Thursday, May 9, 2024

Taqueria Morita

The best part of going to wine classes over and over again is that you start to see the same people over and over again, and eventually you become friends!

My new wine friend, Shannon Behnen, invited me to try the new brick and mortar for Taqueria Morita, right across the parking lot from Vicia, by the same owners in case you hadn't heard.

Instead of wine, I ordered the smallest beer ever! A Modelito! Isn't it cute! (Had a hard time getting the lime in though.)


I made the mistake of ordering something hearty, the Quesadilla Gringa, right out of the gate, which was delicious, don't get me wrong, but then I didn't have room for much else.

Quesadilla Gringa

My friends were much smarter and tried several smaller dishes:

Fish, Carne Asada, and Pork Carnitas tacos...

Carne Asada Taco

Fish Tempura Taco

Pork Carnitas Tacos

My favorite small plate was the Tuna Crudo. I probably could have ordered two of these and been set for the night, but really the best thing is to share in order to try all the small plates.

Tuna Crudo

I also "helped" to finish off the guac, hence no picture. 

This is a great addition to the Cortex!


Taqueria Morita = https://www.taqueriamorita.com/

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

STL VegGirl Vines & Veggies

It has been a long time since I have attended a STL VegGirl  event, but a five-course wine paired dinner party is right up my alley. This was also a great excuse to see an old friend, Caryn Dugan, and make a new wine friend, who orchestrated all the wine pairings, Wanda Cole-Nicholson.

I love to see the creativity that comes from Caryn, and I learned about a new vegetable, Celeriac, also known as Celery Root, which was used to make the "steak" main course for the evening. While not attempting to mimic the texture of a steak, and definitely not the same flavors, it was sturdy enough to hold the mushroom sauce on top. 

Celeriac Steak Diane

The coolest looking "new creation" was the appetizer course: vegan caviar made from jellied vinegars and agar. The mixture of vinegar flavors were heated, then dropped into cold oil to create the spheres, looking exactly like roe.

Vegan Caviar over crème fraiche

Then we moved to a salad course, followed by a vegetable and miso infused soup, which had to be one of the best veggie soups I have ever had.

Crisp Mint & Spring Greens Salad

Hearty Spring Vegetable and Bean Soup with a Miso Infusion

We finished the night with a Carrot Cake Cookie topped with Vanilla Frosting.

Carrot Cake Cookie with Vanilla Frosting

Unfortunately, I missed a picture of the wine lineup, probably because I stayed after to help finish off some of the bottles! 

I have included Sommelier Wanda's contact information below as I hope to take more classes from her in the future.


STL Veg Girl = http://www.stlveggirl.com/

Center for Plant-Based Living = https://www.cpbl-stl.com/

Wanda Cole-Nicholson = https://www.vinbev.net/

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Dinner at Larysa's

I know a lot of people in this town thanks to the STLwinegirl, and I ended up at an incredible wine dinner thanks to her as well.

I had seen the STLwinegirl, Angela Ortmann, tagged as the sommelier for a wine dinner for an elegant wine dinner, and I knew I had to sign up for one. When Larysa decided to host a dinner in her home for International Women's Day, for women only, I thought this would be the perfect one to go to. 

Check out her kitchen!

Larysa's Kitchen

In honor of the women, the dinner was much lighter, with seafood highlighted throughout the menu instead of heavy meats. When you have a multi-course dinner, this is the best way to make it through. (Note: I was still stuffed!) 

The menu

In between dinners, I saw that Larysa was selling her French desserts on social media, so I thought it'd be the perfect gift to share with family. I admit that I cheated and met her before the dinner at her house to pick up the desserts. The desserts were amazing and I could not wait to get to a full night's dinner.

When we arrived, waiting for us at the table were a couple of tiered trays full of charcuterie and cheese along with a glass of Cremant sparkling wine!

Table setting

The first course also included bubbles, but this time real Champagne to go along with a Cheese Soufflé with  a red wine sauce poured into the middle after we poked the hole with a spoon.

Cheese Soufflé with Red Wine Sauce, Spring Greens

For the next course, I had razor clams for the first time, paired with a Chablis. I wasn't quite sure how to eat them, but I figured it's like any other shelled seafood. There is a lot more meat in these larger clams!

Razor Clams in White Wine Sauce

I feel like there were two main courses for this dinner since we were served Halibut in a Citrus Beurre Blanc sauce. (I also love the plate!)

Halibut in Citrus Beurre Blanc

And then a deboned Quail Stuffed with Chicken Mousse!

Deboned Quail Stuffed with Chicken Mousse

The Halibut was smartly paired with another white wine, a Sancerre, while the quail was paired with the only red wine of the evening.

Here is the lineup of the wines! All from France to perfectly match up with the French-style courses.

French lineup of wines for the evening

We finished the meal with an amazing dessert, an Exotic Pressed Sable. I really wished we could have started with dessert, because it was incredible. (And there wasn't any chocolate on it!) 

I forgot to take a picture at first, so feel free to google the name so you can see just how beautiful they are in full size.

Exotic Pressed Sable

If you like fine dining and unique experiences, be sure to follow Larysa on social media so you can sign up for one as well!


Larysa Enk = https://www.larysaenk.com/

STLwinegirl = https://stlwinegirl.com/

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Cafe La Vie

I was lucky to be invited to a birthday party inside Le Meridien hotel in downtown Clayton.

I was surprised to find a quiet and upscale hotel restaurant, with cushy seating no less, and immediately thought this would be the perfect place to take my parents who long for quiet dining. Not to mention that I knew a bartender who loved their job. (Be sure to check out the cocktail list, but all your favorites are there.)

The restaurant actually has its own name so you can look it up directly and make a reservation, although probably not necessary most nights as it is still mostly hidden. You can also take advantage of the hotel's parking garage too.

Patience started with the Lobster Bisque, a generous and filling portion, while I'm always a sucker for a Mayfair Salad.

Lobster Bisque

Mayfair Salad

Speaking of weaknesses, we all pretty much got our favorites...

I ordered the Feta Risotto that came with huge chunks of roasted butternut squash.

Feta Risotto

Patience had the pasta dish, Campanelle A La Vodka, which was cute trumpet-shaped noodles with pancetta and prosciutto on top.

Campanelle A La Vodka

While my Dad chose the Beef Short Rib that came with a generous amount of goat cheese polenta!

Beef Short Rib

Patience couldn't resist the Creme Brulee either as we were celebrating birthdays!

Creme Brulee

All around winners and I'm recommending this place to everyone who keeps asking me for upscale Clayton restaurant ideas!


Cafe La Vie = https://cafelaviestlouis.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon

Monday, January 15, 2024

The Mainlander

I was very curious about this new upscale restaurant since it is not like anything I had tried to before. 70's kitsch, limited reservations only, and the menu changes monthly or by what's in season. Also, you pay online, in advance, without tipping. I actually asked permission if we could leave at the end, but really it was because I didn't want to.

I was very surprised there were only seven tables total and only three were four-tops. The lack of a crowd made for an intimate experience, and it was cool to have a good view into the bar and kitchen. It did feel like we were in someone's living room in the 70's although VERY dark. (Definitely good for  date nights.)

The host (who was quite gregarious and I wanted to applaud) was also the server, although the chef came out a couple of times to deliver plates himself. It was nice to talk to him directly and he said there was only a staff of five doing everything.

Patience is always up for a food adventure and she loved that she didn't have to make any decisions. (We took a moment to salute "No Menu Monday" from Home Wine Kitchen.)

Thanks to the appetizer or "Tidits" course of the evening, I started to fill up before the main course came out. (You will not leave hungry!)

To warm up, we were served a Hot Buttered Rum to kick off the night.

Hot Buttered Rum

The first item, Sweet Potato Frites were just adorable, with local caviar on top! 

Sweet Potato Frites

Pate de Campagne Musubi and China Moon Shrimp Toast

The musubi was also almost too pretty to eat.

I never had Warm Mushroom Salad before, and I think this would have made for a good "vegetable" side dish. 

Warm Mushroom Salad

Under advisement, we opted to share a wine flight, (and to save money) although the cocktails looked very creative. One was entirely on fire at the table near us, but I think we made a great choice looking at the quality of the wine list!

Wine List

The entire first course was paired with a Tatomer Riesling. It was incredibly dry and was amazingly well balanced to pair with several different flavors. A perfect food wine. I hope to come across it again someday.

I didn't know what to think about a "Chicken Fried" Walleye, but I see how it made for a light batter. The fish pieces were HUGE and I made the mistake of finishing mine, although I didn't eat too much of the sides. 

Chicken Fried Walleye

The mustard greens were quite sweet with the apple honey marinade, but greens in general are not my favorite.

Apple Honey Mustard Greens

Since the chili sauce was too spicy for me, I ended up mixing the popcorn grits with my bites of chicken fried walleye. They were kind enough to package up the leftovers since we couldn't finish any of the main course.

Popcorn Grits

The main course was paired with a Gamay Noir, which I don't know if I've had before. This was fruity, but not overpowering, so well paired again.

YOU MUST save room for dessert. I know it'll be different each time, but I'm pretty sure it'll be decadent. I doused my German Chocolate Bao in the Flaming Caramel sauce. I finished mine even though I was so full. (The sparklers were for our 11th anniversary, which was very fun.)

German Chocolate Bao with Flaming Caramel

The last wine, a Mataro, was quite dry, but was a smart pairing with the chocolate in the dessert.

Although I say "for special occasions", we definitely hope to make our way back to try more menus. 

Main Menu

Bar Menu


The Mainlander = https://www.mainlanderstl.com/

Photos by Patience Scanlon