I WANT GUAC! (Super Bowl food)

It’s not quite the tradition that Susan Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish recipe was each Thanksgiving back in her heyday on NPR’s All Things Considered, but…

I have shared this bit of audio (from 2002 when I was on mornings at WIL) several times just ahead of Super Bowl games. It’s a guacamole recipe from a chef at the former Casa Gallardo Grill at the Galleria. (That spot is now occupied by Urban Outfitters.)

Guacamole 2015

My wife Jo-Ellen, who makes a killer guac, also chimes in with her best tip.

If you, like me, believe that guacamole is a must for the Super Bowl, whether you have dozens of guests or you’re watching the game by yourself, listen to this clip (runs 3:27) and take notes!

Go Seahawks!

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 and put you in a romantic state of mind for Valentine’s Day, here’s a classic love song from the Reverend Al Green!

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. The chain has since closed all of its St. Louis stores.

On the day we moved into our home here in St. Louis in 1988, a neighbor sent over a pizza. After the movers left, we unpacked and were exhausted and hungry. 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 an onstage 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…

 

Sweet Potato Fries

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.

 

Bacon Maple

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.