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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sweetology

I was invited to a food blogger event by my foodie friend, Amy Burdge, author of the blog Eat It, St. Louis. I had never been to or even heard of Sweetology before, and it turns out they’ve been open for about six months. When I checked out the website, I learned that Sweetology is a do-it-yourself cake decorating place...almost like Build-A-Bear but for desserts! I thought immediately this would be perfect for little girl’s birthday parties, but I found out that there is something for adults as well!

When I first walked in, my first thought that I had definitely found Willy Wonka’s factory if it had been a candy factory. Bright colors and lighting make it a cheerful place, especially on a cold winter’s night. Then your eyes are immediately drawn to all the colors…all the colors of CANDY!!!

Wall of Sprinkles!
 
Rows of candy! All natural on the left, classic candies on the right
These are just some of the items that you can use to help decorate your cakes. In addition to cakes, you can also decorate cupcakes and cookies, all of which are premade. Not only is there no cooking involved (probably best for someone like me), but you can leave all the mess behind at the store!

After a tour of the store, (there is a meeting space upstairs!) we were treated with samples of their buttercream icing and various chocolates - each one had something different in the middle. As a professional foodie, I made sure to try the vanilla as well as the chocolate. (Such sacrifice!) 

Buttercream and chocolate samples
Although, I only had enough room to taste one all-chocolate cupcake. Did I mention this was my dinner? 

Cupcake Samples
To help wash down all these samples, we had our choice of drinks. Fancy coffees and red or white wine. Yes, wine - so now I'm thinking "Girl's Night Out" and not just for little girls!

Now it was time to get to have some fun and get our hands dirty! We each got to choose a cake, cupcakes, or cookies (or as many as you want) to start decorating. We got a quick demo of how to mix colors with the icing and then use the piping bags for decorating. I must say it is harder than it looks!

Starting out...
It took me a couple of tries, but I was able to create a "ode to cheese" as well as a rainbow-colored cupcake from all the various colors available! Notice the different piping! 

My cupcakes
Byron was able to master icing roses and we all stood around to watch his magic.



Here are some other adorable decorations!

Stefani's Cupcakes and Cookies
The best part was seeing fellow foodie friends and making new ones!


Here is a more professional article about our experiences that night:

Resources:

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Wine Merchant Cheese Class November 2014

The Wine Merchant in Clayton is now on the second round of going through the top cheesemaking countries so for the second time this year, I attended a "USA" themed cheese class. This makes sense since there are so many cheeses to go through! While cheese making hasn't been around as long in the United States, there are still plenty to choose from and always something new to taste.

American Cheeses
I was thrilled that the first cheese of the night was the Midnight Moon, which if you know, is my all time favorite. It's a goat cheese, but firm due to aging and has a rich, nutty flavor. I learned tonight that this cheese is made in a gouda style, so that probably adds to the heavy flavors. 

Normally I tell people to pair this with red wine because because of its strong flavor, so I was surprised this was paired with a Bonny Doon Riesling 2013. Even more suprising is that this Riesling came from a southern California winery, but it was explained to me that the grapes come from all over the eastern United States. So two of my favorites together means a top pairing in my book.

Next up was the Domaine Napa Chardonnay 2012 and this was also a good pairing because the rich oaky wine was able to match the coffee flavors in the Barely Buzzed cow cheese. 

The first red wine was a soft Mahoney Pinor Noir Carneros 2011, which is well known for its "French-style" lightness, but I thought it still had plenty of body to stand up to the Pleasant Ridge Reserve, a raw cow cheese that is similar to a cheddar.

We went upscale on the next two wines: Silver Peak Cabernet 2011 and a Ramey Syrah Sonoma Coast 2012. Both were necessary to pair with the soft and rich, brie-like Kunik (a mix of goat and cow's milk), and the pungent, cow's milk Ameribella, which was hard for me to get through.

I had a much easier time with the Rogue River Blue, which paired really well with the jammy Austin Hope Troublemaker. I instantly thought this would make for a good Thanksgiving wine to stand up to all the rich flavors.

Resources:

Wine Merchant = http://winemerchantltd.com/

Pasteria Brunch

I have been to Pasteria a few times, but after seeing a friend post a brunch picture on Facebook, I knew I had to put it on my brunch list. Luckily, it was the best central location (Clayton) for brunch with multiple family members.

The best part about going there for brunch is that there are plenty of parking spaces in the nearby garage, and since we met there at opening time (10AM), there was no need to call ahead or worry about lines.

Ok, so that probably wasn't the best part, but definitely a high point for me. Let's skip ahead to the best part now that I mention it – doughnuts! I got a super chocolately doughnut that was so decadent and I'm sure Patience can say the same thing about her Bombolini – which was stuffed with marscapone cheese. You gotta try one! (There are a few to choose from too.)

Chocolate Doughnut

Bombolini
On a more calm note, Pasteria has a reasonably sized breakfast cocktail list so it was easy to pick out a Mimosa.

Also, their menu is not too big either, but plenty of interesting choices. Patience and I got our usual favorites: I got the Wood Oven Baked Eggs with Pomodoro while she got the French Toast with powdered sugar and whipped mascarpone.

Wood Oven Baked Eggs with Pomodoro

French Toast
Then my cousin ordered the "Huevos Rancheros" with thick cut toast, white beans, ham, and salsa verde.

Huevos Rancheros
I was nervous about having a red sauce with my eggs, but my dish was more of a warm breakfast casserole with a lot of flavor. I would claim that mine was the best dish of the meal, but I was really impressed with the breakfast pizza! It's the same size as their regular pizzas so it's something you definitely need to share. Must go back...

Resources:

Pasteria = http://pasteriastl.com

Photos by Patience

STLwinegirl Traveling Table at Juniper

The STLwinegirl “Traveling Table” is back! I was especially thrilled that the first restaurant chosen for the restart of the famous wine dinners was Juniper, since I had been to the previous versions of the restaurant, but not the latest “southern cooking” incarnation.

I don't eat southern cooking too often so most of the dishes are new to me. I also have to admit that I probably would never order any of these items on my own, so at the Traveling Tables there is always something new to try, taste, and pair.

Menu
While I've enjoyed a lot of oysters, I'm not sure I've had them fried as an appetizer before. The blue cornmeal on the outside was so crunchy and tasty, and the Saint Hilaire Sparkling Brut helped to cut through the grease.

Fried Oysters paired with Saint Hilaire Sparkling Brut
Instead of your typical “chicken and dumplings”, Cornish Game Hen and Sweet Potato Gnocchi took their place for this course. This was my favorite dish of the night because the game hen was so tender after sitting in the smoked chicken broth. We even were given a spoon to scoop up the rest of the delicious broth. This was paired with a Manciat Macon Morizottes to match up with the richness of this dish.

Cornish Game Hen with Sweet Potato Gnocchi in a Smoked Chicken Broth
The last course was the Tasso Pork Chop, but most of us were way too full from the first two courses to make much of a dent. Yet, I thought this was the best pairing with the Trenel Beaujolais Villages since they both complimented each other so well. The sweet sauce on top of the pork paired perfectly with the jammy wine. I love all the fruit that comes with Beaujolais!

Tasso Pork Chop with spoon bread, pickled apples, and smoked onion petals
paired with Trenel Beaujolais Villages
When we first sat down, we all had wished that there was a dessert course, but no one was able to look at the menu by the time we got to the third course. So let this be a lesson for you, be sure to share a couple of dishes in order to save room at the end of your meal!

After all the different courses, I still will need to go back and tried their fried chicken, since I've heard about that dish the most.

Resources:

STLwinegirl = http://www.stlwinegirl.com

Juniper = http://junipereats.com/

EdgeWild

Thanks to some new friends, I finally was able to get into EdgeWild during a week night. The weekends are totally jammed there and now I know what all the hype is about!

I first was impressed with the wine tasting bar right when you walk in (for a nominal fee). What a great way to pass the time while you wait for your table! The bartender was very friendly and even introduced me to the best wines on their list, which took away the guesswork before I got to the table.

While we were at the bar, I learned all about their “wine club”, which really sounds like a good deal because it involves a monthly bottle as well as free wine classes. I think that is brilliant marketing by the restaurant to encourage repeat business.

EdgeWild is also like another winery since a lot of the wine list are wines produced specifically for the restaurant. I had my doubts, but the best white wine I found was one under the EdgeWild brand.

After sitting down at the table, our hosts generously started the night with goat cheese mixed with pistachios and honey. I tried very hard not to eat the entire plate by myself, but came pretty close.

I had done my homework earlier in the day so I was able to narrow down my dinner choice to scallops and I figured Patience would do the same. We did end up sharing each other's side dish at least since she ordered the butternut squash risotto, while I got the couscous. We both cleaned our plates.

Scallops with couscous

Scallops with Butternut Squash risotto
Somehow, Patience found room for dessert and got the pie with Serendipity ice cream on top. Our guests shared their order of chocolate covered grapes. Oh yeah...I forgot to mention the restaurant also has a glass case full of Bissenger's Chocolates. The bartender admitted that he has had customers request one of everything in the case!

If you can get in and make it through the wait, this restaurant definitely lives up to the hype. The owners even came over to the table since they recognized our friends as regulars. How welcoming!

Resources:

EdgeWild =  http://www.edgewildwinery.com/

Serendipity = http://www.serendipity-icecream.com/

Bissenger's Chocolate = http://www.bissingers.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon