A New Chapter
As the football playoffs roll on and we peer outside at a cold, snow-covered St. Louis, we finally update the blog after a long absence and a difficult move from Seattle. As many of you already know, this past October we moved from the beautiful Pacific Northwest to the Mississippi Valley. It was tough to say goodbye to so many wonderful friends, colleagues, food, farmers, the Opera, breweries and wineries, the mountains and sea…but we now start a new chapter in our adventures and careers.
We have spent the last 2 1/2 months settling into our first home (A townhouse in St. Louis Central West End, GasLight Square), and we have only just started to explore the city of St. Louis. This post is a compilation, a short list of some of the highlights of those past 2 1/2 months..and some of the things we’ve discovered:
Crown Candy Kitchen: Crown Candy Kitchen is an old St. Louis favorite. A diner-like candy store filled with tight booths and a huge candy counter. Vintage signs and St. Louis sports memorabilia paint the walls, and an old fashioned soda foundation and milkshake machine occupy the space behind the counter. Crown Candy is the candy store from the Normal Rockwell painting, that store you feel you were robbed of ever visiting as a kid growing up in the 80’s and 90’s. Big jars of jellies and hunks of handmade chocolate sit in the candy case…softball sized-jawbreakers, and 5 or more types of licorice tantalize… And then when you get to eat a greasy meal here you realize why people are lined up around the block to get in. We ordered the legendary bacon-lettuce and tomato (BLT) sandwich and paired it with a rich chocolate malt that comes served up in a steel container and tall fountain glass. One struggles to get their mouth around the crispy-crunchy sandwich, and the malt is perfection and more than enough for two. Lots of adults and children flock to Crown Candy for good reason, because its simple menu satisfies, and its atmosphere takes us all back to a place where families and children shared a treat.
1401 Saint Louis Avenue
Saint Louis, MO 63107
Craft Breweries | St. Louis is of course known for its large commercial brewery Anheuser-Busch (now humorously owned by the Belgian company InBev) yet what many don’t realize is that the craft beer scene in St. Louis is growing, and growing fast. New microbreweries are opening each month near downtown, and great taprooms are now common place. A few that we’ve recently visited are worth mentioning because I’ve been visiting them regularly to refill empty growlers on the way home from work.
Sixth Row Brewery: Located in the former space that was once occupied by Falstaff Brewery, this brewery brings an incredible selection of complex beers. The brewery just started serving food, but the beer is the real reason to pay them a visit. The Imperial IPA and the Whale, both on tap now, are outstanding. I hadn’t had a local IPA with that much hoppy goodness and rich mouth feel until I visited Sixth Row, and “The Whale” is a sessionable wheat/pale ale yet retains complex character and a thick rounded mouth feel. Since Sixth Row is less than a mile from our townhome, I continue to be a regular…looking for their new brews and their Cask Nights which have become a favored routine. [3690 Forest Park Ave.St. Louis, MO 63108 314-531-5600]
Square One: Sitting on the edge of Lafayette Square this brewery also makes a variety of spirits. The black IPA is my recent favorite with its nice balance of malty sweetness and bitter hops…We have also enjoyed their house gin, and we’ve heard great things about the Aquavit from friends. [1727 Park Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 63104 (314) 231-2537]
Buffalo Brewing: Near St. Louis University, this brewpub next door to Pappy’s Smokehouse has a smaller beer selection than the others, but nevertheless the Stout has a perfect roasty sweetness for a winter brew on cold nights, and the black IPA served in a small tulip has a complex balance of roasted nutty malts and a bitter tang from the hops. [Buffalo Brewing Co., 3100 Olive St., St. Louis MO 63103, 314-534-BEER]
Entre Underground via the Clandestine Chef | Our family had told us that these events were quite the experience, so after getting settled in we made it a priority to book an upcoming dinner. The group started in 2008 and they’ve become a huge hit for food minded folks of St. Louis. This event was located at the St. Louis downtown location of “Big Brothers and Big Sisters”. The crew for the Entre Underground usually choose unique locations (willing and able) that enhance the dining experience. The courses are paired with either wine or beer (your choice) and this meal included a beautiful salad [right] with apple, pistachio, fresh arugula, sunchoke, and maple syrup…which brought a hint of sweet complexity that played off of the bitter arugula. We also had an incredible roasted ballotine of goose [below] with fois, juniper, potatoes, cranberry and spinach. Again the chef created the right balance of bitter and sweet by using two different puree’s alongside the ballotine. I think we were all in agreement that our favorite dish of the evening was the chestnut soup with pecans, gorgonzola, plum, dried apriocot and currants. Wisely, the serving crew elegantly poured the soup from pitchers to keep all of the guests happy about the temperature…the chestnut flavor was prominent, and was complimented well by the sweet surprise bites of apricot buried below. After the meal the food passionate staff introduced themselves, and we had a chance for a chat with the Chef (twitter @loujack) about the local food scene as well as past and future events. Entre Underground is passionate about bringing together people with local farm fresh…We both look forward to another event in the near future…
Farmhaus | The Farmhaus restaurant has been a favored lunch choice of my mother for quite some time, and once I took a look at the menu I knew Robin and I had to visit…We were greeted by an energetic crew who took our cocktail orders, both of which were well crafted and creative…featuring infused cucumber gin. Farmhaus has a characteristically different dining philosophy as compared to many other restaurants in St. Louis, that of smaller plates and a family style shared experience. The chef makes every attempt to use local farms and the freshest seasonal ingredients. Given the lack of selection this time of year in Missouri, we were impressed with the offerings. We ordered about 7 items off the menu. A few of the highlights included the beet risotto with crispy grilled beet greens (below), a beautiful dish with rustic grilled flavor, roasted sweet garlic, and a perfect risotto bite. It was a relief to
have two excellent seafood dishes. One a triggerfish wrapped and cooked in a parchment package and later poured over with a creamy shrimp sauce…the other a North Carolina Grouper tucked inside a pastry and served with ratatouille on the side. Both fish dishes were perfectly cooked and offered different textures…when the server told us the chef did seafood well, I was doubtful, but he most certainly has it down.
We finished with a trio of desserts. There was the peanut butter cup with peanut butter nougat, mousse, in a chocolate shell; a pear cream puffed pastry with pear ice cream; and a southern molasses cake served with candied citrus and an orange ice cream. All three desserts were fabulous, with different members of the party preferring one over the other and not reaching agreement about which was best.
Farmhaus is quite reasonably priced for this level of well executed creative food. We will be going back again as the season changes to see what Kevin and the gang have in store with new products.
3257 Ivanhoe Avenue,
Saint Louis, MO 63139
Salume Beddu | After meeting some of the crew from Salume Beddu at the Tower Grove Farmers market the 2nd weekend after moving to St. Louis we had been meaning to check out their digs on Hampton for some time, to stock up on some Italian cured meats. We waited in a long line to order and read the large chalkboard selection debating about what to order. The list is outstanding…everything from Copa Rossa to Lonza (Mangalista cured pork loin). Mark Sanfilippo (the founder of Beddu) behind the counter delicately slices the meat and his friendliness and charming accent add to the entire experience. We ended up with 4 selections (pictured below, top to bottom), the Lonza, Soprasetta, Copa Rossa, and hot Calabrese. Robin and I each have our favorites from these 4, but I we agreed that all are outstanding and among some of the best cured meat we’ve had in the US. The Lonza’s rich fattiness and chewy texture is a must try…the Copa Rossa brings a complexity difficult to describe, some hints of spice, wine, and rounded herbs. The calabrese has a chorizo like texture with an intense heat that stays around for a while afterwords. We’ve already decided that a trip to Salume Beddu will be included in our regular Saturday rounds for our week’s food! GO, you will not regret the wait!
SALUME BEDDU SALUMERIA
3467-9 Hampton Ave.
St Louis, MO 63139
314 353 3100
More to come from our new home in St. Louis. We just made a quick trip to Chicago, which is now very close (lots of recap left from that amazing trip) and we will continue to blog about things that we come across in our exploration of Food, Life, Wine and more…Hey STL peeps, any places that Robin and I must try ASAP? We are all ears…