Jay D's will be back on store shelves in time for Football Season!

Friday, June 29, 2012

An Intoxicating Visit to Madison, Wisconsin

Those who know me also know that I love to travel.  And when traveling, I'm a huge proponent of exploring cultures through, well, bite and booze of course.  On a recent journey to rural Wisconsin for a great friend's wedding, I had the pleasure of swinging through Madison, Wisconsin with a couple of buddies.  We napped, we ate, we drank.  We saw the town.  And we drank some more.  Then apparently I ate more and still managed to snap some pictures of it!  I impress myself sometimes.  Here were my findings:

Madison Wisconsin Bite and Booze

My first mission when traveling is to drink as the locals do.  Or at least how the locals should.  I explored the craft beers available to me in Wisconsin that I can't get back home in Louisiana.  Beer number one at a place on State Street came from Madison.  The Hopalicious from Ale Asylum carried a very nice hop balance that impressed me.  I followed that up with a Maibock from the Capital Brewery.  I declared it to be "pretty standard, really..."  Name the movie.  Free koozie if you finish the quote.  Leave it in the comments.


At the same bar, where they did have Abita Purple Haze on tap, our trio of Brent, Bret, and myself from Louisiana quizzed the bartender about the merits of the beer.  He passed the test.  Then we told him where we were from and that we didn't want any Purple Haze (nothing against it, it truly is one of the best raspberry beers out there, but I drink local).  I took the liberty of ordering a Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro.  Okay, so I lied.  I failed to drink locally already.  However, the Left Hand Brewing Company is in Longmont, Colorado, and we can can't get it in Louisiana.  So I drank two pints.  And it is a sweet nectar from another land.  Stunning.  Delicious.  I could live on that stuff.  Dear Left Hand, please send me a case!


After we left that bar we continued our walk down State Street from the capitol to the UW campus.  Forever LSU, but the University of Wisconsin certainly attempted to compete in beauty.  I will definitely give them that they win the battle of the lakes.  I wish we could sail on ours.  After a couple more stops on a stroll back down State we landed at a bar called Mondays.  That's where things get hazy.  We drank copious amounts of booze as well as some local shot liqueur that tasted like apple pies.  We met many groups of people, ladies of course, some friends from Louisiana who also made a pit stop in Madison, and the bottom of quite a few pitchers.  On the left above is the Fat Squirrel Ale from New Glarus.  More on them later.  On the right is Sconnie.  They call it their local micro macro brew.  Basically an adjunct lager that is local (though to them I guess Miller is local).  It... was... drinkable.  And the pitchers were $4.  Win.



I stumbled out Mondays and to another bar sometime after midnight.  Mondays got to crowded for me so I left to find a different watering hole.  After one beer I realized that I had a hunger inside of me that could only be cured by the Madison food scene, so I set out to find some late-night snacks.  I came across a couple food carts nearby and went to check them out.  "Fried and Fabulous" read one cart.  I knew that was had my name on it.  I squinted to read the special on the glass in my drunken vision.  Deep fried banana pudding?  How could that be bad?  I somehow managed to talk to the owner for a bit, though I don't recall much of what he said.  I do, however, remember that banana pudding being inventive, fried, and indeed, fabulous.


Maybe I got confused about which order you're supposed to eat in.  Or perhaps intoxication got the best of me as I wandered down the street back towards my hotel.  Regardless, I came across a pizza joint called Ian's and knew I had to devour some pie.  This place has been featured on Bizarre Foods for their unique topping creations, so I stepped inside to see what caught my eye.  Behold: the BBQ Steak and French Fry Pizza.  I asked for a slice from the line.  The staff scooped it up and slid it into an oven to crisp the crust one final time.  I've had steak and potatoes before.  I've had barbecue pizza before.  But this... a whole new level. The crust had a firm, crisp texture while not being brittle.  The fries could have used a little more seasoning, but the sauce and the steak easily made up for it.  I ate my slice and then found my way home to find Brent and Bret already passed out in the room.  My night in Madison had come to an end, and what a glorious gastronomic night it proved to be.


As for the wedding, congrats again to Kevin and Julie!  And one last thing: they love their Spotted Cow from New Glarus in Wisconsin.  There's a local beer with some serious clout.  That stuff got consumed EVERYWHERE.  So I definitely drank my fair share.


Ian's Pizza on State on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Old Scout Bourbon: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by The Cove

Whiskey Wednesday: Old Scout Bourbon from Smooth Ambler
Whisk(e)y Wednesday makes its American whiskey debut with a straight bourbon whiskey out of Smooth Ambler in West Virginia.  That should debunk myth #1 about bourbon only coming from Kentucky.  By law, bourbon does have to be American.  But Kentucky has not rights to it specifically.  They just happen to make a whole lot of it.  The Old Scout from Smooth Ambler is a six year old whiskey from a distillery that has only been around since 2009.  So they clearly got the bourbon from somewhere else, but that's okay, because it is pretty damn good.  The nose presents a caramel sweetness with some honey, vanilla, and citrus.  The taste is strong in the oak department while remaining sweet like a Werther's caramel.  It finishes quickly in a clean get away with little lingering flavors.  "Punch, but quick finishing," says James, our producer on Raise a Glass.

Old Scout Bourbon from Smooth Ambler

73 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, June 25, 2012

Le Creole and Roux Wine Team Up on a Wine Dinner

MenuLe Creole recently teamed up with Roux Wine and Spirits to put on a Romantic Summer Dinner crafted by Chef Ryan Andre.  Fresh off the news of being named as one of the five 2012 Chefs to Watch by Louisiana Cookin' Magazine, Chef Andre picked a great way to show off his skills in the kitchen.  Myrna Arroyo from Roux Wine and Spirits paired each dish with amazing wines that are available in her shop on Airline Highway.  The match quickly proved to be magical with the onslaught of passed hors d'oeuvres and sparkling wine.  Chef's first dishes included a one-bite fried Gulf oyster with micro greens and spicy tuna toast that nearly melted in my mouth.  The Brut wine gave the diners an excellent excuse to toast each other, and it partnered very nicely with the seafood appetizers.Le Creole and Roux Wine put on a romantic wine dinner in Baton Rouge

The friendly wait staff at Le Creole brought out the wild salmon crudo for our first course after being seated in the spacious dining room.  The plentiful slices of wild Atlantic salmon were topped with a salad of arugula, red onion, crispy capers, and white truffle salt.  Though the salad provided a whole meal of food, I can't complain about large portion sizes!  Plus, everything tasted so well balanced and flavored that I couldn't stop tasting... then tasting again.  The raw salmon had an ideal texture and the truffle salt provided just the right amount of flavor to compliment the dish rather than overpower it.

Spicy Tuna BreadFried Oyster at Le Creole

Wine at the Le Creole Wine Dinner
The next course is the one that I smiled about the most when glancing over the menu before the meal.  The "battling rabbits" featured a rabbit liver bruschetta with spicy tomato jam along side a rabbit boudin gallette.  The livers themselves were delicate and delicious, cooked down to a spreadable form over the crusty bread with a spicy tomato jam that could be bottled and sold.  Chef took his house-made rabbit boudin and formed it into patties before coating them in panko bread crumbs and flash frying them.  Add a couple pickled watermelon rind slivers, and we had quite a plate before us.  The gallette provided an excellent contrast of textures between the crunchy exterior and the moist interior.  I applaud the creativity of the dish as a whole, and it lived up to my high hopes.

The "bayou to nest" dish featured tempura battered and fried soft shell crawfish along with a roasted squab with patty pan squash and baby zucchini.  Another dish with plenty to eat, I tried my hardest to take the whole thing down.  Squab is a decent sized pigeon for one person, but I enjoyed the presentation of the entire bird on the plate.  It had a sweet sauce along with it that actually worked quite well.  And the soft shell crawfish were amazingly unique and delightful.

The meal ended with a mousse tuille duo conjured up by Le Creole's pastry chef.  The plate came with a Ponchatoula strawberry mousse along with a dark chocolate-espresso mousse.  The mousse duo dish provided a great way to end the stomach-stuffing meal.  They were light and refreshing enough to still enjoy them despite having very limited gastronomic real estate for them to go.

The dinner as a whole lived up to all expectations.  I'd like to congratulate Chef Ryan Andre and manager Clark Ellis on the phenomenal event hosting and the meal.  Also props to Myrna Arroyo for the wine pairings!  Though not mentioned much here, the wines were all exquisite and wonderfully paired with the cuisine.  I'd be happy to go to any tag-team dinner like this again.  Not to mention, I really enjoy two businesses in the food and drink world coming together to support and promote each other.  Nothing like some good collaboration!  Cheers!

Salmon, Arugula, Red Onions, Capers, Truffle Salt
Salmon, Arugula, Red Onions, Capers, Truffle Salt

Rabbit Liver Bruschetta with Spicy Tomato Jam, Rabbit Boudin Gallette, Pickled Watermelon
Rabbit Liver Bruschetta with Spicy Tomato Jam, Rabbit Boudin Gallette, Pickled Watermelon

Tempura Soft Shell Crawfish, Roasted Squab, Squash, Zucchini
Tempura Soft Shell Crawfish, Roasted Squab, Squash, Zucchini

Chocolate Espresso Mousse, Ponchatoula Strawberry Mousse
Chocolate Espresso Mousse, Ponchatoula Strawberry Mousse

Le Creolé on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 22, 2012

Three Gluttonous Sins Class: Chocolate

Bite and Booze: Three Glutton Sins Class: Chocolate: Double Chocolate Fennel Biscotti Previous courses from the Three Gluttonous Sins Class at Fresina's Pasta Company included Butter and Bacon.  For dessert, chocolate rang in as the third "sin."  I'm definitely a fan of chocolate, and I don't mean that heavily sugared milk chocolate you find in any candy isle.  I'm talking about rich, dark, bitter chocolate.  Still, all cocoa has its purpose.  Wanting to do an Italian dessert for the class, I decided on a twice-baked double chocolate cookie, also known as biscotti.  To give it an interesting twist, I got an idea from fellow Virtual Potluck blogger Theresa to also include just a hint of fennel.  They were most definitely a winner!


Course 3: Double Chocolate Fennel Biscotti
(Adapted from fellow Virtual Potluck Blogger Theresa with Food Hunter's Guide)

2 Cups Unbleached AP Flour
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Ground Fennel (from the Red Stick Spice Company)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 Pound Butter, Softened
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1 Cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips

Double Chocolate Fennel Biscotti
Double Chocolate Fennel Biscotti
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a large baking sheet.

In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, ground fennel seeds, and salt. In an electric mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined.  Add vanilla.  Mix in flour mixture a little at a time.  Stir in chocolate chips.

On the prepared baking sheet with floured hands, form the dough into two slightly flattened logs, approximately 3/4 inch thick.  Bake for about 35 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes.  Cut logs diagonally into slices.  Arrange cut sides down on baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

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

Bite and Booze: Whisk(e)y Wednesday: Deanston 12 Year Scotch Whisky
Deanston, 12 Year, Scotch, Whisky, Scotland
Deanston 12 Year Scotch Whisky
Deanston is a single malt Highland Scotch whisky.  It possesses a soft nutty and caramel nose with a buttery bite.  On taste it reminded Eric and I of a croissant and James added the flavor of a nice smoked cheese.  Slightly salty, the Scotch carried oak flavor and butter tones throughout.  It finished abruptly, though had some lingering tones of citrus-y tartness.   Overall it was nicely balanced, smooth, and easy to drink, though not exceptional.

Deanston 12 Year

69.25 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.

The Cove, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Grilled Jumbo Louisiana Shrimp with Tomatoes

shrimp and tomato skewers, Louisiana seafood, recipe
Our group of Virtual Potluck bloggers has teamed up with Bertolli Olive Oil and their “Let’s Cook Summer Sweepstakes.” The contest is Facebook-based (Facebook.com/Bertolli) and entrants have the chance to win a grand prize trip to LA for cooking lessons with Fabio Viviani (from Bravo’s Top Chef), or $5,000 for a kitchen makeover! Bertolli's new microsite: WhereFlavorComesFrom.com, where you can learn everything about olive oil and get Chef Fabio’s all new summer grilling recipes, is also just a click away!

Each Virtual Potluck blogger got to cook one of Chef Fabio's recipes, so for Father's Day I put together his grilled jumbo shrimp with tomatoes. The Louisiana Seafood Promotions and Marketing Board kindly donated five pounds of gorgeous Louisiana shrimp to help my cause. There's nothing quite like our rich supply of seafood straight from the Gulf!  The dish proved to be simple, quick, and quite delicious.

Here's the recipe! Enjoy.

mixing bowl with ingredients

GRILLED JUMBO SHRIMP WITH TOMATOES


by Chef Fabio Viviani

4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Marinate Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes

1 lb. uncooked jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails on
12 oz. cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsp. Bertolli® Classico Olive Oil
¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl. Season, if desired, with salt and black pepper. Cover and marinate 10 minutes.

Alternately thread shrimp and tomatoes on skewers*. Grill, turning once, 5 minutes or until shrimp turn pink.

*If using wooden skewers, soak in water at least 30 minutes prior to use.

Shrimp and Tomato Skewers

*This is a sponsored post for Bertolli® Olive Oil for the Where Flavor Comes From Summer promotion. I was compensated for promoting their links and recipe. All opinions are my own.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Three Gluttonous Sins Class: Bacon

Bite and Booze: Three Glutton Sins Class: Bacon: Seared Sea Scallops, Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Maple Bacon Relish, Balsamic Reduction
Seared Sea Scallops, Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Maple Bacon Relish, Balsamic Reduction
Seared Sea Scallops, Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Maple Bacon Relish, Balsamic Reduction
As part of the recent cooking class I taught at Fresina's Pasta Company in Baton Rouge, I incorporated bacon into a dish as my second gluttonous food sin.  Bacon is fondly known to me as the candy of all meats.  It can be sweet, smokey, spicy, salty, savory, and more.  It is great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.  It pairs with beer, wine, whiskey, vodka, or anything else.

Had long been conjuring up a dish similar to this with sweet potatoes and seas scallops when I saw a post from fellow Master Chef contestant David Mathie Bersch that included a maple bacon relish over sea scallops with sweet potato gnocchi and a balsamic reduction.  Inspired, I decided to do my own version.  The following recipe is adapted from David's recipe, so I can't take all the credit... or I'm at least willing to share the credit with him!


Course 2: Seared Sea Scallops, Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Maple Bacon Relish, Balsamic Reduction


(Inspired by my fellow MasterChef contestant David Mathie Bersch)

SCALLOPS:

20 U10 Sea Scallops
Bacon Fat Reserved from Relish (below)
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Italian Parsley (or Oregano as pictured above) for Garnish

SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI:

5 Medium Sweet Potatoes
1 Cup Grated Romano Cheese
2 Eggs
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Cup Unbleached AP Flour plus more for Rolling
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

MAPLE BACON RELISH:

8 Strips of Bacon, Chopped
1 Yellow Onion, Finely Diced
1 Red Bell Pepper, Julienned
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, Julienned
2 Serrano Peppers, Stemmed, Seeded, and Diced
8 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 Cup Fresina’s Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Cup Maple Sugar
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

BALSAMIC REDUCTION:

1/3 Cup Fresina’s Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper

Preheat oven to 425.  Wrap sweet potatoes in foil.  Roast for about an hour or until sweet potatoes are fork tender.

Seared Sea Scallops, Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Maple Bacon Relish, Balsamic Reduction
Seared Sea Scallops, Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Maple Bacon Relish, Balsamic Reduction
While potatoes are roasting, place a large sauté pans over medium high heat.  Render the bacon 3/4 of the way cooked.  Remove the bacon from the pan and transfer to a bowl, leaving as much bacon fat in the pan as possible.  Transfer half the bacon fat to another pan and reserve for the scallops.  In the first pan with the other half of the fat, add the onions and fry them until translucent.  Add all the peppers and cook for another 4 or 5 minutes until the peppers soften.  Add the garlic and the reserved bacon back to the pan, cooking for another 2 minutes.  Deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar and reduce.  While reducing, add the maple sugar and season with salt and pepper.  Set the relish aside until needed.

When the sweet potatoes are fork tender, take off the skins and let cool to the touch.  Place the potatoes in a mixing bowl and mash them extremely well.  Fold in the Romano cheese, then season with salt, pepper, and cinnamon.  Add eggs, and then add the flour a little at a time while mixing until it forms nice dough that’s not too sticky but just right.  Roll the dough into a ball.  Cut into quarters.  Dust a board or table with flour and roll the dough into snakes followed by cutting the snakes into one inch pieces.  Make indentions in the gnocchi with the prongs of a fork or roll them on a gnocchi board.

Place balsamic, sugar, and cayenne in small sauce pan over medium heat.  Allow to simmer and reduce by half until it has a syrupy consistency.

Boil the gnocchi for about two to four minutes till they float.  Remove from water.  Re-season with salt pepper. Reheat relish and place the reserved pan with bacon fat over high heat.  Dry scallops, season lightly with salt and pepper, and sear in batches for about two minutes on each side or until a golden brown crust develops on the outside.  Add more reserved bacon fat for additional batches or use canola oil.

Place three scallops on a plate in a triangle.  Add a handful of gnocchi to the middle of the triangle.  Top each scallop with maple bacon relish.  Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the gnocchi and around the scallops.  Garnish with Italian parsley or oregano.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tullamore Dew: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by The Cove

Bite and Booze: Whiskey Wednesday: Tullamore Dew
Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey
Whisk(e)y Wednesday returns to Ireland with Tullamore Dew.  This blended Irish whiskey is very reminiscent of traditional triple distilled Irish hooch.  Pleasant citrus on the nose with hints of pear and apple and just a little heat.  The taste presented a blend of spice and floral tones that were very well balanced.  The whiskey finished wonderfully smooth with an excellent symphony of flavors and enough complexity to bring a smile to your face.  This should be the Irish whiskey to take shots with, or by all means to sip.

Tullamore Dew

81.5 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, June 11, 2012

The Shed: Mississippi BBQ


The Shed in Ocean Springs, MS had been on my list of places to visit for a long time.  This is the original of what is now a five-location barbecue trail from Louisiana to Florida.  Still, I hadn't been to any of them because I wanted the Ocean Springs location to be my first experience.  On the way to Pensacola for a bachelor party, my brother Eric and I worked up a hunger.  I remembered that we ought to wait until Ocean Springs so that we could feast on some swine from The Shed.  Memory served me well.  We arrived at The Shed a little after normal lunch hours, which only meant that we were more ready to tackle a plate of barbecue.  As we drove up I realized that place truly is a joint as opposed to a restaurant.  The smell of smoke filled the air, and my excitement level intensified as I laid eyes on The Shed Barbeque & Blues Joint.



Like I said, The Shed obviously didn't even try to pretend to be a normal restaurant.  With a massive outdoor seating area on the water, gravel floors, and portable toilets, joint may have even been an over-statement.  But this is exactly the kind of character I had been looking for.  Eric and I found our way to the ordering line where I went with a two meat combo - spare ribs and brisket, as well as some beans and macaroni salad.


The ribs, which are always what I'll judge a place by, were outstanding.  Pull-off-the-bone tender, succulently sauced, and well flavored, these ribs were everything I had hoped they would be.  So they passed the test, but I still had more to eat.  I enjoyed the macaroni salad and the beans, but didn't find them to be outrageously amazing.  They certainly weren't inventive or to-die-for.  And overall the side selection seemed a little weak.  As for the brisket... it got saved by the sauce.  Without the sauce I found it to be a little dry and flavorless.  Still, I'd say the trip proved to be a success.  As I said, the spare ribs were right on the money and I couldn't have appreciated the atmosphere of a true BBQ joint any more.  Bravo, Ocean Springs, you have something Baton Rouge doesn't have... yet.

The Shed Barbeque & Blues Joint on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 8, 2012

Three Gluttonous Sins Class: Butter

Fresina's Whole Wheat Elena Piccola Pasta, Mushroom-Oregano Brown Butter Sauce
Since February I've been doing monthly cooking demos at Fresina's Pasta Company in the Drusilla Shopping Center in Baton Rouge.  Fresina's is a family-owned pasta company that makes their Italian specialties from scratch.  You can go check out the great Italian market with more amazing food crammed between the walls that I can imagine.  In the back, between where the pasta is made, Frank and Linda have a little Tuscan-style kitchens where chefs conduct cooking classes and guests get to learn, socialize, and eat!  I'll be there with my brother Eric from BR Beer Scene on June 15th and 16th to do a pizza and beer class, then again July 27th and 28th for some TBD Italian specialties.   To sign up for any classes that I'm teaching or that anybody else is teaching, just stop in Fresina's or give Linda a call at 225-926-1341.

Pinot Grigio with Course 1, Sangiovese with Course 2, Presecco with Course 3

I titled a recent class "Three Gluttonous Sins: Butter, Bacon, and Chocolate."  Each course was also paired with an exceptional Italian wine from International Wine and Spirits. Here is the recipe and result from course one.  The other two will follow in other posts.

Course 1: Fresina's Whole Wheat Elena Piccola Pasta, Mushroom-Oregano Brown Butter Sauce

1/2 Pound (two sticks) of Sweet Cream Butter, Divided
1 Yellow Onion, Finely Diced
8 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 Cup of Fresh Oregano Leaves, Plus More for Garnish
1 Tbsp Veal Demi-Glace
1 Cup Chopped Mushrooms (Mini Portabellas)
Fresina's Whole Wheat Elena Piccola Pasta
Parmesan Reggiano Cheese
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Boil slightly salted water over high heat to prepare for the pasta.

As water is heating, prepare the sauce.  Over medium high heat in a sauce pan, melt 2 Tbsp of butter.  Add the chopped onion and sauté until they start to become translucent.  Add the garlic, oregano, demi-glace, and mushrooms and continue to sauté for a few minutes.  Add the remainder of the butter and melt into the sauce, stirring all the flavors together.  Reduce heat and allow the sauce to simmer, browning the butter slightly.  Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

With water at a rolling boil, add the 8 ounce box of Fresina's Whole Wheat Elena Piccola Pasta.  Stir until the water returns to a rolling boil.  Cook for approximately 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pasta reaches and al dente stage.  Remove the pasta from the water and add it to the sauce pan with the sauce.  Stir it all together and plate.  Add freshly chopped oregano and grated Parmesan cheese.  Bellissimo!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

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

Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Scotch Whisky
The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 year single malt Scotch seemed promising but ultimately left our Raise a Glass group a little disappointed.  While it still scored a somewhat drinkable 62.5, there were clearly some holes in its game.  According to Jeremy, the scotch smelled of "fairy farts."  Rather sweet on the nose, it carried some floral tones with hints of mead.  The taste presented a fist fight of flavors.  The palate emerged conflicted and undefined leading Eric to state that it was disappointing and overrated.  The finish spiked on the back of my tongue and while it had a mild burn, it certainly wasn't offensive.  James concluded that the Balvenie DoubleWood 12 had a promising nose and finish sandwiching sadness.

Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year
62.5
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, June 4, 2012

Margherita Pizza with King Arthur Flour and Red Star Yeast

The latest challenge from Virtual Potluck was to create something amazing using some gifts from King Arthur Flour and Red Star Yeast.  I'm not much of a baker, so I knew I wasn't going to do any crazy breads (though I would like to experiment one day).  Instead I thought I'd make a pizza.  And not just any pizza, but a very simple yet delicious margherita pizza.  In my book, a margherita pizza should basically have three toppings: great tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and chopped basil.  After that, you're risking ruining the simplicity of the dish.  That being said, I thought I'd try something, just because it seemed right.  I also included an optional balsamic reduction with the recipe.  Use it to taste, if at all.  But tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and balsamic does work really well together, so I thought it couldn't hurt!


Basic pizza dough, rolled out for 2 (12-inch) pizzas:
2 1/4 tsp Red Star Active Dry Yeast (1 package)
1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)
2 cups white whole wheat King Arthur flour plus more if necessary
1/2 cup semolina flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Ingredients
Pizza dough from above
1 can (28oz) San Marzano Italian tomatoes, drained of juices, sliced lengthwise several times
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade cut
2/3 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced roughly 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick

Optional: Balsamic Reduction Drizzle

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cayenne pepper
(combine ingredients in a small sauce pan, simmer and stir until reduced by half and you have a syrupy consistency)


In a large bowl, combine yeast with water, olive oil, salt and stir well to proof. After 5 minutes, add half of the flour and mix well to thoroughly incorporate. Add all remaining flour and mix well with your hands. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead dough for at least 5 and up to 7 minutes, adding enough additional flour as necessary to form a smooth and elastic dough. Dough should not be sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled 2 or 3 quart bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, usually at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and if you have one, place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.
Divide dough into 2 portions (for 2 (12-inch) pizzas) and form into balls. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a lightly floured surface, shape as desired and roll out to a thickness of 1/4-inch.

Arrange the slices of tomato around the pizza dough, covering over half of it but leaving space in between each slice.  Place the slices of fresh mozzarella in between the tomato slices.  Bake at 500 degrees F for roughly 12 minutes, waiting for the outside of the crust to turn golden brown and for the cheese to bubble.  Remove from oven.  Sprinkle chopped basil on top of the pizza.  Allow the pizza to cool slightly, slice, and serve.  Drizzle the optional balsamic reduction over the pizza slices to taste.

Yield: 2 (12-inch) pizzas, serves 4

Margherita Pizza with homemade dough using King Arthur Flour and Red Star Yeast

Interested in winning some products from King Arthur Flour and Red Star Yeast??
I'll be giving away all of this to one lucky winner:
From KA flour: a dough whisk, a coupon for a bag of flour in the supermarket, and a special item!
From Red Star: 3 strips of yeast, a bread pan, apron and bread knife.

Want to win?  Make sure to like both King Arthur Flour on Facebook or Twitter as well as Red Star Yeast on Facebook or Twitter.  Then leave a comment about something you learn from visiting each company's website.  Bonus points if you learn something about the social responsibility of each company!

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Bite and Booze Radio Show is Going Strong!

Londoner Luke, Natalie Ducote, and Myself
The Bite and Booze Radio Show presented by Calandro's Supermarket has been going strong for well over a year now.  The first episode aired April 23, 2011, right after the launch of the all-talk FM radio station from Guaranty Broadcasting: Talk 107.3 FM.  With a year and a month under my belt now, I thought I'd give a little update just to make sure everyone knows the multiple ways you can tune in!  Of course, the first way is to catch it when the show airs from 5-6 PM on Saturdays.  You can also steam it at that time on the Talk 107.3 website or using the Tune-In Radio app.

The show is available as an iTunes podcast.  Follow that link or search "Bite and Booze" on iTunes and subscribe!  Having more subscriptions really helps me out, plus you'll easily be able to listen on your computer, phone, tablet, or anything else that works for you!


The below player is embedded into the Bite and Booze Radio Show page as well as on the Bite and Booze Facebook Page under the radio show tab.  You can access it from your computer any time and listen to all the archived shows.  As a special treat, below you can listen to this week's show before it actually airs!


I've also added a co-host to the show.  Natalie Ducote (not related) has joined me for the past couple months and has done a great job with the show.  Natalie is helping me out with other Bite and Booze things as well, so don't be surprised to meet her or hear from her soon!

The Bite and Booze.com Radio Show presented by Calandro's Supermarket features original, local content about food and beverages in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, New Orleans, and everywhere I may happen to want to talk about. I'll regularly inform you about culinary events and festivals, interview local chefs, talk to representatives from food based charities and non-profit organizations, chat about my favorite places to eat and drink around town, and much, much more. Please join in on the fun by listening, sending me topics to talk about, let me know your thoughts about bite and booze, or be my guest in studio or over the phone!

The Bite and Booze.com Radio Show presented by Calandro's Supermarket: Radio Fit for Human Consumption!

Thanks to my fine sponsors:







The show is looking for more advertisers and sponsors. If you are interested or know anybody who might be, I'd be happy to send over a sponsorship packet with more details. Just let me know what I can do!  You can always reach me at jay@biteandbooze.com.