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Dec 14, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘oysters’

The Scoop: Broadway Oyster Bar to open second location in Illinois

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

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Illinois oyster lovers won’t have to cross the Mississippi River to get their bivalve fix once the Grafton Oyster Bar opens in mid to late February. Having received approval from the city of Grafton (and a standing ovation from the 30 or so citizens attending the meeting), co-owners John and Vicki Johnson and chef Brad Hagen plan to see Broadway Oyster Bar through 2016 Mardi Gras festivities, then launch the new location on the river at 215 W. Water St.

John Johnson said the time was right to open another oyster bar after recently completing seating expansion the downtown location. “We’ve been talking about a second location for a long time,” Johnson said. “A large percentage of our customers come from Illinois, and there aren’t many restaurants in Grafton. We hope to bring something a little different.”

The first difference may be the operating hours. Johnson said some restaurants in Grafton close during slow times of the year; he intends to be open year-round, offering food to summer boaters and winter eagle watchers alike. The 175-seat restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating, including an area at a swimming pool adjacent to a boat slip.

Hagen said the food menu will be 75 percent the same as the Broadway location with additional items exclusive to the Grafton like beef medallions with brown butter and lump crab, as well as mussels with andouille and a Cuban sandwich. Look for Illinois brews and a selection of canned beer, as well as similar cocktails and wines as at the Broadway location.

 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: The manifold misunderstandings of muscadet

Friday, April 4th, 2014

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Perhaps it’s our longing for warmer weather, our yen for coastal flavors or maybe we’ve just been drinking too many stout beers, but lately, we’ve been thinking a lot about muscadet.

First, a few clarifications: Muscadet is not muscat, Moscato, moscatel or muscadelle. In fact, it is nothing like wines made from those grapes. Moreover, muscadet is not a grape, but it does come from just one grape – melon de Bourgogne. And no, it is not from Burgundy. Muscadet is from the western Loire Valley, from a region called Pays de la Loire. And to make things a little more confusing, muscadet wine comes from any one of four appellations, the largest of which is – you guessed it –muscadet!

Perhaps the most unfortunate feature of muscadet is that it sounds like muscat, a grape that is generally vinified sweet with a relatively low acidity. Muscadet, on the other hand, is very dry with a refreshing acidity. It tends to be aged on the dead yeast cells (called lees) used for fermentation. This adds a creamy, nutty richness that rounds out what can be a rather linear, aromatic, gustatory profile when not handled correctly.

If your eyes have glazed over and you are thinking, These jerks really revel in pure pedantry. I’m gonna go get a glass of Cali chard and suck down a dozen freshly shucked Duxburys, please wait. You see, muscadet might just be the world’s best oyster wine. The wine’s vigorous acidity provides a counterbalance to the sweet melon flavors of west coast oysters, and the nutty, briny notes of Muscadet harmonize with the brine of east coast oysters, while the citrus notes provide a piquant counterpoint.

That said, muscadet pairs with a great number of foods, though we think seafood, particularly shellfish and crustaceans, are ideal matches. Of course, we also enjoy it on its own, and with a maximum allowed alcohol level of 12 percent alcohol leve and a light-to-medium body, muscadet is a perfect spring and summer wine. Drink this every day above 79 degrees (or any day you desire affordable pleasure).

Our pick: Pierre Luneau-Papin (Domaine Pierre de La Grange), 2012 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Val de Loire, France

On the nose: peanut skin due to nine months spent on the lees, plus briny lemon and ocean air

On the palate: crushed seashell, honeydew melon rind, Anjou pear, and pleasantly prickly acidity

Vintage is important here; be sure to seek out the 2012, which is available by the glass at De Mun Oyster Bar and will soon be on shelves at Parker’s Table, Lukas Liquor, The Wine and Cheese Place and The Wine Merchant.

Five Questions with Ben Edison: The extended interview

Thursday, April 4th, 2013



{Executive chef Ben Edison with his daughter Delaney}

As warm air moves in, the patio at DeMun Oyster Bar is sure to fill up fast. But if it’s been a while since you stopped by this Parisian-style bar, you’ll be surprised to find more than bivalves and bubbles. Here, new executive chef Ben Edison told us what to expect at Clayton’s hippest watering hole.

When did you take over the kitchen and what have been some of the big menu changes since then? Overall, we went from a small, very limited menu to a full seafood-restaurant menu, and we also have some meat dishes. It’s not just oysters, at all. Now we have eight entrees and it’s pretty extensive.

What are some of the items on the restaurant’s new late-winter/spring menu? We do a Dungeness crab ravioli on the new menu. We have a really nice lamb porterhouse. We have a salmon in Pernod tomato sauce. We have a Pear Wellington, which is a new dessert. Everything in it we make in-house, except the phyllo dough – you’d have to be a masochist to make that. It’s star-anise-braised pears wrapped in puff pastry and then topped with Gjetöst cheese, a Danish cheese that tastes like caramel. Then we add a scoop of triple-vanilla gelato on a pool of Calvados gastrique. I act as pastry chef, too, with my daughter (pictured). She’s 17. She does the chocolate torte. We collaborate. She’s been baking since she was 8. We started a brunch on the weekends, too, and we’re still open late. You can come in and get a full entree until 11 p.m., or midnight in the summer.

Do you find that many people are still afraid to try oysters around these parts? I would rather take my chances with a raw oyster than a Chinese buffet. With all the testing they do of the water and the oysters and the tracking and the info-gathering, getting sick from an oyster is incredibly rare. At DeMun, we’re getting oysters that were in the water in the morning in Seattle, and I’ve got them in the restaurant by 6 p.m. that night.

I love oysters, but I gather some diners’ objections may have to do with an “oozy” texture. Then I say just suck ‘em down real fast – don’t chew ‘em – and you’ll get the flavor of the ocean.

How often do you eat oysters? Everyday. I’ll usually eat at least a dozen a day. I prefer them raw with nothing on them. We fly our oysters in daily; we’re the only restaurant in St. Louis that does. I have a list of 40 different oysters, and sometimes I kind of forget exactly what one tastes like, or the flavor changes because of the water supply. I have to be able to point people in the right direction.

Is there really a great variation in the taste of different oysters? I hate to make it sound like something from the movie, Sideways. When it comes to oysters, with the hint of this and that and all the silly adjectives, people can get carried away. But the different oysters range from a strong bite or salinity in the front end to a mineral-y, clean finish. Some West Coast oysters have a crisp, cucumber-y finish, but then something like the Kumamoto oyster has a creamier finish. I usually tell people to get a couple or three or four different kinds to try.

How many oysters could you eat in one sitting? I think the most I’ve ever eaten was four or five-dozen, and those were Gulf oysters at a little oyster bar in the Gulf. My uncle and I sat down and finished off about 12 dozen between the two of us. I grew up on the coast, fishing with my father off the coast of Connecticut and spending time in Maryland. That shows in our crab cakes, which are barely held together.

Is it true what they say about oysters being an aphrodisiac? I guess you’d have to ask my girlfriend. (laughs) I like to think that it’s healthy for me. I don’t think there are any ill effects.

What do you like to drink at the end of a busy night? With Nate Selsor, who came from Monarch, as our bar manager, a lot of the time I can just give him a flavor profile and let him play. We have a drink called When All Else Fails that’s really nice. It has rum, Campari, yellow Chartreuse and lemon juice. He just started a brand new drink menu that I’m working my way through now.

What are some of the preparations for oysters you do at the restaurant? In addition to raw, we do ours grilled and fried and occasionally beer-batter fried. We also do a Virgin Bluepoint [oyster] topped with a pancetta béchamel, and then we take kale blanched in pepper water and fried in duck fat and put that on top, followed by cave-aged Gruyere, and then we broil it. That’s our most popular menu item. We call it our house-stuffed oyster.

What’s your favorite drink to enjoy with oysters? Champagne. We have some exotic Champagnes, called grower Champagnes, made by one guy who may have just two acres of grapes and does it all himself. The flavor profiles are just fantastic.

Have you by any chance studied with a sushi chef? I have done a stage with a classically trained Japanese chef. He was the corporate chef at P.F. Chang’s. He was Vietnamese-born and Japanese-trained. Working with him was where I learned almost all of my Asian preparations.

Have you ever eaten the dangerous puffer fish, fugu? I have not, but I certainly would.

Anthony Bourdain once wrote that diners shouldn’t order seafood on Sunday, because the last seafood delivery was Friday – your thoughts? I think that’s completely untrue. I get seafood in on Saturdays. My fish that comes in for Sundays is perfectly stored in coolers and checked. Maybe in the ‘80s that might have been true, but with the abundance of seafood purveyors in St. Louis, they’ll deliver at 5 p.m. on Saturday. People shouldn’t have qualms about eating seafood on Sunday. As far as seafood in the Midwest goes, when you develop a long relationship with seafood purveyors, you get very nice stuff. We get seafood from nine different sources.

Have you shopped at the huge Asian market in U. City, Seafood City? I own a house not far from there. I shop there once a week. The seafood section is fascinating to me. If I’m in the mood for some mussels and feel like cooking them up, I might pick some up from there. I just enjoy walking the aisles and looking at stuff and having no idea what something is and buying it and playing with it.

What do you like to cook at home? If I’ve got two days off in a row, I’ll cook on the second day, but for the most part, I don’t really cook at home a lot. Sometimes the last thing I want to do is look at a pot and pan. I sometimes just go with a frozen pizza and a beer. Other chefs are the same way. We actually eat instant ramen noodles.

Where did you cook before DeMun Oyster Bar? I was a corporate chef for a few years, and before that, I was the fine dining chef at Ameristar Casino. I ran 47 Port Street and Pearl’s Oyster Bar.

Cooking at a casino is a whole different ball game, with the emphasis on extreme customer service. It was a great, great experience. At 47 Port Street, we had people that were big VIPs, so we had deep pockets to create exotic things and do tasting menus. While it was one of the most demanding jobs I ever had, it was fantastic to be able to play with all the stuff we got to bring in. On a Saturday night, you might have a table of four high rollers and you need to throw out an eight-course wine-pairing dinner on the fly for them. When the owner of the entire corporation came into town, there would be like a 22-hour stretch where you made absolutely sure that all his meals came out perfectly.

How does it feel when the kitchen is humming and everything is coming out perfectly? It’s absolutely fantastic. I have a great staff here. My sous chef, Nick Puccio, is really, really strong. We have great cooks that have worked in good restaurants. When things are really rolling, it’s probably the best feeling in the world. It’s exactly why I do this job.

Do you allow music in the kitchen? Only during prep time in the day.

What cooking or food book, TV show or movie do you love? I really don’t watch any of the food shows. I think they’re so unrealistic and fake. My favorite movie about wine is Bottle Shock.

What was your favorite food growing up that your parents made? Stuffed peppers. My parents were big gardeners and we had a huge garden. When the end of the summer would come, my stepmom would spend the entire day making tomato sauce and stuffing them, and they were amazing. Then she would freeze some and we would eat them all winter long, too. When I go home, that’s one of the things she always makes. My mother used to make spaghetti on Sundays and that was great, too.

What food did you hate as a kid that you love now? Clams. Ironic, isn’t it? We would have the freshest clams when I was a kid; we grew up about 12 miles from the ocean. They would make them in a white-wine Alfredo, and I would just eat the noodles. I never realized how much I took seafood for granted.

740 DeMun Ave., Clayton, 314.725.0322, demunoysterbar.com

— photo by Ashley Gieseking

Use This: Finger Limes

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013



Not for your guac, marg or tortilla soup, a finger lime is a most unconventional citrus fruit. Native to the eastern coastal rain forests of Australia, this elongated, gherkin-shaped micro-citrus comes in a rainbow of shades: from green to yellow to pink to rusty red. Inside are tiny juice spheres that look like caviar but burst with lemon-lime flavor.

Use it: Cut the lime in half and scoop out the pulp, then take advantage of its texture and citrus pop by using it as a garnish for seafood and fish; as an accent for sushi and ceviche; as faux roe for oysters, whether atop a half shell or an oyster shooter.

Find it: Global Foods Market, 421 N. Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood, 314.835.1112, globalfoodsmarket.com

Want a recipe for finger limes? Try this recipe for Oysters on the Half Shell with Finger Lime “Roe,” courtesy of Harvest’s Nick Miller.

— photo by Greg Rannells

Drink This Weekend Edition: Selsor swaps bourbon for bubbles

Friday, May 11th, 2012

When a chef switcharoo occurs, culinary onlookers wonder how the new face in the back of the house will impact the food that lands on diners’ plates. A similar question arises when a bartender changes digs. Nate Selsor worked behind the stick for a number of years at the now-defunct Monarch, serving up boozy, New Orleans-style classics at the Maplewood restaurant. Now, he’s managing the bar at DeMun Oyster Bar where bubbly is the typical match to slippery sea fare. The restaurant’s new drink menu launches today and Sauce, intrigued by Selsor’s shift from the world of bourbon and rye, asked the seasoned barman to show us some of his new creations.

Selsor’s cocktails are spring weather palate pleasers. They also fall squarely within the oyster bar’s atmosphere: refined elegance balanced with a free-spirited, you’re-invited-too mood. Yet Selsor has managed to work his own personality into the joie de vivre equation, particularly via his penchant for tweaking age-old drinks using less mainstream spirits and mixers. For example, Selsor’s twist on a French 75, called 75 Roses, showcases small-batch gin by Arkansas micro-distillery Brandon’s. Swedish punsch liqueur, Campari and lemon juice all add depth of flavor and body; a topper of sparkling rosé is the finishing touch that keeps this peach-colored drink apropos for a place like DeMun Oyster Bar.

With Pisco Flora, Selsor uses Fruitlab jasmine liqueur to lend a floral bouquet and flavor to a standard Pisco Sour. The newer-to-the-market organic liqueur also serves to sweeten the drink slightly, noted Selsor, so less simple sugar is needed to achieve balance among the grape brandy, tart lemon juice and a couple dashes of bitters.

Devil’s Fire is Selsor’s take on El Diablo, a vintage cocktail that pairs tequila and lime with sweet black-currant liqueur crème de cassis and ginger ale (or ginger beer for the majority of today’s recipes). Selsor keeps the tequila, lime juice and Cassis, but grabs local product The Big O ginger liqueur for the ginger kick, along with bittersweet Aperol. A topper of sparkling wine gives this deep berry-colored, stylish drink the DeMun Oyster Bar seal of approval.

Devil’s Fire is among the booziest drinks on the new menu – clocking in at 2 ounces of liquor, plus a splash of bubbles, yet the drink doesn’t feel weighty. That ¾ ounce of lime juice leaves its mark, and ginger follows on the back end; the drink remains on the mildly sweet side. “Crisp, light and refreshing,” summed Selsor of the new cocktails he’s fashioned. But, he added, “We can always do deep, dark if they want it.” Clearly, his former dark spirits days are not long behind him, but now that DeMun Oyster Bar is open daily for lunch, dinner and all hours in between, Selsor will be seeing a lot more light.

First-ever MayFest St. Louis slated for May 18 to 20

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

020212_mayfestAs daytime temps hover in the 60s this week, everyone is already thinking about spring, including the organizers of the first-ever MayFest St. Louis, a festival billed as a “celebration of spring with music, food, drink and fun.”

The inaugural MayFest St. Louis is scheduled to take place from May 18 to 20 in the parking lots at the corner of Seventh and Cerre Streets, southwest of Busch Stadium. For three days straight, music-lovers can rock out to national, regional and local musical performances on two concert stages. Highlights for hungry festival-goers include: a crawfish-and-shrimp boil, featuring a truckload of live crawfish from the Louisiana Bayou; an oyster-eating contest; and an amateur chef “Best Midwest Gumbo” contest. Mobile eateries from the area will be parked at “Food Truck Row,” while traditional festival faves like brats, kabobs and corn dogs will also be available.

Adult imbibers will be able to visit a beer-and-wine garden or grab a cocktail at drink stations scattered throughout the grounds. Visit opening night to parktake in what organizers are calling “St. Louis’ Largest Happy Hour Ever Party.” For more information, visit the festival’s website.

By the Book: Jacob Kennedy’s Oyster and Prosecco Risotto

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

boccacoverWelcome to By the Book, a new weekly online column in which we try our hand at recipes from some of the many amazing cookbooks that come across our desks. We thumb through, pick a dish and then get cooking – revealing the recipe we chose and the results of our culinary journey. Scroll to the bottom of the post to find out how you can win a copy of the featured book and to see last week’s By the Book winner

With winter well under way, it’s high season for oysters and sparkling wine. Slurping ‘em raw on the half shell with a glass of bubbly may be the typical way to down this duo, but in his Italian cookbook Bocca, Jacob Kennedy, chef-owner of the highly lauded Bocca di Lupo in London, offers another route for pairing the sea creatures with sparkling wine: risotto.

Oyster and Prosecco Risotto, like numerous recipes in Bocca, is quite manageable for the home cook to prepare. The hardest part is shucking the oysters, a process that you can eschew if you ask your fishmonger (we recommend Bob’s Seafood) to do it for you. One thing to keep in mind, though: If you don’t shuck them yourself, you’ll have to figure out another way to acquire the precious oyster juice that lends this rice dish a fresh-from-the-salty-sea flavor.

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Quality, fresh oysters are critical for this luxurious dish, but you can easily wreck them by overcooking the bi-valves into leathery blobs; be sure to yank them from the risotto as soon as they plump. A few other items on the ingredients list, however, aren’t crucial for the dish to be a success. Since Kennedy is going for a Veneto-style risotto, he calls for vialone nano rice, which is grown in that region of Italy. Can’t find this specialty grain? Arborio will do just fine. I also hesitate on the need for tarragon. While this herb carries a hint of anise, it wasn’t what made the risotto pop. (The oysters and Prosecco took care of that all on their own.) The suggested herb alternative was chives, but I didn’t want to add more onion flavor since shallots already sat in the skillet. Next time (and there will be a next time), I will use fresh chervil or lemon balm. Chervil is akin to parsley, though more delicate and with a hint of anise. Lemon balm, the lemon-scented member of the mint family, pairs nicely with seafood and should complement the tangy effervescence of a dry sparkling wine like Prosecco. In either case, the herbs will go in after the risotto is off the burner since those leaves lose flavor when heated.

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As far as other flavor enhancers go, Kennedy noted that he might use white pepper for appearance’s sake. Just a ¼ teaspoon of freshly cracked white pepper was perfect – not just for looks, but for flavor too. My taste-testers also agreed on two other points: a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan would not have done the creamy dish a disservice; not following the final direction to “serve with a glass of chilled Prosecco” certainly would have.

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Oyster and Prosecco Risotto
Courtesy of Jacob Kennedy
Serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a main

12 oysters in their shells
2/3 cup finely chopped shallots
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
7 tablespoons butter
¾ cup vialone nano rice
2/3 cup prosecco (or Champagne or any dry sparkling wine)
2 tsp. chopped tarragon leaves (or 1 Tbsp. finely chopped chives)

• First shuck the oysters. (You’ll need either an oyster knife, or a medium flat-headed screwdriver and a paring knife.) Hold an oyster in a carefully folded kitchen towel to protect your hand. Force the tip of the oyster knife or screwdriver into the hinge of the oyster and twist sharply to pop it open. Slide the blade of your knife along the inside of the flatter shell to cut it off. Use the tip of your knife to carefully cut the body of the oyster from the bowl-shaped shell, taking care not to disturb the delicate fringe-like lips, nor to spill the delicious juices. You should tip them out of their shells into a bowl. Be sure to save all their juices, and pour them over the oysters to keep them moist.
• Fry the shallots and garlic with a little salt in half the butter over a low heat for 10 minutes until tender. Add the rice, fry for a couple of minutes, then pour in ½ cup Prosecco and simmer until absorbed. Now add the juices from the oysters, cook for a minute, then start adding water. You’ll need to add about 1½ cups water bit by bit, waiting for it to be mostly absorbed between additions. Taste for seasoning often, as the rice will absorb salt as you add it. In this dish I might use white pepper for appearance’s sake, but do so sparingly.
• When the rice is pretty much done (but still ever so slightly crunchy, about 10 to 15 minutes after starting to add liquid), and the sauce becomes thick and creamy, add the oysters and remaining butter. Stir until the butter has melted and the oysters plumped. Fish them out and quickly cut them into quarters. Take the risotto off the heat and return the quartered oysters to the rice, adding also the tarragon and remaining Prosecco. Stir briefly, taste one last time for seasoning, and serve with a glass of chilled Prosecco.

Copyright 2011 by Jacob Kenedy. Reprinted by permission of Bloomsbury.

For a chance to win a copy of Bocca, tell us about your favorite dish to prepare using Champagne and oysters in the comments section below.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Kimberly whose comment on last week’s By the Book column has won her a free copy of The Mozza Cookbook. Kimberly, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew regarding your prize!

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