Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cheese and Beer Pairings - O'Fallon Brewery

O'Fallon Beer and cheeses
Accompaniments
This month's cheese and beer pairing at Dierbergs featured O'Fallon Brewery, which I didn't know that much about beyond their famous pumpkin beer in the fall and their "Wheach". The "Wheach" is exactly what it sounds like, a peach wheat beer that's very fruit forward and perfect for summer time. I thought the Manchego was a little dry to match the sweetness of the beer, but neither one overpowered the other for a nice balance. I also learned that the Manchego goes great with honey on top!

But even before the first beer, my favorite was the welcome beer, Kite Tail. As a cream ale, it's so easy drinking. Definitely a patio pounder!

The second beer was new to me, Hemp Hop Rye. To answer the first question you probably have, no, there is no THC in the beer. The amber ale uses toasted hemp seed to create a nutty flavor in the beer. There is only a mild hop flavor so this is very drinkable, and it was paired with a triple creme, LA Bonne Vie Rouge for a "bread and butter" taste together. I thought the sweet pickles on the side were a bit too overpowering though.

I had heard of the 5-Day IPA before and the five stands for the number of days the beer rests on top of hops. As per usual, the IPA was paired with a blue cheese as well as prosciutto.

Another newish beer by O'Fallon is "Zeke's Pale Ale", which again is only slightly hoppy and very easy to drink. This was paired with my all time favorite cheese, Midnight Moon by Cypress Grove. (It's about time they served this during a pairing class!!!!!!) Good thing the beer is mild enough to let the cheese shine on this one. And when it's decorated with fig paste on top....OH MY!!

I was impressed with the last beer, a Smoked Porter, since I had never tried one before and O'Fallon is among a few that make a smoked beer in the St. Louis area. The bigger flavor of this beer was paired with a peppercorn cheddar. The smoked beer did chill out the cheddar to balance it out, but the best part was the dark chocolate with the smoked beer!!

O'Fallon is almost finished with their new brewery and tasting room in Maryland Heights - should be open next month!

Resources:

O'Fallon Brewery = http://www.ofallonbrewery.com/

Dierbergs = http://www.dierbergs.com/

Straub's Beer and Cheese Pairing with Schlafly

I just happened to be at Straub's, now that I work in Clayton, and saw a sign for a beer and Wisconsin cheese pairing with Schlafly for a few days later. You know I had to sign up! An extra bonus is that this class also benefited Operation Food Search.

Wisconsin Cheeses with Schlafly Beer
Cheese in the sun by Jessie Corno
Straub's was very gracious and started off the evening with a light meal consisting of pulled pork sliders, mac and cheese, charcuterie, olives, and fruit. I was relieved since I had just come from the gym and needed something before tasting beer. Also, the cheese samples were in the two-bite range unlike the classes I take at Dierbergs.

The beer instruction was led by former Brew Master Stephen Hale and for the first time I met The Cheese Impresario, Barrie Lynn. It's nice to see another "cheese champion" in the St. Louis area. Her favorite term was "cheese highway", which means to coat your tongue for the beer pairing. hehehehe

Much like Dierbergs, we started with a welcome beer, the easy-drinking Summer Lager, that we got to have with our appetizer course.

The first beer to be paired was the Schlafly Hefeweizen and the lighter beer went perfectly with an equally mild Crescenz-Stracchino cheese from BelGioioso. The cheese was so creamy!

The also popular, Pale Ale, was paired with a Roasted Red Pepper and Cracked peppercorn cheese from Wood River Creamery. I thought the cheese was a little too big for the beer, but it helped to take care of any hoppiness in the Pale Ale.

A new beer to me, the Belgian Style Golden Ale, had a bit more hoppiness than the Pale Ale so this was well paired with the Aged Brick Cheddar from Widmer's Cheese Cellars, which had quite a bite.

The other cheese from Widmer's Cheese Cellars, their Aged Brick Spread, was also paired with another hoppy beer, the AIPA.

And to mix things up a bit, instead of pairing the blue cheese with the AIPA, it was paired with the Lewis Osterweis Hard Ginger Beer! The ginger was good for cutting through the thick, creaminess of the BelGioioso's Creamy Gorg blue cheese. Pretty ingenious!

Resources:

Straub's = http://straubs.com/

Schlafly = http://schlafly.com/

Operation Food Search = http://www.operationfoodsearch.org/

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Toast To Spring

I was invited to attend Toast To Spring to help celebrate the St. Louis Jaycees' 100th Anniversary on Friday, April 24th from 6-9pm at the Hyatt Regency downtown.

Not only will there be a tasting of 30 wines, but there will be signature small plates provided by Ruth's Chris!

Feel free to join me on the 24th as tickets are $50 per person and a portion of all proceeds will be donated to the St. Louis Jaycees.


Stone Soup Cottage

While I am a little sad that I won't be going to the Women's World Cup for my 40th birthday like I had planned, this year still has been pretty special with a trip to California. I ate and drank in some of the best places in the country, but there was still one top place in St. Louis that I had yet to try.

Lara and I share back-to-back birthdays but due to a repeat of the menu, we ended up waiting until April. This ended up working out for the best because we didn't have to worry about bad weather and the area around the new location is quite beautiful in the spring. Let's just say that outdoor dining (a la farm-to-table) is going to be coming very soon!

Since Lara and Mike are somewhat "regulars", we received over-the-top service to go along with the already high level service to begin with. The new building is just beautiful inside and this lovely table was awaiting our arrival. Not to mention the incredibly comfy chairs, which was necessary for three-hour dining.

Our table...
The first thing you see when you sit down is the incredibly long menu. I think this might be
my longest one yet if you include the Amuse-Bouche and Intermezzo.

Menu
Patience and I decided to split one wine pairing between the two of us, which turned out to be a good idea since four wine pairings is plenty. I must also compliment the restaurant for offering to split the wine for us and they were still generous pours.

I could describe each pairing, but everything was amazing. Even the wine were perfectly paired...this was my first time drinking a Louis Latour!!

Amuse-Bouche
Sorrel Soup with Atlantic Blue Crab and Gruyere Gougeres
Grilled Asparagus with Seared Pork Belly, Petite Farm Salad
Dressed with a Sorghum and Black Pepper Vinaigrette
Alaskan Halibut Cheeks en Papillote
with White Wine and Artichokes
Morel and Spring Onion Quiche with Veloute
Smoked Duck Cannelloni with Brown Butter and Lavender
Rhubarb Souffle with Housemade White Chocolate Gelato
Of course, the best part is when Chef Carl or his wife comes out and describes each course to every table. Also, Chef Carl was so kind as to autograph his book for us as a wonderful gift.

If you enjoy fine dining for special occasions, this is definitely the place to go.

Resources:

Stone Soup Cottage = http://www.stonesoupcottage.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Remy's Tuesday Tasting

Every month, I would get jealous of my friend Rebecca's posts on Facebook. Religiously, she would attend Remy's Tuesday Tastings, where they offer an off-the-menu three course wine-paired dinner.

Usually, the wines are paired by a different distributor, but this month was a little different since The Big O was the featured liquor for the night! Now I really had no business missing this monthly event!

Due to the ginger flavor, the chef at Remy's decided to go with an Asian theme for her menu.

Menu
The first course included Geisert Farms Pork Stickers that even came with a Big O dipping sauce. The cocktail paired with it included Cachaca, in addition to the Big O, which was my first time. I was served a large glass of it and I knew I must pace myself. The lime flavor made it taste similar to a margarita.

Geisert Farms Pork Stickers paired with Big O Caipirinha
A Seared Striped Bass was served for the second course on top of glass noodles in a lemongrass kaffir lime broth with roasted shiitake mushrooms. This was pretty amazing and I would demand it to be on the regular menu, although I'm not sure if Remy's is ready to start serving Asian dishes all the time.

As you can see below, I got a more reasonably-sized cocktail this time and I enjoyed the sweetness from the elderflower and fennel pear shrub.

Seared Striped Bass paired with Born To Run
As if one main course wasn't enough, the third course was a Pan Roasted Duck Breast and I was really blown away again. The duck was so tender and perfectly cooked.

The cocktail paired was a little heavier to match up against the duck meat. Rittenhouse Rye, Aperol, and orange bitters went well along with the Big O.

Pan Roasted Duck Breast paired with The Thoroughfare
The extra dessert course included Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream paired with a shot of the Big O Reserve. While I would have happily drowned the ice cream in the liquor, I couldn't really eat anything more.

I highly recommend the Remy's Tuesday Tastings, regardless of the wine being served, but you must make sure you call well before the first Tuesday of the month!

Resources:

Remy's Kitchen & Wine Bar = http://www.remyskitchen.com/

The Big O = http://drinkthebigo.com/

Monday, April 13, 2015

Beer and Cheese Tasting at Larder & Cupboard

As a big fan of Larder & Cupboard, I was thrilled to find out on Facebook that they would be hosting a beer and cheese tasting class at the store after hours.

The event was one in a series that was put on by The OG: St. Louis Women's Craft Beer Collective, along with another female-centric beer group "Femme Ferment". The first event in the series had been a home brew demo at O'Fallon Brewing. The last event will be to taste the "home brews" made that night.

This second event was more educational as Karen King of Side Project Brewing led the all-female class in a sensory panel of seven beers. After that, Robin Wheeler of Larder & Cupboard, guided us through a beer and cheese pairing.

I really appreciated the tall bottle of water and note cards!

Even though small, plastic cups were probably not the best for smelling, they did hold plenty of beer and I hated to leave so much leftover beer behind. We certainly got our money's worth tasting seven beers in the first round and then four more with the cheese.

Beers!
Each person had two place mats, one without names and one with. The first seven beers were passed out and were in order from lightest to darkest. And just like with wine, Karen King walked us through the tasting by having us discuss the color, whether the beer was clear or hazy (unfiltered), and then finally the smell. Of course we tasted at the very end and tried to make our best guess of the beer's style.

Starting at the top and going down in a zig zag pattern, here are the beers:

1) Morgan Street Brewery - Citrusy Lemon Beer

2) Morgan Street Brewery - Golden Pilsner

3) Urban Chestnut - Snickelfritz

4) Schlafly - Pale Ale

5) 2nd Shift - Art of Neurosis

6) Civil Life - Brown Ale

7) Deschuettes - Black Butte

As for the second round, we worked our way through several cheeses, pairing a few with each beer.

Cheese!
1) Civil Life - Oatmeal Stout = Paired with sharp cheeses, granola, and another with an expresso rub.

2) 4 Hands - Black IPA = Paired with bigger cheeses like a cheddar, blue, and chocolate honey.

3) New Holland - White IPA = Paired with more creamy and buttery cheese and a fresh sheep's milk. The IPA really helped to cut through the cream. Also paired with spicier items like salami and peppers.

4) Dupont - Saison = The lightest beer was paired with Baetje Farms semisoft cheese and the fruit/nut press.

If you follow Larder & Cupboard on Facebook, hopefully there are more classes to come!

Resources:

Larder and Cupboard = http://www.larderandcupboard.com/

The OG = https://www.facebook.com/theogstl
https://sites.google.com/site/ogwomen/

Femme Ferment = http://www.femmeferment.org/

Side Project Brewing = http://www.sideprojectbrewing.com/

Morgan Street = http://www.morganstreetbrewery.com/

Urban Chestnut = http://www.urbanchestnut.com/

2nd Shift = http://www.2ndshiftbrewing.com/

Civil Life = http://www.thecivillife.com/

Deschuttes = http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/

Schlafly = http://schlafly.com/

4 Hands = http://4handsbrewery.com/

New Holland = http://newhollandbrew.com/

Dupont = http://www.brasserie-dupont.com/

Baetje Farms = http://www.baetjefarms.com/

Small Batch

Now this is a restaurant that I had been wanting to go to for a while due to its vegetarian theme and it was appropriately selected as the restaurant of the month by the Green Dining Alliance. I am sure most people are more excited over their selection of whiskey though.

Just as important, the restaurant itself is just beautiful. I love all the iron work and the black and white decor. The entire place is full of light, even on a cloudy day! I also didn't realize that it was a stone's throw from The Fountain, so you could combine the two in some way.

When I first sat down, the bartender gave me quality time with the drink menu, which was good because it is quite lengthy. I'm sure he has to frequently help customers pick out a whiskey, but I also noticed whiskey flights being offered as well. I stuck to my favorite type of cocktail: something made with The Big O, because I know I can't go wrong. My cocktail "King O' France", was made from great king street, calvados, The Big O, sweet vermouth, and peat rinse. (Not sure what a few of those are...)

I was actually thrilled to see that Small Batch has a small menu, helping me to narrow down my choices. I decided to go with the "eat as many small plates as possible" plan of attack.

I started with the Potstickers, which included stir fry vegetables, wasabi pea, and spicy peanut sauce. This was a little spicier than I expected.

Potstickers
My "main course" if you will, was the Risotto, but it didn't come out like I had planned. The rice were actually "risotto balls", or rather jambala croquettes, and also had quite a kick! The Cajun remoulade probably had something to do with that too.

Risotto
Finally, I was able to cool off with my favorite dish of the night, Poutine. It's done right with a large boat of fries smothered in fontina and peppered white gravy. I should have stopped after a few fries since it was my third small plate of the night, but I couldn't help myself and ate half the tray.

Poutine
This is a place where you definitely want to bring friends to help you work your way through the menu whether food or whiskey!

Resources:

Small Batch = http://smallbatchstl.com/

Green Dining Alliance = http://www.greendiningalliance.org/

The Big O = http://drinkthebigo.com/

The Fountain = http://www.fountainonlocust.com/

Bonefish Grill

Now I know what you're going to say. Yes, Bonefish Grill has gotten a lot of negative press, but I believe in trying out new restaurants for myself. Another rule I try to follow is to wait as long as possible after a new place opens before trying it out. It just takes time for a restaurant to get into a groove.

Another challenge for Bonefish Grill is that it's right next door to a hotel and for a Wednesday night, it was packed. I think that also may have been due to a happy hour, but our reservation wasn't until 6:45pm! Then on top of that, there was a large party right next to us, so I braced myself for a long evening.

Initially, it did take our waiter longer than expected to greet us and retrieve our drinks, but I really needed the time to figure out what I was going to order anyway with such a long menu. Since it was a little slow, the host and the general manager BOTH stepped up to fill in at the beginning. Go teamwork!

My stepmom and I went back and forth on whether or not to order an appetizer during our wait time. As usual, I wanted one of everything, so it was difficult to narrow down. We settled on the Mussels Josephine, which came with tomatoes, red onion, garlic, and basil in a lemon wine sauce. I enjoyed picking out the tomatoes from sauce at the end.

Mussels Josephine
Everyone was telling us to get the Bang Bang Shrimp, which is their signature dish, but I don't think you could go wrong. You could make a meal just from starters really.

Since I was in a place with fish, of course I had to get Sea Scallops + Shrimp. I could get them both in the same dish! Unfortunately, the scallops were a little small (and almost completely hidden in the picture below), but the shrimp helped to make up for it. And when ordering an entree, you get TWO side dishes in addition to the vegetable of the day. So that's why you see a whole bunch of green on my plate.

Sea Scallops + Shrimp
My stepmom ordered the Rainbow Trout, which still had the skin on one side and was very easy to flake off. My Dad, since it was his birthday, went for beef and devoured his meal quickly as usual.

Not only did we receive a complimentary dessert (we had three choices) of key lime pie, but my Dad also received a small birthday present: a box of four chocolates to take home.

While the restaurant was busy and noisy at first, at the end, it was nice and quiet with dinner rush coming to an end. Regardless of what people have said, I am impressed with the way this restaurant handled the crowds because they are still very busy and probably will be for a while.

Resources:

Bonefish Grill = https://www.bonefishgrill.com/