Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dive of the Day - Cajun Cafe on the Bayou

A friend suggested that we visit Cajun Cafe on the Bayou promising a great selection of craft beers and "authentic" Cajun cuisine.  "But", he warned, "It is a bit of a dive".  Now when I think of a place as a dive, I imagine that it is a complete shit hole, not worth taking the time to visit. But what is it the difference between a 'shit hole' and a 'dive'?  I have pondered this for more time than I should and believe that I have your answer.   Obviously the terms evoke similar feelings that the place is a bit less than clean and in various stages of disrepair.  But that really is not quite it.... at least the unclean part of the formula.  No, the difference between a dive and a shit hole is whether or not you feel comfortable enough to actually enter the establishment.

As we pulled up and examined the hodgepodge of a building, it looked as if the person who created this Frankenstein had a vague idea of what was needed but had neither the skill to pull it off nor the money to hire a professional to design their creation. The funny thing is that if you have visited Louisiana you have noticed the same jumble of cobbled together architecture, which makes the Cajun Cafe quite authentic.  Low ceilings, clutter and disjointed spaces make up the majority of the Cafe and a large outdoor patio overlooking an honest to god bayou.  The space is anchored by a large bar liberally decorated with cliche beads and
cajunesque decor.  You will also notice a fine selection of brews on tap and a glass fronted cooler also sporting an equally fine selection of bottles and canned beer.  And while the space is air conditioned, the air conditioning is quite sporadic in coverage, which also seems to match the jumble of buildings.  However the corner in which we were seated was not lucky enough to be blessed by artificially cooled air and while the patrons sitting a few tables away were comfortable enough we sat in pools of sweat.

The dinner at Cajun Cafe on the Bayou was actually quite nice.  Decent enough Gumbo, OK Boudin, passable Po' Boys.  Not great, but pretty good.  If you are from the Louisiana area and a jonseing for some Acadian inspired cuisine, this place is the methadone that you need to get you through until you are able to return to the swamps.  But if you want traditional, authentic cajun cuisine, this really isn't the place.  However, with the really good selection of beers, the nice patio space and the pretty good food this is a place that we can recommend you visit and we believe you, like us, will return.

Floridians are quite amusing in swearing that particular restaurants serving cuisines not indigenous to Florida are quite authentic and probably as good as the original, and in almost every case I have found this to be exactly opposite of the truth.  Want great seafood?  Great Cuban?  Great Italian?  Florida is the place.  You want great Mexican?  Great Barbecue?  Great Cajun?  Yeah, go elsewhere, because it is not here.

Cajun Cafe on the Bayou
8101 Park Blvd,
Pinellas Park, FL 33781

Sunday, July 13, 2014

World Cup Brews

So which beer shall we choose to get hammered to while watching the World Cup?  Will it be the oh so refreshing Antares Honey Beer from Argentina?  Perhaps a delightful Schneider Weiss from Germany? Hmmm, choices, choices.

 Nope, in honor of the great job that the host country did in presenting the World Cup we are going to slop down a couple of Guanabara Imperial Stouts from Cervarjaria Colorado in Brazil - 10% ABV.  Founded in 1995, Cerverjaria Colorado is named after it’s first brewing equipment, purchased on the used market. Marcelo Carneiro da Rocha, struggling for a name for his fledgling brewery, thought to himself “The equipment is from Colorado! A good name for a brewery!” Indeed, the brewery is Pan-American, with gear from Canada, The United States and Brazil.

This monster comes to us from Rio de Janeiro and is made by one of Brazil's first craft breweries.  The color is super dark brown, almost black, with little light passing through.  The nose is of big roasted malts, molasses, candy sugar and chocolate. The flavors are wonderfully blended but the black Rapadura sugar (a form of brown cane sugar) means that the beer will be, and is, a bit sweet.  The initial sip gives you the coffee, chocolate and malts, but at the end of the swallow you get the cloying sweetness of the sugar that resides on your tongue for a while.  The sweetness and alcohol become more apparent as the beer warms.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Beer Review - Reunion Ale 13

Shmaltz Brewing Company and Terrapin Beer Company's Reunion Ale 13 - 7.5% ABV

I love charities.  It gives me excuses to buy things that I wouldn't normally buy and attend events that I wouldn't normally attend.
You - "Wanna go to the beer festival this weekend"?
Me - "Oh boy, another beer festival featuring pissy, watery beers .... no thanks".
You - "But a portion of the proceeds to to help children born with red hair"
Me - "*Sigh* Count me in ... gotta help the Gingers".

.Bubba and Benny have gotten together to create another collaboration beer that normally I probably wouldn't have considered.
"What?  They donate proceeds to the Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research?  Damn, I guess that I had better buy it".

This one time collaboration between Shmaltz Brewing Company from Clifton Park, New York and Terrapin Beer Company from Athens, Georgia is an American style brown ale brewed with cocoa nibs, vanilla, cinnamon and coffee and boy is it a cracker (get it? cracker? Georgia? .... no?).  The nose is exactly as your would expect with the coffee, cinnamon and vanilla notes shining through.  It pours dark brown with a hint of red with a smallish, tan head.  The mouth feel is medium with only light carbonation.  The coffee, cocoa and roasted malts are the first flavor that you get and are the premier flavors that carry the load.  The Terrapin influence is felt with a significant amount (east coast significant, not west coast significant) of bitter hops at the back end of the swallow.  The vanilla and cinnamon are barely discernible and probably would have enhanced the flavor with more presence.  The good, full flavors are a bit if a surprise considering the lightness of the body.

This is a fine, drinkable beer that I would absolutely try again and so should you.  But you better hurry as that this is a one timer and will be gone soon and hey, it's for charity, drink up. - Bon Vivant

Terrapin Beer Company
265 Newton Bridge Road
Athens, GA 30607

Shmaltz Brewing Company
6 Fairchild Square
Clifton Park, NY