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Mar 17, 2018
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Archive for April, 2010

Cupcake mavens visit Left Bank

Monday, April 26th, 2010

042610_cupcakeOf all the precious and clever desserts in the book What’s New, Cupcake?, some of the coolest are the trompe l’oeil cupcakes. Imagine cupcakes that, through an intricate process of kitchen wizardry, are made to look like Chinese takeout, pizza, French fries and even soft-boiled eggs. They’re so realistic that you probably bite into them expecting them to taste savory, but then you find they really are sweet, frosted cupcakes.

The creators of popular cookbook Hello, Cupcake! are back with a second volume of showstopping cupcakes, including tiny desserts made to resemble apple pie, rubber duckies, a beehive, whales, lobsters, skunks, dachshunds, flamingoes, lollipop rings, robots, crocodiles and a golf green complete with sand trap.

The big secret is authors Karen “The Cake Whisperer” Tack and Alan Richardson’s use of such ingredients as Twinkies, doughnuts, gumdrops, caramels and candy corn. They sculpt animal shapes and so on from various reworkings of candy, plop them on the cupcake and frost over them with buttercream icing to create recognizable forms.

Their techniques are varied, and their tools are kooky. You can check it all out at a demo, book signing and sampling with cupcake mavens Tack and Richardson at Left Bank Books in the Central West End tomorrow, Tuesday, April 27, at 7 p.m.

– Byron Kerman

Innovative nonprofit creates a mobile market

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

042310_CityGreensCity Greens Produce, a program operated out of Catholic Charities Midtown Center, has been providing underserved city residents with access to fresh, locally grown food for the last two years – first through community gardening, next by opening its own produce market. Now it appears it’ll be taking it on the road with a mobile market.

According to the center’s director, John Pachak, it all started when the nonprofit revitalized a community neighborhood garden and began growing and distributing food to families in mid-city St. Louis. Yet despite receiving additional subsidized boxes of food from urban greening organization Gateway Greening, the organization couldn’t support the demand for fresh produce.

An $18,000 donation last year from students at Nerinx Hall High School made it possible for City Greens to open a produce market in the basement of its Catholic Charities facility on 1202 S. Boyle Ave. The program used the capital to pay small farmers in Missouri for their fresh produce and fruit, which was then sold at-cost at the market to members, some of whom pay a $100 annual membership fee while those with annual household incomes under $30,000 are subsidized. “The membership is a mechanism that is used to subsidize food so it is at its lowest cost possible to the community, ” stated Pachak, who hopes to have 100 paid memberships this year, which would enable the organization to support 300 nonpaying members.

City Greens Produce wanted to expand its geographic impact, so it submitted a proposal for the creation of a mobile market to the 2010 YouthBridge Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition, a business-plan competition for nonprofit organizations sponsored by Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Washington University. Last week, City Greens was named the winner of a $30,000 award. “The money will be used to pay for a vehicle equipped to handle and deliver produce, the cost of fuel and a driver,” said Pachak. The communities that the market-on-wheels will service are still to be determined, but Pachak expects that aspect of the operation to begin in May 2011.

In the meantime, City Greens Produce is preparing for the start of the market’s second season, which kicks off on May 27 and runs through October. The hours of operation are Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 6 p.m. and on the first Saturday of every month from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Membership is open to the public and applications are available on the Catholic Charities Midtown Web site, midtowncc.org.

– Ligaya Figueras

The Scoop: New Midtown hotel will include a café

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

042310_culinarchgroupWhen SLU and The Lawrence Group announced on Wednesday their joint plans to develop the Ignacio Hotel, a 51-room boutique hotel in the former Interiors Unlimited Building on Olive Street, we wondered whether food-service plans were more involved than simply creating an interior connection to Triumph Grill on the hotel’s west side. SLU’s director of real estate, Peter Pierotti, responded in the affirmative, stating that there would be space for a café on the south side of the building and that food service would be handled by Triumph Grill. That restaurant is owned by Lawrence Group president Steve Smith.

A call to Lori Dolan of restaurant development and management company Culinarchgroup (formerly known as Culinary Architects) confirmed that she and company president Chris LaRocca would also be involved in this project. LaRocca and Dolan were responsible for the launch of Triumph Grill and Smith’s other restaurant, the recently opened Kota Wood Fire Grill on Grand Boulevard across the street from the Fox Theatre.

“By March of 2011 it should be up and running,” stated Dolan of the new development that adds another dimension to the Grand Center arts district and the eastward expansion of Midtown Alley. “We’re excited about it and it should be a plus for everyone.”

– Ligaya Figueras

Free DQ Blizzard wagon pulls into town

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

042210_BlizzardmobileMoney might not be able to buy you love, but happiness is given away for nothing when Dairy Queen dispenses free Blizzards from a funky truck.

DQ is celebrating the 25th birthday of the Blizzard frozen treat by outfitting a vehicle called the Blizzardmobile that will stop in 25 cities across the United States and in Canada. The Blizzardmobile, which features windshield wipers that look like red plastic spoons and a giant mouth stretching across the grille, dispenses free Mini Blizzard treats to all comers.

The ice-cream gods will bless St. Louis over two days at three stops: Monday, April 26, in Kiener Plaza from 4 to 8 p.m. and Tuesday, April 27, at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center from noon to 2 p.m. and at the Ballwin DQ at 1445 Big Bend Road from 4 to 5 p.m.

– Byron Kerman

The Scoop: Bistro 1130 to dish up southern French fare

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

042210_MarcFelixNow we’ve got two reasons to visit Town & Country Crossing this summer. Bistro 1130 is slated to open in late July just two doors down from Eugene’s Custard, where they’ll start scooping frozen treats by mid-May.

Located at 1130 Town & Country Crossing Drive, Bistro 1130 will feature southern French cuisine in a menu designed by consultant chef Marc Felix, pictured at right. Dishes will be “from all over the south of France – from the border of Spain to the border of Italy,” said Felix, who is still developing the carte du jour. “There will also be a full bar. The wine will be very much French and American selections.”

Owner Mikki Jones-Miranne tells us that the “classy casual” restaurant has a seating capacity for 55 and another 16 to 20 for outside dining. That size is perfect for what Felix wants to do with a menu that incorporates local products and southern French flavors using citrus, herbs and olives and, he emphasized, that is not tapas-oriented. “It’s small enough that we can be authentic,” Felix said.

This story has been updated

The Scoop: Pita Pit to sprout up in Midtown Alley

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

042210_PitaPitPita Pit, the national chain that serves up a variety of pita wraps, is coming to town. Franchisee Andrew Gibson plans to open the area’s first Pita Pit at 3019 Olive St. in Midtown Alley.

“I looked all over town but there was nothing available for the size I needed,” said Gibson, who resides in St. Louis. “I heard about Midtown Alley as up-and-coming. I was interested because of the SLU kids: If they wanted something to eat, it’s relatively close to walk on down on a nice night.”

College is, in fact, where many of the younger set become hooked on Pita Pit’s fresh fare. The alternative fast-food chain currently serves up its pitas filled with grilled meats, fresh veggies and zesty sauces on more than 100 college campuses across the U.S. Gibson himself was introduced to Pita Pit when he attended college at the University of Kentucky. “I played ice hockey there and all of our home games lasted until midnight. The only healthy place to eat late at night was at a Pita Pit on campus. I realized that there is nothing like that here that’s open late, with healthy food that you can get somewhat quickly,” explained Gibson.

Pita Pit is slated to sit in a stand-alone building on what is currently a dirt parking lot on Olive between Cardinal and Garrison Avenues. The layout of the 1,200-foot breakfast, lunch, dinner and after-hours snack location is still being finalized, but plans do include the creation of a small patio at the front and side of the building to allow for outdoor dining. Gibson stated that construction should begin within the next month to six weeks, with hopes for an August opening.

– Ligaya Figueras

Bristol’s menu changes

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

042010_BristolThe Bristol Seafood Grill franchise, with restaurants in Creve Coeur and O’Fallon, Mo., is unveiling a new four-course chef’s tasting menu that keeps things interesting.

The menu, which was previewed last month, features a fruitwood-smoked trout appetizer with pickled cucumbers and onions, dill crème and caraway crackers that plays like a dish at an upscale deli (or a particularly creative break-the-fast after Yom Kippur). The second course is a savory Swiss chard and goat cheese tart with a currant-pignolia relish, followed by a choice of olive oil-poached Alaskan halibut with pappardelle pasta and vegetables in white wine clam broth, or a petite filet mignon and Alaskan king crab with foyot sauce. (For those keeping score, foyot is in the béarnaise sauce family.)

Dessert is an orange panna cotta in a demitasse cup served with a lemon ricotta cookie. The panna cotta is garnished with absolutely adorable little candied kumquat slices that look like breakfast for Barbie and Ken.

The tasting menu is also available with wine pairings, naturally – and on a related note, Bristol has a special machine that will reseal your partially consumed bottles of wine so they can be taken from the restaurant legally.

– Byron Kerman

All suds, no duds

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

042010_STLbeerBeer and brats. Beer and pizza. Beer and cheese. Beer and … yes … even bingo.

Note a motif? If so, celebrate your powers of observation by attending St. Louis Craft Beer Week, which starts this weekend.

Technically 10 days, the “week” of beer-related events runs from Saturday, April 24, to Monday, May 3, and incorporates the three-day St. Louis Microfest in Forest Park. Its organizers (predominantly Mike Sweeney of local beer blog STL Hops) intend it to educate as well as to entertain – a celebration devoted as much to thinking as to drinking.

The series of events opens at 33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar with “B33r and Brats.” It closes at the Schlafly Bottleworks with the Henry Herbst Memorial Lecture, which honors the local beer historian of that name; at the lecture, an Anheuser-Busch representative will discuss the history of beer in the United States. One caution, though. Some events are free, some aren’t – and some require tickets in advance. For details, click here.

Several area restaurants and other establishments beyond 33 and the Bottleworks will sponsor events: Bigelo’s Bistro in Edwardsville, Bridge Tap House and Wine Bar, Cicero’s, Felix’s, The Good Pie, International Tap House, Mattingly Brewing Co., Morgan Street Brewery, Newstead Tower Public House, Provisions Gourmet Market, the Schlafly Tap Room, The Shaved Duck, The Stable and The Wine and Cheese Place.

And confess – just studying that roster made you want to wet your whistle, didn’t it?

Morton’s mixing up mocktails

Friday, April 16th, 2010

041610_MortonsDid your friends unexpectedly tag you as the designated driver? Maybe you’re an expectant mom needing a baby-friendly beverage. No matter your reason for steering clear of the hard stuff, Morton’s Steakhouse in Clayton has added some mocktails to the bar menu this season – and all three are sure to please your palate.

The Pom-Pom is made from lemonade and pomegranate syrup shaken with fresh mint and topped with Morton’s signature Heavenly Raspberry Foam. You can get your daily fruit requirement with the Lemon-Berry Smash: fresh raspberries and strawberries, muddled and shaken with lemonade and a splash of soda. Our pick is the tangy Ginger No-Jito that calls for mint, lime juice and ginger beer with a splash of club soda. We like it so much we’re making it at home. Here’s the recipe so you can muddle your own:

Ginger No-Jito
Courtesy of Morton’s Steakhouse

8 fresh mint leaves
½ oz. simple syrup
½ fresh lime
4 oz. ginger beer (preferably Reed’s Ginger Beer)
2 oz. club soda

  • Muddle the simple syrup and mint leaves in shaker.
  • Add the lime juice, ginger beer and club soda. Add ice.
  • Gently roll ingredients back and forth between two shakers at least five times.
  • Serve in a 14-ounce glass.

– Ligaya Figueras

For more information on what St. Louis’ creative mixologists are doing with nonalcoholic drinks, check out this month’s Elixir column under Wine & Spirits.

The Ritz-Carlton rolls out cheesecake bar

Friday, April 16th, 2010

041610_CheesecakeCoffee bar, wine bar, chocolate bar, sushi bar – you’ve done them all. Need something new for date night? Then check out the cheesecake bar at The Ritz-Carlton St. Louis. On Fridays and Saturdays from 8 to 11 p.m., a new cheesecake bar has us shamelessly licking our fingers right in The Lobby Lounge of the luxe Clayton hotel.

You’ll find at least seven varieties of cheesecake prepared by pastry chef Simone Faure, including a decadent dulce de leche, a wicked Black Forest, creamy bananas Foster, cookies and créme, and a ripe seasonal strawberry swirl. Hunky slices are $9 each, and chocolate or vanilla cheesecake martinis go for $4.50. Nope, that’s not a typo. All it takes is a bill with Hamilton’s or Lincoln’s face and you can live in the lap of luxury – at least for a few hours.

– Ligaya Figueras

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