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Thursday, January 29, 2015

All Your Favorite Balls [Ranked by a Boudin Ball Expert]

Boudin Balls on Boudin Balls.
On a mission to find the best boudin balls in Baton Rouge
by Sydney "Brown Nose" Blanchard, intern

It may not seem obvious, but here at Bite and Booze, we work hard. 

Day in and day out, we shovel mountains of food into our face holes, forcing down bite after agonizing bite, analyzing and articulating flavor, texture and taste. 

Eating and drinking Louisiana's best food and beverages is not for those of weak constitutions. Just ask me. I can't hang.

"In the three weeks I have interned at Bite and Booze, I have overeaten to the point of vomiting twice." 
 We make it look easy, but it's grueling. And someone's gotta do it.

That's why we decided to get to the bottom of one of Baton Rouge's most pressing matters. Not higher education budget cuts, not our quickly-deteriorating ecosystem, not the salt-water intrusion threatening to cause the collapse of the city as we know it.

We decided to investigate Baton Rouge's Best Boudin Balls.

Baton Rouge has a number of delectable balls in an astonishing range of shapes, textures and sizes.
And they're all beautiful, each and every one. And that's says a lot coming from me.

We rounded up seven of our favorite balls from across the city, and left the deciding up to one man.

Mr. Loup (progenitor of Blair Loup, Bite and Booze's Chief Confusion Coordinator) is a mustachioed, Opelous-born, Sulphur-raised Southern gentleman. Having grown up in "Boudin Country" and being accustomed to eating the best boudin the world has to offer, we felt Mr. Loup would be the perfect person to rank Baton Rouge ball scene. As an extra qualifier, he had never once eaten a Baton Rouge boudin ball before, so his opinion ethically lacked any preconceived notions.

Jay, Blair and I spent an afternoon venturing across the city to the restaurants listed below, acquiring an order of boudin balls at each location. At Blair's apartment, we incubated our boudin babies under a heat lamp to keep them warm, and had Mr. Loup do a blind taste test. Perfectly scientific.

Here's what he came up with. Now go out and eat!

7. Dempsey's, 13580 Coursey Blvd.

Dempsey's is one of our favorite eateries, but Mr. Loup wasn't too keen on their boudin balls. He observed that these were some of the smallest balls. They were light in color, tinged maybe yellow or orange, and had a fair amount of rice inside. Overall, according to Mr. Loup, "There's not really much to say."

Ranking: *

6. Beausoleil Restaurant and Bar, 7731 Jefferson Hwy.

Beausoleil is newer to the game, and they bring a certain style to boudin balls. These balls were more cylindrical than round. Mr. Loup noted they were finely ground on the inside, but bland for his taste. In fact, he said in comparison, "There's no taste to them." However, after the taste test, we all tried them with the red bean puree which accompanies the balls at the restaurant, and Mr. Loup agreed that the puree added something unique to these balls.

Ranking: **

5. Ronnie's Boudin & Cracklins, 9830 Florida Blvd.

Ronnie's is a Baton Rouge institution. Mr. Loup first commented on the fullness of these balls. He pointed out they were more brown than gold and were more finely ground. These balls are huge, and Mr. Loup picked up on the heavier pork flavor of these balls. But Mr. Loup didn't like how finely ground they were as they were lacking the internal texture of the whole grain rice.

Ranking: **

4. Bergeron's, 790 Highway 415 in Port Allen

Outside the Baton Rouge city limits, actually, across the Mighty Mississippi, lies Bergeron's. Mr. Loup instantly became a fan of Bergeron's boudin ball crust. He again wasn't in love with how finely ground the boudin was, and he felt it needed more green onion. Overall he felt this one was somewhat bland compared to the others. 

Ranking: ***

3. The Chimes East, 10870 Coursey Blvd.

Chimes is a local staple, and they're known for the boudin balls on their appetizer menu. The liver flavor was predominant in these balls, according to Mr. Loup. He liked that he could see the grains of rice in the ball, just like real boudin. The pepper flavor was there, but not overwhelming. He also felt, aesthetically, this was one of the best looking balls. 

Ranking: ****

2. Tony's Seafood, 5215 Plank Road

Much to Jay and Blair's glee, Mr. Loup ranked Tony's balls second in the lineup. It has been well-documented that Tony's boudin balls are the only thing Blair lives for. Mr. Loup said these smaller boudin balls resembled marshmallows, and said the taste was better than the previous balls. He liked that they were crunchy and peppery, and they were easy to eat for on-the-go consumption. 

Ranking: ****

1. Days Smokehouse & Specialty Meats, 35770 Old La Highway 16 in Denham Springs

Days Smokehouse out in Denham/Watson came out on top. Mr. Loup ranked it No. 1 mainly because of the smoky flavor. They are darker in color than some of the other balls, and again, he noted their fullness and robust size. He thought the flavors were great, and that they were just spicy enough for him.

Ranking: *****

Baton Rouge's Best Boudin Balls
Baton Rouge's Best Boudin Balls