Lebanese cooking class with ME at The Kitchen Conservatory!

Join me on March 26th for my first cooking class at Kitchen Conservatory! We will be cooking all things Lebanese. We will be making laban, shish barak over rice , fatoush, hummus  b’thini and baklava! For more information click HERE!

The Shaved Duck to open for lunch

The Shaved Duck to open for lunch

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From Ally Nisbet:

The Shaved Duck in the Tower Grove East neighborhood located at 2900 Virginia Street is opening for lunch starting Monday January 4th.
The Shaved Duck specializes in traditionally smoked meats using oak and hickory, and  will now be smoking earlier in the day to ensure that everything is fresh off the pitt for their guests.
Please stop by for some great smoked meats, flatbreads, homestyle sides and expanded lunch menu, or contact Matt Fournier, Catering  Manager for any catering functions coming up.

Christmas came early to the CWE

Seriously!  How lucky are the residents of the Central West End (CWE)!?!  Gerard Craft opened Brasserie by Niche in the former Chez Leon space.  With Perry Hendrix at the helm of the stove, the CWE folks have just gotten themselves one heck of a neighborhood hotspot! Focusing on classic French bistro fare, you’ll never eat onion soup anywhere else.  Cassoulet, moules frites, French cheeses, country pate….and an amazing croque monsieur…coq au vin…you’ll feel like you are sitting in a Parisian bistro! With a nice beer and wine selection…Brasserie By Niche is one of my new favorite places to go. Lucky for me it’s a stone’s throw from the hospital…and after a long day caring for the masses…Brasserie is a welcome respite!

Next up: Pi!! Pi is close to opening its doors in their new CWE locale! That makes the third space opened by Chris Sommers! With the crazy success of his spot in the Delmar Loop..and the cult-like obsession cultivated at the Kirkwood spot he is about to dish out some of that crazy good cornmeal crust deep dish on the corner of Euclid and McPherson! And to make it even better Mathew Rice is going to be doing his ingenious desserts at the new CWE locale! His milkshake bar at the Kirkwood locale is a favorite already.  I suggest a Purple Cow or a chocolate malted milkshake if you make it out Kirkwood! The CWE spot is geared toward adults with a gorgeous reclaimed eco-friendly bar manned by Chad George!

So…no more complaining about the CWE not having anything new….get over to Brasserie (open NOW!) and Pi (slated to open to the public on Tuesday 12/ 15/09!)

Adjusting to life back in STL

What a whirlwind August has been!  We are moved into the new house, however we have loads of unpacking and organizing to do.  Work is in full swing and class begins tonight for me!  The kitchen was our first room to unpack…of course!  Still trying to figure out the proper ‘flow’ of the new space…it’s been rearranged twice…I’m sure we’ll rearrange again.

I’ve been lucky enough to have some great meals around town.  Last night was Bobo…it was my second visit since being home and it didn’t disappoint.  Ginger pork and egg noodles….delicious.  I usually get the chicken….and although I liked the pork…the chicken is still my fav….headed over to Eclipse for a night cap on the roof.  If you have yet to get down to Eclipse at the Moonrise Hotel  in University City…I’d make a trip.  The food is wonderful…the drinks are great and the rooftop views rival any bar in the city.  They have a decent beer list…and the wine list it thoughtful, as well.  But the calamari is delectable.  Best I’ve had in StL in a very long time. eclipse

Speaking of Eclipse…I’ve been lucky enough to have been invited to an installation of a Full Moon Foodies Dinner.  Hosted by Wes Johnson and Brendan Noonan…it’s a late-night meal focusing on creative cooking…each dinner has a theme and guests are invited to a late night dining experience at Eclipse.  Wes has graciously given me the green light to publish my thoughts on their late night adventures.  Stay tuned….September 4th will be an exciting night.  It will be a vegetarian meal….looking forward to see what the guys can do with this season’s bounty!

From the Scoop on SauceMagazine.com:

Master mixologist Ted Kilgore will be moving from Monarch Restaurant to Niche Taste Bar, which is slated to open next month. “While I was not looking to make a move, the project is right up my alley,” Kilgore said. Details to follow. P

Chris Sommers goes to Washington

photo by Whitney Curtis

photo by Whitney Curtis from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

…and he’s bringing some pizza with him.

After having a slice on the campaign trail…Barack Obama was hooked,  just like most of St. Louis, on Pi….and who can blame him.  It really is great pizza….in my book…the BEST in StL has seen in eons.  Now, I am an Imo’s fan…don’t get me wrong but as we all know..it’s an accquired taste…one that is moslty only appreciated among natives.  But Pi on the other hand is delicious any way you look at it…from any location in the Union.  That is why Barack had Chris and his crew come up to DC this week to throw some dough for him and his brood.  Now that is what I call great delivery service!!!

Not bad Sommers….not bad at all.

Three of St. Louis’ Finest are in the running for a James Beard nod…

The James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for its restaurant and chef awards. Three St. Louis chefs made the cut in the “Best Chef: Midwest” category: Gerard Craft of Niche, Josh Galliano of Monarch and Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Cafe.

Five finalists will be announced on March 23rd….keep your fingers crossed.

Keys Change Hands at 33 Wine Bar

From Jake:

It was with great privilege and deep happiness that I signed a term letter yesterday and agreed to pass 33 onto my close friend, Jeff Stettner.  

Best of luck to you in your new adventure, Jake.  We will miss seeing you behind the bar.

Food & Wine Feature Mathew Rice!!

F&W is showcasing another stellar recipe from our very own Mathew Rice, Pastry Chef at Niche and Veruca Bakeshop.  You’ll find it on pg. 77 of the February issue.  It is a feature highlighting the under appreciated milk chocolate.  Mathew did a knock up job on his Milk Chocolate Cookies with Malted Cream.  I’m going to make them this weekend as a present to myself and as a bit of a band-aid for my homesick heart.

I just did a whirlwind tour of St. Louis this weekend and boy oh boy…did I have fun.  It was a bittersweet trip…as you all may know, the Shaved Duck is going under a transformation.  I was able to spend some quality time with my favorite bartender and the staff before they bid the Duck adieu….but, I’m not fretting too much…by the time we are back in StL I hope to see them back in action…from what I hear, works are in the making for a new spot due out in the Spring with Brendan Noonan, Wes Johnson and Pat Thomas.  Fingers crossed. And I hope that the new menu makeover at the Duck is what they need and wish them best of luck!!

I also developed a sick fascination with Bobo Noodle house….more on that later.  I just wanted to fill you all in about Mathew’s F&W recipe feature.  Hope you all had a relaxing and peaceful holiday.

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.

The Shaved Duck –worth the wait

We stopped in the Shaved Duck last night for a bite to eat….the place was packed!  I was so happy to see that.  We opted to eat at the bar to save us the wait for a table.  The front bar area is great…looking forward to it on a blustry winter night….just the kind of place you want to have a nip.

Technical difficulties aside (which ALL restaurants have on their very first night) the food was excellent!  I had the duck liver and some cheese (of course….it came from my husband).  Si had the hot and sour duck soup…almost a consommé…delicious.  Our guest had a scallop wrapped bacon (that’s right…scallop AROUND bacon) and we dug the duck frites (uber shoestring curls of potatoes fried in duck fat)  Jesus H Christ those were good.  I will say this though:  I wish the fries were bigger…more of a traditional frites…but amazing none the less.  My biggest pet peeve (and you will be reassured that I will write/call and tell them this) :  They spelled Anheuser wrong on the menu.  Now, I know that tons of you won’t care b/c you think Anheuser Busch is the devil…but this is St. Louis and I do believe we need to show a little respect to the King of Beers as they have done a great deal for our city and especially my family….AB has been putting dinner on the table one way or another for my family for over 100 years…sooooo….get the name right.  It’s ANHEUSER not Anheiser.  My grandfather would thank you.

They are finding their pace and working their way through a new service very well.  All employees were courteous and helpful.  The food is delicious with small places of charcuterie, cheese, lots of duck..even a great confit, larger plates of market fish, game and chicken and house cured meats….desserts are by Serendipity….which are good…but they should go for Veruca….and knock everyone’s socks off.  The beer list is well, amazing (thanks to MIke at STLHops.com) and varied.  I stuck with the Schlafly Summer Kolsch…my fav this time of year…and soooo easy to drink.

And, for those of you who were there with me last night….we have decided to make a new tradition for the Shaved Duck….upon leaving for the night….you get a nice big slap on the keister….don’t ask…just know it could be coming.  😉