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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mount Gay Rum Dinner at 18 Steak

L'Auberge continues its emergence onto the culinary scene of Baton Rouge in a big way.  A little over a month ago I attended Saint Arnold Beer Dinner at the Stadium Bar and Grill, and just a week ago I got to check out a Mount Gay Rum Dinner at 18 Steak.  I've been to wine, beer, bourbon, and even tequila dinners before, but never rum!

Mount Gay Rum out of Barbados creates some stellar spirits.  This is one of those rum distilleries to look out for if you want a truly exceptional rum and not cheap crap like Bacardi or Captain.  There, I said it.  Rum can actually be quite tasty as a sipping beverage, something I found out at Tales of the Cocktail a couple years ago at a seminar titled "Six rums you'll never drink again in your life."  Those were some damn good rums.

Mount Gay has some damn good rums as well, as fortunately for me, they brought several of them along to the dinner.  Michele and I joined a table with a few members of the L'Auberge staff including Sally who helped out with some of these pictures, and Aimee Abernathy from Louisiana Cookin' Magazine.  For our first course, Chef Troy Deano presented a Flying Fish Ceviche with meyer lemon, sambal, and franklin cane sugar.  The ceviche might have been the best thing I tasted all night, and I don't mean that as a slight to everything else.  It had a sweet flavor and amazing texture while not being overly acidic. I could have eaten an entire bowl and been happy.  The Mount Gay Silver accompanied the ceviche in a rum cocktail with mint, sort of like a play on a mojito.  

Hog Head Cheese, Black-eyed Pea Salad, Coconut, Heirloom Carrot Vinaigrette
Course number two served as the salad course.  That's my kind of salad!  The visually stunning plate came highlighted with hog head cheese and black eyed peas.  The combo worked extremely well together, though overall the dish may have been just slightly on the bland side.  I really felt like a little salt could have helped bring all the flavors together.  The fried okra and coconut added a nice crunch to the dish to give it some texture contrast.  We were served a play on a Manhattan with the Mount Gay Eclipse aged rum instead of bourbon.  Stiff would be an understatement, but I still drank it, because that's what I do!

Michele and Jay
Michele and I enjoyed our rum and dinner so far, but we knew that even more deliciousness awaited us at 18 Steak.  Our next plate had Crusted Mahi with a creative long-noodle macaroni and cheese, an heirloom tomato sauce, and a leaf of fried oregano.  The macaroni noodles were intriguing though delicately plated and I could have definitely gone for more!  The panko crusted mahi fulfilled its duty.  The meaty fish still contained plenty of moisture on the inside. I would have liked a little more of the tomato gazpacho to work as a sauce.  Our excellent servers brought out the Mount Gay Black Barrel rum both straight and in a cocktail that played off the negroni.  The course overall worked quite nicely.  The fish and macaroni and tomato had a very comforting feel while still being refined, and it paired with the rum and cocktail very well.

Rum, Rum, and more Rum
Three Lil Pigs
The fourth course featured a lot of swine.  Chef Troy actually brought in a whole locally raised hog from  Chappapeela Farms, butchered it, and crafted the menu based on meat from that one pig.  On the plate we had a drunken pork sausage, a pork tenderloin cooked in beer, and piece of braised pork belly along with a roasted sweet potato.  The sausage had a delightfully rich spice profile that worked well with the Caribbean notes from the Mount Gay Extra Old rum it came paired with.  Once again we got to try the rum straight and in a Dark and Stormy inspired cocktail with ginger beer, mint, and simple syrup.  The pork tenderloin may have been the highlight of the plate.  The tenderness that Chef Deano achieved showed skill and patience.  The Three Lil Pigs proved to be a hit with everyone at the table.  If you love pork, and why wouldn't you, then this dish would have been for you!

Caribbean Nights with the Mount Gay 1703
18 Steak at L'Auberge capped the evening off with a delicious dessert and the rarest of the rums.  For the dessert, L'Auberge's Pastry Chef Arlety Estévez utilized coconut pudding, exotic fruit compote with pineapples and more, and mango sorbet.  The dessert as a whole impressed me.  Each layer of flavors complimented the next.  The mango sorbet wound up being my favorite aspect of it.  With very faint hints of chili, the sorbet stood out as unique, playful, and a great addition to the arrangement of fruity flavors.  As for the rum, there was no need to fix a cocktail with this nectar.  The 1703 rum is complex with flavors of vanilla, caramel, and some fruitiness.  The rums that go into the 1703 have been barrel aged between 15 and 30 years to create a refined rum that is meant to be sipped and enjoyed.  So I did.  Every last drop.  A great cap to a wonderful dinner.  Next time you see a dinner like this at L'Auberge, make your reservations!

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