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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Samples Welcome: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Calandro's Supermarket

Whisk(e)y!
Well, it almost happened.  After a year and a half of consecutive Whisk(e)y Wednesday posts, I almost let a hump day slip by without a whiskey or whisky review or update. With all of the traveling and filming and everything that I've been doing, I've had a hard time finding opportunities to get together with Eric and Jeremy to taste whisk(e)y, let alone write about it. Fortunately, the Whisk(e)y Wednesday series, which has run consecutively every Wednesday since April 25, 2012, has not been forgotten. I have at least made it to a computer to get a post up, and that's what really counts! Starting next week we should be getting back to regular scoring posts, but for now, let me say this:

Most of the spirits scored on Whisk(e)y Wednesday posts have been a part of the collection of myself, Eric, or Jeremy. However, a fair amount of them have been media samples of sorts. I like the media samples. I don't judge, rate, or score them any differently, but it certainly helps these posts continue. I have bottles and bottles of media samples, whisk(e)y I've purchased to review, and my collection from prior to starting the series. I like watching my whisk(e)y collection grow, so if anybody out there is reading this and wants to see a particular whisk(e)y on Whisk(e)y Wednesday, let me know. If you work for a distillery and want to make sure I taste your whisk(e)y or if you work for a PR company, please let me know if you represent a brand that you'd like to see on a post. I can't keep doing it forever without you!

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!

Jay

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, Irish, and other whisk(e)ys as well as wine and craft beer. This WW feature was scored by Jay DucoteEric Ducote, and Jeremy Spikes. Scores are marked for Nose, Taste, Finish, and Balance and Complexity using our own proprietary 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 26, 2013

Cajun Cook-off Benefiting Thrive Baton Rouge

Thrive Baton Rouge, a charter school for at-risk youth in our community, is holding a Cajun Cook-off fundraiser on Thursday, December 12th. You can find much more information about Thrive at http://thrivebr.org/. Sponsored by Grace and Hebert architects, the Cajun Cook-off will be a culinary battle that you'll have the ability to enjoy. You can purchase tickets online for only $10 right here. Swing by 501 Government St. at lunch time to take part in the festivities and help support Thrive's mission in our community.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ember Grille and Winebar at L'Auberge Lake Charles

Gator Bite with Spiced Bayou Rum
Gator Bite with Spiced Bayou Rum
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit the southwestern Louisiana city of Lake Charles. I've driven through the city countless times before on my to Houston and back from Baton Rouge, but other than a few stops at Darrell's for a Darrell's Special poboy (one of the greatest sandwiches in the world, by the way) and a handful of says at the L'Auberge property, I had never truly experienced the culture of Lake Charles. On the night I arrived with other food and travel writers we were greeted and treated to dinner at the Ember Grille and Winebar at our host hotel of the aforementioned L'Auberge Casino and Resort. The casino-driven destination is a one-stop-shop for a weekend getaway with a gaming floor, golf course, lazy river, spa, and plenty of culinary options. The Ember Steakhouse is the finest of them all and, having eaten there once before, I knew I'd be in for a treat! Upon arrival I met Trey Litel from Louisiana Spirits in nearby Lacassine and got a taste of his Bayou Rum in a refreshing cocktail. The Gator Bite had similar qualities to rum punch but utilized the spiced Bayou Rum to give it an extra Louisiana flair. After getting the night started with the cocktail, I readied myself for the onslaught of food that was about to come.

Foie Gras with Goat Cheese Stuffed French Toast
Foie Gras with Goat Cheese Stuffed French Toast
The barrage began with a round of appetizers that highlight the menu of Ember. We started with an amuse of lobster salad on endive. To the right is seared foie gras with goat cheese stuffed French toast and bourbon maple syrup. The dish seemed like an odd pairing but it worked incredibly well as savory richness met sweet richness to form an uncommon combination of succulence that needs to be experienced. Also present in the small plates round were the lamb lollipops that have been on Ember's menu since it opened as well as butternut squash ravioli stuffed with more foie gras and shaved white truffle on top. Quail and waffles were also presented as a play on the chicken dish but with a rosemary and roasted garlic waffle, micro cilantro, and vanilla syrup. To round out the appetizers we had the dish below, a pecan smoked bacon wrapped shrimp tossed in barbecue sauce with stone ground grits and white cheddar! All of the appetizers were incredible, and most of the table started to feel full after that course, but we had to power through three more courses of gastronomic delight like the pros we are!

Pecan Smoked Bacon Wrapped Shrimp over White Cheddar Stone Ground Grits
Pecan Smoked Bacon Wrapped Shrimp over White Cheddar Stone Ground Grits

A Trio of the House's Most Popular Salads
A Trio of the House's Most Popular Salads
To lighten things up our next course had a trio of the house's most popular salads. Starting on the left we enjoyed the mixed greens with Granny Smith apples and balsamic vinaigrette. Next up came a tuna tartare with avocado and cucumber carpaccio. Finally the Maytag blue cheese wedge with bacon crumbles filled the last spot. All three tasting portions were spot on with flavor profiles and pairings. I'd love to eat more salad courses like this!

After the salad my phone died and I had to put it on a charger for the next couple of courses. Needless to say, I didn't get many more pictures of the meal, but such is life! We had several main courses come out of the kitchen and on to our table. A piece of halibut accompanied by a porcini mushroom, port, and sherry reduction produced a lovely seafood option. I've loved halibut ever since I went fishing in Alaska in 2010! We also had a smoked rabbit loin
stuffed with panchetta over mashed potatoes. It packed a punch of flavor with the smokiness and tenderness of the rabbit. A couple side items came out as well like truffle mac and cheese and grilled asparagus. But the real highlight of the meal was a 40oz prime tomahawk ribeye, partially seen in the picture of me gnawing at the bone below. The gorgeous steak had a succulent flavor with superb marbling as it was cooked to a beautiful medium rare temperature. Thanks to Kerry Anderson at L'Auberge for snapping the photo!

Jay Gnaws on the Tomahawk Ribeye
Jay Gnaws on the Tomahawk Ribeye

Desserts by Chef Bill Foltz
As we moved to dessert I got my phone off the charger and was able to get a few more pictures. "Screw a trio," must have been the thoughts of pastry chef Bill Foltz as he came out with four tastings of signature desserts at L'Auberge. This guy has won serious pastry contests before, so I was pretty excited to eat his desserts which most definitely did not disappoint. On the left is the Key West, a key lime custard whipped cream with pound cake and mango. A little taste of the tropics, I could have eaten much more of that, but alas I just had to move on to the chocolate skillet cake with cream and caramel that sat to the right. Following that dish of gluttony came my favorite of the dessert options because of its originality, a citrus cheese cake mousse with pistachio twill and cherry sauce. The temperatures and textures all played off each other for a tremendous burst of flavor. Finally we had a creme brulee torched on the table.

The entire meal may have put me in a food coma, but all I had to do afterwards was sleep then wake up and eat again all day. I'll have more of that to come because the following day included dining around Lake Charles complete with a horse and carriage ride, a Mardi Gras museum, and much more!

Ember Grille & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Look Back on the Whisk(e)ys of the World Tournament Part 3/3: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Calandro's Supermarket

whiskey colors
We started with a field of 68 whisk(e)ys and whittled that down to a Sweet 16. Soon we had our Final Four for the Whisk(e)ys of the World Tournament... a bourbon, a Scotch, an Irish, and a Welsh. Shown in that order to the right, you'll see the Jefferson's Presidential Select 17 Year Bourbon, Highland Park 15 Year Scotch, Midleton Very Rare Irish Whiskey, and Penderyn Welsh Whisky. You can notice the vast difference in color looking at the whisk(e)ys shown in the picture. The dark amber color of the bourbon is in complete contrast to the chardonnay colored Welsh whisky, but they all tasted good enough to get to the Final Four! The bourbon and the Scotch squared off in our first semi-final in which the Jefferson's Presidential Select 17 Year Bourbon proved victorious by a vote of 2 to 2 with the crowd at Roux Wine and Spirits being the tiebreaker. On the other side of the bracket Midleton Very Rare dominated Penderyn. Highland Park ran away with the third place game showing that really there a top three that Penderyn didn't quite belong in. In the finals the Jefferson's Presidential Select dominated the Midleton Very Rare as well. You can actually listen to all the Final Four matchups right here, right now!



And is it turns out, the Jefferson's Presidential Select 18 Year is on top of the leaderboard right now for Whisk(e)y Wednesday posts, which you can find on the right side of your screen, edging out even the Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year.


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, Irish, and other whisk(e)ys as well as wine and craft beer. This WW feature was scored by Jay DucoteEric Ducote, and Jeremy Spikes. Scores are marked for Nose, Taste, Finish, and Balance and Complexity using our own proprietary 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.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Look Back on the Whisk(e)ys of the World Tournament Part 2/3: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Calandro's Supermarket

Our whisk(e)y tournament had gone from 68 spirits down to the Sweet 16 throughout November and December of 2011. For the full look at how we figured out the field of 68, check out last week's post. My #1 seed, Blanton's bourbon, got knocked out by 16 seed Prichard's Tennessee Whiskey... that's some good stuff! Eric and James each had their #1 seeds make it through the first two rounds so Power's and Highland Park stayed alive. Tullamore Dew, Jeremy's top seed, got eliminated by a different Irish whiskey, Knappogue Castle. We spent two weeks taking this field of 16 down to the Elite 8 then another week of tasting over the airwaves to get to our final four. The 16 whisk(e)y listed below are certainly all worth taking a look at. Some had much tastier roads to get to where they are. James and Chivas in the bottom right bracket eased their way into the Sweet 16 and that match-up really wasn't worthy of being held this far into the tournament. For the most part, the rest of them are all worth putting your liquor shelves. Quite a few of these have been reviewed on other Whisk(e)y Wednesday posts, but not all of them. That will come in time! Next week we'll look back on the Final Four!



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, Irish, and other whisk(e)ys as well as wine and craft beer. This WW feature was scored by Jay DucoteEric Ducote, and Jeremy Spikes. Scores are marked for Nose, Taste, Finish, and Balance and Complexity using our own proprietary 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 12, 2013

Bite and Booze Radio Show: Halloween Pop-Up Recap and Triumph Kitchen

This episode of the Bite and Booze Radio Show aired on Saturday, November 2, 2013. Chef Chris Wadsworth and I recapped the Haunted House Pop-Up at the Stockade Bed & Breakfast and were joined on the phone by Kristen Morrison from Red Six Media who attended the event. We also talked plenty about Triumph Kitchen, their current IndieGoGo fundraising campaign, and the culinary world in general.



The Bite and Booze Radio Show presented by Calandro's Supermarket airs on Saturdays at 5 PM on Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge.  It is also available on iTunes.  The show's sponsors include Calandro's SupermarketVisit Baton RougeSlap Ya Mama Cajun SeasoningMama Della's N.Y. City PizzeriaLouisiana Cookin' MagazineJuban's Restaurant, the Tin Roof Brewing Company, the Louisiana Culinary Institute and Triumph Kitchen.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Louisiana’s Bite and Booze Radio Show Nominated for The Taste Awards

BATON ROUGE, LA – THE TASTE AWARDS have selected the Bite and Booze Radio Show as a nominee in the category of Best Food or Drink Radio Broadcast. The Bite and Booze Radio Show, hosted by Jay Ducote of biteandbooze.com, airs on Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge, La. on Saturdays from 5-6 p.m. The Best Food or Drink Radio Broadcast category is in the People's Choice awards section, which means public votes will decide the fate of the nine finalists. Voting is limited to one ballot per person and is open through December 18, 2013. To see all of the categories and nominees and to cast a ballot, visit http://tastetv.com/awards/vote.html.

“I’m thrilled about being nominated and that my efforts since 2011 to spread the word about the food and beverage culture of Louisiana over the airwaves is now getting recognized,” said Jay Ducote.

The Annual TASTE AWARDS are the original awards for the Lifestyle Entertainment Industry. Also known as the Tasty Awards, they are the premier broadcast awards show celebrating the year's best achievements in Food, Fashion, Home and Lifestyle programs on Television, in Film, Online, on Radio and at Live Interactive Events. The Mission is to recognize and acknowledge outstanding excellence in video, film, mobile and interactive content focused on food, drink, fashion, design, travel and lifestyle.

“The Bite and Booze Radio Show presented by Calandro’s Supermarket has been getting better and better since it hit the airwaves in April of 2011,” Ducote proclaimed. “I really have a lot of fun with it. Each week I get to talk about something different happening in the food world around Louisiana. While the show is based in Baton Rouge and that’s mostly what I cover, I’ve recorded episodes in New Orleans and Lafayette, talked to celebrity chefs from around the country, and celebrated our local food and beverage culture all along the way. I really couldn’t have done it without the support of Guaranty Broadcasting, my producer Chris Courtney, my field producer Charles Pierce, and all of my great sponsors.”



Jay would like to encourage anyone and everyone to copy and paste this tweet or come up with a unique way to spread the word about the nomination and voting:

Congrats to @biteandbooze for being nominated in the @TastyAwards as best food or drink radio broadcast! Vote: http://tastetv.com/awards/vote.html
###

The Bite and Booze Radio Show first aired in April 2011 on Talk 107.3 FM WBRP in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It is also available streaming online and as a podcast on iTunes. On the show, Jay chats with guests from all aspects of the culinary world from farmers markets to gourmet chefs and from craft brewers to other bloggers and authors. Based off of his food and beverage blog by the same name that Jay Ducote started in 2009, the radio show celebrates the food and beverage culture of Louisiana and everywhere Jay travels. To learn more about Bite and Booze and the Bite and Booze Radio Show, visit www.biteandbooze.com. For additional updates from Bite and Booze, follow @biteandbooze on Twitter, watch Bite and Booze videos on http://www.youtube.com/jaydducote and visit http://www.facebook.com/biteandbooze.

THE TASTE AWARDS are holding their 5th annual awards ceremony on January 16, 2014 at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. The Annual Awards have included appearances by stars, celebrities, producers and executives from networks and platforms such as the Food Network, the Style Network, Bravo, the Cooking Channel, TLC, Discovery, Lifetime, E! Entertainment Television, PBS, NBC, ABC, the CW, HGTV, the Travel Channel, HD Net, Hulu, YouTube, Sony Pictures, and more. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Baton Rouge Uncorked returns November 14th

Forum 35 is bringing back Baton Rouge Uncorked, and I'm happier than grapes right before harvest. For those who don't know, Forum 35 is a community of young men and women improving Baton Rouge. While the 35 originally kinda meant that members would be under 35, that idea has shifted and it is more a mentality than an age limit of any kind. They do great things in the community like Art Melt, the Reindeer Run, and much more. Now they're running Uncorked which is a fantastically fun wine event that this year (next week, November 14th) will be held at an amazing Baton Rouge space, the Steele Burden Memorial Orangerie at the LSU Rural Life Museum off of Essen.

The Concept
Young professionals gather to celebrate their affinity for wine, their instinct to support a good cause, and their desire to mix and mingle with like-minded people in a fun, casual social setting. 
 
The Tasting
At each event, different wine varietals are highlighted (this time around it is West Coast Reds). Invitees are encouraged to form teams of up to 3 members and participate in the competition or simply come and enjoy the wine and atmosphere. Each team selects and purchases three identical bottles of its favorite wine to present. Two bottles are bagged, tagged, and offered for blind tasting and scoring. The majority of the third bottles will go into the "pot" to be awarded to the winning team, while some will be grouped together in the silent auction for bidding. At the conclusion of the festivities the scores are tallied, the winners are recognized and awarded the "pot” to split while the lowest scoring wine is returned to its rightful owner to take home. Here it is illustrated:



So sign up now! Get your team of yourself, a couple, or a group of three, and be there!

I'll actually be at Uncorked with Chuck P. from the Me and My Big Mouth Radio Show to record an episode of his show for 96.9 FM WHYR Baton Rouge Community Radio as well as to record an episode of the Bite and Booze Radio Show presented by Calandro's Supermarket on Talk 107.3 FM.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Look Back on the Whisk(e)ys of the World Tournament Part 1/3: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Calandro's Supermarket

About two years ago we began the Whisk(e)ys of the World Tournament on one of my radio shows called Raise a Glass (now you can listen to the Me and Big Mouth Radio Show in that time slot). The concept was pretty simple: four of us would pick our #1 seeds then we would fill in the rest of the ballot by pulling whisk(e)ys out of a hat. We included all the whisk(e)y brands that the four of us had on hand as well as other major brands that we knew we could acquire easily. No bottle exceeded $100 retail, and really only a couple were even close. Most, as you can see looking at the list on the right, were pretty affordable. We actually had 80-90 in the hat, so nothing other than our four #1 seeds were guaranteed a spot. We also put in a play-in game for the 16 seed in each bracket, so in total 68 whisk(e)ys made the field. These included bourbon, American whiskey, Canadian whisky, both blended and single malt Scotch, Irish Whiskey, Japanese Whisky, and even a couple odd balls. For the most part, the #1 seeds were selected based on perceived value and taste. I picked a bourbon, Blanton's, to head my bracket. My brother Eric from the BR Beer Scene picked Highland Park 12, a Scotch, for his. James and Jeremy both selected Irish Whiskeys for their brackets going with the Powers Gold Label and Tullamore Dew, respectively. The #1 seeds were not meant to be our choice for the best whiskey of all time, but rather our pick for a whiskey that might get farther than others, that we had on hand, and that we wanted to guarantee a spot in the field.

So the field was set. We spent the following weeks tasting every whiskey in every bracket and announcing who would move forward and which spirit got sent home. We went from 64 to 32 in a matter of four weeks, then again from 32 to 16 over the following four weeks. Next week on Whisk(e)y Wednesday I'll reveal the sweet 16. Which whisk(e)ys would be your pick?

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, Irish, and other whisk(e)ys as well as wine and craft beer. This WW feature was scored by Jay DucoteEric Ducote, and Jeremy Spikes. Scores are marked for Nose, Taste, Finish, and Balance and Complexity using our own proprietary 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 5, 2013

Bite and Booze Radio Show: From Mason's Grill

This episode of the Bite and Booze Radio Show presented by Calandro's Supermarket aired Saturday, October 26th on Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge. I'm joined at Mason's Grill on Jefferson Highway by Charles Pierce of the Me and My Big Mouth Radio Show, Chef Chris Wadsworth from Triumph Kitchen, and Kristin Alfandre from Mason's. Sit back and listen as we talk about burgers, bloody masons, Triumph Kitchen, and more!




The Bite and Booze Radio Show presented by Calandro's Supermarket airs on Saturdays at 5 PM on Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge.  It is also available on iTunes.  The show's sponsors include Calandro's SupermarketVisit Baton RougeSlap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning, Mama Della's N.Y. City PizzeriaLouisiana Cookin' MagazineJuban's Restaurant, the Tin Roof Brewing Company, the Louisiana Culinary Institute and Triumph Kitchen.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Triumph Kitchen Needs Our Support

If you haven't heard about Triumph Kitchen yet, perhaps it is time that you should. Triumph Kitchen is a new venture from Chef Chris Wadsworth and his wife Sommer. Combining their decades of experience in the culinary and education fields, Triumph Kitchen will serve as an educational venue designed to teach underprivileged and at-risk youth in the Baton Rouge community the skills necessary to secure jobs in the culinary and hospitality industry. This will not only be a game changer for the restaurants and hotels of Baton Rouge, but for the community as whole as the mission is truly to get kids off the street and give them a helping hand up and a means by which to enter the workforce.

The video below can tell you more by showing what Triumph Kitchen is all about than I can with typed word. I chose to show this video, made by video producer Dan Jones and tommysTV, because it has a little more behind the scenes footage as well as shows Dan's efforts to actually make the video. The main Triumph Kitchen video that Dan created begins around the two minute mark. Of course, you can see only that video and learn about how you can help out with Triumph Kitchen by visiting the IndieGoGo campaign at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/triumph-kitchen.

 

Funding for Triumph Kitchen is vital to continue with construction on Third Street in downtown Baton Rouge and to be able to open up to the first class of students in early 2014. Your support is very much appreciated. If you can't make a financial commitment, please consider sharing the link to this post or to the funding campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/triumph-kitchen.

Friday, November 1, 2013

225: Into the Mix Episode 8 - Doe's Eat Place

This wouldn't be a Bite & Booze series if I paid no attention to liquid libations. Yes, I know that's a tad redundant. But seriously, I drank some honey bourbon at Juban's in episode 3 and a beer at Tin Roof in episode 4, but other than that I've been slacking on the booze part. No worries though as I'm now going to Doe's Eat Place to join George Krause behind the bar for a little cocktail lesson. This is the final episode of 225: Into the Mix for season one. We are looking into a second season. Please contact me if you have any interest in sponsoring the series or helping to make it happen! Enjoy your happy hour, folks!


In case you missed them:
225: Into the Mix Episode 1 - Mason's Grill
225: Into the Mix Episode 2 - Magpie Cafe
225: Into the Mix Episode 3 - Juban's Creole Restaurant
225: Into the Mix Episode 4 - Pastime and Tin Roof
225: Into the Mix Episode 5 - Fresh Truck
225: Into the Mix Episode 6 - Into the ReMix
225: Into the Mix Episode 7 - Anthony's Italian Deli

225: Into the Mix is a project from 225 Magazine's Dine NewslettertommysTV, and Bite and Booze. I'd like to especially thank Manda Fine Meats and the Paretti Family of Dealerships for their sponsorship of the series that helped make everything happen.

Hosted by Jay Ducote
Produced by Jay Ducote and Tommy Talley
Director of Photography: Dan Jones
Editor: Josh Carley
Audio: Michael Lane
Graphics by Elbow|Room
Production Assistant: Dustin Davis