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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Baton Rouge's 10 Best New Bars and Restaurants of 2013

Last year I released my top twelve new bars and restaurants to hit Baton Rouge in 2012. This year I'm at it again, although I don't want to keep climbing, so I'm actually narrowing down the competition to the top ten. I recruited the help of some wise people to come up with the list, but in the end I'll take full responsibility for it. I'm sure there might be some omissions, so if your favorite new bar or restaurant didn't make the cut, feel free to tell me about it in the comments. Before you do that though, make sure it opened its doors in 2013 and make sure it isn't a national chain. I obviously didn't include those!

My sounding board on this list included:

Cherry the Dive Bar Girl
Brian Haldane, Talk 107.3 FM
Eric Ducote, BRBeerScene.com
James Fox-Smith, Country Roads Magazine

10) The Big Squeezy - This place is so new that it almost didn't make the list... but I also didn't want to leave it off and then not have it be qualified for next year, so here it is. The Perkins Road Overpass area got a trendy new juice bar at the tail end of 2013, and so far the perception is very good. The colorful assortment of raw, cold pressed juices have been a hit.

9) Galatoire's Bistro - No, Galatoire's is not original to Baton Rouge. Heck, the new spot isn't even the first Galatoire's in Baton Rouge. But it is new. And it certainly is not a national chain, so it counts. In the brand new shopping center at Acadian and Perkins a beautiful fine dining restaurant beckons with temptations of old New Orleans. No, looking out onto Perkins or the Trader Joe's parking lot will never be like Tennessee Williams looking out onto Bourbon, but it still gets its respects.

8) Red Star - Another one that could be argued isn't new, I again disagree. Red Star was shut down, sold to new owners, and reopened in 2013. With new ownership and a bar that did indeed open this year, I think it belongs on the list. Red Star is a unique bar in downtown that comes with different patrons than most of the other bars. That's important when you want to have a thriving nightlife. Not all the bars can be the same, or you only end up with the same type of people. Look at Tigerland. Downtown needs to embrace as many different types of people as possible to create a true metropolitan culture that supports as many diverse professions and lifestyles as possible. So I'm glad Red Star is back, and I'm happy to include them on this list.

Smothered Chicken in Jay Ducote's Louisiana BBQ Sauce at Leroy's
Smothered Chicken in Jay Ducote's Louisiana BBQ Sauce at Leroy's
7) Leroy's - This campus area eatery was opened by Stephen Hightower in a space that previously failed as Cou-yon's BBQ and Purple Goose Pub & Grub. You'd expect that the Nicholson Dr. restaurant would thrive on college kids but it turns out it has actually developed a very family friend clientele with its southern rooted menu, fried chicken, and more. And for the adults, you can also get a beer shake. Yes, an ice cream shake with beer. Nice!

6) Omi - Joe Deng, the chef and owner, returned to the Baton Rouge culinary scene after selling his LSU area restaurant, Koi Japanese Cuisine two years ago. Omi is one One Calais Place off of Essen in a building that has been numerous restaurant before, but hopefully this one can stick around. You won't find any buffet style sesame chicken here. Omi serves up an authentic Northern Chinese menu as well as a Japanese menu with sushi and other specialties. According to Cherry the Dive Bar Girl, "I have not had Chinese this good since I lived in Chinatown Brooklyn."

5) Zorba's Greek Bistro - Another restaurant that has been in Baton Rouge before actually dates back to 1984. The Economides family re-opened Zorba's in May and may have reclaimed the crown for the best Greek food in Baton Rouge. The menu items are fresh and inspired and features much more than just hummus and a gyro sandwich. James Fox-Smith nominated Zorba's for "giving us Baton Rouge's only real Greek/Cypriot menu." He added, "Their lamb is just spectacular."

Streetbreads on Perkins
4) Streetbreads - This one is new to Baton Rouge but not the first ever location, so I guess it falls into the Galatoire's category... which is pretty funny to think about since it is about the opposite of Galatoire's. We're back on Perkins Road, right down the street from Galatoire's, for Streetbreads, the Lake Charles import sandwich shop that is re-imagining the way quick and tasty sandwiches get to your belly. Seriously folks, next time you're in the market for a sandwich like Subway or Quizno's or some other national chain, head to Streetbreads instead. You'll get a tastier, fresher, local-er sandwich... and you can get some of their feta potato salad! Oh, and they also have beer and wine! Brilliant!

3) Stab's Steak and Seafood - Allow me to get on a soapbox for a second. Obviously all the City of St. George business recently has created even more division to the Baton Rouge area. It is really a shame. I strongly stand by the idea that we are better together. That being said, there has always, as long as I've been around (1981), been a division between Baton Rouge and its surrounding towns. Livingston Parish is a curse word. Those damn people from Denham Springs. Baker, Central, Zachary... all worthless. Port Allen and Plaquemine might as well not exist. Ascension Parish? You should have just kept going to New Orleans instead of stopping in Prairieville or Gonzales. I've never understood why there is such animosity. I certainly like living in the city, and I wish people wouldn't escape to the suburbs just for the school systems, but that's a problem in any decent sized city in America. But other cities can respect their neighbors a whole lot better than most people from Baton Rouge. I'll admit that I don't get those towns and surrounding parishes enough. There are plenty of places that I need to eat surrounding Baton Rouge. But at least I'm willing to go if they are local. All of the towns I mentioned and plenty that I didn't are part of the greater Baton Rouge area, and I think we'd all be better together instead of trash talking about each other. So, with that being said, you really ought to try Stab's Steak and Seafood in Central. The latest creation from Wayne Stabiler who previously brought us Little Village and Le Creole, Stab's has brought an upscale element to one of those previously mentioned BR suburbs. And for those living in the city, it is worth the drive.

Big Pig at City Pork
Big Pig at City Pork
2) City Pork - Another brand new addition to the Baton Rouge culinary scene and yet another joint just off of Perkins Road near the overpass, City Pork has hit the ground running and sent the pigs squealing. Charcuterie, sandwiches, craft beer and soda... this place has been a long time coming. Cherry adds, "I can't love City Pork enough... I can't wait to have a Charcuterie platter at happy hour.  The sandwiches are suburb and the service is fast and friendly. Baton Rouge needed a home-grown deli inspired by the flavors of both South Louisiana and Europe." I agree that we needed it, and I also agree that City Pork has delivered. The first time I went in with very modest expectations. I had been told they were like Cochon Butcher in New Orleans. Being a huge fan of Butcher, I became scared that City Pork would be over-hyped for me. I was nervous that they would have tried to imitate Butcher and as would be expected, failed. But instead what I found was a unique, inspired, and very well executed neighborhood joint that created its own style. There are plenty of similarities for sure, but I also appreciate the fact that City Pork did it their way. It isn't an attempt at imitation but instead a void-filling attraction that has come into a market the right way and should be around for a long time. This is kind of place that will have lines out the door at lunch time. This is the kind of place that did their research, spent their money, and opened up something that is proper, cultural, and brilliant. Thanks to the guys at City Pork, and welcome to the city.

The Pelican House
The Pelican House
1) Pelican House - Finally, we get to Pelican House. With 136 beer taps and a great whiskey selection, it is hard to argue about Pelican House topping this list for 2013. The guys behind the bar have put in a tremendous amount of passion, enthusiasm, and elbow grease into getting Pelican House launched. They turned an old Macaroni Grill along I-10 into a local establishment that is unrecognizable as the shell of a former corporate chain. The interior is sleek, clean, and spacious. If anything they've struggled with being too big, but they've worked out the growing pains as the months have gone on. It came in third in my list of the best places to drink craft beer in Baton Rouge back in September. I'd say that isn't bad for only being months old at the time. Pelican House is a great addition to the craft beer scene. The food has found its groove as well. The patio will be perfect for the Spring, and in February they will begin offering great bar trivia through geekswhodrink.com. This will be a giant watering hole for years to come and I'll gladly support the cause with pints along the way. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

What I've Learned in Four Years of Bite and Booze

I started Bite and Booze out of boredom at an office job a little over four years ago. Since then I've found a way to be successfully self-employed, to eat and drink for a living, to travel around the country and even internationally now, and most of all, to be happy getting to do what I want to do. It hasn't been easy. Nobody ACTUALLY pays me to put a shrimp poboy in my mouth or drink a craft beer, so I've had to be more creative than that. What started as a blog and a hobby is now a full blown culinary multi-media conglomerate. The blog itself, which is what you are reading right now, has been the hub of it all.

I get asked fairly often what it is that I actually do for a living. Even by my dad. But I constantly find that question difficult to answer because I do different things every day. I stay busy. I'm never bored. I never don't have a to-do list. But it drives me. It makes me want to keep going.

To try to explain what I do, I created this diagram in Microsoft Paint:


I ran out of room. There's so much more that I didn't have a chance to list above. Like Jay Ducote's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce, for example. But you get the idea. It is all over the place. And that's what I love about it. Here's what I've learned:

1) I don't like routines. I don't ever see myself working in a job that can be defined by a routine again. I don't want to go through the motions. I am miserable if my week consists of getting up at the same time every day, having the same options for my pathetic lunch break, and then knowing exactly when I'm going to bed. I don't like predictability, and I enjoy the thrill of living one day at a time... and truly living each day. I liked college because each day brought different challenges than the next. I enjoyed teaching high school and coaching baseball because no day was ever the same, but the routine brought me down. I felt trapped. Later I came to despise the routine of a 9-5 office job. If you like it, then good for you. But I had to get out. I had to have more freedom. I needed to forge my own path.

2) I help people. It doesn't matter who or why. I say yes all the time. Maybe too much. But I also think that it is one of the biggest factors that has gotten me where I am today. I volunteer to help out non-profit organizations as much as I can. I take the time to speak to groups about pursuing dreams. I make every effort to be giving with my time. Although it is limited and has become more and more valuable to me if nothing else, I still like to give. And in the end, I think it has all come back to me and then some.

3) I found a way to be creative, and I learned to appreciate other forms of creativity. I can't sing. My feet don't know how to dance. If I tried to draw something you wouldn't recognize it. I'm not going to come up with the next great trick play on the football field or a top-selling app. But I've always been able to write. Seriously, way better than I could ever read. Somehow the two did not go hand-in-hand for me. Creative writing worked out. And then came cooking. Flavor combinations filled my mind. I created dishes in my head then learned how to put them on a plate. I appreciated the creative process behind it. And thus, I found out that while I can't do many artistic things very well, I can appreciate good creativity when I see it.

4) I've never stopped learning. That's what I've learned. Education is a life-long process. Don't be defined by your arbitrary college major. I got a degree in economics and political science. Then I got a masters degree in political science. I learned that I didn't want to be a politician or a political scientist for the rest of my life. I still have those pieces of paper hanging on the walls though. I never would have imagined that I'd wind up eating and drinking for a living. I don't think LSU offered that as a major. Perhaps the concept that stuck with me the most from all of college is Socratic Ignorance. Be smart enough to know that you don't know everything. Ignorant isn't a bad word. It just means you lack sufficient information to make a correct or informed decision. By no means does that mean you aren't capable of learning that information. You just don't know it at the time. So keep learning.

5) I can't do it all myself. I used to be almost able to. This whole job started as a hobby that distracted me very little from my day job. But even then I couldn't design my own logo without some help. I've had a lot of assistance along the way. Many people have contributed to the growth of Bite and Booze and my personal growth as well. I've had interns that have helped out tremendously. I couldn't have done it without my great sponsors, partners, and supporters that you can see in the column on the right. But now it is getting to the point that I'm drowning in my daily tasks while reaching out for the next big project. I need help. I'm not going to keep building Bite and Booze if I can't find a way to grow it. So if you're interested, or know somebody who might be a good candidate, I'm hiring. I need an assistant, but really I need so much more than that. I really need a mini-me. I need somebody so well rounded that they can have their hand in every aspect of everything that I do, and do it all well. Please send resumes to jay@biteandbooze.com.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Kilbeggan 18 Irish Whiskey: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Calandro's Supermarket

Kilbeggan 18 Irish Whiskey
Kilbeggan 18 Irish Whiskey
Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey has been featured on Whisk(e)y Wednesday before with the early review of Kilbeggan Finest. This, however, is a review fit for a Christmas Day. The Kilbeggan 18 is a fine Irish Whiskey. It is also rare, so if you ever see it, drink it. It's score of 90.67 makes it only the 4th whiskey of all time to crack the 90 mark here. The nose has a subtle sweetness of honeysuckle, stone fruits, and melons matched with some oak. It is faint on the whiff like a quintessential Irish whiskey ought to be instead of bold like a bourbon. Upon hitting the tongue it drinks like juice with no unpleasant tastes. The fruitiness remains with a mouthful of whiskey bliss. There is warmth on the finish but no burn. It is a chug-able whiskey in every good way that could be imagined. The warmth wraps you up in a snugly blanket and beckons you to take another sip. The Kilbeggan is flawlessly smooth, but not quite as adventurous as I would need it to be in order to be perfect. Still, it comes highly recommended. It is worthy of any liquor cabinet on the planet.

Kilbeggan 18 Irish Whiskey

Average Score 90.67


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 (though not undrinkable) while anything below 20 is absolute horse piss and anything above 80 is rather extraordinary and anything above 90 is world class.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Bite and Booze Radio Show: Landry Vineyards

On this week's episode of the Bite and Booze Radio Show I'm in studio with Jeff Landry and Dan Nash from Landry Vineyards in West Monroe, Louisiana. I chat with the guys about the wine industry in Louisiana, about what grapes are growing in the region, and about what can be done to make Louisiana wine a bigger deal. We also taste a fair amount of their wines on the show, so it is worth a listen!




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 PizzeriaRestaurant IPOMason's GrillDonner-Peltier Distillers (Rougaroux Rums and Oryza Vodka and Gin), Louisiana Cookin' MagazineJuban's Restaurant, the Tin Roof Brewing Company, the Louisiana Culinary Institute and Triumph Kitchen.

Monday, December 23, 2013

La Truffe Sauvage in Lake Charles, LA

La Truffe Sauvage in Lake Charles, LA
La Truffe Sauvage in Lake Charles, LA
Lake Charles not only impressed me with the tour around town, boudin and cracklins, and seafood feasting, but at night we also got to experience a spectacular meal at Lake Charles' premiere fine dining restaurant. La Truffe Sauvage is a French style eatery that clearly puts a lot of passion behind their food. We went through a culinary journey on a wine dinner the night before Lake Charles' annual Rouge et Blanc wine festival. I'll attempt to walk you through all the courses as I salivate while I remind myself of all the deliciousness. The Hors d'Oeuvres, not pictured here, included octopus with extra virgin olive oil, lemon, and oregano, Parmigiana Reggiano crusted asparagus with sauce verte, white truffle macaroni and cheese with beef tenderloin, and duck confit with onion marmalade. Served with some bubbly, a Gosset Brut Excellence, the passed appetizers prepared us for our sensational meal from Chef Mohamed Chettouh and wine pairings by D.C. Flynt.

Louisiana Jumbo Lump Crab Cake and Shrimp Bourek
Louisiana Jumbo Lump Crab Cake and Shrimp Bourek
Our first seated course came in the form of a shrimp stuffed Turkish pastry atop a luscious crab cake and a red, green, and yellow tomato relish. The dish paired with a Fevre et Fevre 2011 Chablis. I really appreciated the combination of flavors and techniques between south Louisiana and a dish like Bourek which dates back the Ottoman Empire.

Crispy Red Snapper, Porcini Mushroom Risotto, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lemon
Crispy Red Snapper, Porcini Mushroom Risotto, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lemon
Course two stayed in the seafood category and again combined a classic Louisiana protein with a European starch. The creamy porcini mushroom risotto gave an earthy flavor that contrasted the brightness from the lemon and the acidity in the wine, a Meursault Clos du Cromin 2011 from winemaker David Moret in the Burgundy region of France. The dish really dazzled even more due to the true crispiness of the skin on the red snapper. It added a depth of texture next to the risotto and flesh of the Gulf fish.

Double Duck Consomme, Poached Quail Egg, Rice Noodles, Asparagus Tips, White Truffle Oil
Double Duck Consomme, Poached Quail Egg, Rice Noodles, Asparagus Tips, White Truffle Oil
For a soup course we feasted on a duck consomme. The flavorful broth conjured up memories of duck hunting and my childhood... not that I ever ate anything quite like this growing up. A couple 2010 wines from Roland Rapet were served with the duck conomme: a Aloxe Corton and the Corton Grand Cru. Both were stellar accompaniments to the delicious consomme. The poached quail egg also added a great richness in the soup.

Colorado Lamb Two Ways: Roasted Rack & Braised Shoulder, Spanakopita, Ratatouille, Natural Jus
Colorado Lamb Two Ways: Roasted Rack & Braised Shoulder, Spanakopita, Ratatouille, Natural Jus 
I looked forward to this lamb course the most and fortunately it did not disappoint. Getting back to eastern European flavors, Chef Mohamed used lamb to create a magical dish. The spanakopita is a Greek style savory spinach pie, which this time also included braised lamb shoulder. The ratatouille came wrapped in cucumber and the lamb chops were delightful. I love lamb. I think I remember sneaking another chop off somebody else's plate to get more. They were full already anyway! The lamb course also came with a pair of wines for us try. This time from Bernard Gros, we had the Vosne Romanee 2008 and the Clos Vougeot Grand Cru "Musigni" 2006. I need to learn more about French wine. I just know it was red and delicious.

Warm Montrachet with Thyme, Heirloom Tomato, Arugula, Herb Cracker, Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette
Warm Montrachet with Thyme, Heirloom Tomato, Arugula, Herb Cracker, Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette
The salad and cheese course finished off the savory part of the meal. I liked having the salad toward the end as opposed to at the beginning of the feast. I still had a little room for some greenery, so I made it work. The warm cheese worked extremely well with the green tomato and the spicy arugula with the roasted shallot vinaigrette. 

Rum Savarin, White Chocolate - Passion Fruit Mousse, Almond Tuile
Rum Savarin, White Chocolate - Passion Fruit Mousse, Almond Tuile
The savarin is a yeast cake soaked in rum (or it could be a different hard liquor) and filled with cream. I personally did not find the texture to be all that appealing as it was like a soggy donut, but the flavors were certainly well conceived and delicious. The dessert came served with the Kracher Trockenbeerenauslese. Yes, that's really what it is called. Mr. Kracher is apparently one of the bigger names in Austrian wine and the Trockenbeerenauslese is a style of German and Austrian wine making that produces a very sweet dessert wine from dried grapes with high sugar content. Like I said, I could really use some lessons in European wines, so if anyone is reading this and wants to send me on an adventure around Europe doing "professional development," just let me know!

Assorted Truffles
Assorted Truffles
Second dessert? Yes, please! The meal didn't fully end after the rum savarin course. We still had time for coffee, and along with coffee came some assorted truffles for our dining pleasure. I ate a couple for research purposes, but by that time I had reached my limit and was stuffed. What an amazing meal. Thanks to Chef Mohamed, D.C. Flynt, and everyone at La Truffe Sauvage for having me, as well as the Lake Charles CVB for lining it all up for us. The next day we were off to Rouge et Blanc. More on that later.

La Truffe Sauvage on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Deerhammer Whitewater Whiskey: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Calandro's Supermarket

Deerhammer Whitewater Whiskey
Deerhammer Whitewater Whiskey
The Deerhammer Whitewater Whiskey comes from the distillery that provided Whisk(e)y Wednesday with the Downtime Single Malt. The white whiskey contains the same barley mash but without the barrel aging that provides flavors, mellowing, and coloration. On the nose the Whitewater is butterscotch sweet. It smells like Halloween candy corn and actually tastes a lot like it as well. The surprise of the day came when we realized this whiskey came from 100% barley because we thought it tasted like creamed corn and sweet corn and corn syrup and everything else corn. It makes a clean getaway on the end with a fast finish and little lingering flavor... not even corn. It can hold up to make a decent cocktail but I obviously wouldn't be ordering it straight anytime soon. Clearly that's not what it is intended for though, unless you're just looking to cannonball some moonshine!

Deerhammer Whitewater White Whiskey

Average Score 47.67


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 (though not undrinkable) while anything below 20 is absolute horse piss and anything above 80 is rather extraordinary and anything above 90 is world class.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bite and Booze Radio Show: Rougaroux Rum, Oryza Vodka and Gin, All About Beer

This week Johnny Culpepper, the VP of Sales for the Donner-Peltier Distillery in Thibodaux, LA, joined me in studio for the Bite and Booze Radio Show. We chatted about the Rougaroux line of rum made with Louisiana sugarcane as well as the Oryza vodka and gin both made out of Louisiana rice. You have to try the 13 Pennies Praline Rum, available now at Calandro's Supermarket! We also took a phone call on the Jay Ducote's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce hotline from John Holl, editor of All About Beer Magazine. It is a great show, so listen below!



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 PizzeriaRestaurant IPOMason's GrillDonner-Peltier Distillers (Rougaroux Rums and Oryza Vodka and Gin), Louisiana Cookin' MagazineJuban's Restaurant, the Tin Roof Brewing Company, the Louisiana Culinary Institute and Triumph Kitchen.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Video: The Fourth Tier

Bite and Booze and Tin Roof
The Fourth Tier
After Prohibition, which was repealed just over 80 years ago by the 21st Amendment, the model of choice for states to regulate the alcohol industry was the three tier system. In a nutshell, this created a framework where producers and suppliers of alcohol worked independently from wholesalers and distributors as well as the retailers in the form of bars and liquor stores. Creating a gap between the breweries and the bars was meant to eliminate some of the problems that led to the creation of the 18th Amendment, also known as Prohibition. Vertical integration, or one company controlling the manufacturing of alcohol and the bars where people consume the alcohol, they said, led to over-consumption and tainted products.

Still today, alcohol is treated differently than any other product. It is the only consumer good to be made illegal and then legal again by separate amendments to the freaking CONSTITUTION of the United States! The three tier system remains as an effective tool to regulate the industry, but it seems to have some side effects as well. Many states have different versions of how the three tier system is implemented, but I don't want to get into all those details right now.

This fall I had a the opportunity to produce a teaser to a possible feature length documentary called "The Fourth Tier." Mostly unrecognized by any sort of talks about the industry, the fourth tier represents the consumers who actually drink the product. This tier is essential for a viable industry, and is actually the most regulated out of any of the tiers. Still, in the United States these days, it is hard to argue that it isn't the Fourth Tier that is winning. Consumers, especially of beer, are being met with more choices, variety, brands, styles, and quality than ever before. Unlike other industries, the regulatory framework in the beer industry has created a thriving marketplace for small companies to compete with the big boys. This video explores the relationships between the producers, wholesalers, and retailers of beer as well as the effects that those relationships have on consumers. Alright, I've said too much. Just watch!


If you have any questions or if you want to contribute financially to making a feature length version of The Fourth Tier, email me at jay@biteandbooze.com. As of now we have commitments from a few individuals to take the project to the next phase and we are looking for more. Please let me know if you are interested in helping and I'll get you more information!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Bite and Booze Radio Show: Live from Red Zeppelin Pizza in Baton Rouge

A few weeks back I had the pleasure of recording an episode of the Bite and Booze Radio Show at Red Zeppelin Pizza on Perkins Road. Joined by Chuck P. of the Me and My Big Mouth Show and the Ale Runner himself, Brenton Day, we devoured some pizza and had a grand time. Kelly, the manager and beer buyer at Red Zeppelin, also join us. I know Logan Leger and Jeff Herman were around somewhere too. Enjoy a great episode on location from Red Zeppelin all about craft beer, pizza, and trains passing by.


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 PizzeriaRestaurant IPOMason's GrillDonner-Peltier Distillers (Rougaroux Rums and Oryza Vodka and Gin), Louisiana Cookin' MagazineJuban's Restaurant, the Tin Roof Brewing Company, the Louisiana Culinary Institute and Triumph Kitchen.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy Irish Whiskey: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Calandro's Supermarket

Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy Irish Whiskey
Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy Irish Whiskey
We just about crowned a new king of the hill on the Whisk(e)y Wednesday leader board but instead we have the third whiskey to ever break 90 points and the first Irish whiskey to eclipse that total falling just .25 short of the current champion. On a recent trip to Ireland Jeremy returned with a bottle of Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy Irish Whiskey. This special edition of Midleton Irish Whiskey truly impressed. Named after the distillery's master distiller, the Barry Crockett Legacy whiskey is limited to only about 2,500 bottles a year and is aged in both bourbon and new American oak barrels. The nose is sweet like apple toffee with hints of spice and herbs like rosemary with a little honeysuckle. Upon hitting the tongue the whiskey explodes with flavor. A candy sweetness meets an oaky spice with flawless purity. It his smooth like a typical Irish with the depth of a fine bourbon. The whiskey finishes with a little cinnamon burn and a lot of warmth, leaving the drinker pleasantly subdued to take another sip. I'm jealous that Jeremy has this one in his collection instead of it sitting on my shelf, but that's okay. I know where to find him.

Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy Irish Whiskey

Average Score 91.0


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, December 10, 2013

Cocktail Contest Call for Entries - Red Stick Revelry

Would you like to help Baton Rouge celebrate the inaugural New Year's Eve celebration - Red Stick Revelry?

Planners of the Red Stick Revelry are inviting area bars and restaurants to compete for the signature cocktail for Red Stick Revelry 2014 on Friday, Dec. 27. The Belle of Baton Rouge Hotel & Casino will be hosting the event at 7 PM. The winner will be recognized for their signature drink.

Entry deadline is Dec. 13. There is no entry fee. If you'd like to enter yourself, your bar, your restaurant, or what-have-you into the contest, make sure to email Nancy Little at nancy@brac.org by the 13th so that you can participate!

And yes, I will be one of the judges. But no, I do not accept bribes for my judging. Honesty and fairness is always the best policy!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Touring Lake Charles by Sight and by Stomach

The Southwest Louisiana city of Lake Charles is underrated. Living in Baton Rouge, I spend a lot of time touting the capital city as a worthwhile stop between Lafayette and New Orleans, and better yet as a true destination of its own. But in all my talk about Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and the Big Easy, often forgotten are other parts of Louisiana which possess plenty of culture of their own. On  recent press trip to Lake Charles I got to experience the city through culinary lenses. On the night of our arrival we had dinner at Ember Grille and Wine Bar at the L'Auberge Casino. The following day we got a tour of the city complete with food stops, a horse-drawn carriage historical tour, more food, and some wildlife refuges. Here's a recap of the gastronomic adventure!

Our first stop was for boudin and cracklins at Guillory's Famous Foods. The boudin pictured below is the smoked version which I very much enjoyed. They also have a regular (steamed or boiled instead of smoked) boudin. Boudin is a pork and rice mixture that typically contains liver as well. It is seasoned with all sorts of spices then stuffed into sausage casing. If you are an unfortunate soul who has never had boudin before, it is worth a trip to Louisiana on its own.

Boudin at Guillory's Famous Foods in Lake Charles
Boudin at Guillory's Famous Foods in Lake Charles

In many ways tough, I prefer the cracklin over the boudin, if ever I were in the unfortunate predicament of having to choose. The cracklin is a perfect mixture of pork skin, fat, and muscle tissue that is fried once to soften it up and cook it through then fried a second time to make it extra crispy and crunch and, well, cracklin-y. Guillory's had regular and spicy cracklins for the eating enjoyment of our group. I also learned something at Guillory's Famous Foods that I'll never forget. Especially at breakfast time, one of the best combinations in the world is to dip your cracklin in Louisiana cane syrup. Seriously... do it.

Cracklin at Guillory's Famous Foods in Lake Charles
Cracklin at Guillory's Famous Foods in Lake Charles


After a breakfast of champions, our group arrived in historic downtown Lake Charles for a historical tour of the city. Aboard a horse-drawn carriage we learned about Lake Charles architecture, lumber barons, haunted houses, and people who mess up historic properties. I hope I'm never one of those guys! Our tour ended at an old schoolhouse building that now serves as office space for a lot of different companies and public officials. Inside the building is the Lake Charles Mardi Gras Museum. I took a seat on the throne for good measure. The museum shows off a plethora of elaborate Mardi Gras costumes and includes its history outside of New Orleans. We also got to decorate our own King Cakes. While this was nothing new to me, I did enjoy having a taste of King Cake in the fall!

Lunch brought us to the unassuming but blissfully local Seafood Palace. There we were treated to a smorgasbord of seafood delights that filled our bellies and warmed our souls. The boiled crabs looked amazing as they adorned our table upon arrival. I do love a good boiled crab!

Boiled Crabs at Seafood Palace
Boiled Crabs at Seafood Palace

There were several people at the table who had never eaten alligator before so I took the liberty of ordering an appetizer of fried alligator bites for the group. They were as good as any fried alligator I've had before, which is definitely saying something. Some say alligator tastes like chicken. I say it tastes more like frog legs. Though, most people say frog legs taste like chicken, so I guess it all does to a degree!

Fried Alligator at Seafood Palace in Lake Charles
Fried Alligator at Seafood Palace in Lake Charles

I ordered the shrimp and oyster combo platter which comes with fries. Why not just fry everything, right? They were all delicious. I couldn't quite finish it all after everything else I ate, and knowing what would be in store for dinner, but it was too good to not try my hardest! 

Fried Alligator at Seafood Palace in Lake Charles
Fried Shrimp and Oyster Combo at Seafood Palace

After lunch we took off in the bus to several National Wildlife Refuges including Cameron Prairie where we spotted quite a few alligators getting some sun like this guy featured below. I would have liked him more had be been in my belly! After the sight-seeing we were back to L'Auberge to rest and get cleaned up for dinner at La Truffe Sauvage... a dinner so amazing that it'll have to wait for its own blog post in the upcoming week!

An alligator in the sun at the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge
An alligator in the sun at the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Belle Meade Bourbon: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Calandro's Supermarket

Whisk(e)y Wednesday is very timely this week with Belle Meade Bourbon, the owners of which, Charlie and Andy Nelson, were just on the Bite and Booze Radio Show this past weekend. The Nelson's  GreenBrier Distillery sources their whiskey for now, but soon they'll be distilling and aging their own whiskey near Nashville, TN. The Belle Mead Bourbon is a blend of mostly corn and rye. It is has a predictable but tempting sweet and spicy nose. Some notes of honey come through with just a slight burn on the nostrils while you're sniffing really pleasant whiffs of wonder. On the tongue the bourbon is young and spicy. The rye packs a little punch and other than a bit of sweetness up front, the rest all kick. It finishes hot but not too harsh, warming all the way down. It could mellow with a little more age but all in all it is a pretty solid bourbon. It has a good aroma and is a big, slightly overbearing mouthful when tasting it neat, but I'd be proud to serve it in cocktails or as a mixer. Perhaps even just a few rocks could help loosen it up. I'm excited to see what Charlie and Andy do with their own spirits because the Belle Meade Bourbon is certainly a good start!

Belle Meade Bourbon

Average Score 60.67


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, December 3, 2013

Bite and Booze Radio Show: Chef Scott Varnedoe and Belle Meade Bourbon

This past Saturday the Bite and Booze Radio Show presented by Calandro's Supermarket welcomed Chef Scott Varnedoe to the program. Chef Scott is the new executive chef of Restaurant IPO and the new venues upstairs called the Breakroom and the Boardroom at IPO. While he is no stranger to Baton Rouge or even downtown dining, Chef Scott definitely has some new tricks up his sleeve with the new menu that has just rolled out at Restaurant IPO on Third Street. Also joining the show are Charlie and Andy Nelson from Belle Meade Bourbon and the Nelson's GreenBrier Distillery in Tennessee. These guys have a cool story, so make sure to listen to the show and find out 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 SeasoningMama Della's N.Y. City Pizzeria, Restaurant IPO, Mason's Grill, Donner-Peltier DistillersLouisiana Cookin' MagazineJuban's Restaurant, the Tin Roof Brewing Company, the Louisiana Culinary Institute and Triumph Kitchen.