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.