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Boudin update

I've been going to cajun country about twice a year and regularly bring back a carry-on full of boudin (that I freeze overnight before the return). [ I also stuff myself with crawfish when in season, but these is boudin update notes]:

* Only certain boudin seem to be worthwhile when you take them home; them that's the best is the one's with less rice, and more meat and spice. Rice? Up north, you can get that from Uncle Ben.

* IMH experience there are four absolute winners for take-home boudin: Vautrot's in Church Point (sublime smoky pork predominate - - a gentle teeth-rippingly good link); Cormier's in Church Point (gravy-like richness; a sumptious feast of a link); Don's in Carencro (and now also right on the Interstate in Scott; in the past I've faulted this one because sometimes it seemed like too much MSG, but it has SO much meat, and so much heat, that it is classic); and last but NOT least and now hog heaven: Babineaux's boudin rouge (or is it boudin noir?) from Breaux Bridge. I bought a whole pile of this my last visit, and that dark boudin is so rich, subtle, complex, and gawdalmighty holy holy that I'm glad I loaded up on the front side and hardly had room for much else. The other thing I DID have room for was frozen linkies from Bayou Boudin & Cracklin' in Breaux Bridge, which has also traveled great in the past, and which I will have to defrost in the next 20 minutes.

I do not want to disparage other links that are very popular (many of which are Interstate outlets, like Best Stop and Billy's). But, to be honest, any rice-heavy link (they center around Lake Charles and Crowley) is not worth hauling home (except the sublime smoked number from the Market Basket in Lake Charles), and many other links that taste fine fresh down there, do not necessarily travel well.

Mar 02, 2013
dwh in Central South

Best Boudin to take home frozen

I've been going down to Laffy (Lafayette, LA) for a few years now - - I love boudin, and I am eternally grateful to www.boudinlink.com for all the FAB recommendations. I drive around melting into the bayous and prarie with cajun and zydeco blaring from the radio, love small-town mardi gras. I get big sacks of crawfish and scarf them up when they are in season, enjoy the oysters, and particularly love the people from Breaux Bridge to New Iberia to Abbeville to Eunice.

But boudin (a frozen carry-on full, on the plane back to Wisconsin) is the ultimate draw. Keeps me happy for months. And here is my recommenation for travel-boudin - - the ones to stock up on, the ones that travel well, the ones that keep you smilin' through the snowy times:

* Some of the top butchers have found a new lease on commercial life putting up a shop by I-10, to pick up on the Florida-Texas interstaters. The Best Stop in Scott was an original, but I don't find their boudin the 'best'. Don's has really SPICY boudin also at Scott, and it travels well, even though there is a lot of MSG - -but it keeps great in the freezer and stays delicious. Billy's has a recently cobbled store at virtually the same location, but there is so much MSG in the mix that it is gag-worthy. One REAL gem is JW's in Breaux Bridge (just south of the interstate - - head east just past the WalMart - - a delicious, meaty, spicy wonder - - just be sure to check their opening hours). Cormier's just south of I-10 in Crowley also has great links (it's a touch hard to find - - worth mapping precisely).

That's it for the easiest I-10 stock-ups, for me - - but if you are driving around the area with more time and good GPS or maps, here's what I think is GREAT boudin that travels well, and does well in the freezer for many months:

Vautrot's in Church Point - smoky, meaty, rich, dry, delicious; rare, amazing boudin.
Cormier's in Cankton - juicy, gravy-rich links!
Charlie T's in Breaux Bridge - This is a richly meaty link, with nice spice, that is completely worthwhile to freeze, transport, and to keep.
Bayou Boudin & Cracklin in Breaux Bridge - - another richly flavored link that travels well.
Babineaux's in Breaux Bridge - north of the interstate, their boudin noir (boudin rouge?) is vastly complex, and a real rarity - - if you don't mind pig's blood in your boudin, it is wowsville;
Redlich's City Cash in Basile - - for some reason, this really travels well - - it has enough meat to keep it sumptious, and just great over-all balance;
Market Basket smoked boudin in Lake Charles - - this place is well off the interstate, but the smoked boudin is absolutely sublime, one of the most amazing substances you will ever bite into - - and although lots of Lake Charles boudin is highly rated, I find it nearly all disappointing because it is so rice-heavy - - mostly not worth buying, and definitely not worth freezing and transporting.

There are many others I enjoy, but few others worth stocking up on, freezing, and transporting. The links with lots of rice do NOT provide lots of pleasure when frozen and savored later on, the the 'meatier' links tend to be fantastic over time, and over distance.

Oct 09, 2012
dwh in Central South

It's Boudin Time!

I Googled just now and found your great post. I also went to Babineaux's this September and had a link of their boudin noir, or boudin rouge (standard boudin with added pig's blood) and it was as sublime as anything I've eaten anywhere. After discovering your post, I'm looking forward to Stelly's & Saucier's too (it will be next February 2013, Mardi Gras time, when I do my next boudin run). Thanks for the excellent intel !

Oct 09, 2012
dwh in New Orleans

Germany - Taking Home Leftovers?

I was just in Dresden and one special at the Altmarktkeller was half a schweinshaxe for 9 Euro. But the menu listed a whole haxe for 13, so I got that. By the time I ate all the crispy outside and a few bites of center I was stuffed, but I had an oversized zip-lock bag in the backpack and discretely dropped the massive leg in. The waiter looked at me real funny when I paid and there was no huge bone on the plate.

Sep 03, 2012
dwh in Europe

Only Losers Ruin Their Scotch.. on the Rocks

No, you are completely right. A sliver of ice opens up the flavor, and doesn't significantly water down the whisky. The ongoing changes in temperature and viscosity constantly bring out different dimensions.

Oct 24, 2011
dwh in Spirits

Good Milwaukee Pub with good brats and beer near MKE

I was born and raised in Milwaukee, and also spend about 12 weeks each year in Germany, and I went with my nephew to the Old German Beer Hall (alternatively called the Hofbrauhaus) at 1009 N Old World Third St (virtually across from Usingers), and we had a mixed sausage platter that was REALLY tasty (for a quick, zesty bite). It was like 1pm on a Saturday, and the place was almost deserted, but that might be a good thing as service and attention to detail goes. VERY reasonable prices too. You can always go to Maders, a few doors down, where the quality of traditional German food is superb, though the prices are higher (I've gotten coupons for real substantial reductions from the Milwaukee Tourism mag in the past). A couple blocks from there on 4th St.,, Turners is a classic establishment in a cream-brick building that has been a perennial favorite (I've been going there since I was 8 years old and forced to take gymnastics in the gym hall).

-----
Mader's
1041 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53203

Hofbrauhaus
1009 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53203

Nov 18, 2010
dwh in Great Lakes

Buffalo Trace White Dog (New Make Whiskey)

I bought four bottles. I only sampled it on two occasions so far, but both next days were hell, pure hell. Is this why they age spirits? I'm selling off the two unopened bottles I still have and will keep a wary eye on the opened one.

May 22, 2010
dwh in Spirits

What have been your best and worst liquor purchases?

My best liquor purchase is a slam dunk. It was in the mid-1980's. Rays in Milwaukee had all these Gordon&McPhail bottlings of single malt whiskies that were gathering dust. Nobody knew anything about single malts back then, so they put them at HALF PRICE. So I took about eight bottles to the counter, including a couple Caol Isla 13's, and also a 24-year-old Longmorn (!) that was so long in the wood that it tasted like maple, coal, lilacs and kerosene, and the clerk looked at the first bottle (the cheapest) and charged me the same half-price for ALL of them. So they were $10.50 each. Best liquor purchase ever. Worst liquor purchase ever was a bottle of mezcal in Cancun.

May 22, 2010
dwh in Spirits

Buffalo Trace White Dog (New Make Whiskey)

On a trip through Covington Saturday I stopped at the Cork & Bottle (a fabulous retailer who always have several hand-chosen bottlings of single barrel whiskies on hand - - got a Weller 107 that was spirited, but with a wonderful cherry-like brightness, and a Buffalo Trace that was so complex and distinctive that you can't imagine buying a standard bottle after one like this) and they had the White Dog for about $15 the .375 bottle. I had fresh distillate once before at Makers Mark (where they let you taste it side-by-side with the finished product) and at the graduation fete in Oxford, OH it shook out like this: everybody loved sampling the White Dog. Those that also tried the barrel-select Buffalo Trace were wowed (at least those that had the chops to appreciate stellar bourbon), but the 62% corn sweet lightning made people bouyant and warmed the innards in a curiously joyful way. After the initial 62% jolt, it is surprisingly pleasant, nicely sweet, and you can even appreciate some spicy rye complexity - - it goes down happy. As did we.

May 09, 2010
dwh in Spirits

LOCKHART BBQ is starting to slide downhill

I live in Wisconsin and fly down twice a year and bring a carry-on full of BBQ back. Last week I picked up some Blacks and Smittys in Lockhart, along with Luling & Gonzales. I also stopped at the Rudys' out by SeaWorld in San Antonio the day before the proper BBQ road trip. There the ribs were VERY tasty, though kind of unevenly sumptious/dryish in texture. I ate all the ribs, and enjoyed them, but the white-shaded floppy brisket was evil. Tried to eat it, but couldn't. Got it wrapped and took it to the hotel and tried to eat some more after (microwaving it along with outstanding Tellez tamales), but the stuff was not edible - - sick flavor, from start to trash-can finish.

The next morning the lamb ribs at Gonzales Food Market (MLK holiday with a tiny parade starting outside) were fatty/drippy and enjoyable for a few bites (kept to freeze the rest), but the brisket was super delicious. Only had a slab or two - - but loved it. Strange thing was, after two hours in the back seat, the grey slabs of brisket started to congeal bits of fat mushrooming all over the place. Completely different from other cooling brisket I've known.

I just microwaved some of that Gonzales brisket, frozen for a couple days, back in Wisconsin, and it was again SUPER tasty (with the fat permeating everything). This might be what "classic" brisket techincally IS - - the fat so melts into the fiber, that it makes everything delicious. But it is not like the Lockhart brisket that I have been bringing home on my trips - - the Lockhart . and other classic brisket, is meaty where it is meaty, and fatty where it is fatty (both good!).

The Luling ribs (1030am Monday 18jan2010) were, as usual, done to perfection, though the few I tried on the way back to the rental car were almost bereft of meat - - all bone. Hopefully the rest of the two pounds I packaged and now have frozen have more delicious substance (particularly at $9 a pound). But the brisket was big - - the few bites I had before putting them on the back seat to cool were very tasty and perfectly shaded (black, red, pink, grey).

Drove by Chisholm Trail, promising that when I go again in October 2010 I will actually buy some meat there, before picking up a couple pounds of brisket at Smitty's. The few bites I had were o.k.. Like the last time I went there, the cuts were all very uniform, with a long, dense slab of meat below, and a streak of fat along the top. The long slab of meat tends to be tight and toothy. Enough smoke to make it interesting, but the texture can be monochrome.

In contrast, the Blacks brisket is SCORCHED smoky on the outside, and the inside is tender, flaky, stringy, and luscious. Over the last few visits I have started to gravitate (have great luck?) with Blacks brisket more and more. Really complex - - even dynamic. That scorched edging reeks of smoke and chomps down crusty, while the inner layers are melty and succulent. When I was ordering they really gave attention to which brisket they sliced and what portions of it they cut. I don't want to come right out and say that Blacks Rules Supreme, but in fact it might. The carry-on product that is now frozen in my Wisconsin fridge remains spectacular, even after their little bout in the microwave.

Jan 21, 2010
dwh in Texas

What bourbon are you drinking these days?

MM tastes good even before they distill it!
http://www.vimeo.com/1189702

Jun 21, 2008
dwh in Spirits

Bourbon Trail splinters [moved from Midwest board]

Here's video of some serious distillery action:

http://www.vimeo.com/1189702

Jun 17, 2008
dwh in General South Archive

Recipes for using Skyline [split from Cincinnati Chili thread on Midwest Board]

[This was split by the moderators from a thread "Cincinnati Chili" on the Midwest board http://www.chowhound.com/topics/30780... ]

Skyline has sometimes been described more as a "condiment" than as a beefy, beany, tomatoey mess like texas chili. I love skyline and have a wicker clothing hamper full of cans of it, that I replenish with trips to Cincy taking empty suitcases outbound and cases from Krogers on the return.

I don't eat it like a big pot of chili, but instead use it like this (add your own variations):
* Heat up some frozen beef&cheese taquitos and smother them with Skyline chili and then reheat; you will never look back;
* Heat up some vegetables (e.g., okra, red peppers, sweet corn, onion) then stir them into polenta from an easy-to-use tube, then re-heat with Skyline chili and top off with goat cheese and sharp paprika (goat cheese goes FABULOUSLY with Skyline);

Skyline is indeed not "chili" like out of a Hormel can. It is a magnificently sublime substance that can be added in careful, measured amounts to substances like chevre, corn tortillas, zesty veggies, cheddar cheese, alfredo & white sauces, et. al. to yield something wildly satisfying. I grew up in Wisconsin, and only got hooked on Skyline on a couple rare trips to Cincy a decade or more ago, and now can't live without it.

Jun 16, 2008
dwh in Home Cooking

Bourbon Trail splinters [moved from Midwest board]

Flew to Louisville for $130 though never made it into the city. Thanks to all sorts of googled recommendations drove early the next morning to the Buffalo Trace distillery near Frankfort and got there about 10am on a Saturday. If I had it to do over (which I will) I would have arranged in advance for a "hard hat" tour of Buffalo Trace to see the mashing and fermenting at 9am, but the 10am tour of the barrel storage and bottling (and a sampling) is really great. Besides absolutely stunning views of barrel storage (with each warehouse varying by height and external structure - - which significantly affects the flavor of maturing barrels) the information from the tour guide was genuine and not a little bit fun - - I learned a BUNCH. A really worthwhile tour.

Barrelled out to the Wild Turkey distillery where they had mash/fermenting tanks, but did not allow photography indoors. The juvenile tour leader was just as specious, and this tour was a wild TURKEY though if your camera happens to repeatedly and unexpectedly misfire while ogling the bubbling mash tanks you might get something memorable. Lousy tour, though in different circumstances it might be worthwhile.

Four Roses had just shut down their production the day before I got there (June 14th) so they did not allow a visit to the bubbling vats, but they had a really nice video, and then a tedious recitation of what was already covered in the video by a nervous youngin, followed by a tasting. The tasting matched exactly the bottles of Four Roses I had picked up the night before, but was delightfully (after our curious spotting, and then insistence) accompanied by a tasting of the pure spirit as it comes straight out of the high wines still. Four Roses is a very pretty operation, and the whiskies are unique, delicate, and hard to find, but the pretentiousness of the non-tour is a bit much to take.

Drove through Bardstown toward early evening and saw enough to realize that all of Sunday could be spent there happily. Route 31E/150 from Louisville is a gorgeous approeach to Bardstown. The Heaven Hill bourbon Heritage Center has some nice displays. I left before the tour start (barrels only--no production), and instead drove to Makers Mark which is an incredibly beautiful 25 minute drive toward the south-south-east This was a KNOCKOUT tour. At Four Roses another tourer had said that the Woodford Reserve (near Frankfort) tour was really worthwhile, but the Makers tour was absolutely gorgeous, was very comprehensive, and BEST of all, begged, insisted, beseeched, all tourgoers to dip their hands into every vat, to feel and then TASTE the ongong process of the fermenting "beers" as they went from grain mash to 8% bubbling pre-distilled corn/wheat excellence, and then wash their hands. The tasting at the end brilliantly let you compare the un-aged white dog out of the high wines still to the fully aged Makers Mark as it is sold - - FAB!

I didn't go to the Jim Beam distillery that Sunday because they only offer a video and then a self-guided walk around the grounds. Monday through Friday they also offer a tasting of their small batch bourbons, which would have been great, but this was a Sunday, and they don't offer tastings on Sundays (though I am sure that this makes God happy).

Jun 16, 2008
dwh in General South Archive

Interesting Scotch Recommendations

<<<<<Based on the samples you give, I'd suggest something from one of these distilleries: Glenrothes Old Pulteney Scapa Bunnahabhain.

Late in the thread, but here is a plug for Old Pulteney, which I've been able to get for between $19 and $24 over the last few years. If scotch means murky, if scotch means burnt-rubber, then the Old Pult is not for you. It is a bright, fruity (and we're talking pears, mangos & tart apples all in abundance) substance unlike anything else labeled single malt. For all it's lushness, it is also assertive--there are a few bright-styled Speysides but they tend to be kind of thin or "flabby" (kind of dull and washed out, and die out after the bottle has been open for more than a few weeks). Old Pult has been by far the best value malt in the last several years for my buck.

May 12, 2008
dwh in Spirits

Even Williams Single Barrel

>>>>>Which year? It's going to vary a bit year-to-year and within a given year's selections...

Yes--year to year and barrel to barrel. Last year I had an Evan Williams Single Barrel from Binnys in Chicago that was rich with big caramel and vanilla, but still so smooth and gentle--it was just about perfect. The next one I bought (elsewhere) had hardly any character at all. Since then I''ve tried a couple that were right in between--nice flavors, gentle, subtle, but still complex and really tasty--hard to put it down. Sometimes they will be labeled as being selected by the retailer (like the one for Binny's in Chicago--which was gobsmacking). Buffalo Trace also have barrel selects that individual retailers spec out (like Cork & Bottle in Covington, KY which will often have two barrel selections available from Buffalo Trace or Weller that have different flavor and character).

May 12, 2008
dwh in Spirits

Which is the best Lockhart/Luling Barbecue?

I was down that way yesterday, and tonight after getting into Madison WI at 1230am this morning before clearing 8 inches of fresh stuff off my car and driving home through what remained of the blizzard, I'm having some City Market brisket. I picked up one to two pounds of brisket at each stop, while picking at them off the drivers seat of the rental car and trying to force myself to stop picking at them, and then finally bagging them in marked freezer bags and bringing them home to Wisconsin tucked under some frozen entrees from a food store to keep them cool, and now they are all in the freezer. Sunday stopped at Black's and the cut was on the dry-and-tight side (last time in October 2007 it was more soft and floppy; the previous time it was very dry & lean), but still luv-er-ly smoke, of course. Then went to Smitty's and the first time I was there I found the brisket somehow unusually sweet, but this time it was beautifully textured and properly succulent (and the atmosphere there, with the 3 fires going, is otherworldly). Somebody had talked about the "4th" BBQ place in Lockhart so I stopped at Chisholm Trail on south Colorado, but it seemed a bit cafeteria-like, and the cuts of brisket I saw people chowing on looked dark and monotone. The next day went to Louie Mueller's in Taylor, and the brisket was lucious but also really fatty (at Blacks they had lopped off a big slice of fat before slicing to serve). Louie Mueller's also has another kind of otherworldly atmosphere, like somewhere between the early 1830's and the late 1950's. Stopped at a place in Elgin but did not try the specialty sausages (with my German background I find Texas sausage disappointing) and doubled back to Lockhart for two pounds of brisket at Kreuz. This brisket was like a drier cut, which under other circumstances could have been tough, that had been mellowed to the point that it was falling apart in chunky/crumbly pieces. Eating finger-plucked chunks of the Kreuz brisket was really irresistable, but I somehow managed to save most of it before barrelling down to Luling. The City Market ribs (the only ribs I got on this trip, were glistening, sweet, and bursting with flavor, as unsual). The brisket was a mixed bag of drier/tougher long and huge slices along with absolutely mouth-melting long and huge slices. My conclusion, so far, is that they are all extraordinary places serving a rare, astounding, heaven-on-earth product - - but that your mileage might sometimes vary dependent upon the cut of the brisket, and whether the individual brisket got just the ultimate temperature-variation, placement, and time in the cooker. If you factor in the variation that meat-buying might possibly play in the ultimate product, this makes it worth going back time after time just to run up a track record and speculate more about the variables. For atmosphere, Smittys is a glowing smoke-bomb, Louie Mueller's is a stunning turn of the clock back (and the whole town of Taylor is an eerie return to a time that time forgot), City Market is a vibrant and very real-feeling traditional place, Blacks has some charm and some great knick-knacks, and Kreuz Market is a big semi-modern barn. For the brisket, all of them were very good, all of them were a bit different than the brisket I've had before there at the places I've been before, but based upon the subtle and sometimes subconscious factors that can go into 'likes", and cravings, and enchantments, and developing curiosity, the places I'd go back to next time I go, in order of temptation, would be: 1) Smittys; 2) Louie Muellers; 3) City Market; 4) Blacks; 5) Kreuz Market. But the differences in quality and allure are pretty much miniscule, and I WILL be sure to go to absolutely ALL of them again next time!

Jan 22, 2008
dwh in Texas