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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Sac-a-Lait NOWFE Wine Dinner: A Sportsman's Paradise

by Blair Loup

Chefs Samantha and Cody Carroll have experienced a whirlwind of success over the past two years. Their first restaurant, Hot Tails in New Roads, Louisiana, is what got them started, but it’s Sac-a-Lait in New Orleans that has people talking.

Not long after the team’s trip to cook at the legendary James Beard House in New York, New Orleans Magazine crowned Sac-a-Lait “Restaurant of the Year” in 2015. It’s the first restaurant to earn that title within the same year of opening.

I feel like I’m constantly Jones-ing for one of their barrel-aged cocktails and anything that comes out of that kitchen window, so I thought making the trip to their New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (NOWFE) dinner sounded like a good idea.

With Chef Bradley Andries at the helm, I knew we were in for a good time. Chef Brad chose to pair each course with some of his favorite Leonardo Locasio selections, and the results were delicious.

Deviled Crab: lump crab meat, yard bird egg
Deviled Crab: lump crab meat, yard bird egg


We began the evening with lots of sparkling Rosé. The deviled crab is the snack food you never knew you needed. An empty crab shell holds a lovely amount of jumbo lump crab deviled with yard bird egg and a house-made cracker. The creamy deviled crab combined with the fruity bubbles reminded me of a typical South Louisiana family gathering but taken to the next level.


Alligator & Mirliton paired with Arigolas Costamolino Vermentino, 2015


Alligator & Mirliton: pickled mustard seeds, white remoulade
Alligator & Mirliton: pickled mustard seeds, white remoulade

The Alligator Mirliton is favorite dish at Sac-a-Lait. The sweetness of the alligator and mashed mirliton combined with the kick from white remoulade and pickled mustard seeds set off the floral notes of the wine. One of the diners at my table said it was a flavor explosion like fireworks on the Fourth of July.


Soft Shell paired with Suavia Massifiti, 2012


Soft Shell: blue corn dusted, masque choux, duck egg carbonara
Soft Shell: blue corn dusted, masque choux, duck egg carbonara

When you’re at Sac-a-Lait, you get Louisiana on a plate. What I love most about the Sac-a-Lait team is that they’re not cooking New Orleans food in New Orleans; it’s harcore prairie/swamp Cajun cuisine. This dish was spicy, a little sweet with a great crunch. Pair that with the minerality and crispiness of the wine, and it’s a win.


Garfish Ravioli paired with Ceretto Rossana Dolvetto D’Alba, 2013


Garfish Ravioli: smoked gar, heirloom sugo
Garfish Ravioli: smoked gar, heirloom sugo

I’ve started to notice more “trash fish” on menus, and it really makes my day. Some of the most delicious fish that are overpopulating our waters and throwing ecosystems out of whack, like Garfish or Lionfish, are finally making their way to our plates. The heirloom sugo with the smoked gar had this funky, almost fennel flavor, which played well with the velvety, almost dusty wine.


Venison Shoulder paired with Mastroberardino Radici Taurasi, 2009


Venison Shoulder: mushroom risotto, thyme & garlic jus
Venison Shoulder: mushroom risotto, thyme & garlic jus

Our entire table agreed this was the best pairing of the night. The earthiness of the mushroom risotto and gaminess of the venison was the perfect hand hold for this wine. Known as the “Barolo of the South,” this wine was decanted for 3 hours and had this volcanic thing going on that set off this savory garlic and thyme jus.


Berry Cobbler paired with Bera Moscato D’Asti, 2014


Berry Cobbler: vanilla ice cream, brown sugar cookie crust
Berry Cobbler: vanilla ice cream, brown sugar cookie crust

What’s not to love about a warm cobbler topped with homemade ice cream? The sweet, warm berries married well with the peachy bubbles of the Moscato. A hearty South Louisiana end to an amazing meal.