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Friday, February 28, 2014

Freshness Rules at MJ's Café



Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad
Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad
Nothing makes food more delicious than a heaping side of positivity. When you walk into MJ’s Cafe on Jefferson Hwy. you’ll most likely be greeted by Maureen Joyce herself. I like to belly up to the bar of freshness and chat about life, but during most lunch shifts the small restaurant gets so crowded that you might not find a seat. If you sit in the back corner as I did on my last visit, you'll see a chalkboard room divider full of helpful positive tips for your day. It’s little things like this and Maureen’s interactions with customers that warms my heart more than her soups ever could, although in no way is that a slight to the pots of liquid nourishment.

MJ’s is a great little lunch spot and is doing special edition dinners every month now. Swing by and ask Maureen about the details of the next dinner and see what’s on tap for lunch during the week. To those of you who haven’t visited yet, I’d describe it as a mainly vegetarian place in a way that’s not blatantly vegetarian. Sure, most of the options are veggie friendly, but I don’t feel like I’m missing any flavor when I bite into one of her dishes. Plus, there is a sandwich that has shrimp, so you don't have to go strictly vegetarian! To put it simply, MJ’s Café is a delight and it is time that you know about it.

MJ's Black Bean Soup
MJ's Black Bean Soup
MJ's makes a mean quiche and a plethora of soups and sandwiches, but what really caught my eye on the last visit was the Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad. People have this inherent stigma against Brussels sprouts. Nobody must have cooked them right in the 80s. If you have never tried roasted Brussels sprouts, you are missing out. Maureen just got a fresh batch of them from the Farmer’s Market (where she get the ingredients for almost all of her dishes) and I couldn’t resist. With fresh spinach, pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and delectable vinaigrette, this salad was hearty and light all at the same time. Just what I needed amid my constant diet of craft beer and grease.

That being said, I couldn't just stop after a salad. Anytime Maureen has her black bean soup on the menu, I can't resist. It came loaded with tasty beans and ripe vegetables. This is a true treat of a vegetarian friendly soup. There is no lack of flavor just because Maureen doesn't start with a bacon base. Her soups, and everything else for that matter, hold up well no matter what sort of food you might be looking for. Just do yourself a favor and get there early!

MJ's Cafe on Urbanspoon



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Society South: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Calandro's Supermarket

I'm very excited to announce the launch of Society South, a new modern southern experience publication based out of Auburn, AL. The reason I'm excited to announce such a magazine and website is because I'm one of their featured booze writers! And with that, I'll be able to do even more whiskey writing like I did in this post about the Garrison Brothers Distillery in Texas. Of course, I'll also be writing about southern breweries, wineries, bars, restaurants, bartenders, and more, as long as it features booze! It is going to be a lot of fun to add to my list of features out there. As always, thanks to everyone for all of your support for Bite and Booze and everything I do! I hope to be back soon with a new batch of Whisk(e)y Wednesday reviews. Cheers!


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.

Monday, February 24, 2014

New Louisiana Brewery Trails Video for Louisiana Travel


Last Spring, Tommy Talley of TommysTV and I created a video to spotlight the blazing craft brewery trail in Louisiana. At the time the craft beer scene existed only in South Louisiana, but with the addition of Great Raft and Red River in Shreveport the brewery trail now stretches from Northern Louisiana down to south of Lake Pontchartrain. I also had the privilege of writing the content for Louisiana Travel's Brewery Profile for each Louisiana Brewery. Everything is up to date and Lousiana Travel has officially partnered with beer social media site, Untappd to do a badge hunt across the state for a giveaway. For more information on the promotion check out this blog post from The Ale Runner. Below is the updated video featuring the two new breweries and taking a look at how Louisiana beer pairs with our local cuisine.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Grab Lunch at Harrington's Café

Harrington's Western Wall Painted by the BR Walls Project
Harrington's Western Wall Painted by the BR Walls Project
Harrington's Cafe in Baton Rouge
Locally owned and operated for the past 14 years, Harrington’s Café in downtown Baton Rouge is a great little lunch spot. I first wrote about Harrington's in October 2009, the very first month of Bite and Booze. He hotspot boasts quick and easy ordering at the counter and the plates are promptly brought to your table of choice. Harrington’s is perfect for anyone working in the area that wants a quick home cooked style lunch. The atmosphere may be simple, but this old school café offers a menu everyone can enjoy. Throwback interior aside, the most striking visual feature is definitely outside of Harrington’s. As home to mural number two in the BR Walls Project series of building beautification around Baton Rouge, Harrington’s has a modern exterior facelift that definitely stands out downtown.

Harrington's always keeps a pretty rocking rotation of daily specials, and on a recent trip they were no exception. Most of the specials of the day were not available by the time I got there a little after 1 PM, so make sure you show up early because items will sell out! The shrimp and corn soup was perfect for a chilly day walking around downtown. It was the right amount of creamy and balanced out the spiciness of the blackened shrimp on my salad. 

Shrimp and Corn Soup
I have to admit, the Metten Burger intrigued me for the name despite football season being over. It was cooked just right with Swiss cheese and sautéed onions on a soft, sweet sourdough bun. I truly enjoyed it enough to want to go back to Harrington's for a burger again. I usually dabble with daily specials and poboys, but the Metten Burger hit the spot.

The Metten Burger

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bloody Scotsman at Lock & Key: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Calandro's Supermarket

Bloody Scotsman (photo courtesy of Lock & Key)
Bloody Scotsman (photo courtesy of Lock & Key)
Last week I checked out the new Lock & Key Whiskey Bar for the first time. Located at Glen's Bar off of Corporate at College, the venue is a haven for those seeking a relaxed whiskey drinking environment with soothing music and great service. I started out trying each of their signature twists on the Old Fashioned. The Elder-Fashioned features the Weller 12 year bourbon but mixes in some St. Germain with bitters, soda, and Luxardo candied cherries. Meanwhile the Humbling Old-Fashioned utilizes agave nectar instead of simple syrup, Hum hibiscus liqueur, and Buffalo Trace bourbon.

After the first two bourbon cocktails, Arthur Lauck suggested that I try the Bloody Scotsman. A true whiskey bar's interpretation of a Bloody Mary, the tomato based cocktail features Black Bottle peated blended Scotch as well as plenty of spice. Plenty. In a good way. The spicy salted rim and pickled garden garnish all fit the bill ($10). I can certainly appreciate this whisky version of a Bloody Mary. So much, in fact, that I've given the cocktail its own Whisk(e)y Whiskey segment! Make sure to give it a try while a live piano plays in the background. Good times!


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, February 18, 2014

Bite and Booze Radio Show: Cocktails Through Time at Doe's Eat Place

George Krause, executive chef and head bartender at Doe's Eat Place in Baton Rouge, has created a new cocktail program that starts this week. Cocktails Through Time is a series of unique cocktail menus each inspired a progression through boozy history. This week he is starting with the beginning of spirits up to 1750 AD. If you listen, you'll learn more about the program that will be going on for the next six months. You'll also get a taste for the first round of cocktails, but to truly experience them you'll have to go see George in Crown Town. Also joining me on this week's show from Doe's are Chuck P., Blaise Calandro III, Blair Loup, and Lucie Monk. Please enjoy!




The Bite and Booze Radio Show presented by Calandro's Supermarket airs on Saturdays at 5 PM and replays Sundays at 8 PM on Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge. The show is hosted by Jay Ducote and won a Taste Award in January 2014 as the best food or drink based radio broadcast in the country. The producer of the show is Chris Courtney at Guaranty Broadcasting and the field producer is Charles Pierce from the Me and My Big Mouth Show. 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.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Charcuterie Defined at Baton Rouge's City Pork

City Pork Deli & Charcuterie in Baton Rouge
Fairly new on the Baton Rouge scene, City Pork’s opening in December 2013 was highly anticipated... so much so that they made my 2013 list of the top 10 new bars and restaurants in the Capital City despite not even being open one month. With the culture and history that surrounds the art of charcuterie, I wanted to see how legitimate their practices would be. 

For those of you who aren't sure
about charcuterie, it’s simply defined as the art of salting, smoking, and preserving meats; and these guys know how to do it. They cure their own meats in house and have them for sale on charcuterie boards and as to-go options. While they carry familiar favorites like andouille, tasso, boudin, and bacon, they also have some European favorites like bolognas, summer sausages, and prosciutto.

Charcuterie defined at Baton Rouge's City Pork
Charcuterie aside, City Pork is an inspiring deli. They feature a nice handful of sandwiches to choose from and, while I haven’t had them all at this point, I've been impressed with each one. Bread is sourced locally from Chef Eric Arceneaux at the City Club in Baton Rouge and Poupart's Bakery in Lafayette. The City Club is pretty spot on with their house cured bacon and smoked turkey breast. If I’m being honest, it’s the bacon... I can’t turn it down. There are two options to try the bacon: the City Club and the BLT. It is hard to choose a favorite though, especially with the Cubano, Big Pig, and New Yorker staring you in the face. Each sandwich comes with a side of their homemade potato chips, or you can check out soup options like their stunningly delicious tomato basil soup.

The Big Pig

The Cubano
I usually have to think about what I’m getting before I go in so I don’t hold up the line, which can be out of the door at lunch time most days. Don’t worry though, there is a quaint atmosphere inside with adequate seating and come spring the little patio will be a welcome sight. I know I’m looking forward to the spring weather and trying their duck confit salad on the patio with a signature cocktail or cold Tin Roof brew as well as a cheese or charcuterie board. Sounds like happy hour to me. Yes, I said happy hour! From 4-7pm City Pork has some awesome specials on beer, wine, and their cheese or charcuterie boards.


The New Yorker with Pastrami





The smell of bacon and cured deliciousness when you walk in the door is phenomenal. You can tell by the enthusiasm of the staff how passionate they are about what they’re offering to the city of Baton Rouge. City Pork is full of good eats, great meats, and thirst-quenching drinks. If you aren't in the mood for an adult beverage, try a Swamp Pop made in Lafayette with pure cane sugar. If you haven’t had the chance to swing by, make time. And do it soon.

Another Pro Tip: Don’t skip out on the pickles they give you with the sandwich or boards. They are made in house and can turn a pickle hater like me into a lush. Noteworthy for sure.







City Pork Deli & Charcuterie on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

2 GINGERS Irish Whiskey releases nationwide: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Calandro's Supermarket

Great news out of Kilbeggan Distilling Company in Ireland. The 2 GINGERS Irish Whiskey – the fastest growing Irish whiskey in the U.S. – has grown beyond its Minnesota roots and is now officially available across the United States. The brand has experienced exponential growth, expanding from limited Midwest markets one year ago to all 50 states this month. I previously wrote about the 2 GINGERS Irish Whiskey on a Whisk(e)y Wednesday review post, so it is pretty awesome to get to report their expansion and tour.

To support the national launch, 2 GINGERS Founder and CEO Kieran Folliard will travel in a customized 2 GINGERS trailer to meet with bartenders, distributors and consumers looking to discover the BIG GINGER cocktail in stops from coast to coast, including: Milwaukee, WI, Chicago, IL,  Hoboken, NJ, New Orleans, LA, Dallas, TX, Austin, TX, San Diego, CA, Denver, CO, Minneapolis, MN, St. Louis, MO, Indianapolis, IN, and Columbus, OH.

“At its heart, 2 GINGERS is about following up on a hunch and pursuing your dreams," said Folliard, who is soon hitting the road in a custom 2 GINGERS trailer that, like any Irish pub, will ring with stories (most of them true) in cities across the country. "We hope to encourage others to pursue their dreams, to demonstrate what we stand for and to pose the question: 'Why not try something big?’”

As an added bonus, here's the recipe for the BIG GINGER:

2 parts 2 GINGERS Irish Whiskey
Ginger Ale
Lemon Wedge
Lime Wedge
METHOD: Pour the 2 GINGERS Irish Whiskey into a pint glass with ice. Top with ginger ale, followed by a wedge of a lemon and lime.

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, February 11, 2014

Bite and Booze Radio Show: Graffiti Pop-Up


This past weekend I had Chef Chris Wadsworth and Blaise Calandro III on the radio show to chat about the Graffiti Pop-Up Dinner coming up on February 26th at Triumph Kitchen. Chef Wadsworth and I have put together a 6 course menu with an artistic theme to help kick off Triumph. Listen to the show and then make sure you check out the full menu and buy your tickets at https://graffitipopup.eventbrite.com.




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, February 5, 2014

Ireland Reminiscence and The Parting Glass: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Calandro's Supermarket

Eric, Kate, Jeremy, Meghan, Jay, James, and Lizzie in Galway, 2006
Eric, Kate, Jeremy, Meghan, Jay, James, and Lizzie in Galway, 2006
In the summer of 2006 I spent nearly two months in Ireland. I traveled with the group of friends seen to the right for the first ten days, then they all left, but I stayed. Twas the summer between my two years of grad school and I needn't return stateside too soon, so I booked my return flight home for eight weeks later. I figured that I would find a way to survive. In truth, I found a way to live. I'm not sure there's much that can open one's eyes or teach them about themselves more than a couple months of traveling alone in foreign countries. Equipped with a couple backpacks, a tent, a few good books, a journal that Caroline Payne gifted me, and a Motorola Razr (hard to imagine how I did it all without Google Maps on my iPhone!), I left my compadres at the Dublin airport and headed west across the Emerald Isle. There are many good stories to tell and great adventures to reveal, but that might have to wait for a book later down the road. But today is Whisk(e)y Wednesday, and rather than give you a review of an Irish whiskey, I thought I'd share this video called The Parting Glass from Tullamore D.E.W. It reminds me of peaceful times in the Irish countryside. And rain. And whiskey. If you're really itching for a review, I wrote about the Tullamore Dew Single Malt 10 Year a little while back.

In exciting news, Tullamore D.E.W. is working on returning home to the town of Tullamore with the building the new distillery. Construction is already underway on this 50 million dollar investment, which will bring economic gain, new jobs, and the spirit of Tullamore D.E.W. back to its namesake town. I'll have to get back to Ireland to check it out!

 

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, February 4, 2014

Bite and Booze Radio Show: Baton Rouge's Signature Dish?

A few weeks ago Charles Pierce from the Me and My Big Mouth Radio Show, which airs Fridays at 6 and replays Sundays at noon on 96.9 FM WHYR, and I sat down at the Rotolo's in Prairieville to record a radio show. For those wondering, we had the Sweep the Floor breadsticks with buffalo sauce followed by some calzones. On the show we talked about what Baton Rouge's signature dish might be. If you could only tell somebody visiting Baton Rouge to eat one thing, where would you tell them to go and what should they eat? Check out this episode of the Bite and Booze Radio Show, and respond in the comment section below with your thoughts!



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.