Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Dinner Dominicana at Red Stick Spice Company

by Jay Ducote
all photos by Jordan Hefler

The Dominican Republic is a special place to me. I've been able to travel there four times now, including twice in 2017. I've seen, or at least traveled through, the majority of the country, and I've fallen in love with the people, the food and the culture. I could go back there time and time again.

On my first trip in 2013, I had one of the most memorable meals of my life. Upon my returns to the country, those expectations have only been matched... other than in Punta Cana, where all-inclusive resort food does not live up to any sort of authenticity standards.

Presidente, the ubiquitous beer of the Dominican Republic
Presidente, the ubiquitous beer of the Dominican Republic

Last year I launched Jay D's Single Origin Coffee, a project that sources coffee beans directly from Dominican coffee farmers then roasts the green coffee with Baton Rouge's Cafeciteaux Coffee Roasters. I spoke about how it all came together at TEDxLSU.

After a trip to the coffee farms in May and then another culinary media trip  in August to Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata, I felt like it would be a great time to bring some of my Dominican bite and booze experiences back to Baton Rouge.

We've been organizing a series of dinners at Red Stick Spice Company on Jefferson Highway, so putting together a Dinner Dominicana at Red Stick just made sense!

Goat empanadas with coconut habanero hot sauce
Goat empanadas with coconut habanero hot sauce

We started the meal with an appetizer while guests were able to walk around the store and browse the selection of spices, oils, vinegar, teas and local products. Our goat empanadas were formed into yucca flour dough and fried to crispy. They were served with a coconut habanero hot sauce. This dish reminded me of empanadas available from street vendors in Santo Domingo.

Anne Milneck from Red Stick Spice speaks to the crowd at Dinner Domicana
Anne Milneck from Red Stick Spice speaks to the crowd at Dinner Domicana

As the group of hungry diners took their seats on the classroom side of Red Stick Spice, Anne Milneck, the store's owner, welcomed everyone. She gave them each packet of Adobo seasoning, commonly used in Latin American cooking, as party favors to take home. I also greeted the guests before the second course arrived, a Dominican beef and root vegetable stew called sancocho. 

Santo Libre made with Brugal Extra Viejo Dominican Rum and Sprite
Our second course was paired with a Santo Libre made with Brugal Extra Viejo Dominican Rum and Sprite

Back when Blair and I were in the Dominican Republic we brought back a couple bottles of Brugal Extra Viejo, one of my favorite Dominican rums, so that we could use it for a dinner like this. We used the tasty sugarcane elixir in a batch of Santo Libres, a simple beverage of rum and lemon-lime soda. Used to rum and Coke? Next time try Sprite or 7up!

Jay Ducote serving up the Sancocho at Red Stick Spice Company
Jay Ducote serving up the Sancocho at Red Stick Spice Company

The Sancocho is a thick and hearty stew of beef and root vegetables like sweet potato and yucca. It could be equated to the Dominican (and Puerto Rican) version of gumbo, and sometimes even served with rice, but it uses the starches from the root vegetables instead of a roux as the thickener. I had an absolutely fantastic sancocho from Chef Martin Omar at Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando in Santo Domingo. All I could do was try to do that stew justice.

Pollo Guisado, Rice, Beans, Avocado, Fried Plantains
Pollo Guisado, Rice, Beans, Avocado, Fried Plantains

The main course of the evening was my play at the most quintessential dish in all of the Dominican Republic: pollo guisado. This is also the dish in my previously aforementioned memorable meal post. Chicken, which can be found free-ranging all over the country, is stewed in a bath of tomato and garlic then served with rice, beans and fried plantains. It is a nurturing, comfort, home-cooked kind of a meal that has slight variations anywhere and everywhere you eat it. No two cooks make it the same, and you can have great versions and some very mediocre versions, but all in all, it's the lifeblood of the nation. 

Coconut Cake with Jay D's Single Origin Coffee

For dessert, we took a trip to the more tropical side of Caribbean cuisine. Our Gov't Taco Majority Whip, Therese Schneider, took the lead on making a rum-infused coconut cake that we served with a cup of Jay D's Single Origin Coffee. I wanted the opportunity to talk about my coffee and the people in the Dominican Republic who grow the beans. The coffee, as well as all of my products, can be found at jayducote.com/shop.

Now I just need to figure out when I'll be able to make a return trip to the Dominican Republic. I'm sure it won't be long!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Wakey Whiskey: Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 15 Year

Good morning and welcome winter to South Louisiana! Snow days don't happen down here all that often, and when they do there is usually not REAL snow, just a little that barely sticks to the ground.  Yesterday morning though, the most legit snow I've seen down here, several inches all over covering the yard and cars and roofs, it was pretty awesome, so I broke out my Wakey Whiskey rule book, and sure enough, snow days call for a wakey whiskey.  If you ever want to consult the Wakey Whiskey rule book, let me know.  There's only one copy in existence as of now, but I'll be happy to share some knowledge.

Coincidentally since I didn't have to go to work yesterday I had time to head over to the brand new Bite and Booze HQ to help Jay and the crew unpack all the liquor before a party.  While unpacking a box of whiskey I stumbled upon a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 15-Year, and I wasn't really going to take "no" for an answer.  I had already broken out a pour of Jefferson's Presidential Select 18-Year for a wakey whiskey at my place, but two pours are better than one, right?

As far as the Pappy goes... any good whiskey fan will know that it's one of the most sought after bourbons in the world.  The whiskey originated at the Stitzel-Weller distillery (now producing Bulleit whiskey), went through the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery branding, and is now produced by Buffalo Trace (owned by the Sazerac Company out of New Orleans) to the exact recipe that was originated by Julian "Pappy" Van Winkle back in the day. It's now the signature whiskey range of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection that you'll probably see mention of coming up soon, as it's popular for stores that get some to raffle it off.

Now on to the whiskey itself, and it's amazing.  Complex, incredibly smooth, dark color with a rich oakey flavor that comes from all the time in the barrel.  There are definite fruity notes, dark fruits like cherries and strong hints of vanilla and molasses. This whiskey lives up to the hype, and I'm sure I don't have to spend time convincing anyone reading this to buy a bottle if you have the chance.  If you see one and don't want it for yourself, buy it and I'll pay you back.  Well, unless the secondary prices have gone through the roof... one of the bad things about whiskey gaining in popularity is that demand exceeds supply and the prices reflect it.

That's all for this morning, I hope everyone out there is enjoying this winter weather (we all know Chuck is) and stay safe!  Oh, and here's a bonus wakey whiskey picture of the Jefferson's Presidential Select 18-Year...

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Wakey Whiskey: Basil Hayden's Dark Rye

Good morning to everyone, and I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are thoroughly enjoying this holiday weekend!  The Fightin' Tigers of LSU have a chance tonight to beat Texas A&M (again) and move to 9-3 on the season, which would be pretty remarkable when you look back at how the first 5 games of the season played out. One thing I'm thankful for this year, is Bite and Booze whiskey samples!  This morning I'm trying out the Basil Hayden's Dark Rye, a blended whiskey out of the Jim Beam small batch collection.  

Basil Hayden's brand itself is named after Meredith Basil Hayden, Sr. who was one of the early figures of the American whiskey industry around the time of the American revolution.  This Dark Rye is actually a blend of three different spirits, starting with Kentucky Rye produced by Basil Hayden's, then some Alberta Rye (which you might remember from an earlier wakey whiskey post!) which is owned by the same parent company, Beam Suntory, and finally a little bit of California Port.  Due to the addition of the port, you actually won't find this referred to directly as a "whiskey" on the bottle, but make no mistake, this is still without a doubt a whiskey, just with a bit of 'natural flavors' added.  

The "Dark" in the name is quite apparent, with a deep amber verging on solid brown apparent even though the small media sample bottle.  It's not quite as dark as the Alberta Rye Dark Batch from that earlier wakey whisky post, but it's getting close.  The aroma is strong with sweet molasses and spicy cinnamon which really play together well and create a complex and intriguing bouquet.  On the taste, the complexity is still there with a pronounced cinnamon spiciness, a pleasant oakiness, and hints of vanilla and fruit.  This whiskey (at a modest 80 proof) finishes smooth with one last hint of cinnamon spice that is characteristic of a rye-heavy mash.  

In conclusion, a very pleasant sip, easy drinking and complex enough to keep me interested throughout the pour.  This would be a great addition to any liquor cabinet, and I could see it really being a good choice for someone looking to learn more about rye whiskies. Happy holiday weekend everyone, have a great gameday and Geaux Tigers! 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Back To Basics: Rotolo’s Craft & Crust

by Chuck P

Rotolo’s Pizzeria has been a Baton Rouge institution for over 20 years, especially to LSU students living in the Tigerland area where they first opened their doors. We all have our favorites from their menu like the classic Sweep The Floor (now known as The Krewe), the delicious Chalmette Cheesesticks and their insanely popular $5 calzones every Wednesday.

Through the years owner Mitch Rotolo was able to open more locations and now has over 30 franchises spread out across the south. But after a while he felt like the original spirit of Rotolo’s got lost somewhere along the way. Mitch was looking to get back to his roots and focus on scratch ingredients and new takes on classic recipes that would re-ignite his creative spirit; and just like that, Rotolo’s Craft & Crust was born.

With a new outlook and focus on authentic recipes with a twist mixed with an impressive draft beer selection and laid back atmosphere, Mitch, Jr. and his crew are determined to have the new concept reflect their new company motto: Good food, good vibes, no bullsh*t.
Recently the Bite & Booze team took time out from our busy schedule and headed over to have a team lunch and check out their new menu. Here’s just a few of my favorites.

The Game Warden

This appetizer caught my eye immediately. Beer-battered fried alligator and almond crusted duck tenderloin with pieces of fried pineapple. It was calling to me from the menu and it did not disappoint.

Carona 126

The layers of flavor on this one were fantastic. The fresh tomato sauce, grape tomatoes, prosciutto, burrata and white truffle oil together made for the perfect combination of flavors.

Uncle Tony V

Another great combination of flavors similar to the Carona 126 but with pulled mozzarella and basil added with more burrata and finished off with a balsamic reduction glaze which lately I’ve been adamant about adding to my pizzas.

It’s truly hard to pick a favorite from the many pizzas that we had as well as an off-menu order of stuffed shells that I demanded they add to the menu to the delicious Chocolate Chip Brownie topped with vanilla ice cream and drizzled in caramel. Add to that the great craft beer selection and truly relaxed vibe, I would say that Junior succeeded in the Rotolo’s vision of getting back to his roots and restoring the true heart and soul of Rotolo’s.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Burgers with Chuck: Curbside's Anniversary Collaboration

by Chuck P

One year ago today my dream of once again having a Curbside burger became reality when owner Nick Hufft finally opened the doors to the Curbside brick and mortar on Government Street. Sitting next door to Calandro’s Supermarket, Hufft took what was once the most popular food truck in Baton Rouge and created the perfect setting for burgers, frites and boozy milk shakes anyone can enjoy either inside or on their awesome patio area.

Last week, to celebrate their anniversary, Nick reached out to a few of his culinary friends and with their help created five collaboration burgers that were available for a limited time. I of course took on the task of visiting Curbside during those five days to try each of the specialty burgers. Let’s take a look at the gloriousness of it all:

Monday: The Tiger D with Tiger Deaux-nuts

This was the perfect way to start off my week! Crispy chicken topped with sharp cheddar, honey sage sausage gravy nestled between two glazed donut buns in a happy dance of salty and sweet harmony. Hopefully, this one will show up from time to time on their brunch menu.

Tuesday: The Gov’t Burger with Gov’t Taco

I was really looking forward to trying our collaboration burger and it did not disappoint. A juicy patty rubbed with Chef Aimee Tortorich’s coffee/chile rub, melty chihuahua cheese, poblano pico with roasted garlic mayo and Hola Nola tortilla strips.

Every bite was a flavor party in my mouth. The poblano pico was exceptionally good.

Wednesday: The Pho Real Burger with The Overpass Merchant

The cool and overcast weather on this day made for an ideal situation for this burger. A pork patty topped with hoisin, pickled onions, sriracha mayo, bean sprouts and herb salad. The clincher was the cup of pho that came on the side to dunk the burger in. I was almost tempted to come back for dinner and get another one!

Thursday: The Get LIT Burger with LIT Pizza

Hands down my favorite of all the burgers! This was everything and more: a delicious hot Italian sausage patty with swiss and gremolata between two pepperoni pizza buns. I could literally eat this burger every day.

Friday: The Barbie Burger with Barbosa’s BBQ

Curbside ended the week strong with this offering from pitmaster Alex Barbosa. The fact that it starts off with being described double Texas hot gut beef patties should have you ready to dive in. Finished off with American cheese, smoked onion jam and a roasted poblano aioli, this was a fantastic burger.

A huge congrats to Nick and everyone at Curbside Burgers! Here’s to many more years of great business and great burgers!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Wakey Whisky: Jura Single Malt Scotch

by Eric Ducote

Good morning Tiger fans, are you all as excited as I am for an 11 AM kickoff? And by that, I of course mean not excited at all... who's really excited about football at 11 AM? That's not enough time for decent tailgating, not enough time to get the smoker going for some good BBQ, not enough time to enjoy this hint of Fall weather and barely even enough time to wake up and get ready for some football.  It is enough time, though, for some #wakeywhisky! This morning I'm going to the Isle of Jura in Scotland for some Jura Single Malt Scotch.

The Isle of Jura lies between mainland Scotland and the Isle of Islay, but is sparsely populated (less than 200 inhabitants) and the only way to get there by car is to take a ferry from the mainland to Islay and then over to Jura. The island is home to a single eponymous distillery known as the Isle of Jura Distillery which produces several vintages, including the 10-year variety that I have this morning. Jura is technically a Highland-region scotch, as all the islands (other than Islay) are grouped together with the Highland malts, but it shares a lot of characteristics with the neighboring Islay region.  This scotch is bottled at 40% alcohol after primary aging on used bourbon barrels and finishing on sherry casks.

This scotch pours a deep gold, with a blend of peat, smoke and sugar on the nose. The sweetness is best described as a candied fruit, like a sweet dried up piece or apricot or peach, which works really well with the hint of peat and touch of smoke. I feel like the sweet notes come through the strongest, but it still blends together very well.  On the tongue the smokiness comes through more, and the peat a little less, with the sweeter notes giving way at first and reappearing on the back end of each sip.  Other flavors come through as well, a hint of leather and something that resembles a bit of burnt BBQ.  It's quite complex, extremely enjoyable and overall a very pleasant sip.

This is a fantastic scotch for a fall football morning, the smokiness fits right in and the price is very reasonable for a 750ml bottle of scotch, somewhere in the $30-40 range. I hope you are all enjoying some wakey whisky or #wakeywhiskey of your own this morning, and GEAUX TIGERS!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Beers with Chuck: Elysian Bifrost Winter Ale

by Chuck P

As the great Ned Stark so eloquently said long ago, “Winter is coming.” Well, not so much here in Louisiana as the rest of the United States, but the end of the year brings cooler weather to us which means winter beers are beginning to arrive on store shelves! Luckily for me I received a care package straight from Elysian Brewing out of Seattle, WA compliments of Natania Reed just in time for a little cold snap that’s coming through this week. Let’s take a look at the awesomely named Bifrost Winter Ale.

First, a brief lesson in Norse mythology-- the beer is named after the mythical rainbow bridge Bifrost that spans between Midgard (Earth) and Asgard, which is home to a couple of familiar Norse Gods made famous in the past few years thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Thor the God of Thunder, the trickster Loki his mischievous half-brother and their father Odin, the All-Father and King of Asgard. Now that I’ve educated you a bit let’s get to beer, shall we?

The Bifrost Winter ale comes in with an ABV of 8.30% with a big malt backbone. It pours a nice golden/orange color with very little head, but there’s some nice lacing after it quickly dissipates. What little aroma there is has hints of orange and some caramel from the malts. The taste is sweet, malty and filled with spiced apple and cherry flavors coming through with a bit of honey at the end. There’s a slight alcohol burn as well.

Winter ales aren’t normally something I gravitate toward, but I will say this offering from Elysian may just change that. The more I drank the more I enjoyed the fruitiness that became more apparent with each sip. Not to mention there’s nothing like a nice high ABV beer with a bit of a boozy bite on a cool winter evening.

The Elysian Bifrost Winter Ale may be on shelves here now, but if not it should be soon. Be on the lookout at your favorite grocery and bottle shops and add this to your winter drinking selections.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Wakey Whisky: Trader Joe's Speyside Single Malt Scotch

by Eric Ducote

Good #wakeywhisky morning Tiger fans, and welcome to a beautiful THREE SEC wins in a row sort of morning! That's called a winning streak folks, and yes, it has happened before. Back in 2015 the LSU Tigers rolled off four straight SEC wins to start out the season with three non-conference wins mixed in and were up to #2 in the polls before falling to Alabama.  That has unfortunately been a trend lately, falling to Alabama, so I'm going into this game with my expectations low.  If LSU loses, well, they were supposed to lose... but if they win... then we party!

With those expectations low, I decided to try something new this morning, a whisky that I could go into with low expectations as well. At under $20, I really don't know what to expect from the Trader Joe's Speyside Single Malt Scotch, available obviously at Trader Joe's.

Trader Joe's is pretty secretive about where they source their products from, but I do know that this hails from the Speyside region of Scotland (around the River Spey) and was distilled, matured and bottled all in Scotland.  Rumor is that Trader Joe's buys bulk batches that either weren't up to the distillery standards, or perhaps were overstock, and contracts for them to be bottled and labeled under the Trader Joe's brand.

Either way, it could be a really great surprise, or a total dud.  Hey... remind you of a football game coming up tonight?

Right out of the gate, this is labeled as aged 8 years, and bottled at 40% alcohol-- pretty standard stuff there.  It's on the lighter side, probably not heavily charred barrels or perhaps second run barrels that lost some color to the previous spirit inside. The nose is very mild, with hints of honeysuckle and minerals with a slight grainy sweetness.  The taste is very similar with the grains coming through a little stronger than the nose and the honeysuckle taking a back seat.  It's very easy to drink with minimal alcohol harshness, and pleasant introductory scotch flavors.


For me this is a decent starter scotch, a good call for someone looking to give the whisky a try without going crazy on the pocketbook.  It's not extremely complex, it's certainly not as good as the name brand single malts, but for the price it gets the job done.  If you're a novice scotch drinker, or want to get into it a little more, give this a try next time you're at the local TJ's. Cheers, #wakeywhiskey or #wakeywhisky for you all, and GEAUX TIGERS!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Burgers With Chuck: DIG Magazine’s Burger & Beer Week

by Chuck P

For most people, Christmas is the one day of the year they look forward to the most. For others it might be Halloween, Thanksgiving or their birthday, but for me it’s not just one day, it’s an entire week that eclipses any other holiday or event on the calendar. This glorious celebration is Burger & Beer Week taken directly from my dreams and brought to reality by the awesome people at DIG Magazine.

For the second year, the magazine has partnered with participating restaurants in Baton Rouge to create new and exciting burgers along with suggested beer pairings compliments of Crescent Crown Distribution. With a price point of $6 for the burgers and a variety of beer specials including The Boot from Abita Brewing and Samuel Adams Octoberfest it’s a win/win for burger and beer lovers.

DIG also donated $2 of every burger & beer photo posted to Instagram with the hashtag #eatBR to the Companion Animal Alliance.

As usual, our schedule here at Bite & Booze headquarters was just as hectic as any other week, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from getting my hands on some delicious burgers. After all, this is basically an event created for me right? Luckily, my choices this year were extremely better than last year so here’s a rundown of what made it into my belly:

City Pork Deli & Charcuterie: The Warehouse Burger

A really simple, no-frills burger that was absolutely delicious. A perfectly seasoned ground chuck patty, sweet caramelized onions, cheddar and their house-made bacon with mayo and ketchup with this burger, every bite was better than the last.

Mason’s Grill: The Fatty Melt

I texted Jay immediately when I saw the picture for this burger. A half pound patty with grilled onions between two buttery grilled cheese sandwiches. What’s not to love? If I were to add anything to this it would probably be a fried egg to add a bit of wetness to the burger. A cup of tomato soup would also be a sufficient sidekick.

Thai Kitchen: The Thai Herbal Burger

A burger from a Thai restaurant? That doesn’t serve burgers? Madness!

This was the burger I heard the most about during last year’s Burger & Beer Week. A lot of folks thought this was their favorite last year so I couldn’t live with myself if I missed it again. The herb/lemongrass seasoning used for the patty gave it a different flavor from a normal burger that I really liked. The Thai sauce was a nice touch but it could’ve used more on the burger. Overall a solid burger from one of my favorite Thai spots in town.

Your Mom’s Restaurant & Bar: Mac & Cheese Burger

How could I not try a burger with one of my favorite things in the world covering it? A juicy 8oz. patty topped with bacon and overflowing with the cheesiest of mac n’ cheeses and house-made ranch dressing is the burger I’d dream of in my youth. I can only hope they add this to their already impressive burger menu.

Burgersmith: The Hamburg

A mouth watering burger with a German twist, the already awesome Smith beef patty topped with sweet pickled cabbage, creole mustard, swiss and a fried egg between to soft pretzel buns put a twinkle in my eye. The cabbage and creole mustard combined for a unique, zingy taste with the already well seasoned patty and those pretzel buns were complete buttery goodness.

Once again, these restaurants crushed the burger game with some truly tasty and creative offerings. 

A big thanks to DIG Magazine for bringing back Burger & Beer Week to the masses. I’m already marking the days off on the calendar until the next one.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Porch Taproom at Lazy Magnolia Brewery

by Charles Pierce

A few weeks ago I had the chance to visit the Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company located in Kiln, MS. At their quaint taproom, affectionately named The Porch, I was able to enjoy some food and delicious taproom only brews. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to my next visit.

The Lazy Magnolia Brewery has been distributing delicious craft beer since opening in 2003. In the last few years they have been doing contract brewing for some smaller breweries, including Chafunkta Brewery out of Covington.

During my visit I tasted quite a fed of their taproom exclusives while enjoying some delicious pimento cheese and artisan bread from their kitchen. 

Though all of them were tasty as hell, these are the ones that stuck out to me the most:

Southern Pecan w/Rum - This one was probably my favorite. The booziness of the rum shined through but didn’t take away from the true flavor of the brown ale. With no ABV listed I’d guess it’s close to at least 9% if not more.

Bramblin’ Man Sour - This is the perfect sour for anyone wanting to try this style for the first time. Subtle with just enough bite. This is a beer I could drink many of in one sitting.

Mole Ole - This reminded me of the Cocoa Mole from New Belgium’s Lips Of Faith series but with less heat which isn’t a bad thing. This would be great on a nice cold evening.

Black IPA - This one had some nice roasty notes to it and a touch of sweetness. Reminded me a bit of Dr. Hoptagon from Parish Brewery. Very tasty indeed.

If you find yourself traveling the Gulf Coast either on a local brewery tour or just looking for a pit stop for some food and good beers I highly suggest stopping off in Kiln and visiting the folks at Lazy Magnolia. Tell them Chuck P sent you!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Wakey Whiskey: Larceny Bourbon Whiskey

by Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, and welcome to two consecutive SEC wins for the LSU Tigers. If they can win tonight, that's called a winning streak. It has happened before. I'm not superstitious, but bourbon has given us wins, so here's another #wakeywhiskey bourbon.

This morning's selection is the 92 proof Larceny from the Old Fitzgerald distillery out of Bardstown, KY. This distillery is currently owned by Heaven Hill, but has ties to Stitzel-Weller of Pappy renown. That's certainly promising!

Nothing remarkable about the appearance here, just a clear bronze gold of a straight bourbon. The aroma is very clean and smooth with hints of cocoa and leather.

The initial taste is strong cinnamon and licorice, the latter of which is unexpected but not unpleasant. There is a good bit going on and the 46% abv is pretty noticeable especially on the finish. The spicy notes coat the tongue and linger after each sip in an aggressively pleasing manner.

This isn't my all-time favorite bourbon, but I will have no problem finishing it off either. Cheers everyone, happy #gameday and #geauxtigers

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Day in the DR

by Blair Loup

People are always telling me how fun and cool my job is and they’re 100% correct. As a result of being a Bite and Booze employee, I’ve landed a seat on several adventures, but my trips to the Dominican Republic are always at the top of my list.

Sipping on a Santo Libre on the North Coast. Photo Credit: Dawn Garcia
Sipping on a Santo Libre on the North Coast. Photo Credit: Dawn Garcia

Walking around with an ice-cold beer in hand past walls and doors bursting with color and music flooding the streets is an all too familiar feeling for a Louisianan in Santo Domingo. The people, culture and food of the Dominican Republic always make me feel at home…until someone asks me something in Spanish.

Jay and I posing in Santo Domingo. Photo Credit: Dawn Garcia
Jay and I posing in Santo Domingo. Photo Credit: Dawn Garcia

While the taste and ingredients are far from Louisiana dishes the cooking methods and love that goes into their food hits home. Inspired by the dishes that are classic Dominican for me, Jay and I have created an authentic, sort of “Day in the DR”, menu we’ll be cooking at Red Stick Spice Co. Oct. 23rd and 24th.

Trust me, this four-course paired dinner is one worth getting out on a Monday/Tuesday night for.

Here’s a look at some of the dishes and drinks we had all along the island that we’ll be recreating:

Goat Empanadas:

Goat Empanadas made with yucca flour.
Goat Empanadas made with yucca flour.

They’re not the prettiest bite you’ve ever seen, but these flavor-packed pockets are a must-try. Stewed down with tomato and plenty of strong, fragrant oregano, the goat is stuffed into yucca flour dough.

You’d be hard-pressed to not find yucca in something you eat in the DR. The yucca flour comes out a little more flat than the dough you’d use for a Natchitoches meat pie, but holds up against the filling and coconut/habanero hot sauce I doused mine in.

This will be paired with a Passion Fruit Sangria made with Jay D’s Blanc Du Bois. I would say that passion fruit, yucca and plantains are some of the most often seen ingredients on a menu. There’s passion fruit juice everywhere you go, fresh passion fruit at breakfast every morning, passion fruit candy…you name it. It’s tangy, tart and naturally sweet all at once which will balance well with the crisp, honeysuckle vibes of the Blanc Du Bois.


Sancocho with long grain rice and fresh avocado.
Sancocho with long grain rice and fresh avocado.

Everyone’s mom makes it differently, but they’re all good. This stew is as comforting as a bowl of gumbo, but with more vegetables and less fat. Sancocho combines, different roots and tubers, often times a mixture of stew meats and fresh herbs.

Jay loves Brugal Rum.
Jay loves Brugal Rum. 

We’ll be pairing the Sancocho with the ever popular Santo Libre. Not a far stretch from its cousin the Cuba Libre, this rum and seven cocktail will be made with Jay’s favorite Dominican rum that we brought back with us: Brugal. Like Louisiana, the DR is flush with sugar cane and is home to some delicious rum distilleries.

Pollo Guisado:

La Bandera lunch plate: Pollo Guisado, tostones, rice and beans with a little fried chicken for good measure.
La Bandera lunch plate: Pollo Guisado, tostones, rice and beans with a little fried chicken for good measure.

Pollo Guisado is a stewed chicken dish that has an extreme depth of flavor with a strong tomato backbone. Often served with different sides, the most common way to enjoy pollo guisado is with rice and beans.

This is typically called La Bandera Dominicana. A plate made up of red beans, white rice, a meat option and usually fresh slices of avocado and tostones (fried plantains).

You can find a meal like this at any lunch counter across the island. It’s always cheap and delicious.

It’s one of my favorite things to eat while I’m there and we’ll be pairing it with my DR beverage of choice: Presidente.

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Finding a frosted bottle of Presidente is more common than a bottle of water and I’m not complaining. A simple, crisp lager, Presidente is bright gold and light bodied with a foamy head that dissipates after a few sips. You can buy a regular sized bottle or go for the jumbo that gets served with a few dental office cups for you to share with friends…or not.

Coconut Cake:

We’ll wrap up our Dinner Dominicana with a piece of coconut cake. Dominicans love their sweets. They always spring for dessert and coffee, and yes, even the coffee comes pre-sweetened at times.

You can sip on a fresh coconut while you walk along the beach or find it in their dough mixes and hot sauces, but why not just eat coconut cake?

We’ll be serving Jay D’s Single Origin Coffee: a very special project using beans from the Dominican Republic. You can read more about our Dominican coffee project in conjunction with Lycoming College and local Baton Rouge roastery, Cafeciteaux here.

Tickets for Dinner Dominicana at Red Stick Spice Company on October 23rd are still available now (October 24th is sold out). Book your spot and take a stay-cation to the DR with us!

Monday, October 16, 2017

World Food Championships return to the Alabama Beaches!

by Jay Ducote

Once again this year some of the greatest chefs and food sport contestants from around the country and even from around the world will be descending on Orange Beach, AL for the World Food Championships. Now in it's sixth year, and second in Alabama, the WFC has positioned itself as a proving ground for cooks and culinary personalities. This year's event takes place from November 8th to 12th.

Suzanne Clark, Cassandra King and Jay Ducote host the TV show for the 2016 World Food Championships
Suzanne Clark, Cassandra King and Jay Ducote host the TV show for the 2016 World Food Championships

With 500+ teams registered for 2017, The World Food Championships is the largest culinary competition on the planet. The event gives home cooks, pro chefs and professional cook teams from all walks of life a chance to be seen on TV and win a share of a the largest prize purse in the Food Sport industry.

From burgers and BBQ, to sandwiches and bacon, there is a $10,000 winner in each of ten categories, all which culminate in a grand finale of epic food proportions at the Final Table.

Check out this TV show from last year's WFC featuring yours truly as one of the three hosts for the competition!

I'll be back again this year to enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of victory. I know there are other Louisiana chefs who have punched their tickets on the path to become World Champions as well. It's guaranteed to be a great time, so book your hotel room in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach now so you can enjoy the action!

Cassandra King, Jay Ducote and Suzanne Clark at WFC 2016
Cassandra King, Jay Ducote and Suzanne Clark at WFC 2016

Adam Feinberg, Jay Ducote and Vic Vegas at WFC 2016
Adam Feinberg, Jay Ducote and Vic Vegas at WFC 2016

Jay Ducote hosts the first round of the BBQ Competition at the 2016 World Food Championships
Jay Ducote hosts the first round of the BBQ Competition at the 2016 World Food Championship

Jay Ducote and WFC CEO Mike McCloud cheers with a pair of tomahawk pork chops
Jay Ducote and WFC CEO Mike McCloud cheers with a pair of tomahawk pork chops

The hosts on stage with Mike to discuss the World Food Championships
The hosts on stage with Mike to discuss the World Food Championships

Luke Darnell and Jay Ducote celebrate Luke's $10,000 prize check an title of World Barbecue Champion!
Luke Darnell and Jay Ducote celebrate Luke's $10,000 prize check an title of World Barbecue Champion!

Mike McCloud, Moe Cason, Brad Orrison and Jay Ducote enjoy the Bourb'N'Que at WFC 2016
Mike McCloud, Moe Cason, Brad Orrison and Jay Ducote enjoy the Bourb'N'Que at WFC 2016

The Big Tyme Productions crew poses with the hosts of the WFC 2016 TV Show
The Big Tyme Productions crew poses with the hosts of the WFC 2016 TV Show

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Wakey Whiskey: Four Roses 2017 Limited Edition Bourbon

by Eric Ducote

Good morning Tiger fans (well, LSU Tiger fans to be more specific) and a happy game day to you all! The Fighting Tigers of LSU came through big time last weekend. So, I'm going to stick with a bourbon this week, but still switch it up from Coopers' Craft. 

 Again, thanks to the power of the Bite and Booze brand, I have a limited edition media sample to taste. This week it's the Four Roses 2017 Limited Edition "50th Anniversary Al Young" Bourbon.

This limited edition spirit (approximately 10,000 bottles were produced) is a blend of 23, 15, 13, and 12 year old barrels from the Four Roses warehouse intended to invoke cinnamon, peaches, and cherries. It's bottled at barrel strength and comes in at 108.98 proof, or just under 55% alcohol. With the youngest barrel at 12 years old I would expect a dark bourbon and the appearance of this one doesn't let me down at all. It's a deep reddish-brown color and although sometimes I'll add some ice to open up the flavors of a whiskey, I decided to enjoy this one neat. 

The aroma is rich and complex and can be smelled from a few feet away! I'm not really getting any of the peach or cherry, but there is a strong vanilla flavor, a bit of toffee, definitely a hint of the cinnamon they were going for, and some floral notes. 

 My first thought upon tasting was that the alcohol content is very well masked. I know I'm drinking whiskey but some barrel strength bourbons out there can kick your ass and this one is more of a gentle push. The vanilla charred oak flavors are still strong, and some of those fruit notes they were going for come though -- although I'm getting more prunes and maybe apricot than peaches and cherries. The bourbon finishes with some sweet grain notes and leaves me wanting more... a lot more. This is definitely one of those times when I wish we had more than a media sample to share. 

 If you see a bottle of this one around town, don't hesitate to buy it. It's going to be expensive, but this one is worth the money. Now we just need the LSU Tigers to play up to the level of this whiskey, and we just might see another ranked team go down.

Happy #gameday everyone! #wakeywhiskey and #geauxtigers

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

How Emeril Lagasse Throws a Party: An Insider’s Preview of Louisiana’s Biggest Boudin Bash

by Babes & Beignets

Baton Rouge listen up! It’s Babes and Beignets here – your festival aficionados and lovers of all things New Orleans. But of course, we love you too, BR! That’s why we’re here to tell you about our favorite can’t-miss fall fest coming up Nov. 3 in NOLA.

If you’ve ever wondered how Chef Emeril Lagasse throws a party, now’s your chance to find out. Celebrity chef and renowned culinary personality Emeril Lagasse puts on the biggest and booziest bash at his 7th annual Boudin, Bourbon & Beer event in New Orleans on November 3.

Yes, you read that right! Three of the South’s favorite food groups: boudin, bourbon and beer are all coming together at Champions Square, along with 65 chefs and four awesome musical acts to raise money for amazing charitable causes.

Wait, you get to party for a cause? Yes! – which is one of the many reasons we love this event so much.

Hosted by Chef Emeril’s non-profit organization, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Boudin, Bourbon & Beer has become one of the South's biggest outdoor food and music festivals. Cajun country’s favorite sausage – boudin – takes center stage along with top culinary talent to raise millions for children’s charities along the Gulf Coast that support culinary, nutrition and arts programs.

The all-inclusive event brings together the country’s best chefs, including Bite & Booze’s very own Jay Ducote, to create their own one-of-a-kind boudin-inspired dishes.

Pork Temple Carbonara, boudin burritos, chicken fried boudin, fois gras rice crispy treats, boudin dumplings, crawfish boudin corndogs, bacon bread pudding and even a whole hog are just a few of the 60+ creative dishes we heard will be on the menu this year.

Aside from all the boudin imaginable, $99 gets attendees 10+ open bars stocked with a variety of craft brews from Abita Beer, signature bourbon cocktails from Buffalo Trace, Nat Sherman cigar tastings and all-night musical entertainment by Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Langhorne Slim & the Law, Kristin Diable & the City and Silverado Pickups. Other goodies include Keurig coffee to keep the party going, photobooths and cool silent auction packages curated by some of NOLA’s best chefs.

If you think that’s the best $100 you’ll ever spend, we totally agree. These all-inclusive tickets can be purchased on Ticketmaster until the event sells-out -- which trust us, it will! Get your tickets soon and make your way to New Orleans on Friday, Nov. 3 and come party with us for a great cause at Champions Square!

Make sure you’re following @EmerilOrg on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for more Boudin, Bourbon & Beer 2017 updates and teasers. See you there, Baton Rouge!