Tuesday, December 29, 2015

STLCheesegirl Top Posts 2015

It's that time of year to do the Top 10 posts of 2015 and there was definitely a beer theme that stood out the most as well as repeat top ten location from last year!

Some cool facts: This was my busiest year with 62 posts with March being my busiest month with 12 posts! Funny thing is that is when I changed jobs and started working on putting my condo on the market with less trips to the gym. More time for dining out I guess? I'm definitely paying for it now!

This year I went to several "cheese and beer pairing" classes at Dierberg's Des Peres that was new this year and those posts were very popular, probably due to the rise of craft beers. Although at this point, I am not sure you can still call Goose Island and Sam Adams craft beers, but I really enjoyed the pairings because you don't normally think to add cheese when you're chillin' with a beer!

Hopefully, there will be more cheese pairing class in 2016!

Dinner Lab - Crawfish Boilhttp://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2015/03/dinner-lab-crawfish-boil.html
This was my first Dinner Lab and this was a great way to try one out even though we weren't members. I had heard about it from fellow food blogger Whiskey & Soba, which I read religiously. Since crawfish is one of Patience's favorites, it was worth the price to try this out and they kept bringing out MORE crawfish until we cried uncle. If you're a foodie, definitely worth trying out at least once.

Cheese and Beer Pairing - O'Fallon Breweryhttp://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2015/04/cheese-and-beer-pairings-ofallon-brewery.html
I'm sure folks wanted to support a local brewery and there was a lot of hype about the new location being built in Maryland Heights. It was nice for me to finally get to try all their beers since I was only familiar with their Wheach.

Cheese and Beer Pairing - Sam Adams Part 1http://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2015/02/cheese-beer-pairings-at-dierbergs.html
This was the first of three Sam Adams pairings, which surprised me because I didn't realize they had so many beers! This first one covered their year-round beers, while the later two focused on their seasonal selections.

Cooper's Hawk Wineryhttp://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2015/09/coopers-hawk-winery.html
The winery is a big hit since you can have your own decanter at your table. It is super cool to watch and the service was right up there with the ambiance. Oh, and we started in the lobby with a wine tasting while we waited for our reservation. My friend was right, a destination spot for any wine lover!

Cheese and Beer Pairing at Larder & Cupboardhttp://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2015/04/beer-and-cheese-tasting-at-larder.html
This pairing class was held at Larder & Cupboard to help feature their cheese case and it was hosted by The OG: St. Louis Women's Craft Beer Collective as well as Femme Ferment. After sampling 11 beers, I really hope they'll do another one. Definitely a good time was had by all and I learned a lot from these ladies!

Cheese and Beer Pairing - Urban Chestnuthttp://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2015/01/cheese-beer-pairings-at-dierbergs.html
This was the first class in the cheese and beer pairing series and again, a local brewery was featured. I also quickly learned that I would be full just on cheese for these classes!!!

Libertine Clayton Restaurant Weekhttp://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2015/07/the-libertine-clayton-restaurant-week.html
Libertine was the top post of 2014 for me where I talked about their fried chicken. This time, the Libertine has a new chef and a new menu so we had to check it out and support Chef Matt Bessler. Even with all the changes, it's still one of the top restaurants I recommend to people here. Their cocktail program is still killer.

Cheese and Beer Pairing - Sam Adams Part 2http://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2015/06/cheese-and-beer-pairings-sam-adams-part.html
For the second Sam Adams pairing, we got to taste their summer seasonals and they included Angry Orchard in the list as well. Plenty of porch pounders!

O'Fallon Breweryhttp://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2015/07/ofallon-brewery.html
I wanted to go and support the opening of the new O'Fallon Brewery right away since it was right in the backyard of my condo when I lived in Maryland Heights. Opening night was insane, but I was able to attend a couple of weeks later. I love all the space for happy hour and plenty of tables for sit down dinner. Definitely upscale bar food and plenty of TVs for Cardinals baseball. Maryland Heights is very lucky and I wish I still lived over there to visit more often.

LuLu's Local Eateryhttp://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2015/03/lulus-local-eatery.html
This small, vegan-friendly restaurant was recommended to us by foodie friends and it took us a couple of tries to get there after the winter, but it was worth it. Now I know what the hype was about and I was really impressed with the whole place. It's small and busy on the weekends, but it's a place you feel good about supporting.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

PW Pizza Six Mile Bridge Beer Dinner

I had been really curious about Six Mile Bridge brewery since they started up in Maryland Heights (right after I moved out) so this was the best way to check out their beers.

Menu
Instead of a light salad, we had a unique starter of Eggplant Rotolini. Breaded eggplant shaped like a cannoli with goat cheese inside. This was a great pairing with the easy drinking Bavarian Hefeweizen, which was so smooth and refreshing.

Eggplant Rotolini
The ultimate course was the Thanksgiving Pizza... I have never had turkey on a pizza before! But it really did taste like thanksgiving dinner with the celery, corn, mashed potatoes, and cranberries on top of the turkey and brown gravy. I was shocked how deliciously "Thanksgiving dinner" this was. Also, I thought it was perfectly paired with the well-balanced Irish Red Ale. Most creative pizza yet!

Thanksgiving Pizza
Of course the Session IPA was paired with the Spicy Sausage Pizza, but the IPA was not too hoppy at all, so the spicy sausage definitely dominated. I definitely prefer this style of IPA myself with only 50 IBUs.

Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake Chimichanga
The dessert course was also well paired with a Chocolate Strawberry Cheeseake Chimichanga and an Irish Stout...both were thick and rich!

Make note that half the schedule for 2016 have been set!

2016 Schedule
Resources:

PW Pizza = http://pwpizza.com/

Six Mile Bridge = http://sixmilebridgebeer.com/

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Reeds American Table

Janet Jackson had to cancel on us and we suddenly had an opening on our calendar. We decided to keep date night to try out Reed's American Table. Let's just say it was still a night of watching super stars.

We really had a hard time picking out what to eat since we had seen so many recommendations online, and there were small plates as well as entrees. We couldn't decide between cocktails or wine either.

So we told our server, just order for us!

That's really the best way to try several dishes and we didn't have to make any decisions! (That's important during the work week.)

We ended up starting the evening with four small plates, splitting them all. The first two were some of the most popular dishes: Bacon Fat Fried Corn Bread with honey and thyme butter on top and a Pork Belly with shaved brussels, shiitakes, leeks, carrots, and maple-date jus.

Corn Bread

Pork Belly
If you look at the menu, each of the small plates listed below are paired with a cocktail! The first two came with a Martinez Lacuesta and a Dolin Blanc.

Small Plates Menu
The second round of small plates included the Roasted Cauliflower and a Pork Scrapple that came with a poached egg, brussels, and sage aioli. These were paired with a Imbue and a Ransom Dry cocktail.

Roasted Cauliflower

Pork Scrapple with a poached egg
I didn't know what a scrapple was and our server explained that it is pork mixed with polenta, chilled, then fried.

We really had our heart set on the Braised Beef Cheek so we had an extra small plate come out and I think this was the best one of them all! The beef cheek came on focaccia bread with oven dried tomatoes, arugula, and foie gras cream. So no wonder it was so rich and delicious!

Braised Beef Cheek
Then it was time for our main courses and we both already knew we'd be taking home enough for lunch the next day.

Again, we both got winners: Steelhead Trout on top of mushroom risotto and fried brussels and the Pork Chop on top of sauteed greens, mushrooms, potato, caramelized onion, marsala cream, and black walnuts.
Steelhead Trout

Pork Chop
These were perfectly paired with a Paul Vattan Sauvignon Blanc and a Etna Rosso, respectively.

Even though there were a few chocolate items on the dessert menu, we really just could not eat anymore!

Just a heads up... if you like what you see here, you might need to hurry because they definitely will be changing their menu up.

I was thrilled the experience lived up to the hype and I really like what they've done with the upstairs space. The lighting was a little dim so although it was romantic, I did struggle to read the menu. But it all worked out in the end when we tossed the menu to the side.

Resources:

Reeds's American Table - http://reedsamericantable.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

PW Pizza Schlafly Beer Dinner 2015

Since Patience is a huge fan of Schlafly, we didn't want to miss this year's pizza and beer dinner with them. We guessed correctly that their fall beers would be featured.

Menu
We started the night outside in the perfect October weather for the first course: Caprese Crostini with roasted tomato, parmesan, and a balsamic reduction paired with one of our favorites, Kolsch.

Caprese Crostini
The first pizza course was my favorite since the Chicken Alfredo had so much flavor and was paired with another favorite, Oktoberfest. You can see the provolone and blue cheese oozing on top with red onions and spinach.

Chicken Alfredo Pizza
I think the Roasted Butternut Squash pizza could have been just as good, but the goat cheese, broccoli, pecans, and cranberries kept falling off the crust. I made a huge mess trying to serve it. This was paired with the old stand by, Pale Ale.

Roasted Butternut Squash Pizza
And of course the dessert course paired the Pumpkin Ale with a Apple Roses pastry. This had a beautiful design that included apricot, coffee beans topped with caramel sauce and more ground coffee beans.

Apple Rose
Yet, the best part of the night was going downstairs to the 21st Street Brewer's Bar and getting to sample a new Schlafly beer. No photos were allowed so let's just say it's very light and refreshing!

Resources:

Schlafly = http://schlafly.com/

PW Pizza = http://pwpizza.com/

21st Street Brewers Bar = http://21stbrew.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fairview Lounge

Since I needed to cross the river into Illinois this weekend, I met a fellow foodie friend for lunch. Since it's mostly chain restaurants in Fairview Heights, she came up with a super unique place to eat that's within walking distance from her house.

Unique reason #1: It's in a gas station
Unique reason #2: It's Peruvian cuisine

When I walked in, instead of rows of chips and gum, the inside floor space really is used for tables and chairs as well as a bar in the back, with quite a few taps.
Bar
Since I had some partners in crime to help me, we started with a large order of Yucas Fritas, which came with three different sauces.

Yucas Fritas
We started on those since we had to wait on the empanadas and they were worth the wait. The empanadas were jammed packed with beef, onions, tomatoes, olives, and spices.

Empanada
We also started with an order of Boudin balls, which were densely packed with sausage, rice, and red pepper inside. You can find these listed on the back of the menu with a few Cajun chicken options as well.



The highly recommended chicken kabobs definitely lived up to the hype. The large hunks of chicken were incredibly tender. Almost forgot to get a picture in time!

Chicken kabobs
Since I don't know of any other Peruvian restaurants in the area, I have to admit that I'm really curious and hope to try it again sometime. I might have to make more friends on that side of the river!

Resources:

Fairview Lounge: http://www.bnd.com/living/magazine/article20032563.html

Riverbend

Even though we're a year and a few weeks late, I finally got to take Patience to Riverbend so she could enjoy New Orleans-style cuisine for her birthday.

The new location is a lot closer to us so that worked out really well since we had to wait. There is a small bar and plenty of TVs everywhere, so it's a very casual environment with the menu listed on a folded piece of paper. And if you have kids with you, you can play "count the number of fluer de lis" since they are everywhere!

Yet, the simple menu is chock full of all your favorites like gumbo, po-boys, etouffee, hush puppies, and jambalaya. It was very hard to narrow down our choices.

The cocktail list is also New Orleans influenced and Patience tried her first Sazerac...quite boozy!

Sazerac
We started with a cup of chicken & sausage gumbo and crab cakes.

Gumbo
Crab Cakes
I went safe for my first time with a Fried Shrimp Po-Boy, with a side of Red Beans & Rice. The sandwich was so large that it was easily two meals.

Shrimp Po-Boy
Red Beans & Rice
With the waiter's help, Patience chose the Crawfish Margaret Pasta. It had quite a kick and lots of little crawfish throughout. Also, two meals!

Crawfish Margaret Pasta
Since we were celebrating a birthday, we just had to get dessert to go with my singing. Highly recommended, we finished off the night with a House-made Creole Bread Pudding in whiskey sauce. Very heavy and sweet.

Creole Bread Pudding in whiskey sauce
We are definitely going back to try more...

Resources:

Riverbend = http://www.riverbendbar.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wine Merchant Cheese Class

It has been so long since I went to a Wine Merchant cheese class, that I hadn't gotten to try out the new location yet. I was concerned since I had a hard time finding the parking lot behind the building but all my concerns went to the wayside as soon as I walked inside.

First off, kudos on the huge ramp to the back door.

Second, there are two floors and a separate tasting room that looks like a board room with comfy leather chairs. And then there is STILL room for a tasting area.

Two bathrooms and an elevator. It's that sweet.

Although my favorite part was these giant maps!! (Don't worry, there is still a ton of room for wine on the floor.)

Wine maps!
Since I was there on a Friday night, they had a California bubbles tasting going on... great way to start the weekend!

Now on to the class... I wish I had taken a picture of the board room, I mean tasting room. You feel like a posh executive. It was even better with this wine and cheese list.

Wine and Cheese Pairing list
The first two wines were whites and were plenty high in acid to cut through the richness of the goat cheeses. Both cheese were soft and not too gamey, which you can get with goat cheese. The second pairing was a nicely matched wine and cheese from the Loire Valley, France.

A red wine was definitely needed to be paired up against the Black Truffle cheese from Italy, so a Primitivo  from Puglia, Italy was paired. Both had bold flavors, and that was just the start of the "in-your-face" flavors for the night.

A little bit of an "opposite" pairing was the Cabernet Sauvignon from Yakima Valley AVA in Washington state paired with the Cabot "Clothbound" cheddar from Vermont. This cheese is one of their special edition ones and  had quite a kick to stand up to the Cab.

The most intense pairing was the 2013 Herman Story Syrah, made from grapes all over California so it has a generic Califnoria AVA label. The Amirabella reminded me a lot of Epoisses. Both the wine AND the cheese had that barnyard smell and very funky taste! Woah! But what an explosion of flavors together!

(Why yes, I did purchase some Epoisses using my class discount!)

Then Jason was super nice and gave us a bonus pour of Non Vintage G.D. Vajra Barolo Chinato Vino Aromatizzato paired with dark chocolate almonds. I almost ate the entire box myself.

Resources:

Wine Merchant = http://www.winemerchantltd.com/

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cheese and Beer Pairings - Sam Adams Fall Beer

I was able to squeeze in a cheese and beer pairing class before a busy weekend of packing, and it was just what I needed to relax a little. Samuel Adams featured their fall beers and they were all new to me.

Cheese lineup
Accoutrements
We kicked off the class with their version of Octoberfest, which was easy drinking beer with a low ABV and IBU.

The first beer was actually a cider by Angry Orchard, but even though it's called "Hop'n Mad", I really tasted all apple and not hops. I guess the hops are there to reduce the sweetness and give the cider a dryer finish. This was an amazing pairing with the Grafton Village 2-year raw milk cheddar. The sharpness of the cheese cut through the sweetness and in turn, the sweetness helped to tame down the sharpness. What bliss! Vermont knows their cheese!

Then the two were paired with the dark chocolate!!! Oh my goodness...

Next up was the first non-summery shandy that I've ever had. The Jack-o Traveler had a pumpkin flavor, but the shandy aspect added a citrusy finish. Also quite easy to drink without being overwhelmed by the pumpkin. I think it's a good way to ease into the pumpkin beer season. The cheese stood out again as I am a huge Gruyere fan. Another sharp cheese flavor took on the pumpkin and spice quite easily. These were paired with the caramelized walnuts.

The official pumpkin beer came next, Pumpkin Batch, but it was not your typical pumpkin since it's actually a saison. This had a little too much spice or perhaps the hoppiness bothered me. Luckily, the roasted red pepper creamy goat cheese came to the rescue and cut right through once again. Intense goaty flavor and the creaminess just melted in my mouth. I probably could eat a container of the cheese with a spoon! These were paired with marcona almonds, but the cheese stood alone on this one.

The last two beers were super hoppy with high IBUs, and their names say it all: Hoppy Red and Rebel Rouser Double IPA. Again, I credit the cheese as saving the day since it was hard for me to get past a taste or two of the beer.

This was the first time for me to try Champignon Cambozola, which is an interesting combination of camembert and gargonzola. While there were large mold lines like a regular blue cheese, the creaminess of the triple creme was like tasting butter. The blue aspect was very mild and was easily tamed by the spoonful of honey. Just divine.

The full flavored Cotswold from Britain easily gave off chives and onion in each bite, which was completely necessary to stand up to the double IPA. While the cheese was very much "in your face", the soft cheese was complex and delicious. The intensity was cut by the gerkins or baby sweet pickles. I could have made a meal of just those two as well!

Resources:

Dierbergs Cooking School = http://www.dierbergs.com/School

Samuel Adams = http://www.samueladams.com/

Monday, September 7, 2015

Edgewild Bistro & Tap

Since I had missed the BBQ restaurant that was in this spot before, I didn't want to miss trying Edgewild Bistro & Tap, especially since we loved Edgewild Winery out in Chesterfield.

Now I had heard that it was not exactly like the one in Chesterfield, but I didn't realize that it was completely different! While they do serve wine, this version of the restaurant was definitely focused on beer and had a very extensive list. Luckily, we did our homework and narrowed down our choices before we got there or else we would have been there a while trying to decide.

Unfortunately, with all the TVs, decor, and loudness of the restaurant, I felt like I was more in a Texas Roadhouse or a sports bar. While I do enjoy those places, I was really caught off guard and it was hard to hold a conversation at the table as well as with the server.

Since I felt like I was at a bar, we went with bar food (pizza and sandwiches dominate the menu), although Patience and I tried the Duck Burger since that sounded unique. The duck burger  was on the dry side although it had a decent flavor.

Duck Burger
The real winner was the Baked Italian, which was loaded with salami, turkey, pepperoni, prosciutto, swiss, provelone, mozzerella, lettuce, tomato, amd pepperoncinis, all on a baguette. It wasn't as massive as you might fear, but plenty of Italian flavors.

Baked Italian
We even tried a couple of sides to share. Of course my favorite was the White Cheddar Mac & Cheese, although the Sweet Potato Gratin was tasty as well.

Mac & Cheese and Sweet Potato Gratin
If you're in the mood for a lengthy beer list and sports, this might be a fit.

Resources:

Edgewild Bistro = http://www.edgewildbistro.com/

Kingside Diner

Once again this week, I was totally impressed with Kingside Diner in the Central West End. While I was afraid that there would be a long wait with a new place, the staff was doing a great job of getting everyone seated.

I loved the chess theme design on everything and there were quite a few tables on the patio out front to handle the crowd. The bartender also was responsible for the first few tables near the bar and she was very quick on the draw to greet us. With all the windows, the restaurant had a lot of natural light and stylized signs and printing.

Then the food and service kept right up! Peacock take notes!

Since it's a diner, I wasn't expecting much on the menu, but there were plenty of interesting and unique items along with your favorites for breakfast and sandwiches. (Who doesn't love being able to order breakfast or sammiches all day!)

I ordered the #1 Spinach, tomato, cheddar, and red onion Omelette, but I could have gotten it in a burrito or as a flatbread!

Spinach, Tomato, Cheddar, and Red Onion Omelette
All of that came with toast and I was easily able to swap out fruit for the hash browns.

Patience ordered a Kingside Specialty of Cheddar Drop Biscuits. The biscuits were huge and came with a boat of chorizo & sage gravy to go on top.

Cheddar Drop Biscuits
Chris ordered another Kingside Specialty with the 3 Little Piggies Sandwich. This was most impressive with ham, bacon, sausage, fried egg, chipotle aioli, lettuce, and tomato on Texas Toast. And hash browns. Come hungry for this one!

3 Little Piggies Sandiwch
Chris also ordered a tall Bloody Mary to go with his meal. It was also no joke.

And the coffee? Well, they bring you your own carafe. Plenty to go around for everyone.

I can't wait to go back and try more! Definitely a must do breakfast stop.

From STLToday.com = http://www.stltoday.com/entertainment/dining/restaurants/reviews/all-the-pieces-are-in-place-at-kingside-diner-in/article_9a011d08-6ebf-53d3-b345-c87e1e311c3b.html

Resource:

Kingside Diner = http://www.kingsidediner.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Cooper's Hawk Winery

A friend insisted that she take me to Cooper's Hawk Winery since she knew how much I love wine and it definitely lived up to the hype. Not only is the restaurant large, but the tasting area is also spacious. You can't miss it when you walk in and you can linger as long as you like up front. This also is a great way to spend the time while you wait for your table.

I was stunned when I saw the tasting list because I hadn't eaten dinner yet and there were EIGHT wines available for tasting! Luckily, there were some crackers available, but I was really feeling it after the first four pours.

Tasting Menu
The Prosecco was my favorite white until I got to the Unoaked Chardonnay, which was so easy to drink with no lingering flavor. It would make a great food wine for sure! The Gewurztraminer was quite sweet.

The Barbera was my favorite out of the reds, again, not too dry and easy to drink, while the Shiraz and Lux Cabernet (Lux meaning small batch and higher price) were too dry for me. The Passion Fruit is their dessert wine and really needed some dessert to be paired with it.

I admit, I was really thrilled to get to try all the wines first so we knew what to order with dinner. When we got to the table, which had no wait during the week, there was a tall piece of glass brought to our table. I was trying to figure out what it was....

What is this?
After ordering a full bottle of wine, the show started when the server dumped the entire bottle into this vase with the wine spilling over the bubble on top. Table top decanter!

The best part was that your glass fit underneath the spout so you could easily pour it without spilling!

A huge decanter!
This was better than table-top taps! So worth the price of admission. hehe

We started with salads, but perhaps next time, I should just save the room...

House Salad
I was told the best thing on the menu was the New York Strip so that made my choice easy. The strip came with roasted vegetables and we ordered asparagus on the side.

New York Strip
My friend ordered the shrimp and polenta, also very delicious. It came with Andouille, Corn, White Cheddar, Tomato-Braised Kale, and Smoked Paprika Cilantro Oil.

Southern Grilled Shrimp & Polenta
And if I wasn't plenty stuffed at this point (and full of wine), we ended the night with truffles from their bakery.

Chocolate Truffles
Even nicer was that we got to take the bottle home in a "wine leftovers baggie" so I could enjoy the entire meal all over again the next night.

I noticed that menu also has gluten free items, light items, lunch portions, and wine flights so this is a real treat for any wine lover!

Resources:

Cooper's Hawk Winery = https://www.coopershawkwinery.com/

Park Avenue

Thanks to the new location opening up on the Hill, Patience and I tried out Park Avenue Coffee for breakfast.

If you like coffee, there are a ton of choices!

There are also quite a few pastries and other baked goods. Patience got her favorite, a scone...

Blueberry Scone and a Coffee
For me, though, there were not too many protein items on the menu. Luckily, they did have some small quiches and this is the egg with spinach.

Quiche with spinach
I also couldn't resist the Cinnamon Roll that was eye to eye with me on the counter. Good marketing!

Cinnamon Roll
This place is great for a quick stop in the neighborhood. It includes a cute little patio that welcomes pets as well.

Resource:

Park Avenue Coffee = http://parkavenuecoffee.com/