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Don't miss out on one of the best culinary events of the year:

Friday, August 11, 2017

South American Supper: A Private Dinner at Red Stick Spice Co.

by Sophie Spring, intern


Gov't Tacos Chef Aimee Tortorich, Jay Ducote and their culinary team were able to take a break from slinging tacos and focus on the latest Red Stick Spice Company private dinner, South American Supper for 24 lucky guests. The four course meal featured traditional South American foods, with a Bite and Booze twist.

The guests starting arriving around 7, with the tantalizing scent of roasted potatoes filling up the store.

Our first passed course was red snapper ceviche with a crispy fried plantain chip and glasses of bubbly Prosecco. The guests enjoyed this course while perusing the store, allowing them to see all of the delicious oils, vinegars, and spice mixtures Red Stick Spice Co. has to offer.

Photo by: Jordan Hefler Photography

Once the guests were seated it was time for the second course, a seafood paella. Our paella was traditional, using Supreme Rice with saffron, mussels, shrimp, and green peas. The dish was complimented nicely by Jay D’s Blanc du Bois. An added bonus for the guests were the extra prepared mussels that were served family style to each table.

Chef Aimee Tortorich plating the paella. Photo by: Jordan Hefler Photography 
The third course was a real show stopper: Cafeciteaux coffee rubbed tri-tip served over fresh green cilantro chimichurri with a side of creamy paprika roasted potatoes a la plancha. This course was probably the biggest hit of the night. Every plate brought back to the kitchen was licked clean. Our guests enjoyed this course with a glass of robust Malbec.

Photo by: Jordan Hefler Photography

For the dessert course, the culinary team put a spin on traditional tamales, making a dulce de leche tamale served with homemade bananas foster ice cream. The tamales had a subtle sweetness and the bananas foster ice cream melted beautifully over the warm masa. The guests loved this unexpected dessert. Served alongside the tamale was Jay D’s Single Origin Coffee, with a splash of Frangelico hazelnut liqueur and cinnamon whipped cream.

Photo by: Jordan Hefler Photography

The dinner went off seamlessly, thanks to help from Anne and the Red Stick Spice staff there to help us out. After the dinner was over, the team received such great feedback that we were inspired to plan another SOLD OUT Red Stick Dinner, North African Appetite on August 16!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Pico's: A Houston "Mex-Mex" Institution

by Blair Loup

Since establishing Pico’s in 1984, it has become a shining beacon of “Mex-Mex” cuisine in the holy land of Tex-Mex. The Richards family treats their customers like relatives. When you enter the sprawling restaurant you can hear fresh margaritas shaking, smell the hand-pressed tortillas on the flat top and see the genuine smile across the faces of their employees. You can’t have a bad time at Pico’s; they simply won’t allow it.

It’s a large restaurant, but don’t let that fool you. Chef, and owner, Arnaldo Richard has his hand in every dish. The attention to detail that goes in to the flavor built on each plate is extremely authentic. If you’re looking for true Mexican cuisine in the Houston area, you need not look any further.

The depth of flavor isn’t just in the food though. Arnaldo’s daughter Monica Richards is at the helm of their fantastic tequila program. Even the most baseline of margaritas at Pico’s is top-notch. Whether you’re looking to demolish a couple of shakers of their house margaritas or taste from some of Monica’s select barrels, she has taken the time to curate a truly special tequila experience for their guests. The tequila selection alone is a worth the trip.




Jay, Chef Aimee and I have had the pleasure of dining with Monica and visiting with Arnaldo on a couple of occasions and each trip has only made our hearts grow fonder. Here are a few of the best bites and sips we had the last time we were there:




Ontiones Carlos Slim is one dish that I think speaks to the attention to detail and flavor building Arnaldo's cooking is centered around. With this take on Oysters Rockefeller, Arnaldo uses an intricate blend of celery leaf, tarragon, chervil, parsley, herb saint, spinach, collard greens and purslane and tops each bite with cotija and parmesan cheeses.

Ontiones Carlos Slim
Ontiones Carlos Slim



These mussels are sautéed in a white wine and crema sauce with Spanish chorizo and topped with micro cilantro. After we got a hold of their bolilla (similar to French bread) these babies didn't last long. The creaminess of the sauce combined with the flavor of the mussels and the little kick and umami from the chorizo made each one more poppable than the last.


Mejillones a la Gallega



I'm not going to lie. I think about this next dish all the time. In a section on their menu called Al Ajillo you can find some of the tastiest dishes in the whole joint. Ajillo is a condiment in Mexican cuisine that is made by infusing olive oil with dried chilis and fresh sliced garlic for a minimum of 72 hours. It's even more amazing than it sounds. They sauté different types of seafood in this delectable concoction, but my favorite version is the octopus. So tender, it feels like you're biting into a cloud that's soaked in garlic/chile olive oil; insane.

Pulpo Al Ajillo
Pulpo Al Ajillo



Mole holds a very special place in my heart. There's a lot that goes into each mole, but you can always be sure of one thing when it comes to this comforting dish: whoever took the time to make it, undoubtedly stirred in a lot of love. In this case Arnaldo moved me to feelings. The duck fell apart in the rich, decadent mole and the tostones hit the hearty, but sweet notes. I would order this dish again and again.  



Until next time, Pico's! If you're ever in the Houston area, Pico's is a must. Keep a look out for some of their phenomenal tequila dinners as well! 


Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Bonut Baker’s Dozen: Batch 13 Biscuits & Bowls

by Paige Johannessen


Before the new Copeland’s concept opened, the Bite and Booze team had the chance to try out Batch 13 Biscuits & Bowls. If you haven't been by to try the fun and inviting bright yellow restaurant, you're missing out. The menu is certainly different than the other restaurants under the Copeland's name, featuring a “Grab-and-Go” wall lined with salads and bowls, as well as a dine-in option for the guests that want to hang out and enjoy the quirky signage and dozens of succulents.



We had the chance to try a few of their signature menu items as well as grab a "bonut" or thirteen. I wasn’t starving when we made the trek over to Batch 13 so I opted for the “It’s All Greek To Me” lunch bowl. The hummus and vegetables were light and delicious, a perfect refresher for a warm summer afternoon. Not exactly filling for those who want a complete lunch, but could definitely serve as a sharing item for a table.

Herbed hummus, cucumber, feta, mixed tomatoes, olives, roasted peppers, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic reduction sauce and sumac, with lavish chips.

The “Wild Wild (South)West Hot Bowl” was my personal favorite. A rice bowl, served with spicy chunks of chicken, veggies and pickled jalapeños...right up my alley.

Spicy chicken cutlets, pickled cabbage, charred corn, pickled onions, roasted red peppers, pickled jalapeños, black beans, cilantro, warm seasoned rice and Southwest Ranch.

The table favorite was definitely the "Spicy Fried Chicken and Andouille Gravy Smothered Biscuit." This classic spoke to the hearts of all of the Popeye’s lovers out there. Fried chicken and a warm buttermilk biscuit, what else could a South Louisianan need? 

Andouille sausage gravy, fried marinate chicken and Copeland's hot sauce on a toasted buttermilk biscuit.

To cap off the meal we tried a handful of Chef Darryl Smith’s signature creation, the “bonuts.” This fusion of a donut and biscuit is something that could get my wallet in trouble if I lived closer to Batch 13. I recommend the apple cinnamon bonut. It's like a gooey apple pie that is meant to be eaten for breakfast. Glorious.

 
From top left going clockwise: Apple Cinnamon, Hot, Choc & Bacon, Cinnamon Sugar and Glazed bonuts.

Batch 13 Biscuit & Bowls is a must lunch spot for those of you who frequent the Essen/Perkins area. It's quick, convenient and darn good! A great fast-casual breakfast and lunch addition for that part of town.