Friday, October 28, 2016

TX takes TX: Around the World in a Long Weekend

by Rachel Hamburger, intern

For LSU fall break I made my way back home to Houston. I used this as an opportunity to eat at a lot of my favorite restaurants I’d been missing while at school. Lucky for me, Houston is a major foodie city with thousands of delicious restaurants to choose from. I’m a fan of different cuisines, so naturally my favorite restaurants reflect this. Here’s some of my faves that I was lucky to stop at over the extended weekend:

Tex-Mex: Chuy’s

Chile Rellenos, Refried Beans and a Soft Taco at Chuy's
Chile Rellenos, Refried Beans and a Soft Taco at Chuy's

Chuy’s Tex-Mex is one of my absolute favorite spots for Tex-Mex. Although it has grown into a chain, it originated in Austin and the location I go to in Houston is one of the first franchises. I go to different Tex-Mex restaurants for different things: Los Tio’s for cheese enchiladas, Lupe Tortilla for the fajitas, El Real for nachos, etc. 

My reasoning for loving Chuy’s the way I do is for its chile con queso and chile rellenos. The queso has roasted green chiles, which gives it a great smoky spicy flavor. The rellenos are roasted and perfectly fried Anaheim peppers stuffed with delicious melty cheese.

My go-to order is a soft ground beef taco and a cheese chile relleno, double refried beans and no rice. Chuy’s has THE BEST refried beans. I don’t usually end up being able to eat the double serving of refried beans, but I always order it for leftovers.

Mediterranean: Fadi’s

Gyro at Fadi's
Gyro at Fadi's

Fadi’s is a cafeteria-style line, with so many options. For example, they have about 10 different types of hummus alone. This time I got gyro, hummus, pomegranate eggplant, and dolmades (rice-stuffed grape leaves). Gyro meat is cooked on a vertical rotisserie. The most common is beef, which is what I ordered. Fadi’s has delicious homemade pita bread, it’s about 10x better than pita bread from a package-- hot, doughy and delicious. I try to order differently every time I go to Fadi’s, because everything is so good and I like to try out different things.

Houstonian: Local Foods

The Seasonal Harvest Salad at Local Foods
The Seasonal Harvest Salad at Local Foods

While this isn’t an ethnic restaurant, it can be considered “Houstonian” cuisine, kind of fits, right? The first Local Foods location opened in 2011, and they already have 3 locations and are working on a fourth. Their concept is just what the name entails: the use of local ingredients. 

Each location is spectacularly designed, it’s the type of restaurant you love to go to because of the atmosphere (as well as the food, obviously.) Their menu consists mainly of sandwiches, salads and soups but they also have tons of delicious sides, as well as multiple vegan options. 

Houston is a city full of food, but the focus on local organic foods has become increasingly popular, and the fast expansion of Local Foods is proof of that. I got the Seasonal Harvest Salad with chicken. I love getting this salad because it really does use whatever ingredients are in season, so it’s different each and every time I order it.

Indian: The Bombay Brasserie 

All of the things at The Bombay Brasserie
All of the things at The Bombay Brasserie

I have been going to eat at The Bombay Brasserie since I was a little girl. It is my absolute favorite Indian restaurant on planet earth. My parents both love Indian food, and introduced me to it at a very young age. I have loved it from the start and consider the Indian cuisine one of my favorites. Every day, Bombay Brasserie has a lunch buffet (typical of many Indian restaurants.)

I know that many people frown upon buffets, as they usually aren’t the best quality, but this is not the case with Bombay Brasserie. Silver ornate chafing dishes and white tablecloths are what you get at this lunch buffet.

Why do I love going to the buffet versus going for dinner? The Indian cuisine has so many different dishes and unless you go with a larger group for dinner, you won’t get to try different ones. It is a cuisine best served family style, but I typically am eating out with one parent or the other. That doesn’t enable you to be able to order in typical “family style” fashion so the buffet is perfect.

It’s all served with warm Naan, traditional Indian flatbread similar to pita, and poppadum, a thin, giant, round Indian cracker (typically made from lentils or chickpeas.) My all time favorite dishes are Saag Paneer, a creamed spinach with cubes of paneer cheese (a cheese used in many Indian dishes), and Chicken Tikka Masala, cubes of roasted chicken in a creamy tomato and butter sauce. I also can’t go to the Bombay Brasserie without ordering a Mango Lassie to drink. It’s a mango yogurt drink that is perfect in cooling your mouth down from the many spices in the food.

Thai: Thai Cottage 

Red Chicken Curry
Red Chicken Curry

My last stop of the weekend was Thai Cottage, my favorite Thai restaurant. I almost always order the Red Chicken Curry; because it is so good I have a difficult time straying from it. Thai red curry is very different from Indian curry. It is soupier and made with red curry paste, coconut milk, bamboo shoots, peas, carrots and basil served with rice. If you didn’t know any better you would think it was full of cream, but its smooth, velvety texture comes from the coconut milk.

When ordering, you tell the waiter which spice level you want, from one to five. I opt for level three, which is pretty spicy but not so spicy that you can’t enjoy the food. Thai cottage has nine Houston area locations, so no matter what part of town you’re staying in, there will likely be a Thai Cottage in the vicinity.

These are just a handful of my favorite Houston spots that I miss dearly when I’m in Baton Rouge. I hit up most of these places every time I’m back in H-town. If you find yourself in Houston anytime soon, check any (or all) of these out. You’ll thank me later.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Jay D's Bites: Triple Threat Pulled Pork

by Aimee Tortorich

I love many things in life, but barbecue, pork and a little whiskey on the side will always put a smile on my face. For this recipe, I wanted to use as many Jay D’s products in one dish, while not overpowering the flavor of the protein and I believe that I have achieved success. The mustard created a lovely sweetness and allowed the rub to stick to the pork, while the sugars caramelized on the outside. It was a nice balance of spicy and sweet that would work well for many dishes.

Jay D’s Triple Threat Pulled Pork 

Jay D's Triple Threat Pork Shoulder
Jay D's Triple Threat Pork Shoulder

Serves 4-6

1 Bone-in Pork Shoulder (about 8 lbs)
1 cup Jay D’s Spicy & Sweet BBQ Rub
1 cup Jay D’s Louisiana Molasses Mustard
4 Tbs kosher salt
2 cups Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce

Dry pork butt very well with paper towels and coat with 1 cup of Molasses Mustard. This will create a paste that the rub will stick to. Mix rub and salt together and apply liberally to all sides of the pork shoulder. Let sit uncovered in refrigerator overnight.

Soak apple wood chips in water and heat smoker to 225 F. Place wood chips in smoker and place pork shoulder fat side up in the smoker and smoke for about 1 hour per pound or until internal temperature reaches 190 F.

Take the pork butt off of the smoker and let cool slightly. Pull pork apart with gloves or tongs and toss with Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce. Enjoy on sliders, nachos, or as is.

Pick up the full gambit of Jay D's products on!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Booze Block: Dogfish Head Brewing Company 60 & 90 Minute IPA

by Chuck P

I remember hearing about Dogfish Head in my early days of discovering craft beer. With odd names like Chocolate Lobster, Pennsylvania Tuxedo and Flesh & Blood they piqued my interest and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some. It was then, in my young naivete, that I discovered their beers were not distributed in Louisiana.

How would I ever get to try these?!?

Dogfish Head's 60 & 90 Minute IPAs
Dogfish Head's 60 & 90 Minute IPAs

Luckily, I had friends who would search out and bring back craft beers from their travels and from this I was given my first two Dogfish Head brews, their 60 and 90 minute IPAs.

Now, at the time I was still very much on the fence about IPAs. Pale Ales broke me into the appreciation for hoppy styles that before I had turned my nose up at. After my palette adjusted and I began to enjoy them, I started easing myself into hoppier choices and the 60 minute was one of the first.

The 60 minute IPA is a very hop forward beer with really nice citrus notes on the nose. Coming in at 60 IBUs the bitterness is moderate which was good for me at the time. The finish is very crisp with a bit of that bitterness hanging around, but not enough to offend. I remember my first time drinking this thinking it was perfect for me and couldn’t possibly imagine drinking anything hoppier…

And then came the 90…

My first sip of the 90 minute Double IPA opened my taste buds like no other beer before it. The heavy piney and citrus aroma caught me off guard at first, but after that first taste I was hooked. I was getting hints of raisin and citrus dancing over my tongue and the maltiness cutting through the intense hop profile was surprising, but welcomed... and was that a bit of fruitcake I was tasting? Madness!

Ever since then the 90 minute has become one of my Top 5 favorite beers of all time and one that I actively look for when traveling outside of Louisiana.

To hear more about both of these great brews check out the Bite & Booze Podcast below with myself, Jay and Jacob Talley from Mockler Beverage as we proclaim our love for these delicious beers.


Monday, October 17, 2016

TX takes LA: Chicory

by Rachel Hamburger, intern

It’s time for the second installment of TX takes LA! Today I’ll be telling y’all about chicory. It’s in lots of the coffee here in Louisiana, and I have set out to figure out what chicory actually is. I had never heard of chicory before living in Louisiana, and when I first heard about it was thoroughly confused. What is it? Why is it mixed in with the coffee here? How does it taste? Well, I found an answer for all these questions.


What is it?

Chicory used in coffee comes from the root of the blue-flowered plant cichorium intybus, an herbaceous plant of the dandelion family. It is roasted and ground, then mixed with coffee. It doesn’t have caffeine, but has a similar taste to coffee. Its main claim to fame here in Louisiana is in café au laits, but is also served black. When ground, it looks much like your typical ground coffee as well, but is a little bit darker.

Why is it mixed in with the coffee?

The use of chicory in coffee became popularized in France during Napoleon’s Continental Blockade in 1808, which resulted in a major coffee shortage. The French began mixing it with their coffee to stretch their coffee supply. Once the blockade lifted, the use of chicory in coffee came to a halt, but the practice of using chicory in coffee made it over to the French colonies in North America. The Acadians brought it down with them to Louisiana from Canada, just like they did with beignets.

The use of chicory in coffee became wildly popular in Louisiana during the American Civil War. Union naval blockades cut off the port of New Orleans, and coffee shipments could not get through. Similar to the French during Napoleon’s Continental Blockade, the people of New Orleans began mixing chicory with their coffee to make their coffee supply last. After this, the use of chicory in coffee became a tradition in New Orleans, hence why it is often in our coffee today.

How does it taste?

It is somewhat difficult to put how chicory tastes into words, as it does taste very similar to regular coffee. Chicory has an almost chocolate and slight anise flavor, and many believe it offsets the bitter taste of coffee.

The takeaway:

Coffee with chicory is a tradition in Louisiana that is loved by people all over. It adds just a lil’ somethin’ somethin’ to the flavor of your coffee without making it taste completely different. In my opinion, the best way to drink coffee with chicory is a café au lait with a side of beignets (and by side, I mean a mountain of beignets).

If you want to try some for yourself, grab a bag of coffee chicory from Baton Rouge coffee roasters, Cafeciteaux.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Beers with Chuck: Southern Craft Brewing Co.

by Chuck P

For the past 5 years the Tin Roof Brewing Company has been the only craft brewery in Baton Rouge. With the ever-rising popularity of craft beer it was only a matter of time before there was some friendly competition in the capital city. Welcome the new kid on the block, Southern Craft Brewery.

Owners Wes Hedges and Joe Picou started brewing beer as a hobby after their long days of working as engineers. Quickly, the hobby became a passion and as their homebrewing skills grew so did their desire to create unique recipes using local ingredients. After honing their craft (haha) they entered their first National Homebrew Competition back in 2011 and won 2nd place out of 7,000 brewers for their Red Stick Rye. This beer has a nice malt and hop balance with a clean crisp finish. It features Carolina Rye malts which have grown in the south for over 200 years.

Doing some quality control at Southern Craft Brewing in Baton Rouge, LA
Doing some quality control at Southern Craft Brewing in Baton Rouge, LA

They continued entering more competitions locally and nationwide and eventually developed what would be their second flagship beer, the Pompous Pelican Double IPA. This is a really easy drinking Double IPA with a nice hop profile that doesn’t kill your pallet, but comes through nicely. It’s made with raw Louisiana cane sugar from the oldest sugar plantation in the country and Cascade hops giving it that floral aroma with hints of citrus and bit of spice. It may seem light, but don’t let that fool you. At 8%ABV this one is NOT made to pound back on a warm Louisiana day.

Southern Craft's Pompous Pelican Double IPA
Southern Craft's Pompous Pelican Double IPA

Now, after years of homebrewing, the guys have finally realized their dream of opening their own brewery located at the Barringer Foreman Technology Park on Airline Highway (the last building in the back). Complete with a very nice taproom that’s small in size, but very open and inviting the doors open every Friday at 5pm and tours are at 6 and 7pm.

The taproom at Southern Craft located in the Barringer Foreman Technology Park on Airline Hwy.
The taproom at Southern Craft located in the Barringer Foreman Technology Park on Airline Hwy.

Both flagships are on tap as well as their first seasonal, the Swamp Sting Honey Ale along with other experimental brews. If you’re lucky you may get a chance to try their oatmeal stout collaboration brew with Cafeciteaux Coffee Roasters. Trust me, it’s delicious.

I’m happy to see that Baton Rouge is embracing another craft brewery and hopefully this will be the beginning of many more to follow. Cheers!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Booze Block: DC Brau Brewing Company's Public Pale Ale & Corruption IPA

by Chuck P

Just like any other craft beer lover, I’m always on the lookout for any brews that aren’t available here in Louisiana when I’m traveling. Making our way back from our NYC James Beard adventure in July, our team stopped off at West-O Bottle Shop & Bar in Ocean City, Maryland. I legit spent the most money there out of anywhere on the entire trip. It was there that I picked up two delicious beers from the DC Brau Brewing Company, the Public Pale Ale and Corruption IPA.

DC Brau Brewing Company's The Public Pale Ale
DC Brau Brewing Company's The Public Pale Ale

The Public Pale Ale is a delicious classic American Pale Ale with a nice malty backbone which gives it some hints of caramel in its flavor. The aroma gave off some lingering notes of grapefruit. It’s a very easy drinking pale ale that I’ve been enjoying lately and it shows with my 6-pack now dwindling down to a 2 pack.

DC Brau Brewing Company's The Corruption IPA
DC Brau Brewing Company's The Corruption IPA

The Corruption IPA is just a little over the Public Pale Ale in the ABV category (Corruption is at 6.5% and the Public sits right under at 6%) but definitely packs a punch. This take on a Pacific Northwest IPA is exclusively brewed with 40lbs of Columbus hops per brew which brings it in at a whopping 80 IBU so if you’re into bitter beers this is a good one for you. It’s sitting right at the line between IPA and an Imperial IPA but that’s not really a bad thing. The malty backbone and killer hop presence shines through with that dank bitterness that true hop heads love.

If my stellar review hasn’t convinced you to try these awesome beers check out the Bite & Booze Podcast at the link below to hear myself, Jay and Jacob Talley, Craft Brand Manager of Mockler Beverage sing their praises.


Friday, October 7, 2016

Burgers with Chuck: Mason's Grill Breakfast Burger

by Chuck P

If you’re familiar with the brunch at Mason’s Grill then you know to prepare yourself for 3 things: delicious food, a their national award-winning Bloody Mason and bottomless mimosas. Don’t let the wait scare you off if you’ve never been, the end result is completely worth it.

Brunch in Baton Rouge is a big deal, with many local restaurants cooking up tasty dishes, but it’s the great comfort food, super friendly staff and a feeling of being at home that makes Mason’s Grill one the biggest destinations for families and friends on Saturday and Sunday mornings. There’s something for everyone on their menu but the one thing that keeps calling me back is their Breakfast Burger.

Let me break it down for you: stacked between two soft, sweet buns are a 4oz homemade breakfast sausage patty, American cheese, a fried egg, bacon, a 4oz hamburger patty, more American cheese, ANOTHER FRIED EGG and dressed with the usual toppings although I tend to do away with the “salad” so as to focus on the burger itself. 

Whoa! It is a sight to behold and is quite the challenge to finish.
Whoa! It is a sight to behold and is quite the challenge to finish.

This burger is gluttony at its finest. Once you squeeze it together and those egg yolks break and begin to take over every little nook and cranny it becomes a thing of beauty. The breakfast sausage is what stands out on this dish. There’s a bit of spiciness to it that blends together perfectly with the hamburger patty and those tasty eggs. It’s so good that no matter how full you feel, you find it hard to stop eating. Either way there will be a nap in your immediate future.

Like I said before, everything on their menu is great, but do yourself a favor and try the Breakfast Burger on your own or if you’re in a giving mood, share it with the one you love most. The doors at Mason’s Grill open at 9am every Saturday and Sunday so get there early for a table or arrive later and grab one of those spicy Bloody Masons and sit back and think about how much you’ll enjoy the food coma that’s to come.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Jay D's Bites: Molasses Mustard Fried Catfish Poboy

by Blair Loup

I think most people in South Louisiana can agree, when you get a hankering for a poboy, you've got to have it. Once you've tried this one, you'll want to make it over and over again. This isn't your normal fried catfish poboy, this catfish is marinated in a mixture featuring Slap Ya Mama Cajun Hot Sauce and Jay D's Louisiana Molasses Mustard.

We've found that subbing out regular yellow mustard for Jay's Molasses Mustard straight up changes life. See the difference for yourself and let us know what you think!

Jay D's Molasses Mustard Fried Catfish Poboy with Louisiana Barbecue Slaw:

Yields 2 poboys

Canola oil, for frying
2 French bread baguettes
6 (2-3 oz) catfish fillets
1 cup of milk
1 cup of Jay D’s Louisiana Molasses Mustard
2 Tbs of Slap Ya Mama Hot Sauce
2 cups of Slap Ya Mama Fish Fry
2 Tbs of Jay D’s Spicy & Sweet BBQ Rub
1 large tomato, sliced

For the Slaw:

2 cups of green cabbage, shredded
1 cup of mayonnaise
¼ cup of Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce
1 Tbs of apple cider vinegar
1 ½ tsp of Slap Ya Mama Original Cajun Seasoning
¼ tsp garlic powder

Mix milk, Jay D’s Lousiana Molasses Mustard, Milk and Slap Ya Mama Hot Sauce together in a mixing bowl.  Add catfish filets and let marinate for up to an hour in the refrigerator. 

For the slaw aioli, mix mayonaise, Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce, vinegar, Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning and garlic powder.  Let chill for at least 30 minutes.  Toss cabbage with aioli and set aside. 

Heat frying oil to 350 degrees Farenheit.  Remove catfish fillets from marinade, dredge in fish fry then drop in fryer.  Fry the fillets for about 3 minutes or until golden brown, then drain on paper towels. 

To assemble the poboy, place 2 slices of tomato on the bottom half of the bread, lay the catfish over and top with slaw.