Dining At The White House

You’ve likely seen photos of state dinners at the White House. Presidents, first ladies, heads of state and various celebs and political types dress up real nice and enjoy some seriously haute cuisine.

A new book Dining at the White House by chef John Moeller offers a behind-the-scenes look at these dinners. Moeller was White House chef from the last few months of Bush 41’s term, through the Clinton regime and until halfway through Bush 43’s presidency.

Dining at the White House

Chef Moeller writes about the food he served during his 13 years in D.C. as well as the first families he worked for.

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To look at a sample of the book or to order the book (list price $35.00) click on this link to diningatthewhitehouse.com.

Stone Soup Cottage Has Moved

Carl and Nancy McConnell have moved their Stone Soup Cottage to a new building just over a mile away from their original spot in Cottleville, St. Charles County. It’s new construction but uses much of the wood from the barn that was torn down to clear the space, maintaining a rustic feel.

Is it bigger? Yes, but each evening’s seating will remain small. Below is a look at the new main dining room.

SSC dining room

I spoke to Carl McConnell and he explained why the move was necessary in this chat that runs 5:17. (Click on the arrow to listen.)

The new building has a much bigger kitchen than the previous SSC location. Here’s a peek into the kitchen where several guests were hanging out during Tuesday night’s unveiling of the new place.

SSC Kitchen

The new Stone Soup Cottage facility has another room with this nice long table for special dinners and events. The room opens to a patio in back.

SSC Long Table

The new location of Stone Soup Cottage is at 5801 Highway N in Cottleville. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the new SSC is that it is surrounded by St. Charles County subdivisions, but its setting and immediate surroundings give you the feeling of being in the country.

SSC Place Setting

Click HERE to go to the Stone Soup Cottage website. Call for reservations at 636-244-2233.

A Favorite Meal

I’m not sure I could ever write the detailed food memoirs that our best food writers entertain us with, but I do recall some personal favorite meals. As with most food memoirs, the food itself is important, but the people and the circumstances are what make the meal especially memorable.

In 1987, my wife, my son and I took a driving vacation whose first stop was Washington, D.C. We arrived at our hotel in Arlington on a Friday night and left early Saturday for a big day of touring.

Capitol

We nabbed a parking spot near the Ellipse, grabbed tickets for White House tour, then trekked several blocks for breakfast. After hoofing it back to the White House and enjoying the tour, we walked to Ford Theater (then closed for renovations). We strolled down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, grabbing a hotdog apiece from a street vendor.

Following an extensive tour, which included visits to both legislative chambers, we walked down the Mall to the Washington Monument and later, finally, back to our car. After a quick shower and change at our hotel, we went to Georgetown and Morton’s of Chicago steakhouse. To say we were famished and starving would be an understatement.

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In ’87, we were living in Jacksonville, a city I love but one that didn’t have many fine dining restaurants. We had planned to feast on good food and enjoy the good service at Morton’s. (We had heard about Morton’s when we lived in Philly a few years earlier, but considered it too pricey.) On this particular evening 26 years ago, Morton’s lived up to all our expectations.

This was the first time I had dined at a place where cuts of uncooked meat were displayed by the server. My wife and I picked beautiful beef cuts. One dinner offering was not displayed, because it was still alive in a tank.

Morton's steaks

My son, then 15, asked if he could order the lobster. The server quoted a price of $11/pound and said he had one that weighed in at three-and-a-half pounds. A 15-year-old boy (and many girls of that age) can consume vast quantities of food, so I had no doubt he could polish it off. He did, easily.

My wife and I savored our filets. Following dessert, I paid one of the biggest dinner checks I had encountered to date. But it was worth every cent—truly a memorable finish to a great day of exploring Washington with the family.

American Craft Beer Cookbook author visits STL

John Holl, author of The American Craft Beer Cookbook, will appear at Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood on Thursday, September 12 at 6:00 p.m.

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John will be signing copies of his book which contains 155 recipes using craft beer. List price for the book is 19.95. If you buy a signed copy Thursday night at Schlafly, you’ll get a free pint!

Missouri brewers featured in the book include O’Fallon Brewery (Cheddar Ale Soup), Schlafly Beer (Imperial Meat Pie), Urban Chestnut Brewing Company (Bavarian Sausage Salad) and Boulevard Brewing Company (Roasted Pheasant with Pumpernickel Bread Pudding and Cranberry Sauce).

According to his bio, John (pictured below) has visited more than 900 breweries around the world, conducting research for his beer-and-travel books as well as articles for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Beer Connoisseur, Beverage World, and many other publications.

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Click HERE to listen to an interview (runs 12:46) with John Holl from earlier this week on WBUR radio in Boston. You’re likely to be impressed by John’s knowledge of and passion for craft beer. (Click HERE to go to John’s own website.)

The Docket at SLU Law School

In August, Saint Louis University introduced the repurposed building downtown at 100 North Tucker Boulevard as the new home of the SLU Law School.

On the first floor is a beautiful new restaurant called The Docket. It provides a place for SLU law students and faculty to have a bite and a sip, but it is also open to the public. The Docket is close to the Civil Courts building and just a block from St. Louis City Hall.

Docket interior

I spoke to executive chef Treff Baker about the food at the Docket, although I started our chat (3:53) by asking about his first name Treff. Family name? (Click below to listen.)

Here are some pics of Docket food. From among the dishes I sampled, my favorite was the Papperdelle Bolognese pasta dish (third photo) with a spicy sausage. Click HERE for a link to The Docket’s menu.

Docket foodDocket pizzaDocket pasta

The Docket has a cool bar area with a good selection of local beers on draft.

Docket beer

Docket bar area

The Docket is open Monday thru Friday from 7:30 a.m. serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Open til 9:00 p.m. Monday thru Thursday, til 10:00 p.m. on Fridays. Also open for dinner on Saturday evenings 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.

General manager Jorge Rama says, “The idea here is really to bring the downtown local community as well as the SLU law students, faculty and staff, the civil community, and kind of get everybody together and get them to all mingle together.”

But how’s your burger, Jorge? “Our burgers are sliders, Missouri grass-fed. It’s super delicious! We have no gas grill here so it’s actually wood-fired.”

It’s worth noting that The Docket is run by Bon Appetit Management Company (Bamco), the same group that is in charge at Panorama in the new east wing of St. Louis Art Museum. Bamco also handles food service at a large number of institutions around the US including Washington University here in town.

Click HERE to go to The Docket’s Facebook page. Reach The Docket at 314-977-4615.

Barbeque in the city Sunday!

Sunday, September 8 is a busy day in St. Louis. The Cards and Rams are in town. The Art Fair. LouFest. Hispanic Festival. Among other events.

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Try to make some time Sunday to check out the S.L.O.B.S. Barbeque Competition at The Famous Bar, 5213 Chippewa (between Hampton and Kingshighway) in St. Louis. It starts at noon and runs til 6:00 p.m. (S.L.O.B.S. is the St. Louis Occasional Barbeque Society.)

The Famous Bar

Your $25 donation gets you baby back ribs from every one of the barbeque teams. Teams from Iron Barley, A.S.A.P., Highway 61 Roadhouse and this month’s host The Famous Bar, along with several independent teams will be on hand. (Individual barbeque dinners also available.)

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Funds raised benefit Lift for Life Gym and Friends of Kids with Cancer.

Yes, there will be full bar service available! Come hungry and thirsty! See you Sunday at The Famous Bar!