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Sunday, March 2, 2014

STLwinegirl Fifth Biz Birthday Party at Libertine

Since I had so much fun last year, I could not WAIT for this year’s STLwinegirl 5th Biz Birthday party at The Libertine. Yes…I went back there AGAIN and it did not disappoint since the night’s menu was made up of Angie’s “favorite things”…well at least Josh Galliano’s version of them.

Again, this was a night where I wanted to order one of everything from the special menu and I definitely needed to make sure I had plenty to eat before the cocktail tasting.

STLwinegirl 5th Biz Birthday Menu
For $5, you got to taste five unique cocktails in a competition amongst popular local bartenders. I’m sure I was plenty biased as my top two favorite cocktails were the sweeter drinks made by the ladies: Denise Mueller (Robust) and Mandi Kowalski (Planter’s House). The guys’ drinks were a bit too boozy for me, although Kyle Harlan’s (Mission Taco) cocktail came with a chocolate-dipped strawberry, certainly a plus in my book! The winner was Tony Saputo (Eclipse) and Ben Bauer represented The Libertine as well.

The five cocktail tastings went well with the rich appetizers and dishes that I selected. I started off with the Beef Tartare and Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs. All deviled eggs should have cheese in them!! If that wasn’t cheesy enough, I did order the cheese flight as well: Raclette, Gorgonzola, Sottocenere Garratxa, and Prairie Breeze.
Beef Tartare, Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs, and a cheese plate
Since the “plates” were reasonably priced at $5 too, I ordered the Shrimp Noodles and the Creole Gumbo, definitely a pair to warm me up. Unfortunately, the Bajan Hot Sauce made the shrimp noodles way too spicy for me to eat, while the Creole Gumbo hardly had a kick at all. The gumbo was very filling so I couldn’t order any more, but luckily friends gave me a bite of the Chicken & Biscuit (YES…Josh Galliano’s fried chicken is really that good no matter how it is served) and believe it or not, the Fried Bologna Sandwich was amazing with a slick hunk of beef between toast. My bologna never tasted that good when I was a kid!

In addition to much eating and drinking, we also had fun together at the “Fernet Face Photo Booth” where you got to show off the face you make after taking a shot of Fernet. Props to anyone who can take one down without make a face!

Always a party with the STLwinegirl!

Resources:

STLwinegirl = http://www.stlwinegirl.com

Libertine = http://www.libertinestl.com

Tripel

I had about an hour to kill between a meeting in the city and Square One’s birthday celebration in Lafayette Square so I figured I’d take advantage to try out the place next door! I had heard so many good things about Tripel and I love Belgium-style beers so I knew I couldn’t go wrong. Especially a place where mussels and oysters are served!!

I was the only customer in the restaurant at 3pm so in between meals, they have a smaller menu. But I wasn’t worried since there were plenty of tasty options to choose from. Even though the oysters hadn’t come in yet, the mussels are flown in every morning from Maine and you get a choice of six different sauces. I went with the traditional white wine sauce and certainly got enough for two people.

I also picked out a personal favorite of deviled eggs as well as a Belgium beer flight. The bartender, Matt, offered to pick them out for me so I requested the three lightest ones to be safe.

The Bavik was my favorite was my favorite since it was the lightest and smoothest of them all. I almost finished my tasting glass before the food arrived. I have had the Hoegaarden a few times and it’s a bit too hoppy for me. The Frambiose was extremely sweet…almost like drinking a sweet Rose!

Mussels, deviled eggs, and Belgium beer flight: Bavik, Hoegaarden, and Framboise
I cannot wait to go back for their full menu and to finally get that order of Oysters as well!

Resources:

Tripel St. Louis = http://tripelstl.com/

Vegan Dinner - Noche Verde

I was really excited to attend another STLVegGirl vegan dinner since I had enjoyed the first one so much last year. This year’s vegan dinner was hosted by Modesto, a Spanish-style tapas restaurant, which led the name of the event: Noche Verde!

Menu
I am a little embarrassed to admit that I have never been to Modesto, but it is a beautiful restaurant on the Hill. If nothing else, I really do hope to go back so I can try their regular menu. And after the vegan experience, I can definitely say the chef is quite talented.

While waiting to be seated, we took a spot at the bar and received our first “green item” of the night, a “green fairy” cocktail if you will. (That’s what I named it!) A splash of midori gave it the green hue and it was mixed with cava and their own sweet and sour mix. Quite refreshing!


All the wines were provided by Pinnacle Imports and for the most part, the wines did their best to let the food shine through. Since there were five wines poured with each course, I only had a few sips of the wines.

The first course caught me off guard because it was a White Gazpacho with grapes. I have not had gazpacho all that many times and I’ve only seen it with a tomato base! Even though it had more of a cream base, actually almond milk, the gazpacho actually had a sweet taste to it. So creative!

White Gazpacho with Grapes
The “Sobrasda and Chevre” taco, the second course, was one of my favorite courses since I couldn’t tell for a second that it wasn’t real meat on the taco. Sobrasda is actually a pork sausage. Again, the crispy potato slices were very creative although I would have been fine without the crunch.

Sobrasada, "Chevre", and Crispy Potato Taco
Similarly with the third course, the “meatballs” had a fantastic texture and I loved the tangy red pepper-based Romesco sauce. A Spanish twist on the typical tomato-based sauce I am used to!

"Meatballs" with Romesco and Fried Leeks
Yet, the star of the evening easily was the Paella with Asparagus and Crispy Shiitake Mushrooms. I am fine without the fake proteins and I really love it when the vegetables get a chance to shine. The paella was so thick and creamy and the shiitake mushrooms gave a little kick with each bite. I really wanted seconds of this course, but was way too full at this point. (Yes, you really do get full at a vegan dinner!)
Paella with Asparagus and Crispy Shiitake Mushrooms
The last course, was a typical Spanish dessert, coconut flan, but this was not typical in the least. Instead of a spongy cake, this flan had more of a gelatin consistency. That’s because instead of any dairy products, MOFU tofu was used instead! How clever!

Coconut Flan featuring MOFU tofu
Resources:

STLVegGirl = http://www.stlveggirl.com/

Modesto = http://www.modestotapas.com/

Photos by Abby Israel and Patience Scanlon

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Mud House

As I make my way throughout the city of St. Louis’ brunch scene, sometimes the best places are the ones you just fall into. After spending a lot of time on Cherokee and in the Benton Park area, we drove by Mud House quite a few times. But since another location was still closed at 9:30AM, we finally remembered to make The Mud House our destination.

This place is hopping on the weekends so you may have to wait to find a table and be prepared to make friends so you can get a seat. Definitely a cute coffee shop with interesting noshes for breakfast and lunch.

For such a small shop, there are quite a few choices for coffee, breakfast, and sandwiches, so we had no trouble killing our time in line closely studying the menu. I was really wanting to be adventures and try a “Veggie Madame”, which has veggies on a brioche with an egg on top, but I went with the safe bet and got the “quiche or strata of the day”.

Strata
Patience was the adventurous one and got the “hash of the day”, which turned out to come with a pile of Brussels sprouts and potatoes in addition to an egg on top.

Hash with Brussel sprouts, potatoes, and fried egg
We are both wanting to go back to try some more dishes!

Resources:

The Mud House = http://themudhousestl.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Yellow Farmhouse Winery and an Olive Ovation

I was invited by a friend, who works at Yellow Farmhouse Winery, for a tasting of their wines at a store I had never been to before: An Olive Ovation. Mostly known for their wide variety of olive oils, the store actually has a lot of artisanal and cooking products. So for the first time, we attended a “wine and olive oil” pairing class.

While we did taste the olive oils straight, the actual pairings were the wine with a small dish made with the specially selected olive oil. On a couple of them, you could taste the flavor of the oil, but for the others, the flavors were too well blended.

The oil that stood out the most was the Olivas de Oro Rosemary olive oil, which was used as a dressing for the Italian Rice and Bean Salad. The strong herbal dressing gave the vegetables a little more flavor and stood up to the extra sweetness from the Compass Rose.

My favorite pairing of the night was the Edelweiss, a white table wine, paired with the spicy sausage and lentils that were mixed with hot smoked paprika, Dijon, rosemary, thyme, and garlic. The slight sweetness matched up perfectly with the little bit of heat.

A Chambourcin Reserve from 2009 is a good pick for red wine lovers as the dryer flavors were able to take on the grilled veggie skewers dipped in sunflower oil and Robbins balsamic.

And for dessert, the Sweet Talkin’ Blonde Traminette definitely dominated in sweetness over the Macadamia Nut & White Chocolate cookies.

Menu
Resources:

Yellow Farmhouse Winery = http://www.yellowfarmhousewines.com/

Extra Virgin: An Olive Ovation = http://www.extravirginoo.com/