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Aug 01, 2014
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Sweet, Salty, Sophisticated: Bar snacks go upscale
By Stacy Schultz | Photos by Carmen Troesser
Posted On: 01/26/2011   


As long as there have been bars, there have been bar snacks. But several spots around town have raised the bar on snacking while you sip, using refined flavors to perk up familiar favorites. The best part? No knife or fork is needed – after all, that beer won’t drink itself.

Salsa Verde Deviled Eggs
Taste By Niche
Don’t let the paprika fool you: These are not your grandma’s deviled eggs. The creative gang over at Taste has made a classic hors d’oeuvre into a scrumptious bar-time snack, infusing the essence of a traditional green sauce into a nibble worthy of the über-creative cocktails it accompanies. White anchovies deliver big, bright flavors – plenty salty and slightly tangy – while garlic, shallots, parsley and tarragon round it all out, making a dish that’s bold, balanced and perfect for snacking.

Cheese Crackers
Cielo
They may look familiar: rectangular cheesy crackers, light and airy on the inside, crisp and crunchy on the outside. But these crackers didn’t come from any box. A light hand on the salt lets the cheese’s natural flavors stand out, resulting in a gourmet snack that’s flavorful enough to keep your taste buds piqued and addictive enough to make you ask the bartender for a refill (go ahead, they’re free).

Nuts
Ernesto’s Wine Bar
Nothing says bar snack better than nuts, and once you’ve had the spiced mixes at Ernesto’s, it will be hard to go back to plain old honey roasted. Pick one of the three varieties for the wine bar’s snack plate – or, if you’re feeling really nutty, go for all three – and enjoy the simple, subtle flavors of this kicked-up snack. From the slightly spicy curried cashews to the earthy sweetness of the rosemary walnuts to the lightly floral lavender Marcona almonds, these are a surprising – and welcome – way to enjoy an old favorite.

Popcorn
Bridge Tap House and Wine Bar
Salty snacks and cold beer go hand in hand. We’re pretty sure that’s what the crew at Bridge had in mind when they created five fantastic flavors of everyone’s favorite salty snack: popcorn. In the mood for something spicy? Try the bitter, pungent wasabi ginger or the smoked Spanish paprika. Want something a bit sweeter? Go for the cinnamon and sugar notes in the chai spice or cozy up to the smooth richness of the chocolate coffee. Looking for something a bit more subtle? Try the mildly sweet-salty combination of the honey and beet powder. And you thought picking a beer was gonna be tough.

Pasta Crunchers
Jimmy’s On The Park
Anyone who’s ever munched on a dry noodle or two before tossing them into the pot, this one’s for you: dried imported fettuccine noodles, flash-fried in hot peanut and vegetable oils, topped with special seasoning, baked and air-dried to crisp, flavorful perfection. Jimmy’s On the Park’s famous pasta crunchers have all the characteristics of the perfect bar snack: salty, crunchy and light enough to keep munching all night long. A secret combination of about 20 seasonings and condiments creates that salty, slightly smoky, can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it, lick-your-lips flavor.

Praline Bacon
Monarch
Praline bacon – need we say more? Executive chef Josh Galliano cooks thick strips of house-cured bacon with crushed nuts and a hefty helping of brown sugar, transforming everyone’s favorite food into a snack of complex sugary deliciousness that’s more-than-suitable for imbibers. It’s crisp-chewy and salty-sweet – good luck stopping at just one helping. But be warned: This one’s sure to leave your hands a little sticky, but that’s a small price to pay for bacon candy.

Praline Bacon
Monarch's Josh Galliano
Makes 4

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. thick sliced bacon*
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup pecan pieces, or walnut pieces

PREPARATION

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet, place a piece of aluminum foil that fits the entire tray.
• Evenly place the pieces of sliced bacon on the tray, and make sure that no piece overlaps another.
• Cook the bacon for 10 minutes. You don’t want the bacon to be fully cooked; it should be about half-way cooked with a good amount of fat rendered.
• Remove the bacon from the oven, and allow to cool to room temperature. Before the bacon fat solidifies, pour the fat off of the sheet tray and reserve for another use.
• In a food processor, combine the brown sugar and the pecan pieces, then pulverize. Remove the mixture from the food processor and reserve in an airtight container.
• Distribute the pecan/sugar mixture over the top of the bacon slices, making sure to cover the tops of the bacon completely. This is not sprinkling on the mixture, but more of a packing the mixture on to the bacon.
• Return the bacon to the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on your oven. You want the bacon to become crisp at this point, but not to have any of the nuts burn.
• Remove the bacon from the oven, and allow to cool for 3 minutes before transferring to a serving plate. Be careful, the bacon fat and the caramelized sugar can cause a severe burn.
 
* If you’re not curing your own bacon and slicing it yourself, then you should buy some good bacon. You can find quality bacon from the following producers:  Wenneman’s (you can actually find their bacon sold at various places around town, like Soulard Market); Behrmann’s; Swiss Meats; Burger’s Smokehouse. You can also find quality bacon sold at The Wine Merchant and The Wine and Cheese Place.

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