Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Six more weeks of this??

A few weeks back, my little girl ran and jumped in the middle of our bed very early in the morning. She said it was too cold in her room to stay alone in bed.

It had been well below freezing in South Louisiana for a whole week, and that does not happen very often.

I got up and plodded down the stairs to crank up the heater. I also put on a pot of coffee. My wife and daughter were still asleep – I on the other hand had not had a good night.

The thought of cooking and eating beignets had kept me awake much of the night.

My wife and I had taken our daughter to watch the just released Disney movie, “The Princess and the Frog.” It was a funny movie, classic Disney. It was set in and around New Orleans and there were many, many references to Creole and Cajun foods, customs, music. Unfortunately for me, one dish in the cartoon that was served up several times was beignets.

The downstairs was starting to warm up and the smell of the chicory in the coffee was filling the air. I mixed up a batch of beignet dough and fired up our deep fat fryer. Working quietly, I fried up two dozen of them. I also scalded some milk for café au lait. About the time my wife and daughter made it downstairs, almost everything was ready. My little girl is always in charge of shaking on the powdered sugar, which she sprinkles on so heavily that the each beignet looked the snows of Kilimanjaro.

I could eat Beignets every morning for breakfast and then again for brunch. Pour me a bottomless cup of café au lait, and I could eat them all day long. I am the same way with Gumbo - I am destined to serve myself three bowls. And the next day, after it spends a night in the ice box, maybe even four.

Ever had that peanut butter in the chocolate moment – the revelation of two great tastes that taste great together. Beignets and café au lait are like that. Locals and tourist have enjoyed that perfect food and beverage pairing in New Orleans for 200 years. Pizza and draft beer are like that also – once you start eating and drinking you cannot stop. If you don’t believe me, go to Deano’s, Alesi’s or Pizzaville and order a large pepperoni and a pitcher of draft beer. You will finish both, even if you have to loosen your belt and run around the building a couple of times between the last few slices.

Gumbo and craft beer are like that. You cannot help yourself, if you pair a well crafted beer with your next cold weather gumbo, you will return to the gumbo pot (and to your ice box) at least two more times. I recommend a good American Pale Ale, or an American version of an India Pale Ale. If you must have a lager, try the Pilsner Urquell – especially with a seafood gumbo. The zip from the hops in that beer are refreshing and really cleanses the palate between the spoonfuls of roux, seafood and seasonings.

Of course you could try an LA-31 with your gumbo. It is still cold enough, light a fire under your gumbo pot.

Gumbo, pizza, I guess now we should be working on a beer that will enhance and pair with beignets - perhaps a Biere au lait?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Who Dat?

The Saints will be playing in the Super bowl next Sunday! A week later is Valentine’s Day, and the Tuesday after that is Mardi Gras. Crawfish season is really kicking off after the recent unexpected frigid weather. Dorsey caught enough in our pond for our first big boil of the year last night.

Is it a good time to live in Acadiana or what?

I am smothering some fresh pork sausage right now and the house smells like Grandma’s used to. Nobody could smother sausage (or anything else) as well as she could. I am looking forward to putting that rich sauce rouillè over a steaming plate of rice, sliding a link of smothered sausage on the side. I don’t know why, but white beans always seemed to be the vegetable she would serve with smothered sausage, so I am fixing a batch of those as well.

I am also drinking an LA-31 Bière Pâle out of the bottle.

Yep, our bottled LA-31 has finally hit store shelves around Acadiana. I had been stalking our area distributor’s salesman for days, and finally he had some cases of our beer in his truck. He set his first display up at Russell’s, a grocery around the corner from our brewery. I took some pictures of him working and later of our first paying customer.

Felt like we already won the Superbowl!

The brewery’s phone has not stopped ringing. Thanks to everyone who bought the beer and called to inform us of what Cajun food they paired it with. We have had beaucoup recommendations for dishes that our beer has complimented.

It was pretty damn good with the boiled crawfish last night.

Our local distributor ordered a two month supply of our beer - which lasted them only two days. Cajuns sure do like to drink beer. We are brewing up some more, but for now there are only a few cases left in stores. I am sure they will all be gone before lent starts.

One lady who called the brewery let us know that she had bought a case to pair with a large turtle sauce piquant she had prepared for a party she was throwing. Though we did not get an invite (and we love turtle sauce piquant) she did call back and say our beer was delicious - as was her sauce piquant. But the two together was to her a revelation - Crafted beer is the only beverage to serve with the Cajun food we long to eat.

I am looking forward to diving into that smothered sausage tonight – it is one of my all-time favorite Cajun meals. I know we will drive to Henderson for raw oysters and fried seafood platters at Pat’s restaurant on Valentines Day. We will boil some crawfish before the Superbowl, saving some for a celebratory crawfish ettouffe afterward, and I have got to hunt down some olive dressing for muffalettas and a King cake for Mardi Gras.

A big merci beaucoup to everyone who helped, supported and believed in our little brewery. We also want to thank everyone who has tried our beer – keep calling us with the interesting food pairing recommendations.

Is this a good time to live in Acadiana or what?