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