Monday, October 25, 2010

Vin de Set

Thanks to Angie Ortmann, aka STLwinegirl ( and Feast Magazine (, I finally got the opportunity to eat at Vin de Set (! I had heard about the restaurant and its rooftop bar for awhile now from friends and family and it had been on my “to eat at” list for a long time.

Once a month, Feast Magazine hosts a wine tasting at a different restaurant around St. Louis that is free, but you have to RSVP. I was so thrilled when Angie, one of their writers, picked Vin de Set, and the event was held in their Malt House Cellar!

According to information that was handed out, it used to be the entry to the tunnels for the historic Schnaider Brewery. On one end is the Lounge room where there is a huge bar and at the other end was the Game Room where I could see a couple of pool tables. It turns out there is also a foosball table, a shuffle board, and two dart boards. We sat in the middle of the two rooms under brick arches and it definitely was chilly underground! But I liked the intimate feel of the room.

Since this was a free event, we only had four tastings and the food pairings were very small, but I didn’t care since my friend Lara had made a reservation for a full dinner upstairs. My favorite pairing was the 2008 White Wire from New Zealand because it combines all my favorite white wines together into a very mild blend. This went well with the kick provided by the red pepper aioli which we dipped our crab cake bites into. I almost licked the rest of the sauce off my napkin it was so good!

Here are the pairings:
NV Charles de Fere Brut, France
Sliced pear with Boursin cheese and crispy prosciutto

2008 White Wire, New Zealand
Maryland Blue crab cakes with red pepper aioli

2008 Ben Marco, Argentina
Smoked duck crostini with sun dried cherry chutney

2007 Steltzer Claret, California
Phylo cup of beef tenderloin and wild mushroom

Upstairs at dinner, I started with the She Crab Bisque, which was excellent, and for my main course I selected the Fried Eggplant Napolean with tomatoes, spinach, goat cheese, and balsamic reduction. My dinner came out in rings stacked tall with the tomatoes in between the slices of eggplant. I could have done without frying but it was really delicious. Regardless of what Angie says, I paired it with their house Reisling as I always do. hehe

Lara was nice enough and shared her Stuffed Roasted Acorn Squash with quinoa, spinach, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and maple glaze…which was my second favorite item on the menu.

Vin de Set has quite a few unique items like quail and duck so I admit, I am curious about some of their meatier items. I am definitely hoping for a return visit someday soon, especially to sit outside on their rooftop. What a beautiful view of the city!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chicago Cheese

I just got back from Chicago, visiting some family, and the last couple of times, I have gotten to stop by the Oak Park cheese shop called Marion Street Cheese Market. ( My favorite thing about going to a cheese shop in a different city is the different variety…Chicago is able to pull in more types of cheese from the northern states as well as local farmers in the northern Illinois area, so there is always something new to try.

This time, they finally had some Zingerman’s goat cheese ( in stock, from Ann Arbor, MI, which I cannot find in St. Louis. Zingerman’s is a well-known deli up in Michigan and I found out about them in one of my cheese classes. The cheeses I tried were both goat: Detroit Street Brick (in a brick shape!) and the Lincoln Log (in a log shape!) and both were fantastic. I really enjoyed the soft bloom around the edges of the Detroit Street Brick, but the Lincoln Log had the better flavor.

I also picked up a Gruyere that my niece ate most of and a 10-year aged cheddar. Unfortunately, the cheddar had a bitter finish to it so I’m thinking that maybe it’s better stick to a three to six year aged cheddar. At least I can say that I tried it!

Speaking of cheese, earlier this week was another cheese class hosted by Whole Foods. 8 of 10 who showed up were from our group of friends and the other one was a Whole Foods employee. It’s starting to get scary how our attendance now dictates whether or not the class happens so I think this means we really need to start getting the word out more. It’s really tough when classes are scheduled on the same day and we have to decide which one to go to.

Anyway, this month’s cheese class theme was “local” cheeses although almost all of the cheeses came from the Kansas City area. Three of the five cheeses came from Green Dirt Farm ( and we started off with the Wooly Rind, which is a Camembert style cheese made out of sheep’s milk. Sheep’s milk cheese, well sheep in general, is pretty rare in Missouri! To me, it tasted like mild brie and went well with the champagne it was paired with. Next was the Bossa and it was quite a big step up in flavor and more creamy flavor, so a sweet wine was paired with this. (I took some Bossa home with me and now it’s a “stinky” cheese too! Woah!)

Skipping to a Yummy’s Choice cheese spread (, we got to taste Lebaneh, which is a combination of feta and cream cheese flavored with olive oil and various spices and herbs. Wow…you can really taste the spices and herbs and you’ll never want to go back to regular cream cheese after tasting this! We also got to add a little bit of Shatta on top of it, which is a jalepano spread that you can get in either sweet or spicy. A little bit of the spice goes a LONG way!

Going back to Green Dirt Farm, the last one we tried was called “Dirt Lover” and it was a triple crème, like butter! I had to have a cracker or knife to be able to eat it and this was paired with a strong red wine so that the tannins could balance out the creaminess.

Last but not least, we finished the class with a Prairie Breeze cheddar that is actually produced by a Mennonite family based in SE Iowa (Milton) - We spread cranberry chutney on top of the mild cheddar and it was just like eating dessert!

In future Whole Foods news, there will be one last seafood class in November!

Friday, October 1, 2010

September Post

Wow...I just realized that it's almost been a month since I last blogged. I guess I was definitely busy with holidays and traveling (found a new love for mimosas) and so I have a few classes to write about at once here. I would say that I hope next month would be better but I highly doubt it. hehe

My friends and I are enjoying taking over Ernesto's ( wine and food pairings once a month there. There were nine of us and luckily we all arrived at different times so there was no waiting in the food or drink lines. Angie, aka STLWinegirl (, served two whites and two reds with the 2nd white aimed at the special dish for the night prepared by Chef Cassy, who was able to find locally grown pears!

On one half of a pear, Chef Cassy gave a healthy dollup of goat cheese and secured it with a wrapping of prosciutto. I loved the combination of the sweet pear with the savory goat cheese doing without the piggy, but it did add a third salty flavor.

Since attendance was sparse and the cheese table was somewhat limited, I went ahead and ordered the shrimp sliders on the appetizer menu. These were delicious, especially thanks to the layer of goat cheese on top, and it even paired well with the wine.

This Monday event was followed up by Whole Foods' ( seafood class the very next day with a "shrimp" theme. Michael kicked off the class with a "shrimp pizza" of his own before Chef Matt took over. This was one of the best courses along with the Spicy Thai Peanut Shrimp and Asian Slaw. My buddy Curt even made the slaw for me at a later date he liked it so much. The other courses were a beer boiled shrimp cocktail and shrimp etoufee, which was good but hard to find the shrimp in it and it's quite spicy. Each course was served with white wine except for a token one.

Since the rare Whole Foods seafood class (once every 2-3 months) coincided with Angie's class at Provisions (, also with a seafood theme, I only made it to one in September. At least it was one of the best ones: Chef Scott's Top 5! You know we all had HIGH expectations since Angie polled several people to find out their favorites.

I would talk about the pairings but Provisions classes are all about the food and this one was no different. By far, the best meal...probably the best I've ever had from Chef Scott...was the Salmon Wellington. The puff pastry just melted in my mouth soaked in a hollindaise sauce. The salmon was light and it came with a stuffed mushroom spread on top. Out of this world. It was paired with a Chardonney, but since it wasn't oak-y or buttery, I was able to guess it was French! (I don't think I'm quite ready to take the sommlier class but it is pretty fun playing "guess the country".)

Seriously, the best pairing was the first one (because I love the light stuff) with a gewurtraimner matched up with spicy cajun rice and andouille sausage. Chef Scott loves his cajun! Angie (and I agree) always prefers light, sweet wines to offset spicy foods like Thai or Indian.

And of course I always learn something from Angie's classes. This time, the five grapes of the Bordeaux region are the following: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.

My next favorite was dessert...Chef Scott's French Toast paired with a Petite Syrah. The Syrah was fairly dry without being overbearing, and that matched up well with the super sweet syrup and strawberry flavors.

Here is the full lineup:

Dirty Rice with Andouille Sausage

Salmon Wellington with Mushroom Pate
French Chardonney

Grilled Canneloni with Chicken, Spinach & Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Lirac (Granche/Syrah)

Muffaletta Sandwich with Roast Beef, Tapenade, Swiss Cheese
Red Zinfandel

Loaded French Toast
Petite Syrah

Next month is more of the same thing, which is a GOOD thing. Angie is kicking off a new cheese series at The Wine and Cheese Place in Clayton with country themes of Spain, France (November), and Italy (December). (First Thursday of every month, which is October 7th.)

SIP.City's theme in October is "Women in Wine", which will take place October 11th and butts up against Angie's "Ocktoberfest" class where she will pair a beer and a wine with each course and let YOU decide which is best. Unfortunately, I will have to miss since Whole Foods is dusting off its cheese classes on October 12th.

So plenty of activities for you to come and join!