Friday, November 6, 2009

This Week in Food and Wine

I used to watch “This Week in Baseball” as a kid and made a point to watch it every Saturday morning. I had quite a jam-packed week and now that it’s Friday, I can finally stop and take a look back at my food adventures…

Sunday night, I was invited out to my new favorite restaurant, Three Monkeys, (http://3monkeysstl.com/) introduced to me by my friend Anne. Three Monkeys is located off of Morgan Ford near the Tin Can. Incredible food and portions at a very reasonable price. Since it was the holy day, “Football Sunday”, they have $4 chicken wings and $12 domestic buckets of beer. I made the wise choice of copying my table mates and ordering the “sweet and spicy” version, which we all agreed tasted like General Hso’s chicken. Probably the best wings I have ever had. I keep meaning to go there and have a full meal because I keep hearing how good the food is there!

Tuesday night, the main event was Celtic Thunder at the Fox with my friend Amy, and she kept telling me that we were going to meet her parents for dinner at “that one restaurant”. I thought she was referring to Best Steak House (http://www.beststeakstl.com/) but it turned out we went to Vito’s (http://www.vitosstl.com/) near Saint Louis University. This turned out to be a great surprise because Italian is my favorite food and I have only been there once before for drinks.

I ordered the eggplant cannelloni and it came with ricotta on top. Amy’s parents kept with tradition and ordered the spinach and artichoke dip as an appetizer. Amy was also loyal and ordered pizza, which is all she ever orders. Hands down, she was right. The pizza was incredible. My guess is the spices in the sauce that grabbed my attention, but I definitely will have to go back and have pizza there for sure.

Wednesday night also was a pleasant surprise since I ended up skipping out on gym night at the last minute to meet up with my “cheese class” friends. Yes, I’m not the only one who attends EVERY cheese class at the Galleria Whole Foods (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/st-louis/ ). Speaking of cheese class, the next class is on November 17th but you can have to call the customer service desk to register.

Anyway, my friends are also members of the monthly wine club at St. Louis Cellars (http://www.saintlouiscellars.com/ ) and once a month, they host a special event for members to pick up their wine. At this event, appetizers are served to go along with several wines to taste. This was my first time going in after my friends had raved about the place, mostly about the food! It turns out that St. Louis Cellars also has a deli counter with a wide-variety of freshly made dishes.

The event definitely lived up to the hype. The food counter was a little hard to get to and you could only use napkins but again, it was worth the struggle against the crowd. On one end was hummus, red pepper and traditional, glazed mushrooms, toasted ravioli (stuffed with ricotta – not meat!), cubed cheese, and a couple of others that I know I have forgotten. But the outstanding item of the evening was the turkey and swiss sandwiches on a slightly crispy bun. The bun had some type of honey-glaze, I believe, and it was an incredible melting of flavors with the meat and cheese!! All of us tried to grab as many as we could and they were the first item to run out. It is my hope that they sell full samples of these sandwiches!!!

Of course I couldn’t leave there empty-handed since I had run out of wines at home. Mike and Lara took me to the “Great Wall of Wine” and showed me their favorites, one red (Malbec from Layer Cake) and one white (Torrontes by Crios) and the funny thing is that they are BOTH from Argentina. Mike and Lara are famous for saying that they refuse to buy wine over $20 a bottle because there are just SO many good wines under their limit.

And speaking of wines that are under $20, all the wines that were at the tasting that night were also under the magic limit. Here is the list:

Seguar Viudas Aria – Sparking Wine, Brut Cava, Spain - $12.99

Altanuta – Pinot Grigio, Alta Adige, Italy - $13.99 (This was my favorite…not too sweet, not too dry, as a Pinot Grigio should be!)

Mulderbosch – Chenin Blanc, South Africa - $15.99 (A little too dry for me.)

Valley of the Moon – Chardonnay, Sonoma County, California - $15.99 (Not as sweet as I like my Chard’s to be!)

Jailhouse Rock – Merlot, California - $12.99 (Did you know there is a whole LINE of Elvis Presley wines???!!!)

Evodia – Grenache, Caltayud, Spain - $10.99 (Very smooth.)

Windsor Sonoma – Zinfandel, Sonoma County, California - $19.99 (Also, not too much tannin.)

Now Thursday night was a little bit different. I was actually IN the kitchen for a change. And I mean a BIG change for those of you who know me. I somehow got volunteered to assist my chef/friend, Ashley, in throwing together several dishes for a small party. (Same friend who cooked amazing chili for me.) And I say “throwing” because it’s amazing to see a chef work close up…you have to be quick or else you will get RUN OVER. Hehe

Thankfully, Ashley was very patient and showed me exactly what she wanted me to do since I had never done ANY kind of real cooking before! (I don’t think licking the bowl as a child counts.) First thing, I had to slice avocados and get the pits out. Like everything else, there’s a trick. Wielding a giant knife, scary enough, the avocados are so soft and the pits so hard. Hack at the pit, turn, and wall-ah…it’s out. Then I got to scoop out the insides.

Next task was a little harder…chopping onions. I am guessing there is a trick to that too because I had a lot of difficulty with that one…my eyes were burning so bad…it was hard to see. My pieces were NOT chopped as finely as they should have been but I couldn’t stand it any longer!

Since I was on a roll with the knife, I cut up orange and lemon slices. At this point I was wishing I had paid more attention to my Mom because even that became harder than I thought it should be. I’m probably too much of a perfectionist.

Anyway, after adding the magic spices, I got to mash the whole thing together into one, big green gooey dip. I actually made guacamole! It was really darn good too, except for the giant onion chunks.

After all that chopping, I was off the hook and got to resort to easier tasks such as buttering bread and washing dishes. I felt much safer and more in my comfort zone there. hehe

So maybe if I get tired of computers and social media and sports, perhaps a new career is waiting for me? Don’t worry…won’t be any time soon! My favorite place is still at the table for now.

And today is my day of rest. Stay turned to see what’ll come up for next week’s adventures! Or maybe it’ll be nice and boring for a change?