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Join me at Mary Bird Perkins' The Taste

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kilbeggan Finest: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by The Cove

Kilbeggan Finest Irish Whiskey
Another trip to Ireland finds us with a more traditional Irish Whiskey.  Kilbeggan Finest fared pretty well, all things considered.  While it certainly didn't blow any of the Raise a Glass hosts away, it still represented Ireland reasonably well.  James called the Kilbeggan "Irish Whiskey's bratty cousin."  It had a classic Irish nose with hints of honey and smoke in an inoffensive and fresh scent.  Fairly clean on the taste but not extremely refined, Eric described it as "a little rough around the edges on the tongue."  The Kilbeggan finished quickly with moderate spice and honeysuckle.  An easy drinker.

Kilbeggan Finest
68.75
Average Score


Whisk(e)y Wednesday is a blog post series on Bite and Booze presented by The Cove.  Check out The Cove in Baton Rouge, LA to browse their selection of over 200 whiskeys (including bourbons) and 325+ Scotch whiskys.  Whisk(e)y Wednesday is created and rated by the hosts of Raise a Glass.  Scores are marked for Nose, Taste, Finish, and Balance and Complexity using our own propriatary scoring system.  Marks are then added and averaged, leaving us with a final score out of a 100 point scale.  Our scale should be looked at on the full range of 0-100 rather than an academic range where 70 is passing and anything less is failing.  A 50 should be considered a very mediocre whisk(e)y while anything below 10 is absolute horse piss and anything above 90 is rather extraordinary.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Wasatch and Squatters Beer Dinner at Beausoleil

Mark Clevelend from the Utah Brewers Cooperative, myself, and Chef Nathan Gresham
I thoroughly enjoy when Baton Rouge restaurants do something exciting and adventurous.  This can happen in many ways.  Restaurants can expand their horizons through local ingredients, modern techniques, or attention to the most finite of details.  It can also be done, in my eyes at least, with alcohol.  I recently helped prepare a pop-up restaurant beer dinner at the Tin Roof Brewery, so this time I was excited to just show up and enjoy the fruits of somebody else's labor.  In this case, that somebody else happened to be Chef Nathan Gresham.  He combined efforts with his partner at Beausoleil, Jeffrey Conaway, to pair a five course meal with craft beer out of Utah.  The Utah Brewers Cooperative, consisting of beer from Squatters and Wasatch, provided some excellent liquid accompaniments to the cuisine of the evening.  Here's a quick recap of the evening's indulgence:    

Hors d' oeuvres: Beausoleil's house-made pork rinds and a duck pate puff pastry
The meal began with some hors d' oeuvres and a Little Slammer from Wasatch.  The Little Slammer is their golden ale that comes in a fancy little 7 oz bottle.  It certainly provided a nice palate starter and paired well with a few snacks.  We had a puff pastry filled with duck pate and some of Beausoleil's signature pork rinds, then patiently awaited our next dish.  The rest of the courses were themed to coincide with times of the day.

"Dawn" came with a blue crab corn fritter set atop an oven roasted tomato slice and peach remoulade sauce. The sweet crab and corn inside the golden brown fritter worked extremely well together.  With just the right amount of crunch and smoothness, the fritter pleased the crowds.  The dish elevated itself to the next level with the bright acidity of the tomato and the fantastic peach remoulade sauce.  The Wasatch Belgian Style White Ale paired amazingly with the crab and the hints of peach.  I'd suggest the Wasatch White Ale to anybody who enjoys that style of beer.  It is a great one.  Blue Moon can jump off a cliff and shatter on jagged rocks.

"Dawn" - Blue crab corn fritter with oven-roasted tomato, and peach remoulade
"High Noon" - Sauteed grouper, crispy sweetbreads over sunflower shoots with a coriander citrus butter
"High Noon" brought on a nice portion of grouper and some crispy sweetbreads.  The grouper was sauteed and then placed over some cooked down sunflower shoots and a coriander citrus butter.  The grouper flaked apart well and the sweetbreads had that excellent can't-quite-place-it organ taste... I love 'em!  The dish came with the Squatters IPA.  The bitter hops from the India Pale Ale worked very well with the lightness of the fish as well as the coriander citrus butter. "Dusk" arrived an opportune time.  The sun set with the most creative dish of the evening.  Chef Gresham braised a bunch of lamb shanks, pulled the meat off the bones, formed patties, breaded them in panko, and gave them a quick fry.  The lamb shank "Milanese" came with some roasted root vegetables and an Outer Darkness stout reduction.  The dish proved to be inventive and downright delicious.  Each bite supplied a myriad of textures and tastes.  I'd order this dish again and again.  It came paired with the Squatters Outer Darkness Stout that the reduction was made from.  

"Dusk" - Lamb shank Milanese, roasted root vegetables with an Outer Darkness Stout Reduction
I figured we'd get something dark for the "midnight" course.  The bacon and chocolate terrine with cocoa espresso beans and pistachio creme anglaise certainly fit the bill.  The chocolate had an incredibly smooth and velvety texture until you hit the crunchy bacon scattered throughout.  The pistachios and espresso beans added some more layers as well.  While the dish kind of laid flat on the plate, it still packed some excellent sweetness that rounded out the night along with the Wasatch Devastator Double Bock.  While I think the stout and the double bock may have paired better had they been switched around, they are still both certainly excellent beers!  I especially like the Outer Darkness.  I need to have a few more of those.

"Midnight" - Bacon and chocolate terrine with cocoa espresso beans and a pistachio creme anglaise

I'd like to congratulate Nathan and Jeff and everyone at Beausoleil for an outstanding beer dinner.  Thanks to Natalie from International Wine and Spirits and Mark Cleveland from the Utah Brewers Cooperative for doing their part on the beer side as well.  The event brought in a great crowd and everybody left extremely pleased.  I'll be looking for Beausoleil to put on more dinners like this in the future... perhaps even some whiskey dinners or some other breweries that don't get much attention around here.  That'd be great!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Third Row Crawfish Boil 2012

I'm not sure how many consecutive years we've been doing the Third Row Crawfish Boil, but it has to be somewhere around a dozen.  This past year brought us 450 pounds of Louisiana crawfish, a couple kegs including one of Tin Roof Blonde Ale, and plenty of people to enjoy it all.  Third Row is our old tailgating krewe from LSU and we definitely still know how to throw a party.  Even though the festivities on campus are a few years behind us, I'm very glad that we've kept up with the annual crawfish boil.  It truly is an event I look forward to every year.  Travis and Eusebio continue to impress with their crawfish boiling skills as they come up with some magnificently spicy and flavorful mudbugs.  Thanks to everyone who attending this year.  I hope to see you all again sometime around April/May next year!


450 pounds of Louisiana crawfish awaiting consumption

Tin Roof Bandit Blonde Ale... a great beer for a crawfish boil! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Redbreast 12: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by The Cove


Redbreast 12 Irish Whiskey
Taking our first Whisk(e)y Wednesday visit to the Republic of Ireland, the Raise a Glass crew sampled the Rebreast Pure Pot Still 12 Year Irish Whiskey.  The nose had hints of dried fruit with a honey sweetness and a slight burn.  Upon first taste were notes of toasted starches, possibly even like a baked potato from an open fire.  The whiskey remained slightly sweet and toasted throughout.  It finished with a mild spice and fairly clean.  Coming purely from a pot still, the Redbreast 12 presented itself as a fine whiskey, though not a quintessential Irish whiskey flavor.

Redbreast 12 Year
77.25
Average Score

Whisk(e)y Wednesday is a blog post series on Bite and Booze presented by The Cove.  Check out The Cove in Baton Rouge, LA to browse their selection of over 200 whiskeys (including bourbons) and 325+ Scotch whiskys.  Whisk(e)y Wednesday is created and rated by the hosts of Raise a Glass.  Scores are marked for Nose, Taste, Finish, and Balance and Complexity using our own propriatary scoring system.  Marks are then added and averaged, leaving us with a final score out of a 100 point scale.  Our scale should be looked at on the full range of 0-100 rather than an academic range where 70 is passing and anything less is failing.  A 50 should be considered a very mediocre whisk(e)y while anything below 10 is absolute horse piss and anything above 90 is rather extraordinary.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Raise a Glass with the Beer Olympics!

Our Selection of Brews in the "Stouts" Competition at the Beer Olympics
Raise a Glass, the weekly radio program and podcast that I host along with Eric Ducote from BR Beer Scene as well as Jeremy Spikes and James Lawson from Whisky Bomb, has begun Season 4 of our show.  Fortunately for us, this season is all about BEER!  Specifically, we're exploring beer from all over the world in a series called the "Beer Olympics."  All summer long, leading up to the Summer Olympic Games in London, our crew will be in person at The Cove recording episodes of Raise a Glass that match up beers from around the world.  Each competition is categorized either by the style of beer or some other random fact, then tasted against each other on the air until we reveal our Bronze, Silver, and Gold medalists for that category.  At the end of the summer we'll have tasted nearly 200 beers from probably around 25 different countries and we'll have a medal ceremony complete the the final medal count. We might even take all of our gold medalists back for one more test drive to determine the double gold winner!

Beers from the "Saison/Farmhouse Ale" Olympic Event
Make sure to stay up to date with the medal count on the Raise a Glass page.


You can follow "Raise a Glass" on Twitter!
Like the show on Facebook!


You can listen to the show every Friday at 6 PM and replays every Sunday at 4 PM on WHYR 96.9 FM LP Baton Rouge Community Radio.  It is also available streaming through the Raise a Glass page or on iTunes.

And since we're recording the episodes at The Cove, you can come meet us there and sample beers with us almost every Wednesday this summer at 6 PM (We're not there the first Wednesday of June or July 4th, but otherwise it should be every week)!  We can always use some company and help drinking beer!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Kernel Season's Popcorn Seasoning

Buffalo Wing Popcorn


Popcorn and movies have always gone together for me.  Heck, popcorn and anything.  I'll even eat popcorn at a bar. It is snack that I've always enjoyed as the fluffy pillows of popped corn melt in my mouth with salty, buttery bliss.  But sometimes you want to kick that popcorn up a notch.  For years I've used Cajun seasoning like Slap Ya Mama to boost the kernels up to another level.  Recently, Kernel Season's sent me a few samples of their popcorn seasonings, and I had to see what they were all about.

Kernel Season's Popcorn Seasoning comes in a multitude of flavors.  Some of their newest offerings include Bacon Cheddar, Pizza, and Buffalo Wing.  I popped a bag of my best corn and sprinkled on some seasonings, then let my taste buds do the talking.  The bacon cheddar tasted like a baked potato on popcorn.  I enjoyed it, but don't know if I could eat a whole batch like that.  The pizza flavor didn't quite do it for me.  While I do enjoy a tasty pizza, it's not often that I eat popcorn and wish it tasted like a not-so-impressive slice of pie.  The buffalo wing flavor did the trick though.  It had plenty of kick to fire up the taste buds while still letting the popcorn come through.  I found the combination to be quite enticing!  The buffalo wing flavor is definitely my pick for anybody wanting to season up their popcorn, Kernel style!

Kernel Season's Newest Flavors

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Talisker 10: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by The Cove

Talisker 10 Year Scotch Whisky
From the Isle of Skye, Talisker 10 year has long been dubbed "Magic Marker" by Raise a Glass producer James Lawson.  It gets the name from its distinctive nose which does indeed resemble a permanent market.  Feel free to sniff this one all you'd like.  The whisky is slightly syrupy and well peppered.  Its taste is refined, and as Jeremy put it, "civilized."  It remains smooth on the finish while balancing out the sweetness with smoke.  A very well done Scotch.


Talisker 10 Year
84.75
Average Score


Whisk(e)y Wednesday is a blog post series on Bite and Booze presented by The Cove.  Check out The Cove in Baton Rouge, LA to browse their selection of over 200 whiskeys (including bourbons) and 325+ Scotch whiskys.  Whisk(e)y Wednesday is created and rated by the hosts of Raise a Glass.  Scores are marked for Nose, Taste, Finish, and Balance and Complexity using our own propriatary scoring system.  Marks are then added and averaged, leaving us with a final score out of a 100 point scale.  Our scale should be looked at on the full range of 0-100 rather than an academic range where 70 is passing and anything less is failing.  A 50 should be considered a very mediocre whisk(e)y while anything below 10 is absolute horse piss and anything above 90 is rather extraordinary.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Street Breads - Not a Bakery, a Sandwich Shop with Really Good Bread!

Mexico City Chicken & Chipotle
I recently got treated to a whirlwind of flavor in Lake Charles, LA at a sandwich shop called Street Breads.  The concept is pretty simple: make really good sandwiches.  So, staying true to that, the model is anti-Subway as a sandwich shop can be.  Street Breads uses artisan breads, several of which are vegan and preservative free.  All toppings and sauces are made daily in house.  Josh Priola, owner of Street Breads, prides himself on not having to advertise catchy words like "fresh" or "healthy."  "When you eat it, you'll know," Josh told me.  While his launch restaurant is in Lake Charles, Josh is dreaming bigger.  "I want to flip the current sandwich model built on margins and profit," he explained.  "Theses sandwiches are real.  The ingredients are honest.  I just let them speak for themselves."

St. Paul's Pizza


The Mexico City Chicken & Chipotle sandwich certainly took the right steps towards proving his point.  The chipotle packed just the right amount of kick and the basil pecan pesto freakin rocks.  Even the cucumbers were a brilliant, crunchy veggie choice that provided a textural balance between the halves soft Ciabatta bread.

Also impressive was the St. Paul's Pizza.  I didn't see this one coming.  At first glance of the menu board, it seemed like the pizzas were out of place.  The reduced price pita sandwiches, sure, but pizzas as well?  It seemed like a Subway-esque move... until I tried it.  Again using the basil pecan pesto, the square-shaped pie really hit the spot.  Topped with large Louisiana shrimp and plenty of cheese to go along with the pesto and roasted portabellas, I'd eat this again and again.

Feta Potato Salad
Street Breads also has some sides other than chips.  The feta potato salad was scrumptious, and paired very well with my next sandwich, the Deep South Pork & Slaw.  The tasty creation featured generous portions of pulled pork, cheddar cheese, Cajun remoulade, and "Street" slaw on rustic club bread.  I started off nervous that the pork to slaw ratio wouldn't quite be to my preferred balance, but once I bit into the sandwich those fears went away. The slaw and remoulade danced with the pork as the crusty bread held it all together.  It really ended up being one of my favorite sandwiches of the day (toss up with the Mexico City). 


I also got a taste of the Mediterranean Portabella on Focaccia as well as the Southwest Salad Wrap with Asiago, roasted corn relish, and ancho ranch dressing.  The sauces and dressings on all the Street Breads sandwiches really set them apart.  I wasn't able to try any of the pitas or breakfast sandwiches, but I'm sure they are all rather tasty as well.  As for me... dessert beckoned.  


Deep South Pork & Slaw


My final treat from Josh came in the form of Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise.  The hot, sticky dessert couple please the palate of anybody with a sweet tooth.


Street Breads is in the process of taking Lake Charles by storm.  The sandwich shop is really filling a niche that had been longing for some artisan sandwiches and a restaurateur that really gave a crap about their product.  It seems like Josh's next move might be to open a couple other South Louisiana locations... like perhaps Lafayette and Baton Rouge.  I know I certainly wouldn't object.  This kind of attention-to-detail sandwich spot, priced appropriately between a Subway and a Panera Bread, is exactly what Baton Rouge needs.  For now though, go see them in Lake Charles!

Street Breads on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 11, 2012

Burgasm: "I'm Not Trying to be an Underwear Model" Teaser

I'm very excited.  For anybody who hasn't seen me recently or just hasn't noticed, I've actually lost over 20 pounds since December.  Most of that was lost during the three months of actively filming for this documentary project, but I've at least kept it off since then.  And I'll keep trying to lose more as well.  "I'm Not Trying to be an Underwear Model" is a documentary web series about a South Louisiana food writer, radio host, chef, etc. (me) trying to be healthier while eating and drinking for a living.  Along with filmmaker Tommy Talley of TommysTV, our goal is to show a realistic approach to a healthier lifestyle.  This series isn't about trying to be an underwear model or the biggest loser.  It is about living a life full of bite and booze in one of the best places on earth to do it, but also realizing that you have to be at least a little health conscious along the way!  Please enjoy the teaser that we put together below.  Episode 1 will be coming along sometime soon!


Jay flips a tire during a workout with Shane Rosario
In case any of you were wondering, it is possible to order the "Repeat Offender" aka "Burgasm" at Curbside. Just track them down, and enjoy!

Huge thanks goes out to everyone who made this possible along the way.  If I left you out, please remind me!

Tommy Talley, TommysTV
Shane Rosario, Certified Crossfit and Russian Kettle Bell Instructor
Josh Carley, 40:31 Productions
Matt Callac and Erick Martin, ElbowRoom
Mike Russo, Building Studios
Max Fitness, Highland Road at Kenilworth
Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Rani Whitfield, Tha Hip Hop Doc
Varsity Sports
Aaron Hogan, Eye Wander Photo
Plus many other friends, families, and others who will be recognized along the way!

Stay tuned for Episode 1!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Springbank 10, 100 Proof: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by The Cove

Springbank 10 Year 100 Proof Scotch Whisky
The Springbank 10 year 100 proof Scotch Whisky is the first Campbeltown Scotch to be featured on Whisk(e)y Wednesday.  The liquid had a light sweet nose that I described as "clean" but our producer James from Raise a Glass called it "Ivory Soap."  The taste came across full bodied and mildly creamy with an intense burn from the alcohol.  Eric said it had a "very high burn, but good things going on."  Some oak is present as well as roasted salted nuts.  The burn lingered a bit too long on the finish for me.  Jeremy even described the Scotch as "harsh taste, shit finish."  I'd just say it packed a punch.

Springbank 10 Yr 100 Proof
55.5
Average Score


Whisk(e)y Wednesday is a new blog post series on Bite and Booze presented by The Cove.  Check out The Cove in Baton Rouge, LA to browse their selection of over 200 whiskeys (including bourbons) and 325+ Scotch whiskys.  Whisk(e)y Wednesday is created and rated by the hosts of Raise a Glass.  Scores are marked for Nose, Taste, Finish, and Balance and Complexity using our own propriatary scoring system.  Marks are then added and averaged, leaving us with a final score out of a 100 point scale.  Our scale should be looked at on the full range of 0-100 rather than an academic range where 70 is passing and anything less is failing.  A 50 should be considered a very mediocre whisk(e)y while anything below 10 is absolute horse piss and anything above 90 is rather extraordinary.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Curbside Links it Up!

Because serving up some of the best burgers in town from a food truck just wasn't enough, owner and chef Nick Hufft recently launched his next endeavor in his expanding mobile food empire: Curbside Links.  This new truck has a very familiar look, but the results are vastly different.  The links truck serves up gourmet, homemade sausages on artisan buns with incredible toppings.  To go along with the glorious encased meats, Nick also serves up potato chips that he slices himself before deep frying them to a crisp and adding one of several different seasonings.

Curbside Links: Polish Sausage with Tin Roof Amber Chili, Cheddar Cheese, Red Onion, and House-made Chips
Curbside Links has multiple sausages on the menu and I can't wait to try them all.  On my first visit to the truck I went with what has quickly become Nick's #1 seller: Polish Sausage with Tin Roof Amber Chili, Cheddar Cheese, and Red Onion.  The bun held up well to the sausage and chili, which seemed quite remarkable in itself.  As for the sausage... pretty darn fantastic.  Scrumptious, even.  Eating this sausage sandwich made every other ordinary hot dog from now on barely worthy of a participation ribbon, at best.  The chili paired excellently with the Polish sausage and I enjoyed all of the red onion too as it added a little kick of its own.  At the end of the day, my stomach no longer growled and my taste buds were fully satisfied.  Props to Nick and his new Curbside Links truck.  I'll be back for more.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wonder Where the Crawfish Bread at Jazzfest Comes From?

Crawfish Bread from Panaroma Foods
For many years now, the Crawfish Bread that is found at Jazzfest in New Orleans has been one of the culinary staples of the outdoor music event.  The gooey, cheesy stuffing loaded with Louisiana crawfish tails strings out from its crusty breaded prison to gush flavor unto each connoisseur.  Even famous New Orleans food critic Tom Fitzmorris clamined that the crawfish bread is "an essential Jazzfest dish that should not be missed."  However, this delicious treat does not come from some fancy Creole restaurant or age-old New Orleans haunt.  It comes from Marksville, Louisiana in Avoyelles Parish at a little bakery called Panaroma Foods.  It is there that each loaf of crawfish bread is carefully crafted to ensure that essential combination of crawfish, cheese, and bread.  The bread is actually rolled by hand using rolling pins.  It is a true labor of love for each loaf, and it never disappoints.  

When in Marksville, you can usually buy fresh crawfish, shrimp, and sausage breads right from the bakery's counter.  You can also get the loaves pre-cooked and frozen, meaning all you have to do is thaw them out and toast them in the oven for 10-15 minutes and you'll have some amazing Panaroma breads right at home.  Fortunately I snagged a loaf of crawfish bread as well as the sausage and jalapeno bread on recent trip up LA1.  The jalapeno sausage bread, dare I say, may have even been more impressive than the crawfish bread.  The cheese oozed out and the mild pop from the jalapenos worked so well with the other incredible flavors.  We devoured both loaves just as quickly as they came out the oven and then wished we had several more.
Sausage Bread with Jalapenos from Panaroma Foods, Inc. in Marksville, LA
So while at Jazzfest, you should certainly eat the #1 rated Jazzfest food.  But don't feel like you can't enjoy that amazing crawfish bread at other times of the year!  Just head to Marksville and grab a couple loaves to take home.  I guarantee that the next time you have a dinner party and break one of these things out, your guests will be amazed!

Panaroma Foods on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Isle of Jura 10: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by The Cove

Isle of Jura 10 Year Scotch Whisky
This is the only distillery on the Isle of Jura, which is near Islay.  The nose starts off somewhat faint and discrete with hints of butterscotch and very little peat.  As you taste taste it plays a "switcheroo" as coined by Jeremy, one of our Raise a Glass reviewers, and delivers what Eric from BRBeerScene.com refers to as a "sneaky smoke flavor."  Butterscotch and lemon rind rounded out the flavor profile.  On the finish the smoke became even more present but in a nearly offensive way leading to descriptions such as "exhaust" by myself and "tailpipe" from Jeremy.  Salty and dry qualities came out.  Eric concluded that the Isle of Jura 10 was not impressive, though certainly was drinkable.  James, who enjoyed the butterscotch qualities, gave this Scotch its highest score at 66.

Isle of Jura 10
60.75
Average Score


Whisk(e)y Wednesday is a new blog post series on Bite and Booze presented by The Cove.  Check out The Cove in Baton Rouge, LA to browse their selection of over 200 whiskeys (including bourbons) and 325+ Scotch whiskys.  Whisk(e)y Wednesday is created and rated by the hosts of Raise a Glass.  Scores are marked for Nose, Taste, Finish, and Balance and Complexity using our own propriatary scoring system.  Marks are then added and averaged, leaving us with a final score out of a 100 point scale.  Our scale should be looked at on the full range of 0-100 rather than an academic range where 70 is passing and anything less is failing.  A 50 should be considered a very average whisk(e)y while anything below 10 is absolute horse piss and anything above 90 is rather extraordinary.