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Sep 19, 2014
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Archive for September, 2009

Show those tacos who’s boss

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

You can almost hear the music. It’s something majestic and triumphant, like Carmina Burana, or the theme from 2001 – the sort of music that fills you with reverence, and a chest-puffing sense of valor and righteousness. It is the stirring anthem that should be played as a hero saves a baby, a young god rises for his coronation or … a man eats three dozen tacos in a single sitting. ¡Ay carumba!

It’s easy to imagine the music they should play in the background at the Man v. Taco contest sponsored by El Borracho. The downtown cantina’s street festival on Oct. 10 includes games, music, traditional Mexican street foods and a contest inspired by the Travel Channel’s goofy Man v. Food TV show.

It’s not hard to qualify for the 30-minute eat-off – all you have to do is eat 20 tacos at once by Oct. 9 at El Borracho. That’s like, say, a snake dislocating its own jaw to swallow a hog whole. Ya see, it can be done!

First place gets a cool $1,000, so if you have the appetite of a young god, a pregnant whale or Shaquille O’Neal the day after making weight, consider going for the gusto.

– Byron Kerman

The Scoop: Bienvenue, Brasserie

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Niche Restaurant‘s Gerard Craft is expanding his brand into the Central West End with Brasserie by Niche, a casual restaurant that will serve traditional French bistro fare. The Brasserie is set to open its doors at 4580 Laclede Ave., home to Chez Léon, as early as mid-October. Craft (pictured) has hired friend Perry Hendrix, who most recently worked at Gabrielle’s at the Richmond Hill Inn in Asheville, N.C., as executive chef. Hendrix also has done stints at Gramercy Tavern and Prune in New York and The French Laundry in Napa.

“I felt that if there was anybody who understood what the true Parisian brasserie is and shared my love for it, it was Perry,” Craft said.

Craft started scouting locations for a second restaurant in the spring of 2008. For the last several months, his attention has been focused on 4580 Laclede Ave. “I love the storefront facade that opens up in spring and summer,” he said. As the place where Craft proposed to his wife, Suzie, and held his rehearsal dinner, the restaurant has some layers of personal history.

Expect tweaks to the menu and décor, not an overhaul. “At first we’re just going to go in as-is, and then we’re going to work from there,” Craft said. Look for classic French desserts by Niche executive pastry chef Mathew Rice and a thoughtful beer list.

Leon Bierbaum, owner of Chez Léon, has his eye on a new restaurant space in Clayton. Watch this space for updates.

Photo by Brian Fagnani

Crust lust

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

A Saucy congrats to local baker extraordinaire Helen Fletcher, owner of Truffes Inc., who made the pages of Midwest Living Magazine. The October issue includes Fletcher’s pie crust as part of a feature titled My My This American Pie. Click here to see some of her tips and recipes from the magazine.

– Matt Sorrell
Photo courtesy of midwestliving.com

The Scoop: (Wood-) Fired up in E’ville

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Patrick Thirion is just back from California, where he was getting to know a Mugnaini wood-burning pizza oven that’s headed to the East Side. Thirion (pictured) and business partner Brandon Case are getting ready to open 800˚ Wood-Fired Pizza, an 80-seat restaurant in the Park at Plum Creek development in Edwardsville. In addition to traditionally topped pizzas (think Margherita), 800˚ will feature such forward combos as Fromage Blanc, coppa ham, black currant marmalade and fresh sage, as well as a Thai chicken pizza with red curry paste, cilantro, carrots, cucumber and peanuts. The restaurant also will offer appetizers, salads, sandwiches and desserts. Look for an emphasis on craft beer, too, with at least a dozen on tap. Thirion, who is leaving his post as executive chef of Steven Becker Fine Dining to focus on the new venture, expects a mid- to late November opening.

Photo by Josh Monken

Get your red hots

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

For a limited time, Local Harvest Grocery is selling locally grown ghost peppers – the hottest peppers in the world. With a rating of over 1 million units on the Scoville scale, the red capsicums promise to turn you white as a ghost. Come on, we dare ya.

Ligaya Figueras

Classic comeback

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Elusive spirits crème de violette and Batavia-Arrack van Oosten have just become available in Missouri, giving pre-Prohibition cocktails a second wind. Crème de violette is a delicate elixir that has the flavor, aroma and color of violets. The version in circulation locally is made with wildflowers from the Austrian Alps. Look for crème de violette concoctions – think old-school Aviations and Blue Moons – at Atomic Cowboy, Eclipse Restaurant, Monarch Restaurant and Niche Taste Bar.

BC’s Kitchen is riffing on classic punch recipes using Batavia-Arrack van Oosten, a Dutch-Indonesian spirit full of citrus and spice. Also expect to see it on the cool-weather cocktail list at Eclipse.

If you’d like to put your home bar into action, you can purchase these rebounding spirits at Lukas Liquor Superstore, Provisions Gourmet Market (crème de violette only), The Wine and Cheese Place, and The Wine Merchant, where anyone thirsty for knowledge can take a vintage cocktail class on Oct. 1. Call The Wine Merchant at 314.863.5670 for details.

The Scoop: Order up in Midtown, downtown

Monday, September 14th, 2009

We’re sure it happens to everyone: You’re at the Fox, enjoying the show, when in the middle of the third act you’re hit with a mad craving for a couple of deadeyes and a shingle with a shimmy and a shake (poached eggs and buttered toast with jelly). Or, two pages into that 10-page paper due tomorrow, you get a burning desire for heart attack on a rack (biscuits and gravy). Well, theater-goers and SLU students will soon be in luck, as Peter Spoto has announced that he’ll bow a second location of his City Diner in Midtown’s Humboldt building at Washington Avenue and Grand Boulevard. Watch for a December opening.

In the meantime, head downtown to get your fill of cackle fruit (eggs), checkerboards (waffles) and Eve with a moldy lid (apple pie with cheese). 12th Street Diner is now slinging its classic diner fare at 1137 Washington Ave. Open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., with later weekend hours, downtown’s latest eatery also offers a few dishes that go beyond the standard flop two ever easy, including salmon, tilapia and lasagna. Order up!

Photo of City Diner’s Southsider by Josh Monken

Norton by Riedel

Monday, September 14th, 2009

In an effort to further promote Missouri’s state grape, the Missouri Wine and Grape Board has enlisted Riedel, the celebrated Austrian glassware company, to create a glass specifically for Norton wines. As part of Mount Pleasant Winery’s 150th anniversary, Georg Riedel (pictured here and the 10th generation of Riedels to run the company) recently conducted a tasting at the winery and demonstrated the way this new glass emphasizes Norton’s unique flavor and aroma. Chuck Dressel, president of Augusta-based Mount Pleasant, noted that, “Riedel has designed a glass that can bring out the spicy, fruity characteristics of Norton, as opposed to normal stemware, where you’ll get more acid and a bit of a more watery flavor.”

The development of the glass was a collaborative process, with local wine experts and winery owners like Dressel participating in tasting workshops. “That workshop was stunning to me,” Dressel said. “We went through 16 different styles of glassware and it made some wine taste great and some taste awful. … I was surprised to see how the bowl shape and the length of the glass and how it delivers the wine on the palate, how that really affected our wines.”

The Riedel Norton glass is currently in production and will be available for purchase around the first of the year.

Book your lunch with Ruth Reichl

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Sauce is pleased to bring St. Louis foodies a lunch with Ruth Reichl, editor in chief of Gourmet Magazine, best-selling author and former restaurant critic for The New York Times.

The four-course lunch is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 9, from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Monarch Restaurant in Maplewood. The menu will be based on recipes from Gourmet Today, a copious cookbook for the contemporary American kitchen edited by Reichl and due out later this month. The participating chefs are four of St. Louis’ best: James Beard nominee Gerard Craft of Niche Restaurant, Joshua Galliano of Monarch, Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Cafe and Michael Roberts of Atlas Restaurant. Pinnacle Imports will select wine pairings.

Tickets, which include a signed copy of Gourmet Today, cost $100 and are available by clicking here. Seats are limited, and proceeds from the event will be donated to charity.

If you can’t make lunch, keep in mind that Left Bank Books is hosting a talk and book signing with Reichl on Oct. 8.

Bartenders unite

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

If your business is booze, mark Sept. 21 on your calendar. Master mixologist Ted Kilgore of Niche Taste Bar and T.J. Vytlacil are launching a local chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild. By networking nationally, local beverage professionals will be able to raise the bar for cocktails around town. The first meeting and membership drive for the St. Louis chapter will be on Mon., Sept. 21, at 7 p.m. at Monarch Restaurant in Maplewood. Contact Kilgore or Vytlacil for more information.

Photo by Carmen Troesser

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