Archive for February, 2013

Sweet Frog



A sampling of toppings at Sweet Frog yogurt shop. Photo courtesy of Sweet Frog

A sampling of toppings at Sweet Frog yogurt shop. Photo courtesy of Sweet Frog

A new yogurt shop has opened on College Drive. sweetFrog is a self-serve yogurt shop that also offers about 54 toppings and half a dozen sauces.

Owner Jennifer Willis had worked with her brother-in-law’s shops in the Richmond, Va. area and decided to strike out on her own when he mentioned expanding to Louisiana.

The Shreveport native took the opportunity to move back home and opened her doors in October 2012.

“We started slow, but things have really picked up in the past few months,” Willis said.

She said she tries to follow the company’s principles of being involved in the community and being a positive influence.

Willis offers about a dozen flavors, some of which are seasonal, like the Thin Mint and blueberry burst flavors.

She said she also tries to keep at least two sugar-free or dairy-free yogurts for people who may have those health restrictions.

You wouldn’t know that the cheesecake yogurt is sugar free. It also doesn’t have an aftertaste from artificial sweeteners, which Willis said is common.

The other sugar-free flavor she currently carries is praline and her current non-dairy flavors are mango and strawberry lemonade.

The strawberry lemonade can be very tart, but is also a very refreshing light flavor.

The cookies and cream flavor really tastes like regular ice cream and Willis said that flavor and cake batter has converted a lot of non-yogurt eaters.

The different types of toppings include strawberries, blueberries, rice crispy treats, waffle cone bites, granola and cinnamon toast crunch cereal.

The company was founded by Derek Cha in 2009 who wanted to wanted to start a business and offer a bright, family-friendly environment, according to the website.

The site says sweetFrog was “founded on the principles of Christianity and our belief in bringing happiness and a positive attitude into the lives of our consumers.”

So far, Willis has hosted a Yelp! Shelter pet adoption drive and said she would like to work with churches and youth groups for fundraisers.

Sweet Frog is located at 3151 College Drive in the College Creek shopping center behind FedEx. It’s hours are 1 p.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.



February 27, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Beyond the Koozie



A Perfect Tin Amber Braised Pork Bell with roasted red pepper mash potatoes and slow braised okra and turnip greens is presented on a plate made out of a Tin Roof Amber can. Photo courtesy of Megan Tanner, L’Auberge Casino and Hotel

A Perfect Tin Amber Braised Pork Bell with roasted red pepper mash potatoes and slow braised okra and turnip greens is presented on a plate made out of a Tin Roof Amber can. Photo courtesy of Megan Tanner, L’Auberge Casino and Hotel

Last Thursday, Tin Roof Brewery hosted a Beer Dinner at L’Auberge Casino’s Stadium Bar and Grill. The four-course meal featured foods that paired well with the four Tin Roof beers. Chef Jimmy Johnson said he was very inspired by the beer can designs.

The first course was oysters poached in Tin Roof Blonde Ale. Two oysters were presented on the half shell over rock salt, garnished with seaweed and an empty Blonde Ale can. The oysters were not salty, and featured a light-but-flavorful beer broth.

Tin Roof Brewmaster Tom Daigrepont said the Blonde Ale is their most popular beer, mainly because it goes with everything.

The second course was Voodoo Bouillabaisse. Daigrepont said the Voodoo Bengal Pale Ale is best with spicy food, and Johnson delivered just that.

“I immediately thought crawfish boil,” Johnson said.

Diners received a deconstructed bouillabaisse. They were given a large bowl containing seared red fish, crawfish dumplings, potatoes, corn, alligator, and diced andouille sausage with a piece of crusty bread.

Servers then brought out open Voodoo Bengal cans containing a rich, spicy broth to pour into the bowl.

The third course was Perfect Tin Braised Pork Belly with roasted red pepper mashed potatoes, braised okra, and turnip greens.

The dish was brought out on a plate made from a Tin Roof Amber can. All the food was braised in Tin Roof Amber, Johnson said.

The final course, dessert, was Coffee Porter Chocolate Hazelnut Cake, which featured a chocolate brownie, chocolate hazelnut mousse, Coffee Porter foam, and salted caramel gelato.

Pastry Chef Arlety Estevez said she thought about flavors that she liked with Kahlua.

“I also wanted the layers to give it a dark richness, and I added a piece of chocolate with Rice Krispies to give it some texture,” Estevez said. “I really tried to make sure the Coffee Porter foam had the true flavor of the beer.”

Nadine Richard of Lafayette said the Blonde Oysters were her favorite. “I’m somewhat of a beer drinker, but I love oysters. The Blonde Ale was definitely my favorite because it wasn’t as strong,” she said.

Richard also enjoyed the Coffee Porter. “For a beer, it’s really coffee-like, like chewing on a coffee bean.”

Andy and Kasey Ford of Gonzales offered rave reviews of the entire meal and shared the highlights.

“I love the whole Tin Roof line, but the pork belly was perfectly paired [with the Amber],” Andy Ford said. “Those were some of the best greens I’ve ever had.”

Kasey Ford said the Coffee Porter surprised her. “I really didn’t think I’d like it at all, and I really did.”

Tin Roof Brewery started selling in November 2010, but co-founder William McGehee said he and Charles Caldwell had been thinking about the company for more than a decade.

“In 2003, Charles spent some time in Colorado, and got more into craft brewing, and we realized that there weren’t many craft brewers in Louisiana,” McGehee said.

Fast forward to 2008. Caldwell was back in Louisiana, working at a bank. McGehee was in law school, and he said they were both very unhappy.

“It seemed like every time we talked it was about being unhappy with our current situations, and we said, ‘What happened to the brewery?’” McGehee said.

At that point, they started putting together a business plan, and convincing their parents that they weren’t crazy, McGehee said.

He’s very happy with how far they’ve come in less than three years.

Tin Roof Brewery (1625 Wyoming St.) offers free tours every Friday.


February 27, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Brasseurs de Fer



Bresseurs a la Maison members Brenton Day and Chris Turner adding roasted sweet potatoes to the mash for their saison beer. The brew is a part of the Iron Brewer competition this Friday. Photo courtesy of Day

Bresseurs a la Maison members Brenton Day and Chris Turner adding roasted sweet potatoes to the mash for their saison beer. The brew is a part of the Iron Brewer competition this Friday. Photo courtesy of Day

A local group of craft brewers are putting their talents to work for charity. This weekend, members of Brasseurs a la Maison will hold the Iron Brewer Competition at Tin Roof Brewery to benefit the Greater Baton Rouge Area Food Bank. The members were divided into 10 groups and given an ingredient, like cayenne pepper, peaches, jasmine rice and red beans. Similar to the Food Network show Iron Chef, the ingredient has to be noticeable.

The idea for the competition was initially meant to be an internal event, but blossomed into a public charity happening, said club president Blake Winchell.

On Friday, each team will serve up samples of their concoctions to anyone over 21 years old. Admission is any non-perishable food donation.

Winchell said his group’s ingredient was chicory, which is roasted and ground endive root. It can be used as a coffee substitute or additive.

“While looking up the history of the root, we found that it was typically paired with beet sugar which is used a lot in traditional Belgian beers,” Winchell said. “We also made a ‘chicory tea’ to see what kind of flavors we would get.”

The group decided to make a Belgian Stout with chicory added to different parts of the brewing process. According to, a stout is a beer made with roasted malt or barley, hops and yeast. It is usually a dark beer, but there are some blonde stouts.

Brenton Day and his group drew the sweet potato. He said they started brainstorming around what they considered typical brews with vegetables.

“We started thinking about fall pumpkin seasonals with spices, but then decided to go in a completely different direction and brewed a sweet potato saison,” Day said.

A typical saison is a summer beer, which normally has a fruity aroma and fragrance and features mild to moderate tartness and lots of spice. Day said they started by roasting and peeling 20 pounds of sweet potatoes, mashing and adding most of them to the mash – a mixture of grains, barley and hot water. This steeping process is the beginning of brewing and breaks down starches into sugars. During the boiling process, Day said they added a pound of Steen’s Cane Syrup.

Winchell and Day said they are looking forward to the competition and feedback from citizens and four guest judges, who will crown an Ultimate Iron Brewer.

“Our beer doesn’t scream ‘there is something odd in this beer’ but the chicory flavor is fairly apparent,” Winchell said.

“It’s a funky, farmhouse-style Belgian ale and I’m excited to see how it’s received,” Day said of his saison.

Food trucks will be at the brewery selling food. Tin Roof is located on 1624 Wyoming St. The tasting starts at 6 p.m.



February 20, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Indulging in Charity



Photo Courtesy by BRES Executive Director Renee Dugas-Molbert

Photo Courtesy by BRES Executive Director Renee Dugas-Molbert

Epicureanism fits well into Southern sensibilities. The term describes the philosophy of indulging in all desires. While the Baton Rouge Epicurean Society doesn’t indulge in everything, this group of highbrow foodies does have its hands in many things.

In May of 2007, a regular wine tasting for liquor distributors turned serious.

“The city’s population was growing and it was suggested that professionals in the hospitality business step up to the plate and help the Baton Rouge community, especially in the nutritional and culinary areas that directly affect the areas,” said BRES Executive Director Renée Dugas-Molbert.

Louisiana is considered the second fattest state, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A 2010 survey by Feeding America determined that 17.8 percent of the nation’s children are food insecure, which means they experience limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or are unable to consistently acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways, according to the USDA. The study states that this leads to a poverty-obesity situation in which people are not sure where their next meal is coming from, so they eat the first and cheapest thing available, which is usually not the healthiest option.

“In this environment, the Baton Rouge Epicurean Society was up and running three months later,” said past president Scott Callais.

The group strives to raise local awareness of childhood health and nutrition issues and awards scholarships to young adults interested in the culinary arts.

“Since 2007, the group’s yearly food festivals and golf tournaments have raised more than $138,000,” Callais said.

The scholarship is named after Grace “Mama” Marino, owner of Gino’s Restaurant. Groups to which BRES gives include local chapters of Girls on the Run and The Boys and Girls Club, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and Nicholls State’s John Folse Culinary School. Dugas-Molbert said they are constantly looking to expand their charitable giving.

Additionally, the group presents one of its members with a Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to food and hospitality culture in Baton Rouge each year. The award is also named after Grace Marino, who was the winner of the first award.

This year’s winner is Vince Ferachi, the owner of Capitol City Produce. Dugas-Molbert said Ferachi was selected because, along with expanding his family’s 65-year-old business, he is a longtime supporter of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. Ferachi will be honored during Fête Rouge weekend in August. The event feature is a six-course dinner prepared by Baton Rouge area chefs on Aug. 22 at the Crowne Plaza. Tickets are $200 person and are available by visiting

Dig will keep you posted with information as it becomes available about the Fête Rouge and any other Baton Rouge Epicurean Society events.


February 13, 2013 at 7:38 pm

SPAM Sushi with a side of Fou-Fou




Chicken feet for sale at La Morenita market. ALL PHOTOS BY ERIN ARLEDGE

Baton Rouge offers a variety of dining choices. But what may seem normal for one culture can be a bit bizarre to others. DIG took a tour around the city to find some unusual, but delicious, food choices.

Vinh Phat Market
In a shopping center on Florida Boulevard east of Sherwood Forest, the Vinh Phat Market offers a variety of Asian foods. On any given day, shoppers can find six types of soy sauce and any type of noodle imaginable.

Owner Judy Thai will often display some odder delicacies, such as red bean rice cakes. Thai said the custard-like circular rice cakes are heated and sliced to share during Chinese New Year, which is Feb. 10 this year.

“That is our busiest time. People also look for candied fruit trays, which they give as gifts for the new year,” Thai said.

Other bizarre items the Vinh Phat market regularly keeps in stock include the smelly Durian fruit, dried black fungus strips, frozen snail, which you can get in or out of the shell and nine different types of salted radish. Dried stingray, canned squid and an assortment of animal entrails are available for the more adventurous cooks.

Also, if you’re a tea drinker, you can buy a variety of blends that claim to lower cholesterol, hypertension and ward off the flu.

Durian fruit at Vinh Phat market.

Durian fruit at Vinh Phat market.

People have raved about the bean burgers at BB&PF – short for Beans Burgers & Plantain Fries – but owner Carolyn Collins offers much more.

Moin-moin is a dish that hails from southern Nigeria and is a staple around most of West Africa. The steamed dish is made of peeled black-eyed peas, onions and ground peppers. Some recipes add a scotch bonnet pepper, but Collins said she does not make hers extra spicy. The peas are soaked and blended with the other ingredients, then put in small bowls and steamed.

Collins makes two varieties, one with spinach and the other with shrimp.

Another common side dish BB&PF serves is fou-fou. Collins described the dish as similar to mashed potatoes but stiffer. The dish is common in Central and West Africa and is made from starchy vegetables like cassava or sweet potatoes.

The ingredients are boiled and then pounded into a dough-like consistency with water and sugar, and then usually eaten with a soup. The most common way to eat fou-fou is by picking up some with your hand and dipping it in the soup or a sauce before enjoying.

“I think this is more of an acquired taste for Americans,” Collins said. “A few have tried it, but I don’t think they enjoyed it as much as Africans who come into the restaurant.”

A dish that has gained more acceptance from American pallets is the bitter leaf soup. The leaves are native to Cameroon, but Collins grows the spinach-like plant in her backyard during warmer months and washes and freezes some so she can serve the dish during the winter.

Despite the name, Collins said, bitter leaf soup is actually not bitter and has a sweet aftertaste.

“You can really taste it when you drink water after a few bites.”

Collins also added that the dish is good for keeping you regular.

The Cove
Heading across town, The Cove Hawaiian Grill on Jefferson Highway has started to stand out with burgers and spicy meat and vegetable bowls. All of this is traditional Hawaiian fair, with its Asian influences, but in the bottom corner of their walled menu is musubi, or SPAM sushi.

It may seem strange, but SPAM has been popular on the island since World War II. It’s regularly cooked up in stir-fry dishes and the musubi is a common snack or lunch.

The grilled slice of SPAM is on top of a block of sticky rice, wrapped with nori seaweed. After getting past the fact that you are eating SPAM, the taste is similar to salted pork.

La Morenita
Out on Florida Boulevard, La Morenita is a Latin American food grocery store, bakery, butchery and taqueria with a produce section that offers some of the cheapest and freshest vegetables, fruits and herbs in the city.

The butcher section offers a variety of chicharones, or pork cracklins, and has an assortment of meats that some could find strange while others would say taste delicious. You can get chicken feet, pork ankles, chicken fajita meat, octopus or beautiful steaks and pork chops.

With tortillas made fresh in the store, the in shop taqueria offers knockout tacos. The kitchen also features a fresh salsa bar containing salsa verde, rojo, pico de gallo, cilantro, minced onion, jalapenos, lettuce and tomato.

While La Morenita is a chain with stores across the South, the Baton Rouge store has become a hot spot for the city’s Hispanic population, particularly those from Mexico and Honduras. But, the shop does see its regular share of non-Hispanic patrons.

Hog's head at Le's Market.

Hog’s head at Le’s Market.

Le’s Market
Le’s Market is just off Florida Boulevard on Marque Ann Drive. The market has been open for more than 20 years according to the owner Vu Luan, who cordially greets customers at the door as they enter his store.

Luan prides himself on providing the freshest produce and products to his customers, including tropical fruits like the durian. Durian is the somewhat pungent prickly fruit that some claim is the smelliest fruit in existence.

In front of the entrance to Le’s Market stands a three-foot high stainless steel juicer with the remnants of freshly pulverized sugarcane resting in a cardboard box at the base of this remarkable machine.

When Feb. 10 rings in the year of the snake, Le’s will have special foods and products to complement the holiday, including packages for making burnt offerings to your ancestors, like a more bizarre offering of a three-piece Gucci paper suit.

Among the most auspicious and delicious seasonal offerings is the roasted food section in the central part of the market. Three roasted pigs’ heads stare down customers as they approach. Two whole roasted ducks suspended from hooks dangle from the top of the 5-by-9-foot red light food warmer.

The duck heads pointed up to ducky heaven with bills snug against a few links of chain. The shiny reddish orange glow of all these cooked animals catches the eye like few menu items could.

Chalres Dupuis holds two catfish at Tony's Seafood and Market.

Chalres Dupuis holds two catfish at Tony’s Seafood and Market.

A slab of Vietnamese style roasted pork ribs rest among the roasted sundries in the display case. Le’s Market sells these by the pound and no pork aficionado could claim their title without seeking these out.

Tony’s Seafood
Tony’s Seafood Market & Deli is one of the seven wonders of the Louisiana culinary world. Why you say? For one, it is one of the largest seafood markets on the gulf coast. Second, it is also the birthplace of Louisiana Fish Fry, the number one selling fish fry product in the nation. The giant fish fry factory looms one story above a fish market.

Most of the food – octopus from the Indian Ocean aside – in Tony’s is standard Louisiana fare. It’s the preparation and cooking of one particular food, the fried catfish, that makes for a memorable culinary experience.

Catfish delivery day is something every person within a 100-mile radius should see. An 18-wheeler brings fish to Tony’s once a week. Men cart a 20-foot long, 18-inch diameter custom-made PVC shoot to the 18-wheeler cargo bed lined with catfish containers.

The shoot is connected to the container that has “Live Fish” scrawled across it in red paint. The other end of the shoot is pushed through a window and held above the fish tank. The truck driver then mounts the containers and pulls up a partition.

Water and fish begin to careen into Tony’s catfish tub with the force of a water jet. The slimy suckers slide down the shoot into their final respite of water, a baptismal for the fishy damned.

No better treatment or lodging is deserved for these delicious bottom feeders. The catfish tank inside Tony’s can hold 10,000 catfish. The fish are netted by an employee and tossed to the floor at the base of the tank for customers to gawk at and select the fish of their dreams.

“We get a shipment of fish once a week, about 10,000 pounds of catfish from farm ponds in North Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta Region,” said Charles Dupuis, who has worked at Tony’s for 17 years.

Diners can lock eyes with one of these poor fishy bastards just before his number is called. Expert butchers then fillet the catfish in plain view before dropping it in the fryer.


February 6, 2013 at 7:26 pm