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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Barbecue Bites: Crawfish Nachos

Peanut butter and jelly. Macaroni and cheese. Cookies and milk.

What's missing from these classic combos? 

Nachos and crawfish, duh.

Crawfish Nachos

This recipe by Chef Eusebio Gongora combines two of our favorite things, crawfish tails and nachos. With high quality, local ingredients from Indie Plate, and Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce, of course, this recipe makes for a perfect appetizer. Pair with a cocktail, a glass of wine, or a beer and enjoy!

Check out more delicious dishes made with Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce online. You can purchase a bottle of sauce here.

Crawfish Nachos



1 lb crawfish, cooked from favorite boil
1 bag Tortilla chips
BBQ Queso (see recipe below)
½ cup red onions, diced
¼ cup jalapeños, diced
1 cup tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp Lime juice
¼ cup cilantro
Sour cream (optional)

Place one layer of chips on a serving tray. Ladle half of the queso over the chips and place more chips over the queso. Top the second layer of chips with more queso and scatter the crawfish tails around the nachos. In small mixing bowl combine the tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, cilantro, and lime juice. Top the nachos with the vegetable mixture and sour cream if desired.


BBQ Queso


2 onions, julienned
2 jalapeños, minced
2 tbsp roasted garlic
½ stick butter
¼ cup flour
1 cup Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups cheddar cheese

Heat a medium-large pot on medium high heat, add the butter and allow it to melt. Add onions and jalapeños to cook for 3-4 minutes until the onions become translucent. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute stirring constantly. Add in BBQ sauce and roasted garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cream and allow the mixture come up to a simmer. Add the cheddar cheese 1/2 cup at a time, whisking continuously. Whisk until all the cheese has melted completely into the sauce.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Elder-Fashioned: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Lock & Key

by Blair "B-Rex" Loup

St. Germain.

The Elder-Fashioned at Lock & Key Whiskey Bar in Baton Rouge
The Elder-Fashioned at Lock & Key Whiskey Bar in Baton Rouge
It’s showing up everywhere: in gin cocktails, in champagne flutes, and now in your old fashioned.

St. Germain is an elderflower liqueur that’s sweet with subtle flavors resembling fragrant fruits like pear and peach.

Lock & Key Whiskey Bar has a way of mixing things you wouldn’t normally place in certain cocktails and having them seamlessly work together, and the Elder-Fashioned is no exception.

Made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, aromatic bitters, and soda in addition to the St. Germain; the Elder-Fashioned is an interesting twist on a classic.

St. Germain is very sweet, so the hearty Buffalo Trace Bourbon rounds out the flavors well. The soda is another ingredient you wouldn’t typically see in an old fashioned.

For me, the soda creates some wiggle room in order for all of the flavors to come through with a little added effervescence. Otherwise, I think it would simply taste like super sweet bourbon.

See? Lock & Key is keeping you from drinking overly syrupy cocktails six days a week!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Beth Donner: Dame of Distilling

How did Beth Donner get the idea to start a Louisiana distillery?

“It was just that. It was just an idea," she said.

Beth, her husband Tom, and their business partners Henry and Jennifer Peltier, started Donner-Peltier Distillery in 2011.

Co-founder, Co-Owner, and President of Donner-Peltier Distillery in Thibodaux, Louisiana Photo courtesy of the Donner-Peltier Distillery
Co-founder, Co-Owner, and President of Donner-Peltier Distillery in Thibodaux, Louisiana
Photo courtesy of the Donner-Peltier Distillery

After toying with the idea of opening a Louisiana rum distillery, they realized it had to be big. While there are only a handful of distilleries in the state, Louisiana residents aren’t new to libations, so they knew they needed to stand out.

The Donner-Peltier Distillery takes a unique approach to their product mix. Not only do they produce three different types of rum made from Louisiana sugarcane (and one with Louisiana pecans), they also churn out gin, vodka, and the first aged whiskey to be made in Louisiana since Prohibition using Louisiana rice.

Being “farm to bottle” is what differentiates Donner-Peltier from other spirits on the market.

It’s an interesting quadrangle of owners.

Jennifer Peltier is a nurse and works at the pediatric clinic with her husband, Henry, a pediatrician. Tom Donner is a practicing neurosurgeon, and Beth has her BA in International Trade and Finance from LSU, and an MBA from FSU (but we’ll forgive her for that).

Beth's background in business made made her the obvious choice to be President of Donner-Peltier Distillers.

As President, Beth handles a lot of the day-to-day duties of running a business, including accounting, financials, and managing staff; but marketing, creative collaborations, and branding falls on her shoulders as well.

“It’s the kind of job I’ve always wanted to do,” Beth explained, “but it’s been hard.”

Beth said there have been a number of times when felt she had to take a backseat when meeting with bars and distributors.

“It’s a male dominant industry, you know?" she said. "It is what it is."

For Beth, it's less about bar accounts knowing she's the boss and more about them pouring Donner-Peltier products.

Like a true woman in charge, she said her focus is on the company, getting their signature brand, LA1 Whiskey, established, and enjoying her favorite Oryza Vodka martini after a long day’s work.

Although her husband is a brain surgeon, Beth acts as the brains of the operation at the Donner-Peltier Distillery where she’s happy to be bringing the sweet nectar of south Louisiana to glasses all over the state in a way that supports and sustains the local economy.

This post is part of a monthly series spotlighting Louisiana women in the business of booze. Previous features include:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Barbecue Bites: Pulled Pork Sandwich

We do a lot of cool things with Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce, but truly, our favorite thing to pair the sauce with is pork. The sweetness of the cane syrup and brown sugar along with the heat of Louisiana seasonings in the sauce go perfectly with many iterations of pork.

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce 

In this recipe by Chef Eusebio Gongora, we put a Louisiana spin on a classic sandwich using ingredients from Indie Plate. Buckle up, it's going to get messy. For more tasty recipes featuring local ingredients, check out HugJayD.com.


Pulled Pork



1 Pork Butt, bone in
3 tbsp Jay D’s Sweet & Spicy BBQ Rub (Red Stick Spice Co.)
½ lb Carrots
1 lb yellow onion
10 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup Pork Stock, or any meat stock
1 cup Jay D’s BBQ Sauce
1 bottle Swamp Pop File Root Beer


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place a Dutch oven on the stove top and set to medium high heat. Season all sides of the pork butt with the BBQ Rub. Sear all sides of the pork for 2-3 minutes on each side. Place all other ingredients into the pot and allow it to come to a simmer. Cover and place into the oven to cook for 3 hours until the meat is tender and the bone comes out clean. Remove the pork from the pot and shred.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches



2 lbs Pulled pork (see recipe above)
1 cup Jay D’s BBQ Sauce
½ cup BBQ Aioli (see recipe)
1 head cabbage, shredded
4 Brioche buns


In a sauce pot, heat Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce on medium heat. Once it comes to a simmer, add pork and toss it to coat. In a small mixing bowl, combine the BBQ Aioli with cabbage to coat cabbage. Place 6 ounces of BBQ pork on bottom bun and top it with 3 ounces of slaw mix. Place the top bun and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Humbling Old-Fashioned: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Lock & Key

by Sydney "Brown Nose" Blanchard

I'm a sucker for a pretty cocktail, especially one with fancy garnishes. It just makes me feel very adult and very sophisticated. I've only been legally allowed to drink for two years, so ordering alcoholic beverages is still a novelty to me.

Humbling Old-Fashioned at Lock & Key
I'm new to the whiskey cocktail game, and I'm easily impressed, I'll admit it. It doesn't take much to get me excited.

Recently at Lock & Key I ordered the Humbling Old-Fashioned and boy was I ever excited.

This three-ingredient whiskey cocktail tastes more complex than it actually is (it's got three main ingredients).

Buffalo Trace bourbon, Hum Hibiscus liqueur, and agave nectar combine to make this sweet, murky cocktail.

But don't think fruity, think floral.

The hibiscus liqueur tastes like springtime, and it really comes through in this twist on the old fashioned.

I'd put it on shaved ice and call it a snow ball any day.

I'm really excited to try all of Lock & Key's variations on the old fashioned.




Monday, July 20, 2015

Between Two Shells: Asian Style Chargrilled Oysters with Tin Roof Turnrow Harvest Ale

by Blair "B-Rex" Loup

A pint of Tin Roof Brewing's Turnrow Harvest Ale and the Asian Style Chargrilled Oyster at Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar
A pint of Tin Roof Brewing's Turnrow Harvest Ale and the Asian Style Chargrilled Oyster at Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar

All this hot weather has me constantly in the mood for spicy food. Then again, I’m always down for any bite with a kick. 

I know I can always get my heat fix at Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar by dousing any raw oyster that comes my way with habanero hot sauce, but I recently discovered another spicy menu item at my favorite downtown spot.

The Asian Style chargrilled oysters are everything you’ve wanted oysters to be. Seafood and ponzu sauce just works. It’s like ponzu sauce walked into the oyster bar, arms wide open (lookin’ at you Creed) and said, “I’m here. Love me.”

Ponzu sauce has everything an oyster needs: a little citrus, a little sweet, and just enough vinegar to compliment the briny taste of the oyster. Top that puppy with some Sriracha sauce and I’m a happy girl.

I chose to pair this tasty morsel with a Tin Roof Tunrow. Turnrow is a harvest ale brewed with fresh ground coriander (aka cilantro). This means it's citrusy, spiced, and light, which translates to a “perfect for hot, humid days” brew.

This is what ‘Between Two Shells’ is all about: separately yummy, but magical together.

Below are some of the other pairings we suggest at Jolie Pearl:



Thursday, July 16, 2015

Barbecue Bites: Crawfish Roll


Crawfish roll, photo by Maria Do of Indie Plate


This crawfish roll is our answer to the North's lobster roll. Chef Eusebio Gongora came up with this recipe for a flavorful summer sandwich that's sure to be a hit at your next party.

Of all the things you can do with leftover boiled crawfish tails, this is one of our favorites (and one of the yummiest). Or, if you don't have any spare tails lying around, Indie Plate can hook you up.

Pair this cold sandwich with an ice cold beer to beat the summer heat! Find this recipe and more at hugjayd.com.

Crawfish Roll



1 lb crawfish, cooked from favorite boil
½ cup BBQ Aioli (see recipe here)
1 tsp Slap Ya Mama seasoning
¼ cup green onion, chopped

¼ cup celery, diced
4 soft buttery rolls
2 tbsp BBQ butter (see recipe here)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 1 tbs of BBQ butter on each roll and toast the buns for 3-4 minutes. In a mixing bowl, combine crawfish, aioli, green onions, celery, and seasoning until all ingredients are incorporated. Fill each roll with the mixture and enjoy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Who Dat Rye: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Lock & Key

by Blair "B-Rex" Loup

The Who Dat Rye at Lock & Key Whiskey Bar in Baton Rouge, LA
The Who Dat Rye at Lock & Key Whiskey Bar in Baton Rouge, LA
While there are some whiskey cocktails designed for the faint of heart at Lock and Key, there are several pages of the menu dedicated to those who embrace the stuff.

The Who Dat Rye featuring Wild Turkey Rye, Luxardo Cherry Liqueur, bitters, and Herbsaint rinse is bold, but refreshing.

It’s got a strong whiskey taste and the liqourice-y zing of Herbsaint quickly follows. Some may shy away from the strong flavor that so many classic southern drinks share, but I crave them.

A fun twist to this cocktail that something like the Sazerac doesn’t have is the Luxardo cherry liqueur.

If you don’t know what a Luxardo cherry is, it’s those really dark cherries popping up on bamboo skewers in drinks everywhere. It’s the OG maraschino cherry.

The benefit of adding the cherry liqueur is that it takes the edge off of all of the other strong flavors and makes the Who Dat Rye a chilled, sip-worthy cocktail to enjoy on a hot Louisiana evening after work.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Star-Crossed Lovers: My Brief Affair with Ursa Major

by Sydney "Brown Nose" Blanchard

Look, I'm a gentlewoman. I want to treat my lady to nice things on occasion. I'm no millionaire, but I'll drop my hard-earned dollars on a good meal any day.

So when Blair told me about Ursa Major, I knew it would be the perfect place to bring my girlfriend for our one year anniversary. She and her brother Jake had recently been there for drinks and had been impressed by the restaurant's selection of cocktails.

Ursa interior
Interior at Ursa Major in New Orleans

seperation anxiety
Separation Anxiety cocktail at Ursa Major

Ursa Major was opened recently by the same people who opened Booty's Street Foods, one of my favorite New Orleans restaurants. But Ursa Major is astrological themed – with each rotation of the zodiac calendar, they switch up their drink list and their menu to items inspired by that zodiac sign.

When Ryan and I went, the menu was Cancer inspired.

We started out with some drinks. I opted for the H.B.I.C., a mixture of Calvados Morin, Hochstadter's Rock and Rye Slow & Low, honey and green chartreuse. It was super sweet and strong. Definitely a drink for sipping.

Ryan went with the Separation Anxiety, featuring Smith & Cross rum, Hamilton Black rum, plum, orange juice, and Rothman & Winter Orchard Pear liqueur. The only alcohol Ryan will generally drink is vodka with orange juice (no beer, only recently some wine), so I was surprised she liked this drink.

We each decided to go with the Tasting Menu, the Chef's choice of six courses including dessert.




japanese
Japanese Yellowtail Tuna at Ursa Major
The first course may have been my favorite. It was a piece of Japanese yellow tail tuna served salted, cold, and garnished with a peach slice. Raw fish isn't something I'd have ordered on my own, but the tuna was tender and light, and it was a great start to our meal. 


samusa
Samusa atop cilantro aioli at Ursa Major













Next, we had samusas stuffed with confit potato, carrot, and pork belly with cilantro aioli dipping sauce. I can best describe these as potato-y wontons. I wished I had tasted more of the pork belly flavors, though.


garbanzo
Garbanzo salad at Ursa Major
The third course was a garbanzo salad with tomato, cilantro, and a heavy curry flavor. The garbanzo beans were a little hard for my taste, but the flavors worked well together. 



Fourth came the pork belly chow mein. Finally, I tasted the pork belly! The noodles and the sauce had a heavy vinegar flavor, so much so that I had to ask the waiter what I was tasting. He said it was Chinese black vinegar, a more potent vinegar used in East Asia. It was very odd, but yummy. 

ryan
Ryan enjoying the pork belly chow mien at Ursa Major

The main course came next. We were served perfectly cooked bedouin lamb from a farm in Mississippi with heirloom carrots, Japanese flavored green beans, tomato chutney, and a dollop of house made yogurt. 

lamb
Bedouin lamb at Ursa Major

The lamb was tremendous: not over-cooked, subtly seasoned, and paired perfectly with the yogurt and tomato chutney. The carrots and green beans were unnecessary. I wouldn't have missed them. 

Last, the dessert. We were served a red bean cake with smoky vanilla bean ice cream. The cake was pretty dry, but combined with the ice cream it wasn't inedible. I paired dessert with a decent sherry, and then we called it a night.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Barbecue Bites: Jay D's BBQ Shrimp

We are so fortunate to live in a state with direct access to Gulf of Mexico seafood. There’s nothing like a fresh Louisiana shrimp, all plump and pink and perfect for popping in your mouth.

Luckily, Indie Plate saved us the trouble of hopping on our shrimp boat and heading out to sea. Indie Plate, a Baton Rouge-based grocery delivery service, sources food items from local producers (including these gorgeous shrimp). 


Jay D's BBQ Shrimp
Jay D's BBQ Shrimp, photo by Maria Do from Indie Plate


For this recipe by Chef Eusebio Gongora, we brought together our beloved Gulf shrimp from Indie Plate and Jay D’s Barbecue Sauce to make a delicious and simple summer seafood dish, perfect for enjoying outdoors with a chilled glass of wine. For more tasty recipes featuring local ingredients, check out HugJayD.com.

BBQ Shrimp


1 lb large head-on shrimp, marinated (see recipe below)
½ cup BBQ butter, divided (see recipe below)
½ cup heavy whipping cream 

1 tbsp Jay D's Barbecue Rub (available at Red Stick Spice)
1 loaf French bread
¼ cup green onion, chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the French bread into 1/2" crostinis and spread 1 tsp of the BBQ butter. Place crostinis on a sheet pan and bake for 5-7 minutes until slices are golden brown. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, and add marinated shrimp to cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip the shrimp and add the cream. Reduce cream by half and add the remaining BBQ butter and the Jay D's Barbecue Rub. Continue to cook the shrimp and stir in the butter until the sauce reaches a creamy consistency. Plate the shrimp on a platter and garnish with green onions and crostinis.

Shrimp Marinade


¼ cup Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup garlic, 
minced 
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp cayenne
1 tbsp Slap Ya Mama Cajun Pepper Sauce


In a mixing bowl, combine Jay D's Barbecue sauce, oil, garlic, black pepper, cayenne, and Slap Ya Mama Cajun Pepper Sauce. Place shrimp into gallon Ziploc bag and add the marinade mixture. Allow shrimp to marinate for 4 hours in the refrigerator.

BBQ Butter


½ lb unsalted butter, divided
¼ cup garlic, minced

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 tbsp fresh oregano, minced
¼ cup Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper


Heat a skillet over medium heat. Place 2 tbsp of butter in the skillet and allow it to melt. Add the garlic, rosemary, and oregano and cook for 2-3 minutes until the garlic is soft. Add Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce and cook for additional 2 minutes. Pour the contents of the skillet into the mixing bowl of stand mixer and allow it to cool. Once cool, add the remaining butter, black pepper, and whip butter for 4-5 minutes. The mixture should double in size.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Kentucky Campfire: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Lock & Key

by Sydney "Brown Nose" Blanchard

It's no secret. I have a pretty bad sweet tooth. My dentist can't keep me away from candy, despite my ever-increasing number of fillings. It's a real problem.

It can probably go without saying that I love dessert-y drinks. I can't really do fruity drinks, but I will always opt for a sugary, boozy concoction.
lock n key
Kentucky Campfire at Lock and Key Whiskey Bar

That's why I ordered the Kentucky Campfire the last time I was at Lock & Key.

The combination of house-made peanut butter simple syrup, bourbon, hazelnut liquor, Creme de Cacao, and hickory pecan bitters results in a cocktail that tastes exactly as you'd expect it to: warm, peanut butter boozy deliciousness.

Jay and Blair said they'd prefer this as a shot, and I'll admit, its strength and its sweetness would make it fun to shoot, but for me it works really well as a cocktail.

Heck, I'd pair this with a fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Nino's Italian, Uprooted

by Sydney "Brown Nose" Blanchard

Each month, our Uprooted series will highlight local chefs, restaurants, organizations, and farmers who are spearheading the farm-to-table and local foodways movements in South Louisiana.


Elton Hyndman plating dishes at this past May's Dinner in the Field event.
Photo courtesy of the Slow Food BR Facebook page and credit to Dubinsky Photography.

Elton Hyndman cares about where his food comes from, and he wants his customers to care too.

The chef-owner at Nino's Italian in Baton Rouge is also the Vice President of Slow Food BR, a local chapter of Slow Food, a global organization founded in 1989 to ensure everyone has access to what they describe as "good, clean, and fair food."

Conceptually, the idea of "slow foods" is to connect the consumer to the grower. It's the antithesis of fast food. In fact, the Slow Food movement arguably began in 1986 after a demonstration at the Spanish Steps in Rome where a McDonald's was set to be built.

But the concept of "farm-to-table" as a way to eat ethically and sustainably didn't take root in the United States until 2000, and the local Slow Food chapter didn't exist until 2009. It's taken Americans, and Louisianans, a while to catch up.

Elton's "eureka moment" happened a few years ago when he and his staff visited a friend who worked at Inglewood Farms.

Elton wanted his staff at Nino’s to tour the farm, meet the farmers and animals there, and cook for the farm hands and crew. Interspersed amongst the Inglewood farmlands were commercial farms that hadn’t begun planting yet.

“To see what their farms looked like when they weren’t being worked was devastating to us,” Hyndman said. “They were brown. They were dead. It looked like the apocalypse."

At Inglewood, half of the fields are planted while the other half rests. Farmers plant rye and encourage healthy insects like bees. According to Hyndman, their land is green, lush, and alive.

After that experience, Hyndman felt compelled to further the slow foods movement.

Now, in his role at Slow Foods BR, Hyndman coordinates chefs for fundraisers that benefit the organization’s programs like Greauxing Healthy, an effort to teach students in East Baton Rouge Parish how to build gardens and cook healthy meals.

At his own restaurant, Hyndman strives to source most of his ingredients locally.

“In the height of the summer, if you take oil, salt, and flour out of it, I can be 85 to 90 percent local,” he said.

But that wasn’t always the case for the Ontario native.

While traveling and learning to cook under different chefs in the U.S., he discovered his passion for fresh, local ingredients.

The first chef he worked under in New Mexico, his mentor, introduced him to the idea of growing his own herbs.

"I remember the oils of the herbs getting on my fingers and not being able to get it off. All night long I kept smelling thyme,” Hyndman said. “The power of the fresh herb garden really made an impact on me."

Fresh Pasta with Louisiana Shrimp at Nino's Italian
Fresh Pasta with Louisiana Shrimp at Nino's Italian
Now, in his own restaurant, Hyndman insists on using “fun, exciting, high quality ingredients.”

He loves cooking with locally sourced gulf shrimp, fresh Louisiana strawberries, citrus, and eggs.

"The one thing that makes the biggest impact in my kitchen is farm fresh eggs,” Hyndman said.

Louisiana’s long growing season is exciting to many non-native chefs, and Hyndman said it will ensure a strong farm-to-table scene once the trend takes root here.

For Hyndman, it’s about more than high quality ingredients. It’s about keeping money in the state and having the money he spent on local ingredients find its way back to his restaurant.

"I want to support people that can support me,” Hyndman said. “There’s a selfishness to it.”

Right now, Hyndman said, the farm-to-table movement is almost entirely chef-led. He said he hopes that more customers begin asking the hard questions and demanding more from restaurants.

"I think it's important that we start asking questions about where our food comes from,” he said. “And are the people who grew, harvested, transported, are they being treated fairly? It's time to start realizing that $3.99 is an inappropriate amount of money to spend on 2500 calories of food."


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Araña: The Only Spider I Welcome

by Blair "B-Rex" Loup

Generally speaking, New Orleans is a fantastic destination for food. This is not news. There’s so much for your palate to experience, yet so little time.

In the same streets you taste dishes that are new, inventive, and inspiring, you can experience meals that are so old they practically birthed the crescent city. In a place that is so uniquely Louisiana, some of the meals I’ve enjoyed most recently in New Orleans are based around lime, cotiga cheese, and cilantro.

Araña is everything I want in a Mexican restaurant. Their presentation is beautiful, the flavors are on fleek, and it’s simply built for a good time.

When I dine out, I consider three criteria: atmosphere, drinks, and apps & ‘sserts (because you can’t have one without the other).

If a restaurant pulls off all of these elements successfully, they can have my money.

Atmosphere: check.

I prefer when a restaurant is cozy (not too cramped, but not a cave), the design is well thought out, and the seating allows for natural lighting (because I take pictures of everything I ingest). So many restaurants get things wrong: uncomfortable seating, bad lighting, canned, adult-contemporary music playing in the background.

But Araña is a place I could sit and sip for hours.

Drinks: check.

I tried three drinks that were on totally different levels.

First, the Jalapeño Pineapple Cilantro Margarita: the depth of flavor gave me life. The grilled pineapple has a sultry sweetness from caramelizing on the grill, the fresh jalapeño adds just enough back heat, and I live my life thinking that cilantro improves most things. We’ll call this one a win.

The Jalapeño Pineapple Cilantro Margarita
The Jalapeño Pineapple Cilantro Margarita
Next up, the Romera Fresca. This puppy is packed with savory, tart confusion in a great way. Juniper-infused tequila hit with a zing of small batch tonic and finished off with a house-made rosemary syrup can grace my glass any day. Another point to Gryffindor. 

The Romera Fresca: Juniper-Infused Tequila,  Small Batch Tonic, and House Made Rosemary Syrup
The Romera Fresca: Juniper-Infused Tequila,  Small Batch Tonic, and House Made Rosemary Syrup
I’m not into things that are super sweet, so dessert drinks aren’t my jam. I thought it couldn’t be done, but Araña said, “Here’s our frozen, drunken Horchata. Enjoy.”

Enjoy, I did, and to that I say winner winner, chicken dinner. 

Drunken Horchata
Drunken Horchata
Bite and Booze Bonus: If you’re into tequila, Araña has something for you. Joining the Araña Tequilla Society is free. With each tequila you taste, you take another (somewhat more inebriated) step towards rewards ranging from t-shirts to free tequila flights to a free bottle of expensive tequila. Worried about keeping up with your passport? Don’t be—Araña holds on to it for you. They’ve thought of everything!

Apps, shareables, and ‘sserts: Check. 

Apps and ‘sserts is Blair-speak for appetizers and dessert. If I’m meeting up with my friends, I’m all about grabbing apps and ‘sserts. While there are some stellar sandwiches and entrées, if you share more, you taste more. It’s science.

Here’s the lineup:

Atop a velvety bed of milky oaxaca cheese lies a spicy blanket of house-made chorizo just waiting to be spread on warm corn tortillas and drizzled with a magically bold red sauce. Don’t think, just order it. 

Queso Fundido: House-Made Chorizo, Grilled Oaxaca Cheese, and Corn Tortillas
Queso Fundido: House-Made Chorizo, Grilled Oaxaca Cheese, and Corn Tortillas
Tacos are the most delicious way to get your fix without feeling too full, and Araña has some great options. I’m a sucker for tacos Al Pastor: I'm into the savory and sweet juicy pork and succulent pineapple chunks.

Tacos Al Pastor: Shaved Pork, Grilled Pineapple, Cilantro, and Onion
Tacos Al Pastor: Shaved Pork, Grilled Pineapple, Cilantro, and Onion
I’m pretty sure “Your Body is a Wonderland” by John Mayer was written about the Torta Ahogana.

Slow roasted pork on bolillo bread, black bean purée, avocado, crema, cotiga cheese, and cumin pickled onion come together under a waterfall of spicy chili dipping salsa and make for a mountain of flavor.

Mind you, this is literally a quarter of the sandwich that’s on the menu so it’s certifiably shareable. 

Torta Ahogada: Slow Roasted Pork on Bolillo Bread, Black Bean Purée, Avocado, Crema, Cotiga Cheese, Cumin Pickled Onion, Spicy Chili Dipping Salsa
Torta Ahogada: Slow Roasted Pork on Bolillo Bread, Black Bean Purée, Avocado, Crema, Cotiga Cheese, Cumin Pickled Onion, Spicy Chili Dipping Salsa
The art of the classic fajita has been lost, and Araña has found it in the form of their Poc Chuc.

Smoked pork loin, escabecbe (pickled veggies), crisp red cabbage, and a pork-fried onion poblano sauce were meant to live inside of that corn tortilla, y’all. Pair that with a flight of tequila and I’m in.

Poc Chuc: Smoked Pork Loin, Escabeche, Red Cabbage, Pork Fried Onion Poblano Sauce, and Corn Tortilla
Poc Chuc: Smoked Pork Loin, Escabeche, Red Cabbage, Pork Fried Onion Poblano Sauce, and Corn Tortilla
Bite and Booze Bonus: Araña also has brunch (word on the street is that it’s killer). 

Desserts are tricky with me. I can't get more than a bite or two in to a super sweet dessert, but I could get after this Trés Leches cake with fresh berries all day. A little sweet, a little creamy, and totally traditional, it’s definitely worth the caloric sacrifice.

Trés Leches Cake
Trés Leches Cake

I know there's a mess of restaurants to try out in New Orleans, but Araña has something special going on that's worth your money.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Visiting the Donner-Peltier Distillery: Whisk(e)y Wednesday present by Lock & Key

by Blair "B-Rex" Loup

Team Bite and Booze took a trip to Thibodaux, Louisiana, recently. In my mind, there’s only one reason for me to be in Thibodaux, and that’s to visit my favorite spirit manufacturer in the state.

It felt a lot like a “long-time listener, first-time caller” situation for me.

I fell in love with the Donner-Peltier Distillery shortly after I started working for Jay. I tried their full line of products at the time (pre-LA1 Whiskey) and the rest is history.
Barrels of LA1 Whiskey aging in the Donner-Peltier warehouse

My job is to support local businesses and products, and I can’t think of a better way to drink local than to drink alcohol that uses Louisiana rice as an adjunct in their gin, vodka, and LA1 Whiskey distilling processes.

Adding Louisiana rice into the mix gives their products a different, more flavorful taste. It’s something that’s unique and sustainable (they use the broken grains from rice mills that would otherwise be thrown away).

Located next to a sugar cane field, the Donner-Peltier Distillery welcomes visitors to tour their facilities, have a few cocktails, and learn about the different processes that allow them to create their line of LA1 Whiskey, Rougaroux rums, and Oryza gin and vodka. Visitors can also check out the warehouse where LA1 Whiskey is aged.

If you’re lucky and not a lightweight like our Content Sheriff/Warden of the Web, Sydney Blanchard, you’ll get to taste some whiskey straight out of the barrel!

While there are other Louisiana whiskeys available, LA1 is the first aged whiskey to be produced in Louisiana since prohibition.

Currently, the whiskey is highly allocated and can sometimes be found in bars around Baton Rouge.

The easiest way to get your hands on a bottle is to follow the distillery on Facebook and Twitter. When a new batch is ready to bottle, they’ll let you know so you can call the distillery and reserve a bottle to pick up at their tasting room.

Donner-Peltier is currently working on expanding their space for more barrels to age, thus filling our hearts and bellies with more whiskey in the near future.

For more information about tours, tasting room hours, and their award-winning products visit dpdspirits.com.