You know I’d have to say that the biggest blessing for my family since we started Bayou Teche Brewing is all of the cool new friends we have made in the last two years. Though many of these new friends are in the beer industry, most are involved in wonderful things that have very little to do with hawking beer.
Last Saturday, our very good friend (who also apparently knows everyone else in Louisiana), evil genius, party animal and well-connected impresario, Todd Mouton put together one of the finest soirées I have ever attended. Dubbed the Saint Street Carnival: Revelry de Rio (Todd always comes up with the most ingenious names) the happening was on the night of the Lafayette’s Krewe de Rio Parade- always held on the Saturday that falls a week prior to Mardi Gras proper. Held at the Saint Street Inn – there was a fantastic menu of Brazilian Barbeque and a way cool Tikki Bar out front, and the last three cases in Lafayette of our Courir de Mardi Gras beer, plus our Mello Dubbel coffee beer on tap inside. Valcour Records provided the live music. Before the Parade the Pine Leaf Boys Trio played some addictively foot-stomping traditional Cajun music. After the Parade Corey Lil Pop Ledet Zydecoed the night away, protected from the bitter wind by strategically placed sheets of visqueen, which decorated the front porch of the restaurant until the food and beer were gone. Saint Street Inn was packed until closing time – even though the temperature dipped down to near 28 degrees. Oh yea, the Krewe of Rio Parade was fantastic – the marching bands were awesome.
The Saint Street Inn in Lafayette is the kind of a place that you wish you would have thought to open. Nathan Stubbs and Mary Tutwiler have wholly embraced the farm to table movement and are serving up ingenious takes on our South Louisiana foods and locally sourced ingredients – with hip--folky and art-filled decor. Their sausage po-boy is my unsurpassed favorite, the sausages are sliced into rounds, and then browned, maximizing the surface area for those dark caramel, maillard reaction flavors Cajuns crave on cuts of meat. There are a lot of marvelous things on the menu – the BLT sliders (boudin lettuce and tomato) are awesome, and I hear they are working on Cajun s’mores made with graham cracker, marshmallow, chocolate and a graton (pork crackling) – umm, I don’t know if I am the inspiration or the target market for the Cajun s’more, I just know I’ll be eating the rumored treats when Saint Street releases them!
Our noble yet incredibly hip friends at Valcour Records have just released The Best of Valcour Records Volume One. It is mind-boggling that in only five years, Joel Savoy, Lucius Fontenot, and Phillip LaFargue have created not only the finest label recording Louisiana artists, but a label that these musicians actually aspire to record for. The Best of Valcour Records Volume One is a collection from their varied stable of artist, from the Pine Leaf Boys to Cedric Watson. There are toe-tapping cuts by Courtbouilion, Corey Ledet, Bonsoir Catin, Red Stick Ramblers, Feufollet, Joel Savoy and Linzay Young, and also The Cajun Country Revival.
In short, this CD is a breathtaking collection of the bands that Acadiana locals go dance to every weekend – though it is not a collection of your Grandfather’s Cajun songs. It is a wonderful CD. I don’t envy the undertaking, selecting which song’s made Volume One of the greatest hits – I trust the remarkable trio is already working on Volume Two.
One of our partners in crime, shaking up the establishment and sticking it to the man, is the Louisiana French Rock (Rock Francais Louisianais) band Isle Derniere. These are the guys that dared to bring Go- Go dancers to their performance at Festival Acadiens last year. They are also the band that did a Cajun French version of Black Sabbath’s Iron Man on our En Francais CD.
I know many powerful and influential members of the Louisiana French Rock scene (a scene which totals about five members). I recently got in the mail a surprise package from Rocky McKeon, who is the Head Guru, High Priest and lead singer for Isle Derniere. In it was a pre-release mix of their upcoming CD, and a stylish, yet rebellious black T-shirt plastered with an extra-large logo of the band.
Provide me a nice T-shirt and I’ll be your biggest devotee – I really do work that cheap. Free T-shirts and sandals are important elements of my personal fashion statement.
Anyhow, if you see me walking around with my head slanted to one side or the other due to a seriously debilitating crick in my neck, you can blame Rocky. I’ve been head banging to his Cajun French fueled Metal for several weeks now.
I’d stay off of the highways around Arnaudville – Air drumming to this rocking CD has me swerving off the road quite a bit as of late.
A few weeks ago, Annie Flanagan of St James Cheese in New Orleans had a pretty good idea for a fundraiser – get some local breweries to donate some of their beers, which would be paired with several courses of cheese donated by St. James, sell tickets and donate one hundred percent of the proceeds to charity. And you know what, it was a huge success! All the money raised from the sold out evening was donated to New Incentives, an organization raising money to help young orphans and vulnerable children. With their partner COPE (Care of Nigeria’s Poor), the money raised that night will allow 92 children to be enrolled and continue to attend school, have regular visits to the doctor, eat a nourishing diet, get their birth certificates and receive vocational training. As always the folks at St. James Cheese were incredible and passionate with everything they did and everyone attending the event was awesome. For more information or to help out, check out www.newincentives.org.
Our good friend and gifted journalist Christian DeBenedetti, has an impressive new book out, The Great American Ale Trail – The Craft Beer Lover’s Guide to the Best Watering Holes in the Nation. Great American Ale Trail is an essential and tremendously informative travel guide for beer aficionados, thus I’m sure Chris reveled in every minute of his ale and lager-imbibing research. In the book Chris says that there is a genuine revolution happening in America when it comes to beer, and he spent a full year traveling around America documenting it. I just got a copy and quickly flipped to page 307- there it was, a full page and a half devoted to Bayou Teche Brewing Company.
Oh, yeah there’s about 400 or so other breweries, and some really cool beer hangouts and bars included in the book too. I’ve got my copy packed in my suitcase – ready for referring to on my next road trip. And check out Chris’ fresh new website – www.weeklypint.com.
OK, not to name drop, but we got to hang out for almost two days with the Beer Chicks. Their first book, The Naked Pint is fantastically informative, humorously written and sold a butt-load of copies. Hallie Beaune and Christina Perozzi also have a splendid Facebook page and killer website, and novel TV special coming up on the Cooking Channel. They know and love everything beer – and they can out-drink any self-respecting Cajun.
Plus they are super-model hot.
I know, every man’s dream girl, right.
Their new and innovative TV special is named Eat This, Drink That. The first of what I’m sure will be countless episodes (and no doubt an Emmy award or two) premiers on the Cooking Channel – March 4th, at 8 pm. The Cooking channel website says a lot of well-deserved nice things about our good friends and their show. The one hour special takes the Beer Chicks on the road where they meet individuals creating new rules for pairing food with drink. One of the Chicks’ stop is at my favorite South Louisiana brewery where they “explore unexpected concoctions with passion fruit and coffee.”
It was a lot of fun filming the show and hanging out with the Chicks. My family and I got to introduce them to our beers, as well as Boudin, Beignets, and a giant Cajun brunch. Watch the show, though the way these thing usually go for me, you’ll probably only get a glimpse of the back of my very unattractive head.
And really, who wants a glimpse of the back of my head messing up their view of the Beer Chicks anyway?
Shameless Beer Dinners alert – Mes Frères et moi are invited to three extraordinary beer dinners in the next few weeks. We have been in training, stretching out our stomachs while simultaneously abusing our livers in anticipation of abuse and punishment these organs will have to soon endure. The first beer dinner will be at Sal and Mookie’s New York Pizza and Ice Cream Joint on Lundi Gras (February 20th) in Jackson Mississippi at seven PM. Check out our Facebook page for the awesome gourmet menu! A few weeks later, on March 5th in downtown Jackson Mississippi -the legendary and renowned Parlor Market will be laying on a full-four course dinner, pairing one of our beers with each of the amazing courses. Finally, on March 17 we will be finishing this Food and Beer Triathlon at a St. Patrick’s Day Beer Brunch at Jolie’s Bistro in Lafayette. We will be putting the menu for that event on the Facebook page soon – they are going to be doing some amazing cocktails with our beers.