I don’t get out much…

but when I do…I try and make it as meaningful as possible. With school, long work hours….being social is getting trickier and trickier….but when I do have the opportunity to go out for the evening…..I like to make it count, ya know. And that is exactly what I did on Saturday night. Have you ever been to a perfect party? They are often unattainable…..and few and far between. But the gods were smiling on me this past weekend. I was a guest at a perfect party….the weather was perfect….the guests were so social and welcoming….everyone was just really really nice to talk to–genuinely good nice folks …..amazing food…good music….cold and tasty beer…and the host is one of our favorite people. Before I knew it…it’s was 1:30 in the morning….wow. I haven’t stayed up that late in a really long time…especially out at a party. I wanted to bottle up that night and keep it in the fridge so it would last longer.

perfect party.

Who made the grade in St. Louis??

Last evening I had the opportunity to attend St. Louis Magazine’s A List Awards Party at Lumen (it is a gorgeous event space…wow). It is not an event I would normally attend. Mind you, at one point in my life, it would have been on the radar. Many of you may not know this, but St. Louis Magazine crowned me one of St. Louis’ Top Singles back in the day….not shabby for a kid from downtown. But, as time passed….I grew tired of the scene….fell in love with the Cheesemonger and left that life behind.

Alas, my buddy Mathew Rice was being honored for Niche’s desserts and we set up a table to hand out the goodies. Much to my surprise we were put in the best spot in the house: center balcony over looking the crowd (and was there ever a crowd! Whoa). To our left, Eric Brenner, A List Chef winner…and to our right Ricardo’s Italian Cafe…A list winner for casual Italian food. ***Sidenote on Ricardo’s: My very first job as a bus-girl was at Ricardo’s over 15 years ago…yep. I have known Mark and Michelle Adams for years and started out babysitting their two little boys…who now help run the restaurant. Good people, that Adams family. If you have not had the chance to go to Ricardo’s in Lafayette Square…make a point to get over there. They are even open for lunch.***

So, with being flanked by two tables of pals…the night was sure to be fun. And lucky for us the open bar sat directly across from our table. Nice perk.

Along comes Mike Emerson owner of Pappy’s Smokehouse! Mike and I have been chummy since he has opened his doors. We were one of his first customers and I was sure to tell him how much we loved his BBQ. After some more chit chat at the awards event…turns out Mike and I go way back and didn’t even know it. I’ve known his brother Danny my entire life and he grew up with some older members of my family. Pappy’s was being honored for best BBQ in St. Louis….what an honor….open not even ONE YEAR and they are picked for the A List. That was a no-brainer, though. Pappy’s by far is the BEST BBQ in St. Louis….hands down. Don’t fight me on it…you won’t win. And Pappy’s is another place to rush to…..amazing. And before you all shout out ‘favoritism’…..please know that I was singing this joint’s praises long before I actually met Mike and realized his family and mine were close. So zip it.

It was a great time.  Kevin Willmann, chef at Erato on Main was being honored as well.  It was great to see him outside the kitchen!  City Hall was representin’ with Mike McMillen and his crew.  All the pretty people were out in droves….dressed to kill….and packed in Lumen like little sardines sweating.  I was so happy when we ran out of food and could head outside to hang at the Pappy’s table.  (they were outside)  It was a great night to be outside with a cocktail.

Good party St. Louis Magazine….and even better choices for your A-List winners.

Allotments in Perpetuity: Not for some Londoners

There has been lots of talk about the London allotments these past few weeks.  With the 2012 Olympics heading to London, the London allotments are being reclaimed for the Olympic Village and folks are losing their gardens….gardens they rely on….gardens some have had for over 45 years.

More to come on this subject at a later time…but check this BBC article out.

And THIS article as well.  This does not bode well for the LDA or the Olympics….it is especially disheartening for the families that rely on their allotments.

just my opinion

I realized something last night…..Pat at the Shaved Duck is one damn good bartender.  The drinks there are really really good.  Yes, I mostly drink beer there….but he made a Manhattan for Si last night that was simply amazing.  The drink menu there is innovative, delicious and so, so reasonably priced.  There ingredients are freshly prepared….for instance, there is a jar of fresh peach puree, house preserved olives and cherries, fresh picked herbs…and always a BIG bowl of fresh citrus.  Good job, Pat!!!  I’ve decided that next visit I will have the mojito….served with a sprinkling of rosemary….reminds me of Simon’s famous rosemary pineapple martinis.

How to make cheese

So many folks stumble upon this site when googling “cheesemaking class” or “cheesemaking supplies”. What gets me is that you really don’t need a class to start…and all you really need as far as supplies goes is a cheesecloth. So…I give to you my recipe for Lebanese yogurt and subsequently…yogurt cheese.

1 quart milk, preferably whole milk (you can use goat or sheep here too)
2 tablespoons plain yogurt (this is a starter…if you are lucky…you can get one from your great aunt Mellie who says her starter has been passed around for over 20 years….that must be some good starter!)

Heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it begins to rise and bubbles form around the edges; then allow milk to cool to the point at which you can insert your little finger and count to ten (110 degrees F if you don’t trust your my grandmother’s method.)

Pour into an earthenware jar with a tight-fitting lid. Stir in the yogurt until thoroughly mixed; then place in a warm spot away from drafts.

Cover with a wool blanket to keep warm. Or if you have an oven…like most folks do these days…place container in an oven heated to 150 degrees F. After five minutes, turn the heat off, and let the container sit for 6 hours undisturbed; then uncover and remove from oven, and refrigerate until the following day.

Remove about 2 tablespoons of yogurt and place in a small, covered glass jar; then store in refrigerator. This will be your starter (or rawba) for the next yogurt preparation (be nice…and share it with your cousins like we did). Cover the remaining yogurt and keep in refrigerator.

From here you can make yogurt ‘cheese’. Just take some of your fresh yogurt…put it in a big cheese cloth…tie it up and hang it over your sink to drain over night….next day…cheese!  We call it labna.  You can make it into little balls…put it in a ball jar…cover with olive oil…throw in some spices if you want…and voila…cheese balls!

Cella bids for Busch’s Grove….

Another tidbit from Peterson’s Post column:

CELLA IT TO ME: Charles Cella, 71, a prominent St. Louis businessman, has made an offer to Lester Miller to buy Busch’s Grove, which closed in May. Miller did not return calls Thursday; Cella said only: “We do not have a deal. I’m hanging up now.” He would not disclose details of the offer. Miller is a self-made multimillionaire who reputedly spent $8 million to revamp the 111-year-old Clayton Road restaurant, which he reopened in 2005. The Cella family owns Southern Real Estate and Financial Co., which holds commercial properties around the country. Locally one of the properties is the Clayprice Shopping Center in Ladue, just west of Busch’s Grove. That’s where Truffles restaurant, which Cella bought for his daughter, Harriet, is located. Cella oversees the business, which is run by his sons John and Louis Cella. The family’s history is steeped in horse racing. More than 100 years ago, brothers Charles and Louis Cella began a horse racing dynasty here. Today’s Charles and Louis Cella are named after their ancestors. The family owned several St. Louis racetracks that no longer exist, including the Fairgrounds Racetrack on Grand and the Delmar Racetrack in University City. The Cellas also opened Oaklawn Racetrack in Arkansas, which is still operating.

Could be an interesting deal. For the sake of our city…I hope the Cella’s can pull this off. In the wake of losing this landmark….and possibly AB….we need a boost.

Another St. Louisan take a Beard win

From Deb Peterson’s daily:

HAUTE CHEF REDUX: Patrick Connolly — son of Manchester Police Chief John Connolly — won the Best Chef of the Northeast award at the 2008 James Beard Foundation Awards on Sunday night in New York City. Patrick was one of five finalists competing for the prestigious award. He is the chef de cuisine at Radius in downtown Boston and is remembered locally for his prowess on the gridiron at St. Louis U. High.

Arizona, huh???

Well, there may be a kink in my summer plans. Looks like we might be moving to Carefree, AZ come mid-August. Arizona. I never dreamed it.

Look on the bright side…Kevin Binkley’s restaurant is on the other side of Black Mountain and he also just opened a lunch spot, Binks.

If we go, we’ll be back in St. Louis in time for craptastic January weather.

Of course, like everything else in our life at the moment….it’s not set in stone….but looks pretty promising that we’ll go.

Arizona…..it’s hot out there. And brown….and well….they have deadly insects and reptiles just hangin’ out in your yard. At least it’s just for 5 months or so.


Can you beat the Beards???

Beat the Beards and Win Free Tickets to the Highbrow Backyard Barbecue

Do you have what it takes to beat the Beards? You do? Who do you think you are? Professionals and pundits, the cream of the food-media aristocracy, try to pick the major winners every year, and every year they fail. And yet…if some discerning Grub Street reader can correctly guess the winners of Outstanding Restaurateur, Best Chef NYC, Outstanding Restaurant, and Best New Restaurant, you will win two tickets to New York’s Highbrow Backyard Barbecue event later this summer. (We’ll give you a pass on the Rising-Star Chef award.) It’s not enough to pick the right nominees, though; you have to tell us just why you think they will win. In the event of a tie, the best, or most eloquent, reasoning will determine the victor. Below are the nominees. Put your thinking caps on and get cogitating: Entries are due by Saturday at midnight, either as comments in this post or via e-mail at the Grub Street in-box.

And the nominees are… »

Cheese of the Week

Yep…that’s right…it’s CHEESE of the week. And it’s mouthwatering!!! Last night I ate it on some toasted sourdough from 222, spread thick with fresh strawberries on top. good lord, it was downright amazing! It comes from Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, VT…..Constant Bliss!!!

Constant Bliss is based on a Chaource recipe, which we modified to suit our production schedule and cheesemaking facility. The result is a cheese which hardly even resembles a Chaource. It is a slow ripened lactic curd made only with fresh, right out of the cow, uncooled, evening milk. We actually begin the cheesemaking process before the cows have finished milking. Constant Bliss is made with raw whole milk. This is not a double or triple crème cheese as is sometimes thought. Seasonal variations in the milk result in variations on the surface and flavor of the cheese. We like to use Constant Bliss to highlight our milk, and rather than overpowering the natural microflora of our milk with cotton white mold, we prefer to see a mottling of diverse molds and yeasts, which are prevalent particularly in the summer months when the cows are out on grass. It is aged 60 days before it leaves the farm, and is a ‘sell it or smell it’ item for retailers.

We named Constant Bliss after a revolutionary war scout killed in Greensboro by native Americans in 1781. He was guarding the Bayley Hazen Military Road with his compatriot Moses Sleeper, who died with him.

It’s name it suitable….b/c when you eat it…you are in a state of constant bliss!!!! Very fitting.

Slay’s on Zaytoon

Another Slay opens shop downtown

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

With a father that was a state representative and a grandfather who was an alderman, it’s easy to assume that Mayor Francis Slay’s family business is politics.

It’s not.

Before Francis moved into Room 200, the Slays were far better known for their accomplishments in the kitchen than in elected office.

Slay cousins David and Lisa are both chefs – the latter who wears the toque at Remy’s in Clayton, the former whose restaurant empire spread to Los Angeles.

Slay brothers Michael and Raymond are also both experienced in the hospitality business.

The newest addition to the Slay culinary legacy comes from another mayoral cousin, Dennis, who, along with wife Nancy, earlier this year opened up Zaytoon, a Lebanese lunch stand that caters to downtown’s office dwellers. (The name means “olive” in Arabic; fittingly, it’s located at the intersection of 7th and Olive Streets.)

Zaytoon, which replaces a Mexican restaurant that had been at the location previously, offers traditional Middle Eastern fare with a twist. The menu includes Mediterranean staples such as shawarma and falafel, along with crossover items such as a “Bavarian ham” sandwich and the “Zaytoon Poor Boy” wrap.

Enjoying the cuisine on Monday was none other than mayoral pop and 23rd Ward Committeeman Francis R. Slay, who, of course, has run the banquet hall at St. Raymond’s Church for many years.

The new eatery is just a few blocks from City Hall, making it easy for the mayor not only to support family, but also downtown, which has been a priority of the Slay administration.

But don’t reserve a table for hizzoner just yet – the famously health conscious mayor is known to favor protein shakes and apples over hummus and fried chickpeas.

It’s very hard for me to leave work for lunch…but if I could I’d go to here.  Has anyone been??

Balaban’s will open for ONE more night

From Deb Peterson’s column:

OF LATE NIGHTS AND CIGARETTES: There’s good news for those who get misty-eyed when the name Cafe Balaban surfaces — plans have been firmed up to revisit the site of so much revelry and glory in the ’70s and ’80s. When Balaban’s closed in January, many of those who spent a wasted night or three at the CWE bar and eatery didn’t get to say au revoir. Now, thanks to a crew who may have epitomized those days — Pete and Donna Rothschild, Kim and Sharon Tucci, Paul Zemitzsch, Lou Hamilton and Alderman Lyda Krewson — Balaban’s will be open June 27 for one night only. Original staff, bartenders and music will set the mood. Proceeds from the evening will go to Mayor Francis Slay‘s re-election effort. Among those on the guest list: Karen Devine, David Guempel, Sean Gallagher, David Moore, John Sullivan, Lee Redel, Madt Mallinckrodt, Steve McIntyre and Bryan Young.

It’s amazing what you can do when you have lots of cash.

my life is sooooooooooo hard……

i whine that blurb often these days.

With working full time, being on call, going to school full time and taking the hardest course I’ve ever had to take…EVER!….i just can’t do all the stuff i want to to. Like sleep in, keep the house clean so it will sell, go to all the farmer’s markets, lounge at Veruca, hang out at the pool, go to Wisconsin for our annual fishing trip (plus see Grandma and Grandpa), cook, go to movies, ride my bike or drive to Edwardsville for dinner. Pity Princess…party of 1. 😦

It will get better (i keep telling myself that)