Valentine’s Day—One Of The Big Ones

V-day is huge for restaurants. This year it falls on a Saturday. Convenient for couples. But owners would prefer V-day happen on a weeknight, since tables are generally in greater demand on Saturdays anyway.

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Here’s what a few local restaurants have planned for Valentine’s 2014.

Panorama at the Art Museum is offering a special 3-course prix fixe dinner on Friday night, February 13, 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. For $65 per couple, you can share an Aphrodisiac Menu For Two, created by chef Ivy Magruder:

Roasted Asparagus with avocado, arugula salad and basil honey vinaigrette

Rum and Coffee Marinated Filet with artichoke-tarragon risotto and butter-poached lobster

Double Chocolate Brownie Tart with raspberries and vanilla ice cream

Panorama will offer brunch on Valentine’s Day and Sunday, Feb. 15 from 10:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m. The view is spectacular! Call 314-655-5490 for reservations.

Panorama pic

The Ritz-Carlton in Clayton is featuring a Romance Menu on Friday and Saturday nights (February 13 and 14), 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in The Grill. It’s priced at $99/person. (They’ll also have a la carte items available.)

The Ritz has an overnight stay package that includes deluxe accommodations, dinner for two, breakfast for two, a “rose petal turndown” for $459. Available Friday and Saturday nights. Call 314-719-1433 for dining reservations or 800-241-3333 for the overnight package.

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Kemoll’s is hosting a Valentine’s Dinner and Dance on Saturday, February 14 up on the 42nd floor of the Met Square building.

Cost is $100/person which includes your meal, open bar, tip and parking. (Not to mention a nice view of the Arch!) Dinner will be served at 7:30 p.m. Here’s the Kemoll’s V-day menu:

1st course: Caesar Salad with shaved parmesan, 5 cheese croutons, and grilled anchovies

2nd course: Farfalle Pasta tossed in a creamy wild mushroom alfredo and fries procuito

3rd course: Grilled Filet Mignon with garlic bourism and Tiger Shrimp sauteed in a roasted red pepper scampi butter served with balsamic marinated asparagus

4th course: Belgium Waffle Strawberry Shortcake topped with vanilla bourbon syrup glaze.

Call 314-421-0555 to make your reservation.

Meg Sally

Tenacious Eats, which matches a 5-course food and cocktail menu to a movie, is sold out for its Valentine’s Day presentation of When Harry Met Sally. But, at last check, tickets are available for Friday, February 13. For info visit TenaciousEats.com.

You should note that a Tenacious Eats dinner is not your usual formal dinner date. It’s not quite Rocky Horror at the Tiv, but it is a looser, more fun kind of night out. $65/person.

Whatever restaurant you may be thinking about for Valentine’s Day, it’s important to make your reservation soon.

Also, consider that Valentine’s Day means a bit of an adjustment for restaurants, since most V-day reservations are for parties of 2. (A normal Saturday may include several parties of 4 or 6.)

And now, to conclude this post, an excellent love song!

Pizza Memories

While reading all about the world of pizza in St. Louis in the new February issue of St. Louis magazine (click HERE for link), I recalled a few personal memories of pizza.

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As a child in Birmingham, pizza was a rare treat. I recall one place put their pies into a bag to be carried horizontally. One night, my dad let me go in to the joint and pay for the pizza. Unfortunately, I carried the pizza vertically. Everything slid off the surface of the crust into one greasy pile at the bottom of the bag.

As an adult, the radio station I worked for in Davenport, Iowa, had a basketball team. We would face off against high school faculties. Then after each game, team members always went to a local Pizza Hut for pizza and beer. Good times!

After visiting a college friend in Chicago and tasting that city’s deep-dish pies, I was excited in the 80’s when Pizzaria Uno went national. They opened in Philly. I loved it but my wife did not. We moved to Dallas and my son and I had their stuff there. Shortly after we moved to St. Louis, Uno opened in the area but their product was not quite as good as I had remembered from Philly and Dallas.

On the day we moved into our home here in St. Louis, our neighbor sent over a pizza. After the movers left, we unpacked and were exhausted. The pizza was greatly appreciated. But when we opened the box, my son had a strange reaction. He was puzzled by the Imo’s thin crust pizza, unlike anything he’d seen before. He later became a huge Imo’s fan and actually worked at an Imo’s briefly.

In the mid 90s, I took several Imo’s pizzas to country music star Vince Gill before he was to perform at Six Flags. He was immensely grateful. Vince is a notorious Imo’s fan who never fails to give a shoutout to Imo’s anytime he plays here.

Just a few years ago when I was hosting mornings on KLOU radio, my teammates and I had a quick on-air chat about our favorite pizzas then moved on to the next element of the show. Suddenly the phones went wild as listeners wanted to chime in on their favorite pizzas. It reminded me that people are passionate about pizza.

(photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/oxborrow/2920481239, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

2014 Faves

Here are a few of my favorite foods I enjoyed during 2014.

Family circumstances prevented my wife and me from having a large number of dining out opportunities, but I did enjoy some good grub during 2014. Warning: This is not a haute cuisine, fine dining list.

Some of my highlights:

1. My wife’s Shrimp and Grits. A preparation she picked up during her tenure at Dierberg’s School of Cooking.


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2. The BBL & T (above) at the new Rooster on South Grand. Two B’s indicating a double dose of bacon. Also their sweet house-made ketchup for my fries was a treat. Speaking of fries…

 

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3. Sweet Potato Fries (above) at Saw’s Juke Joint in Birmingham. I like the ones at 5 Star Burgers here in town, but the ones at Saw’s are bigger and very tasty.

 

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4. Bacon Maple Doughnut (above) from the Ex-Cop Doughnut Shop (on Telegraph Road), sampled at the Baconfest downtown on a rainy August Saturday.

 

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5. Choro Huevo Torta (above) at Mission Taco on Delmar. Chorizo, egg, cheese, beans on a nice piece of bread.

6. Sushi from Drunken Fish at Ballpark Village. I’m not a sushi expert but everything from Drunken Fish I sampled at a media event at BPV in June was delicious.

7. Pulled Piggy Pizza at PW Pizza. Tasty pizza made better because my grandkids were with me!

8. Crabcake sandwich at The Crossing (a client). With a wonderful pesto sauce.

9. Barbecue. Pulled pork from Super Smokers and ribs from the SLOBS competition teams. (I worked with Terry Black at Super Smokers during 2014 and became reacquainted with his consistently good product. I also worked with the Tom Coghill and Bill Kunz and the SLOBS group and sampled many beautifully smoked ribs.) Additionally, I really liked the ribs from The Precinct downtown and dug the pulled pork from Hendrick’s BBQ in St. Charles and Highway 61 Roadhouse in Webster.

 

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10. Waffle (above) from the Waffle House in Fultondale, Alabama. Perfectly cooked, promptly served and just what I wanted that morning.

 

Bobby Flay Turkey Day Special Saturday

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One of TV’s most popular chefs, Bobby Flay, hosts Thanksgiving At Bobby’s which premieres on Saturday, November 22, 11:00 a.m. on Food Network. Flay and his guests will create a Thanksgiving feast and share recipes and useful tips.
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Flay will prepare Roasted Turkey with Mustard Maple Glaze (pictured). Co-host Katie Lee will serve up her grandmother’s Cornbread Stuffing with Herb Butter. Guest Sunny Anderson’s Sage and Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole is an ode to her mother’s sweet potatoes with melted marshmallows.

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Alex Guarnaschelli brings Broiled Cauliflower Steaks with Parsley and Lemon. Michael Symon shares his Chocolate Pumpkin Pie (pictured). Other dishes on the menu include Holiday Sangria, Mashed Potatoes with Buttermilk, Black Pepper and Green Onion, along with Katie’s take on a classic Deviled Eggs appetizer.

Following Saturday’s premiere, Thanksgiving At Bobby’s may also be seen on Food Network Sunday (11/23) at 1:00 p.m., Monday (11/24) at 3:00 p.m. and Wednesday (11/26) at noon.

For more information about the show, including recipes for all the featured dishes, click HERE.

 

 

 

 

A-B Lights It Up For The Holidays

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Driving by the Anheuser-Busch brewery to enjoy Christmas lights has been a St. Louis holiday tradition for years. For the 2nd year in a row (following the opening of the Biergarten), A-B now offers a walking tour on the brewery campus. With food and drink!

The tours begin November 20 and run every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., through January 4, 2015. (No tours on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s days.)

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Along with walking tours of the grounds, guests 21 and older can sample beers (complimentary tastings) along the way including Bud and Bud Light. Other beers available include Stella Artois, Stella Cidre, Shock Top Shockolate and Bud Light Ritas.

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Other offerings include:

S’Mores Stations—Fire pits for roasting s’mores. (S’mores kits $2.50 each.)

Biergarten Buffet—$10 for adults; $8 youth.

Holiday Cheer Pass—Pose for a photo in a themed snow globe or with a Clydesdale and take home a print, plus a sampling glass. ($10.)

The Biergarten Package—Buffet, sampling glass, photo and s’mores kit. ($22.50 adults; $10 youth.)

Fire Pit Fun—Reserve a fire pit for 8 people for 3 hours. Includes 8 s’mores kits and wait staff service. ($75.)

VIP Clydesdale Photo Op—Dinner for 4 in Biergarten, 15 minute photo session with a Clydesdale and 2 holiday ornaments. You get a print and a digital copy (for your family Christmas card) of your photo. (Limited availability. $200.)

For info on special experience tickets, click HERE.

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Parking is free at the Tour Center lots at 12th and Lynch. The holiday lights experience is wheelchair and stroller friendly.

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Drive-through tours of the A-B brewery are welcome Monday through Wednesday evenings from November 24 until December 31 from dusk to midnight and on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Enter from Arsenal onto Seventh Street, then along Pestalozzi.

 

 

Smoothie King—Guilt-Free Goodness (With Chocolate!)

I’ve had occasion to visit Smoothie King several times recently. Their smoothies are (mostly) delicious, quite filling and healthy. There’s no guilt involved when you enjoy a Smoothie King smoothie. (Compared to that suffered after a Frappucino or other such indulgence.)

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Deciding what to order can be a challenge, especially for first-time visitors. Their menu choices are extensive. But the smoothie-istas (folks behind the counter who blend the smoothies) are familiar with what they have to offer and can provide guidance if you tell them your desires.

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You can order based on flavor preferences or based on ingredients, such as protein. Or, with the Veggie and Vegan smoothies, items like kale or carrot. You can order your smoothie for a sweet treat, a thirst quencher or, especially with the Gladiator (which has 45 grams of protein), for meal replacement. Calorie content is clearly posted for all smoothies in all sizes.

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Starting Monday, November 17, Smoothie King introduces Dark Chocolate Smoothies made with Ghiradelli cocoa. All three flavors—Dark Chocolate Strawberry, Dark Chocolate Orange and Dark Chocolate Mint—contain less than 300 calories in the 20 ounce size.

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I’ve sampled the Strawberry and Orange versions and they are delicious! Try them!

My best advice regarding a visit to Smoothie King is to go for the 20-ounce size. (They also have 32-ounce and 40-ounce.) The 20-ouncers have been just the right size for me. I had a 32-ounce Gladiator and it was almost too much.

Also, take a moment to check out the large number of smoothie choices. The full menu at Smoothie King can be overwhelming. Realize that some flavors may not be as tasty as others—the folks behind the counter can help you here. In some cases, you may be willing to give up certain flavor ingredients to get other benefits.

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Smoothie King also has Wheat Grass Juice which they sell in a one-ounce shot size. And, yes, they grow their own (wheat grass).

Smoothie King has multiple St. Louis area locations. Click HERE to find a Smoothie King location near you.

Holiday Cookies from the Chicago Tribune—With Recipes!

Baking cookies at Christmastime is a great American tradition. Whether you prepare your cookies from favorite family recipes or from from recipes you cut from magazines or newspapers, you may want to consider adding some new cookies to your repertoire!

(And wouldn’t your friends and family—not to mention the folks at the cookie exchange party—enjoy something different this year?)

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(Photo credit: Chicago Tribune photograph for one-time use only in conjunction with reviews or coverage of Holiday Cookies by Agate Publishing and the Chicago Tribune.)

HOLIDAY COOKIES: Prize-Winning Family Recipes from the Chicago Tribune for Cookies, Bars, Brownies, and More has just been published. The book contains more than 100 kitchen-tested family recipes that were finalists in the Chicago Tribune’s annual holiday cookie contest, which has been running since 1986.

Here are a few samples from the book. First, the gorgeous photos, courtesy of the Tribune. Then, at the bottom of the post… the recipes!

Let’s start with the Snowflake Sugar Cookies.

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(Chicago Tribune photograph for one-time use only in conjunction with reviews or coverage of Holiday Cookies by Agate Publishing and the Chicago Tribune.)

Next, the Gingerbread Bears.

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(Chicago Tribune photograph for one-time use only in conjunction with reviews or coverage of Holiday Cookies by Agate Publishing and the Chicago Tribune.)

And, if you’re a chocolate lover, Mrs. Levy’s Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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(Photo credit: Chicago Tribune photograph for one-time use only in conjunction with reviews or coverage of Holiday Cookies by Agate Publishing and the Chicago Tribune.)

HOLIDAY COOKIES: Prize-Winning Family Recipes from the Chicago Tribune for Cookies, Bars, Brownies, and More has a list price of $24.95. From Agate Publishing of Evanston, Illinois.

Now—those recipes!

Snowflake Sugar Cookies

Meagan Fricano received an honorable mention in 2011 for these beautiful cookies, which shimmered, sparkled and glowed. Fricano, a neurobiologist, used forceps to apply her silver dragees.

Yield: 30 cookies (depending on size)

Prep time: 40 minutes, plus decorating

Chill time: 4 hours

Bake time: 12 to 15 minutes per batch

Dough:

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 pound unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 tablespoon 2% milk

3 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk

Royal Icing:

¼ cup meringue powder

1 pound powdered sugar

Water, about cup

Gel food coloring

  1. Combine the flours and baking powder in a bowl; stir to evenly distribute the baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In a 6-quart stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the salt, vanilla and milk; mix to blend. With mixer running, add eggs and extra yolk, one at a time, waiting until each is combined before adding the next.
  3. Reduce the mixer speed to low; slowly add flour mixture. Add additional all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is no longer sticky to the touch. Turn dough out onto plastic wrap; divide in half. Wrap each portion in plastic wrap; form into flat discs. Refrigerate 4 to 48 hours, or freeze up to a month.
  4. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Let dough warm up slightly; roll out to ½ inch thick using powdered sugar (not flour) to stop it from sticking. Cut out snowflake shapes; bake on parchment-lined baking pans until just barely starting to brown on the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove promptly from oven; let cool on the sheet pan, 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
  5. For icing, mix the meringue powder and powdered sugar in a medium bowl; slowly add water until the frosting reaches desired consistency. Add a little gel food coloring, if desired. For best results, start with a stiff frosting, put some aside in a parchment baking bag or zip-top bag, then add water to the remaining frosting. Use the stiff frosting to pipe outlines on the cooled cookies, then carefully apply the thinner icing to fill in the cookies between the piped outlines (a toothpick helps to carefully move thin icing into small spaces).

Gingerbread Bears

Found on pg. 35 of Holiday Cookies

Nancy Schubert took first place in 1992 with these chubby little bears. When she was growing up, “Gingerbread Saturday” was a tradition in Schubert’s house, and she and her sister would spend the day rolling dough, cutting shapes, and baking and decorating cookies. To decorate the bears, she used colored sugar, little candies, and a classic royal icing. Confectioners’ sugar icing or tubes of decorator icing also can be used.

Prep time: 35 minutes

Chill time: 2 hours or overnight

Bake time: 7 to 10 minutes

Yield: 3 to 4 dozen large bears

Ingredients:

3½ cups unsifted all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons ground ginger

1½ teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

1 large egg

¾ cup light molasses

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Decorations as desired

Directions:

  1. Measure 31/2 cups flour; sift together with spices, baking soda and salt; set aside. Beat butter with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Add sugar and mix on high speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. Add egg and mix well. Stop the mixer and add molasses and lemon rind. Mix on low speed to combine. Stir in dry ingredients with a wooden spoon.
  2. Divide dough into four parts. Wrap each one separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets.
  4. Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator at a time. Roll the well-chilled dough on a floured board or between sheets of waxed paper to a 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out with cookie cutters and carefully transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving 1-inch between each cookie.
  5. Bake just until the cookies are lightly browned and set, 7 to 10 minutes. Do not overbake. Transfer from baking sheets to a wire rack and cool completely before decorating. Decorate as desired. Store in airtight containers.

Mrs. Levy’s Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: 20 cookies

Prep time: 15 minutes

Bake time: 15 minutes per batch

Ingredients

2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 large eggs

2 ½ cups unsifted flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

4 cups chopped walnuts

3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Beat sugar, butter and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs until lighter. Add flour, salt and baking powder; beat just until mixed. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.
  1. Drop cookie mixture by ½ cup measure onto greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving plenty of space between. Flatten each cookie slightly with back of fork. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool on sheet 2 minutes; transfer to a wire rack. Cool completely.

One more pic! That’s Lynn Levy (right), the chocolate chip cookie maker, with her mom Adele. Thanks, Lynn, and everyone for sharing your recipes!

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(Photo credit: Chicago Tribune photograph for one-time use only in conjunction with reviews or coverage of Holiday Cookies by Agate Publishing and the Chicago Tribune.)