Thursday, March 29, 2012
Thirsty Thursday: Prepping for the Easter Brunch

We didn't want to wait until next Thursday to talk about beverages for that Easter Brunch you'll be hosting next weekend.  We figured you'll be way too busy at that point thinking about what you're cooking (we're making cheesy potatoes among other things -- more on that in a future post) and how you'll be decorating (Sharon will weigh in with some tips).  But, for now, let's get that bar stocked.
  • Something bubbly -- you'll need some sparkling wine, whether it be Champagne, Prosecco, Cava or that pretty tasty, inexpensive Verdi they sell at Trader Joe's.  Serve it well chilled. You can mix it with orange juice for Mimosas, blood orange juice for beautifully colored Mimosas, or peach juice for Bellinis. Oh, and pick up some sparkling grape juice or apple cider for the kids and non-drinkers.
  • Wine -- depending on what you're serving, you'll want to have a few bottles of crisp, fresh white wine. Think minerally, flinty, clean, like the Skouras Moschofilero from Greece.
  • Beer --  now is not the time to be trying to get rid of your dark brews you have in the beer fridge. Today, serve some cold, crisp ales, perhaps one with a summery, citrus note like Shocktop, a Belgian White ale that is redolent of oranges and lemons.
Happy Spring!
Monday, March 26, 2012

Favorite St. Louis Restaurants

First off, we have to say that it’s virtually impossible to cover all of the many wonderful St. Louis restaurants in one list.  St. Louis is a restaurant-friendly city, with a long history of “originals,” – home-grown eateries as opposed to ubiquitous chains.  So, we do not by any means presume that the following list is complete, and, in fact, we’ve pretty much decided to do a series of features on St. Louis restaurants.   What we have done here is try to highlight a few great restaurants that represent a variety of neighborhoods and cuisines.  You can’t go wrong with any of them.  

Sidney Street Café – 2000 Sidney Street, St. Louis, MO  63118
Located near downtown in the Benton Park neighborhood, Sidney Street Café has been a dining favorite for the past 25 years. With its exposed brick walls and wood floors in a century-old storefront, the restaurant draws diners for special occasions, a night out with friends, or just drinks and snacks at their bar.image

James Beard nominated Chef Kevin Nashan bought Sidney Street Café a few years back, and was careful to blend his expertise of current food trends with the classics that SSC regulars have come to enjoy. For example, my husband and I celebrated six of our first seven anniversaries there when we lived in St. Louis, and the Filet Bearnaise was always one of our picks. Flash forward 16 years later, the Filet is still on the menu, but additions such as Smoked Sweet Potato Perogis with a fricassee of Brussels sprouts, black trumpet mushrooms, chestnuts, pickled ramps and a brown butter sauce, bring the menu up to date.

Nashan works to include locally sourced products as well, including produce from Vesterbrook Farms and Doublestar Farms.

Pho Grand – 3195 S. Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, MO  63118
imageSouth Grand is an eclectic part of town with a decidedly international flavor.  It is home to a number of delicious Vietnamese restaurants, including Lemongrass and, my personal favorite, Pho Grand.  To me, Pho Grand marries a great menu with an atmosphere that reminds us of our dining experiences in the southern portion of Vietnam, from where the owners – the Trinh family -- originally came.  The ingredients are fresh and the prices are reasonable.  If you’re not familiar with Vietnamese cuisine, this is a great place to explore it! 
Some menu suggestions:
Goi Ngo Sen (Lotus Root Salad) – shredded lotus root mixed with cucumber, carrots, and basil.  Topped with shrimp, pork, lemon sauce and peanuts, this is a great starter to any meal.  Of course, we always end up ordering spring rolls, too.

My eldest daughter always, always orders Pho Bac (beef noodle rice soup).  One of my favorite entrees is Banh Xeo  -- pan-seared rice flour crepes filled with shrimp, pork and bean sprouts, and imageserved with fresh lettuce and cilantro for about $7.  Other great options, Shaking Beef (love the name) and Stir-fried Chicken with hot chiles and lemongrass.  My husband likes the curried seafood dishes.  There’s also an extensive vegetarian menu.

I’m drooling just thinking about it, so it’s good that I’ll be dining there for lunch with my sister tomorrow.  Can’t wait!
Dominic’s – 5101 Wilson Avenue, St. Louis, MO  63110
You can’t make a list of St. Louis restaurants without including at least one Italian option – and there are so many to choose from, especially on the Hill – an Italian neighborhood with a plethora of high quality places in virtually every price point.  image
For the budget-conscious, Favazza’s is a great bet (must try the fried artichoke hearts), but for that special occasion kind of meal, Dominic’s is “the bomb.”

Voted one of the two best Italian restaurants in the country by Conde Nast Traveler, Dominic's features fresh fish daily and focuses on traditional continental Italian cuisine, with an emphasis on regional dishes.   Owner Dominic Galati emigrated to the United States from Sicily in 1964, bringing with him a passion for food and life. He settled in St. Louis and, after learning the business, opened Dominic's on the Hill in 1971.

Dining at Dominic’s doesn’t come cheap, but you’ll feel like you’ve literally been transported to Italy, with impeccable elegance and service.    

 Outside the Hill, there’s also Trattoria Marcella, arguably one of imagethe best Italian eateries in town and a personal favorite.  If you go there, you HAVE to try the whole stuffed artichoke with couscous, herbs, grated parmigiano and toasted pine nuts.
Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thirsty Thursday -- It's March Madness!

Our friends at getta!Table have put a fun twist on March Madness (especially for those of us who aren't all that into basketball) with a pick your favorite cocktail bracket contest.  There have been a few shocking upsets, and some surprises that lasted longer than they should have (holiday egg nog?!?).

Today's match up is between the margarita and the vodka tonic, or the Jager Bomb versus Cosmopolitan. To vote to see your favorite drink get to the Final 4, go to their facebook page at

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Toast to St. Patrick’s

"May the winds of fortune sail you,
May you sail a gentle sea.
May it always be the other guy
who says, "this drink's on me."

End your St. Patrick’s Day toast with a hearty ‘Sláinte!’ (pronounced ‘slawn-cha’), which means Health! and is the equivalent to ‘Cheers!’  (For more fun toasts, visit
This Thirsty Thursday, of course we feel the need to spotlight drinks that will work especially well for this weekend’s St. Pat’s celebrations – beyond the typical “green” beer. 
First, here’s a list of tasty alcoholic beverages that will help turn your favorite cocktail green without resorting to food coloring:
--Absinthe (sometimes called “the green fairy”
-- Green Crème de Menthe
-- Midori Melon Liqueur
-- Sour Apple Schnapps
-- UV Green Vodka – an apple-flavored vodka with a bright green color.
Here’s a yummy green cocktail recipe that, of course, incorporates Irish Whiskey:
--2 oz. Irish whiskey image
-- 1 Tbspn green crème de menthe
-- 1 Tbspn Green Chartreuse
  1. Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
For more fun green cocktails, visit
Monday, March 12, 2012

A Bit of Blarney is Good for Everyone!

St. Patty's day is just around the corner.  Being half Irish, I'm proud to celebrate with some good old corned beef and cabbage (paired, of course, with a bit of horseradish, don't you know).  For most of my life, I'd never tried this traditional dish.  My dad, the full-blooded Irishman (Lawrence Michael Patrick Connors), doesn't particularly care for the dish, so my full-blooded German mother never felt the need to serve it.  But my sister Susan decided years ago to start a tradition with her family, that gradually evolved into an annual feast for us sisters and our families.  My mouth is already starting to water just thinking about next Saturday's meal!


If you've never tackled making corned beef & cabbage, yourself, give it a go.  It's an easy and inexpensive dish to make.  Here's a good basic recipe from to get you started. We've never used carrots like this recipe calls for, but it might be a nice addition.  -- from Sharon

Barb's notes: My family grew up on corned beef and cabbage, not because we were Irish (we thought we were a bit Irish until genealogy study a few years ago proved we were Dutch), but because it was a cheap way to feed our family of five. Mom and Dad would stock up on all those after-St. Patrick's Day briskets for sale at the store, and put them in the deep-freeze. Dad would then pull one out, place it in the Crock Pot with some beer, and we'd have a whole roast for dinner that night.

To this day, I stock up on the after-holiday briskets as well. Last year I got them for 49 cents a pound!  I stuffed my freezer with them and cook them up on occasion to make a traditional dinner like the one above, or for lunch meat, or corned beef hash. 

Of course, a corned beef dinner is not complete without a Guinness or Harp beer.