kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The New Place in Town -- Pint House Pizzeria

I enjoy trying out new restaurants in town. The latest in Lake Charles is the Pint House Pizzeria on Broad St.

This piece of real estate has been occupied by several establishments in the seven years I've been here. They never last too long. The Happy Hippy was a pizza joint. Then Dharma. Not sure what that was like -- it was so short lived, I didn't make it there before it closed. But the Pint House got off to a good start, in my opinion, simply by very tastefully renovating the space. It looks great! The exposed brick and freshly painted tin ceiling give the place a historic feel. The red walls are warm and inviting.

In the back, they offer a dozen or so tempting gelatos, made on the premises. More on that below.

They specialize in gourmet pizzas in either 12 or 18 inches. Fourteen varieties are offered on the menu, but you can special order a creation of your own. Unique toppings include duck, beef filet, blueberries, pulled pork, clams, scallops, shrimp and salmon.

Because Andrew doesn't eat much meat, we ordered the Herbi, a vegetarian pizza with red sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, sundried tomatoes, onion, garlic, bell pepper, and artichoke hearts. It was very good!

This is Andrew impatiently waiting while Mom says, "Wait, we have to take a picture first!" *click*


And of course, dessert. I had an awesome chocolate cherry gelato. The boys ordered tiramisu and another coffee flavor. They also offer specialty sodas, shakes, and malts.

When a restaurant first opens, often there can be a learning curve regarding staff. I had heard they had a few service issues initially. But it seems they now have the kinks worked out. I highly recommend the Pint House. They do not have a website, but you can find them on Facebook.

Have you tried any new interesting restaurants lately?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Louisiana Spirits, Home of Bayou Rum, Lacassine, Louisiana

I don't know why, but sometimes there are things that I really want to do, but it takes me way too long to get around to doing them. One example is the relatively new rum distillery down the road (I-10) from Lake Charles. Louisiana Spirits opened around a year ago. Touring the facility has been on my list since then. Bob and I finally made the trip (about 20 minutes) yesterday.

Here's the billboard from I-10.

Rum is made from sugarcane. Sugarcane is one of Louisiana's primary crops. Surprisingly, Louisiana
Spirits is the only rum distillery in the state. They call their product "America's Rum" because they only use ingredients made in the U.S. Most of the ingredients are locally grown and produced. They use unrefined granulated cane sugar and molasses from the Louisiana sugar mill, Patout and Sons, founded in 1829, making it the oldest family-owned sugar refinery in the United States.

The distillery offers tours, where you can learn all about the history of rum making in Louisiana (It started with the Jesuits in the 1700s) and the modern day process and methods of the present facility. They don't allow photo taking on the tour, but we could take pictures through the glass.

I learned things like rum is required to be at least 80 proof. And their production line can fill 22 bottles in a minute.

They do allow photo-taking in the gift shop. Prior to this week, Louisiana Spirits sold only two varieties of rum -- Silver (plain) and Spiced. Their brand new product is a Satsuma rum. It won't be available in stores until August 1, but we brought a bottle home with us. Wow, is it yummy! It is 60 proof, which makes it technically a liqueur. For my non-Louisiana readers, a satsuma is similar to a mandarin orange and is native to the state.

They have a 4th rum in the works -- it's an aged rum. It ages in oak bourbon barrels from Kentucky for one year. So it won't be ready until December.

Naturally, at the end of the tour, there is tasting. Bob and I love the Spiced Rum.

One of the highlights of our tour was meeting Oscar, a one-month old raccoon who was rescued by the gentleman in the photo, Randy Harrah. Randy works at the distillery and calls himself the chief executive janitor. Oscar is as tame as a baby cat or dog. For now, anyway.

If you haven't yet been to Louisiana Spirits, it's worth the trip. Learn more on their website here.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Quaker Steak and Lube in Sulphur, La.

The first Quaker Steak and Lube in Louisiana recently opened. A couple months ago, I’d written a cover story about the new restaurant for the local magazine Jambalaya News (You can read that story here on page 32). That piqued my curiosity. Plus, there was a tad of Yankee nostalgia involved. Pennsylvania is “the Quaker State.” And Quaker Steak and Lube originated in Pa. I’d been wanting to try this new place in town (actually in Sulphur) since the grand opening, but was waiting for the hubbub to die down. Two things on my list of things I don’t like. Crowds. And waiting in line to eat. So last week, we went to Quaker Steak on a Tuesday evening around 7:00, thinking that might be a good time to go. Uh uh. The wait was around an hour. We didn't stay.

But I was still curious. The greeter said if we don’t want to wait, the best time to go there is between 2-4 p.m. So yesterday, Andrew and I (Bob was at work) went to Quaker Steak around 2:30 for a late lunch/early dinner. The place was packed! We were told it would be around a 20 minute wait. Heck, we had nothing else to do. But after maybe five minutes, we were told they had two seats at the bar. Fine.

Part of the fun at Quaker Steak is its unique theme. It’s all about cars and motorcycles, which hang from the ceiling in every room. License plates and other vehicle paraphernalia adorn the walls. The menu is fun to read, especially for car enthusiasts. The place is quirky and I like that.

Andrew and I both ordered “unleaded” lemonade and perused the menu.

We couldn't resist this mega-appetizer with onion rings, soft pretzels (skewered on a car antenna), fried pickle spears, and cheese sticks. Surely it’s designed to feed four or more. And indeed, we brought at least a third of it home for Bob.

Sitting at the bar, I couldn’t help but notice these Lube Tubes. They hold 100 ounces of beer and have a tap near the bottom. Uh, I don’t think so.

Since Quaker Steak is known for wings, we opted for that obvious choice. But the choice isn’t that easy. They have 26 different wing sauces to choose from. I ordered a "sprintster," which is a six-pack of wings in an egg carton. I couldn't choose just one sauce, so I ordered half Parmesan Pepper and half Chipotle BBQ. Andrew ordered boneless wings with Golden Garlic sauce. They were good. But messy.

Warmed “wing wags” for desaucification to the rescue! Please and thank you!

Readers, have you been to Quaker Steak and Lube, either here in Sulphur, in Pennsylvania, or in any state? What was your experience?

Baton Rouge, I think you're next.