Thursday, December 27, 2012

The best looking menu yet

Do you like the above picture?  I went to DB's, not this past weekend but the Sunday before.  I had a chance to speak with Cory, the manager and owner.  First of all, you need to know this: DB's is a really nice bar.  I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking that I'm just making this up as I go along.  Here is the thing: the bar is arranged in a classic manner.  If you took out the televisions and the pretty girls, it would look just like every other super comfortable neighborhood bar.  The thing is; that still with all of the games on the televisions and the friendly women working there, it is still a very comfortable bar.  There is no pressure to drink, the prices are all very reasonable and the food is the best food I have ever eaten at a bar.  (I don't mean that in any negative way.)  Most people don't think of going to a bar to eat great food.  They think of restaurants or cafes or other places, but never a bar.  I think most people associate bars with just drinking.  There are even some sports bars, that fail to make anything, even a simple burger, decent.

I want to lay down the fact that DB's has really, really good food.  For the price, you get tons of food.  when I arrived, I sat in a nice spot and was greeted by a very friendly and talkative woman named Tiffany.  There were two other women taking orders and one behind the bar serving drinks, and Tiffany wasn't suspicious about any questions I posed to her and answered them as best she could.  She was very knowledgeable about the menu, both the regular one and the special one for Sundays and was also just very friendly.

So, after a fun discussion with her, I was shown a special Sunday only menu and ordered 3 items from it.  First I ordered "DB's Famous breaded chicken wings" for $8.00.  I think that places that have their name in the item's title, should be aware that they will be tied to that item.  If they are good, people will come from miles around to DB's for their famous wings, and so forth.  The wings were promptly delivered:

Now the $8 on the menu was for eight wings but here is where it gets interesting: the wings were huge.  I would say that the piece of celery right there was about 5 inches long and these wings were about 4 inches long.  I would say that the wings at Hooters are about 3 inches long.  So, these are BIG wings.  They were juicy, spicy, hot, lip smacking good.  They were perfectly cooked and perfectly spiced as they were not so spicy that I could feel my lips going numb but spicy enough where I could get the full flavor.  I would give them an easy 4 out of 5 stars.

I also ordered a basket of in-house made chips for $2.50.  I am always curious to see how this turns out and DB's did a great job.  These chips were perfectly cooked, none were soggy, there was no extra oil dripping anywhere and they were seasoned beyond just salt and pepper.
For that small price, I received a large basket of chips.  There was way more than I could eat in one sitting.  As I said: they were great and done well.  I would give the chips and easy 4 out of 5 stars.

The last thing I had ordered was a cup of the "chicken and Andouille gumbo" for a mere $3.75 and I received this:
This was a big cup of gumbo.  Now, I have never been to the area were gumbo originated but I have tasted many versions and many of them fall victim to a classic blunder, never under cook the rice.  I know that when I cook rice at home, I do sometimes get worried that the rice will over cook and get mushy or fade away into limbo.  This may happen against your will, when cooked rice is placed into a soup or broth, like it is with gumbo.  But, a few people hold the secret to making rice work well in liquid rich foods.  This bowl of gumbo is such an example of this.  At another location about 5 minutes away from DB's, you can find yourself a bowl of gumbo and this other location's gumbo always has under cooked rice.  Their rice is sometimes so under cooked that one time it was crunchy.  DB's gumbo's rice was perfect.  There was also great complimentary flavors from the spices and peppers and okra.  Everything was great and it was the best tasting gumbo I have had yet.  I would give this dish a 4 out of 5 stars.

So, from talking with Cory and asking him, it was the morning show's idea for foot fetish Friday.  He said that they asked him if there were some girls from DB's, who would be willing to bare their feet and do things for the radio show and he asked some of his staff if they were interested and that was that.  If I recall correctly though, Cory also had stated that he had someone come in the other day and mention foot fetish Friday and came to the bar only for that reason.  So, perhaps members of the local fetish community are coming to the bar only to see feet?  I dunno.  I know that from my experience, there are two reasons you should come to DB's and pick this place over any other in the area:  food and service.   As I mentioned, the food was good, unexpectedly good and I'd have no problem going there again and would love to get there on a Friday night for example.  The service was great as the food was prepared and cooked well, there was almost not more than the required waiting time on any item and I had a great waitress who remembered everything and was taking care of me.

I suggest, that the next time you are in St. Louis and you are looking for some good wings, gumbo or homemade chips please come over to DB's.  Sundays are a great spot for watching the game, any game, on the televisions and eating some delicious food.  Did I mention that they have a Nacho bar on Sundays also?

I was asked to come back, by Tiffany and she said that the best time to come back is on Friday nights.  So, when I have a Friday night clear, I will be there.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sanctuary! Sanctuary!!!

About a week ago, my wife and I went out for a nice night.  We decided to try a tip from a friend and see if Sanctuaria really was as good as he said it was.  My conclusion: it is.  We went there after making a reservation and ended up with a large booth in the corner. What is great about Sanctuaria is that it is supposed to be a tapas bar/restaurant.  Instead of these tiny or small plates, at Sanctuaria you get these large plates, with enough food for several people.  Along with this, the prices are not that high, so my whole meal was less than $60!

So, we started to order food and we were thinking that the two of us needed to order about 2-3 tapas plates each, so that we would have enough food to eat.  Neither of us were expecting the plates to be large, however.  So, the first thing we ordered was the "black beans stuffed piquillos".  Which were roasted peppers stuffed with black beans and mozzarella cheese.  These were very tasty and I'd give them an easy 4 out of 5.  The beans and cheese mixed perfectly inside and the peppers were super tender and juicy.

It was time to order the meat and my wife chose the "Carne y Maiz", which was pieces of grilled steak over hominy and chilies with shallot rings.  These were perfect.  Usually when people serve small pieces of steak, it is too tough, because I think people are worried that they will overcook them so they basically under cook them.  These were awesome.  They were juicy, full of flavor and very tender.  The hominy that they were on was very tasty and the shallot rings were great for onion ring fans, such as myself.  I'd give this dish a 4 out of 5 as well.
We also ordered an item that wasn't on the menu.  This item was a special and was lamb and some vegetables, in a cream-like sauce, inside sweet dough tarts.  The idea sounds great but we both had one main issue with it: the dough was way too sweet.  It was a good idea for a meat pie, but the saltiness of the lamb mixed with the sugary sweet dough didn't blend as well as I think the chef wanted it to.  I'd give this dish a 3 out of 5.
So, while my wife tried one of everything and gave the rest to me to finish, she orders something else: Posole, which is traditionally a been and meat soup.  Well, this version was much, much more thick.  In this one you have pork and poblano peppers and hominy in a thick and chunky tomato sauce base.  It was like a really thick and very flavorful chili.  It was good, really good and was worth it.  I'd give it a 4 out of 5.

So, finally it was time for desert.  Why look at the same old things when you can order something different and fantastic?  What caught my wife's eye, was the Havana Bread.  It was listed as $7 on the menu and had a small annotation that mentioned that you need to give them at least 20 minutes to prepare it as they are made to order.  So, how cool is that?  Ordering a desert which is made to order. So, the Havana Bread is a spiced cake made with rum and raisins.  So, as we wait, my wife and I think of what it could be like.  A spiced cake, made with raisin and rum, sounds way too good and and less than 20 minutes later, we have it delivered to us, so hot that the topping is still boiling.

So, what is this and what did it taste like?  Heaven.  They should replace the name "Havana Bread" with "Heaven Bread".  No, really, it was really good.  After waiting about 10 minutes so it was physically safe to eat, we ate most of it.  It weighed almost 5 pounds, it wasn't huge but sure weighed like it was.  Very tasty and very fresh, and soft and moist and very good.  I'd give it a 4 and 1/2 out of 5.

Now, I highly suggest that if you are in the Grove or anywhere near it and you want a good selection of food, then you should stop by Sanctuaria.  The whole location seemed to have many tables, so it wouldn't be an issue of not finding a place to seat inside.  Maybe finding a place to park outside though, may prove to be difficult.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

First time for everything

Well, I was thinking of something to write about and then realized, that I don't think I have shared a good recipe in a while.  So, let me think...  Christmas is coming or any other holiday which you may celebrate.  Wouldn't it be nice to present a loved one with a pan of brownies?

This is a recipe I have been using for years, brownies go great with everything from Jager to beer and you can't pass these up.

You will need:

medium mixing bowl
whisk and spatula
one stick of unsalted butter
1 cup of white sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of AP flour
1/3 cup of cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1. Now, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
2. Cream the sugar with the butter using the whisk
3. When all mixed together, add the eggs and the vanilla extract.  Mix.
4. Then add the flour and slowly mix together.  You may want to switch to the spatula now as it starts to get thicker.
5. Add the cocoa powder and slowly mix together.
6. Add the salt and baking powder
7.  Pour in a greased 8x8 inch dish.  PAM is a great 0 calorie spray for this.  You can spray all over the baking dish and nothing will stick.
8.  Place dish in oven that was peheated at 350 and bake for about 25 minutes.

They are finished when you stick a toothpick or chopstick in them and it comes out clean.  I have this natural aversion to sticking most of my body inside of an oven and poke something that hot with a tiny toothpick.  So, I use the narrow end of a chopstick and use that.  It works the same way and I don't have to get my hands even inside of the oven.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I'll be Hansel and you be Gretel

Whenever I think of a gingerbread house, I think of a happy moment from my childhood:

While I know that it was never shown or told that the house was made of candy and sweets, at least it lent the idea that it could have been and the kids were just thrown in a pot anyway.

Watching this, then made me think of a game I have recently played called Katamari Damacy:
If you are not familiar with this game, the point is that you have a ball that you basically roll stuff up with.  Like a snowball rolling down a hill, the more your roll up, the larger your ball gets and then more that the perspective and scale shifts so that it appears that you are getting larger and larger.  In this level, you had to roll up as much of this gingerbread house you could.  It even comes complete with a witch riding a broomstick.  As a fan of donuts and other great baked goods, a house made from real baked goods, does sound delicious.

Now we get to St. Louis, where to the side of the main hall of the River City Casino, they have this:

This past Saturday I was allowed to enjoy something straight from the fairy tales: the giant gingerbread house.  I thought to myself, 'how can a gingerbread be that cool?"  I was quickly surprised of exactly how large-scale this gingerbread is.  Candice Coleman, sent me over the recipe and what was required to make this and I was shocked.

Gingerbread House

450 pounds of gingerbread dough
100 pounds of shortening,
100 pounds of granulated sugar,
90 pounds of corn syrup,
117 pounds flour.
Baked off 500 6 inches by 12 inches square bricks.
100 house made gum drops
400 fresh baked cookies
130 fresh baked cupcakes
300 pounds of royal icing

Okay, so imagine how big of a item you could make with 450 pounds of cookie dough!  What they did, was create a wooden house and then using frosting, they glued these gingerbread cookie slabs on to the outside.  While reading that list I also thought of how big it could be, with only 400 cookies, 130 cupcakes and 100 house made gum drops.  My mind immediately thought of those store-bought gum drops and how 100 of them is hardly enough to decorate even the store-bought gingerbread houses.  That is, until I saw them up close:

That large yellowish thing with the sugar on it, is the "house made gum drops".  Really?!?!?   Way to fool me Chef John.  That thing is huge and looks to be about 3 inches tall and about 2.5 inches in diameter.  It reminded me of those giant "novelty" gummi bears that you can buy at the World Market in Chesterfield and everyone sinks their face into.  I'm surprised no one has taken this idea and made some kind of weird candy fetish video with giant gummi bears and huge gum drops.  Take these into account with the normal sized cupcakes and those cookies look to be at least 6 inches across.

Now, while this house enough sugar to give every child in America a sugar rush and is cool to look at, there is special food that can be ordered.  The gingerbread house has a special menu, which allows you to pick from your first course, your entre' and get your dessert all for one low price of $25.

I had the pumpkin pie soup, which  had creme fraiche and toasted pepitas.  It was great and sweet but not too, too sweet.  It tasted like pumpkin with some sweet elements to it.  A great way to judge a dish is to get a kid to eat it and my 6 year old loved it.  He kept asking for more and he sat in front of his breakfast plate.
The soup was an easy 4 out of 5 for me.
 Between the choice of the ham and the turkey breast, I chose the ham.  (It is a pork product after all.)  The ham had a 1904 Bourbon glaze, with a sweet potato and yellow potato gratin and then had some baby carrots.  The carrots were as sweet as the soup, which is a good thing, for me.  I prefer my vegetables with large amounts of butter and or brown sugar or maple or other sweet applications.
So, it was huge, a large amount of food was offered to me and presented and I was already ready, already.  The ham was tender and juicy and flavorful.  The gratin was tender and easy to eat and creamy.  The carrots were awesome.  The meal was an easy 4 out of 5.

There were others:  Like the eggnog flan that came with this prefix meal.  I'd give it a 4 out of 5.  Then there was the egg and Canadian bacon sandwich with potatoes that my son ordered and ate his fill of, loving every bite of it.  Even the Beignets came out correctly.  They were light and fluffy and delicious.  We ordered the traditional and plan on trying the maple bacon when we return.

While going to the casino and eating in a giant gingerbread house may be just regular average droll for you, it is important to note that doing so, helps a charity.  To reserve your spot for a meal in this house, requires $20.  This $20 goes straight to the Center for Hearing and Speech, which helps hearing impaired adults and children in the St. Louis area.  This isn't some organization going to help people around the world or in some other city but takes care of the people HERE.  Every cent of that $20 goes to the organization.  Now, while you may be wondering, what you get for your $20 other than a spot in this edible house, here you go: activities for your kids.  The gingerbread house is a great place to go with your kids.  It seats 4 people comfortably and after ordering adults and kids alike, are given slabs of gingerbread with colored icing, with which you can decorate your tile.  Tiles or slabs of cooked and decorated gingerbread can be donated to the house, where a chef will get to glue them on to the house, using frosting.  So, you can make a funny picture, write your name, or even write the name of your website.

So, this holiday season, spend the $20, help someone hear for the first time and enjoy some great food.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Random writings and thoughts and ideas....

The thing is, whether you are a huge fun of Jack in the Box or a huge fan of places like Taste, St. Louis has a large number of restaurants.  The problem of course being, is that it is impossible for me to get to all of them.  I understand that there are people asking me about various restaurants and bars and clubs, but until someone actually pays me enough that I can go to these places each night, I'm stuck getting to them one weekend at a time. 

As with any form of information being related and passed on, I know that there is a mix of readers: from the college freshman with Bluto's (John Belushi's character in Animal House) personality to the business owner who is one of those 1%.  I refuse to play to either group.  I know that there are complaints of my articles on the other site, most importantly how my articles seem to be boring, written with the level of a grade-school child or be rich with horrible syntax and grammar mistakes. To those who may say that, I respond with this: "It is better than the rest."  I always find it funny and ironic that people choose to pick on me, when I at least write in English and as a rule, do not use strange characters like "%$@##^&^%" as a general rule of thumb that needs to be imported into my writing.  I also spell correctly, so for those people who refer to things like "fiesty" as "feisty" or "sux" instead of "sucks", the joke is on you.  If you think you are so great, then write a blog, twitter or whatever and let the world see what you have done or what you are up to. I also wish to not curse in my writing.  Unless you are famous for doing so, I think cursing is not a needed vehicle to show importance or prove a point.

I would dare say that every week, a new bar, club, lounge or restaurant opens up somewhere in the whole of the St. Louis metro area.  Now, considering that there are places that have existed in St. Louis well before I was born, I have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to eating there.  There are places I have tried, that have become famous: such as Roadhouse 61, which was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives last night.  There are places that I never did get a chance to try, like Salt, which has the owner stuck in a financial battle over his lack of paying taxes to the government and may close any minute if not already.

You have to understand that I have not given up on St. Louis.  I do not wish it to become the Gotham City of America, but instead wish it to at least come back a little to the food heritage which it had sprang and grown from.  As a French fur trading post, it was the only civilization West of the Mississippi River for many years and decades, and that French influence is what mainly drives the city today.  Signs and symbols of this heritage are seen all over and most secretly on old buildings where the old iron Fleur De Leis, can be seen against the brick walls.  The 1904 World Fair or World Exposition brought so many inventors, so many chefs and so many people from around the world to see what was so special about St. Louis and America.  St. Louis started with a boom and had large companies use this city as a head quarters, mostly because of the perfect transportation it had and still has, in a lesser extent.  Whether it is a train blocking the tracks at a crossing, trucks driving 120mph on 44, planes flying loudly overhead or barges making their way slowly down the river, St. Louis still is a great hub for transportation and distribution.

Although, all of us, whether we want to admit it or not, has seen a slow decline of restaurants and areas for such.  How many of us remember going to St. Louis Union Station and eating at the many fine restaurants there?  Now, I thin the Hard Rock Cafe is it; and it is not even inside!  What about going to Crestwood Mall or the St. Louis Mall and eating inside?  Both places are closed.  Have you even driven down Washington Avenue, West past 20th Street?  You look on both sides of the street and see boarded up old buildings, some restaurants or bars and some of them industrial.  While this may not be the fault of the city, you have the allowance of people to buy these old properties under the promise of changing them into something good within a year and then leaving them to rot and make St. Louis look bad.

There are a lot of people, who are bringing food back into St. Louis and for them, I salute them.  But I worry that these restaurants and bars cannot save the city.  When you hear stories of Gaslight Square, for instance, and see how it was a center of culture in the city and then try to compare it to something now, it is impossible.   I think a fair question is:  is there anywhere in St. Louis that tourists from around the world, would travel to, exclusively to see it in person?  (Besides the Arch.) Do we have any world famous chefs?  I know that we have some great restaurants, but do we have enough?

With everyone trying to revitalize St. Louis with a restaurant, do they all succeed or need to succeed in order to make St. Louis a better place?  You know, I don't think so.  I think that as long as there are some really good places, it may help bring people to them.  The places that are lower level or even mediocre, need to improve and fight to even get close and that is good for business.  I know that people love BBQ and there is as many variations to St. Louis style BBQ pork steak as there are grains of sand on all of the beaches.  But, I find it very difficult to believe that there is one place and one place alone which is the absolute best, for everyone.  You may think Pappy's is the best and I don't.  So, I tell you and anyone else who want to know.

I'm not being paid by restaurants to write about them.  I don't get paid by and even have to deal with Trolls and angry people for my writing. I certainly don't get paid to write on here.  I write for fun, because I like to share my stories, photos and adventures.  I do try to get to every location, be it a place 50 years old or a new bar trying to clean up and liven up the dance scene.  I don't even have a sponsor, so I can write freely about anyone and anything.  I feel that the writers in print, who have to write articles for the likes of Feast, Sauce or even the River Front Times, can't truly express what they want because they may have had a bad experience at an advertiser's restaurant and then not allowed to comment or lose the advertiser.  I guess I'm lucky that I don't have sponsors because I can freely write the truth about anyone.  Now, if you have a restaurant or bar where I had a great time, I'd be more apt to write nicely about you.

Sure, the writers for Feast magazine get to travel to Italy and write about how wonderful the wines are there.  But, does that really concern the average person looking for where to spend their lunch money in St. Louis?  Or what about that guy looking to impress his date at a nice restaurant?  I feel some writers are out of touch with what people want.

You know what I'm looking for?  I want to read and hear from people and chefs who chose St. Louis, out of all of the other cities, and find out why.  I want to hear from renowned chefs and ask them if they have any great food memories about St. Louis.  I want to know if anyone has said anything great and fantastic about the food in St. Louis.  I know I have found some hits and misses and as much as I think people, like you, like reading my dribble and thoughts and seeing pictures of great food or drinks, I can't help but think that someone out there wouldn't mind hearing from an expert. So, with the idea of that, I will send some emails and see if I can't find some experts in St. Louis and see what they think.

Am I a prissy foodie?  No.  Or, I don't think I am.  I still enjoy a good beer (Guinness) and my favorite local fast food burger (Top Shooters), but I don't see myself nor wish to see myself as the guy in the suit, sitting at a table of $500 food, swirling my wine around in a glass. (I would have a beer instead.)  I admit that because of the Food Network, I started to watch mainstream shows and enjoy them.  That got me into watching and reading and following Alton Brown.  That then got me into not only playing with cooking, but playing with Molecular Gastronomy.  This then got me interested with how food works, not just adding baking soda to a recipe, but why do you add the baking soda and what does it do.  It is science, applied to food. Does this make me an "Anton ego"?  No.  But it does mean that if I walk into a restaurant and order some baked chicken, it should not be raw or too salty or tough as leather.  Also, working at a restaurant has taught me a lot of things that most people don't think about when they go out to eat.  People do still make fun of me by suggesting that Old Country Buffet/Home Town Buffet is not a real restaurant and they would only be partially correct.  You don't come in, sit down, get a menu, order, eat and pay.  It is an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant and while there isn't 5 guys in the back working on your order, they are also working on the likes of 349 other people.  What did this teach me?  I may not know how many times a cow was massaged to produce the perfect amount of tenderness in a steak.  But I do know how that stake should be cooked.  I also know that an order as simple as french fries, if from a bag deep in the freezer, should not take more than 3 minutes in the fryer.  I also know that there is no reason that an order for a 10 minute item take longer than 20 minutes, if everything is run correctly.  This also means that I am a bitch when it comes to going into a restaurant and being told that there is no seating available when I see 3-4 tables open. 

I hate waiting.  I think I have plenty of patience, when it comes to waiting in general as even my wife jokes that she can't say things like "I have a secret" and then have me going crazy in anticipation as to what it may be.  I can wait and do wait for many things.  I have waited a long time for really good food and a short time for really good food as well.  What I don't like though, is the waiting for service.  I never understood and will never understand why servers and wait staff say that they want more money but then do a horrible job with the customer.  I was at the California Pizza Kitchen at West County Mall this weekend when I thought we had a good server, to start.  She asked us what our drinks were quickly and then we gave her the orders for the kids, so that their food may get cooking.  We waited for 20 minutes before our drinks came out.  Then 5 minutes later for the food for the kids.  Then another 30 minutes for our food to come out, after we had ordered.  This is a place where pizzas take almost no time to cook in their fire oven.  So, why should my order take so long?  One answer: cell phone.  While really getting hungry and angry as to why my food was no where to be found, I look over at our server on the computer.  I'm thinking that she is working and then as pointed out by my wife, she was texting on her cell phone.  She thought that her tip was less important than her text and so she spent a good 5 minutes, standing there and texting until the manager looked at her and she pretended to be working and walked away.  Guess what?  My pizza was cold, or luke warm to be more precise.  Likely meaning that it was cooked and sitting out for 5-10 minutes while she texted away.  There is absolutely no reason why any customer should be given bad service. 

I think I am finished with my ranting.  As mentioned, when I finish the work at my actual money-making job, I'll send some emails and see if I can get some words from some chefs.


Tastes like puke?

I know this sounds mean and I don't compare things to this flavor, or lack of flavor, but over the weekend I saw these at a QT, bought them and tried them.

Okay, so about a year ago, Resveratrol, started to become the "big" thing.  Basically, resveratrol is an antioxidant found in things like red grapes.  This chemical antioxidant was found to be in red wine and the darker the wine, the more of it.  So, things like a Port/Porto or an ice wine could actually have more resveratrol than a class of red table wine.  This antioxidant is thought to protect your heard from heart disease: which is a fancy name for heart attacks.

Like many other studies and research on alternative medicine and things that are not run by pharmaceutical companies, there has been no scientific proof that resveratrol has any benefits on humans.  It has been tested mostly on animals and while it is in red grapes, like other fruit, it may just have a small effect on the body.

The point is: like other derivatives from fruits, resveratrol may just be an antioxidant which works best in the presence of other antioxidants.  So, a company thought it could get into the market by advertising that they have it in their nutritional drinks, thus helping to sell them.  It isn't a bad idea and I've even made my own things at home that are healthy but still taste great, like protein and DHA packed brownies.  But, when a company makes these drinks and makes the bottles as such and tries to make them cool and attractive to buyers, they should at least taste good.

This weekend I tried the red fruit punch flavor and the orange citrus flavor.  The red flavor tasted like someone left a fruit punch outside over a rainy weekend and now it is filled with dirt, leaves and bugs.  It is nasty and in no way makes me interested in drinking it.  Each bottle is $2 and while that is about as much as a regular energy drinks, like a Rockstar or Monster, I would rather eat dirt, than drink another one of these.  The orange citrus one, was worse.  The first sip tasted like apple juice, which was okay.  But then, continual drinking brought out a secondary flavor which tasted like flat and warm orange juice.  It reminded me of the taste, stuck in your throat, after you puke.  It also had that acidic backwash feel and makes me cringe right now, while writing this, thinking about it.  I'm sorry, but I know that some companies do this and think that someone would obviously want to buy a drink and drink it instead of eating a cup of red grapes.  But, this makes me think that the red grapes are the way to go.  Best part is, I am also a wine fan, so why would I pass a glass of wine for one of these nasty drinks.

It could just be me.  But if someone had one of these, try it for yourself.  I just don't like it and would like to pass word out to you that they are here in St. Louis.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cafe Natasha's

 I understand that this restaurant has been opened, according to their facebook page, since the 80's.  I understand that they have awards and reviews from 2004 to 2010.  But, they haven't had any recognition since 2010.  Let me say, that when a restaurant announces that "We will not offer anything, unless it is wonderful, and the food is not wonderful, I get worried.  When visiting their website and seeing that it either hasn't been touched in 2 years or they haven't had any mention, reviews or awards since then, then I would suggest stepping it up and fighting for that recognition.

I understand that I am newly familiar to Persian food, and willing to give it a try, but there are some things that just don't hit me in the right spot.  One of the things we ordered was the Kookoo, which seems to be Persian Herbed Omelet, or at least this is how it is described online.  But, I like to point out that it is not cooked flat.  It is thick and it looks like it can be an inch or two thick, which makes me think that it is presented much more as a quiche'.  Either way, as Cafe Natasha mentions that it is "A flat soufflĂ©-like pie made with delicate herbs, light eggs, walnuts, and spices. Served with yogurt and pita."  What we got was probably more like a quiche' than a souffle'.  I think that any reference to a souffle' indicates that it must be light and airy.  The problem was that what we received was not light, airy or even fluffy.  It was cold, dense and heavy.  We had a quiche', with very little egg and mostly herbs.  It tasted, like cooked spinach.  I didn't taste any herbs, spices, walnuts or eggs and only tasted cold cooked spinach. I'm sorry but it didn't taste any better with the sauce.  One other thing: the pita was touch as leather.  I had to bite it down and then rip it to the side in order to "bite" off a piece to eat.  If it was freshly made, it was fresh the day before or two days before then.  I give this dish a 2 out of 5.

Next, we ordered the Falafel: "four deep fried croquettes of ground chickpeas, parsley, garlic, cumin and other spices."  Most falafel that I have had at other places is either too dry or too greasy.  These were just right.  I don't know their secret, but these little balls were crunch on the outside and moist and tasty on the inside.  Maybe it was their size because they looked just like every other falafel I have eaten, on the inside, I mean.  So, I don't know if there was a secret to making them come out without extra grease or being the kind that will suck every drop of moisture from your mouth.  They were good and I'd give them a 3 out of 5.

We also ordered the kabob of beef and chicken and were given a choice of rice as the side dish.  I let the waiter make that choice for me.  Now, what we had received was strange.  We had 4 large pieces of beef, 4 large pieces of chicken and a large portion of white rice mixed with yellow rice.  The beef was cooked strangely, in that there were half of the pieces that were tender and juicy and the other half of the pieces were tough and stringy.  The chicken tasted fine to me, for the most part, but it wasn't seasoned evenly, so some pieces seemed too salty and others were fine.  The rice was had me questioning.  The rice was a mix of both regular medium grained white rice and what looked like the same kind of rice, cooked with saffron.  There were some saffron stigmas, in my rice which helped give it some flavor, but the white rice was very bland.  It is strange, because when I have made Spanish dishes, I have made the saffron rice, taste like saffron.  Not too strong, but strong enough that you know where the coloring came from.  This rice, had such a subtle flavor to it, that it was almost, almost, completely bland.  Id give all of this a 2 out of 5.

I'm sorry, I really am, especially for a restaurant that has supposedly been there since the 80's, I guess I never noticed it.  What I see as a way to get them big bucks, is the unlimited hummus bar.  Hummus, is a dish, like a thick dip, made from chickpeas as the base and is one of the national dishes of Lebanon.  It also has tahini, olive oil, garlic and spices.  Hummus, probably costs about $1 to make one pound and then when you offer an unlimited bar of hummus for a set price, if you charge more than $1, you make your money.  From their site, they charge $10 and from 4-7pm on Tuesdays, you get to eat as much hummus, falafel, eggplant and other favorites as you want.  I would say that even if you ate during all 3 hours, and tried some of everything, the cost of what you would ingest, would not be close to $10.  So, this place definitely makes its money off of this.  


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The great Dictator is dead!

I know we loved them, they were a a great boon to our metro area, both in an economic and community spirit.  Thousands of jobs, great opportunities and great money to be made.  The St. Louis area was a better place while they were here.  I remembered going as a teenager, to the local thrift shop and buying whole cartons of cupcakes for pennies on the dollar.  I remembered seeing fruit filled pies going for a dollar or two at the local shops and in here, this wonderful heaven of a thrift shop, finding those same products for 50 cents each.  I was in heaven.  I was a teenager with a metabolism which could down anything and cause me to not gain an ounce.  They were my addiction.

Now, decades apart and a time when that Great Leader has died, it's mark and legacy are comparable to those left of an evil tyrant.  For when a tyrant leaves, all traces and signs of that person or erased, from both written and oral view as to hope everyone can move on easier.  That is the same case, with Hostess.

Hostess was born, in a church basement, in Kansas City, in 1905.  The owner, Ralph Nafziger, made money and bought out other bakeries and kept moving upwards.  He sold the company, but kept controlling interest, which he used when he started his own company again and merged them both together.  In 1930 he made the Interstate Bakeries Corporation.  The company then continued to only get bigger and buy out competition, through the 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's.  In the 90's, it decided to concentrate on their Hostess line of cakes, like Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and Ho-Hos.

Now, one of the ideas that started the downfall, was a new set of enzymes, which would extend the shelf-life of the cakes and breads.  This new enzyme set, gave the products a different taste.  There is also the formation of the Atkins diet and Krispy Kreme, which helped pull people away from the Hostess line.  In 2009, the company was declaring bankruptcy and with a huge loss of their shares, they decided to go private and help close that loss.  As a private company after that, there were issues with the unions.  As no one wants to lose their job, but given the opportunity of losing their job or getting their hours cut back, the union fought against both.  Hostess did not have enough money to do either and without a union agreement, they closed down.

Within 2 days of the formal press release, all Hostess items were taken off of store shelves.  I felt betrayed, as it was as if the world did not want anyone to remember the good ol' days of the Hostess line.  I admit that they were evil, and filled with so many other chemicals and high fructose corn syrup and everything else, but every once in a great while, I would indulge myself.  Still, I feel sad, like the passing of a relative I saw or spoke to once a year, this is a passing that we will all remember and hold as a dark day.  You may love your fancy meals, or even your cheap beer, but everyone loved a Hostess.

Rest in Peace, Hostess.