Sunday, February 19, 2012

Acero

I was super excited about this month’s FEAST tasting (hosted by STLwinegirl, Angela Ortmann) because I had been to Acero a couple of years ago and loved it then, so I was definitely in need of a return visit. The best part of the tasting is that it featured some of the best dishes so I knew what to order for dinner afterwards. Also, all the wines on their list are strictly Italian with quite a few from the Tuscany region.

We started with bubbles and fish, an evenly matched pairing: Smoked Steelhead Trout Crudo with Cavit Prosecco Lunetta. The thinly sliced trout actually tasted like salmon to me and the tartness of the Prosecco helped to cut through the fishy flavor – a good balance.

Next was the Gnocco Fritto (meaning fried), which they call a “meat donut”. I really thought the meat would be inside the “donut” part because it looked like a fried ravioli, but instead the prosciutto was laid on top. I guess you don’t really want the “meat” to get fried too. With all that greasy flavor, it was a good thing that the wine had a crisp flavor to help cut through it. The Le Rote Vernaccia di San Gimignano is not oaky like a Chardonney but perhaps closer to a Chenin Blanc for me in taste.

My favorite course of the night was the Gnudi, a dumpling that tasted exactly like Gnocchi to me! The inside was creamy and dipped in a marinara sauce. This dish ended up being my starter for dinner. The wine paired with it was Zonin Chianti, a slightly dry red that helped to cut through the rich flavors of the gundi. I definitely would not drink Chianti by itself.

Another suggested pairing is the Chianti with the Tagliantelle, which is Acero’s homemade pasta: a fetticini noodle, mixed with wild mushrooms, in a very light cream sauce. Luckily, my friend Beth let me try a couple of bites and it was heavenly. The cream sauce did not overwhelm the dish and the fresh pasta and mushroom flavors really stood out. I definitely would go back just to order that. It’s quite filling so you wouldn’t need much of an appetizer.

The last pairing was a Polenta Bolognese with La Mozza I Perazzi Morellino di Scansano, a very dry red wine. I never would have thought to put polenta with a red, meat sauce, and it was a soupy combination. The meat sauce was a bit too strong for the polenta and the wine overpowered both of them. I am thinking the wine would go better with the rack of lamb, another recommended pairing, and I had my eye on my friend Tony’s order across the table. Just might have to order one of everything next time?


Upon recommendation, I knew I was going to order the Egg Raviolo as my main course for dinner that night. Just like it says, this dish is a giant ravioli with a raw egg on the inside so when you cut it open, the egg yolk runs everywhere. So rich and creamy, I really think it could be paired with either a dry white or red wine.

I had a request for dessert back at the office and so I picked out a couple to try. I thought I would bring in some tiramisu, but there wasn’t one listed on the menu. Instead, I picked out the Ricotta Cheesecake and the Panna Cotta, which is a eggless custard. Again, more thick, rich, creamy flavors that fill you up after just one bite! I was a little bit disappointed about the size of the dessert at first, but I really don’t think you could eat too much of either one of them because they are so filling.
Resources:

FEAST magazine =http://www.feaststl.com/

Friday, February 3, 2012

Demun Oyster Bar

I finally got to go to the Demun Oyster Bar for the first time thanks to a STLwinegirl Traveling Table event there after passing by it a few times on my way to Sasha’s Wine Bar. Even though the place is small, with an equally small kitchen, I was very impressed with the large, half circle bar surrounding the tray of oysters on ice.

The main thing that surprises me about oysters is that there are so many kinds! I guess I am na├»ve from living in the Midwest? The chalkboard on one wall lists the different types available along with their prices. On that night we started with a Mirada Oyster, which was paired with a Brut sparkling wine. Since oysters have such a slimy texture, it’s good to have the proper seasoning or drink to help wash them down.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure if the kitchen was able to handle serving a large party because the next course took a while to come out and one lonely oyster wasn’t quite enough as a starter, but I do admit that the Scallop, Lobster, and Asparagus Gratin was amazing. It came out in a small dish like a stew and the bread crumbs covered the huge chunks of seafood. The only problem is that it was so hot, I almost burned my mouth and I had to cut the chunks of lobster to get them to bite size pieces.

This is definitely something that should be on the menu, although at the appropriate size and temperature. I almost forgot about the wine since the seafood took away all the attention, but I was just happy to have a crisp Chenin Blanc from Vouvray, France to help cool me down. The flavors were very subtle to allow the fish to stand out.

I actually enjoyed the Snapper en Papiollote even more although I had never seen a dish come out in parchment before! It was much like unwrapping a present since the package contained another stew-like collection of seafood: a filet of snapper, clams, and mussels along with saffron and confit potatoes. This was paired with a Rose of Syrah from Chile, which had a little too much bite to it since the snapper was so light, but at the same time it did help cut the grease of the potatoes and the buttery flavor of the clams and mussels.

Unfortunately, I had to miss out on the dessert course but the pairing sounded wonderful: Grand Marnier Cheesecake Napolean with a Sauternes from Bordeaux, France.

Resources:

Demun Oyster Bar = http://www.facebook.com/demunoysterbar

STLwinegirl = http://www.stlwinegirl.com