Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wine Merchant Cheese Class

It has been so long since I went to a Wine Merchant cheese class, that I hadn't gotten to try out the new location yet. I was concerned since I had a hard time finding the parking lot behind the building but all my concerns went to the wayside as soon as I walked inside.

First off, kudos on the huge ramp to the back door.

Second, there are two floors and a separate tasting room that looks like a board room with comfy leather chairs. And then there is STILL room for a tasting area.

Two bathrooms and an elevator. It's that sweet.

Although my favorite part was these giant maps!! (Don't worry, there is still a ton of room for wine on the floor.)

Wine maps!
Since I was there on a Friday night, they had a California bubbles tasting going on... great way to start the weekend!

Now on to the class... I wish I had taken a picture of the board room, I mean tasting room. You feel like a posh executive. It was even better with this wine and cheese list.

Wine and Cheese Pairing list
The first two wines were whites and were plenty high in acid to cut through the richness of the goat cheeses. Both cheese were soft and not too gamey, which you can get with goat cheese. The second pairing was a nicely matched wine and cheese from the Loire Valley, France.

A red wine was definitely needed to be paired up against the Black Truffle cheese from Italy, so a Primitivo  from Puglia, Italy was paired. Both had bold flavors, and that was just the start of the "in-your-face" flavors for the night.

A little bit of an "opposite" pairing was the Cabernet Sauvignon from Yakima Valley AVA in Washington state paired with the Cabot "Clothbound" cheddar from Vermont. This cheese is one of their special edition ones and  had quite a kick to stand up to the Cab.

The most intense pairing was the 2013 Herman Story Syrah, made from grapes all over California so it has a generic Califnoria AVA label. The Amirabella reminded me a lot of Epoisses. Both the wine AND the cheese had that barnyard smell and very funky taste! Woah! But what an explosion of flavors together!

(Why yes, I did purchase some Epoisses using my class discount!)

Then Jason was super nice and gave us a bonus pour of Non Vintage G.D. Vajra Barolo Chinato Vino Aromatizzato paired with dark chocolate almonds. I almost ate the entire box myself.


Wine Merchant = http://www.winemerchantltd.com/

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cheese and Beer Pairings - Sam Adams Fall Beer

I was able to squeeze in a cheese and beer pairing class before a busy weekend of packing, and it was just what I needed to relax a little. Samuel Adams featured their fall beers and they were all new to me.

Cheese lineup
We kicked off the class with their version of Octoberfest, which was easy drinking beer with a low ABV and IBU.

The first beer was actually a cider by Angry Orchard, but even though it's called "Hop'n Mad", I really tasted all apple and not hops. I guess the hops are there to reduce the sweetness and give the cider a dryer finish. This was an amazing pairing with the Grafton Village 2-year raw milk cheddar. The sharpness of the cheese cut through the sweetness and in turn, the sweetness helped to tame down the sharpness. What bliss! Vermont knows their cheese!

Then the two were paired with the dark chocolate!!! Oh my goodness...

Next up was the first non-summery shandy that I've ever had. The Jack-o Traveler had a pumpkin flavor, but the shandy aspect added a citrusy finish. Also quite easy to drink without being overwhelmed by the pumpkin. I think it's a good way to ease into the pumpkin beer season. The cheese stood out again as I am a huge Gruyere fan. Another sharp cheese flavor took on the pumpkin and spice quite easily. These were paired with the caramelized walnuts.

The official pumpkin beer came next, Pumpkin Batch, but it was not your typical pumpkin since it's actually a saison. This had a little too much spice or perhaps the hoppiness bothered me. Luckily, the roasted red pepper creamy goat cheese came to the rescue and cut right through once again. Intense goaty flavor and the creaminess just melted in my mouth. I probably could eat a container of the cheese with a spoon! These were paired with marcona almonds, but the cheese stood alone on this one.

The last two beers were super hoppy with high IBUs, and their names say it all: Hoppy Red and Rebel Rouser Double IPA. Again, I credit the cheese as saving the day since it was hard for me to get past a taste or two of the beer.

This was the first time for me to try Champignon Cambozola, which is an interesting combination of camembert and gargonzola. While there were large mold lines like a regular blue cheese, the creaminess of the triple creme was like tasting butter. The blue aspect was very mild and was easily tamed by the spoonful of honey. Just divine.

The full flavored Cotswold from Britain easily gave off chives and onion in each bite, which was completely necessary to stand up to the double IPA. While the cheese was very much "in your face", the soft cheese was complex and delicious. The intensity was cut by the gerkins or baby sweet pickles. I could have made a meal of just those two as well!


Dierbergs Cooking School = http://www.dierbergs.com/School

Samuel Adams = http://www.samueladams.com/

Monday, September 7, 2015

Edgewild Bistro & Tap

Since I had missed the BBQ restaurant that was in this spot before, I didn't want to miss trying Edgewild Bistro & Tap, especially since we loved Edgewild Winery out in Chesterfield.

Now I had heard that it was not exactly like the one in Chesterfield, but I didn't realize that it was completely different! While they do serve wine, this version of the restaurant was definitely focused on beer and had a very extensive list. Luckily, we did our homework and narrowed down our choices before we got there or else we would have been there a while trying to decide.

Unfortunately, with all the TVs, decor, and loudness of the restaurant, I felt like I was more in a Texas Roadhouse or a sports bar. While I do enjoy those places, I was really caught off guard and it was hard to hold a conversation at the table as well as with the server.

Since I felt like I was at a bar, we went with bar food (pizza and sandwiches dominate the menu), although Patience and I tried the Duck Burger since that sounded unique. The duck burger  was on the dry side although it had a decent flavor.

Duck Burger
The real winner was the Baked Italian, which was loaded with salami, turkey, pepperoni, prosciutto, swiss, provelone, mozzerella, lettuce, tomato, amd pepperoncinis, all on a baguette. It wasn't as massive as you might fear, but plenty of Italian flavors.

Baked Italian
We even tried a couple of sides to share. Of course my favorite was the White Cheddar Mac & Cheese, although the Sweet Potato Gratin was tasty as well.

Mac & Cheese and Sweet Potato Gratin
If you're in the mood for a lengthy beer list and sports, this might be a fit.


Edgewild Bistro = http://www.edgewildbistro.com/

Kingside Diner

Once again this week, I was totally impressed with Kingside Diner in the Central West End. While I was afraid that there would be a long wait with a new place, the staff was doing a great job of getting everyone seated.

I loved the chess theme design on everything and there were quite a few tables on the patio out front to handle the crowd. The bartender also was responsible for the first few tables near the bar and she was very quick on the draw to greet us. With all the windows, the restaurant had a lot of natural light and stylized signs and printing.

Then the food and service kept right up! Peacock take notes!

Since it's a diner, I wasn't expecting much on the menu, but there were plenty of interesting and unique items along with your favorites for breakfast and sandwiches. (Who doesn't love being able to order breakfast or sammiches all day!)

I ordered the #1 Spinach, tomato, cheddar, and red onion Omelette, but I could have gotten it in a burrito or as a flatbread!

Spinach, Tomato, Cheddar, and Red Onion Omelette
All of that came with toast and I was easily able to swap out fruit for the hash browns.

Patience ordered a Kingside Specialty of Cheddar Drop Biscuits. The biscuits were huge and came with a boat of chorizo & sage gravy to go on top.

Cheddar Drop Biscuits
Chris ordered another Kingside Specialty with the 3 Little Piggies Sandwich. This was most impressive with ham, bacon, sausage, fried egg, chipotle aioli, lettuce, and tomato on Texas Toast. And hash browns. Come hungry for this one!

3 Little Piggies Sandiwch
Chris also ordered a tall Bloody Mary to go with his meal. It was also no joke.

And the coffee? Well, they bring you your own carafe. Plenty to go around for everyone.

I can't wait to go back and try more! Definitely a must do breakfast stop.

From STLToday.com = http://www.stltoday.com/entertainment/dining/restaurants/reviews/all-the-pieces-are-in-place-at-kingside-diner-in/article_9a011d08-6ebf-53d3-b345-c87e1e311c3b.html


Kingside Diner = http://www.kingsidediner.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Cooper's Hawk Winery

A friend insisted that she take me to Cooper's Hawk Winery since she knew how much I love wine and it definitely lived up to the hype. Not only is the restaurant large, but the tasting area is also spacious. You can't miss it when you walk in and you can linger as long as you like up front. This also is a great way to spend the time while you wait for your table.

I was stunned when I saw the tasting list because I hadn't eaten dinner yet and there were EIGHT wines available for tasting! Luckily, there were some crackers available, but I was really feeling it after the first four pours.

Tasting Menu
The Prosecco was my favorite white until I got to the Unoaked Chardonnay, which was so easy to drink with no lingering flavor. It would make a great food wine for sure! The Gewurztraminer was quite sweet.

The Barbera was my favorite out of the reds, again, not too dry and easy to drink, while the Shiraz and Lux Cabernet (Lux meaning small batch and higher price) were too dry for me. The Passion Fruit is their dessert wine and really needed some dessert to be paired with it.

I admit, I was really thrilled to get to try all the wines first so we knew what to order with dinner. When we got to the table, which had no wait during the week, there was a tall piece of glass brought to our table. I was trying to figure out what it was....

What is this?
After ordering a full bottle of wine, the show started when the server dumped the entire bottle into this vase with the wine spilling over the bubble on top. Table top decanter!

The best part was that your glass fit underneath the spout so you could easily pour it without spilling!

A huge decanter!
This was better than table-top taps! So worth the price of admission. hehe

We started with salads, but perhaps next time, I should just save the room...

House Salad
I was told the best thing on the menu was the New York Strip so that made my choice easy. The strip came with roasted vegetables and we ordered asparagus on the side.

New York Strip
My friend ordered the shrimp and polenta, also very delicious. It came with Andouille, Corn, White Cheddar, Tomato-Braised Kale, and Smoked Paprika Cilantro Oil.

Southern Grilled Shrimp & Polenta
And if I wasn't plenty stuffed at this point (and full of wine), we ended the night with truffles from their bakery.

Chocolate Truffles
Even nicer was that we got to take the bottle home in a "wine leftovers baggie" so I could enjoy the entire meal all over again the next night.

I noticed that menu also has gluten free items, light items, lunch portions, and wine flights so this is a real treat for any wine lover!


Cooper's Hawk Winery = https://www.coopershawkwinery.com/