For the final post of 2010 I have decided to take a stroll down memory lane and relive my top 10 bites and boozes of 2010. This list has been difficult to come up with, and it could change in time, but as of right now, here are my favorite things I ate, drank, and blogged about in 2010!
10. New Year's Day Gumbo
On January 1, 2010 I gave my first true effort to be completely in charge of cooking a gumbo from scratch. I make it at Jay's Bay with a bunch of my buddies from high school, and everybody was happy with the results. The gumbo had roasted duck, chicken, and sausage. It certainly satisfied all of our stomachs while we settled in on a cold afternoon and tried to watch college football bowl games!
The guy's trip to Alaska was so great that it is going to make this list twice. Coming in at #9 is all the beer that we drank from the Homer Brewing Company. We were fortunate enough to spend a week in a small Alaskan fishing town that had its own brewery, winery, and meadery. Upon arrival in Homer, the owner of our rental house had multiple growlers of Homer Brewing Company beer ready for our consumption. We went back to fill up growlers several times, we got a keg from them, and we even had the owners, Karen and Steve, over for dinner. The Red Knot Scottish Ale seemed to be their favorite brew, but all were refreshing and tasty in my book!
|A line of empty growlers from the Homer Brewing Company (they started full, of course)|
Mason's Grill's Cajun shrimp burger highlighted the Town Favorites Magazine article that I wrote about burgers in Baton Rouge. This award-winning beef/crustacean/cheese combination had my mouth watering and itching to return. It starts with 8 ounces of fresh ground beef made to order into a jalapeño-stuffed patty. The burger is then flame-grilled to desired temperature while shrimp are sautéed with more jalapeños. When the shrimp are almost ready, the chef will add a cup and a half of jack cheese in with the shrimp and peppers and let it all melt together. The cheesy mixture is then scooped up and piled high on the beef patty which is resting patiently on a sweet sourdough bun that is made specially for Mason’s Grill. Yeah, it is THAT good!
|The Cajun shrimp burger at Mason's Grill|
On a post oil spill trip to coastal Alabama, I discovered the famous Bushwacker beverage, and I found none I liked better than the concoction at Tacky Jack's. Their version of the creative cocktail mixes white rum, coconut rum, coffee liqueur, and a little 151 proof rum over vanilla ice cream. It is interesting, unique, delicious, refreshing, and dammit, I just flat out liked it!
|Tacky Jack's famous Bushwacker|
Over labor day weekend I experienced the truest form of gluttony known to man... The Buffet... of... BUFFETS! Yes, not only did this involve eating at an all you can eat buffet, but it actually included unlimited entry for 24 hours into any of the seven casino resort mega buffets on the list. Indeed, this truly was a buffet of buffets, and we did our best to eat our money's worth. We ended up only making it to three of the seven eateries, but that was plenty. Caesar's Palace, the Rio, and Planet Hollywood were all infiltrated by my crew from Houston. The damage was done both at the buffets, and back at our hotel rooms. Lots of things made an impression... braised beef, prime rib, fried shrimp, wood-fired pizzas, crab legs... but the most impressive thing overall might have been the dessert bars!
|A full plate of dessert from the Lago Buffet in Caesar's Palace|
The Fall of 2010 was dominated by two story lines for Bite and Booze. The first story line features lots of flavors in different combinations. In what was essentially the Bite and Booze introduction to film, I teamed up with Ninja Snowballs and Contrast Films/TommysTV to do a Submit a Flavor Contest. We started with 16 flavors and reduced the field down to 4 doing a taste test. We then let the Ninja Snowballs eaters decide from there. The final video matched up the Lemon Fluff vs. the Mint Julep in an epic showdown that only this film could do justice:
4. Hammond Smokin' Blues and BBQ Challenge
In March of 2010 I entered my first ever official barbeque competition, the Smokin' Blues and BBQ Challenge in Hammond, Louisiana. I was joined by expert chef Eusebio Gongora and outdoor cook extraordinaire Travis Ducote. We represented Team Bite and Booze well, turning in meat in all four categories on time and in edible fashion. Not bad for our first rodeo! In the end, we placed 39th out of the 50 teams, which we were actually quite proud of considering that every other team had done multiple contests before. The real highlight for us, as agreed upon by the judges, was our chicken. We turned in the most delicious barbeque chicken thighs that I've ever had a hand in cooking. They ended up earning 24th place in the chicken category. While that might not sound great, we were ecstatic to have our dish in the top half of the competition!
Of all the beer I've had in 2010, it is still the Louisiana craft beer that is most near and dear to my heart. Andrew Godley of the upstart Parish Brewing Company got my 2010 started right with tours and tastings of his delicious brews. Andrew's passion and enthusiasm about his beer is evident in his approach to brewing and the final product that he kegs and sends out to bars in the Lafayette area. I hope one day soon he is able to expand his operation so that he can distribute to Baton Rouge, but until then, who wants to take a road trip?!
|Parish Beer's Pumpkin Porter|
Perhaps I spoke too soon about gluttony when mentioning topic #6. That, indeed, was not the most gluttonous event of 2010. Instead we'll have to go back to Alaska where I entered, completed, and suffered from the Kodiak Arrest Challenge. The Kodiak Arrest Challenge is a feasting competition of Alaskan proportions. It starts with 3 lbs of Alaskan King Crab legs. Listed on the menu at $34.99 per pound, the Challenge is almost worth its price right there. After the crab, the platter is loaded with a foot-and-a-half-long link of reindeer sausage, seven salmon or crab cakes, mashed potatoes or fried rice, and mixed vegetables. At the end there is also a berry crisp dessert served with ice cream. All together, the food weighs six pounds and must be consumed in 90 minutes or less. Yeah, I did that. I became the fifth person to ever complete the challenge and, as far as I know, my name and picture should be hanging on the wall!
|The Kodiak Arrest Challenge... eat all six pounds, and become legendary|
|Jay finishes off the last bites of the Kodiak Arrest Challenge at the 90 minute mark|
The Fall of 2010 was truly highlighted by the performance of my Blackberry Bourbon Bone-in Boston Butt in the Tony Chachere's Tailgating Cook-off. Representing LSU, my recipe took the top spot in the initial round of online votes against competitors from the other 11 schools in the SEC. Then, after a live cook-off at LSU, the pork shoulder defeated Ole Miss and Mississippi State in the finals. Though by the end of the year I was tired of cooking it, the recipe was pretty darn good. It basically consists of a bone-in pork shoulder that is injected with mixture of blackberry jam, bourbon, honey, and black pepper, then rubbed on the outside with Tony Chachere's and brown sugar before being smoked over Louisiana pecan wood. Delicious!
|The now-famous and award-winning Blackberry Bourbon Bone-in Boston Butt|
So there you have it. My Top Ten of 2010 list. Stay tuned to see the January article in Town Favorites Magazine where I list out the 11 things I'm most looking forward to eating and drinking in 2011! That should be a good list as well! Thanks for reading and for helping make 2010 such a success!