Taste Of Maplewood 2017

The list of participants offering food and/or drink at Saturday’s Taste of Maplewood Street Festival is stunning!

Maplewood street #1

Here’s a sampling:

Maya Cafe

Bolyard’s Meats and Provisions

Strange Donuts

Vom Fass

Foundation Grounds

The Blue Duck

The Muddled Pig

Reed’s American Table

Boogaloo

Mauhaus

Mauhaus Cat Cafe

Kakao

Tapped

Gus’s Fried Chicken

The Post Sports Bar

Boardwalk Waffles and Ice Cream

Saratoga Lanes

Prioritized Pastries

Larder and Cupboard

Among others. The event begins at noon on Saturday, May 20 and runs til 9:00 p.m. There is musical entertainment throughout the day.

Everything happens on Sutton, south of Manchester in Maplewood.

How about some candied bacon on a stick?

Bacon stick

Empanada?

empanada

Click HERE for more info including where to park.

I am honored to be a judge for the competition among vendors for best sweet tooth item, best savory dish, best cocktail and best overall item. Also judging are Mike Arnold who posts on Instagram and Twitter as @GusGusFunBus and Pat McGonigle, personable newsguy for Newschannel 5 (KSDK).

This is a fun event and it’s not just for people in the Maplewood/Mid-County area. Everybody is welcome.

Maplewood street #2

 

 

 

 

 

If You’re Gonna Sell Beer…

Various beers

If yours is a dining establishment that offers beer, make sure your servers know what the story is.

That means they should know what beers you have, which ones are on draft and which ones are in bottles. Even if your waiter/waitress is underage and another employee has to physically deliver the beer to your table, the server should have the proper info.

If your list is longer than just a handful, print it out. If it changes frequently, have your servers write it down. Also, if you’re out of a particular beer, your server should not have to go to the bar then come back to the table to tell a diner, “We’re out of….”

Even if your servers personally detest beer, they should have some idea of the nature of various beers. And with brewers offering multiple brews, they should have some familiarity with the styles and names.

I recently went to a restaurant which offers 7 or 8 beers on draft. Bud, Bud Light and a few craft beers. I checked at the bar before I sat down at a booth and knew which one I wanted. When I told the waitress the brew I desired, she asked, “Large or small?” I inquired, “What sizes are those?” She replied, “I don’t know. I just know the large is a dollar more.” Sigh.

Even if your restaurant is known for wine and/or cocktails, some of us may prefer a beer. If you’re going to sell beer to diners, please care enough to get it right. Thanks!

National Pizza Day!

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Happy National Pizza Day! Some pizza memories…

When I was a kid we got carryout from Pasquale’s in the Norwood section of Birmingham. One night when I was 9 or so, my dad let me go in and order and pay and bring the pizza to the car. In those days, Pasquale’s put the pizza in a paper bag to be carried home horizontally. I, however, carried it vertically.

The pizza toppings all slid to the bottom of the bag into a greasy lump. Happily, my dad only chuckled at my mistake and the pizza was easily repaired when we got home.

My first gig after college was at KSTT radio in Davenport, Iowa. We had a station basketball team that would face off against area high school faculties. After each game, we would go to Pizza Hut where we had trade and would order lots of pizza and beer. I pigged out often on Pizza Supreme and Budweiser. Good times!

hut

I became a fan of deep-dish pizza when visiting Chicago in the 70s. In the 80s, Chicago deep-dish joint Pizzeria Uno went national. I enjoyed their pizzas in Philly and Dallas and later in St. Louis. Nowadays, my favorite deep-dish pizza comes from St. Louis’s own Pi Pizza. (Love Pi’s cornbread crust, too!)

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When we moved to St. Louis in 1988, a neighbor sent over an Imo’s pizza as a welcoming gift. I recall we were all curious—especially my son Mark—about this thin crust pizza with the strange tasting cheese.

imo logo hori eps.cmyk

In time, we came to embrace Imo’s and Mark went on the cook and deliver for them. He worked at a number of pizza joints around Ballwin and learned every subdivision shortcut and cut-thru in west county.

He excelled at “hot selling.” If a pizza joint had no lunchtime orders, he would cook a few pizzas and drop by area businesses such as banks or car dealers. He’d say, “Hey, we made too many pizzas today. Would you guys like to buy a couple? Five bucks apiece!” Sold.

When I was a country DJ at WIL, I learned that singer Vince Gill was a huge Imo’s fan. He makes a habit of delivering an Imo’s shoutout from stage anytime he performs in St. Louis. Around 1994 or so, I took him and his band and crew several Imo’s pizzas when he was performing at Six Flags. His gratitude was overwhelming.

vincegill

In the early aughts, I saw a Travel Channel show about Best Places In the U.S. To Pig Out. Among the suggestions was Poynter’s Pizza in Richmond Heights with their enormous Poyntersaurus pizza. There’s an eating challenge connected to the Poyntersaurus—if two people can finish it in thirty minutes without bathroom visits, the pizza is free. We talked about them on WIL and—voila!—they dropped off a Poyntersaurus. Although I’d never try the challenge, I can attest that their pizza is good.

A few years later when I was doing the morning show at KLOU, my producer Aaron and I were chatting casually about favorite pizzas and the phone lines lit up. I learned then the level of passion that people have for pizza. Of course the Imo’s lovers chimed in, but many other independent local pizza joints were also mentioned including Pantera’s, Fortel’s, Elicia’s and Black Thorn Pub.

In 2012, I had my first visit to Slice in Birmingham and had their Soul Pie (pictured below), which is topped with turnip greens, black-eyed peas, Conecuh sausage, red onion, bacon and pepper jack and cheddar cheeses. Not for everyone, but I love it.

Slice

In 2013, I took my grandkids to PW Pizza on Chouteau. It immediately became their favorite and is a go-to spot whenever I take them out to lunch or dinner. I like the Pulled Piggy pizza (shown below) with pork, sweet BBQ sauce and slaw. A great beer selection at PW, too! (Named for owners Paul and Wendy Hamilton.)

pulled-piggy-pizza

I have long thought that pizza joints should jump into the breakfast market but that hasn’t happened. Although last night’s pizza leftovers continue to be a breakfast staple for many. Remember when ESPN-2 had a morning show called Cold Pizza? QuikTrip markets introduced breakfast pizza a couple of years back and it’s decent.

Pizza love continues to grow around St. Louis with numerous new joints popping up everywhere, especially over the last five years or so. It’s understandable. People like pizza. And the raw material costs versus the menu prices can be favorable to operators. Plus, all the new pizza ideas keep the pizza world ever evolving.

My National Pizza Day suggestion: Avoid the “commodity level” pizza as much as you can. Enjoy the good stuff.

Newsy Notes from STL

The Dark Room is closing—temporarily!—as it moves to its new location. Final service at the current location on Grand will be Sunday (1/29).

The new location inside Grandel Theatre debuts on Wednesday, February 22 with a few changes. More details later.

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Valentine’s Day is on Tuesday, February 14. Cantina Laredo in Clayton is offering a Valentine’s Especialidad on February 11-14. Cost is 35/person for this 3-course meal (soup/salad, entrée, dessert).

Entrée choices include:

Camarones con Pasilla Mango Molé — Sautéed shrimp with spicy mango molé sauce.

Pollo Asada Tropical — A grilled chicken breast topped with Monterey Jack cheese and mango-avocado pico, served over two Monterey Jack cheese enchiladas with tomatillo sauce.

Filet Negro Peppercorn — Seven ounce Certified Angus Beef filet mignon topped with black peppercorn dijon sauce.

Cantina Laredo is located at 771o Forsyth. For reservations call 314-725-2447.

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The Ritz-Carlton St. Louis Grill restaurant has a 4-course (plus chocolate covered strawberries!) Valentine’s menu, available February 10, 11 and 14. Cost is 99/person.

Entrée choices at the Ritz Grill are Rack of Lamb with Grilled Asparagus, and a duo of Grilled Beef Tenderloin and Lemon/Fennel-Glazed Halibut.

Call the Ritz at (314-719-1433) for dining requests, or (800) 241-3333 for overnight packages.

BTW, the Ritz is also serving up a Valentine’s Chocolate Martini throughout February in its Lobby Lounge.

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The Biergarten at the A-B brewery is having a Food and Beer Pairing Dinner on Friday, February 10 at 6:30 p.m. Cost is 75/person. Click HERE for ticket info.

 

 

 

 

Freeze-Que At The Roadhouse

Most barbecue competitions occur in spring, summer and fall. How about one in the middle of winter?

Bill Kunz and company are hosting the 7th annual Freeze-Que this weekend at Highway 61 Roadhouse in Webster Groves. Hours are noon-5:00 p.m. on Saturday (1/28) and noon-4:00 p.m. on Sunday (1/29).

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The Freeze-Que offers a good opportunity for you to spend some time outdoors in the winter cold, enjoying delicious ribs from nearly 50 competitive teams! Full bar service will be available. And there will be live music both afternoons on the Roadhouse lot.

If you get too cold, you can always take refuge inside the Roadhouse. Weekend highs will struggle to hit 40 degrees, according to forecasts. Not frigid, but cool enough to appreciate winter. (The photo below is from a springtime event at the Roadhouse.)

roadhouse-owner-bill-kunz

Proceeds from the Freeze-Que benefit the Carney’s Kids Foundation which provides funds to several worthy children’s organizations.

Highway 61 Roadhouse is located at 34 South Old Orchard Avenue in Webster Groves (63119).

 

 

 

 

 

Clementine Hooks Up with Piccione!

Piccione Pastry’s in the Delmar Loop has partnered with Clementine’s Creamery to offer Clementine’s gelato and sorbet. Are you ready for Piccione’s cannoli stuffed with Clementine’s gelato? Delizioso!

Piccione owner Richard Nix Jr. says, “An Italian pastry shop isn’t complete without authentic gelato and sorbet, and Tamara Keefe and the Clementine’s team create the perfect flavors.” That’s Clementine’s owner Tamara Keefe in the pic with Ricky Nix III.

piccione-pastry-clementines-creamery

Piccione Pastry shop opened in spring 2013 at Skinker and Delmar, just west of the Pageant and features late night hours. Open until 9:00 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and until 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Creamery is located at 1637 S. 18th Street in the Lafayette Square neighborhood and also features late evening hours. Clementine’s is open until 10:00 p.m. Sunday thru Thursday and until 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

More info on their websites! Click HERE for Piccione Pastries. And HERE for Clementines.

And go HERE for an amazing pic of Piccione’s cannoli.

Landmark Hits Milestone

Pat’s in Dogtown has been there… forever. Well, longer than you can remember.

Actually, 75 years. The joint opened in 1942.

pats-tavern

Famous for being the starting point (or very near it) of the annual Dogtown St. Patrick’s Day parade, Pat’s, at Tamm and Oakland was founded by a real Irishman. Pat Connolly, native son of County Galway, called his establishment the Pat Connolly Tavern.

Following ownership changes over the decades and a period when the bar was known as McDermott’s, Pat’s is back in the family. And the official name is once again the Pat Connolly Tavern.

pat-connolly

The current owner is Joe Jovanovich, grandson of Pat Connolly. (That’s Pat in the photo.) In partnership with his mom, Jovanovich has updated things. The decor. And the menu.

However, you have to honor a classic: As it was in the beginning, so it is today that fried chicken is a menu staple. Along with a large selection of bar/grill food favorites, the beverage menu goes well beyond Bud and Bud Light. Along with Irish beers, the PCT offers classic cocktails.

If you haven’t been by in, oh, a decade or two, maybe it’s time to revisit a St. Louis landmark as the Pat Connolly Tavern celebrates its 75th anniversary. Check out their website by clicking HERE.

pct