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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

VinePair: How To Throw A Wine & Cheese Party

I just found a new wine website to follow called VinePair and I just had to share this post:

How To: Throw A Wine & Cheese Party

I never get tired of reading (or tasting!) cheese and wine pairings. That's right, I put the cheese first!

Resources:

VinePair = http://www.vinepair.com

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Onesto's

Thanks to winning a gift card from Green Dining Alliance, I got to try out Onesto's for the first time, which is in the middle of a south city neighborhood. If you didn't know it was there, you probably wouldn't ever come across it.

The restaurant looks like a small, family-owned, "Mom and Pop" type of restaurant, and it was a beautiful night for sitting on the patio. Instead of wine, I went with a refreshing "Hampton Fizz".

Me with a Hampton Fizz
I thought for sure we were going to order the Lobster Mac & Cheese and a pizza, since those items stood out on their menu, but of course, the specials menu won us over.

After ordering, we immediately were presented with adorable garlic balls to start us off. I wish I had saved a couple for the end to help mop up the sauce from my entree, but they were just so delicious!

Garlic Balls

The Lobster Risotto was Patience's pick for appetizer and then we also split a Caprese Salad so we could get a few veggies in.
Lobster Risotto Balls
Caprese Salad
The seasonal Butternut Squash Ravioli called out to us and it was quite sweet. I really enjoyed the pistachios in it as well...

Butternut Squash Ravioli
The pizzas we did see come out were HUGE and every one of those tables had to take them home. So be prepared for leftovers if you do order a pizza.

Resources:

Onesto's = http://www.onestopizza.com/

Green Dining Alliance = http://www.greendiningalliance.org/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Monday, September 8, 2014

Wine Girl Wednesday at Element

I was really looking forward to having another excuse to go to Element since I have been a couple of times already. You can check out my past blog post here, back from April. With such a unique menu, I was really curious how the STLwinegirl, Angela Ortmann, was going to pair up several wines.

Wine Girl Wednesday Menu at Element
Of course, my favorite was the Blue Point Oysters with the Gruet Brut Sparkling (it's actually from New Mexico and quite affordable!).

Blue Point Oyster, Smoked Mignonette
Patience and I also dared to try the Briased Oxtail and we were both quite surprised at the rich, meaty flavor. This pared perfectly with the Guardian Cellars "Chalk Line" (a red blend!) from Washington State.
Briased Oxtail, Pickled Papaya, Grapes
We both skipped over the Braised Bacon, Watermelon, and Pig Ear so unfortunately, I didn't get the glass of Efeste Riesling from Washington State.

Braised Bacon, Watermelon, and Pig Ear
Since we were in a hurry to order our oysters, we didn't realize there was an optional "tasting board" this time around where you could taste each pairing plus an additional two more! Luckily, my friends shared some bites of the Vegetable Ash Coated Goat Cheese, which was amazing with the Muscat dessert wine.

Tasting Board
Then things started to get a little crazy. With only sharing a couple of pairings thus far, Patience and I decided to try a couple of new dishes off the menu. Unfortunately, they were out of the Ocean Cocktail (a good variety of seafood!) so instead we shared the Beets and Summer Salad small plates.

Beets
The Beets came with kale chips in a curry creme fraiche.

Summer Salad
The Summer Salad included zucchini, tomato, and carrot in a lemon peppercorn vinaigrette, which was very sweet.

While that doesn't sound too crazy, we did keep the evening going a little while longer as everyone at our table ended up ordering a different dessert on top of everything else we ate and drank thus far!

Custard with fig topping
 
Wafers with blueberries

Bread pudding with raspberries and plums

You know I was the one that ordered the chocolate dessert!

Chocolate Cake
Resources:


STLwinegirl = http://www.stlwinegirl.com

Element = http://www.elementstl.com

Photos by Patience Scanlon and Jolena Shatzer

Monday, September 1, 2014

Bella Vino

I finally was smart and planned ahead to make a reservation at Bella Vino on St. Charles Main Street. The weekends are normally packed, but thanks to the holiday weekend, we really didn't have too much trouble getting in and Bella Vino has a patio area to expand on to.

I had been wanting to try this new restaurant since Main Street is not that far away and was especially excited that it is a wine bar. Unfortunately, I still compare every restaurant to my all time favorite restaurant Vivian's Vineyard, and it's impossible to compete with that.

Not only is Bella Vino a wine bar, but they mostly serve tapas and flatbreads. This usually works out in my favor in order to try a lot of dishes. Between the three of us, I got to try as many salads. My Seared Tuna Stemperata was perfectly cooked, and the Fried Asparagus and Specialty Kale Caesar were both a little sweet since they contained some kind of orange.

Seared Tuna Stemperata
Fried Asparagus Salad
Specialty Kale Caeser Salad
I immediately went with one of my favorite Italian dishes, Chicken Spedini, but was surprised that it came breaded and there were only two pieces.

Chicken Spedini
The Cajun Pan Seared Tilapia came in a delicious garlic shrimp sauce and was a much heartier meal.

Cajun Pan Seared Tilapia
While we probably could have stopped at just a few dishes, we boldly ordered a couple more dishes: House Cured Duck Prosciutto and the Crab Stuffed Mushroom Caps.

The mushrooms more of an appetizer size, while the pizza was a good amount for sharing and probably my favorite dish. The prosciutto was well balanced with the gorgonzola and caramelized onions.

As for the wines, I was thrilled to see a Riesling from the Rheingau, I had trouble finding a crisp, dry white whine. There were plenty of big, bold reds, but I was hoping to see a little bit of a longer list.

Resources:

Bella Vino = http://bellavinowinebarstl.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

STLwinegirl In Home Tasting

After seeing so many pictures and reading the menus on Facebook, I finally had to sign up for an in-home tasting from the STLwinegirl, Angela Ortmann, Let me tell you, having your own personal chef and sommelier in your home, I felt so spoiled and could definitely get used to it.

The toughest part for me was picking out a theme or series of dishes for the STLwinegirl to whip up. (Yes, she cooks quite well too!) Inspired by another friend's dinner, I requested shrimp and grits, which turned into an entire N'Awlins-themed dinner and a wine pairing for each course.

We kicked off the night with an appetizer: Baltimore Crab Cabs with Creole Remoulade

Baltimore Crab Cakes with Creole Remoulade
Since the STLwinegirl knows me well, she made the Shrimp and Cheesy Garlic Grits EXTRA cheesy. (I think she used almost a whole bag of cheese!)

Shrimp & Cheesy Garlic Grits
Most of the heat came in the main course of the night: Duck, Andouille & Langoustine Jambalaya

Duck, Andouille & Langoustine Jambalaya
Since Patience prefers fruitier desserts and I must have everything smothered in chocolate, Angela made us both happy with Bananas Foster with Salted Caramel Sauce over Blondie Bars!

Bananas Foster with Salted Caramel Sauce over Blondie Bars
I almost forgot about the wines! Almost all empty bottles. hehe Since it was so warm we started off with a crisp white wine, a Pinto Blanc from the Alsace region of France. Next came two rose wines, the first, a Chinon from the Loire region of France and the second from Napa Valley, California. Not too sweet, not too dry, but just right to cut through the spice. And the Pedro Ximenez Sherry from Spain stood up to the rich, chocolately dessert.

Pinot Blanc, Chinon Rose, Azur Rose, and a Sherry
What I really appreciated the most was that Angela was able to alter the menu to our desires (more seafood!) and preferences (no piggy!), but the meal was still just as wonderful with the substitutions.

N'awlins-themed courses
Resources:

STLwinegirl = http://www.stlwinegirl.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon and Angela Ortmann