Our first farm endeavor….


Everyone keeps asking what we will grow/raise first on the farm. Well, yesterday we found out….it will be a baby boy!

Advertisements

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!

Rendering beef fat to soothe the sad heart


If you follow me on Twitter, you most likely are aware that my Grandmother died on Christmas Eve. She was 100 years old and the most magnificent woman in the world. And that is not an exaggeration. She was truly amazing. She was the first person I remember telling me how important it was to get an education and engage in a fulfilling career. She was the person who taught me to cook, taught me to pray and taught me to be proud of my Lebanese heritage. She taught me to be progressive, never stagnant. Despite her age, she never rested on her laurels. Always moving with the times, trying new thing and embracing change….all the while holding on to her faith, heritage and traditions passed down from her parents. She was the youngest of four sisters, daughter of Lebanese immigrants and a pioneer in this city. She and two of her sisters owned and operated a restaurant and tavern in North St. Louis at a time where not only women didn’t own business but rarely worked and had just earned the right to vote. She was generous and philanthropic, continually giving to charities close to her heart such as St. Jude’s Hospital and American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities. She was a devout Maronite Catholic and a champion for her parish, St. Raymond’s Church. But above all, she was most proud of her family and harbored a love for us that saw no end. It was a love that I will cherish until the day I die…and one that I hope to shower upon my children and grandchildren someday. Continue reading

American Artisanal Cheesemakers: Introducing Baetje Farms


**cross posted at Menuism

Artisanal cheese can be found in pretty much every state in the union. I dare you to try and name a state that doesn’t have at least one dairy or creamery. Even the island of Hawaii is home to some great cheesemakers! Over my next few posts, I’ll talk about some of these great American cheesemakers, starting with my home state of Missouri. Continue reading

American Artisan Cheese is back with a vengance!


**cross posted at Menuism

The United States is embarking on a revival of the craft of artisan cheesemaking. Over the past several years, American-made artisanal cheese has won back its place in the hearts of the people. Artisanal cheese can be found once again in cases at wine shops, specialty stores and at farmers’ markets. According to the American Cheese Society, there has been astounding growth in membership as well as the number and variety of American artisanal cheeses entered in its annual competition.

Some folks may dare to say that American artisanal cheese may rival those European classics that have long been thought of as the best of the best. It cannot be denied that American artisanal cheesemakers are becoming well known across the country. With the advent of blogs, Facebook, Twitter and cheese periodicals like Culture, American cheesemakers and cheesemongers are winning over America’s food enthusiasts.
Continue reading

Artisanal Cheese 101-Dig In!


cross posted at Menuism!!

This is my very first blog post over at Menuism! It will be a monthly spot highligting all things cheese. Pop over to Menuism and take a look! Be sure to sign up and/or log in to keep track of your eats…and see what is happening in the food world!

One of Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s most famous quotes describes the passion that most countries—notably France—have for cheese: “A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.” However, here in the states I have found that a good majority of folks think cheese only comes from cows, shrink-wrapped in individual slices and stacked in neat piles on the shelves of our mega-mart’s refrigerated sections. Friends, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.Cheese is a complex, varied and often misunderstood part of our culinary and agricultural history. So, here I am: a girl from South St. Louis, willing and ready to give you the basic nuts and bolts of artisanal cheeses.

What’s so special about artisanal cheese?

What in the world is artisanal cheese? Well, that is a both a simple and complex question. In a nutshell, artisanal cheese can be described as cheese made by hand in small batches using traditional methods that have withstood the test of time. With this method comes great variability in the end product, which is part of the true beauty of artisanal cheese. Over the next couple months we will delve into every aspect of artisanal cheese, from sourcing milk to production methods, aging, and finally, the joy of EATING artisanal cheese!

Where does it come from?

Like I said before, cheese is not only a product of dairy cows. Think about it: cheese is made from milk. What other animals produce milk? Cows are the first that come to mind, yes, but there are also goats and sheep. Many Mediterranean and European countries have relied on sheep and goats as their main source of food for hundreds or even thousands of years! In turn, they have perfected the art of making cheese from the milk of these animals. Waste not, want not.

First lesson: cheese can be made with cow, sheep or goat’s milk. Those are the most common types of milk we use in the U.S. to make artisanal cheeses. (In the Middle East and parts of Asia, the milk of other mammals is used for cheese. But that’s another story for another time.) Each type of milk can be used alone, or blended for a more complex flavor profile. Depending on the animal, there is a different fat content and of course, flavor. Sheep’s milk has the highest fat content out of our milk triumvirate. Next in line is cow’s milk, and finally, our ornery friend, the goat. Factor in where the animal was raised, what type of food it ate, the production method and the aging process, and you can see how artisanal cheesemakers are able to create a multitude of distinct-tasting cheeses.

What’s next? Where can I get my hands on some tasty artisanal cheese?

So I’ve planted the seed in your brain. Artisanal cheese sounds like a pretty fabulous idea, right? Next step: venturing out into your community in search of some artisanal cheese. I suggest starting with your local farmer’s market. You are bound to find some artisanal cheese there. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Farmers and cheesemakers love what they do…and they love to talk about what they do with you! Try something new and stay tuned for more cheese talk!

This has been a very brief introduction to artisanal cheese. If you want more information, I suggest starting with the American Cheese Society.

– Annie Lehrer

My Menuism Introduction!!!!


Here is the link to my introduction on Menuism! I’m so excited to be a part of this enthusiastic food team! Stay tuned for monthly expert posts from amazing folks all over the country. And if you haven’t poked around the new Menuism site…get over there! It’s a great place to keep track of your eats and find new exciting spots in your hometown!

Menuism….they think cheese is important.


So, along with all of the exciting graduation news….I have some exciting blog news too. I have been asked by the founders of the new website Menuism, a new website that combines restaurant menus, food/restaurant reviews, dining journals and social networking, to be an guest author! Menuism  was started as a means for friends, family, and community to enlighten each other about their dining decisions at local restaurants. Part of the Menuism project is to utilize experts to offer up opinion, advice and information about particular subjects pertaining to dining, food, entertainment and good living. And they asked moi to be the expert blogger on cheese!  I’m VERY excited about this project and looking forward to sharing the world of artisanal cheese.  So, check it out! The expert blog launch is scheduled for July 19th! There is a super neat roster of expert bloggers and more will be added as time passes.

Cheese of the Week: Seehive from Beehive Cheese Company


Still toiling away in graduate school but couldn’t miss this opportunity to tell you about Seehive!

photo courtesy of Beehive Cheese Company

From the Beehive Cheese Co. website “…..is hand rubbed with Beehive wildflower honey and local Redmond RealSalt. The honey is harvested from a local farm where the bee’s visit wildflowers and fruit orchards. The salt is from an ancient sea bed near Redmond, Utah and contains unique flecks of color that are the result of more than 50 natural trace minerals. This cheese is shaping up to be one of our best experiments yet and is a true expression of our local flavors”

This interesting specimen is now available here in StL.  Buzz on over to The Wine Merchant and ask Simon for a taste. You won’t go home empty handed!

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!

Niche TasteBar


you should go there.  the drinks are amazing…the food spectacular.  Ted Kilgore is a mad scientist and booze genius…pair with Gerard Crafts inventive and satisfying food….it’s a win-win.   they also stay open late…where else can you get a great cheese plate at midnight, hmm?  need i say more?

it is really, really good…and fun…and just all around a nice place to sit for an hour or so……plus the music didn’t suck.

there…that is my review…done and done.

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

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.

The Wine Merchant closes Creve Coeur Location


From John Nash:

Greetings,
“The world is coming to grips with the most serious economic downturn since the second World War and many economists are expecting a slow recovery. Our lease is up for renewal at our Creve Coeur store and we’ve made the tough decision to close this location. Our Clayton shop remains vibrant and continues to grow as we enter our 17th year of business. Highway 64/40 is now open for business and getting to Clayton has never been faster. We appreciate the many years of patronage and support in West County. We’d like to invite you to visit our Clayton store where we will continue with our commitment to value, selection and great customer service. Our Clayton store is open every day (Sunday too) and we have free, excellent parking on the North and South side of our building. We’re closing out our remaining inventory in Creve Coeur this week at Clearance Sale prices. You’ll save big on our entire store stock. Shop early for the best selection. See below for details. Cheers!”

-John Nash, The Wine Merchant, Ltd.