Friday, March 11, 2011

Provisions Irish Spring 2011

This month’s Provisions food and wine pairing theme was “Irish Spring” although there was a little bit of Mardi Gras Cajun sprinkled in as well so there was a nice variety of meals.

We started with a chilled spring pea soup and it had a very strong pea or vegetable flavor, much like asparagus. To combat the overpowering flavor, it was paired with a Sparkling Gruner Veltliner. There weren’t many bubbles to it like a traditional sparkler, but the acidity helped to cut through the creamy flavor. I also noticed that Chef Scott snuck in some bacon bits on the very top of it, so I had to wash it all down with a lot of wine.

After struggling with the first course, the second course was worse. Either the bottle was corked or something wrong with my glass, but I actually had a “barnyard” tasting Sauvignon Blanc. Normally Blancs taste cool, crisp, and minerally to me. So this flavor came out of nowhere and I don’t think it was the correct taste. Luckily, the pasta was quite good on its own.

Fortunately, the third pairing saved me and I have to give Angela Ortmann (aka STLwinegirl) the proper credit for using a special request that I had made. ( Chef Scott is known for his love of Cajun food and he made a dirty rice with crawfish. It wasn’t spicy at all so it was perfect for me! This was paired with a 2009 Efeste “Evergreen” Riesling out of Washington State. I had read about it in the Wednesday Food section of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and it got very high marks from Wine Spectator, as well as finishing in Jon Bonne’s Top 100 wines of 2009. You can find more reviews here:

Since the food was not spicy, the drier Riesling was a very balanced pairing. If there had been any spice, then a sweeter Riesling would have definitely been required. But it was perfect. While I love sweet wines, drier Rieslings are actually easier to drink because they are so smooth without the typical tart finish that can be overwhelming at times.

In addition to the wine, Angela paired a beer with this course and it was the exact same LaChouffe Golden Blonde Ale I had JUST picked out on Saturday night at Cicero’s! ( Coicedence or no? I’ll let you decide. Either way, this pairing was a complete success.

The next pairing was actually just as strong even though I was biased by my favorites. We had the typical Corned Beef and Cabbage, but it came with a delicious creamy sauce that was not overpowering. This really paired well with the 2009 Georges Deboeuf Beaujolais since it is so full of fruity flavor. Another beer, the Schlafly Irish Ale, had just as much flavor as the wine and both drinks could stand up to the sauce. Again, a well-balanced pairing.

Last but not least, the dessert course was Bananas Foster paired with a chocolate stout. This definitely made sense to me as a pairing but I would have liked to have traded in the stout for a bottle of chocolate sauce to smother the bananas in. I was surprised that the stout was smooth and not as bitter like I expected, but I still prefer a lighter beer.

The next Provisions food and wine pairing will take place on Tuesday, April 5th and the theme still has yet to be determined. You can post suggestions on STLwinegirl’s wall at or tweet her on Twitter @STLwinegirl.

Here is the pairing list:
Chilled Spring Pea Soup
Punkt Genau Sparkling Gruner Veltliner

Spring Vegetable Pesto Primavera
2008 StarLane Sauvignon Blanc
Central Coast, California

Dirty Rice with Crawfish
2009 Efeste “Evergreen” Riesling
Washington State
LaChouffe Golden Blonde Ale

Corned Beef and Cabbage
2009 Georges Deboeuf Beaujolais
Schlafly Irish Ale

Bananas Foster
Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence
New York

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Best of Seafood Class

After many months of waiting, we finally had the first seafood class of 2011 at Whole Foods ( and the theme was “Best of Seafood Class” so you knew it was going to be awesome! I was going to try and dig up my old blog posts for these courses to see what I had said in the past, but I actually have way too many posts to go through! So I decided just blog about them again and apologies if this sounds familiar at all.

We started with a Clam Chowder, which I do not remember having the first time, and I was surprised that the broth was so thin instead of thick and creamy. Yet, it still held a lot of flavor and it was easy to find the clam chunks. Unfortunately, it was also a little too easy to find the bacon chunks too and it invaded the clam flavor. Not exactly a “best of” for me.

Next up was the Chipotle Cod Cakes with Lime Mustard and I definitely remembered these because they are incredibly spicy! I knew in advance to DOUSE the cod cakes with the lime mustard sauce as if I were attempting to put out a fire. While they cod cakes were delicious, the heat was actually a bit too overpowering. Of course all the spice lovers in the class were just thrilled.

I had better luck with the Mahi Mahi tacos with fresh pico de gallo. There was a little bit of cayenne pepper but I didn’t have any problems with heat thanks to the pico de gallo. The melted Chihuahua cheese was also a nice addition. It probably helps that I’m in a “fish taco” mood these days too. Hehe

But probably one of my all time favorite dishes was the Chilean Seabass with a garlic and bread topping. I immediately shared this recipe with friends! Hehe The fish is so light and buttery flavored that it just melts in your mouth. The bread topping gives it just enough texture as well. Outstanding!

In other happy Whole Foods news, the next cheese class, a goat cheese theme, will take place on Tuesday, March 29th. You can check out the March Galleria callendar here:

Bridge Tap House and Wine Bar

Thanks to a friend’s birthday, I got to try out a new brew house downtown called Bridge on Locust. ( It was a little hard to find since the door was dark and right next door is a store with “Bride” in the name!

The restaurant looked like a loft with the bar on the ground floor and a large flight of stairs leading to a small dining area. The wall behind the bar had hundreds of beer bottles lined up…any beer lover’s dream! Hehe

I definitely recommend “studying” before you go to Bridge because their menu, especially the beer list, is lengthy. Try seven pages long. According to their web site, they have over 200+ beers and 55 are on tap. I didn’t pay attention but they also have a large wine selection as well.

At the table, you are given a clipboard with so many pages that tabs at the bottom are necessary. With so many beers, I got a little overwhelmed and finally just asked my waiter for the kind of beers I would like. The best part is that you can order however many beers you like in four-ounce pours so you can try as many as you like…and share!

My friends have a lot more beer knowledge than I do so they were able to pick out their favorites from the list and we all tasted and shared.

Since I am always more concerned about what pairs well with all these fancy beers, I quickly turned to the food tabs. There are actually separate sections for snacks, cheese, and charcuterie so I was very impressed. I was about to order a simple cheese board but then I flipped to another page and there was a full “a la carte” page. You can select your cheeses by price or mix and match all over the page to get your favorites, which is what I did.

My friends prefer heavier beers so that allowed me to select cheeses that were more full flavored. I chose a variety of textures as well. I started with a soft, Camembert that contained raw wild mushrooms and butter. I was tempted by a Spanish Mahon but instead went with the Ossau Iraty, a French goat cheese. This one was my favorite because they cut large chunks and you got a strong, nutty flavor in each bite. Then I picked out a French Comte, which was tasty, but cut in thin slices so it was hard to get a lot of flavor with each bite. I have a feeling it was sliced thin since it was in the highest priced column to select from.

The only section of the menu that was small was the actual meals and they only offer a few salads and sandwiches. Since I knew I was going to fill up on cheese, I chose the Chilled Beef Tenderloin salad and the beef was very pink and sliced thin. Just delicious. My friends ordered the Cuba, Missouri (pork sandwich) and the Smoky Strip Club that was quite tall! We also shared a pot of their house mac and cheese that we all loved, containing poblanos and tomato. I had to research “poblano” and it is a mild chile pepper from Mexico, but the dish was not spicy at all.

The other advantage to ordering smaller meals is that there is room for dessert!! We picked the “Tipsy Granny” mostly for the name, which was just a sliced apple served with a caramel dipping sauce. According to the menu, the apples were tossed in pomegranate vodka but I couldn’t tell. The best dessert, of course, was the chocolate truffle cake.