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Feb 24, 2018
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TripAdvisor praises Baileys’

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

061510_ChocBarA Saucy congrats to Baileys’ Chocolate Bar, which TripAdvisor just lauded. More specifically, the site – which provides user recommendations on hotels, vacations, travel packages and other subjects – ranked the Lafayette Square favorite in third place on its list of top 10 meccas for those seeking to sate their sweet tooth.

Kaldi’s does California

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

041310_baristachampThey’ll be jetting to the West Coast later this week to compete in the United States Barista Championship. In a sense, though, Kaldi’s Coffee’s Mike Marquard, Joe Marrocco and Micah Svejda began that journey months ago.

Last October, all three baristas placed in the Midwest regional competition held by the Specialty Coffee Association of America, the sponsor of this week’s event. And since February, they’ve spent 20 to 30 hours weekly prepping for the championship, which runs from Thursday to Sunday, April 15 to 18, in Anaheim, Calif.

That preparation has focused on mind-boggling drills – one of which we witnessed on a recent visit to the Kaldi’s roasting plant in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood. There, under his co-workers’ scrutiny, Svejda staged a mock 15-minute presentation that he’s been refining for some time. It included a brief history of the coffee he was using, a description of the coffee itself and service at a carefully and artfully arranged table in the roasting plant.

“I went through many different versions of [the presentation] – I think this is like the seventh version,” Svejda noted. “If you practice it enough like we try to do, you get so that every movement you do is sort of scripted, so that there is a certain order. So at this time, I’ll turn around and talk to the judges, then I’ll turn around and pour my milk, then the next step’s to go to the grinder. So you have your whole routine planned out like that.”

Evaluating the contestants in Anaheim will be seven judges – four sensory judges, two technical judges and a head judge. They’ll assess each presentation in several categories, on an 870-point scale. Sensory criteria will include visual correctness, taste balance and tactile balance; technical criteria will include consistent dosing and tamping, station management and general hygiene.

Flanked by the technical judges, a barista will make an espresso, a cappuccino and a signature drink for each sensory judge. “The signature drinks have to have espresso – they can’t have alcohol, but that’s pretty much it,” Marquard said. “And those, I think, are where people get really excited. Because people walk in thinking they’re going to see a mocha and a caramel latte and a turtle latte, but what you’re seeing is people using thyme and lemongrass and lobster …”

The USBC’s Web site will be streaming the event live with an accompanying chat room, incidentally, so St. Louisans will be able to watch the Kaldi’s trio compete. Svejda and Marrocco will do so in the first round on Thursday at 4:38 and 6:32 p.m. CDT, respectively. Marquard, whose first place in the regional competition automatically qualified him as a semifinalist in the championship, will compete Saturday at a time yet to be set.

But they don’t serve slingers!

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Tell us that St. Louis cuisine hasn’t gone widescreen! The 5 Spot, in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle, is offering a number of menu items cheerfully appropriated from the collective bill of fare here, among them T-ravs, O.T. Hodge chili, pork steaks glazed with Maull’s and a Pride of The Hill Sausage Supper. But slinger devotees still have to rely on local restaurants for that jones.

English to Spanish

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

We think salt is a big deal, and apparently, people in Spain agree. I’m just back from Barcelona, where I couldn’t help but notice salt’s presence not just to enhance flavor, but also to enhance texture and presentation. Maldon sea salt from England, in particular, was front and center in Barcelona. It was sprinkled on top of seared tuna with warm mojo. It added bite to rustic beans with onions, garlic and parsley. It even topped quenelles of rich chocolate sitting on a pool of Spanish extra-virgin olive oil. (That’s the dessert from Comerç 24 pictured above, called simply Bread, Chocolate, Oil and Salt.) Maldon salt was sold by vendors at the must-see Boqueria Market, as well as at Albert Adrià’s tapas bar, Inopia. It was everywhere, and it was fabulous.

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