockler Beverage Company
With a grandfather that played tennis for LSU and an aunt that donned the Golden Girl leotard, Mary jumped at the opportunity to walk on to the women’s basketball team. After her sophomore year, she became a scholarship player for the rest of her college career.

Moving to Baton Rouge, Mary didn’t know anyone and said her early college years were a challenge.

“I went from being the tallest and fastest, to a nobody. Everyday was a competition,” she said.

The lessons of hard work and dedication are some that many of us learn playing recreational sports as kids, but taking that to a college court equipped her with skills she’s used to earn her Sales Manager position at Mockler Beverage where she’s been for the past 17 years.

She began her life after college at LSU with an IT job at a clothing manufacturer. She was looking for a change, and the opportunity presented itself when Mary bumped into Patrick and Shelley Mockler at a hockey game in Lafayette. Shelley had an important position in IT with Mockler at the time, and encouraged Mary to apply.

For five years Mary worked in the IT department until she was nudged in the direction of sales. She moved to “Space” which is one of the most powerful tools for a beverage company.

"Space" is a department that works with a software program that contains data on every product in the way of package size, price, demand, etc. Mockler can build cases and coolers at different accounts and determine profitability and how long supplies will last.

After doing that for a few years, Mary moved into national sales for five years dealing with chains like Circle K. As the company grew, so did Mary’s opportunities.

Now a Sales Manager, she deals with around 120 employees in marketing, distribution, and sales.

“My job now is to motivate my team,” she said. "I don’t want my guys to think I’m just the lady that sits in the office."

During her time at Mockler Beverage, the business has changed completely in terms of products, operations, and for women. Shelley Mockler held an important position at Mocker, and Mary feels as though she paved the way and proved herself making it easier for women to make a name for themselves in the beer business.

In terms of products, Mary said things have definitely gotten more complicated. Where Mockler used to be a one-supplier company (Budweiser), they now have a large product mix that comes with its own bag of rules and regulations to follow.

If there’s one thing Mary knows, it’s the beer business. Much of what we see as consumers is the boom of craft beers, which is a tiny speck in the universe of beverage distribution.

Next time you visit a grocery store, try to see the world through Mary’s eyes and take a stroll down the beer aisle. You’ll notice the “clean store” trend retailers have latched onto, minimizing big displays and marketing props for products. Take a look at a cooler and see if you can tell which products sell more according to the space they’ve been allotted, and take into account size and profitability. The business of beer is a rabbit hole of fascination.

Cheers to you Mary!

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
Nora McGunnigle: Headmistress of Hops
Myrna Arroyo: Vino Valedictorian
Brandi Lauck: Warden of Whiskey
Cari Caramonta: Mother of Malts
Erin White: Priestess of Pairing
Beth Donner: Dame of Distilling
Halston McMullan: Hustler of Houston Hops
Libby Landry: Governess of Grapes

Friday, November 27, 2015

Introducing Jay D's Louisiana Molasses Mustard!

molasses mustard
Check out our revamped labels! They're going to grace the next batch of Barbecue Sauce as well.

It's finally here!

After months of laboratory testing and repeatedly shouting the phrase "back to the drawing board!" we at last perfected the recipe for the long-awaited Jay D's Louisiana Molasses Mustard.

Combining three of our favorite ingredients (Louisiana-made hot sauce, mustard, and cane syrup) in perfect proportions, we came up with what we think is something really special. It's hot, tangy, and sugary sweet, and we can think of a million different ways to enjoy it.

As a salad dressing? Sure.

As a marinade? Why the heck not?

As a dipping sauce? But of course! Toss some dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets in the oven! LET'S DO THIS.

We hope you're as stoked about this product as we are.

Pre-order a bottle online, and stay tuned for some fun recipes with the Molasses Mustard!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Love Letter to Latin American Food

by Sydney Blanchard

I pretty much never tire of Latin American food. In a way, it reminds me a lot of the Cajun soul food I grew up eating – spicy, atypical cuts of meat and some form of fried/bready form of carbohydrates.

With bright colors and bright flavors to boot, Latin American food makes a food blogger's job easy.

Team Bite and Booze would like to formally express our love for Latin cuisine through imagery. Below you'll find some of the most memorable meals we've had.

Scroll, and enjoy.

Dear Latin American Food,

Ceviche at El Xuco Xicana in Houston, TX

We know you sometimes get a bad wrap.

mole pollo
Pollo en Mole at La Reyna in Baton Rouge, La.

But you're too good for this world.

street corn
Mexican street corn

You're more than just your bright colors.

Guacamole at Johnny Sanchez in New Orleans, La.

You're more than your bold flavors.

green mole
Green mole at Mestizo in Baton Rouge, La.

You've got us wrapped around your little finger.

Barbecue chicken quesadillas with Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce

And we wouldn't have it any other way.

Tacos at The Rum House in Baton Rouge, La.

Thanks for being you.

red snapper
Red snapper ceviche at The Gulf in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Murder Point Oysters, Uprooted

by Sydney Blanchard

Murder Point Oysters, right out of the water

Alabama's waters have had a rough go of it in the last decade or so. Hurricanes and an oil spill ravaged the Gulf coast and its economy, and according to Rosa Zirlott, Alabama streams had not produced oysters for many years.

That was before she and her family, former shrimpers, became oyster farmers. 

The Zirlott family will soon begin their third year as Alabama oyster farmers, and Rosa and her son Lane are enthusiastic about their latest family endeavor, Murder Point Oysters.

Rosa Zirlott, co-owner of Murder Point Oysters and Zirlott family matriarch

"They're oysters worth killing for!" Rosa said. 

Out in Porterville Bay near Gulf Shores, Alabama, lies Murder Point. According to legend, it used to be called Myrtle Point until 1927 when the man who held the oyster lease was murdered in a dispute over the lease. 

"You have to talk to the old timers to find out what really happened," Rosa said. 

Rosa and her family are one of only 12 oyster farmers in Alabama, and they've learned a lot about raising oysters in the last two years. It's safe to say they take their new venture pretty seriously. 

“This is very, very new for Alabama," Rosa said. “I talked my husband into doing it. I said, 'Let’s do it. If it works, we can say it works, and maybe more people will want to get involved.'"

Lane, in particular, has found his calling.

"Lane talks to them every day to give them the butter love," according to Rosa. "He feels like these oysters are his babies."

The care for their craft and stewardship to the environment is obvious in touring their oyster beds. 

Out on their boat in the middle of the oyster beds, college-age guys in wet suits and rubber fishing overalls tumble the oysters.

Murder Point Oysters are graded by size and tumbled every two weeks
Tumbling the oysters, or running them through a metal grading machine, causes the oyster to clamp town and makes the muscle stronger. Tumbling ensures that the oysters remain organized in the beds by size, and it also knocks the end of the shell off. This makes the oyster shells shorter, tougher, and easier to open up without the shell breaking. 

Every two weeks, the oysters are graded and moved to beds with oysters of the same size. According to Rosa, this is necessary to ensure Murder Point Oysters are up to restaurant standards.

"We try to create a quality product," Rosa said. "We’re trying to send the perfect oyster."

Murder Point Oysters cleaned off and ready for eating
But they don't stop at tumbling the oysters to ensure quality. Rosa said Murder Points oysters will taste different from the oysters growing in the waters next to them. Instead of keeping their oysters on top of the water while they're developing, the Zirlotts move their oyster babies up and down in the water column, allowing them to be flavored by different pressures, temperatures, and food sources. 

When the oysters are ready to be harvested, they're taken from the water directly to a processing facility owned by the Zirlotts, where they're then sent off to restaurants across the country where they are in high demand.

"It really is farm-to-table," Rosa said.

Prepared and garnished Murder Point Oysters served at Fisher's in Orange Beach, Ala.

The Murder Point Oyster business is maintaining consistent growth. In August they places 800,000 baby oysters into the water who will be ready to be eaten by 2016.

The Zirlotts take pride not only in their rich, buttery oyster crop, but in the work they do in sustaining and maintaining an ecosystem friendly not only to oysters but to the wildlife that share the waters with their oysters.

“We want to do right by the environment," Rosa said.

Read more Uprooted here:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Between Two Shells: Baked Brie and Bacon Oysters with an Old Fashioned

by Blair Loup

Can you feel it? Temperatures are dipping below 70 degrees, and we’re all losing our minds. Sure, we’re seeing a lot of boots, scarves, and unnecessary hats, but we’re also seeing darker, heavier beers, more whiskey than usual, and heartier flavor profiles.

My cool weather cravings usually lean toward creamy Brie cheese, bold red wines, root vegetables, whiskey, and anything cooked whole carcass style. I feel like sometimes, Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar gets me too much. It’s honestly scary how easy it is to pair great bites with a tasty beverage.

A baked Brie and Bacon oyster and Old Fashioned at Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar in downtown Baton Rouge, LA.
A baked Brie and Bacon oyster and Old Fashioned at Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar in downtown Baton Rouge, La.

The baked Brie and Bacon oyster is easily my favorite of the baked offerings at Jolie Pearl. What’s not to love about a Gulf oyster covered in a creamy Brie cheese sauce with specks of bacon and baked? The slight sweetness of the Brie and smokiness of the pork match up nicely with the smokey/sweet flavors of an Old Fashioned.

The typical Old Fashioned is simple, but irresistible. With a bitters-soaked sugar cube muddled in orange and cherry, the classic cocktail is supposed to be served with Rye whiskey. I asked for this one to be made with bourbon for a warmer caramel flavor to marry the Brie and bacon flavors.

With the weather cooling down and the holidays upon us, I know downtown Baton Rouge will be bustling. Pro-tip, leave early for all of your downtown tomfoolery and grab a bite and some booze at Jolie Pearl!

This is a great Fall/Winter transition pairing, and you can find some of the other parings we’ve tried and approved below:

Raw Gulf Oysters and Fresh Margaritas
Oysters Rockefellar and the Louisiana Mule
Raw Gulf Oysters topped with Cucumber Mignonette with Fresh Grapefruit Margaritas
Asian Style Chargrilled Oysters with Tin Roof Tunrow Harvest Ale
Chargrilled Oysters with Gnarly Barley's Catahoula Common
Raw West Coast Gold Creek Oysters with Jay D's Blanc Du Bois
Buffalo Chargrilled Oysters with Chafunkta’s Kingfish Cream Ale