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Feb 21, 2018
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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 ‘Volpi Foods’

Volpi will open a dine-in cafe on The Hill

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

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Volpi Foods retail market at 5257 Daggett Ave. on The Hill will soon offer cafe seating to enjoy the store’s famous house-made meats onsite. The new area will debut on Friday, Feb. 9.

Store manager Kimberly Cook said the space underwent an extensive renovation last year, and the in-store dining idea developed as an offshoot of that project.

“We didn’t really plan to have the cafe area,” Cook said. “We thought it might be a coffee station at first, but then we brainstormed about what we can do and what we could do new for our customers.”

The cafe area will have six seats, and a menu consisting of five different charcuterie boards, available in different serving sizes. These include Three Kings with prosciutto, culatello, speck, Parmigiano and fig jam; the Whole Hog, featuring coppa, mortadella, pancetta, genoa salame and prosciutto with crostini and dried figs; and a build-your-own option called the Blind Pig. Wine and craft beers will also be available.

Volpi’s dine-in service will be available during regular store hours: Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Volpi Foods

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

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Sauce Celebrity Chef Series: Lidia Bastianich to bring Italy to The Lou

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

102411_LidiaYou probably know Lidia Bastianich as the no-nonsense, mothering figure who brought Italian cuisine into our homes via her PBS cooking shows, such as Lidia’s Italy. What you may not know is that this mother of two and grandmother of five has been running restaurants for more than 40 years – and that her burgeoning food empire now includes seven restaurants, an Italian winery, her own brand of dried pastas and jarred sauces, a line of tableware, and most recently, the publication of her seventh cookbook, Lidia’s Italy in America.

Bastianich is headed our way to discuss and sign her new cookbook – which includes accounts of her trips to local eateries Rigazzi’s, Imo’s and Volpi Foods – for the latest installment of our Sauce Celebrity Chef Series. The event, in partnership with Left Bank Books and Nine Network, will be held on Wednesday, November 16 at 7 p.m., at the Sheldon Concert Hall. Click here for tickets and more info.

In the meantime, we got a chance to sit down and chat with the legendary culinarian about her new book, how she prefers her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and what it takes to be successful in today’s ever-expanding culinary realm.

Tell us about the new cookbook, Lidia’s Italy in America.
America is made up of immigrants, and Italian immigrants play a big part [in] that. I went back and followed the routes of the immigrants; New Orleans was a big point of entry, the Mississippi River and up into Missouri. What are the recipes they brought with them and how did those change? When the Italians came here, a lot of products weren’t available, and the cuisine changed and became Italian-American. In the Salinas Valley, the Italian influence made that area the artichoke-and-broccoli raab capital of the world. These products became big business, and, in turn, became part of the Italian-American palate. In the book, you’ll find artichoke dishes. You’ll also find things like pesto pasta with a little pistachio and a great zuppa inglese, the Italian-American rum sponge cake that’s a take on the trifle and became very popular in America.

Where are some of the places you visited in St. Louis to write the new book?
In St. Louis, of course, I love The Hill; I had a great time there. I went to St. Ambrose [parish]. I went to the bocce courts and found some interesting dishes there. In one of the oldest restaurants there, Rigazzi’s, I found veal “parmiciano” made with chopped meat, like a hamburger, and then breaded and made into a sandwich. I went in and saw how they interpreted Italian cuisine. In Kansas City, the Italian area was not as vivid or alive as it is in St. Louis. There is a tradition of thanking St. Joseph with an altar. About 40 people make cookies, and decorate this beautiful, artistic altar with the face of Jesus in dough, and then sell cookies for the poor.

In partnership with your son, Joe Bastianich, chef Mario Batali and others, you opened Eataly in New York City a year ago. It sounds like an Italian food-lover’s dream. I wish we had this in St. Louis!
It’s very Italian. It’s like a whole block of shops lifted up right from Italy; you get that feeling. It has great products from American and Italian artisans; a cooking school and a language school; tastings and restaurants; and fresh pastas, fish and other ingredients you can bring home to cook. You can eat and taste and go home and cook for yourself – it’s very fun.

How does it feel to go from one Italian restaurant to a whole “empire” of businesses? It’s a natural crescendo. You take one road, and it opens up to two or three other roads, and it’s about choosing the right roads. Other people come up with ideas and they present them to you. I respond to opportunities. Opening the first restaurant was something my husband was into; I was very young when we opened our first restaurant. I fell into it. We had nine or 10 tables. We invested everything we had and borrowed from my mother, and thank God it worked. Then, Julia Child asked me to do two episodes on her Master Chef series and the producer liked my work, and so on. You just have to take the right opportunities. You open a restaurant, people come, they share your food, the first book comes, then TV comes, and then you go from that. People want more. We are passionate about wine, and at first we just bottled it for our restaurants, but then it grew. I’m honored and proud to have that relationship between myself and the viewers, that they want to know me and to experience more about me. Along the way it’s been a lot of work, but I’ve had a great time.

You have your own small winery now. What are you bottling there? We do a lot of the indigenous varietals from the area. Our Vespa Bianco blend has chardonnay, sauvignon and picolit. It’s a nice, buttery, complex wine. The area where we grow is known for some of the best Italian whites. We go there for the blending every spring. We taste everything; we don’t just slap our name on it, we’re very involved.

What do you cook for yourself on a typical night? I like soup. I just made a big pot of vegetable soup. I love it with a piece of cheese and a little wine. I love a little prosciutto. In the summer I love salads with a can of tuna. I love canned sardines and anchovies. I don’t have to eat a lot to get a wallop of flavor. Sometimes I have peanut butter and jelly. I just feel like something sweet, and I just put it on rice cakes instead of bread, usually with milk.

Do you like to cook with music? Yeah, I love it. I do that all the time. What I listen to differs. I like classical music, operas and contemporary music as well. I like contemporary Italian music. I like jazz and blues; it depends on the mood. But no hard rock – it sounds like banging pots to me (laughs).

Do you drink wine while you cook? I do. I usually sip whatever we’re gonna have with dinner. A little bit for the pot, a little bit for me … (laughs)

Your new line of pasta sauces are all-natural – they’re not full of corn syrup, like some of the competition. No, I wouldn’t do that. I can’t. I’m too connected with my followers and viewers. They trust me.

I got a chance to try them, and I particularly liked the artichoke flavor – there are little bits of artichoke in every bite. Isn’t that good and different? Let’s say you have a piece of chicken breast – you can just sauté some garlic and olive oil, sear the chicken with salt, throw some sauce in there and maybe a little oil and seasoning and bring it to a boil. You can do that with fish and so on, too.

Many of us Lidia fans feel like we know your mother, too. How’s she? She’s great – she’s right here next to me.

One of the producers on your PBS show called you one of the hardest working persons she’s ever known.
Young people come into this industry and I ask them, “What would you like to do?” They say, “I want to become like you,” and I say, “Well, this is very do-able in America, the land of opportunity, but you need commitment, some talent, to educate yourself continually, be enthusiastic, and you need to do a hell of a lot of work.”

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