Welcome to my first entry in what I’m hoping will be an informative journey through all things beer. We’ll have a few laughs, and maybe learn something all at the same time. Now most of you know there is a growing amount of local breweries here in the Garden State, and I’m sure you could rattle off at least five of them off the top of your head; and eventually I’ll put the spotlight on all of them at some point.
The year was 2013 and Bob Olson was just kicking off his brand new company, Bolero Snort. Along with co-founder and head brewer Andrew Maiorana they had one goal in mind, “No B.S., just raging good beer”. Hand crafted ales and lagers with their own twist and personality on each one. Scott Wells joined the team in 2014 just as the brewery was opening and signed on as their Sales and Event Manager. You may have also met Scott at our Pig Roast, he’s a fast talker, and master meatsman.
The summer months are upon us, and I could go on and on about hop bombed beer and high ABV’s and beers of that nature; but for me, the summer means awesome sessionable (yes, that’s a word I will be using often) ales. Slow and steady always wins the race, so I won’t be downing some odd minute IPAs that are pushing the ABV’s to 11, I’m going to stick with solid beer that won’t ruin my evening, or even worse, the next day.
That’s another reason I picked Bolero Snort for my first entry, these guys make beer for the American working beer drinker, because that’s who they are, and that’s who they care about. With their core beers “Ragin’ Bull”, an American Amber that comes in at 5% ABV with prominent biscuit and caramel flavors with just a hint of chocolate and spice. “Blackhorn” is an American Black Lager that comes in at 6.5%ABV, and when you’re going black you’re getting all those wonderful flavors of chocolate and coffee from the malts. My personal favorite is their “Long Hop IPA”, a West Coast style ale that doesn’t cripple you with hints of melon and tropical fruit and only comes in at a very crushable 4.2% ABV.
So what’s next for us here at The Old Bay and Bolero Snort? “El Matador” Their “Long Hop IPA” brewed with cilantro, limes, and jalapenos; will be gracing our beer taps this weekend. You get a little heat on the nose which blends great with the tropical flavors of the hops. Only coming in at a very low 4.2% ABV, this one is great to sip all day long.
I spent a lot of quality time with these guys during AC Beer and Music Fest and was there when their “TaBull Saison” won the prize for best new wheat beer. Trust me when I say that, that beer deserved it. I was crushing them all weekend. So come on down and try Bolero Snort’s newest offering here at The Old Bay. No B.S. just raging good beer.
Next month I’ll focus on another Jersey Brewery, who will it be? Until then, let the good beers flow.
Some people wonder what is going on inside the mind of a chef. Trust me you don’t want to hear it. The best way to describe it is to imagine if you will, a three ring circus with all of the acts happening at the same time, BUT there is no ringmaster. That is the mind of a working chef. I am going to give you a little glimpse into my mind. Now would be a good time to get some peanuts.
I am going to begin this journey with a brief history lesson. I am by no means going to try and say that I am great writer. I know a thing or two about a thing or two and I know that writing is not a thing that I know. I am going to leave the brief history to a professional.
“The word Cajun originates from the term les Acadians, used to describe French colonists who settled in the Acadia region of Canada, consisting of present-day New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. With the British conquest of Acadia in the early 1700s, the Acadians were forcibly removed from their homes in what become known as “Le Grand Dérangement,” or the Great Upheaval. Many Acadians eventually settled in the swampy region of Louisiana, today known as Acadiana.
The Acadians were an extremely resourceful people who took full advantage of the flatlands, bayous, and wild game of South Louisiana and its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico to create a truly unique local cuisine. While many Acadiana residents today have German, French, or Italian roots, among others, their way of life is strongly influenced by the Cajun culture
Without access to modern-day luxuries like refrigerators, the Cajuns learned to make use of every part of a slaughtered animal. When a pig is butchered, the event is called aboucherie. Boudin, a type of Cajun sausage which consists of pork meat, rice, and seasoning stuffed into a casing, also commonly contains pig liver for a little extra flavor. Tasso and Andouille are two other Cajun pork products that use salts and smoke as preservatives. Cajun food is famous for being well seasoned, which is sometimes misunderstood as spicy. Seasoning is one of the most important parts of Cajun cooking, and that comes from much more than a heavy helping of cayenne pepper. Most dishes begin with a medley of vegetables based on the French mirepoix. “The holy trinity of Cajun cuisine” utilizes onion, celery, and bell pepper (rather than carrots) to provide a flavor base for many dishes. Garlic is never far away from any stove, either. Paprika, thyme, filé (ground sassafras leaves), parsley, and green onions are also very common ingredients in Cajun kitchens.”
Ducote, J. (2014, October 3). Cajun vs. Creole: What’s The Difference? Retrieved May 26, 2015.
You may be asking yourself, did I read that right? Are the people that identify as Cajun really from Canada. The answer is simple, No! They are descended from settlers that are from Canada. I don’t think that there is 300+ year old living in the Bayous of Louisiana. I could be wrong.
One of the classic Cajun recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation is Étouffée. The literal translation of Étouffée is “smothered”. That is exactly what it does. Étouffée can be made with any shellfish, though the most popular version of the dish is made with crawfish. A sauce is made from a brown roux, seasoned, and simmered with the seafood. Cajun Étouffée is made with dark or brown roux. It takes anywhere from 30-40 minutes to get to the perfect color and nutty flavor that makes this dish shine. If you take the time and put in a little effort, this is a dish that is sure to impress anybody that you cook it for. Better yet, let us make it for you.
Crawfish Étouffée Recipe
- All purpose Flour – 2 cups
- Butter – 3 cups
- Blk Pepper ½ teaspoon
- Cayenne Pepper ½ teaspoon
- White Pepper ½ teaspoon
- Granulated garlic ½ tsp
- Granulated onion ½ tsp
- Spanish Onion 2 cups
- Green bell pepper 1 cup diced
- Celery 1 cup diced
- Parsley ¼ cup diced
- Kosher Salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon chopped garlic
- juice of ½ lemon
- 1 ½ qts shrimp stock
- 1 pound Crawfish Tail meat (add at the end)
- In a pot on medium high heat melt the butter until the edges start to turn tan. Then add the flour and stir constantly.
- Cook the roux until it is a medium brown color and smells a bit nutty.
- Add the diced vegetables and spices and cook for approximately 5 minutes.
- Add the Shrimp stock and stir constantly until sauce begins to boil.
- Once the Étouffée begins to boil reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- In a separate pan heat the crawfish tail meat and add to the sauce and stir.
- Serve Étouffée over Rice and Enjoy!
There you have it folks. A bit of history mixed with some food. Honestly though, you can learn a lot about the history of this country through the food of this country.
What you need:
- A bottle of Cruzan Black Strap Rum
- A six pack of Goslings Ginger Beer
- 4 limes
- In a glass squeeze the juice out of about half of a lime
- Fill the glass half full with Goslings Ginger Beer
- Add crushed ice up to ¾ of the glass. (Crushed or blended ice works best)
- Lastly float Cruzan Black Strap Rum to fill the glass
- Garnish with a lime wheel and maybe even some candied ginger if your really going for it!
This recipe works for pitchers too! Cheers!
It’s that time of year again when the beer taps start switching over to Oktoberfest brews. As the weather becomes cooler, these amber ales and lagers start appearing in frosted mugs, including right here at the Old Bay for our annual Oktoberfest celebration! But where did this autumn tradition come from? Read on and learn the history of Oktoberfest beers.
Did you know that Oktoberfest beers stem from royalty? These beers originated as part of the celebration of Oktoberfest, an 18-day festival that originally celebrated the marriage between the German Prince Ludwig and his bride in 1810. The carnival grew and became a celebration of Bavarian agriculture, marked by horse races and parades.
In the past 200 years, the festival of Oktoberfest has continued to evolve. It has become a celebration of these seasonal Oktoberfest beers and traditional German foods. Oftentimes, the celebration begins with the ceremonial tapping of the first Oktoberfest keg. The flavor of Oktoberfest brews is marked by its distinctly hoppy yet sweet flavor. A floral aroma is also characteristic of these beers, as well as a minimal head when poured. Oktoberfest beers also tend to have a higher alcohol content than traditional ales and lagers. The alcohol content ranges from 5.8% to 6.3% and a higher sugar content than other brews. Oktoberfest beers have become an autumn staple for beer buffs around the world and are seen as one of the indicators of the changing of the seasons.
We’ll be celebrating this beer and food starting october 6, and culminating on October 12.
If you’re looking for a great restaurant in New Jersey where you can enjoy a frosted mug of Oktoberfest, look no further than the Old Bay! For more information and announcements from the Old Bay, “Like” us on Facebook!
Good news for anyone who loves Mardi Gras in New Jersey, we’re halfway to Mardi Gras 2015!
As always, that calls for a celebration here at the Old Bay! With love music, a huge New Orleans buffet, 22 amazing craft beers on tap and more, this is a celebration you won’t want to miss!
When it comes to New Orleans, you won’t find another place like it in the world. The reason lies way back in history.
There is no culture in the world like French Creole and Cajun culture because there is no place in the world where the unique elements that make them up came together in the way they did in and around New Orleans. Whether food, music, language or overall culture, what we now think of as “Cajun” is an amazing mix of 17th Century French, West African, and Native American, along with a dash of Spanish Caribbean from the Colonial Era, all of it stirred into a blender and turned into something new.
Cajuns, for example, speak a unique dialect that is essentially the French language all mixed up and turned around. Louisiana French Creole – despite some people using them interchangeably, “Cajun” and “Creole” are two distinct things – is similar in that it’s rooted in French, but it borrows grammatical rules from West Africa and local Native American tribes, then injects a bit of Spanish, to become a language of its own.
Cajun food is a similar blend of influences. Okra, for example, may be common in Louisiana dishes, but it is actually native to West Africa. It was introduced to the region by slaves brought to the New World by the French.
Gumbo is perhaps second only to crawfish as the dish people most associate with the region, but both the dish and the name have earlier roots in West Africa. Gumbo itself is a blend of culinary influences, with slaves learning how to mix ingredients they knew with ingredients introduced to them by the Native Americans, and then bringing French and Spanish culinary practices into the mix. The name “gumbo” sprang either from ki ngombo or quingombo, the name for okra in some regions of West Africa, or kombo, the Choctaw Indian name for file, another traditional ingredient.
With all these disparate elements coming together, is it any wonder that there is no place on Earth quite like New Orleans?
Making gumbo is as much an art as it is a science, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn how. We can’t give away ALL our secrets – you can’t offer Cajun dining in New Jersey by telling everyone how you do it, after all – but we can help get you started on the road towards making great gumbo.
So what is gumbo? Gumbo is essentially a hearty soup with meat or shellfish (Creole style is generally shellfish, Cajun gumbo can vary wildly) and diced veggies, typically served on rice.
Making gumbo can be a lot of work and can take some time, but once you master it the results are out of this world. The secrets behind making a genuine, traditional gumbo are easy to remember:
1) Use okra. Traditional gumbo always uses okra! That doesn’t mean you have to use okra – it’s okay to be creative, we often are – but traditionalists will insist that okra must be part of the recipes. Many will say that if it doesn’t have okra, it’s not gumbo, it’s soup.
2) At minimum, season with garlic, onions, and cayenne pepper. You can use other seasonings if you like, but these three are essential for a “real” gumbo.
3) Use more than one variety of meat if possible, and steer clear of your basic, boring beef and pork. If you want to use beef or pork, use smoked meats. Poultry gumbo is also popular, even with duck and quail. Game meats are very desirable in gumbo, as are shellfish of all types. Use both when you can!
4) Be patient! A great gumbo can simmer for hours before it’s ready!
5) Be creative! Once you have the hang of making a good traditional gumbo, don’t be scared to Jersey it up with something that screams “Garden State.”
If you’ve made your own gumbo at home and have some fun New Jersey twists on the tradition, come visit us on Facebook and tell us about your dish!
Now that our Spring Beer Garden is finally open and we can once again enjoy beers outdoors, we thought we’d take a few moments to answer an important question: What the heck is a beer garden, anyway?
A beer garden is not a place where you grow beer, but it is where you grow good times.
The modern beer garden is essentially an outdoor drinking area. Sometimes they’re standalone locations and sometimes they are attached to pubs or restaurants. These outdoor areas are set up with group tables where people can enjoy beer, food, and group companionship.
Originally, beer gardens sprang up in the Bavaria section of Germany, where they are called biergartens. They were located outside the cellars of breweries. Tables would be set up under the trees, and beer stored in the cellars for the summer would be served. These were the first beer gardens.
By the 1900s, beer gardens had migrated to the United States, and now they are popular destinations for outdoor drinking. And so we find ourselves where we are today!
Here at the Old Bay Restaurant, we have embraced the beer garden tradition. We serve a widely-recognized array of craft beers to go along with our great food, and between April and October you can enjoy those beers in our outdoor beer garden.
Even better? Our beer garden is open for business!
For more about the great craft beer in New Jersey at Old Bay Restaurant, visit us on Facebook.
Here at The Old Bay Restaurant, we appreciate the culture and especially the fun of the French Quarter’s renowned bistros, and we love to share it with you. To us, it’s always Mardi Gras. That’s why we love to celebrate with our specialty drinks served with a New Orleans twist!
The Hurricane – If you’re looking for something to get you in the Mardi Gras spirit, order a Hurricane! This drink consists of every kind of rum in the house, a variety of cordials, and fresh fruit juices served in a festive glass for an extra Mardi Gras twist. The hurricane is one stormy concoction that’ll cloud your mind!
The Mint Julep – This drink, which happens to be the drink of the Kentucky Derby, is a southern gem. We’ll mix Kentucky bourbon and a blend of fresh mint and sugar in the raw. We will pour over crushed ice and you will definitely feel a tingle in your taste buds for another one real soon!
Sazarac – If you’re looking to try something new, this drink might be it. It is a “N’awlns” favorite, made with chilled Makers Mark bourbon, bitters and sugar and served up in a pernod coated snifter.
Strawberry Mint Lemonade- This is a perfect drink for the end of the summer heat! It is an absolutely refreshing blend made with Absolut Citron, strawberry juice, lemon juice and fresh mint stirred with crushed ice and served in a nice tall glass.
The Swamp Water – This drink is a popular order at Old Bay Restaurant. The Swamp Water is made with the South’s favorite liqueurs. This add some Mardi Gras spirit, we serve it up in a mason jar. This is definitely a potent bayou potion that might bite you back!
The Old Bay – Are you brave enough to try this very special drink? It is our own Bloody Mary made from a secret recipe! We won’t tell you what’s in it, but we will say once you’ve tried ours, we don’t think you’ll ever drink anyone else’s again!
Margarita Commemorativo – This drink is an Old Bay twist on a delicious classic. This Margarita is made with Sauza Conmemorativo, Triple Sec, orange juice and lime juice, served on the rocks and rimmed with salt.
Cajun Spicy Martini – Do you want to feel the southern heat? Try this favorite made with pepper vodka, green Tabasco and olive juice. This concoction might be the perfect accompaniment for an evening suited for heated behavior. That will certainly get you ready for Mardi Gras!
Once you go to Mardi Gras, the experience will be with you for a long time. If you appreciate it as much as we do at Old Bay Restaurant, celebrate Mardi Gras all year long and join us for one or all of these mouth watering specialty drinks!
If you have dined in New Orleans, you probably know that service in a fine restaurant does not have to be stuffy to be good. In southern Louisiana, professionalism and friendliness are one in the same. It has been the mission of The Old Bay Restaurant to emulate this service philosophy. Since our opening in 1987 we have been proud to present an atmosphere which is unique to some of the oldest of the French Quarter’s renowned bistros. We appreciate the culture, and we love to share it with you. We also love to celebrate with you! To us, it’s always Mardi Gras.
Have you ever been to Mardi Gras? We love it so much, we countdown to the next Mardi Gras (it’s March 4 this year) the minute the last one ends! If you’ve never made the trip, it’s time to head down!
Mardi Gras 101
We asked some Mardi Gras veterans for a breakdown of all things Mardi Gras including must sees and things to look out for.
- Hotels start booking for Mardi Gras in August. That doesn’t mean if you don’t book that early, there’s no chance. Just book as early as you can for the most hassle free planning experience.
- Pay attention to parking rules – don’t double park and be prepared to do a lot of walking.
- Wear comfortable shoes and strongly consider wearing a pair you don’t care too much about because they will probably get ruined!
- Try side streets to get to Bourbon St., the foot traffic is pretty heavy!
- Carry only what you absolutely need because there are pick pockets at Mardi Gras.
- Don’t miss the Zulu parade – one Mardi Gras vet said it was his favorite part of the whole celebration!
- Check the side streets. While Bourbon St. is a lot of fun, there are great places all around Mardi Gras.
- Stop and watch the musicians and other acts on the street. There is a lot of talent at Mardi Gras.
- The fun doesn’t stop when the parades end. One veteran suggested sticking around for a week after the celebration. Stop in to the Cat’s Meow – a famous karaoke bar for some after parade fun.
- Stay alert. Have fun, but be aware of your surroundings. Whenever there are a lot of people in one area, there tends to be mishaps. Be careful!
- Drink Responsibly. Drinking is a big part of the celebration for many Mardi Gras visitors. Remember to drink responsibly: don’t drink and drive, don’t drink and fight and of course do not drink too much!
Once you go to Mardi Gras, the experience will be with you for a long time. If you appreciate it as much as we do, you’ll look forward to the next time you can make it to the celebration. While you’re waiting, countdown with us, and join us for some delicious Louisiana cooking and French Creole cuisine.