Bite and Booze by Jay D. Ducote

Monday, November 30, 2015

Mary Lewis: Superintendent of Suds

by Blair Loup

Mary Lewis grew up in the small town of Gloster, Mississippi with a graduating class of sixteen people, but growing up in an LSU family, she had her sights set on planting roots in Baton Rouge.

Mary Lewis, Sales Manager at Mockler Beverage Company
Mary Lewis, Sales Manager at Mockler Beverage Company
With a grandfather that played tennis for LSU and an aunt that donned the Golden Girl leotard, Mary jumped at the opportunity to walk on to the women’s basketball team. After her sophomore year, she became a scholarship player for the rest of her college career.

Moving to Baton Rouge, Mary didn’t know anyone and said her early college years were a challenge.

“I went from being the tallest and fastest, to a nobody. Everyday was a competition,” she said.

The lessons of hard work and dedication are some that many of us learn playing recreational sports as kids, but taking that to a college court equipped her with skills she’s used to earn her Sales Manager position at Mockler Beverage where she’s been for the past 17 years.

She began her life after college at LSU with an IT job at a clothing manufacturer. She was looking for a change, and the opportunity presented itself when Mary bumped into Patrick and Shelley Mockler at a hockey game in Lafayette. Shelley had an important position in IT with Mockler at the time, and encouraged Mary to apply.

For five years Mary worked in the IT department until she was nudged in the direction of sales. She moved to “Space” which is one of the most powerful tools for a beverage company.

"Space" is a department that works with a software program that contains data on every product in the way of package size, price, demand, etc. Mockler can build cases and coolers at different accounts and determine profitability and how long supplies will last.

After doing that for a few years, Mary moved into national sales for five years dealing with chains like Circle K. As the company grew, so did Mary’s opportunities.

Now a Sales Manager, she deals with around 120 employees in marketing, distribution, and sales.

“My job now is to motivate my team,” she said. "I don’t want my guys to think I’m just the lady that sits in the office."

During her time at Mockler Beverage, the business has changed completely in terms of products, operations, and for women. Shelley Mockler held an important position at Mocker, and Mary feels as though she paved the way and proved herself making it easier for women to make a name for themselves in the beer business.

In terms of products, Mary said things have definitely gotten more complicated. Where Mockler used to be a one-supplier company (Budweiser), they now have a large product mix that comes with its own bag of rules and regulations to follow.

If there’s one thing Mary knows, it’s the beer business. Much of what we see as consumers is the boom of craft beers, which is a tiny speck in the universe of beverage distribution.

Next time you visit a grocery store, try to see the world through Mary’s eyes and take a stroll down the beer aisle. You’ll notice the “clean store” trend retailers have latched onto, minimizing big displays and marketing props for products. Take a look at a cooler and see if you can tell which products sell more according to the space they’ve been allotted, and take into account size and profitability. The business of beer is a rabbit hole of fascination.

Cheers to you Mary!

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

Natalie Parbhoo: Duchess of Distribution
Lindsay Nations: Baroness of Beer
Dori Murvin: Sorceress of Service
Nora McGunnigle: Headmistress of Hops
Myrna Arroyo: Vino Valedictorian
Brandi Lauck: Warden of Whiskey
Cari Caramonta: Mother of Malts
Erin White: Priestess of Pairing
Beth Donner: Dame of Distilling
Halston McMullan: Hustler of Houston Hops
Libby Landry: Governess of Grapes

Friday, November 27, 2015

Introducing Jay D's Louisiana Molasses Mustard!

molasses mustard
Check out our revamped labels! They're going to grace the next batch of Barbecue Sauce as well.

It's finally here!

After months of laboratory testing and repeatedly shouting the phrase "back to the drawing board!" we at last perfected the recipe for the long-awaited Jay D's Louisiana Molasses Mustard.

Combining three of our favorite ingredients (Louisiana-made hot sauce, mustard, and cane syrup) in perfect proportions, we came up with what we think is something really special. It's hot, tangy, and sugary sweet, and we can think of a million different ways to enjoy it.

As a salad dressing? Sure.

As a marinade? Why the heck not?

As a dipping sauce? But of course! Toss some dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets in the oven! LET'S DO THIS.

We hope you're as stoked about this product as we are.

Pre-order a bottle online, and stay tuned for some fun recipes with the Molasses Mustard!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Love Letter to Latin American Food

by Sydney Blanchard

I pretty much never tire of Latin American food. In a way, it reminds me a lot of the Cajun soul food I grew up eating – spicy, atypical cuts of meat and some form of fried/bready form of carbohydrates.

With bright colors and bright flavors to boot, Latin American food makes a food blogger's job easy.

Team Bite and Booze would like to formally express our love for Latin cuisine through imagery. Below you'll find some of the most memorable meals we've had.

Scroll, and enjoy.

Dear Latin American Food,

Ceviche at El Xuco Xicana in Houston, TX

We know you sometimes get a bad wrap.

mole pollo
Pollo en Mole at La Reyna in Baton Rouge, La.

But you're too good for this world.

street corn
Mexican street corn

You're more than just your bright colors.

Guacamole at Johnny Sanchez in New Orleans, La.

You're more than your bold flavors.

green mole
Green mole at Mestizo in Baton Rouge, La.

You've got us wrapped around your little finger.

Barbecue chicken quesadillas with Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce

And we wouldn't have it any other way.

Tacos at The Rum House in Baton Rouge, La.

Thanks for being you.

red snapper
Red snapper ceviche at The Gulf in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Murder Point Oysters, Uprooted

by Sydney 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.

Murder Point Oysters, right out of the water

Alabama's waters have had a rough go of it in the last decade or so. Hurricanes and an oil spill ravaged the Gulf coast and its economy, and according to Rosa Zirlott, Alabama streams had not produced oysters for many years.

That was before she and her family, former shrimpers, became oyster farmers. 

The Zirlott family will soon begin their third year as Alabama oyster farmers, and Rosa and her son Lane are enthusiastic about their latest family endeavor, Murder Point Oysters.

Rosa Zirlott, co-owner of Murder Point Oysters and Zirlott family matriarch

"They're oysters worth killing for!" Rosa said. 

Out in Porterville Bay near Gulf Shores, Alabama, lies Murder Point. According to legend, it used to be called Myrtle Point until 1927 when the man who held the oyster lease was murdered in a dispute over the lease. 

"You have to talk to the old timers to find out what really happened," Rosa said. 

Rosa and her family are one of only 12 oyster farmers in Alabama, and they've learned a lot about raising oysters in the last two years. It's safe to say they take their new venture pretty seriously. 

“This is very, very new for Alabama," Rosa said. “I talked my husband into doing it. I said, 'Let’s do it. If it works, we can say it works, and maybe more people will want to get involved.'"

Lane, in particular, has found his calling.

"Lane talks to them every day to give them the butter love," according to Rosa. "He feels like these oysters are his babies."

The care for their craft and stewardship to the environment is obvious in touring their oyster beds. 

Out on their boat in the middle of the oyster beds, college-age guys in wet suits and rubber fishing overalls tumble the oysters.

Murder Point Oysters are graded by size and tumbled every two weeks
Tumbling the oysters, or running them through a metal grading machine, causes the oyster to clamp town and makes the muscle stronger. Tumbling ensures that the oysters remain organized in the beds by size, and it also knocks the end of the shell off. This makes the oyster shells shorter, tougher, and easier to open up without the shell breaking. 

Every two weeks, the oysters are graded and moved to beds with oysters of the same size. According to Rosa, this is necessary to ensure Murder Point Oysters are up to restaurant standards.

"We try to create a quality product," Rosa said. "We’re trying to send the perfect oyster."

Murder Point Oysters cleaned off and ready for eating
But they don't stop at tumbling the oysters to ensure quality. Rosa said Murder Points oysters will taste different from the oysters growing in the waters next to them. Instead of keeping their oysters on top of the water while they're developing, the Zirlotts move their oyster babies up and down in the water column, allowing them to be flavored by different pressures, temperatures, and food sources. 

When the oysters are ready to be harvested, they're taken from the water directly to a processing facility owned by the Zirlotts, where they're then sent off to restaurants across the country where they are in high demand.

"It really is farm-to-table," Rosa said.

Prepared and garnished Murder Point Oysters served at Fisher's in Orange Beach, Ala.

The Murder Point Oyster business is maintaining consistent growth. In August they places 800,000 baby oysters into the water who will be ready to be eaten by 2016.

The Zirlotts take pride not only in their rich, buttery oyster crop, but in the work they do in sustaining and maintaining an ecosystem friendly not only to oysters but to the wildlife that share the waters with their oysters.

“We want to do right by the environment," Rosa said.

Read more Uprooted here:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Between Two Shells: Baked Brie and Bacon Oysters with an Old Fashioned

by Blair Loup

Can you feel it? Temperatures are dipping below 70 degrees, and we’re all losing our minds. Sure, we’re seeing a lot of boots, scarves, and unnecessary hats, but we’re also seeing darker, heavier beers, more whiskey than usual, and heartier flavor profiles.

My cool weather cravings usually lean toward creamy Brie cheese, bold red wines, root vegetables, whiskey, and anything cooked whole carcass style. I feel like sometimes, Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar gets me too much. It’s honestly scary how easy it is to pair great bites with a tasty beverage.

A baked Brie and Bacon oyster and Old Fashioned at Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar in downtown Baton Rouge, LA.
A baked Brie and Bacon oyster and Old Fashioned at Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar in downtown Baton Rouge, La.

The baked Brie and Bacon oyster is easily my favorite of the baked offerings at Jolie Pearl. What’s not to love about a Gulf oyster covered in a creamy Brie cheese sauce with specks of bacon and baked? The slight sweetness of the Brie and smokiness of the pork match up nicely with the smokey/sweet flavors of an Old Fashioned.

The typical Old Fashioned is simple, but irresistible. With a bitters-soaked sugar cube muddled in orange and cherry, the classic cocktail is supposed to be served with Rye whiskey. I asked for this one to be made with bourbon for a warmer caramel flavor to marry the Brie and bacon flavors.

With the weather cooling down and the holidays upon us, I know downtown Baton Rouge will be bustling. Pro-tip, leave early for all of your downtown tomfoolery and grab a bite and some booze at Jolie Pearl!

This is a great Fall/Winter transition pairing, and you can find some of the other parings we’ve tried and approved below:

Raw Gulf Oysters and Fresh Margaritas
Oysters Rockefellar and the Louisiana Mule
Raw Gulf Oysters topped with Cucumber Mignonette with Fresh Grapefruit Margaritas
Asian Style Chargrilled Oysters with Tin Roof Tunrow Harvest Ale
Chargrilled Oysters with Gnarly Barley's Catahoula Common
Raw West Coast Gold Creek Oysters with Jay D's Blanc Du Bois
Buffalo Chargrilled Oysters with Chafunkta’s Kingfish Cream Ale

Friday, November 20, 2015

Atmosphere Makes for a Memorable Meal at Houmas House

by Sydney Blanchard

What makes for a great meal?

I'm sure anyone you ask will answer this question differently,  but I'd argue many favorite food memories have less to do with what was served and more to do with the people sharing the meal. 

It might be the Southerner in me speaking, but few things beat a meal blanketed by the warm shroud of friendly conversation and banter.

Back in September, the Bite and Booze team (with the delightful addition of Rue Rusike) had the opportunity to dine at one of the finest restaurants in the area with Houmas House owner Kevin Kelly.

Latil's Landing is situated on the Houmas House Plantation grounds, both a tourism hotspot and highly coveted wedding and event venue. 

Executive chef Andrew Foster, Jr.'s menu is ambitious, flavorful, and it tastes like home. They're doing something that feels really special at Houmas House.

We started off the evening with appetizers. I had the crispy pork belly covered in Houmas House honey. The crispy, salty pork was complimented by the honey with perfect subtlety. 

houmas house pork
Crispy pork belly with Houmas House Beehive honey

Next came the scallop and foie gras "sandwich." Seared foie gras nested between two rosemary seasoned scallops. Generally scallops are not my favorite, but the corn coulis made all the difference. 

houmas house scallop
Scallop and foie gras sandwich

For the soup course, we had the famous crawfish, corn, and curried pumpkin bisque. This, to me, was the highlight of the meal. The pumpkin worked well with the spicy, salty crawfish tails. This is something I would love to try to recreate at home. 

houmas house bisque
Curried pumpkin bisque with crawfish and corn

Onto the beets, Blair's favorite root vegetable (and one of mine). The salad was composed of jumbo lump crab meat tossed with a lemon basil dressing with sweet roasted beets and organic greens. I found the crab and beet combination a bit weird, but in a delicious way.

houmas house beets
Roasted beet and crab salad

If there's anything Latil's Landing is great at, it's pretty plating. All of the entrees and event the desserts featured a pop of color courtesy of an orchid flower. I opted for the grilled, butter basted filet mignon with parmesan potatoes, Burgundy mushrooms, and Abita root beer demi-glace. It was as tasty as it was gorgeous.

houma house filet
Filet mignon at Latil's Landing

Last, though thoroughly stuffed, we indulged in dessert. For me, that meant chocolate bourbon cake with coffee bourbon syrup. How could I say no?

houma house dessert
Chocolate bourbon cake

Sure, the Latin's Landing dinner we shared was a culinary delight, but taking the time to enjoy a meal with friends is the real pleasure. If you haven't toured the neatly manicured grounds at Houmas House, sipped cocktails at The Carriage House, or dined at Latil's Landing, you're missing out!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Insta-Worthy Cocktails in Baton Rouge and New Orleans

by Sydney Blanchard

I don't know about y'all, but any time I go out and order a cocktail, I feel compelled to photograph it and post it on Instagram. There's just something so fun and novel about ordering a pretty cocktail. And if it tastes great? Even better.

Louisiana (New Orleans, specifically) is the birthplace of the cocktail, and what better way to celebrate local cocktail culture than to make a not-so-comprehensive list of some of the most photo-worthy cocktails we've had in the Baton Rouge/New Orleans area?

Without further's our list! What would you include?

Grapefruit Margarita at Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar

grapefruit margarita

A little sweet, a little tart, and adorably pink, the grapefruit margarita at Jolie Pearl is perfect for pairing with oysters

Vodka Freeze at Bistro Byronz

This snow-white, boozy vodka freeze is a Bistro Byronz favorite.Topped with a cherry and a lime slice, it's also a guaranteed like-generator on Instagram. 

Blueberry Hill at Olive or Twist

olive or twist

You can't get an ugly cocktail at Olive or Twist. This muddled blueberry cocktail bursts with berry flavor and color, making it perfectly photogenic.

Sweet-T-Sway at Lock & Key Whiskey Bar

sweet t sway

As gorgeous as it is delicious, Lock & Key's picture perfect Sweet-T-Sway combines sweet tea, pomegranate liqueur, muddled mint and hand-crushed ice. 

Jalapeño Pineapple Cilantro Margarita at Araña

pineapple margarita

Visually stunning chunky pineapple and bright green jalapeño bits make this margarita at Araña pop (and will make all your followers envious).

Damn Thistle at Sac-A-Lait

damn thistle

Sweet, syrupy, and adorned with an edible hibiscus flower, the picturesque Damn Thistle at Sac-A-Lait features Donner-Peltier's Oryza Vodka and tastes like a dream.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Lake Charles is the Perfect Weekend Getaway for Food Lovers, and Here's Why

by Sydney Blanchard

Admittedly, Lake Charles isn't always the first place that comes to mind when I dream up day trips or weekend excursions, but after a recent stay in the Boudin Capital of Louisiana, it's safe to say I've converted.

Below, you'll find a list of a few of my favorite things to do while in Lake Charles. You'll see how easy it is to fall in love with Southwest Louisiana food, culture, and fun!

Brunch at Jack Daniel's Bar & Grill at L'Auberge 

jack daniels
Fried grit cake topped with steak topped with an egg at Jack Daniel's Bar & Grill

You'd be doing yourself a disservice by staying anywhere other than L'Auberge Lake Charles. The resort is not only the epitome of luxury, but it's also home to some great restaurants. Noted Chef Lyle Broussard heads the kitchen at the Jack Daniel's Bar & Grill on the property, and their brunch items alone are worth the trip to Lake Charles. This is one of the great examples of the great food coming out of the younger culinary scene in Lake Charles. Pro-tip: Order the Whiskey Milk Punch. You won't regret it.

Try Acadian Coffee Roasters

acadian coffee roasters
Not-yet-roasted coffee beans at Acadian Coffee Roasters

Your post-brunch plans should definitely include coffee, especially if you brunched properly with the Milk Punch! Acadian Coffee Roasters in Lake Charles is a relatively new operation. The proprietors, both named Nancy, pride themselves on their single origin, organic coffee beans and delicious flavored coffees. It's all about supporting locals! P.S. I highly recommend their Amaretto flavored coffee. It's amazing!

Explore the Creole Nature Trail

creole nature trail
Perfect day for exploring the Creole Nature Trail

The Creole Nature Trail is the best way to walk off that ridiculously delicious brunch. It's the picture perfect place to explore the beaches, wildlife, marshes, and fishing of Southwest Louisiana. A guided tour is also an option. Watch out for alligators (seriously)!

Snack Along the Boudin Trail

Smoked boudin from Rabideaux's Sausage Kitchen

Southwest Louisiana is the boudin capital of the world, so even if you've had boudin before, you'd be remiss to skip out on exploring the boudin trail! I'd recommend stopping by Rabideaux's Sausage Kitchen or anywhere on this list. Smoked by the link or fried up in a ball, boudin is a must-try in Lake Charles.

Tour Bayou Rum Distillery

bayou rum
Bayou Rum's Satsuma Rum Liqueur at their distillery in Lake Charles

In 2013, Bayou Rum sought to continue the long-lost tradition of Louisiana rum. It makes sense, right? Sugar plantations in South Louisiana before the Civil War often built distilleries adjacent to the main house. Learn more about the history and process of rum making on one of their distillery tours (and don't pass up the rum tasting bar). Bayou Rum has one of the coolest distillery tours around, and you can grab their rum and some branded swag in their immense gift shop afterward.

Cocktails & Small Plates at Restaurant Calla

blue crab beignets
Blue crab beignets at Restaurant Calla

One of the newer restaurants on the Lake Charles food scene, Restaurant Calla offers "creative, seasonal, and sustainable" dishes in the budding Southwest Louisiana culinary scene. Chef David Sorrells has a unique vision for modern Louisiana cuisine, and he carries it out well at Calla. The restaurant is gorgeous, but don't let that fool you: the menu is straight-forward and lacks pretension. Grab a drink off of their list of fun cocktails and split a couple of small plates with the table. But save room for dinner!

Dine at La Truffe Sauvage

la truffe risotto
Life-altering saffron risotto topped with fish at La Truffe Sauvage

Since 1998, Chefs Mohamed Chettouh and Arthur Durham's La Truffe Sauvage has been putting Lake Charles on the culinary map. Their take on fine French dining is something special that shouldn't be missed. Here you can read my detailed write-up of the meal I had there. I'll just say that their selection of wines is noteworthy, and the saffron risotto I had there was life-altering.

Where are your go-to spots in Lake Charles?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Culinary Bucket List: "Bayou in the Big Apple" Dinner at the James Beard House

by Jay Ducote

Jay Ducote at the James Beard House
Jay Ducote at the James Beard Hous
In the food world, the James Beard Awards are pretty much the "Oscars" of the industry. The James Beard Foundation, named after the legendary American culinarian, hands out the prestigious awards to chefs, restaurateurs, food writers, and more.

The Foundation converted James Beard's old brownstone house in Manhattan into their offices and a space for one-time-only dinners with rotating chefs from around the country.

While winning a James Beard Award is one of the ultimate milestones of a career in the culinary arts, getting invited to cook at the James Beard house is also one of those monumental achievements for aspiring chefs.

Being in the food world and even carrying a membership card for the James Beard Foundation, one of my bucket list dreams has been to dine at the James Beard House. However, I didn't just want to go to some random dinner on an odd trip to New York. Instead, I figured that I'd wait for a chef who I happen to be friends with to get the invite, and then I'd plan a trip to New York around that dinner.

Cody Carroll, Owen Hohl, Brad Andries and Jay Ducote with Louisiana Redfish at the James Beard House
Cody Carroll, Owen Hohl, Brad Andries and Jay Ducote with Louisiana Redfish at the James Beard House

So as fortune would have it, this summer while in the middle of my Food Network Star run, I got the news that Chefs Cody and Sam Carroll from Hot Tails in New Roads and the newly opened Sac-a-lait in New Orleans had been invited to cook at the James Beard House in October. I knew I didn't want to miss this dinner put on by Louisiana Culinary Institute graduates and the former King and Queen of Louisiana Seafood. I booked a trip for Team Bite and Booze to head to the Big Apple.

Brad Andries and Cody Carroll prep for their dinner at the James Beard House
Brad Andries and Cody Carroll prep for their dinner at the James Beard House

The night before the dinner at the James Beard House, Cody told me that if I wanted to come help them prep, they could use a couple extra hands. An opportunity to actually cook in the James Beard House?! I couldn't pass that up. We showed up around noon the next day. I threw on an apron and got to work. I could feel the history. The legacies of chefs like Julia Child and Jaques Pepin filled the kitchen. In many ways, slowing down to savor the experience, I realized how truly awesome it was.

Jay Ducote portions out grits for one of the dishes at the James Beard House
Jay portions out grits for one of the dishes at the James Beard House

From noon to around six I helped chop, slice, and portion different components of the 6+ course meal. The kitchen at the James Beard House is notoriously tiny. There are ample small corridors to squeeze through and low hanging obstacles on which to bump my head. As a rather large dude, it certainly proved to be as cozy as advertised. There is an atrium and a back yard to get a little extra head room and fresh air, though. 

The Damn Thistle made with Oryza Vodka
The Damn Thistle made with Oryza Vodka

The dinner got started with cocktails and passed hors d'oeuvres. The Damn Thistle (pictured above) and barrel-aged sazerac were both big hits with the fun-loving crowd. The Damn Thistle starts with Louisiana's Oryza Vodka and finishes with elderflower, pineapple, lime, and hibiscus. We also feasted on deviled crab, pig's ear, and duck tongue appetizers as we mingled with other folks attending the dinner. Before long, with our stomachs ready for the task at hand, we sat down for the formal six course supper with wine pairings.

Turtle Boudin Noir, Louisiana Pear, Fingerling "Brabonts", Sugarcane-Cured Chappapeela Pork Jowl, Pickled Mirleton
Turtle Boudin Noir, Louisiana Pear, Fingerling "Brabonts", Sugarcane-Cured Chappapeela Pork Jowl, Pickled Mirleton

Sweet Fried Alligator, White Remoulade, Hand-Mashed Mirleton
Sweet Fried Alligator, White Remoulade, Hand-Mashed Mirleton

P&J Oysters, Louisiana Wild Mushrooms, Duck Egg Carbonara, Mustard Green Vermicelli
P&J Oysters, Louisiana Wild Mushrooms, Duck Egg Carbonara, Mustard Green Vermicelli

Lost Fish: Perdu-Style Gulf Fish, Whipped Creole Potato Salad, Sweet Corn Calas, Crawfish Etoufee
Lost Fish: Perdu-Style Gulf Fish, Whipped Creole Potato Salad, Sweet Corn Calas, Crawfish Etoufee 

Lightly Fried Thin-Cut Venison, Cast Iron Seared Venison Sweetbreads, Hand-Rolled Gnocchi,  Truffle and Acadiana Honey, Creole Andalouse, Cane-Soaked Red Onion
Lightly Fried Thin-Cut Venison, Cast Iron Seared Venison Sweetbreads, Hand-Rolled Gnocchi,
Truffle and Acadiana Honey, Creole Andalouse, Cane-Soaked Red Onion

Aged Banana Pudding, Pointe Coupee Pecan Butter, 'Nilla Wafer Crumble, Whip Cream
Aged Banana Pudding, Pointe Coupee Pecan Butter, 'Nilla Wafer Crumble, Whip Cream

The meal could not have gone much better. Each dish came out seemingly exactly as the chefs intended. The flavors were true to Louisiana while being elevated and sophisticated for a refined palate. Turtle, alligator, oysters, duck, gulf fish, crawfish, venison and more rolled through the kitchen of the James Beard House and onto the taste buds of inspired diners. Congratulations to the chefs for pulling off a successful dinner experience. "Bayou in the Big Apple" certainly left its mark!

Piper, Liz, Jay, Cody, Sam, Blair and Sydney pose after the dinner at the James Beard House
Piper, Liz, Jay, Cody, Sam, Blair and Sydney pose after the dinner at the James Beard House

Friday, November 6, 2015

Beers with Chuck: Gnarly Barley's Imperial Korova Milk Porter at the GnarBQ

by Chuck P.

BBQ brisket at the GnarBQ. Sydney claims this is the best photo she's ever taken. 

If there's one thing that truly excites my taste buds, it's some really tasty BBQ, especially when paired with delicious local craft beer.

Now combine those with a day-long event at one of my favorite local craft breweries Gnarly Barley, and you've got yourself a pretty perfect day.

That about sums up my experience a few weeks ago at the second annual GnarBQ over at Gnarly Barley's brewery in Hammond, Louisiana, with Team Bite and Booze.

This being my first official event as a team member, I was a little nervous.

What if I embarrassed Jay and the team? What if I dropped a big tray of ribs covered in Jay's fantastic Jay D's Louisiana BBQ Sauce all over brewery owners Cari and Zac Caramonta?

These and many more horrible scenarios played through my head the night before the event, but I was determined to shake those bad vibes off and get a good night's sleep so I would be on my best game for the following morning.

I convinced myself before I drifted off to dreams of tender brisket and waterfalls of baked beans that the following day would go off without a hitch.

The Great Trailer Fire Fiasco of 2015
The Great Trailer Fire Fiasco of 2015

I awake Saturday morning to the sound of my iPhone alerting me of a group text. The night before, Jay had prepped the smoker for brisket, and the trailer the pit was on caught fire. When he returned to check on the brisket around 4 am, he witnessed the dying moments of what had to have been a pretty raging blaze considering it had melted the tired off the trailer we had borrowed from Galen.

Without a hitch indeed.

Jay, Blair, and I getting some deliciousness into hotel pans for serving.

I arrived on the scene later that morning, and once the rest of the team arrived, we began prepping the rest of the meats (chicken legs and ribs to go along with the brisket), cutting up cabbage for our slaw and getting the barbecue baked beans going.

And of course, grabbing a cold Gnarly Barley brew.

My first of the morning was a Radical Rye P.A., my favorite of their three flagships. It's got a nice bit of spice from the rye and includes two of my favorite hops, Magnum and Cascade. It's totally my go-to if it's on tap anywhere.

The Radical Rye P.A. is my favorite of Gnarly Barley's flagship brews.

As noon quickly approached we noticed people beginning to file into the brewery. They've got a thirst for cold brews in their eyes and a rumbling in their bellies for some hot BBQ that echoes throughout the building.

As the line begins to form for food, the smooth tones of Will Vance & The Kinfolk begin traveling through the air, distracting the crowd with some tunes as we start setting up our assembly line of awesomeness.

The food moves pretty quickly as we do our best to keep up with the hungry masses. After a while we run out of the first wave of food and ask everyone who didn't get a plate to please wait patiently while the next batch is cooking. Luckily, there's plenty of beer on hand to keep them satisfied until the next wave hits.

While we wait on food, we all get a chance to try the specialty beer that's being featured that day, The Imperial Korova Milk Porter. This new twist on their existing Korova is a fantastic blend of chocolate and coffee notes with a bit of alcohol on the finish. Coming in at 9% the Imperial Korova is definitely something you want to sit and enjoy, not chug.

I really enjoyed Gnarly Barley's Imperial Korova Milk Porter, their new twist on their existing Korova.

Gnarly Barley packaged a very limited amount (1,000 to be exact) in 25oz bottles! This will perfectly age the beer so you can grab a few bottles to cellar for later.

After a brief break we're back at it with our last round of food. The line formed quickly, and after a few minutes the remaining group of people who missed out on the first batch have been happily fed.

Now all that's left is the fun part of the event...the clean up! Once everything is packed up and all trash is deposited in its rightful places, we make one last run through for goodbyes and thank Cari and Zac for having us there while also grabbing one more pint for the road. (Unless you were driving.)

Zac, Jay, and Cari pose for a photo at the brewery in Hammond, La.

For my first official event with Jay and everyone on Team Bite and Booze I have to say that for me, it was a complete success. I can't wait to take on the next one with this amazing group of people.

And hopefully next time we'll keep the fire contained to the pit.