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Feb 23, 2018
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Archive for August, 2012

Drink This Weekend Edition: When one tweak changes everything

Friday, August 31st, 2012

As the revival of classic cocktails appears to be here to stay, area bartenders are finding ways to flex their creative muscles and still give a nod to tradition. At Robust Wine Bar, for instance, we noticed a couple of cocktails in which one tiny tweak is making a very big difference.

Lauren Blake, wine and spirits curator at Robust and a self-proclaimed “amaro freak,” enjoys finding ways to use the liqueur in new ways. Like in The Robust Negroni, which doesn’t hold the traditional one-to-one-to-one ratio of gin, Campari and vermouth. Instead, those who order the tippler will sip on 1½ ounces of Pinckney Bend gin, 1 ounce of Campari, 1 ounce of Cocchi Vermouth di Torino and 1/3 ounce of Nonino Amaro. According to Blake, the amaro “smoothes out the drink and cuts through the bitterness of the Campari.”

Amaro serves a similar purpose in Blake’s Plu-Perfect Manhattan (pictured). Her interpretation calls for Bulleit 95 Rye whiskey and a touch of amaro, which “tempers the rye” and makes the drink “more velvety.” After just one sip, we agree.

Blake joined the Robust team a year ago after moving to St. Louis from Aspen, Colo. The New Jersey native, with an extensive restaurant background, will soon release her fall cocktail menu. We’re looking forward to seeing how amaro makes its way into that set of drinks; then we’ll order a round at Robust’s downtown location in the MX building, which is set to open in early November.

Tweet Beat: The week’s best tweets from STL foodies

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Are you following us on Twitter? Come on, get Saucy @saucemagazine

Here is @sumpcoffee giving our espresso machine a blessing pic.twitter.com/025YFDHG

Smells like pumpkin pie crust, then then a candy pumpkin taste overwhelm’s the taste buds. Too much for me. (Pumking)

Reminder that people are welcome to come to my house tonight to let me make them cocktails.

When we go out to eat the servers almost always give my food to J first. Apparently I order like a dude. #thisiswhyimfat

Yoga, glass of wine, hot bath, and Kill Bill 2. My kind of night.

i’m a sucker for free food. even before i got knocked up.

Check out this awesome latte art I did of a snail at this indie coffee shop on Cherokee. God I am so hip. http://instagram.com/p/O-Mri-lMek/

Watching #Topchef masters. Curtis’s increasing level of uncomfort with Dita Von Teese is awesome.

Catching up on food documentaries :: plane entertainment. http://instagram.com/p/O936I4IdZc/

Think you should be on this list? Follow us and let us know @saucemagazine

The Scoop: Thai 202 opens, SOHA coming soon, La Dolce Via to say adieu

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Thai 202 opened this week at 235 N. Euclid Ave., in the Central West End. The restaurant, located in the space formerly occupied by hot dog eatery Audi-K’s, offers numerous classic Thai noodle and rice dishes. The Thai 202 website is currently under construction.

A bar and grill is coming soon to the Clifton Heights neighborhood. Per reports from Ian Froeb of the Riverfront Times, SOHA Bar & Grill will make its home at 2605 Hampton Ave., once occupied by Off the Vine. The gastropub, slated to open in four to six weeks, will offer more than 30 craft beers on draft.

Finally, La Dolce Via has announced that it will be closing. The everything’s-from-scratch cafe, located in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood at 4470 Arco Ave., will shutter for good after brunch service on January 1, as reported by Byron Kerman for St. Louis Magazine. Kerman’s post reprints a letter to the cafe’s supporters explaining the closure: “Doing business in this neighborhood has been arduous at times, and we’ve struggled to stay above water with the economic collapse and the high cost of using the best ingredients. However, our reason for deciding to close has only to do with the fact that our family has decided to move on to our next adventure.” The news comes just a few months shy of the cafe’s 10th anniversary.

To encourage patrons to visit La Dolce Via before doors close permanently, hours have been extended. Beginning this week, the cafe is open Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Scoop: Mastermind Distillery making moves to go west of the Mississippi

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Mastermind Distillery has been gaining attention since launching its vodka last winter. The distillery, located in Pontoon Beach, Ill., has yet to celebrate its first anniversary but has already earned a gold medal at this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition for its vodka, made from local corn and wheat. With product slated to increase exponentially, the company is making plans to move to a facility in the St. Louis area.

Nick Roady, Mastermind VP of sales and marketing, stated that the company has placed a contract on a 54,000-square-foot building located near Interstate 70 at Adelaide Avenue in North St. Louis. Mastermind hopes to begin production at the new facility no later than February 2013, Roady said.

One reason why the company needs a larger production facility is to meet the demands for its vodka overseas in China. While current production averages 400 bottles a month, Mastermind needs to gear up to fill 280,000 bottles a month destined for Shanghai.

The increased production will also bring 25 new jobs to the St. Louis area. Roady added that, while the distillery’s clear vodka will continue to be the company’s mainstay, plans are in the works to launch a moonshine in late 2013.

Sneak Peek: Little Country Gentleman

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Now that MEDIAnoche, the Mexican-in-the-evening restaurant at 8135 Maryland Ave., in Clayton has closed for good, chef-owner Mike Randolph and his staff are preparing to open another evening-only restaurant, Little Country Gentleman, in its stead. The space’s by-day restaurant, Half & Half, will still operate for breakfast, lunch and brunch.

Randolph and his team recently gave Sauce a glimpse of the Midwestern cuisine to come from Little Country Gentleman’s kitchen. Although the exact plates are still being tweaked, these dishes offer an idea of the three-course, six-course and grand tasting menus that diners will be able to choose from when doors open on Tuesday, Sept. 18. For a first look at the fare, visit our Facebook page.

The Scoop: Jack Mac to head the kitchen at Schneithorst’s

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Veteran chef Jack MacMurray III has been hired as the executive chef at Schneithorst’s in Ladue. MacMurray, who is moving on from the top culinary post at Kirkwood Station Brewing Co., will begin his tenure at the German restaurant located at 1600 S. Lindbergh Road next Tuesday, Sept. 4.

MacMurray called the cuisine that he will prepare at Schneithorst’s a combination of “Jack Mac American” and authentic German, adding that German offerings will be increased from those currently on the menu. MacMurray is no stranger to Alpine cuisine. He spent five years at Sonnenalp Resort of Vail, where three of the four restaurants he oversaw focused on Bavarian, Swiss and Austrian dishes. MacMurray’s goal in his new venture of “taking it to the next level” at Schneithorst’s won’t just involve menu changes, either, though the first change is scheduled to debut in about a month. The restaurant will also soon see more beer tastings, seminars and dinners.

MacMurray explained that while he had been planning to open his own restaurant – a project that he first shared with The Scoop in January 2011 upon his departure from Sage Urban American Grill in Soulard – “the deal fell through” this past June.

But it appears that MacMurray will soon be busy with another side project. He is planning a pop-up dinner at Mosaic Modern Fusion downtown that will involve five brewmasters. Details are forthcoming.

By the Book: Anita Lo’s Unagi with Celery Root and Wasabi

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Anita Lo is a big proponent of fusion cooking. In her cookbook, Cooking Without Borders, Lo shares her ideas for finding harmony among ingredients and techniques of different cuisines. Her recipe for Unagi with Celery Root and Wasabi explores a marriage between Japanese and French cookery. The dish intrigued me because unagi, known among Anglophiles as eel, is not among the sea creatures that I work with often. I also was excited to taste the results of pairing this Japanese staple with celery root, aka celeriac in rémoulade form – a classically French treatment of the root vegetable.

The preparation of the dish is divided into three parts. The unagi sauce is a simple combination of mirin (sweetened sake), soy sauce, sugar, corn syrup, ginger, black pepper and dashi. The latter is optional, but lends the sauce umami; if you don’t regularly make dashi, substituting fish stock can save you the trouble since the recipe calls for just three tablespoons. After reducing, the sauce is silky smooth with a deep, sweet and salty flavor. Lo’s recipe for the sauce alone is worth adding to the Asian section of your recipe box.

The celery root “rémoulade” can best be described as a creamy, flavored mayonnaise slaw. Once you peel and julienne the celery root, the vegetable gets tossed in a mix of mayo and mustard zipped with lemon juice. This veggie side is a nice change from same-old coleslaw; it’d team well with barbecued ribs.

Since already barbecued, frozen unagi is the easiest form in which to find eel (Bob’s Seafood sells it like this in a 12-ounce package.). Preparing the freshwater snakelike fish is a cinch. Simply brush it with unagi sauce and warm it in the oven. The crisp texture and mild, celery flavor of the celery root was a fantastic contrast to the rich, sweet, oily unagi.

The presentation, however, is what puts this delectable dish into dinner party territory. The rémoulade serves as a nest for the unagi, which is then garnished with pan-crisped celery root and scallions. A ring of that divine sauce and little droplets of wasabi complete the plating for an exemplary entree that bridges nations and is a fantastic transition from summertime to fall.

Unagi with Celery Root and Wasabi
4 servings

For the unagi sauce:
3 Tbsp. dashi* (optional)
1 Tbsp. mirin** (Find it in the same aisle as soy sauce.)
¼ cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
2 slices fresh ginger
Black pepper to taste

For the celery root “rémoulade”:
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. dry mustard powder mixed with 1 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. brown mustard seeds
1 tsp. lemon juice
Pinch grated lemon zest
1 small celery root, peeled and julienned (about 2 packed cups)
2 Tbsp. thinly sliced (on a bias) scallion greens
¾ tsp. salt (I found ½ teaspoon to be just enough)
Black pepper

To serve:
1 12-oz. package frozen unagi*** (contains 1 eel)
1 tsp. prepared wasabi (If you can only find the powdered kind, mix it with a little water according to the package directions.)
4 pinches finely julienned celery root, shallow-fried until crisp (optional)
4 pinches julienned scallion greens

• Make the unagi sauce: Place all of the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until syrupy and reduced to about ½ cup. Remove and discard the ginger and let cool.
• Make the celery root “rémoulade”: Combine the mayonnaise, mustard powder mixture, mustard seeds, lemon juice and lemon zest in a bowl. Add the celery root and scallion, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine.
• To serve: Preheat the oven or a toaster oven to 350 degrees. Cut the unagi into 4 equal pieces, put them on a baking sheet, brush with a little of the unagi sauce, and place in the oven to just heat through.
• Divide the “rémoulade” among 4 serving plates and top with the unagi.
• Ring with a little of the sauce and dot with a few small bits of wasabi. Season the fried celery root (if using) with salt, then top the unagi with it and the scallion and serve immediately.

* To make 2 quarts of dashi, rinse 1 4-inch square kombu in cold water to remove dust. Put the kombu in a pot with 2½ quarts cold water. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add 1½ cups of bonito flakes. Let steep for 15 minutes, then pour through a fine mesh sieve lined with a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth.

** Mirin is sold at most grocery stores. Find it in the same aisle as soy sauce.

*** Eel is sold at Bob’s Seafood.

Reprinted with permission from Stewart, Tabori & Chang.

What is your favorite way to work with eel in the kitchen? Tell us about it in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Cooking Without Borders by Anita Lo. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

UPDATE 9/4/12: Unfortunately, we don’t have a winner to announce for this By the Book. Guess our question of how you like to cook with eel was a bit too tricky. And so, another way to win Anita Lo’s Cooking Without Borders: Tell us about your favorite sea creature to cook with and why in the comments section below. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now we’d like to congratulate Jill, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won her a copy of Seasonal Spanish Food. Jill, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.

Sneak Peek: Hendricks BBQ

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Hendricks BBQ was days from opening last spring when a water main broke and caused extensive damage to the property at 1200 S. Main Street in historic St. Charles. Now that the renovation is complete, co-owners Dr. Gupreet Padda and Ami Grimes have given the green light to fire up the ‘cue. For a preview of what’s in store when doors open this Thursday, August 30, head on over to our Facebook page.

But first, there’s more news to report. Now that Hendricks BBQ is completed, next up for Padda and Grimes – who are also the owners of Sanctuaria, Diablitos Cantina, Café Ventana and Cathedral Square Brewery – will be readying the property next door to Café Ventana in Midtown. That building is destined to become DiSilvio’s, a restaurant specializing in Sicilian cuisine. Among the highlights will be a 4½-ton wood-fired oven from Italy that will be used to make pizzas and flatbreads, among other plates. DiSilvio’s is expected to open in summer 2013.

Meatless Mondays: A Greek free for all

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Chock full of belly dancers and cozy tables, Momos Greek Tavern always proves a fun night on the town. And with such an expansive menu – featuring a bevy of spreads, salads, gyros, and mezes both hot and cold – it’s also a tasty one, not to mention a great place for apprehensive Meatless Monday beginners.

Starting with the Crispy Eggplant Fries (pictured), which melt with the very first bite. Their salty, crispy exterior is the perfect foil for their smooth and creamy interior, making these bite-sized snacks a true upgrade from their tired potato cousin. Served with a tomato-sherry skordalia – a traditional potato purée spread turned a rosy hue thanks to those sweet tomatoes – has a soft, cooling effect when paired with these piping hot fries.

Next up was the Crispy Chickpea and Feta Cakes, a dish I go back for time and time again. These crunchy, garlicky cakes have a sharp bite to them thanks to that crumbly feta cheese baked right inside. Break off a piece with your fork and give it a dunk in the velvety tzatziki, the cool cucumber dip soaked up wonderfully by the dense cake.

Pair your mezes with one of Momo’s spreads. Though up against some pretty stiff competition with the roasted red pepper htipiti and the fava bean hummus, the Melitzanosalata is a lovely choice (It’s also much easier to eat than to pronounce, I promise.). Similar to baba ghanouj, this luscious dip calls for roasted eggplant that gets puréed with extra-virgin olive oil and citrusy lemon juice. Served with a generous portion of pita, you’ll have just enough leftover to scoop up the remaining tzatziki from your chickpea cakes.

There are almost too many vegetarian options to choose from at this Greek eatery, and that’s definitely a good problem to have. Go with as many friends as you can, as the more mouths at the table, the more mezes you’re able to taste. And considering this is Monday, be sure to wash away the work day with one of Momo’s cocktails, aptly named after Greek gods and goddesses.

Baked: Apple Cider Muffins or “doughnut holes”

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Each year, my friends and I put together a fabulous meal before spending Thanksgiving with our respective families. Since we’re all so busy and spread across the map, it’s wonderful to have Friendsgiving, as we call it, to look forward to. On one such occasion, these apple cider muffins were devoured so quickly, I barely had a chance to try one. With Friendsgiving safely months away, this week I decided to try them again.

I rarely cook with apples because I prefer them fresh, but when I got my hands on some boiled cider from King Arthur Flour, I was intrigued and wanted to see what delicious apple-y things could be made without the inclusion of actual apples.

The original recipe, which inspired me to make these muffins, called them “doughnut holes.” But since they’re baked, one could argue that they don’t qualify as a classic doughnut. Also, I used a mini muffin pan instead of a doughnut pan.

When I used regular butter, the muffin’s texture was wonderfully chewy with a strong donut consistency. Oddly, when I used apple butter, the texture became more muffin-like. The choice of butter is yours, but I assure you that both will make a delicious muffin. And rolling it in cinnamon, cardamom and sugar adds the perfect finishing touch.

Apple Cider Muffins or “doughnut holes”
Approximately 36 Mini Muffins
Adapted by Amrita Rawat from a recipe originally published on feastie.com

2 cups flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. baking soda
Pinch salt
½ cup butter, soft (or apple butter)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup boiled apple cider*
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup full-fat yogurt
1 Tbsp. dark rum
1 Tbsp. oil
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cardamom

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
• In a separate bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together until fluffy and combined. Add in the egg, and beat well. Add in the cider, syrup, yogurt, rum and oil.
• Use a spatula to stir the flour mixture into the wet mixture.
• Spray a mini muffin pan with non-stick spray and scoop the batter into each muffin mold, about a tablespoon for each mold so that it is no more than ¾ full. Bake for about 12 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached.
• In a bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon and cardamom.
• Roll each warm muffin into the sugar mixture. (I used a toothpick to remove the muffin from the pan). If you don’t roll them in the sugar mixture immediately, and they cool, you can dip them first in melted butter and then roll them in the sugar.

* If you don’t want to order the boiled cider, try making it yourself like Brooklyn Farmhouse.

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