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Feb 19, 2018
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Archive for November, 2012

Drink this Weekend Edition: Where to grab a drink while wearing that little black dress

Friday, November 30th, 2012

— Photo by Greg Rannells

On the morning that I had scheduled a visit to Bar Les Frères, restaurateur Zoe Pidgeon’s new Frenchy place at 7637 Wydown Blvd., in Clayton, my teenage son gave my skirt, tights and heels the once-over. “Where are you going?” he asked, knowing that I care more about a sharpened pencil than a pencil skirt.

“Zoe’s new place,” I answered, which meant nothing to him. I revised, explaining that the woman behind I Fratellini and Bobo Noodle House had such an eye for design that she could ready a porta-potty for auction at Sotheby’s and then sell it for six figures. I showed up at Bar Les Frères at the appointed hour. Would you know it? Robinson was wearing a little black dress. It was 2 p.m.

You cannot outdo Pidgeon, but you can join her. And you should, especially when you yearn for a touch of elegance – be it in the glass, on the plate or within the portrait gallery-esque space that characterizes Pigeon’s petite bar and restaurant.

If you’re going to begin the evening at Bar Les Frères, do it with bubbles. The drink list – a collaboration between Pidgeon, general manager Michael Weber and bar manager Tommy Gray – includes five Champagne cocktails. Best bets: a French 75 (pictured, left) served with an orange twist (“That’s what makes the drink,” said Gray decidedly.) or the aromatic, highly effervescent St. Germaine Cocktail (pictured, right) made with elderflower liqueur, Champagne, club soda and garnished with a lemon twist. Pair either drink with an appetizer that’s equally light-tasting and classy: potato blinis with caviar and creme fraiche.

Bar Les Frères is about vintage, so you won’t find newly invented cocktails here. Instead, you’ll find yourself relishing the revival of the Pimm’s Cup, Dubonnet Cocktail or Tres Jolie (pictured, left). The latter, a minimalist, but highly tasty drink – dry vermouth, Dubonnet (a French aperitif made from red wine and flavored with quinine and bitter herbs) and Cointreau – may just be my new favorite oldie. Bar Les Frères, despite the diminutive square footage, is a full-service restaurant, so pair that Tres Jolie with a plate just as full-flavored, like the house-made Toulouse sausage with potato pancake and red cabbage.

Cap off the night with coffee? Pssh. Caffeine isn’t available at Bar Les Frères, so ask for the digestif menu. You’ll find liqueurs and cream-based cocktails that more than qualify as dessert. The Dumante Alexander (pictured right), with crème de cacao, pistachio liqueur and chocolate shavings, is decadent. The Grasshopper is a liquid version of Andes mints, the chocolate candy of the holiday season.

Lady friends, Bar Les Frères is the best reason of late to don the black dress and grab a drink. Guys, your attire doesn’t matter. Jeans? Fine. Just hold open the door. And please, let her order first.

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

Friday, November 30th, 2012

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

The Civil Life
That’s @CivilBrews unwrapping @TheCivilLife 2 new 40’s fermenters and a 40 brite. He thinks these are single servings pic.twitter.com/EiBkB4KY

Something smells like funnel cake….

Cat Stevens’ Peace Train. Gingerbread latte. O’Hare layover. OD book for a school weekend. Perfect combination for absolute contentment.

I’ve become pretty good at poaching eggs while listening to Bob Seger and working out. I’m super proud of myself right now.

It going to be 65 degrees today – I would say 1/2 day with a few Amarillo Pale Ales on the patio!

Long day = congee for dinner.

I want artisan rice Krispy treats. Homemade marshmallow, homemade butter, and gluten free homemade brown rice krispy cereal.

The @BaetjeFarms van drove past me on my way home from work today. It took all the strength I had not to flag them down for some cheese!

If they did, people would never leave! RT @Cory_King_: Wish the #airport had a better beer selection…

Hot Cheetos and Takis. Stuck in my head.

just dumped a bottle of @Schlafly TIPA…………………… into a dish to make bread. well, my wife did. but i’ll eat that hoppy bread.

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

Thursday Giveaway: The clock is ticking!

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Love free stuff? Stressing about holiday shopping? We have good news! Today we’re giving away a multi-compartment produce bag by Mercado. With this quirky bag, you’re sure to become the most fashionable shopper at your local farmers market. To enter to win, all you have to do is click here. Entries start NOW and last until 6:30 p.m. Then, we’ll randomly pick a winner and announce him or her tomorrow morning via Facebook, Twitter and our blog.

**Our winner this week is Barb Hughes. Barb, look for an email from the Sauce crew. Thanks for playing!**

Extra Sauce: Short List Runner-Up

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

{The Daily Bread Bakery & Cafe’s baguette}

While we searched for the perfect baguette for this month’s Short List, we dismissed plenty of lightweight, flimsy, 3½-inch-high loaves that were nothing like the real-deal baton. In order to find our top three, we subjected each baguette to seven – yes, seven – tests. Read about (and see) our finalists here. And as for the baguette that fell just shy of taking home a medal? The runner-up prize goes to St. Louis Bread Co.

St. Louis Bread Co., offers one of the most flavorful French baguettes in town. The recipe uses just the right amount of salt and the interior tastes almost buttery. If the loaf wasn’t consistently over-baked, turning the crust two shades darker than we’d like and transforming the heel-bite experience into a non-event, there’s a high probability that the St. Louis-born-bakery gone national would’ve placed in our top three.

St. Louis Bread Co.
Various locations, panerabread.com

— photo by Greg Rannells

The Scoop: Joyia Tapas opens tomorrow in The Grove

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Tapas restaurant and bar Joyia is preparing to open doors tomorrow. The Mediterranean restaurant, located in The Grove at 4501 Manchester Ave., makes its home in the space most recently occupied by the short-lived Crostini Restaurant and Lounge and, prior to that, Mia Rosa.

As reported by Ian Froeb of the Riverfront Times, Joyia is owned by Chuck Pener. With his new venture, Pener, also a partner in Momos Ouzaria Taverna in University City, moves beyond Greek offerings to include Mediterranean flavors from the likes of Spain, Italy and other eastern Mediterranean countries.

Sandwiches, many in the form of wraps, dominate the lunch menu. Dinner selections include lighter fare such as soups, salads and spreads. More filling items include seafood, meat and vegetarian small plates; gyros and kabobs; and pastas and flatbreads. The Joyia kitchen is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and on Sundays from 4 to 10 p.m. The bar remains open two hours later, nightly.

Just Five: Molten Chocolate Cakes with White Chocolate Lava

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

These cakes made everyone do a happy dance twice around the house. The first dance happened when the smells of chocolate filled the air because, besides the smell of baking bread, that’s the best way for a home to smell. The second time was when we cut into the cakes and saw the white chocolate filling; it was like the most decadent Hostess Cupcake you’ll ever find. Don’t have fancy chocolate? Use semi-sweet chocolate chips (and a little less sugar). These lovely treats should be eaten within an hour, so make them and serve them and then, well, if there are extras, eat another one because they don’t reheat very well. And if a scoop of vanilla ice cream happens to fall upon your plate, I won’t judge.

Molten Chocolate Cakes with White Chocolate Lava
Adapted by Dee Ryan from a recipe by Food Network’s Claire Robinson
Makes 8 single-serving cakes

2 sticks butter plus more for greasing the ramekins
½ lb. bittersweet chocolate (at least 60%), chopped
½ cup, plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
3 large eggs
¼ cup all-purpose flour
12 1-inch squares white chocolate (or 8 Lindt brand white chocolate truffles)

Special Tools:
8 6-oz. ramekins

• Preheat the oven to 350.
• Butter the ramekins and set them aside.
• Set up a double boiler or bring a pot of water to a simmer. Add 2 sticks of butter and the bittersweet chocolate to top of the double boiler or, if using a pot of simmering water, to a tempered glass bowl that you then place atop the pot of water. Once the butter and chocolate have melted, whisk in the sugar until smooth.
• If using a metal double boiler, transfer the melted mixture to a fresh bowl to cool it down. Then, whisk in the eggs and flour. If using a glass bowl set atop a pot of simmering water, remove the glass bowl from the heat and let it sit for about 3 minutes before whisking in the eggs and the flour.
• Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet and divide the batter equally until they are about 2/3 full.
• Carefully push 1½ white chocolate squares (or 1 truffle) into the center of each ramekin until it is just covered by the chocolate batter.
• Bake the cakes for 30 to 35 minutes, or until they are puffy and almost completely set around the edges – they will still look somewhat wet.
• Remove the ramekins from the oven and let them sit for about 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edge of each cake; place a small plate on top of the ramekin and slowly invert the plate. The cake should come out of the ramekin easily.
• Serve immediately.

The Scoop: Sage rolls out house-made pasta and other fresh changes

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Sage Urban American Grill owners Ceil Diemert and her husband John Schute are taking Sage in a different direction. The old menu is being swept away in favor of a new one built around house-made pastas, the freshness of locally sourced foodstuffs and the culinary talents of its executive chef Dylan Cunningham and his right-hand man Caleb Kosek.

What exactly is in store for diners when this restaurant, located in Soulard at 1031 Lynch St., launches its changes? Let’s start with that hand-rolled pasta. Among flat pastas, patrons will find tagliatelle and pappardelle. Stuffed pastas include potato-Parmesan tortellini and Parmesan-ricotta ravioli. “It’s so delicate, light, fresh and beautiful,” Kosek remarked about his preference for fresh over dried pasta. Kosek, who joined Sage some six months ago, learned to roll pasta while working in Italian restaurants – including the now defunct Terragusto – in his hometown of Chicago. Pasta lovers who live a hectic life, take note: Sage will also be selling its pasta to-go for those who want to prepare a quick meal at home.

The house-made pasta will star in numerous dishes, including newbies like chicken noodle soup as well as time-tested-now-tweaked shrimp and steak that will be served with pappardelle instead of penne and Italian sausage instead of Cajun-style sausage.

The dinner crowd will be able to order a la carte or experience three- or four-course Italian meals served family style; the lunch experience will be a bit more casual as customers will place orders at the counter, although food will be served tableside.

Sage will be closed on December 3 and 4 in preparation for the debut of its new menu. Doors will re-open on December 5 for lunch at 11 a.m., with dinner service beginning at 5 p.m.

The Scoop: Relocation, relocation, relocation

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

{Chicken at PM BBQ}

‘Tis the season to relocate. By now, all of St. Louis – and most of Foodie U.S.A. – knows that doors are unlocked at Niche in its new home at 7734 Forsyth Blvd., in Clayton. But a change of address is trending for a number of area restaurants. Today marks the first lighting of the ‘cue at 161 Long Road in Chesterfield, the new location for PM BBQ. The pitmasters up and moved their smoker from 103 Chesterfield Towne Center to the southwest corner of Long and Edison Roads. PM’s dining digs have doubled while the “way bigger kitchen,” as described by one employee, will enable those in the back of the house to maneuver more easily and facilitate catering. Also now open is Sapore Italian Cafe. Chef-owner Paul Buzzetta announced in mid-October that he would be relocating the restaurant from its space in Ballwin to 451 S. Kirkwood Road, where just weeks ago the shingle hung for Branica of Kirkwood.

Finally, keep your eyes posted on the Lafayette Fire Company No. 1 Facebook page. The restaurant left Lafayette Square in September and will soon be ringing the dinner bell at 3518 Hampton Ave., formerly occupied by Da Baldo’s Trattoria. The most recent post, dated November 14, on Lafayette Fire Company No. 1’s Facebook page reads: “We are doing all we can to finish up the building to meet all the requirements. Our intention is to open as soon as we can. Hopefully if all works out we can set a [sic] opening day soon. Thanks for your patience!!”

— Photo by Carmen Troesser

By the Book: Chad Robertson’s Starter

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

I had heard about Tartine Bakery through foodie shows, blogs and this video. Ever since I watched Chad Robertson make breads and pastries, I’d been planning an indefinite trip to San Francisco during which I eat at Tartine for breakfast every morning.

When I learned that a book of his bread recipes was out, I was excited to give it a try. I wanted to make a baguette. Only problem was that Robertson’s baguettes, just like all the bread recipes in his book, required making a starter. It was my first time making a starter and, being fairly new to bread baking, I found that this book was a bit overwhelming.

Tartine Bread is more advanced than my beginner status. I needed more specific and concise instructions. Instead, the instructions were long and sometimes vague like: “fill a small bowl halfway with warm water and add a handful of flour to the water.” I found the lack of measurements to be confusing. I never knew whether I was adding too much or too little flour to my starter.

{my inactive starter}

Making this starter can take several days.  After a few days of keeping my starter, it looked and smelled like the book said it should: crusty and stinky. After feeding it, however, I realized that it was no longer matching the description in the book. I waited a few more days for the starter to begin to rise and fall, but it never happened. The starter was dead.  The lack of measuring how much starter to discard and how much water and flour to add was probably what killed my Tartine bread dreams.

The book is beautiful and the pictures of the bread look delicious, but I think this read is better suited for the seasoned bread baker. I guess I’ll have to wait till I can make it to San Francisco.

Making a Starter

• Mix 5 pounds of bread flour-half white and half whole wheat. You will use this 50/50 flour blend to feed your culture and develop your starter. All-purpose flour will work as well. Fill a small, clear bowl halfway with lukewarm water. Add a handful of the 50/50 flour blend to the water and mix with your hands to achieve the consistency of a thick batter with no lumps. Use a dough spatula to clean the clumps off your hands and tidy the inside of the bowl. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and place in a cool, shaded spot for 2 to 3 days.

• After 2 to 3 days, check the culture to see if any bubbles have formed around the sides and on the surface. If the culture seems inactive, let it sit for another day or 2. By this time, a dark crust may have formed over the top of the mixture, which is typical. Pull the crust back and note the aroma and bubbles caused by fermentation. In this initial stage, when the culture smells strong like stinky cheese and tastes sharply acidic, it is very ripe. Now it is time to do the first feeding.

• To feed the culture, discard about 80 percent of it. Replace the discarded portion with equal amounts of water and the 50/50 flour blend. Mix to combine just as you did in step 1. You have now begun training your culture into a starter.

• Repeat the discarding and feeding process once every 24 hours at about the same time each day, preferably in the morning. Don’t worry too much about the quantities of water and flour in these feedings. You want a thick batter. The important thing is that you feed the starter and pay attention to its behavior as it develops.

• As the balance of yeast and bacteria is established, the volume of the starter will increase for several hours after feeding and then begin to collapse as the cycle winds down. Note how the aroma of the starter changes from stinky and sharply acidic to sweet milky just after the feeding, when the starter is at the freshest or youngest stage in the cycle. “Fresh” and “young” are expressed and understood here in two ways: 1) The sweet stage of ripeness having been fed the normal 20-percent inoculation (2 to 4 hours) and 2) and/or many more hours (4 to 8) after having been fed using a very small inoculation (percent), yet still at the same sweet ripe stage. When the starter ferments predictably – rising and falling after feedings – you are ready to prepare a leaven and mix your first bread dough.

• Keep in mind that training your starter is a forgiving process. Don’t worry if you forget to feed it one day; just make sure to feed it the next. The only surefire way to mess up a starter is to neglect it for a long period of time or subject it to extreme temperatures. Even then, the cycle of regular feedings will usually restore the vitality of your starter.

Reprinted with permission from Chronicle Books

Have any tricks for making and feeding a starter? Tell us about it in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Steve, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won him a copy of Flour Water Salt Yeast. Steve, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.

Meatless Monday: Crushing on Crushed Red’s veggie pizza

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Need a quick meatless bite tonight? Check out Crushed Red Urban Bake & Chop Shop, a casual pizza, salad and soup spot in downtown Clayton.

At Crushed Red, patrons order their food at the counter like a fast food restaurant. But while the layout creates a relaxed and breezy atmosphere, the eatery’s fare isn’t remotely comparable to typical fast food.

Try one of the daily rotating soups if it’s a chilly winter day. On my visit, there were two appealing vegetarian options: Brie and Mushroom Bisque, and Butternut Squash. But I couldn’t resist a house-made pie, so I opted for the Blistered Corn, Asparagus and Pesto Pizza, one of the many meatless offerings. This personal pizza’s bubbly crust was coated with a creamy basil pesto and piled with plump slices of tomatoes, fresh asparagus and sweet roasted corn and then sprinkled with mild mozzarella and fiery crushed red pepper flakes.

Whether it’s a work lunch, an afternoon pick-me-up or a prolonged dinner with friends, enjoying a laid-back Meatless Monday just got a lot easier in downtown Clayton.

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