Get your tickets now for A Taste of Downtown on April 30th!

Join me at Mary Bird Perkins' The Taste

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Glen Thunder: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Calandro's Supermarket

Glen Thunder Corn Whiskey
Glen Thunder Corn Whiskey pays homage to the stock car racers that were born from bootlegging moonshine.  Finger Lakes Distilling in New York is near Watkins Glen International, a road course speedway that hosts NASCAR races to this day.  Glen Thunder is an appropriate name for the white lightning from the area.  The nose of the un-aged whiskey is like a sack of corn set aflame.  Its taste is that of aggressive alcohol as the 90 proof whiskey lets you know of its presence.  Unrefined, this jet-fuel could power an engine as easily as it could get you drunk.  Still, the taste is rough, but not repulsive.  While the Glen Thunder is certainly best consumed in mixed beverage, you can take a sip to know distilled corn tastes like.  The creamed corn flavor fades quickly and burns on the end.  It is not complex, and not really balanced in any way, but I'm still very happy to have a bottle on my shelf!  Plus, for a white whiskey, Glen Thunder ain't bad.

Glen Thunder White Whiskey

48.5 Average Score


Whisk(e)y Wednesday is a blog post series on Bite and Booze sponsored by Calandro's Supermarket. Calandro's has one of Baton Rouge's best selections of bourbon, Scotch, and other whisk(e)ys as well as wine and craft beer. WW 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 20 is absolute horse piss and anything above 90 is rather extraordinary.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Brash Brewing/Clown Shoes Beer Dinner at Juban's

Brash Brewing and Clown Shoes Brewing Beer Dinner at Juban's
Please pardon the quality of these photos due to lack of lighting, but I think you'll see that you still wish you were at this beer dinner.  Last month, Juban's Chef Jaime Hernandez put together a beer dinner with daring beers from Clown Shoes and the Brash Brewing Company.  A beer dinner with brews as bold and adventurous as this has not been done in Baton Rouge, to the best of my knowledge... and I would know... or this.  There were a couple beers that I had never tried before, like a sneak peak at the Texas Exile, a bourbon barrel aged brown sugar porter with coffee.  These breweries have good stories like this one told by Todd Price.  And more importantly, they have good beer!

 Belle Ecorce Farms chevre tempura, banana jam, dark chocolate
Chef Jaime started us off with an assorted charcuterie board as well as the above bad boys.  Local goat cheese fried in a tempura batter with banana jam and dark chocolate, inspired by the The Bullocks Imperial India Pale Ale.  With hint of banana and clove in the beer as well as rich dark fruit, the little ball on a stick paired very nicely.

Orecchiette Puttanesca: Fresh pacific sardines, marinated olives, fresh jarred tomato sauce
The sardines were served with the Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp, and Belgian Indian Pale Ale with and odd combination of yeasty and hoppy flavors.  The sardines themselves were fried to a delicate crisp and partnered with mouth-watering pasta and tomato sauce.

Roasted Bone Marrow: Honey bourbon brine, market pepper chow chow, crostini
Our third course featured roasted marrow straight from a bone.  It had been brined in Juban's signature honey bourbon and served with chow chow and some crostinis.  The fattiness of the marrow led to a succulent flavor that was cut by the bitterness from the Item 9 American wheat beer from Brash with an astonishing 80 IBUs.  The dish and beer were downright delectable. 

Pork Tamale: Braised Iverstine farms pork shanks, pecan mole sauce, wrapped in fresh banana leaves
With the Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero Mexican chocolate stout came Chef Hernandez's take on an authentic Mexican inspired dish.  Using local pork from Iverstine Family Farms in Kentwood, Chef created a banana leaf wrapped tamale with pecan mole.  The nutty and chocolate-y sauce partnered with the pork and made a dish packed with different flavors.

Fromage et Saucisson: Sharp white cheddar and pimento mousse, rabbit boudin blanc, satsuma marmalade
The cheese course, served with spectacular rabbit boudin, also came with the Clown Shoes Clementine 1.5 Double White Ale.  The cheese mousse had a sensational flavor and worked incredibly well with the boudin.  The addition of the satsuma marmalade tied the dish together with the citrus-y white ale.  Well done, Chef.

Red Velvet Cake: Nanette Mayhall's famous cake, cream cheese icing, toasted pecans
The dinner wrapped up with the most anticipated beer of the evening: Flight of the Pimp.  This beer features a combination of Pimp, a blending of Clown Shoes and Brash Brewing's brown ales, and bourbon barrel aged Blaecorn Unidragon, a Russian Imperial Stout from Clown Shoes.  The beer... amazing.  I need another.  And the red velvet cake didn't disappoint either.  I kept eating, devouring the chocolate and cream cheese flavors, and matching it against the ultra complex Flight of the Pimp.  Needless to say, everyone went home happy!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black (and Gold) Friday

1) Shop local today.  You can start by grabbing your ticket to The Truck, the Brewer, and the Blogger II: a pop-up beer dinner at the Tin Roof Brewery in Baton Rouge.  The menu and tickets are available here: http://tbbii.eventbrite.com.  The dinner, on November 29th, supports your local food blogger, local food truck, and local brewery.  It doesn't get better than that!

2) Geaux Tigers!

3) Who Dat?!  The Saints play on Sunday and a perfect way to celebrate the occasion any day of the week is with the Saints inspired cocktail at Whiskey Blue at the base of the W Hotel on Poydras in New Orleans.  The cocktail mixes a delicious anejo (old, or aged) tequila with sambuca to create a color contrast that's kinda black and gold (or Purple and Gold if you want to go today to cheer on the Tigers!).  The bartenders add a few gold flakes to the top just to class up the cocktail even more.  I really enjoyed the beverage when I got to try it earlier this football season.  You wouldn't think tequila and sambuca could be so delicious, but it works!

4) Did I mention to shop local on Black Friday?  Avoid the chains and big box stores.  Support your neighbors!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

McKenzie Rye Whiskey: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Calandro's Supermarket

McKenzie Rye Whiskey
McKenzie Rye Whiskey comes from the previously mentioned Finger Lakes Distilling in New York.  With a slightly spicy nose, this whiskey let us know that is distinctly not a bourbon.  With a heavy rye presence in the grain bill, the McKenzie definitely picks up the cinnamon flavors, kinda like Big Red chewing gum, that comes with it.  The taste is earthy with a little warmth from subtle spice.  Jeremy reminisced about a weird salad.  I found it to be rather easy drinking for a rye, especially tasting it straight.  It finishes smoothly, going down easy for a 91 proof spirit.  Eric was really impressed with the finish.  Overall we thought found McKenzie Rye Whiskey rather intriguing and enjoyable.  It could perhaps have used a little more rye spiciness, but it certainly had some good characteristics and I'd gladly use it in any cocktail calling for a rye!

McKenzie Rye Whiskey

65.75 Average Score


Whisk(e)y Wednesday is a blog post series on Bite and Booze sponsored by Calandro's Supermarket. Calandro's has one of Baton Rouge's best selections of bourbon, Scotch, and other whisk(e)ys as well as wine and craft beer. WW 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 20 is absolute horse piss and anything above 90 is rather extraordinary.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Virtual Potluck, OXO, and Bite and Booze present Cruzan Rum and Cane Syrup Brined Turkey Wings with Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce

Cruzan Rum and Cane Syrup Brined Turkey Wings
OXO recently sent me a gift pack with all sorts of amazing goodies for a Virtual Potluck Thanksgiving.  There were silicon pot holders with magnets, poultry shears, a turkey baster, a fat separator, an adjustable potato ricer, a digital thermometer, and a silicone basting brush.  Happy holidays, indeed.  So the challenge was to cook up something for Thanksgiving using a handful of the products.  Since chicken wings wouldn't be all that "Thanksgiving" of me, and since I recently re-established my love of turkey legs at the State Fair, I thought that perhaps some Sasquatch sized turkey wings could hit the spot!  I started them off in an overnight brine of Cruzan aged rum and Steen's cane syrup.





Removing Turkey Wings from Oven with OXO Silicone Pot Holders

Brine:
1 Cup Cruzan Rum
1 Cup Steen's Cane Syrup
2 Tbs Salt
2 Tbs Black Peppercorns
Water to Cover

Mix together rum, syrup, salt, and peppercorns.  Our over turkey wings in a container to brine overnight.  Add water to cover the wings, shake to mix everything together, and refrigerate over night.







The OXO Digital Thermometer
After the brine, I dried the turkey legs off and placed them in a large pan.  I rubbed the outside with my own Jay D's Blazin' BBQ Rub, then put them in the oven at 350F for an hour.

Jay D's Blazin' BBQ Rub:
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Black Pepper
1 Cup Smoked Paprika
1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
1/2 Cup Chile Powder
1/4 Cup Garlic Powder
1/4 Cup Onion Powder
2 Tbs Cayenne

Whisk all ingredients together in a mixing bowl.  Store extra in a spice jar or shaker of some sort.

OXO Basting Brush is Perfect for BBQ Sauce!
 After an hour in the oven, I used the OXO digital thermometer to ensure I had reached at least 165F inside the turkey wing.  That's the "cooked throughout" temperature for chicken and turkey, in case you were wondering.  I flipped the turkey wings over to get to the under side.  Using the OXO silicon basting brush, I slathered a generous portion of Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce on the wings (you don't get that recipe!).  I put them back in the oven for 10 minutes, then flipped them over, gave the other side a fresh coating of sauce, and returned them to the oven for another 20 minutes.  After that, I feasted on my rum and cane syrup brined turkey wings with Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce!  Tasty!

Cruzan Rum and Cane Syrup Brined Turkey Wings with Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce

But wait... there's more!

Do you want some OXO goodies of your own in time for Christmas?  I've got some to give away!  Here's how you enter:


1) Share this post on your Facebook wall tagging Jay D's Bite and Booze Blog for one entry
2) Share this post on Twitter tagging @biteandbooze for a second entry
3) Leave a comment on this post for third entry giving me another boozy brine idea besides cane syrup and rum

All entries will be tallied and I'll use random.org to pick the winner!  One lucky person will receive the exact same gift bundle from OXO that I did, which means silicon pot holders with magnets, poultry shears, a turkey baster, a fat separator, an adjustable potato ricer, a digital thermometer, and a silicone basting brush! I'll keep taking entries through Cyber Monday!

Also, make sure to like OXO on their Facebook Page and follow them on Twitter too!

Cheers!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Baton Rouge Chef Scott Varnedoe to Cook the Thanksgiving Meal at the James Beard House in NYC

Myself and Chef Scott Varnedoe after judging Jambalaya
Chef Scott Varnedoe got his call to cook in the James Beard House for the first time in May, 2010. To him, the Beard awards are the pinnacle of the culinary world. While cooking in the house is not quite the same as winning one of the top awards, it still holds some exceptional prestige. “Not to sound like a sissy, but there were tears involved. It just doesn't get any better than that.” No, it sure doesn't.  The James Beard Foundation’s mission is to celebrate, nurture, and preserve America’s diverse culinary heritage and future. James Beard himself authored cookbooks and taught culinary arts to the point where he is recognized as an early champion of American cuisine. The historic James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village regularly gets used as a performance space for visiting chefs, like Varnedoe as well as the likes of Julia Child, Wolfgang Puck, and many more before him. Upon getting that first call to cook at the exclusive house, all Scott could think about was “What am I going to do that chefs from around the world haven’t done there before?” Fortunately, all he had to do was follow his roots. His “Upscale Downsouth” motto carried him through his “Antebellum” themed dinner, and he got a second invite in 2011. This year, Chef Varnedoe received an invitation to cook the Thanksgiving Dinner at the James Beard House. He gladly accepted.

Duck Duo by Chef Scott Varnedoe at Stroubes in downtown Baton Rouge


FOR MORE ABOUT CHEF SCOTT VARNEDOE, KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED FOR A PROFILE I WROTE ON HIM IN 225 MAGAZINE!

As for this year's Turkey Day menu, behold this culinary porn in text form:


Here I am at the James Beard House in NYC

MENU

  • Hors d'Oeuvre
  • Pecan-Crusted Turkey Nuggets with Applewood-Smoked Bacon and Roasted Jalapeño–Peach Preserves
    • Duck, Turkey, and Foie Gras Meatballs with Sweet-and-Spicy Pumpkin Beer Glaze
    • Char-Broiled Louisiana Oysters with Garlic, Lemon, and Pernod Butter; Smoked Duck Crackling–Parmesan French Bread Crumbs; and Bacon, Onion, and Fennel Jam
    • Collard–Cochon de Lait Arancini with Duck Fat–Braised Pork Belly, Creole Mustard–Bacon Demi-Glace, and Tasso Ham–Cranberry Preserves
  • Dinner
  • Roasted Butternut Squash–Louisiana Jumbo Lump Crab Cappuccino with Red and Green Chili Oil, Allspice Whipped Cream, and Toasted Chestnut Dust
    • Smoked Ash–Crusted Lamb T-bone with Papa Tom's Gouda Grits, Roasted Vidalia Onions, Garlic–Mint Lamb Jus, and Candied Tomato Gel
    • Fried and Compressed Sous-Vide Turkey Breast and Thigh with Oyster, Andouille Sausage, and Sage Cornbread Soufflé; Brown Butter–Roasted Brussels Sprouts; Duck Fat Snow; Foie Gras–Giblet Gravy Broth; and Cranberry Foam
    • Smoked Steen's Cane Syrup and Abita Root Beer–Cured Louisiana Duck Ham with Brown Sugar, Pecan, and Sweet Potato Soufflé; Brûléed Housemade Marshmallows; Clove, Brown Butter, and Toasted Pecan Crumble; Orange Gastrique; and Bacon-Sautéed Kale
    • Individual Apple–Pecan Pies with Buttermilk–Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Calvados Caramel, and Dehydrated Apple Baklava Stick

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Truck, the Brewer, and the Blogger II: Louisiana Re-Imagined

On Thursday, November 29, 2012, there will be a feast that you don't want to miss.  I'll be teaming up with the Taco de Paco food truck chef Aaron Brown, the Tin Roof Brewing Company, and Cupcake Genius Christina Stephens to put on the second-ever pop-up beer dinner at the Tin Roof Brewery!  With support from Calandro's Supermarket, Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning, and Event Rental, we'll actually turn the brewery into a temporary, one-night-only restaurant with a five-course menu and special craft beer pairings. 

To see pictures from our first pop-up beer dinner back in May, check out this photo album on Facebook.

And to sign up for this year's dinner, please use our Eventbrite page.

Here's the menu for your viewing pleasure.  Each course is a Louisiana classic that has been transformed into an original way to enjoy the same classic flavors!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

McKenzie Pure Pot Still: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Calandro's Supermarket

The McKenzie Pure Pot Still Whiskey is made in the Irish style by Finger Lakes Distilling in New York.  The nose produced a clean aroma with a little honeysuckle and slight floral tones.  It also had hints of birdseed, boiled cabbage, and open meadows.  The taste presented a crisp flavor of grains and grass.  Eric suggested that it tasted like a horse barn minus the manure.  I guess that's a good thing.  The finish of the pure pot still whiskey blossomed smoothly and remained easy to drink throughout.  Overall it seemed a bit muted, lacking complexity and true depth of flavor.  Knowing that Finger Lakes Distillery hasn't been operational for all that long, I would imagine that this whiskey will only get better with time.  A little more aging could work wonders to add much needed complexity and variety of flavors to this whiskey with strong potential.

McKenzie Pure Pot Still Whiskey

63.5 Average Score


Whisk(e)y Wednesday is a blog post series on Bite and Booze sponsored by Calandro's Supermarket. Calandro's has one of Baton Rouge's best selections of bourbon, Scotch, and other whisk(e)ys as well as wine and craft beer. WW 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 20 is absolute horse piss and anything above 90 is rather extraordinary.


Monday, November 12, 2012

A Tin Roof BREW Kind of Week

There are two big events on my radar this week, so I wanted to put them on your radar as well.  First, this week is Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week (BREW).  To go along with that, there's a big food truck event going on at the North Boulevard Town Square on Wednesday from 11-1.  Come eat lunch downtown from all the food trucks while they compete to see which one can use the new Tony Chachere's Sandwich Sauces the most creatively and effectively.  Also as part of BREW, I'll be at the SeNSE Pitch Night on Thursday to cheer on The Outdoor Shopper, a show that brings televised shopping to the outdoors... and that I'm the host!  You can find the all the BREW events on their website: celebrateBREW.com.

On Friday, Baton Rouge's own Tin Roof Brewing Company celebrate's their 2nd Anniversary in style with food trucks, live music, and much more.  The entire party will benefit Cancer Services.  The event lasts from 5-8, so join me in an evening of eating and drinking like a local!


Friday, November 9, 2012

Meanwhile, Back at Cafe du Monde...

The hit food monologue show that I've been proud to be a part of as a headline and emcee has now been transformed a coffee table book filled with stories from all walks of life.  Everyone has a story related to food, and the Meanwhile, Back at Cafe du Monde... coffee table book is filled with 67 stories by everyone from chefs to college students and from politicians to journalists.

My good friend Peggy Sweeney-McDonald created the show and edited the book which is now out from Pelican Publishing.  I actually have a FOUR PAGE spread in the book (starting on page 66, if you're counting)!  My story gives a brief history of my love for food, some memorable experiences from LSU Tailgating, and the birth of Bite and Booze.  The book is a great gift for the holidays, a wonderful collectors item for a coffee table, and a spectacular tribute to Louisiana's culture as it relates to food and life.  Amen to that!

Jay sign's a copy of Meanwhile, Back at Cafe du Monde...
The book has already gotten some very impressive praise from some big timers in the Culinary world!

"Good people, good food, good stories. This book is Louisiana!" —Jeffrey Marx, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Season of Life

“Tasty and amazing stories about our favorite subject, FOOD!” –- Emeril & Alden Lagasse

“Peggy draws attention not only to our food but also to the people who make it part of the character of Louisiana.” --Chef John Besh, author of My New Orleans and My Family Table, co-author of The New
Orleans Program

“…Our experience with food – preparation, consumption and a focal point of our social interaction – are unique, memorable and, now, even the subject of monologues that are funny, poignant and quite revealing about the psyche of Louisianans.” —Jay Dardenne, Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana

“I'm laughing, I'm hungry, I'm happy - when is the next edition?” —Lally Brennan co-proprietor of Commander's Palace and co-author of In The Land of Cocktails

“Inspiring, funny, entertaining stories of food, relationships, and life… A must-enjoy for readers
everywhere…” —Susan Irby “The Bikini Chef” and host of “Wine Dine and Workout” PBS

“…our oral and culinary traditions walk hand-in-hand. It is a Sunday potluck supper in book form. The beauty of Meanwhile, Back At Café DuMonde is that it captures that magic.” —Chef Stuart Reb Donald 2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Nominee

“…Page after page of so many wonderful experiences and recipes…I’m already salivating!" — Doreen Fang, Chef/Host, Dining with Doreen and Resident Chef of the Vegas Morning Blend

“What a charming book of food stories and history! I’m inspired to get in the kitchen or at least head to Café du Monde for a cup of coffee and plate of beignets.” – Erin Z. Bass, Publisher, Deep South Magazine


Jay and Peggy celebrate the release of Meanwhile, Back at Cafe du Monde...

Want a copy of the book?  You can order it on Amazon!! 


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Finger Lakes Distilling: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Calandro's Supermarket

Jay poses outside the Finger Lakes Distillery
For the first time, Whisk(e)y Wednesday features a distillery instead of a single whisk(e)y review.  Don't worry, the actual whiskey from Finger Lakes Distilling will come in subsequent posts, but for now, I wanted to give a little shout out to Brian McKenzie and the Finger Lakes Distillery.  I had the chance to visit his fine establishment recently.  It was my first time New York's wine country, and finding the distillery certainly made me happy after two days of Reislings.  Brian's distillery puts out vodka, gin, liqueurs, grappa, brandy, and of course, whiskey.  I got a sampling of all of it, but the whiskey certainly interested me the most.  Finger Lakes had a white whiskey, pure pot still whiskey, bourbon, and rye.  Again, each will get their own separate Whisk(e)y Wednesday review, so I won't go into further detail.


The beautiful distillery sits on the hills overlook Seneca Lake.  Just a little ways from Watkins Glen and the speedway there, the Glen Thunder White Whiskey pays tribute to the bootleggers who gave birth to stock car auto racing in America.  The gin and some of the fruit liqueurs I also found to be especially interesting.  The scenery all around the distillery is fantastic, especially when copper stills and oak barrels highlight your view!  This is definitely an artisan distillery to check out if you're ever in the Finger Lakes area of New York.  Amid all the vineyards and wineries, your palate will appreciate a little whiskey break!


Whisk(e)y Wednesday is a blog post series on Bite and Booze sponsored by Calandro's Supermarket. Calandro's has one of Baton Rouge's best selections of bourbon, Scotch, and other whisk(e)ys as well as wine and craft beer. WW 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 20 is absolute horse piss and anything above 90 is rather extraordinary.

Monday, November 5, 2012

State Fair... Fare: Turkey Legs and Red Velvet Funnel Cakes


Sometimes a food writer and radio host just needs to get down on some grub at a fair.  The Greater Baton Rouge State Fair recently passed, and I had the opportunity to visit the festivities in order to taste a few deep-fried delicacies.  J.H. Martin, the Foundation Chairman for the Fair, invited me out personally to try a new addition to the culinary lineup: the Red Velvet Funnel Cake.

Jay eating a turkey leg
 Before I could go for the funnel cake, however, a giant turkey leg caught my eye.  In high school I helped cook and sell turkey legs for a fundraiser at our annual County Fair, so seeing a giant leg of smoked poultry made me long for those days.  I had to have one.  I grabbed the leg using its natural "handle" and sunk my teeth into its deliciously moist and tender flesh.  Memories flourished in my mind as I drifted back to my childhood.  I took another bite and another.  Damn, I love a turkey leg!  I devoured the entire thing... and it looked something like this:

Disney's Sir Kay from The Sword in the Stone eating a (gigantic) chicken leg


Then I got to the Red Velvet Funnel Cake.  The delicate red batter drizzled lusciously into the pool of hot oil.    There it fried, floating on the surface until cooked through but still tender.  A cream cheese frosting then melted over the funnel cake to create this genius dessert.  Well, almost.  Ultimately it ended up being a little soft and soggy.  While very tasty, the textures weren't quite what I was hoping for.  Maybe it needed to be fried a little longer to hold up to the wet frosting instead of the traditional powdered sugar.  Regardless of any flaws, the red velvet funnel cake definitely is worthy of trying.  We scarfed down the entire cake and could have eaten more.  Still, next time I'm in the mood for a funnel cake, I think I'll go for the original.

And thanks to Noel Marcantel Photography for snapping and sharing a couple pictures!