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Archive for September, 2013

The Month in Review: September 2013

Monday, September 30th, 2013

As we get ready to reveal our latest issue, we take a look back at some of our favorite stories, recipes, dishes and drinks from September.




We showed you how to break out of your wine funk; we tracked down the last untamed spirit; we found a way to put pie on a stick; we made a sandwich worth waiting all year for; Russ & Daughters taught us how to make salmon chowder; we found a hidden gem in South County; we met a man with a quixotic dream; we took the pork out of carbonara and still liked it; pad Thai popcorn and pink peppercorn became all the rage; we met this guy who’s mildly obsessed with beer cans; toasted nut and honey grits were delivered by popular demand; we cured our own lox; we chatted with Anthony Ellerson Jr., and his dog; the Aporkalypse Pretzelwich threatened to end all sandwiches; we found the best places to watch the big game.



The Scoop: Neopolitan pizzeria to open in downtown Maplewood

Monday, September 30th, 2013



A Pizza Story is coming to the busy strip on Manchester Road in downtown Maplewood, and doors may open by early December. A Pizza Story is a venture by Sherif Nasser, Muhammad Alhawagri and Nael Saad. According to Nasser, he and Alhawagri had bounced around the idea of opening a pizzeria for years. While the trio of owners is not Italian, Alhawagri, who will leave his post as a lab biologist at Washington University to run A Pizza Story, is “passionate about eating,” said Nasser. On a recent trip to Italy, Alhawagri went “from pizza place to pizza place,” eating and chatting with pizzaioli about pizza-making, explained Nasser. “He has been perfecting his pizza recipe for the last few years,” continued Nasser. “He approaches it like a lab.”

A Pizza Story will specialize in wood-fired Neopolitan pizza. Other menu items will include rotating pasta dishes (always with a vegetarian and meat or seafood options), Italian appetizers and salads. In addition, noted Nasser, he and his partners are in discussion with a pastry chef to prepare a selection of Italian desserts. A Pizza Story also will have a bar; it has already been approved for a liquor license.

When renovations to transform the former typewriter shop into a pizza joint are complete, the restaurant will seat up to 70 patrons, plus additional sidewalk seating during warm weather.



The Scoop: Chef Chris Lee becomes two-time champ at Taste of St. Louis

Monday, September 30th, 2013

093013_TasteOfSTL_04{From left, Kore Wilbert and Chris Lee}

While thousands of visitors to Budweiser Taste of St. Louis walked away happy this weekend after sampling dishes from the 45 restaurants on Restaurant Row, another man walked away all smiles – but not because of a full belly. Chef Chris Lee of River City Casino was declared champion of Chef Battle Royale, successfully defending the title that he earned at last year’s culinary competition. Assisting the victory was Lee’s sous chef Kore Wilbert, who works as a member of the culinary team at De Paul Health Center.

The three days of heated cooking action brought eight area chefs to the culinary stage at Taste. Lee’s road to victory began when he faced off against Wil Pelly, executive chef at Sanctuaria and Lee’s protege. (Lee departed from In Good Company, the parent company of Sanctuaria and its sister restaurants Café Ventana, Diablito’s Cantina and Hendricks BBQ, in December 2012.) Lee then bested Josh Norris of Triumph Grill in a beef-centric cookoff, taking him to the final round where he went knife-to-knife against Alumni Saint Louis executive chef Eric Brenner. Other chefs participating in Chef Battle Royale included Elizabeth Schuster of Tenacious Eats, Jon Lowe of Océano Bistro, Mike Johnson of Sugarfire Smoke House and Patrick Connolly of Basso.


093013_TasteOfSTL_01{Lee’s winning dish}

In the final round, Lee and Brenner were charged with preparing a dish that highlighted lobster, as well as Budweiser beer. Lee’s entry consisted of a lobster burger, a Budweiser milkshake and spiral-cut fries served wrapped in beech wood, the same wood used in the Budweiser beer fermenting process. Contestants in the final round also were required to submit a dessert. Lee’s sweet plate consisted of chocolate hazelnut crunch, chocolate mousse, a graham cracker, Concord grape gelée, meringue cooked in a dehydrator and an artful stroke of raspberry puree.

Hungry for more Taste of St. Louis eye candy? Go to our Facebook page.



Meatless Monday: Fozzie’s Black Bean Burger

Monday, September 30th, 2013



Black bean burgers get a bad rap for being too dry, but Fozzie’s Sandwich Emporium gets it right. A house-made bean patty is topped with roasted red peppers, caramelized onions and lettuce, and the bun is slathered with a sharp garlic mayo. (We add provolone cheese to our burger because cheese makes everything better.) It’s a satisfying meal, and for just under $7, it’s a steal at both locations. While you’re at it, order the mint julep milkshake. It’s only Monday, and it’s gonna be a long week.



In This Issue: Beer Nerds Unite

Monday, September 30th, 2013



It makes perfect sense that the headquarters for hardcore beer-can collectors is right here in beer town.

The Brewery Collectibles Club of America (formerly called the Beer Can Collectors of America) is located in an average, unassuming office in an industrial park in Fenton, but from there, the club coordinates 3,500 members in 106 chapters spread throughout the land. Legions of collectors who’ve turned their homes into beer can shrines seek solace with the BCCA, which provides bimonthly periodicals, beer memorabilia price guides, and camaraderie at the annual “Canvention” where the whole gang gets together.

Since 1970, the BCCA has been a resource for those who collect beer cans, bottles, coasters, neon signs, trays, bottle openers, tap knobs, glasses, mirrors, matchbooks and the like. And, as in every hobby, there are “holy grail” items – cans like the Budweiser “Crowntainer,” a 1940s-era prototype never released to the public that sold for a whopping $20,000 in a private sale, said Kevin Kious, office manager at the BCCA.

Locally, the BCCA Gateway chapter boasts 160 members, many who enjoy collecting regional breweriana from the likes of Anheuser-Busch, Falstaff, Griesedieck Brothers, Hyde Park, Lemp, Stag, and Alpen Brau, a beer introduced by the Columbia Brewing Co. at the 1904 World’s Fair, explained Kious.

Since hobbies have a way of creeping up and spreading out, in collectors’ homes there can be conjugal battles over all the empty beer cans lining the walls. “Some spouses barely tolerate the cans, but some are active participants,” said Kious. “It’s led to a few divorces, but it’s also led to a few marriages.”

At BCCA chapter meetings and conventions, membership tends to be on the older side, but thanks to the rise of craft breweries, young blood is flowing into the hobby. “The craft brewers have resurrected the whole industry,” Kious said. In the 70s, all you could buy in the liquor store was lager slop. No one would have predicted this 40 years ago. The industry has come full circle, and now with craft breweries canning many of their beers, it’s an exciting time for us.”




In This Issue: Mezcal – The last untamed spirit

Sunday, September 29th, 2013



In a time when vodkas and whiskeys are being over-proofed, under-proofed and flavored every which way, a spirit that hasn’t changed for centuries is finally, quietly, entering the consciousness of the American drinker: mezcal.

Mezcal is produced from the agave plant, or maguey as it’s known in Spanish. To make craft mezcal, a mezcalero roasts the piña, or heart, of the agave in a wood-fired pit for days. After the roasted piña is milled with mallets or by horse-powered stone mills, its solids and juices are then fermented in wooden vats with yeast for nearly two weeks before being twice distilled in copper or clay pot stills.

“It’s the last undiscovered spirit,” said Christopher Stevens, regional distribution manager for Craft Distillers, known for its handcrafted liqueurs and spirits, including artisanal mezcals like Alipús, Los Nahuales and Mezcalero. “It’s a misunderstood spirit,” he continued. “People think it’s a poorly made product, bottom shelf. It’s not. It’s made by villages – many which depend on it for economic survival. And it’s been made the same way for centuries. Mezcal came before tequila.”

Click here to read more about this undiscovered spirit, and for where to get the best mezcal cocktails around town, click here.



Drink This Weekend Edition: Side Project’s big debut

Friday, September 27th, 2013



This Saturday at Perennial Artisan Ales, Cory King releases his first three beers from his new brewing company, Side Project Brewing. Through Side Project, King, who also works as head brewer at Perennial, is making small-batch ales, all aged in wine or spirits barrels.

King untaps his beer at noon, but the fun begins much earlier. At 8 a.m., Strange Donuts provides free doughnuts and coffee to the first 100 people, and at 11 a.m., the food truck Hot Aztec rolls up.

Getting a little food in your belly might be a good idea, seeing as The Origin, one of King’s new beers, clocks in at 14.3 ABV. The Origin is a blend of Imperial stout, black oat-wine and Baltic porter aged for 20 months in a Rittenhouse Rye barrel with Madagascar vanilla beans. The second beer, Saison du Fermier, is a robust, chardonnay barrel-fermented saison, yet, according to King, is “balanced with the brightness, depth and rustic character of [yeast strains] Brettanoymces and Lactobacillus found in traditional saisons. It is the harmony of new and old.” Lastly, look for Brett Project #1, the first in a series of beers fermented and aged in wine barrels with different Brettanomyces strains. The series explores “how single strains of Brettanomyces ferment and condition a Saison malt bill.”

Can’t make it to this release? Don’t worry; there are more to come. In the pipeline are more Brett Project beers, along with a wheat saison aged in a chardonnary barrel, a blonde American wild ale fermented in chardonnay barrels and aged with white peaches, and a Flanders-style red ale fermented in chambourcin barrels and aged with blueberries.



A harvest morning at Mount Pleasant Estates

Friday, September 27th, 2013



This week, I joined the team at Mount Pleasant Estates in Augusta for its seasonal grape harvest. Any preconceived romantic notions I had of how this process actually works were proved false before we even began. Like most agricultural endeavors, the harvest began early in the morning. Before sunrise. Covered in darkness.

Armed with a healthy dose of strong coffee, I met Mount Pleasant president Chuck Dressel and head winemaker Colin Pennington. Though we started early, Dressel explained the harvest this year actually began late.

The grape we harvested that day, vidal blanc, is the last white grape harvested during the season, and due to a colder spring and mild summer, the grapes appeared on the vines about 28 days later than usual. Mount Pleasant uses the vidal blanc to produce its well reviewed Villagio and Villagio Estates wines. This fresh, fruit-forward wine could be compared pinot grigio in style.

Our grapes were earmarked to become Villagio Estate wine, featuring the highest quality vidal blanc grapes produced this season. Even though this year’s grapes are later than usual, the team at Mount Pleasant said it is happy with the fruit’s high quality.




A large, 14-foot machine, sensibly called a “picker,” does the actual harvesting from the vines. Once the fruit is gathered in large bins, its transported to Mount Pleasant, where the wine-making process begins by crushing the fruit. The winemakers process the vidal blanc grapes into juice and use underground pipes to transport it to stainless steel tanks where the juice ferments.

As it ages, the wine’s flavor changes from green apple to harsh grapefruit, finally becoming the pleasant, fruit-forward, aromatic finished product. Harvest at Mount Pleasant Estates continues into October with red grapes chambourcin, St. Vincent and Norton up next.




Villagio and Villagio Estates are expected to be available in May 2014. The Villagio will retail around $10 a bottle, and the more complex Villagio Estates will be roughly $21 a bottle.

The Scoop: Wilfrin Fernandez-Cruz moving to Winslow’s Home

Friday, September 27th, 2013


As of next month, Wilfrin Fernandez-Cruz will be the new executive chef at Winslow’s Home located at 7213 Delmar Blvd. In a press release, Winslow’s Home owner Ann Sheehan Lipton wrote, “His leadership couldn’t come at a better time, as our new kitchen and private dining expansion are close to completion.”

After moving to St. Louis from New York City, Fernandez-Cruz was working as executive chef at The Restaurant at The Cheshire, and he currently oversees operations at Washington University’s fine-dining restaurant, Ibby’s. In regards to his new position, Fernandez-Cruz said, “The place has such a history in St. Louis. The chef before was doing such great things. I want to make sure we are going in the same direction. The new restaurant in the basement will be a huge step for Winslow’s Home. I’m very very excited.”

Fernandez-Cruz will take the place of Cary McDowell, who is now working as executive chef for Gringo.


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

Friday, September 27th, 2013


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

cappuccino flavor Lara bar. Just say no. #composty

It took me 30 years to realize “au jus” means something other than “aww juice!”  Real talk.

Free Spiced Pumpkin Latte samples at Starbucks- full sugar, fat, and octane.  Evil, evil Starbucks… #350CaloriesForATall #AreYouInsane?

Grilling porterhouse steaks. Had no idea they were the size of a live cow.

Chili is simmering on the stove. I already want fuzzy socks and a hot cuppa tea. #TeamFall

Pretty nice view during fall.mornings out in the country.#chaumette pic.twitter.com/pNHPjs731g

I’m gonna need a cigarette after this banana pudding with brown butter pastry creme. @cookingkid @thelibertinestl pic.twitter.com/T42sByF4sM

Sensational dinner at Cleveland Heath tonight. Keep the vino coming Glenn! @EricedheathEric @Cleveland_Heath

I dream of a reverse yelp where staff review customers. My God would that be amazing.

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



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