Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Coco Louco Brasil

The theme for this month's dining club was Brazilian and there were actually a few choices, but I had my heart set on Coco Louco Brasil since I had heard of it and had never been.

This month was pretty popular so we had to wait a few minutes for a large table. Friday night was quite busy and I think having a large group hurt us as far as time to get our food. I was smart and studied the menu ahead of time and since I wasn't too hungry, I skipped the Churrasco and just went for seafood paella, a lighter meal. I knew I couldn't go wrong with a mix of all my favorite seafood: mussels, shrimp, scallops, as well as chicken and smoked sausage thrown in to boot. The whole thing was delicious although I could always use more fish and less paella.

My friends were not so lucky...quite a few of the entrees were no longer available and left my friends scrambling for a 2nd or 3rd choice that was not exactly what they wanted. Also, they failed to realize they were out of lamb chops so one of my friends had to place a second order just before we received our food. I don't know if Friday nights they run out of food quickly or they weren't prepared or what.

Only one person ordered the Churrasco and I admit it is pretty cool to have a huge sword at your table. The staff come over and push the meat and vegetables off for you so you don't have to do too much heavy lifting. (The swords are heavy!)

Again, we were given one large check to try and decipher our totals at the end among all of us, which really extended our meal so the whole evening was more of a commitment than I would have liked. I would be curious to try again with a smaller group, but I probably won't rush right back.

Resources:

Coco Louco Brasil = http://www.cocoloucobrasil.com/

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pasteria

One of the perks of my new work location is being able to visit restaurants in the Clayton area, which now includes Pasteria! Even though there was a 30 minute wait at lunch, the hostess was very apologetic, which surprised me since there has been a wait ever since the restaurant opened.

Luckily, this gave me plenty of time to study the menu although I’ve been reading a lot of reviews and quizzing friends as to what their favorites have been so far. I already knew what I wanted to order before I got there and luckily my friend Beth snuck over to check out the gelato case while we were waiting so that our dessert order was ready to go as well.

Since I never know when I’ll get back to a restaurant (there are just too many to try in St. Louis), my plan was to order as many types of food as possible. So for a starter, I ordered the Crispy Risotto Balls, which were so wonderfully cheesy on the inside! The other highly recommended item that I’ve been reading about is the kale salad because the creamy anchovy dressing gives the kale a proper kick in addition to a healthy covering of pecorino on top.

I admit I was stuck when it came to ordering the main course. There were just too many pastas to try and so many good reviews about different ones, that I decided to go for the easy way out and just select a pizza. While there are just as many pizza selections, I was able to whittle my way down to the flavors I liked. I’m not big on having too many meats, and while there wasn’t one loaded with vegetables, I went with the Four Cheese instead. I knew I couldn’t go wrong with something completely covered in a ton of cheese.

I do admit that a Neapolitan style pizza is not my most favorite since I love a lot of tomato sauce on my pizza. I did enjoy all the cheese for sure, but I ended up sticking my crust in the dipping sauces for the risotto balls. Without sauce, that style of pizza is a little dry.

Fortunately, my friends did order a couple of pastas so I could get a little sneak peak. I tried the Pappardelle, which has long, thick, rounded noodles buried in smoked pork, mascarpone, and apples for a very rich flavor. It was like having noodles in the middle of a bowl of pulled pork in heavy sauce. The pork flavor was too strong for me but I loved the thickness of the noodles.

My favorite pasta to taste was the Italian Ramen, which consisted of thin spaghetti noodles with a poached egg on top. Egg on top makes everything better! So next time, I think I’ll get a pasta for sure.

The best part was the gelato though...homemade and just out of this world! We ordered the Milk Stout German Chocolate and although my friends preferred the Salty Caramel, the chocolate was hands down the stand out in my book! It is very tempting to just make that your meal for sure.

Resources:

Pasteria = http://pastariastl.com/

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Most Expensive Cheese

I kinda want to try some of the world's most expensive cheese! Check out this article by Sports Illustrated...

Djokovic reportedly purchases entire 2013 supply of world’s priciest cheese 

World No. 1. Five-time Grand Slam champion. Cheesemonger. Novak Djokovic’s gluten-free diet may have aided his success, but based on his offseason acquisitions, it’s clear that he harbors no ill will toward lactose.

In one of the weirder stories of this offseason — one that included Bernard Tomic shirtlessly wrestling a friend in a hot tub — Djokovic has bought up the entire 2013 supply of the most expensive cheese in the world. Pule, a Serbian cheese made from donkey’s milk, is produced at a small reserve in Zasavica, located about 50 miles west of Belgrade. The donkeys are milked by hand and it takes 25 liters of milk to produce one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cheese.

So move over, Portland. It doesn’t get more artisan than this.

Last month, the head of the reserve, Slobodan Simic, told Reuters that the white, crumbly cheese goes for between $1,700 and $2,900 a pound on the open market, but it’s decided to sell one batch at about $600 a pound. The price was right for Djokovic, who has reportedly purchased the farm’s entire 2013 production so he can serve the cheese, which has been described as similar to Spanish manchego, at his eponymous restaurants in Serbia.

Still curious about pule? Here’s a video from the Zasavica farm with Simic talking up the cheese.

http://tennis.si.com/2012/12/10/novak-djokovic-cheese-pule/?sct=obnetwork

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Breckenridge Restaurants

While I haven’t been out to any new restaurants in a while, I did go out to dinner every night while on vacation in Breckenridge, CO. So just in case you’re ever in the area, you’ll have some suggestions. But do realize there are MANY restaurants to choose from in the town and I know I missed quite a few of them. I have a feeling that some of the better ones are those off the beaten path, away from Main Street.

One of the top restaurants by far was Blue River Bistro, which is one of the few higher-end restaurants in the area. The restaurant was hosting several large parties on the night that we went and yet they were still able to find a place for us and give us top service, so I was really impressed. I ordered the special, a Red Ruby Trout with polenta and shoestring fried zucchini. The polenta was so thick that it tasted just like mashed potatoes and the zucchini might as well had been French fries. Very heavy meal for someone like me! I was jealous of my friend’s dinner: beef tenderloin with shrimp and cute, baby potatoes with spinach. We also split a Cloudline Pinot Noir from Oregon 2009. A perfect pairing for such rich meals.

This fancy meal sharply contrasted the more casual restaurants that are everywhere in the resort town. My favorite probably had to be Eric’s, the downstairs sports bar. I was probably influenced by the fact that Thursday night football was on and all the Broncos fans really livened up the place. Extensive selection of beers on draught and in bottles and typical bar food. While I just got a steak salad, my friend got a giant calzone! It was impressive! Full of cheese! With a large menu, there is something for everyone and a happening environment.

Another favorite of mine was the Breckenridge Brewery since we got to try one of their newest beers, the Agave Wheat. So light and fruity and it paired well with everything, including our mussels! I was really impressed with their beet salad with a full filet of salmon and goat cheese. My friend was brave and tried their Double IPA 147 that had 9.2% alcohol…very strong stuff!

My friend read that Giampietro’s had the best pizza in town and she really wanted to “carb me up” for a day on the slopes so we walked down there and had to wait in the small foyer for a while since the restaurant is pretty small. With only two of us, I was afraid to order the larger Italian-style pizza that came out in a full sheet pan of thick squares. Instead we opted for the NY style, which wasn’t quite as hearty. Their long list of pasta specials on the chalkboard all looked good and I would probably try that instead.

I wanted to take my friend out for something special for her birthday and we found a sushi restaurant hidden behind a touristy t-shirt store in one of the strip malls. Because it was hidden, it was nice and quiet in the restaurant. I’m not sure if Wasabi is part of a chain but it definitely fixed our sushi craving and we were quickly full after just a few rolls. With such an intimate environment and just a few tables, the service was excellent.

The first and last restaurant we tried in Breckenridge was actually nothing special but we loved the convenience of Mi Casa Mexican restaurant located on the main floor of our “hotel”. Without having to go far and sneaking in from the back, Mi Casa was a personal favorite. Service was excellent with a full staff spread throughout the large dining area. We skipped the noisy bar and got a large table for just the two of us. We both had the cod special the first night, which came with quite a few peppers as well as a side of black beans and rice. I mixed all the ingredients together, which made the meal even spicier, and took a couple of nights to finish. Yet, our favorite part of the meal was the side of queso and we ended up making a meal of it on our final night along with a chicken quesadilla.

I think the only place we were sorry we missed was the Crepe A La Cart stand that was open until 9pm most nights and smelled so good as you walked by in the cold.

Also be sure to visit Cool River coffee shop. They’re only open until 3PM but had a wide variety of coffees, Danishes, bagels, and sandwiches. So comfortable and relaxing with a beautiful view of the mountains. It’s nice to spend money at a local shop instead of Starbucks for a change.


Resources:

Blue River Bistro = http://www.blueriverbistro.com/

Downstairs at Eric’s = http://downstairsaterics.com/

Breckenridge Brewery = http://www.breckbrew.com/

Giampietro Pasta & Pizzeria = http://www.giampietropizza.com/

Wasabi Breckenridge = http://www.wasabi-breckenridge.com/

Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant & Cantina = http://www.micasamexicanrestaurant.com/

Crepes a Lar Cart = http://www.crepesalacarts.com/

Cool River Coffee = http://www.skitownrestaurants.com/breckenridge/restaurant.php?rid=125

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Michael's Bar and Grill

I can’t quite remember if I had ever been to Michael’s Bar & Grill in St. Louis City before so in a way, that almost makes it a new restaurant. This was my first time being invited to my friend’s Dining Club that she organizes once a month, so that was pretty exciting and this month’s theme was Greek. We all got to vote on a few restaurants and Michael’s won.


My tablemates were generous and ordered several appetizers, some Greek and some not: Saganaki, Fried Calamari, Tzatziki, and Dolmades. Since our table was in the basement of the restaurant with low, wooden ceilings, they were not able to set the saganaki on fire, which was totally understandable and it was definitely the best starter dish anyway. Of course I’m totally biased on this.

Greek food is a no brainer for me. I pretty much get my favorite: Greek Salad, Moussaka, and baklava for dessert. But tonight, I realized that I had been saying it wrong the whole time! You pronounce it moo-SI-kah! That’s a lot of years saying it wrong.

I admit that I did see a few other dishes I wanted to try. I probably should have gone with the Greek Sampler Platter because then I could have had more dolmades or spinach pie. Another friend ordered chicken kabobs and I also saw a lamb dish further down the table. I really don’t think you could go wrong at all.

Resources:

The Good Pie

Since my friends and I were going to check out a band at the Firebird, we needed to find a place to meet up for dinner. This was not too hard now that several new restaurants and bars popped up near the SLU campus. So many people have raved about The Good Pie so I was excited to have a chance to try it out.

Now I knew going into it that the pizzas are made “Neopolitan style”, but I didn’t realize that there was a limited menu. Meaning, you can’t add your favorite toppings. So if you don’t like the combinations of pizzas that they have, you’re out of luck. Also, the pizza that I had picked out, the Funghi, which was covered in nothing but mushrooms and two kinds of cheese, wasn’t available.
Although, we were able to order the special pizza…a vegetarian, that managed to come with mushrooms, but none of the pizzas come with olives. I mean, why make a pizza if you’re not going to put olives on it?? Needless to say, the whole experience was disappointing.

The pizza was individually sized, so you can have one all to yourself easily or for us, it was perfect for sharing in addition to our salads. At least you could order roasted olives on the side but since they come with the pits, you can’t exactly sneak them on top your pizza. While the pizza was tasty with all the cheese on it, with such a thin crust, the center seemed to get weighed down by the ingredients and the grease. This is why I prefer thicker and sturdier crusts.

So while it’s not my most favorite pizza joint, it is a great place for a quick and cheap bite before a show.

Resources:

The Good Pie = http://thegoodpie.com/

Warehouse Wine Dinner

Looking back at all the courses, I have to admit that I don’t have a favorite since so many of the dishes were amazing. Chef Cassy really outdid herself. If you haven’t been to Home Wine Kitchen yet, you absolutely should get over there, but these courses were really above and beyond anything on her menu. Due to that, the wines had a hard time standing up to the food and merely were a “supporting cast” if you will and is probably the reason why I don’t remember them as much.

All the wines were rich and bold to me, but it was necessary since each course was incredibly full of flavor. I guess my top two were the buttery Diver Scallop that had a little kick from the Siracha Mayo and the Sugo with Lamb Shank, Pork Collar & Beef Cheek over Olive Oil Polenta with a Poached Egg.

Then came dessert…in a small, innocent glass jar…Chocolate Custard with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream & Cinnamon-Espresso Powder. Oh my goodness. You had the rich chocolate custard on the front with the salty caramel flavor on the back. Normally I don’t enjoy anything corrupting my chocolate but this was such a happy mixing of rich flavors. Somehow, an extra glass jar ended up in my coat pocket on the way home! (I returned the glass jar…)

Yet, the most exciting part of the dinner was during the first course when the scallops were cooking…with no real kitchen or stove hood, the smoke found its way to the smoke alarms. Industrial smoke alarms are NOT quiet and soon, the Fire Department arrived with axes ready. If I were them, I would have stuck around longer to try some of the other courses too!

Menu:
  • Diver Scallop seared in Bacon Fat with Shaved Brussels and Siracha Mayo
  • Venison Tartare with Beet Root Chip, Dijon, Quail Egg, and Cornichon
  • Duck Confit Fritter with Cayenne Spiced Fig Jam and Spicy Greens
  • Sugo with Lamb Shank, Pork Collar, and Beef Cheek over Olive Oil Polenta with a Poached Egg and Smoked Paprika
  • Jarred Chocolate Custard with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream and Cinnamon-Espresso Powder
Resources:


Scape Bistro

A friend of mine wanted to try out Scape Bistro in the Central West End and who am I to argue really. I always love to try someplace new and the restaurant was just beautiful inside.

The first thing that caught my eye on the menu was the raw bar, which is perfect since I was with my “seafood buddy”. I ordered the shrimp cocktail for us to start with (they were giant shrimp – isn’t that an oxymoron?) and then we picked out two east coast and two west coast oysters to try. I’m not sure I could tell the difference but the east coast oyster seemed a bit more flavorful even though I doctored both with cocktail sauce.

The other standard starter I always go with are crab cakes. While these Sauteed Maryland Style Crab Cakes were a good size (I’d say medium), they didn’t come with much sauce and I feel crab cakes should have a fair amount of moisture to balance out the breading on the outside. Again, I definitely could have made dinner out of their entire list of starters since they have so many unique dishes to try.

Since the raw bar and crab cakes were tempting me, in addition to a couple of fish items on the menu, I felt that I could confidently order the Kung Fu Girl Riesling…one of my absolute favorites since it has just the right amount of sweetness to it. But don’t get me wrong, I still would have ordered it if I had gotten the Veal Parmesan. My buddy tried their Hard Strawberry Lemonade specialty cocktail, which also was incredibly sweet and you couldn’t taste any alcohol. I easily could have had two of those.

I usually lean to getting the special since I know it’s fresh and seasonal and I got lucky that the Red Snapper was on that list. In addition to the fish, I ordered the other special as my side: risoto with beets and goat cheese. The little chunks of beets and goat cheese added a little bit of sweetness to the otherwise savory dish. My red snapper was light and flaky, but my buddy’s salmon was far better with a full, buttery flavor to the fish.

Luckily, fish isn’t too filling and we had split all the appetizers so we still had room for dessert! Of course I ordered the most chocolatey item on the menu: chocolate pate and gelato! So you had the richness from the thick pate next to the soft creaminess of the gelato, with only a couple of raspberries in the way. Mixing the two textures together in one bite was heavenly! My buddy’s hot apple pie probably could have used some of my chocolate gelato melted over it too…

Resources:

Scape Bistro = http://www.scapestl.com

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cleveland-Heath

After reading so much about Cleveland-Heath, STLwinegirl, Angela Ortmann, finally gave me a good reason to travel over the river and through the woods to Edwardsville by hosting a Traveling Table there. Located right on the corner of Main Street, the restaurant had a warm and charming feel with all the servers dressed in plaid shirts and jeans. Although, our event was actually located in the Township Grocer next door where we sat at one long, wooden table, which Cleveland-Heath rents out.

Luckily, there were some locals attending the dinner who had eaten there several times so I asked them what was their favorite and what was the best. Both of them said the tacos were fantastic along with the risotto and basically, they loved to try whatever is new there. Cleveland-Heath also offers quite a lengthy beer and wine list and their menu reminded me of American “home cooking” but with a fresh twist.

We started off the night with a baby beet salad with farro, feta, and chimmichurri. Beets are all the range these days and I was really impressed at how different they tasted as to the flavor I was expecting. Fresh is so much better than canned any day! The light and fruity salad paired well with my favorite, a von Hovel Riesling, Kabinett Oberemmeler Hutte, Saar, Germany, 2010. I don’t know how many times I will tell you that German wines are the best…not too sweet, not too dry.

The main course was a Crispy Skinned Wild Arctic Char, in place of salmon, but looked like the same thing to me. Underneath the two large hunks of fish were brussels sprouts, butternut squash, roasted mushrooms, and pomegranate, almost like a mini vegetable salad. I still cannot eat Brussels sprouts to save my life but this was a hearty meal with warm flavors. That warmness helped to pair the meal with a red wine, Mirabile Nero D’Avola, IGT Sicilia, Italy 2009, even though it was a fish course! Yet, it was an Italian red, which was a little too dry and heavy for me, even with the meaty and buttery fish. Although the brussels sprouts definitely needs something strong!

The dessert course was my favorite since it included a ridiculous amount of chocolate. To do it justice, I included another picture so you can see the smooth and creamy goodness underneath the “house made graham” and toasted “marshmellow” top. A strong port was paired with this to cut through all the sweetness, but I can only handle something like a Moscato rather than a fortified wine. The Terra D’Oro Zinfandel Port came from Amador County, CA.

This dinner definitely gets all three stars from me since it featured a Riesling, chocolate, and no bacon to be seen!

Resources:

Cleveland-Heath = http://www.clevelandheath.com/

Township Grocer = http://www.townshipgrocer.com/

STLwinegirl = http://www.stlwinegirl.com

Photos by Stacy Anderson (http://www.everylittlethingblog.com/) and Angela Ortmann

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mama Gustos Wine Dinner

I’ve heard about Mama Gustos a couple of times…I know that Frank Cusimano sometimes does a sports radio show from there and I have a friend that works there. Since it’s quite a trek from where I live, I had to wait for a really good excuse to go…a wine dinner!

The five-course wine dinner was hosted by A. Bommarito Wines and guest Chef was Algusto Carfagno, the owner and operator of Original Mama Gustos in Lebanon, IL.

The attendees seemed to be Mama Gustos regulars and various other south-siders. I quickly made friends with another couple who lived pretty close by. While the dinner was quite filling, definitely the highlight of the dinner was discussing their travels to Italy, as they got married there and have been back a second time.

I could tell right away that the husband knew something about wine because he immediately complained that the first white wine, a Lagaria Chardonnay 2011 from Venezia, Italy, was too chilly and he couldn’t get a full nose of it. And instead of swirling the wine, he put his hand over the short wine glasses and shook them up and down. It turns out he used to be in the wine business so I started to ask him a lot of questions. The wine had a lot of oak on it so it was well paired with a heavier Pancetta Stuffed Mushroom.

By the time we got to the second wine, the Pieropan Soave 2010 from Veneto, Italy, he mentioned that he was friends with the owner of Iron Barley! I know how popular that place is among my friend so I started to ask him questions about the restaurant. It turns out the chef there likes to try new things from getting bored. All the cuts are butchered on site (fresh!) and soon he began to try things like putting a turduckin inside of a pig and gave it a French name to make it sound fancy. Hehe Lately, he has started making his own sausage and good news, the funky couch in the basement is long gone and has now been replaced by tables and chairs, but the patio sounds like the place to be as there are heaters out there too.

Stewed Tomato with Fresh Mozzarella
This white wine was a little lighter than the one before, but a sharper acidic finish, so as to match the Stewed Tomato with Fresh Mozzarella with basil and balsamic olive oil glaze.
By the time we hit the bolder red wines, such as the Coltibouno “Cereamura” Chianti 2010, Tuscany, Italy, we started to talk about their travels. I asked them to compare the north regions versus the south and which part was their favorite (Tuscany). They explained to me that it was considered rude to interrupt their “lunch time” during the middle of the day when they went home to their families, so they would use that time to travel to the next small town on their tour. The couple also said they were treated much better by the locals since they attempted to speak the language and didn’t dress like typical Americans in t-shirts and baseball hats. The Chianti was paired with a vegetable minestrone and both had a bit of spice to it.

Chicken Capicola with Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce
The biggest course paired a large Chicken Capicola with lemon garlic cream sauce and a parmesan herb risotto to a Paitin “Campolive” Barbera D’Albo 2009 from Piedmont, Italy. The couple was smarter than I was and left some of the chicken behind. Unfortunately, there was ham in the middle of it and it took me awhile to fish them out. At first, my dish came out without the sauce and the husband was kind enough to request that one with sauce be brought out since he figured that is where a lot of the flavor was.

Tiramisu Lemoncello Cupcake
For the last wine, a Saracco Moscato d’Asti 2011, also from Piedmont, Italy, the husband could barely sip because it was so sweet. He claimed that these wines were made for the ladies…so they’re clothes would fall off more easily. hehe A sweet dessert wine was definitely necessary to stand up to the sugary topped Tiramisu Lemoncello Cupcake. I finally got smart and took half of that home.
Even though I was full, I definitely was wanting to go back to Mama Gustos to try their pasta and pizza if their “special” Italian dinner was this tasty and filling.
I'm actually drinking a red wine!

Resources:

Mama Gustos = http://mamagustos.com/

The Root and The Vine

Two of my favorite foodies, STLwinegirl (Angela Ortmann) and STLVegGirl (Caryn Dugan), got together to host the first vegan wine dinner in 12 years, with Mosaic’s Chef Ben Lester preparing all the courses. While I am not a vegetarian, much less a vegan, I have enjoyed taking several STLVegGirl classes since the emphasis is on healthy eating, which is something I strongly believe in regardless if you do it through a plant-based diet or not.


Rarely do you find “gourmet” vegetarian or vegan-based dishes while dining out either, so this was a very special occasion for those who do follow a restricted diet. In addition, the dinner raised over $1,800 for Food Outreach from ticket sales.

Before the dinner got started, we waited to be seated while enjoying a “vegan cocktail”, which included carrot, ginger, and cilantro. The drink definitely had a strong carrot flavor to it but without the thick, V-8 taste. Very refreshing with the ginger! (And at $5 each, all proceeds went to Food Outreach as well.)

This was probably one of the longest dinners I have been to since we started with an Amuse Bouche of Tofu Misozuke Stuff Squash Blossoms as well as STLVegGirl’s very own hummus that she makes herself. The table was quite crowded with plates and glasses at this point and I managed to finish off the hummus all by myself! Of course these starters were well paired with a sparkling Tomassi Prosecco from Italy.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
What really filled me up was the official first course, a Roasted Butternut Squash Soup that was actually sweet instead of the usual heavy, vegetable flavor. The sweetness continued with the Roasted Butternut Squash Salad, but I mostly tasted the apple chips and apple vinaigrette. The baked kale and candied pumpkin seed “granola” gave the salad additional crunch. They would have made tasty snacks by themselves! This was paired with a Chaumette Chardonel Reserve, from Missouri. The white wine had just enough body to handle the sweetness of the soup and salad.

Farro "Risotto" Milanese
The meal got heavier from there because next was a Farro “Risotto” Milanese made of local organic mushroom, salsify, cashew cream, and fennel pollen. The heavy "cream" and mushroom risotto was perfect for a rainy, fall night and the Siduri Pinot Noir, from Willamette Valley Oregon, was an even match with the course to help cut through the cream. I still had a little bit of wine left, which I really wanted to finish off, but unfortunately, the restaurant must have run out of wine glasses because I didn’t finish in time to get the next wine.

Carrot & Coconut Vadouvan Curry Caramelized Mofu Tofu
The Spanish Juan Gil Monastrell probably was a full-bodied wine because you would have needed a strong flavor with the Carrot & Coconut Vadouvan Curry Caramelized Mofu Tofu. That’s right, locally grown tofu created by Daniel Brewer and his Mofu Soy Beanery. I usually pass on curry while at Indian restaurants because I’m nervous about the amount of heat, but I really enjoyed the strong coconut flavor. The curry included cauliflower “cous cous”, pearl onions, heirloom carrots and tomatoes, and pee wee potatoes, in addition to the cubes of tofu. I have to admit…the tofu did well to soak up the curry but I just wish it wasn’t in those odd cubes.

Butternut Squash Soup
As much as I loved the butternut squash soup and the mushroom “risotto”, the highlight of the evening was STLVegGirl’s Dark Chocolate Mousse made with avocado. The dessert also came with a beet sorbet, which I’m still not sure if I liked it or not. It was definitely a refreshing flavor to help tame down the richness and creaminess of the chocolate, so they went well together in the same bite. But really, the chocolate was not overly rich like usual since the avocado tamed down the flavor. But for those vegans who enjoy their chocolate, this is a recipe you must get. This was also my favorite pairing of the nigh tsince the “Novy “Oley” Late Harvest Viognier, from California, was actually not overly sweet. This was actually quaffable by itself for sweet wine lovers like myself.

Overall, an amazing and creative meal for a good cause and I hope there will be another one in the near future…perhaps with another restaurant?

Resources:



Mofu Soy Beanery = http://www.mofusoy.com/

Mosaic Tapas Restaurant Des Peres = http://mosaictapas.com/page.cfm/mosaic-tapas-des-peres/

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Big Cheese

You know your friends support your cheese addiction when they post cheese pictures on your Facebook wall...


2nd Annual American Cheese Month Charity Event

Thanks to Feast magazine, I was thrilled to hear about the 2nd Annual American Cheese Month Charity Event that took place last Friday, hosted by Parker’s Table in Richmond Heights. First, I was happy that I had only missed one year and second, this gave me a chance to try out a new wine and cheese store, in addition to eating a lot of cheese at one time!

To help celebrate, American Cheese Month, eight artisinal cheeses were creatively paired with charcuterie from Salume Beddu as well as red and white wine. The event was presented and produced by CheezSorce, a cheese-making consulting company.

It was very hard not to take a lot of cheese at once, I did make my way around the floor a couple of times to make sure I got a good taste of each of the eight cheeses. I was very biased since my favorite local cheese makers were on the list for the evening.

The first stop was Baetje Farms and Veronica Baetje was handing out samples of their Bloomsdale cheese herself. She told me that she hopes to place some of her fruit blend cheeses in Dierbergs very soon.

Another favorite, Green Dirt Farm, was the second stop and they are located near the Kansas City area. Sarah Hoffman was also handing out samples but I spoke to one of her assistants for a while about the dinners they host at the farm. They will bring in a different chef each month to cook the meal, usually consisting of cheese and goat courses. The dinners were so successful that they sold out every single one! (I think that would make a fun road trip weekend.) Anyway, Green Dirt Farm served their Woolly Rind but my favorite is their Bossa…a gooey and VERY stinky cheese.

Another cheese with a strong flavor was the Prairie Breeze Cheddar, made by Milton Creamery from Milton, Iowa. This was the best cheddar of the night and the sharpest cheese.

There were also a couple of mozzarella cheeses and a blue, but my favorite cheese goes to Jasper Hill Creamery from Greensboro, Vermont. They had a creamy and gooey cow’s milk cheese that almost required a fork to eat, with a hint of barnyard flavor to it. Just like Epoisses, the best cheeses are messy!

Here is the full list:
  1. Baetje Farms, Bloomsdale, Goat’s Milk, Bloomsdale, MO
  2. Green Dirt Farm, Wooly Rind, Sheep’s Milk, Westin, MO
  3. Chapel Hill Creamery, Fresh Mozzarella, Cow’s Milk, Chapel Hill, NC
  4. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Flagship Reserve, Cow’s Milk, Seattle, WA
  5. Avalanche Cheese, Bandaged Goat Cheddar, Goat’s Milk, Basalt, CO
  6. Milton Creamery, Prairie Breeze Cheddar, Cow’s Milk, Milton, IA
  7. Jasper Hill Creamery, Harbison, Cow’s Milk, Greensboro, VT
  8. Valley Shepard Creamery, Crema de Blue, Jersey Cow and Sheep's Milk, Long Valley, NJ