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Oct 24, 2017
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘February 2014’

The Month in Review: February 2014

Friday, February 28th, 2014
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 February 2014.

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We found the best malty beers to buy; we met five women who are changing the face of farming; we put these six places on our Hit List; we discovered an awesome, rice-less bibimbap; local chocolate stole our hearts; we wrote an ode to a dive bar; we found a bloody mary that smacks every other version across the jaw; we found Southern charm in the CWE; game-day snacks went vegan, and everyone loved it; we shared our love for sherry; we told you about a new butcher shop headed your way; we found a locavore’s dream dish; some pretty awesome people were nominated for a pretty awesome award; we couldn’t resist breakfast for lunch; we had a chat with Stephen and Sara Hale.

 

 

The Changing Face of Farming: Elizabeth Parker of Kuhs Estate & Farm

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

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My great-grandfather bought the land in 1915. Without telling his wife or his two kids, he bought the land, designed it, built the house, decorated and furnished it, then drove them up one weekend to surprise them. When he passed away, he bequeathed different shares of stock to the family. When my mom passed away, I was 57 percent stockholder.

One of the things my mom said to me as she was sort of saying goodbye and getting ready was, “You won’t be able to take this on. This is gonna take a huge life shift for you.” I was director of City Museum for three years and sales and marketing for Alive [Magazine] and living a very fast-paced life – very much a city girl. And when she died, everything in me just shifted. This is a legacy, and there is an implied sense of stewardship. This is what I want to do; this is what I have to do. This is my anchor, my home.

I want to make it a sustainable farm again. I want it to be a place of happiness and refuge and a sanctuary where people can come to rediscover their souls in the quiet time between cell phones and texting – to just go sit under a big tree in complete quiet or look at the confluence and let it speak to you. And it has become that.

It’s been a struggle. I think of it sort of like empire-building. I don’t expect it to be complete overnight, but it has a magic and a magnetism that draws people to it who share the same love and appreciation. I have friends who will come out and spend the night, so they can get up and be on a horse at dawn. Or people that drive from St. Louis to get fresh eggs, and then in the break rooms at work, they try to convert their co-workers by breaking open a store-bought egg versus a farm-fresh egg. That it means something to other people it’s not even convenient for – it’s really empowering and validating.

Anything worth having is hard, but it’s wonderful. And I’ve never been happier. My high heels are in a closet, and I’m in here with a pig.

To read about more women changing the face of farming, click here.
-photo by Carmen Troesser

The Changing Face of Farming: Jamie Bryant of Blue Bell Farm

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

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My husband’s grandmother, who was living at the farm, passed away in 2009. I think he always had it in the back of his mind to do something with the farm because his mother was an only child, and he was an only child, and he knew that it would be up to him at some point. So we started thinking about what it could be. We started a garden in the backyard in Glendale, and it grew and grew. I just loved being able to go out and pick fresh vegetables and herbs for dinner. It suddenly clicked that that made me really happy.

I started an apprenticeship at EarthDance in 2010. It was really validating that yes, I do want to do this and I can do this … to go from a backyard gardener to thinking about things in terms of crops. We decided that I would move up first and get things going. [My husband] Derek was still working in St. Louis, and he would come up on the weekends. The whole kitchen had grow lights hanging down with tables throughout. That’s how we started our seeds that first year because we didn’t have any knowledge of growing outside at that point. It drove Derek crazy because there was dirt on the floors. Thankfully, he wasn’t living here then because I think he would have really lost it.

I want to be in the dirt, growing and harvesting things. It’s not something that I see as labor or a chore. It brings me peace, and it’s meditative. I think it would have been really hard if we hadn’t found a group of young farmers that are like-minded in the area when we moved because it can be kind of lonely at times. In Chicago and St. Louis, I went out a lot. This is sort of an alternative life to that. I never would have imagined it, but I’m glad it happened. I have to remind myself of the beauty of it. When I was first here, I was in awe. I think you get in a routine where you lose that ability to stop and be in the moment for a little bit. Ultimately, raising a family here … in the air and just the freshness of everything … that’s what keeps me going.

To read about other women changing the face of farming, click here.
-photo by Carmen Troesser

The Changing Face of Farming: Connie Cunningham of Sassafras Valley Farm

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

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I’ve been here eight years. [My mom] needed help here at the farm, and she kept getting pneumonia. She was really tough, but she couldn’t keep doing all the work herself. She loved this farm. She wanted to die here. So I put everything in storage and came down.

I had an organic landscaping company in Chicago. I was there 30 years. I came down thinking it was going to be maybe a year, and, instead, all hell broke loose. The economy collapsed, and I had to close the business up there.

My mom … they gave her six to eight months, but she had no intention of going anywhere. They diagnosed her with lung cancer, and she lasted five years. She just kept getting healthier. So when I was caring for my mom, I started applying for grants. People [who] want to go into agriculture … well, don’t go into it without a couple hundred thousand dollars in your pocket. To try to start from scratch – it’s impossible. If you don’t know how to repair things, and you’re not sure about equipment … the fact that I can’t repair my tractor annoys me to death.

It’s been a baptism by fire, but I love it. This is what you have every day when you walk outside: wind chimes and sweet animals who depend on you. It’s beautiful. When there are hundreds of geese in the field and the Pyrenees are out, it’s very idyllic. Especially after 30 years in Chicago. That’s a long time to be in a concrete jungle.

To read about other women changing the face of farming, click here.

-photo by Carmen Troesser

 

 

In This Issue: A Chat with Stephen and Sara Hale

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

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“It was love at first sip,” said Stephen Hale, recalling the day in 1991 when The Tap Room opened, and he handed a brunette named Sara her first Schlafly beer. The couple eventually married, and Schlafly’s former utility girl – she’s worked as a brewer, hostess and manager of the brewery’s art department and design group – now operates Fair Shares, a community-supported agriculture (CSA) she started in 2008. Meanwhile, her utility kilt-wearing husband recently transitioned from his job as chief brewer at The Tap Room to Schlafly’s ambassador brewer. Here, the Hales share tales from careers rich in beer, food and curious clothing.

How did you get hired at Schlafly?
Stephen
: I moved here from Maine. I got a phone call from [Schlafly co-founder] Dan Kopman asking if I’d like to work as assistant brewer. I drove down here sight unseen in October of ’91 – fortunately, after the major heat wave. I looked with increasing horror at the weather and said, “What am I doing?”

Now that you’re an ambassador brewer, how much do you brew these days?
Stephen
: I am not hands-on brewing. Basically, I get a beer in my hand, and I go shoot my mouth off about Schlafly beer and hope everybody likes it and buys more beer.

Sara: How did they ever think of you for that job?

Why did you start Fair Shares?
Sara
: My sister Jamie Choler, who is my co-partner in Fair Shares, and Stephen and I shared a CSA. We loved it. The CSA ends and we’re like, “What are we going to eat?” I’d gotten to know a number of the farmers. I knew a lot of them had food. [A farmer] once came in December and sold me a bunch of food. He came to my house, and I felt like I was doing a drug deal: “Give me some food. I know you’ve got it.” We started thinking we could do something that lasts longer. We could include meat and cheese and eggs, and all that other stuff we go to the market for.

Give me the Fair Shares sales pitch.
Sara
: We’re a combined CSA. We source locally produced foods from small producers and farmers for families in St. Louis.

Stephen: Bring a farmers market to me every week for 46 weeks.

How many employees are there?
Stephen
: Six. I’m the only in-volunteer. The reason I’m with Fair Shares is because I sleep with the president, I like to eat, and I have a pickup truck.

Has Fair Shares encouraged producers to use more local ingredients?
Sara
: That’s a huge goal for us. We’ve got Midwest Pasta using local eggs and local flour now. It’s a Fair Shares exclusive. Companion made bread using Richard Knapp’s wheat flour for our bread.

Stephen: It’s all about relationships.

The same thing is happening with beer.
Stephen: The most recent example is the Chestnut Mild that we brewed in collaboration with Gerard and Suzie Craft. Gerard and his team took 200 pounds of chestnuts. They were roasted at Niche, brought to The Tap Room, run through a grinder and added to the mash.

How many Schlafly beer recipes are yours?
Stephen: I have a handful. Sara has a handful. It’s a team effort. Many of the brewers have created their wedding beers. Ours was Vienna, and Sara did it all.

Sara: That’s where the term “bridal” comes from. It’s the “bride’s ale.” Women were the brewsters. The Vienna, that’s my favorite beer style.

Stephen: It’s the Vienna that’s at Gringo now.

Do you wear a kilt every day?
Stephen
: Effectively, yes. Do you want to see the sarongs?

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

Hit List: 6 new places to try this month

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

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Small Batch: 3001 Locust St., St. Louis, 314.380.2040, smallbatchstl.com

Restaurateur Dave Bailey’s newest concept, Small Batch, pairs the liquor of the moment – whiskey – with 100-percent vegetarian fare in an elegant bistro setting marked by high ceilings, large windows, marble on the bar top and tables, large mirrors, original tile flooring, and ironwork supporting a newly built mezzanine. Order a  flight to sample the extensive whiskey selection. Among small plates, opt for the offbeat eggrolls stuffed with mushrooms and blue cheese, accompanied by a thick fig-port wine dipping sauce. Also nice for sharing is the gratin, which holds an unexpected combination of cipollini onions and white grapes. The light-as-a-feather gnocchi stands out among heartier fare.

 

The Whiskey Ring: 2651 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.769.7249, Facebook: The Whiskey Ring

The Whiskey Ring recently added its name to a growing list of local whiskey bars. This one has a rotating stash of nearly 50 labels. Not in the mood for Basil Hayden’s or 12-year-old Japanese Nikka? The Whiskey Ring has other spirits – recognizable and lesser-known brands – plus eight local brews on tap, bottled beers and a small wine selection.

 

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Pairings Wine & Dessert Bar: 1131 Colonnade Center, Des Peres, 314.821.5455, pairingswinebarstl.com

While Pairings Wine & Dessert Bar offers starters and entrees, it’s the sweet stuff that impressed us. Peanut Butter Affair is layered with chocolate cake, peanut butter fudge and chocolate fudge. Layers of Love (pictured), which features Frangelico-hazelnut chocolate mousse layered between chocolate crepes and topped with dark chocolate ganache and candied hazelnuts, is light and mildly sweet. For a creamy, citrusy delight, try the deconstructed key lime pie.

 

Fields Foods: 1500 Lafayette Ave., St. Louis, 314.241.3276, fieldsfoods.com

It would be an understatement to call Fields Foods just a grocery store. The locally-owned and operated store in Lafayette Square is the newest option for consumers looking to support area farmers, growers and producers, yet it also carries brands that meet the price point of every patron. The prepared foods (all made on-site) section in the 37,000-square-foot store caters to on-the-go customers morning (coffee, eggs, baked goods), noon (wood-fired pizzas, deli sandwiches) and night (rotisserie chicken, smoked ribs). Kudos for its wine and local beer selection, and double-kudos for a wine bar where you can relax with a glass while you hand your shopping list to the concierge.

 

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Taha’a Twisted Tiki: 4199 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.202.8300, tahaatiki.com

It’s rum all the time at the newest nightspot in The Grove. Cocktail offerings include usual suspects like mai tais and Hurricanes, as well as some lesser-known classics like the gin, brandy and ginger beer-laden Suffering Bastard or the frozen, mouth-puckering Missionary’s Downfall. Complement your umbrella drink with chicken wings, Polynesian beef skewers and fish tacos with Asian slaw, pico de gallo and chile lime crema. Forget about life in the city on the back patio where tiki torches, a fire pit and a bar will put you in an island state of mind.

 

801 Chophouse: 137 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton, 314.875.9900, 801restaurantgroup.com/st-louis

Everything about 801 Chophouse in Clayton is big: the massive bar, the towering wine racks, the wide tables and booths, and the portions. Order an 8-ounce filet mignon if you want to save room for a few of the 24 traditional steakhouse sides, the majority available as half-orders. Keep an eye on 801’s Fresh Sheet, a changing menu of seasonal salads, sides, fish and featured wines. For dessert, try the deceptively light house-made Milk Chocolate Frangelico Bombe.

 

 

Eat This: Farmhaus’ Mushroom Salad

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

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The Ozark Forest Mushroom Salad at Farmhaus is a locavore’s dream. A bed of lightly dressed Crop Circle Farm winter greens, a generous helping of toasted Missouri pecans and dollops of goat cheese from Baetje Farms are the foundation for a gigantic pile of crispy shiitake and oyster mushrooms. The ‘shrooms are meaty with the charred, crunchy exterior of a steak and loaded with flavor, thanks to a bold bacon vinaigrette. Farmhaus is always changing dishes, but there’s a reason that this one has stayed on the menu since day one. It is flawless – and timeless.

-photo by Greg Rannells

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