Bite and Booze by Jay D. Ducote

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Wakey Whisk(e)y: Lost Distillery Company

by Eric Ducote

Good morning Tiger fans, and welcome to another game day #wakeywhisky! No "e" in the whiskey today as this one is a scotch from the Lost Distillery out of (duh) Scotland. LSU is playing Troy State out of Troy, Alabama, and I don't have any whiskeys in the cellar from Alabama or that feature the Trojans, so the playbook is wide open. The good people at The Lost Distillery Company sent Jay a bottle of one of their offerings, and he's always ready to share, so here we go.

The Lost Distillery is a unique company in that it doesn't actually create their own scotch, but they instead research distilleries that have closed for various reasons throughout history and attempt to recreate their flavors by blending modern scotches with the same characteristics. They look at 10 different factors that go into scotch production and at historic records, blend and taste until they think it's as accurate as possible.

This particular selection is from the defunct Lossit Distillery that used to exist in Ballygrant on the Island of Islay. I talked a good bit about Islay in a post a few weeks ago, so no need to go into that much depth again, but in general, expect some peat!

The pour on this one is a very bright gold, and extremely clear. The nose is just as expected, peaty and pungent. The taste is amazingly complex, with hints of peat, a touch of smoke, a bit of sweet honey coming through and floral undertones. It's only 86 proof so not coming on too strong and there's no alcohol burn to overwhelm the palate either. After each sip there's a bit of a cherry medicinal finish and a tingling left on the tongue from the spirit. It's a very pleasant sip, and made even more complex by the blend... obviously I have no idea how close this comes to recreating the original, but it definitely reminds me of other Islay scotches, so it's probably on the right track.

An interesting concept, and an interesting scotch. Now, let's all hope the Tigers come to play today and beat the Trojans of Troy State! Cheers, and happy Gameday to you all!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Avery Brewing Co. Beer Pairing Dinner at The Gregory

by Paige Johannessen

A few nights ago we were thrilled to attend a beer pairing dinner featuring Avery Brewing Co. at The Watermark in downtown Baton Rouge. I have had a couple of Avery Brewing’s beers and have always been impressed by the quality and creativity of the brewery. The Boulder, CO based brewery opened in 1993 and boasts 30 beers on tap at their brewery at any given time.

For the tasting we were seated in the private dining room adjacent to The Gregory. I know this post is all about Avery Brewing and our wonderful dinner, but I just have to say one thing: THAT ROOM! I drool every time I walk by that beautiful room and it’s floor to ceiling wine cellar display. If you haven’t walked around The Watermark and The Gregory, I highly recommend the trip downtown. The amount of detail and nods to Louisiana Trust & Savings Bank headquarters (the original owners of the building) is very impressive. There’s hand-painted ceiling murals and gorgeous marble details throughout the building. Not to mention the old bank vault replicas adorning one of their meeting spaces.

Now, about the dinner:

To start off, the tables were decorated with bowls of fried pork rinds tossed in Jay D’s Spicy and Sweet BBQ Rub. Needless to say, we loved them and ate them all and can’t wait to make our own.

The first course was a yellowtail tiradito paired with a Raspberry Sour. This delicate dish of thinly sliced raw fish in a spicy sauce was bursting with flavor. Chef made his own beer vinegar from the Avery Brewing Raspberry Sour that added a fun element to the depth of flavors.

Tiradito - yellowtail crudo, raspberry beer vinegar, ‘el gose’ aji sauce, guasaca, cancha corn
The next course was a first for me, octopus tacos! I was unsure how the flavors would mesh but the combination of octopus, peach and blue cheese was surprisingly delicious; and it’s pretty fun to say “octo taco” (don’t be ashamed, give it a try). This dish was paired with Avery Brewing’s Liliko'i Kepolo, a fun tropical island twist to the spicy traditional witbier. The aroma and notes of passionfruit were a nice compliment to this funky dish.

Octo Tacos - clementine lemongrass pulpo, peach salsa fresca, american blue cheese

For the third course, chef came out with bowls of green harissa topped with beer poached meatballs. The real show stopper of this dish was the mint chutney. The lamb sausage blend of the meatballs with the mint chutney was so satisfying and a nod to growing up with a mother who regularly cooked lamb roasts topped with a delicate mint jelly. The best. 

Merguez Meatballs - beer poached meatballs, green & red harissa, haloumi, mint chutney, grilled flatbread
This dish was paired with Avery’s Maharaja IPA. This imperial IPA is mighty, packing a 10% ABV punch. As Avery Brewing explains “The Maharaja flaunts his authority over a deranged amount of hops: tangy, vibrant and pungent along with an insane amount of malted barley – fashioning a dark amber hue and exquisite malt essence.” 

For the main course, we were brought a beautiful twist on the traditional lomo saltado. This traditional Peruvian dish combines marinated strips of sirloin with onions, tomatoes, french fries, and is typically served with rice. We were served a thick and buttery cut of seared beef over a bed of popcorn rice with purple frites as a fun compliment on the side. The main dish was paired with The White Rascal, Avery Brewing’s flagship beer. The Belgian style white ale is unfiltered and spiced with coriander and CuraƧao orange peel, producing a refreshing classic ale.

Lomo Saltado - seared beef, soy aji gravy, purple frites, aji popcorn rice, charcoal roasted peppers, coriander

The dessert course was certainly the most aesthetically pleasing. The beer-misu came decorated to look like a frothy beer. It was too cute. The rich hazelnut chocolate with mascarpone cream was the perfect mate for Avery’s Vanilla Bean Stout. It was a heavy dessert but too good to put down. 
Beer-misu - espresso vanilla stout, mascarpone cream, hazelnut chocolate, cocoa nibs
Thanks to The Watermark for inviting us to this impressive beer pairing dinner. We can’t wait to see what they will come up with next. Check their Facebook for upcoming culinary events, you won’t be disappointed!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Wakey Whiskey: Kings County Distillery Bourbon Whiskey

by Eric Ducote

Hello everyone, and good morning to you all from Chicago! I know we're all still a little bummed about about the way LSU played against Mississippi State, but the season goes on, as does the #wakeywhiskey. Two years ago LSU played Syracuse and I brought out a small batch bourbon whiskey from Kings County Distillery out of Brooklyn, NY. LSU ended up winning that game 34-24, so I went back to the well and brought some Kings County Distillery Bourbon Whiskey with me up to the Windy City.

This bourbon is distilled in Brooklyn from a mash of NY corn and UK malted barley, then aged for at least two years (some barrels up to four) and bottled at 90 proof. I actually visited this distillery several years ago with my friend Jeremy Spikes, and one thing I did not know was that they used a lot of smaller barrels to expedite the aging process. The smaller barrels allow the whiskey to contact the charred oak at a greater ratio and pull out the flavors faster than in a large 55-gallon barrel. They might be using larger barrels now, but it's a good way for a newer distillery (Kings County was founded in 2010) to produce a quality spirit more quickly.

Now, to the whiskey! But, before I even get into the details, I love the packaging... just a 375ml medicine-style bottle with a small wrapped label describing the basics of the spirit in a Courier typewriter font. Simple and attractive.

The first thing I pick up on the nose is an alcohol burn followed immediately by candy corn sweetness and then vanilla notes from the charred oak. It's still young, but it's picked up a lot of color and flavor in a short amount of time. The taste is a little more mellowed out than the aroma, with less of a harsh burn and more of a caramel and molasses flavor followed by the charred notes from the oak barrel. It finishes smoothly, with a hint of spiciness at the end. Sometimes I advocate for a little water or ice to open up a whiskey, but this one tastes better neat. Adding an ice sphere (I tried both, for science) mutes some of the spicier cinnamon notes. However, if you prefer a little ice or water, I'm not going to stop you!

I hope this game against Syracuse is just what the Tigers need to get back on track. Happy #Gameday everyone and #Geauxtigers!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tacos + Tequila: Taco 'Bout A Good Time

So, we are doing a thing. A very big thing. On a mission to bring the people of Baton Rouge a good time, Bite & Booze is teaming up with Brickyard South to throw a major party in the Capital City: TACOS + TEQUILA presented by Tequila Avion! The event will take place underneath the I-10 Mississippi River Bridge behind Brickyard South.

There are going to be ten taco vendors and at least seven tequila cocktail vendors, duking it out for the title of “The Best.” Restaurants like Magpie Cafe, The Overpass Merchant and Mestizo’s will be slinging some majorly creative tacos that we can’t wait to see. There will also be a few restaurants going the traditional route like Cocha and Mr. Taco. We are inviting judges from all over the country to see the best of the best talent here in BR. People like Rue Rusike and Cory Bahr from Food Network Star, Daniel Schumaker, the editor of Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine are all coming to the capital city this Friday.

Once the judging is over, attendees will have the chance to walk around from 7pm-10pm and sample and vote for their favorite chef-driven tacos featuring Hola Nola Foods tortillas and hand-crafted Tequila Avion cocktails while enjoying live music and other fun! That’s all the tacos you can eat and all the tequila you can drink people. Taco bout a good time!

So, what are you waiting for? Grab you tickets now and come hang out with us on Friday. We will see you there!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Wakey Whisk(e)y: Laphroaig Cairdeas Quarter Cask

by Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, and welcome to another beautiful gameday edition of #wakeywhiskey! This round I'll be getting into some scotch courtesy of the good people at Laphroaig. Usually I try to find a connection between the occasion and the whisk(e)y I choose to sip on in the morning, but LSU is playing at Mississippi State and I don't have any spirits from Mississippi in the collection. Honestly, I don't even know if there are any legal distilleries in the state. With that being said, Jay was generous enough to share a sample from Laphroaig with me, and of course I saved some for gameday morning.

Laphroaig's distillery was founded over 200 years ago in 1815 on the island of Islay in Scotland. Islay is known for peaty whiskys overall, although not all Islay whiskys are heavily peated. It's a small island with just over 3,000 residents, but they boast 8 distilleries (with more on the way) and even one brewery, Islay Ales! Laphroaig is situated on the southern coast of the island, about a mile from the Lagavulin distillery, which is less than a mile from the Ardbeg distillery... and those are just three. That's it, I'm putting Islay on my bucket list.

This particular sample from Laphroaig is their Cairdeas 2017 Cask Strength Quarter Cask Edition, clocking in at a robust 57.2% abv. At first I thought that Cairdeas must be some sort of wine that contributed their barrels to this aging, but upon further investigation I learned that Cairdeas is the Gaelic word for "friendship" and this is a special release for the Friends of Laphroaig members. See, you're never too old to learn something new! The whisky is actually aged in first-use bourbon barrels for 5+ years and then finished off for 6 months in American oak quarter casks prior to bottling at cask strength with only simple barrier filtration. Alright then, let's get into it!

My first thought on the nose is that this is a crazy smokey scotch, with a touch of peat and bit of honey sweetness. The flavors are all bold and powerful, and there's an unmistakable burn from the alcohol content, but not as much as I would expect from a 114.4 proof spirit. The taste is the same, with a lot of smoke and char, a little bit of peat, and followed by some more subtle sweet tones of honey and vanilla and a bit of a mineral water finish. After giving it a try neat I added an ice sphere to finish out the pour and that really helped the flavors mellow out and blend together without losing the essence of the spirit. The smokey notes still shine but more of the sweetness and oak character break through.

Overall, a fantastic pour, and it even further cements my desire to spend a few days touring the island of Islay. Now, as I recover from this powerful scotch, it's gameday! Geaux Tigers!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Louisiana Wine Month: Landry Vineyards

by Paige Johannessen

In honor of Louisiana Wine Month I wanted to reflect and share about the wonderful experience I had visiting Landry Vineyards. A few weeks ago, Jay and I headed out to West Monroe for the grape stomp and concert at the Louisiana winery and to celebrate the new vintage of Jay D’s Blanc Du Bois being bottled and ready for release.

En route, we needed a brief stop for lunch and found ourselves at The Camp in Natchez, MS. This cool waterfront restaurant is an obvious favorite with the locals. On a beautiful Saturday afternoon people were congregating on the patio and stopping in for a cold one after a morning run or bike ride along the water. Two burgers and a cold beer later, we were prepared to make the rest of our journey to the rolling hills of West Monroe.

The Slow Burn: pepper jack, bacon, jalapenos, Cajun haystack onions, Slow Burn sauce

Upon arrival, I literally felt as though I had been transported out of Louisiana and dropped somewhere in Texas Hill Country. Lush green pastures and elevation that towered higher than the Indian Mounds on LSU’s could this be?

As we pulled in, Jay pointed out Jeff Landry, the owner of the vineyard, manicuring the area around the stage in preparation for his guests to arrive. Drenched in sweat and covered in dirt, this man was obviously not afraid to get his hands dirty. After having a few days to sit and visit with Jeff and his family, it is apparent that hard work and belief in Louisiana agriculture is what has propelled this vineyard to the success they are seeing today. They truly care about the land, value a hard day's work and their product speaks to all of those truths.

Jeff, Libby and their four sons; Ethan, Kohen, Noah and Micah are the backbone of the business and have continued to grow thanks to the great support of friends in the Monroe area. The first vineyard started in Folsom, LA with two acres of a white European American hybrid grape, Blanc Du Bois. After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the Landrys relocated to the beautiful hill country of West Monroe, LA. The vineyard has now grown to a 20-acre site including a new winery and beautiful tasting room.

Concert days are no joke at the vineyard. Hundreds of people come from the surrounding areas with blankets, chairs and picnics packed ready to purchase bottles of wine to be enjoyed right on the vineyard property.

Jay and I set up a small tasting booth that featured our Jay D’s Spicy and Sweet BBQ Rub popcorn and sausage sauteed for guests to grab and dip into our Louisiana Barbecue Sauce and Molasses Mustard. We were so happy to be out there and mingle with everyone and experience the thrill that is a Saturday evening at Landry Vineyards.

If you have never been out to the vineyard, I highly recommend the journey on a Saturday afternoon with friends and family. They have tractors rigged up with trailers and benches for vineyard tours, tastings of all of their different varietals set up in the pagoda and live music echoing from the stage nestled right at the base of the hill rolling down to the vineyard. It was the perfect summer evening to relax, listen to music and enjoy the bounty that this family has worked so hard to produce.

You can find Jay D’s Blanc Du Bois at most of your local supermarkets. We are proud to partner with a local vineyard supporting Louisiana agriculture.

Also, check out our latest podcast talking about Louisiana wine month and Landry Vineyards with Jeff and Libby Landry:

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Wakey Whiskey: Prichard's Lincoln County Lightning

by Eric Ducote

Good morning on this #wakeywhiskey gameday! Now, we all know LSU put on a defensive clinic last week, so the easy choice here would be to go back to the well and stick with the same whiskey, right? You're right, that would be easy. However, LSU was supposed to beat BYU and I'm not a superstitious person. So, since LSU is playing Chattanooga, I checked the liquor cabinet for Tennessee whiskeys. I didn't have any Jack Daniel's... but I did have some Prichard's, both the Double Chocolate Bourbon and the Lincoln County Lightning. I've been enjoying some white "moonshine" styled whiskeys lately, so I opted for the Lincoln County Lightning.

Prichard's opened in 1997, which is much younger than the established distilleries in Kentucky, Tennessee, and elsewhere, but still relatively old in the current era of craft spirits. They currently produce multiple types of rum, whiskey, and liqueur in two locations within the state.

Two of my last three #wakeywhiskey posts have featured white whiskey, and in both cases I really enjoyed the spirits. This Prichard's Lincoln County Lightning was one of my first introductions to white whiskey many years ago and I didn't really care for it at the time, but I wanted to break it back out and see if my tastes have changed... and they certainly have.

I used to find this spirit overly corn-sweet and a little harsh on the palate with an alcohol-induced burning sensation. I guess I've gotten more and more used to that feeling as the corn sweetness is still there but overall this whiskey goes down smoothly. The burn is replaced with a honeysuckle and corn sweetness that drinks like mineral water. It's pretty amazing really how my tastes on this one have changed, so I'm damn glad that I went back to the well and gave it another try.

An excellent start to my gameday morning, now #GEAUXTIGERS!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

North African Appetite: A Private Dinner at Red Stick Spice Co.

by Paige Johannessen

Jay Ducote along with Commander in Chef of Gov't Taco, Aimee Tortorich, hosted another sold out four course dinner at Red Stick Spice Company in August. Using Red Stick Co.'s high quality spices and oils, they took guests on a culinary adventure through North African cuisine.

The room was set up beautifully, including a gorgeous display of spices laid out for the guests to fawn at. Now that we have had a few repeat customers to our pop up dinners at Red Stick Spice Co. they know the drill and are arriving before we can even pour the first glass of wine. This gives them time to shop around the store and watch as Chef Aimee Tortorich put the finishing touches on a few of her dishes. 

photo by Red Stick Spice Co.
To start the evening off we had plates of warm lamb meatballs served over a delicate but full flavored mint yogurt dipping sauce. The lamb was soft and juicy and the flavors set off by the mint prepared the guests for a savory evening. To compliment this earthy appetizer were glasses of Jay D's Blanc Du Bois for our guests to sip on. 

Once everyone had a chance to try the lamb and grab a glass of wine or two, it was time to be seated. Jay started off the dinner service with a brief introduction  and then the plates starting rolling out! For the first course, a procession of carrots roasted with oranges and dates, garnished with chickpeas and crumbled pistachios came marching out to the guests. This warm and robust dish paired nicely with a spicy glass of Pinot Noir.

photo by Red Stick Spice Co.
Next, for the main course was the beef short rib tagine. This crowd favorite was visibly tender and the aroma of ginger and fig wafted from the plates. The short rib was served with a delicate scoop of couscous, and garnished with peanuts. To compliment the subtle fruit notes of this dish was a full glass of Syrah for all to enjoy.

Last but certainly not least came the most artistic and sweet dish of the night. Chef arranged small sculptures of milk bastilla, a thin cinnamon dusted pastry layered into stacks and drizzled with a custard like cream. Hidden between the layers of crunchy pastry were cloves and apricots, and crunchy pine nuts were sprinkled on top to finish it off. 

Blair prepared a warm rougaroux spiked cocoa with homemade marshmallows from Counter Space BR to be served with this decadent dessert. 

photo by Red Stick Spice Co.

Once again, we were thrilled to see a room full of empty plates and satisfied taste buds. We can not wait to be back at Red Stick Spice Co. this month for a special TWO night seating of our Modern Italian Mangia four course dinner on September 26th and 27th. Join us before it sells out!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Wakey Whiskey: Yellow Rose Outlaw Bourbon

by Eric Ducote

Well, it has been a crazy week, but one thing I think almost everyone down here can agree on is that it's good to see some LSU football! My #wakeywhiskey tradition began as a gameday tradition, back in the Third Row Tailgaters days of glory. We would aim to get out to our tailgate spot by 7 AM, if not the night before. What better way to start the morning off than with a celebratory bourbon and coke? Tastes may have changed, but traditions haven't. As football season rolls around, so does the wakey whiskey!

As I'm sure you all know, Hurricane Harvey has made a mess of this last week, devastating the gulf coast from Corpus Christi up into South West Louisiana. The Bite and Booze and Gov't Taco team was hard at work Thursday night serving tacos and donating a portion of their proceeds to hurricane relief. In honor of the resilient nature of the gulf coast and of all the amazing people that have been doing their part to help, it was an easy choice to find a Texas bourbon for this morning's selection. I had a few to choose from, but ultimately I had to pull out the Outlaw Bourbon from Yellow Rose Distilling.

Yellow Rose was founded in 2010 and started hitting the market in 2012, making them Houston's first legal whiskey distillery. This bourbon is created in small batches from a 100% corn grain bill, then aged in small fresh charred oak barrels. The benefit of using the smaller barrels is that there is much more surface area per volume of whiskey, which serves to accelerate the aging process as the initially white (or clear) whiskey soaks in and out of the charred oak. The drawback is that more is typically lost to the "angel's share" than in a larger 55 gallon barrel.

The accelerated aging process is evident, as the Outlaw Bourbon pours a deep reddish, almost copper color. The nose is strong with hints of vanilla and charred caramel. The taste is a superb follow through on the aroma, powerful with sweet corn notes, hints of vanilla, a touch of mineral water on the mouthfeel, and a slight burn from the alcohol without being a tough sip. This one clocks in at 46% alcohol or 92 proof, so it's a step above your standard 40%, but nowhere near as potent as some barrel proof bourbons on the market. The finish is smooth and that vanilla from the aroma comes back strong.

All in all, a pretty damn good bourbon, absolutely worth looking for. 

On that note, stay strong Houston, and GEAUX TIGERS!