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Mar 19, 2018
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Archive for November, 2009

A really jerky local company

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Don Self calls himself “The Chief Jerk.” His colleague, Dale Prichard, is known as “The Work Jerk.” “Our employees,” said Self, “are known as Meatheads.”

Obviously, there’s no shortage of humor at A Couple o’ Jerks, Self and Prichard’s thriving beef-jerky business, located in Labadie, Mo. Perhaps the jerky jokes have bred their success – the spicy and milder varieties of their dried-beef snacks are sold in most Schnucks markets and a dozen other retail outlets.

Their achievement has just earned official acclaim, too; the Scovie Awards, which recognize national excellence in hot and spicy foods, gave first place in the packaged-jerky category to A Couple o’ Jerks for 2010. “It was a bit of a surprise,” Self commented. “We’re the new kid on the block.”

So how spicy is his jerky? “It’ll light you up,” he said. “We have spicy and we have ‘milder,’ which is not to be confused with mild. They both have a kick. The spicy won’t burn your face off, but it is spicier than most of the national brands.”

Their process for producing the jerky is a bit unusual as well. “We start with top round beef and trim it up, get rid of all the fat, slice it, then marinate it in the top-secret formula,” Self explained. “I could tell you what’s in it, but then I’ll have to kill you – that marinade was literally 25 years in the making. Then we put [the jerky] in the dehydrator for five or six hours. We don’t use a smoker, which creates a rubbery texture. The next day we package it by hand. We have no preservatives and no added MSG, which you will find in most jerkies.”

The best time to eat jerky? “I think jerky is great for a car trip, camping, hunting and fishing,” said Self. Jerky also means it’s time for romancin’, he added. “Oh yeah,” said the jocular meat magnate, “there’s nothing like jerky breath to get things going.”

– Byron Kerman

Photo exhibit focuses on City Seeds

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Gardeners know that getting their hands dirty is therapeutic. First-time photographers marvel at their own art form and the work they create. Task a group of troubled adults with tending a community garden, and then give them cameras to document their work – and you’ve got a win-win situation.

The free photo exhibit City Seeds Urban Farm depicts work at the community garden of the same name, near Union Station. The garden is tended by folks enrolled with St. Patrick Center, whose clients “seek to overcome homelessness, beat drug addiction and cope with mental illness.”

The gardeners learned from the best – they studied horticulture under the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Gateway Greening program, then learned all about photography, including peeks at the work of Dorothea Lange and Gordon Parks.

View the fruits of their photographic labor at UMSL’s Public Policy Research Center (fourth floor of the Social Sciences and Business Building) from Nov. 17 through Jan. 10, daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., and at McMurphy’s Grill (614 N. 11th St.) from Dec. 15 through Jan. 10, Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

– Byron Kerman

Demystifying signage at South County chophouse

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Signs at the South County location of Tucker’s Place Tavern & Grill may be confusing drivers and potential diners alike. One reads “For Sale” in red block letters on a white-on-red background. But a second sign, a banner behind the first, reads “Tucker’s Place OPEN Since 1982 … Here to Stay!” A quick call to the longtime eatery on Union Road clarified matters. The owner of the property is indeed trying to sell the real estate – but Tucker’s Place has a 50-year lease on the space itself.

Three tips for a tasty Turkey Day

Friday, November 20th, 2009

The pressure’s on to produce a fowl that isn’t foul for your T-Day feast. Stephen Gontram, executive chef and owner of Harvest in Richmond Heights, shared these tips for making your Thanksgiving celebration the tastiest yet:

• Brine your turkey prior to roasting it: Combine 3 cups kosher salt and 1 cup brown sugar with 1 gallon hot water, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 3 star anise, 1 tablespoon coriander and 1 tablespoon black peppercorn. Submerge the turkey in the brine for two days prior to roasting.

• Pick interesting wine varietals. Buy a bottle of Gewürztraminer as your white wine and a Grenache for your red. A turkey dinner is wonderful with these lighter-styled wines.

• Bake an apple pie. The apple harvest is fantastic this year, and there are numerous varieties of apples available in stores. Gontram likes to serve his pies with vanilla ice cream and melted sharp Cheddar cheese.

But if you do experience an epic cooking failure on Nov. 26, head to Harvest – it’ll be open.

– Ligaya Figueras

Cupcake animated film at SLIFF

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Someone once discovered that if you put arms and legs on a banana, a carton of milk, a potato or just about any food, really, you get a creature that’s just adorable no matter what it does.

In that vein, Kirsten Lepore’s short film Sweet Dreams follows the adventures of a cupcake that dreams of a better life. Its cuteness is augmented by the fact that the film is silent, which makes it more precious, and because it’s made with stop-motion animation (harking back to the days before computers conquered animation and everything else). But let’s face it, the tale of a cupcake that builds a boat, sets sail and encounters a butternut squash (with further high jinks) is precious from the start.

The St. Louis International Film Festival screens Sweet Dreams in its Animated Shorts – Program 2 on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 7:15 p.m. at Frontenac Cinema, as well as Sunday, Nov. 22, at 7:30 p.m. at the Tivoli Theatre.

Preview the so-adorable-it-hurts little movie here.

– Byron Kerman

The Scoop: Stone Soup Cottage To Go Veg

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Vegetarians craving more fine-dining options will be pleased to hear that Nancy and Carl McConnell have decided to add a meat-free menu to their tasting-menu-only restaurant, Stone Soup Cottage. After the first of the year, the McConnells will feature an all-vegetarian six-course menu every Wednesday night. “I love to cook vegetarian cuisine,” Carl McConnell said, “and I feel like there’s a real demand for it.” The procedure for Wednesday nights will be the same as on other nights at the Cottleville restaurant: one menu, one seating per night, reservations required.

Vom Fass opening nears

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Standing in the future home of Vom Fass, the German-based gourmet food shop, Anita von Ballmoos was covered in plaster dust. But she still spoke enthusiastically about her store’s upcoming debut.

Vom Fass, which has more than 200 stores worldwide, specializes in artisanal vinegars, oils, liqueurs and spirits sold straight from the cask. Although von Ballmoos had hoped to welcome her first customers before Thanksgiving, rehabbing the Maplewood space, located at 7314 Manchester Road, and other complications have delayed her timetable. She now projects a grand opening next month: “I don’t know it for sure, but the plan is for the 1st of December.”

Why Maplewood? “I was looking for the perfect spot for it,” she said, “and we match a lot with Penzeys [Spices] – and this was the reason.”

Sample romance at Kakao Date Night

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

We frequently find ourselves stopping at Kakao Chocolate to pick up a box or two (OK, sometimes three) filled with an assortment of velvety truffles and chewy chocolate-coated caramels – or perhaps a pound of crisp sheets of chocolate bark swirled with fragrant nuts or laced with ginger. But this Saturday, Nov. 21, from 6 to 10 p.m., Kakao owner Brian Pelletier invites you and your S.O. to his café in Fox Park to enjoy plated desserts (each under $7) featuring his out-of-this-world artisanal chocolates. At Kakao Date Night, couples can indulge in decadent delights like chocolate bread pudding, custardy milk chocolate cremosas, dark chocolate tortes and a host of other sinful selections. Forget dinner and a movie – kindle romance with Kakao. Reservations are recommended; call 314.771.2310 or visit the café’s Web site.

– Ligaya Figueras

A Bon Way to Celebrate Beaujolais

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Overlook Farm’s Beaujolais Around the Bonfire event promises to be a magnifique way to start the weekend. On Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20 and 21, the culinary farm destination in Clarksville is hosting a Beaujolais Nouveau event like none other. It starts on the patio of this country respite, where guests will nibble hors d’oeuvres and sip the 2009 Beauj and Champagne. With the outdoor fire lit, you can get snuggle up with your S.O. or have a seat at the outdoor bar and watch Overlook’s award-winning new chef Tim Grandinetti (you’ll recall him from his days at downtown’s Renaissance Grand) perform some culinary magic at the wood-burning stove. Next, you’ll saunter inside to enjoy a five-course meal featuring Mississippi River Valley cuisine – with many ingredients either grown at Overlook or sourced from local farmers – plus wine pairings by former Busch’s Grove sommelier Darin Link. At $59 a person, this divertissement is worth the one-hour road trip from St. Louis. For reservations, call 573.242.3838 or visit overlookfarmmo.com.

– Ligaya Figueras

Square One offers custom decanters

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for that spirits enthusiast on your list? Just in time for the holidays, Square One Brewery and Distillery is offering its Agave Blue tequila-style libation in custom bottles made by area glass artist Sam Stang. Square One owner Steve Neukomm said the first half-dozen of these unique creations will be available at the restaurant by Thanksgiving, and they’ll be produced as needed through the holiday season. One of these decadent decanters will set you back $110, but the smile on your favorite alcohol aficionado’s face will be priceless. Contact Square One for more info at 314.231.2537.

– Matt Sorrell

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