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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Somm Showdown Alisha v. Andrey

I wasn't planning on blogging about the Somm Showdown since this is not an everyday restaurant you can visit, but this blog started on food adventures and this definitely was one!

I also want to support my St. Louis Sommelier heros: Alisha Blackwell and Andrey Ivanov and then executive chef Josh Charles was also involved so it was a great opportunity!

Executive Chef Josh Charles, Alisha Blackwell, and Andrey Ivanov
We didn't know the menu until we got there...

Menu
Love the "contestant" nicknames! Ha!

Nicknames
Chef Josh's courses were all quite challenging, so I was pretty impressed on how the sommeliers came to pick their wines.

The salad course came with a couple of hot peppers, but not all of them were hot so you didn't know what kind of bite you were going to get. (I admit I left those for Patience.)

Local vegetables with Honey + Thyme Vinaigrette
My vote went to Andrey this round since the Prosecco was very subtle with tight bubbles and let the salad shine, regardless what kinda of bite you had. Although if it were me, I would have gone with something closer to what Alisha picked.

Patience and I were stoked by the scallop on the menu although we were sad at how small they were. The scallops had been smoked for some time, and then served with passion fruit and lime. Talk about a tough pairing.

Smoked Scallop with Passion fruit and lime
Andrey had the perfect "passion fruit" wine pairing up his sleeve, but Alisha suggested a Riesling. I was torn.

The last course was a little heartier with fingerling potatoes and cheese curds in a gravy mixed with foie gras. I almost reached over and stole my neighbor's plate when he didn't finish.

Foie Gras, Roasted Potatoes, Brown Gravy and Cheese Curds
A heartier dish meant red wine and again we had two very different pairings. Andrey selected a fruity Gamay while Alisha picked a drier Italian wine. I preferred the drier wine myself since this dish was so rich.

Alisha came out the winner putting poor Andrey at 0-3. I hope he gets his chance to win again soon!

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Thursday, September 8, 2016

PW Pizza Uinta Beer Dinner

I was not familiar with Uinta Brewing at all before this dinner, probably because they're from Salt Lake City, Utah. Utah has a lot of weird rules about ABV, so three out of the four beers were only 4% ABV.

The other important business we must discuss up front is that the brewery's name is pronounced "U-WIN-ta".

Now we can get down to drinking and eating!

We started off light with the 801 Pilsner and Kale & Barley Salad. Perfect for me and definitely the best pairing.

Kale & Barley Salad paired with 801 Pilsner
The first pizza, a delicious Roasted Fingerling Potato Pizza on Honey Wheat Crust with gruyere, smoked leeks, and rosemary lemon butter. This was paired with the cleverly-named Ready Set Gose (pronounced GO-SA). Potatoes and leeks on a pizza? Thumbs up!

Roasted Fingerling Potato Pizza paired with Ready Set Gose
The next pizza, Beer Braised Mustard Green & Bacon Pizza used the original crust with mozzarella, tomato confit, peppered citrus aioli, and extra virgin olive oil. This was paired with the Hop Nosh Tangerine IPA. Not too hoppy, but still too much for me. This beer is a little more citrusy than their original Hop Nosh IPA. I loved the huge chunks of tomatoes on this one.

Beer Braised Mustard Green & Bacon Pizza paired with Hop Nosh Tangerine IPA
The Baba Black Lager was very smooth although this was paired with an intense Banana Gooey Butter Cake. I don't think too many people could handle the huge, thick cake. The lager was better off on it's own.

Banana Gooey Butter Cake paired with Baba Black Lager
Since the next two are sold out, I had to sign up for the one in November... Civil Life!

Resources:

PW Pizza = http://pwpizza.com/

Uinta Brewing = http://www.uintabrewing.com/

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mellow Mushroom

After watching several people post on Facebook that they had really long waits at Mellow Mushroom, I was beginning to worry about setting up plans for a birthday dinner there for my friend Beth.

So I decided to play it smart and headed down there early with the "No Wait" phone app ready to go. Even though the former Growler's looks a million times better with the new building, neon colors, and paved parking lot, the lot was already completely filled by 6pm. So I did what I normally would do when visiting Growler's, park across Lindbergh in the strip mall parking lot.

As soon as I got close to the restaurant, I clicked my place in line using the "No Wait" app. By the time I finally parked and walked up to the counter to check-in, I already had moved up a few spots!

Thanks to the app, our wait was probably only 15-20 minutes and we got to sit down even though we were missing a couple of people in our party. Again, going early worked in our favor as we had to wait longer than usual for our server to initially greet us. Our server apologized and it was easy to see that she was doing the best she could among all the chaos.

By the time we got our drinks and "munchies" ordered, our other guests started to arrive.

At least you can use the long wait time to review the menu because there is a lot to choose from. I was impressed with the long list of items under "munchies", not to mention hoagies and calzones in addition to the pizza. There is even a lengthy local beer list too!

We started off with the hummus and pretzel bites...

Hummus with soft pita bread
As she dropped off the pretzel bites, the server said these were her favorite. The pretzels were so soft!! They're actually dough twisted into pretzels. Of course we got the beer cheese on the side.

Pretzel Bites
But we were there for pizza! It totally lived up to the hype.

We tried one of the unique flavors selected by Beth, the Thai Dye, and it really had a curry taste thanks to the Thai chili sauce.

Thai Dye
And since we had THE STLVegGirl with us, we also tried a vegan (Daiya cheese) Mega-Veggie pizza. (Veggie pizza is my favorite flavor so I can avoid the greasiness of the meat pizzas.)

Check out the CHUNKS of veggies everywhere! Sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, black olives, Roma tomatoes, broccoli, banana peppers, artichoke hearts and tofu.

Mega-Veggie
Wait a few more months, but definitely keep this high on your list, especially if you got kids.

Resources:

Mellow Mushroom = http://mellowmushroom.com/store/st-louis

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Gift A Meal app + donate to Food Outreach

I was recently approached by Jacob Mohrmann, the Chief Marketing Officer of GiftAMeal.

Since you know how much I love to dine out and take pictures of my food, there is finally an app for Android (and iPhone) that will donate some of my dine outs to charity!

I have selected Food Outreach as my charity of choice as I have attended a few events for them such as "A Tasteful Affair".

Want to join me?

1) Download "GiftAMeal" app to your smart phone. (Perhaps buy a smart phone first?)
2) Click "Sign Up"
3) For the Promo Code type: MMFO  (This is my promo code to share! Please share it!)
4) Check the "I agree to Terms" box and sign in with either Facebook or your email address.
5) Fill out the info form. (Some typing with a finger is involved but you can do it!)
6) Click the "Sign Up" button and wait for the intro screen to appear.
7) Dine out and use the app by taking a picture of your food and posting it!

Each time a user signs up with my Promo Code MMFO, GiftAMeal donates $1 to Food Outreach!


Note: This app is good for restaurants in St. Louis and Chicago.

Resources:

GiftAMeal = http://giftameal.com/

Food Outreach = http://foodoutreach.org/

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

American Cheese Society Conference

Thanks to the efforts by Iowa State University, the American Cheese Society held their annual conference in Des Moines this year. Since that's drivable and I have a place to stay near by, this was my big chance to see what the conference was all about.

Unfortunately, the conference is for cheese professionals and I didn't want to spend the money for all the activities during the week. So I just went to the Festival of Cheese, where you could taste all the cheese, which was open to the public.
Festival of Cheese
It was pretty awesome being surrounded by so much cheese, but it was also quite overwhelming. With 14 tables spread around the convention floor, surrounded by sponsors selling their wares on the edges, there was a lot to see and eat.

Festival of Cheese Tasting Map

Cheddar

Massive convention floor

All the tables were crowded

Soft Ripened Cheese

Washed Rind Cheeses
I tried to eat as much cheese as possible, which probably wasn't the best plan of attack. Then I tried to focus on the award winners, which were designated by ribbons.

Award Winners designated by ribbons
Here is one of the cheese makers sporting their winning medal!

Award winning cheesemaker!

At least I can cross this off my bucket list!

Resources:

American Cheese Society = http://www.cheesesociety.org/