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Archive for December, 2010

Drink This NYE Edition: Turn that bubbly into a cocktail this New Year’s

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

122310_medbelliniPredictable drinkers will be bursting out the bubbly tomorrow night. Nothing wrong with that. But if you want to really release those year-end inhibitions, opt for a Champagne cocktail. Dustin Parres, bar manager at Subzero Vodka Bar in the Central West End (where you can still make a last-minute res for the restaurant’s $75 all-inclusive food and drink affair tomorrow night), is shaking up some fashionably fun sparkling cocktails that will help you ring in 2011 in style. Two of Parres’ winners feature Quay vodka, a small-batch spirit made from French wheat and rye that’s distilled five times to create a super-smooth, rounded finish.

The Mediterranean Bellini calls for an ounce each of Quay vodka, Thatcher’s Elderflower liqueur and Sauvignon Blanc. All three are shaken over ice and topped with brut Champagne, with a twist of lemon swimming in the glass. This elegant sipper is delightfully light and crisp, Thatcher’s organic liqueur adding subtle fruitiness without weighting down the drink.

Subzero’s Quay Frozen Blueberry Champagne cocktail uses an ounce and a half each of the vodka and white grape juice, plus a scattering of frozen mini blueberries, and is topped with the dry brut. We especially like how this drink evolves as the blueberries melt – the cocktail turns a shade purple and picks up more berry notes along the way.

It’s simple enough to mix these potions at home, but you’ll enjoy them all the more if you saddle up to the ice bar at Subzero since Parres and his vodka pouring crew rightly serve the cocktails in stemless Champagne flutes “so the drink stays on the ice,” said Parres. We’ll cheers to that!

Three Reasons to try Kailey’s Nuts

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

122710_kaileysAbout a year ago, Dawn and Karl Weber decided to take a big chance. They closed their coffee and nut shops at three area shopping malls and started wholesaling their Kailey’s Nuts to grocery stores instead. The response has been resounding – here’s why:

1. Kailey’s Nuts contain no preservatives and come in nine wild flavors. These roasted pecans (other nuts are available with custom orders) are dredged through a wide spectrum of tasty ingredients to become little nuggets of maple rum (a sugary bite); frosted strawberry; frosted blackberry (a fruity splash that’s made with a little chai and is a softer and chewier nut thanks to a higher citric-acid content, explained Dawn); peach cobbler; apple pie (a Wonka-like confection that manages to taste like an entire pie in a single nut); cinnamon glazed; pumpkin spiced; frosted orange; and gingerbread glazed (smoky, crunchy, complex and addictive).

2. They make a nifty secret ingredient for cooking. Dawn recommended various flavors for salads, ice-cream sundaes, baking cookies and topping a sweet-potato casserole (the pumpkin spiced nuts, of course).

3. They are a local success story. Operating from their St. Peters storefront/kitchen, the Webers have managed to land Kailey’s Nuts at Schnucks, Dierbergs, the airport and a few specialty shops, as well as gift shops at Disneyworld, the Waldorf-Astoria in NYC, and the Beverly Hilton. Their flavored nuts are for sale at some Missouri wineries, too. “I’ve been told the blackberry frosted pecans pair great with wine,” Dawn noted.

Stocking Up: Volpi Salami

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

121910_volpiWe’re pretty sure that when John Volpi left Milan in 1900 to come to America, he didn’t foresee the tremendous growth of his cured meats business. But thankfully, first for St. Louisians and then for the rest of the world, Volpi Foods has grown into a global business that has retained its Italian heritage.

First founded in St. Louis in 1902, Volpi continues to offer authentic Italian meat products from its base. Although the company has retained a number of traditional products, we’re happy to report that it continues to expand its product offerings with the same traditional attention to detail.

We’re partial to a relatively new set of salami infused with a variety of wines, including rosé, Chianti and Pinot Grigio. These meats combine the great taste of salami with the bold flavors of vino. If you’re heading out to any New Year’s parties, these would be a great part of an antipasto platter, along with some cured olives and Italian cheeses. If you’re not completely worn out from holiday merrymaking, you could even brush some pizza crust with a high quality olive oil, sprinkle a few herbs on top with a few slices of the salami and top the whole thing with a little mozzarella. Just like John would have done.

The salami are available all around town, but we found ours at The Wine and Cheese Place in Clayton at 7435 Forsyth Blvd.

Extra Sauce: Bringing fresh pasta into your kitchen

Monday, December 27th, 2010

122710_garlicspgtiIn this month’s Seasonal Shopper column, Fresh, Flavorful, Fast: Local Pastas Pop, Sauce columnist Pat Eby revealed the various types of fresh pasta available in St. Louis. From ravioli and agnolotti to papardelle and angel hair, she showed us the difference fresh pasta can make. Here are some of her delicious recipes for using these tasty ingredients in your kitchen, including Taglietelle Al Limone, made with fresh tagliatelle; Butternut Squash Lasagna, made with Stellina whole wheat walnut pasta sheets; and Spaghetti Aglio Di Olio (Spaghetti with olive oil and garlic), made with Mangia Italiano angel hair.

The Scoop: Mr. Lucky’s Restaurant & Lounge opens in St. Peters

Monday, December 27th, 2010

122710_luckysResidents of St. Peters now have another nearby dining option: Mr. Lucky’s Restaurant and Lounge. The 80-seat family dining restaurant plus lounge recently opened at 229 Centre Pointe Drive, near Jungerman Road.

The menu features Italian-American fare including pastas, pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, seafood and a variety of hand-cut steaks. According to general manager Ashley Lyon, the crowd pleasers thus far have been the tutto mare, a bacon-wrapped filet mignon, the Prime Rib Dip – a French dip sandwich with prime rib replacing roast beef – and chicken wings served with a slew of house-made sauces. The bar is stocked with bottled beers – domestic and a scattering of international brews, although Lyon said that the restaurant is taking requests from patrons – for patrons to enjoy while watching the game.

Mr. Lucky’s is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and Sundays until midnight.

The Scoop: Mile 277 will be “Route 66 meets biker”

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

122310_mile277If you have fond memories of dancing the night away at prom or a wedding reception at the Holiday Inn on Watson at Lindbergh, get ready for some brand new experiences at 10709 Watson Road. This time, though, you’ll want to swap fancy clothes for some biker gear, because Mile 277 is all about the bike.

The themed restaurant and nightspot, which Kevin Pyles of MOTO Marketing Group describes as “Route 66 meets biker,” will focus on motorcycles, music and roadhouse fixin’s. The name Mile 277 hails from I-44’s exit 277, the highway exit nearest to the venue. Pyles added that the Mile 277 investment group is working on franchising throughout the U.S., especially on Route 66. “Whatever the mile marker is, that will be the name,” said Pyles.

Along with live entertainment and special events, Mile 277 will serve classic roadhouse fare from a menu created by Ted Geiger and Chris LaRocca, who have collectively, according to the Mile 277 Facebook page, opened more than 100 restaurants and bars. Among them, Chevy’s, Crazy Fish, J. Bucks, Baxter’s Lakeside Grille at the Lake of the Ozarks, and Triumph Grill and Kota Grill in Midtown. Among the dishes mentioned on the Facebook page are a sweet and sour chicken salad with ginger-sesame dressing, a steak chili and the Fat Boy Beef Brisket with pepper Jack cheese, barbecue sauce and grilled onions on Texas toast.

Take the off-ramp at Mile 277 this Spring.

The Scoop: New CWE wine shop to offer a range of services

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

122310_selectwinesThink wine shop, and you likely picture yourself perusing the bins for a bottle, then forking over cash or plastic and walking out the front door. At Select Wines, debuting in mid- to late January at 4906 Laclede Ave., just west of Euclid in the CWE, it’ll be wine sales plus a whole lot more.

Renee Skubish, partner and GM, plans to sell quality wines at a great value to enthusiasts and collectors alike, but she’ll also call on her seven years of experience working in the wine industry in New York City to offer cellar analysis services and off-site sommelier services.

The intention behind cellar services is to help wine-lovers “have a balanced cellar” based on personal needs and palate. “That doesn’t mean only having wines that are expensive,” explained Skubish, who sold blue chip collectible wines in NYC, but “wines that are everyday types, lay-down types and wines for entertaining.” Let Select Wines peek at your cellar, talk to them about your collecting aspirations and they can determine “where holes are” and make suggestions for your wine portfolio. The best part? It’s free. “I don’t see it as a way to make money, but a way to work with someone who is an enthusiast and collector, someone who wants to dive deep [into the world of wine],” explained Skubish, adding, “I would hope they could find bottles here at the shop to add to their cellar.”

Chances are high that wine aficionados will find something among the 289 different labels in the 1,500-square-foot space. Select Wines will carry wines from around the globe, priced anywhere from $9.50 to $350 and up, with a focus on varietals from Napa Valley, northern and southern Italy, the Bordeaux and Burgundy regions of France, and the Mosel and Nahe regions of Germany.

Select Wines will also offer off-site sommelier services. “For example, if you’re having a private party and preparing a certain menu, you can work with Select Wines to create a wine list. We provide a printed customized menu … and a synopsis of the wine and description of the pairing,” explained Skubish. They can even be on-hand to present and pour the wines. We’ll take that personalized treatment any day.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Local spirits make great last-minute gifts

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

121610_85lashesLooking for a last-minute present for your boss, brother or BFF? Sure, you can grab a bottle of wine, but why not get ‘em the hard stuff and, even better, support a local biz in the process.

Square One Brewery and Distillery in Lafayette Square just released their Agave Blue. Made from agave nectar imported from Tequila, Mexico, Square One’s tequila is only the second tequila distilled in the U.S. It’s rested in oak and offers a nice, smooth finish. A 375-ml bottle costs $18, a 750-ml bottle goes for $30 and $110 will fetch a special edition, 750-ml, hand-blown glass bottle created by Missouri artist Sam Stang.

Another surefire winner from Square One’s Spirits of St. Louis line is Vermont Night Missouri Whiskey, a silver medal winner at this year’s American Distillers Conference. This unique spirit is made of malted whiskey infused with fresh orange, lemon and lime, plus vanilla bean and cinnamon. The liquor is aged for up to six weeks, and then Vermont maple syrup is added for subtle sweetness. Owner Steve Neukomm touts Vermont Night as a great sipping whiskey and the perfect choice for an Old-Fashioned. Both the 375-ml and 750-ml bottles ($21 and $38, respectively) are slapped with a special holiday label. If you’re keen on buying spirits from Square One, get there today (they’re open until 1 a.m.); they will be closed Dec. 24 and Dec. 25.

Spirits seekers can also stop in at The Stable and pick up a bottle of its first-ever released 85 Lashes Crystal rum, distilled from pure cane sugar and molasses. “It’s basically the un-aged version of our 85 Lashes regular rum,” said owner Jake Jones. “It just doesn’t see wood; that’s the only difference.” The Stable’s popular dark rum, aged for anywhere from nine months to one year in French oak, is available in major area liquor stores. However, the Crystal is only available at the Benton Park brewpub and micro-distillery; a 750-ml bottle retails for $24.95.

Wanna go doubly local? Grab The Stable’s grappa, made using Chambourcin grape skins from Charleville Vinyard in Ste. Genevieve, Mo. A 375-ml bottle goes for $29.95. The Stable is open today until midnight and tomorrow, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Scoop: Demun Oyster Bar opens today

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

122310_oystersSeafood lovers have been anxiously awaiting the opening of Demun Oyster Bar and the day has finally arrived. Owner Alan Richman has finished construction at 740 Demun Ave., and the stylish art nouveau décor – plus a tightly focused food and drink menu – make this Clayton spot a must-visit destination.

The very impressive space features: reclaimed French tiles (circa 1880); custom-designed windows that will create a canopy for patio patrons come spring; a wall of mirrors – a collection of looking glasses of all shapes and sizes – that reflect the glow cast from numerous century-old lighting fixtures; a fabulous semi-circular, copper-paneled bar behind which sits a smaller semi-circular shucking station, the bent glass having been custom-designed by folks from Third Degree Glass Factory.

After you “ooh” and “aah” over the space, it’s time to grab an oyster fork. Richman said he will usually have five types of oysters available from a rotating list of nine, though at last night’s soft opening, only Olympia, Kumo and Shigoku were available. Oysters on the half-shell will generally run $3 to $3.50 per oyster, but you can find oysters any which way: fried, grilled or stuffed into a po’ boy, along with other seafood offerings like steamed mussels and clams, pan-seared scallops or shrimp cocktail. Chef Je Kang, who has been working for Richman since the opening of Sasha’s on Shaw, heads up the kitchen, and The Scoop agrees with St. Louis Magazine’s George Mahe that Kang’s oyster chowder was delightful; no skimping on meaty oysters.

On the drink side, patrons will find a wide selection – by the glass and bottle – of Champagne and sparkling, white or red wine. Bar manager and sommelier Chad George has also created a nice lineup of specialty cocktails, our fave being the winter-perfect sipper Crispin’s Manuscript, a mix of rye whiskey, cherry liqueur, lemon and Crispin Brut cider.

Demun Oyster Bar opens today at 6 p.m., although regular hours of operation will be 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. daily. Yep, even Sundays and Mondays. In January, Richman plans to extend to lunch hours, opening at 11 a.m.

Stocking Up: A caffeinated Christmas

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

122210_coffeeThough you think you’ve covered all your bases, there’s likely someone who managed to slip right under your gift-giving radar. Hairdresser? Massage therapist? Piano teacher? As long as they’re coffee lovers, we’ve got a great last-minute suggestion for you.

Head down to any of the Kaldi’s around town and pick up a 12-ounce bag of the local roaster’s Holiday Roast 2010. Each year, Kaldi’s produces a blend of beans specially designed for the holiday season and this year is no different. Blended from two radically different beans, the 2010 blend offers coffee lovers a complex but not over-the-top java experience. This year, the blend incorporates coffee from Costa Rica, and the Helsar de Zarcero along with Dama Yirgacheffe, an organic Ethiopian bean.

Both of these blends hail from Kaldi’s line of Relationship Coffees. Kaldi’s buyers have a personal relationship with the growers of these beans, which ensures the coffee is grown in an ecologically sound manner and that the farmers are treated fairly.

The coffee is good for your palate as well as your soul. The Yirgacheffe boasts citrusy notes while the Helsar de Zarcero chimes in with hints of cherry and cranberry. Together, they provide one gutsy and flavor-forward cup of joe.

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