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Jul 04, 2015
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Extra Sauce: 5 Patriotic Desserts for Your July Fourth Barbecue

July 4th, 2015

Admit it: We’re all sick of the sheet cake decorated with strawberries and blueberries to look like the American flag. Impress your barbecue guests with these red, white and/or blue desserts that will satisfy any patriotic sweet tooth.




1. There’s nothing more American than pie – unless you put that pie in a Mason jar. Use pre-made crust to quickly assemble these individual Blueberry Pies in Jars and screw on the lids for easy transport.




2. A few drops of red food coloring turns these plain muffins into decadent Red Velvet Cream Cheese Muffins. Bonus: You probably have most of these ingredients already in your kitchen.




3. Turn those red velvet muffins into cake and fold it up into a frosting-smothered Red Velvet Roll. Swap those candy cane crumbles for blue sprinkles and no one will know you transformed Christmas into Independence Day.




4. Accommodate a vegan guest – or avoid turning on the oven – with this no-churn, berry-packed Vegan Blueberry Ice Cream made with coconut cream.




5. We love crisps; they’re the ultimate lazy baker’s dessert. In this Peach and Raspberry Crisp, golden peaches and rosy raspberries create a vibrant red hue tucked beneath a buttery crust.


- Pie jar and ice cream photos by Carmen Troesser, all others by Amrita Rawat


Tweet Beat: The week’s best tweets from #STL foodies

July 3rd, 2015

Are you following us on Twitter? Come on, get Saucy @saucemag




The nachos at ‪@GrapeseedStl were the best thing I ate tonight. ‪#yum ‪#SaucySoiree

My claim to fame in the office: record-holder for the most times to overflow the coffee pot. ‪#coffeeflowinglikelava





I can’t recall having a better beer. ‪https://instagram.com/p/4nddIXiWG7/ 

Replaced a cake craving with kettle bell exercises. So now I’m just sweaty and winded and thinking about cake. ‪#likealways

I just found ‪@CatsOnTap on Twitter. My life is now complete. ‪#WhileDrinkAStoneIPA




The Loop Trolley takes its first “ride” on the new tracks! ;) ‪@TheDelmarLoop ‪#STL ‪#LoopTrolley

Internationally renowned chef suggests a simple variation to guacamole. TWITTER SNARK EXPLODES.

natco92 18h
“I’m drunk. It’s 5:30. God bless public accounting”-‪@thumbssaunders ‪#EYsFinest
Think you should be on this list? Follow us and let us know @saucemag

What I Do: Mengesha Yohannes of Bar Italia

July 3rd, 2015



When Mengesha Yohannes left his native Ethiopia at 18 to attend Saint Louis University, he couldn’t have guessed that in five years he’d go from customer to co-owner of Bar Italia. More than 30 years later, Yohannes remains a guiding light at his ever-evolving Italian restaurant that has become an anchor in the Central West End.

Where was your first restaurant job?
At The Parkmoor. I did everything from dishwashing to bussing and waiting tables. I learned all about American food. … Because of my Parkmoor experience, I have an affinity for down-home American things. They used to have a hot dog with various things and a strip of bacon on it called The Pedigree. Fried chicken was something that they took seriously. The brisket they did on Sundays – there was a certain reverence there.

Tell me about Bar Italia’s early days.
It was an espresso place. Instantly, every Ethiopian person was there. It was desserts, espresso and a small selection of wine. Food took over slowly.

Why did the menu expand?
We got a Sears four-burner electric stove and a small convection oven. Tortellini and mussels were the first hot things.

Did you eat Italian food as a kid?
If you’re middle or upper class (in Ethiopia), Italian cuisine is part of what you grow up with. There are Italians who lived and worked there. To this day, you can get pasta with tomato sauce or tomato-meat sauce anywhere in Ethiopia.

How have you responded to changes at Bar Italia in its 32-year history?
There’s a core set of things that don’t change because they don’t need to change. There’s no reason to dispose of tortellini with cream sauce when it makes so many people happy. Other stuff periodically gets refreshed. The first 10 years, there wasn’t any big piece of meat of any kind. Now we’ve got Black Angus steaks, and we go through a lot of them. … I’ve wanted a fryer for a long time, but there wasn’t room in the kitchen. Now, because of the Spare No Rib influence next door, the fryer is in. I always wanted the frites option with the steaks, fritto misto seafood. … It will further broaden the appeal.

What has the restaurant business taught you?
You have to be adjusting and reinventing all the time. You travel to other cities and see what’s going on. You visit the best places to see what their approach is. You can read about things, but actually being there is a different thing.

Where have you traveled lately?
Washington, DC. We spent the entire afternoon at Jaleo. One of the things I tried there that we’re going to use the fryer for is fried baby artichokes. Not battered, just seasoned and served with an olive tapenade.

What excites you about Bar Italia right now?
The wine list. Now that we have someone as focused and sharp as Brandon Kerne (Bar Italia beverage director), we went to a flavor and experience profile-based way of describing the wines. Wines by the glass are led by description like “Pinot grigio’s more colorful side.” The descriptions are playful, give a sense of what the wine is like and relate it to other things you might be familiar with. The wine itself is on the second line. It’s very unusual to have it done that way, but it’s more approachable.

What have you learned from working in the industry for so long?
One of my great pleasures is bread and butter. Really great bread and really great butter is hard to find. The idea that something dead simple can be great escapes a lot of younger chefs because the focus is on making your mark and making things your own. It’s hard to do if you feel like you have to cover the whole world’s cuisines.

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

The Scoop: Mai Lee’s Qui Tran moves closer to opening a ramen shop

July 2nd, 2015



St. Louis’ ramen lovers, prepare to geek out. About this time last year, we salivated when Mai Lee’s Qui Tran discussed opening a noodle house. Now, Tran is moving closer to that reality with his eye on a 2016 opening.

Tran recently invited Shigetoshi Nakamura, head of research and development at Sun Noodle, to help him with recipe development, as reported by Feast. “I’ve been trying to get him here since last September,” said Tran, who plans to use Sun Noodles at his upcoming shop. “It’s the No. 1 fresh ramen noodle company. They supply 200 different noodles to over 500 different restaurants.”

Tran doesn’t need 200 types of noodles at his to-be-named noodle shop; he just needs two or three. “We like not overly thick, but a good chew and moderately wavy,” he said. Currently, he is looking to prepare five styles of ramen, including shoyu (soy sauce), shio (salt) and spicy miso (fermented bean paste). While ramen will be the focus at the noodle house, Tran plans to offer pho, which is gluten-free, and a monthly noodle special to highlight soups from countries throughout Asia and the Pacific islands.

Another piece of the puzzle is Tran’s executive chef and partner on the ramen project, Marie-Anne Velasco, a Filipino native who has taught at L’Ecole Culinaire in St. Louis and at Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago. “She just moved back to St. Louis to help with the project,” Tran said.

He hopes to sign a lease by late 2015 and open in the first half of 2016. Tran and Velasco are considering six different locations for their shop. “We’re looking west,” he said. “It won’t go further than Chesterfield.”

R&D has taken the duo on noodle slurp-fests from coast to coast, and Velasco staged for chef Takashi Yagihashi at his Chicago restaurants Tikashi and Slurping Turtle. “We’ve been very diligent with this. We’ve reached out to a lot of people, eaten a lot of ramen and developed a lot of recipes,” Tran said. “I could have opened last year, but that’s not who we are or what we do. I don’t want to just do it. I want to do it and be the best at what we do.”

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

Hit List: 5 new places you must try this month

July 2nd, 2015



1. Southern: 3108 Olive St., St. Louis, 314.531.4668, stlsouthern.com

Fried chicken has come home to roost in St. Louis, and chef Rick Lewis is adding to the flock with Southern. The former Quincy Street Bistro chef partnered with Pappy’s owner Mike Emerson to open a lunchtime eatery next door to the venerable barbecue joint in Midtown. Southern serves up Nashville-style hot chicken – fried chicken that takes a dip in spicy oil before hitting your tongue with a one-two punch of sweet heat. Order a plate of two, three or four pieces and choose your spice level (mild, Cluckin’ Hot or General Tso’s), then pair it with two sides, such as toothsome mac-n-cheese and Southern greens cooked with salt pork, along with the requisite slice of bread and pickles. Not feeling fried? Order one of nine monster sandwiches, like the Cubano made with Pappy’s pulled pork, house ham, brown ale mustard, bread-and-butter pickles and Gruyere cheese grilled to melty goodness on the flattop. Grab a fountain soda or (soon) a bottle of beer and kick back with a tray of down-home goodness.




2. Tazé Mediterranean Street Food: 626 Washington Ave., St. Louis, 314.254.7953, tazestreetfood.com

Get your fill of eastern Mediterranean fare at fast-casual Tazé in the Mercantile Exchange building downtown. The 115-seat counter-style restaurant focuses on a build-your-own meal concept. Start with a house-made pita or a bowl of saffron rice or mixed greens. Next, choose a filling: Options range from gyro-style meat sliced from the spit; tandoori-cooked chicken, beef or pork; or vegetarian picks of portobello mushrooms or falafel. Top it off with fresh fixings and a house-made sauce such as harissa or tahini. Besides a variety of hummus flavors served with pita chips, Tazé offers a dozen side dishes from baba ghanoush to stuffed grape leaves to an Israeli couscous salad. If you come after 4 p.m., make a meal out of happy hour bites like meatballs with tzatziki and skewered shrimp paired with a pint of local craft beer or a glass of wine. Finish with a Moroccan cookie, a chewy sugar cookie that holds a hint of the North African spice blend ras al-hanout.




3. O’Fallon Brewery: 45 Progress Parkway, Maryland Heights, 636.474.2337, ofallonbrewery.com 

O’Fallon Brewery, among the area’s first craft breweries, has always lacked one crucial element: a tasting room for fans to gather, sample and enjoy. Now in its 15th year, O’Fallon has finally taken the next step – and it’s a big one. The new 40,000-square-foot brewery is full of glass walls and sleek, modern lines befitting its new home in a sea of industrial office complexes near Westport Plaza. In the tasting room, called the O’Bar Grill and Tap Room, 20 taps offer favorites like Zeke’s Pale Ale and Kite Tail. Order a pint or sample a few in a flight of four 5-ounce pours. Food portions are perfect for a lunch or happy-hour crowd; the sauceless baby back ribs are served four bones to an order, each dry-rubbed then grilled and basted with O’Fallon’s Golden Ale for a crispy, flavorful bite. Lighter fare is available, too, like the harvest salad with fresh berries, candied almonds and a Wheach vinaigrette or the grilled beer lime shrimp whose zing comes from marinating in 5-Day IPA, soy sauce and lime juice.




4. Cellar House: 6039 Telegraph Road, Oakville, 314.846.5100, Facebook: Cellar House

South County residents, take note: Date night just got a whole lot closer to home. Cellar House, the companion restaurant connected to Oakville bottle shop Bottle Cellars, boasts an expansive bar program with 240 bottles of wine (and another 20 by-the-glass options), nearly 30 craft brews and a full spirits selection with 45 whiskey options, plus a cocktail menu. Many mixed drinks feature house-infused syrups and liqueurs, like the My Sherry Baby, which combines bourbon, sherry, vermouth and house-made orange-fig syrup before seeing a float of Cointreau. Sharable dishes dominate the menu. We savored the spicy heat of the nduja flatbread, which covers the hot sausage paste with a layer of thinly sliced pears, crunchy pistachios, crumbled blue cheese and a drizzle of honey. Cellar House also offers a trio of juicy free-range bison sliders topped with Marcoot Tipsy Cheddar and a generous smear of house-made tomato-bacon jam.




5. Saint Louis Hop Shop: 2606 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.261.4011, saintlouishopshop.com

A craft beer bottle shop has opened on ever-growing, ever-diverse Cherokee Street. While Saint Louis Hop Shop’s selection of national craft labels is increasing daily, local suds currently dominate the shelves. Among the more than 70 different beers and ciders, you’ll find all the usual suspects from The Lou – 4 Hands, Crown Valley, Perennial, Schlafly, Urban Chestnut and more. Bottled and canned beer is available off-the-shelf or cold from the coolers, and the shop allows – even encourages – the adventurous thirsty to mix and match, creating their own six-packs. While you ponder which suds to bring home, sip beer from one of the four taps behind a bar fashioned by local woodworking boutique Mwanzi. The tasting bar features a rotating selection that includes brews from Civil Life and Modern Brewery.

-Saint Louis Hop Shop photo by Meera Nagarajan, all others by Michelle Volansky 

Just Five: Lavender Shortbread Cookies

July 1st, 2015



There is a distinct lack of crust-less sandwiches, petit fours and sugar lumps in the world today. Channel your inner Dowager Countess and invite someone over for a spot of tea and these aromatic cookies. Culinary-grade dried lavender flowers are available at Penzeys Spices in Maplewood and its new location in Chesterfield. When you crush them with sugar and citrus, the smell transports you to tea party in a field of flowers under a blue sky.

Lavender Shortbread Cookies
24 cookies

½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. dried lavender*
1 tsp. lemon zest
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

• In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the sugar, lavender and lemon zest 8 to 10 times until the mixture is well blended. Set aside 1 tablespoon lavender sugar for sprinkling.
• In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the all but the reserved lavender sugar and butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until just incorporated.
• On medium speed, beat the flour in 1 large spoonful at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the flour is just incorporated. The dough will be a bit dry. Form the dough into 2 2-inch-thick discs, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
• Preheat the oven to 325. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
• Roll out a disc ½-inch thick on a lightly floured work surface. Cut the cookies out with a glass or cookie cutter and place them onto the baking sheets. Sprinkle the cookies with the reserved lavender sugar.
• Bake 10 to 14 minutes, until the edges are light brown. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely. Cookies will keep covered up to 1 week.

*Available at Penzeys Spices in Maplewood and Chesterfield



The Scoop: Six Mile Bridge set to open in Maryland Heights

July 1st, 2015



It’s good to be a craft beer fan in Maryland Heights. Just weeks after the opening of O’Fallon Brewery’s new tasting room comes word that Six Mile Bridge will open its craft brewery by the end of July. The 6,000-square-foot operation is set to open at 11841 Dorsett Road in Maryland Heights, as reported by Feast Magazine.

Owners Ryan and Lindsay Sherring began brewing beer in Cape Town, South Africa where Ryan founded 021 Brewing Company. Six Mile Bridge was born after the Sherrings moved to St. Louis to be closer to Lindsay’s family. “We weren’t originally thinking about opening a craft brewery, but we were passionate about it so we looked into it and went for it,” Lindsay Sherring said. “When (Ryan) gets an idea in his head it has to get done.”

Two of their flagship beers debuted at the St. Louis Brewers Guild Heritage Festival: the Bavarian Hefeweizen and the Irish red ale. “We received a great response to the beers,” Sherring said. Their Irish red ale is also on tap at Square One in Lafayette Square.

Production is the main focus for the brewery, but the space will also include a 1,200-square-foot tasting room, open three days a week. The Sherrings initially plan to brew 1,500 barrels per year but hope to increase their production to 10,000 barrels as sales grow.



The Scoop: St. Louis to get its first cat cafe, Mauhaus Cat Cafe & Lounge

July 1st, 2015




Brace yourselves, cat lovers. St. Louis will soon have its very own cat cafe. Co-founder Ben Triola confirmed Mauhaus Cat Cafe & Lounge is slated to open next spring. The four-person Mauhaus team – Triola, along with Dana Huth, Niklaus Risler and Taylor Maxwell – has selected a location, which will be about 1,400 square feet, but has not disclosed the address.

Cat cafes are de rigueur in places like San Francisco and New York City. The idea is that being around the cats – and spending time playing with them – is comforting and therapeutic for people and the animals. Most of the 10 to 15 cats at Mauhaus will be adoptable.

“Dana and I had visited a couple cat cafes on our last trip to Thailand, and we just loved the idea so much and we were kind of sad that we couldn’t visit one at home. We think this is something St. Louis can get behind,” Triola said.

Mauhaus will offer typical cafe fare and an internationally focused beverage menu. “We’re trying to offer people more than just drip coffee,” Triola said. “Because we know that it’s not going to be a normal morning routine coffee stop for people, we want to offer coffees and teas that are unique and have an international flair. We’re thinking things like Vietnamese iced coffee, Thai iced tea and Italian mocha pots – something that takes a little more time and you can’t get at other coffee shops.”

According to Risler, who has worked as a barista in New York City and locally at Stone Spiral and more recently at Living Room, Mauhaus will also offer espresso drinks as well as coffee made using pour-over and other new-wave brewing methods.

The food at Mauhaus will be made in the “humans-only” section, but diners are free to take their treats in to hang out with the cats. Expect cheese, pastries, biscotti, toasts and other bakery items, either locally sourced or prepared in-house.

The team will be working with an architect over the coming months to make their vision a reality. The majority of the seating will be indoors with the cats (and lower to the ground for easy petting), but seasonal outdoor seating is also possibility as well.

St. Louis won’t have to wait until next year to get to know what Mauhaus is all about, though. “We’re going to have a lot of micro events so people can get to know us and know our food and beverage offerings before opening,” Triola said. Look for announcements on the Mauhaus Facebook page and Twitter handle.


The Scoop: Joanie’s Pizzeria changes hands

June 30th, 2015



{Joanie’s founder Joanie Spurgeon and new owner Jeff Schneider)


After 20 years, Joanie Spurgeon is passing the pizza pan to Jeff Schneider, an employee at the Soulard pizzeria for the last six years. Don’t expect radical changes, though – Schneider aims to freshen up some elements at Joanie’s while keeping true to its original concept.

“We’re looking to add a couple of seasonal salads,” Schneider said. “The menu will stay the same. We’ll just add some items to it. It can be more without affecting the core of Joanie’s.”

Schneider also looks forward to expanding the beer selection. So far, additions include Abita Grapefruit Harvest and 4 Hands Send Help, with some new rye whiskeys on the way.

The food menu will expand to include a pizza of the week, culled from recipes and ideas from the entire kitchen and service staff. Past specialty pizzas have included a double ham, Provel and garlic and the popular Thai pizza featuring chicken, peanut sauce and carrots.

Spurgeon and Schneider made the transition at the end of May, but Spurgeon is sticking around to help mentor Schneider and lend a hand when necessary.

“Jeff is a super guy,” Spurgeon said. “Everybody likes him. He’s a humble soul and never says a bad word about anybody. That’s how I am and that’s how I want Joanie’s to carry on.”

Lukas Wine & Spirits opens doors at new Ellisville location

June 30th, 2015




Lukas Liquor has a new home at 15678 Manchester Road in Ellisville, just half-mile from its old location. In January, Lukas Liquor owner Gary Bilder announced he would relocate his spirits, wine and beer shop from its old address at 15921 Manchester Road. Concurrent with the move, Bilder renamed the store Lukas Wine & Spirits.

“This is a 15-year evolution,” said Bilder. The bright and airy 31,000-square-foot space adds another 7,000 square feet compared to the former location. Although Lukas has not added a substantial number of new products, the shopping experience will be easier, with products easily located on spacious shelves. Those who can’t make up their mind can get quick guidance from a Lukas employee by pressing one of 10 call buttons located throughout the store.





Lukas’ extensive whiskey barrel program – hand-picked barrels bottled exclusively for the store – is a focal point near the front of the shop, while at the back, more than 30 coolers hold chilled beer. Also on the suds side, Lukas now boasts a keg list of 365 different beers and an expanded single bottle selection. All wines, except those from Spain and Italy, are now organized by varietal instead of geographic location.

With education as part of the Lukas mission, the store has added 17 learning centers, posters scattered throughout that provide information regarding the history, production and notable names behind some wines, beers and spirits.




Another highlight is a tasting bar. The eight-seat bar also features a handful of high-top tables and flat-screen TVs. The bar will offer wine by the glass or bottle, four draft beer options and whiskey pours of 35 to 40 rare whiskies. The tasting bar will also be the location for Lukas’ various classes and scheduled tastings.

-photos by Meera Nagarajan



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