If there’s one thing Southwest Louisianans know, it’s hunting, fishing and good food. Okay, so that’s more than one thing, but all three are intricately linked to provide some of the best meals you’ll ever eat. While fish fries, seafood boils and stove-top creations like etoufee and courtbouillon may be mainstream, people around these parts are no strangers to throwing their catch on the grill.
Crave, a local store offering gourmet baskets, fine olive oils, balsamics and more, has upped the ante when it comes to heating up the grill. As famed chef Emeril Lagasse would say, they’re kickin’ it up a notch with new gourmet grilling products.
"Since opening Crave near the end of last year, we’ve put a lot of effort into bringing unique products to the area and listening to what our customers tell us they want more of,” said store co-owner Fran Avery. "Our new grilling products offer those who love to grill a way to take something that was already great and make it even better.”
The end result of a grilling adventure is only as great as the cookware that you start with.
"Gourmet Grillware by Winston Armetale is the perfect cookware for the grilling enthusiast,” Avery aid. "These great pots and pans allow you to cook and serve meals in the same piece, something that saves you time and keeps those slip-through-the-grates-foods safe on the grill.”
Gourmet Grillware contains a non-toxic, aluminum-based alloy in the metal to make hot foods stay hot longer.
Another great way to step up your grilling game is by checking out the SaltWorks pink salt slabs. "The slabs have no additives or chemicals, but add a natural flavor to meals that won’t overwhelm your taste buds,” Avery commented. "Basically you heat the slab to a high temperature and then you can sear thinly sliced meats, fish, vegetables, seafood and other quick-cooking foods right on them.”
The slabs can also be chilled to serve sushi, appetizers, cold meats and cheeses, fresh fruit and vegetables, and even cold desserts.
"The slabs are harvested from within the ancient Himalayan mountain range of Pakistan where they have remained protected from pollution and impurities,” Avery added. "The salt is mined as large, meteor-like boulders and cut down to slabs, blocks, bricks and more. They are considered ‘Gourmet Food Grade’ and offer a unique way to cook and serve from one dish.”
Seasonings and Sauces
Once you’ve got the perfect cookware selected, it’s time to prep your ingredients. Dry rubs, marinades and barbecue sauces add flavor and excitement to your dishes.
"There are some unique dry rubs out there that can add a little something extra to the flavor of your meal,” said Melanie McMullen, Crave co-owner. "Road Kill Grill Seasonings are a little on the spicy side, but they add a delicious, smoked flavor to meat.”
If you’re looking to enhance the taste of your catch of the day, Fish-Tail Seasonings are the perfect solution; for poultry, consider Beer Can Chicken Rub. Crave also offers several lines of natural organic seasonings.
If a marinade is more your style, fresh, extra virgin olive oil and balsamics, mixed or alone, make a great marinade. McMullen says they both tenderize meat and infuse any grilled dish with fresh flavor. Crave has over 40 varietels of olive oil and balsamics on tap to choose from, and the flavors you mix and match depend on your individual taste and what you are cooking. "We encourage people to experiment, but the general rule for a mixed marinade ratio is 1/3 balsamic to 2/3 olive oil,” said McMullen.
For something new in packaged flavor, Vintage Farm Gourmet Sauces and Brack Ranch Marinades and Barbecue Sauces may offer just the culinary adventure you’ve been searching for. "Both offer flavorful sauces and marinades that are favorites in restaurants across the country,” McMullen said. "The Vintage Farm Collection offers a unique and zestful flavor while Brack Ranch has more of a savory, western flavor.”
Washin’ it all Down
Nothing goes better with barbecue than an ice-cold beer or cold drink.
"There are some great specialty brews available that pair nicely with barbecue, many from regional microbreweries,” added McMullen. "For the non-drinker, Swamp Pop is a premium sugar cane soda brewed right here in Louisiana.”
For more information, call Crave at (337) 421-0040 or visit them at www.facebook.com/CraveLakeCharles. The store is located at 2801 Ryan Street, Suite 100 in Lake Charles.