First Bite

Gourmet Girls opens new food truck Pronto

Kathy Mangham is taking her talents on the road. Mangham, the owner and chef of local catering service Gourmet Girls, is partnering with Hayden Phares of Zeeland Street Market and starting a new mobile food service called Pronto.

The truck will be parked in front of Gourmet Girls at 3025 Perkins Road Wednesdays-Fridays starting at 11 a.m., and serving until food sells out for now, Mangham says. However, if she sees a demand, she plans to expand the hours in the future.

"A lot of people come and knock on the door [of the catering business] and want to know who I am, what I'm doing and want to buy food," she says. "This provides a way for those people who are not using catering services often to get my food."

Pronto focuses on garden-to-table foods, using fresh, seasonal and, when possible, organic produce. Phares will help out with prepping and cooking a few items each day as well.

"My goal is to cook things that are healthy and good for you," she says. "Everything is served in moderation. There's nothing fried. I want to feature produce that is at its peak, when it's most ripe."

The truck started serving food yesterday, and the menu featured a jalapeno pulled pork slider with cabbage slaw, grilled chicken and peach salad with figs, honey Sriracha grilled chicken and a seasonal watermelon basil agua fresca. The menu will change daily and be posted at Gourmet Girls' Instagram account. If she gets a good response, she'll consider moving the truck around the Capital City.

"There's so much in this area already," she says. "If it proves to be a thing where people want us to come to other places, we can certainly drive it around. For me, it's all about cooking the food I love."

For more information on Gourmet Girls, call 252-0999 or click here. —Matthew Sigur


Foodies

Highlights from last weekend's Tales of the Cocktail

Just a hop, skip and a stagger from Baton Rouge, New Orleans' Tales of the Cocktails wrapped up its seemingly never-ending array of seminars, tasting rooms, brunches, snack stands and lunches last weekend. There was even a flash mob that interrupted founder Ann Tuennerman's opening press conference where she announced next years Tales on Tour location, Mexico City. The aspirin has been taken, the naps have been had and the recuperation has begun.

With such a whirlwind of activities, food writer Monique Evans did the hard work for you, pounding the pavement around town and recapping some favorite events.

Read on for Evans' highlights, including talking to the distiller for Louisiana's own Bayou Rum about their newest liquor.

Baton Rougeans discover local restaurants using CATS

A few months ago, Baton Rouge Area Chamber CEO Adam Knapp sat down with local food blogger Jay Ducote with one idea in mind: promoting Capital Area Transit Systems' new routes and buses. The best way Knapp and Ducote thought of getting more people involved was by visiting some local restaurants via a CATS bus route.

On Tuesday, a group of around 10 residents joined Knapp and Ducote for the tour. They all met at Triumph Kitchen for kolaches and coffee at 9 a.m., then headed by bus to Tony's Seafood for boudin balls and fresh crab legs, Chicken Shack for their famous fried chicken for lunch, Anthony's Italian Deli for a muffaletta snack, and ended the trip at Restaurant IPO, enjoying a cocktail and a small plate.

While at Anthony's, Knapp joked that he was about to faint from all the good food he had eaten. He said the food tour was going smoothly.

"It's nice to see the buses were on time," he said. "The online route system seems to be more or less accurate with the timing of the buses. The CATS staff has been pretty helpful to us. The idea was literally, 'Hey, I'm thinking of taking these bus routes and stopping at some restaurants along the way.' It's been unbelievable some of the things we've eaten, too."

Knapp and Ducote both admitted that their experiences with CATS in the past were few and far between. But this week's ride made the idea of a bus trip discovering Baton Rouge restaurants more appealing in the future.

"It's been extremely pleasant," Ducote says. "We've had friendly bus drivers and great customer service, and the bus routes are fairly easy to figure out. I could see us doing it again in the fall with a completely different route and restaurants." —Matthew Sigur

Du Jour

Bistro Byronz releases new dinner menu

Bistro Byronz released a new dinner menu last week that includes several new dishes. Look for rosemary veggie pasta, redfish Meuniere, seafood salad with crabmeat, shrimp, boiled eggs, tomatoes and house dressing, and a fresh veggie burger made on-site.

Co-owner Emelie Kantrow Alton says the restaurant spent time developing a quality veggie burger that elevated vegetables and didn’t just mock the taste of meat. The original recipe features red beans, pecans, mushrooms, carrots and zucchini formed into a patty with breadcrumbs and topped with Asian mayo, spinach and tomatoes. It’s served with sweet potato fries.

Elsewhere on the menu, returning items like tenderloin medallions can now become steak Bleu, steak Creole or steak with blackened shrimp by ordering new add-ons. There are also new wines by the glass and bottle.

In late October, the Government Street eatery expects to complete its second Baton Rouge location in the Village at Willow Grove on Perkins Road between Bluebonnet Boulevard and Siegen Lane. For more information on Bistro Byronz, click here. —Maggie Heyn Richardson

From Spatula Diaries: Try this tempting crab and cucumber appetizer

In her latest blog post, Maggie Heyn Richardson gets inspired by crisp cucumber and succulent Louisiana blue crab, preparing a perfect summertime treat. The appetizer, which features crabmeat tucked neatly in a cucumber cup and garnished with fresh herbs and slivers of cherry tomato, is great party food and easy to assemble. Read Richardson's post from "Spatula Diaries" to get all the details on this fun recipe.





Cheers

‘That’s the Spirit’: Recapping Tales of the Cocktail

Rivers Hughey will recap what she tasted and enjoyed at last week's Tales of the Cocktail for her new 225 blog, "That's the Spirit." Friday's post will feature Hughey's unique take on the Crescent City's annual event that highlights unique cocktails, spirits and more. To read up on what Hughey has been enjoying so far on the Baton Rouge cocktail scene, click here or check out a preview video below.

Restaurants

Fast Break: Zoroona Mediterranean Grill

On a late Sunday afternoon, the atmosphere in Zoroona is relatively quiet. Soft music is playing in the background of the opulently decorated dining room, and, at first glance, Baton Rouge's newest Mediterranean restaurant seems rather upscale. My friends and I were nervous to visit in our casual clothes. However, we found the prices to be more than reasonable, and our nerves went out the window when we started to dig in.

The service at Zoroona was impeccable. Our server was exceptionally attentive, and the quality of the food was just as great.

We started with the fried cheese appetizer, a simple dish featuring deliciously chewy pan-fried halloumi cheese doused in olive oil and garlic. We sopped up the leftover olive oil with the restaurant's complimentary rosemary bread, which was packed with flavor.

For our entrees, we tried the chicken shawarma and gyros platter and a chicken shawarma wrap. The platter came with a side of rice and hummus, and the wrap came with a feta salad and hummus. The chicken was seasoned perfectly, packing just the right punch of spice. The gyro, dipped in the side of Grecian sauce, was filling and savory. Although I personally prefer a white rice pilaf, the yellow rice gave the dish a colorful pop and tasted just fine.

The overall dining experience at Zoroona was excellent. Additionally, the portions were so large that we had ample amounts of food to take home. Zoroona is at 6900 Siegen Lane. The restaurant is open 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. For more information, click here. —Hayley Nicolich

Calendar

Fête Rouge announces participants in chefs competition

In less than a month, Fête Rouge will give residents and patrons a taste of some of the best food in the Capital City. The event kicks off with the Grace "Mama" Marino Lifetime Achievement Award Dinner honoring Jay Campbell Thursday, Aug. 21, at 7 p.m. The event will feature a seven-course dinner and wine pairing. The main Food and Wine Fête kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22. Among the participating restaurants in the chefs competition at Friday's event are Beausoleil, Bin 77, French Market Bistro, Hot Tails, Reed's Cakes, Stroubes Seafood and Steak, Tsunami and many more. Friday will also see the inaugural Fête Du Vin, a premium wine tasting featuring 50 revered and highly rated wines. All Fête Rouge events will take place at L'Auberge Casino & Hotel. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit feterougebr.com. —Matthew Sigur

Heads up: Charcuteries and rosés at Restaurant IPO

Restaurant IPO (421 Third St.) hosts a tasting next Thursday, 7 p.m.-10 p.m., which highlights the restaurant's charcuterie boards, pâtés and a selection of rosés. The event will also feature a silent auction and live music on the patio. Proceeds from the silent auction will be donated in full to the Bella Bowman Foundation. Tickets are $50. RSVP and get more information.

Roundup

Donner-Peltier spirits get high marks

Thibodeaux's own Donner-Peltier Distillers is bringing home the gold for its line of spirits. In the recent San Francisco Spirits Competition, the distillery's LA1 Whiskey won the coveted gold medal, and the Rougaroux 13 Pennies Praline Rum won a bronze medal. The annual West Coast event is considered one of the most respected spirits competitions in the world. The Rougaroux Sugarshine Rum also scored a 93 rating from the Beverage Tasting Institute in late June. Currently, Donner-Peltier Distillers is working on producing LA1 Whiskey regularly as well as making new rye and bourbon under the LA1 line. For more information on Donner-Peltier Distillers, click here.

On the road: Daiquiri Festival kicks off Saturday

Enjoy music, frozen drinks and more at the fourth annual New Orleans Daiquiri Festival this weekend. The event will take place at 548 Marigny St., 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Festivities include music from Cardinal Sons, The Hot 8 Brass Band and many more, as well as family activities, a make-your-own snoball stand, and a range of daiquiri flavors to taste. Tickets are $8 per day and weekend passes are also available. For more information, click here.

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