Thursday, February 28, 2013

At the wedding reception...

Almost 8 years ago, my wife and I tied the knot downtown and then had our wedding reception in the reception hall at the Cheshire hotel.  It was a nice location as the area had stairs coming down into it, a large bar as open and as wide as the whole room.  The room sat about 250 guests and had enough room for belly dancers to move throughout the area.  It was decorated with white curtains, mirrors, old paintings of English royalty and molding at the ceilings and floors.  It was there that we had a party that we will never forget.

Now, move ahead 8 years...

My wife and I wanted to go to the Fox and Hound Tavern at the Cheshire hotel.  When we arrived at about 9pm, it was packed and there was standing room only.  Standing room only for eating food just doesn't work so we asked if they had another restaurant.  The Cheshire used to have an old English style tavern, above the banquet room, in the other building.  It had bookcases lining the walls, hardwood flooring and candles on the tables to provide a warm, cozy and romantic dining spot.  That whole experience was remodeled.  What was there now, was a restaurant called "Restaurant".  It was fancy, white table-cloths and as much as $15 for a small starter.  That just didn't seem like a good fit as to the mood we were in.  So, we walked around to the other side of the building, where the person at the front desk mentioned that they had an Italian pub called "Basso".

We avoided the icy sidewalk, opened the doors to get in and immediately noticed the staircase, leading down.  What did they do?  What they did, was just this past December, guy out the reception area, the very area where we had our wedding reception, and replace it was a huge kitchen, cool dining spots and a large bar complete with televisions all over.  It was loud, it was colorful and it was perfect.

We were seated at a high table, near the bar.  The bartenders were dressed in black and dressed nicely and uniform, so you could see who was a bartender and who wasn't.  The wait staff all had flannel shirts on.  The televisions were blaring the Missouri/Kentucky basketball game, there was music that was noticeable but not enough that I could make out any words, as it was loud enough to block out the conversations at most other tables.  The walls were bare stucco tan colored with large gas powered flame-lit lamps, allowing for light and a conversation piece.  The tables were as like butcher block and were round and thick.  It was nice, not too cold, not too hot and everything seemed good.  The average dress seemed to be business casual.  There wasn't anyone in there with tshirts and jeans and most of the women were wearing nice dresses or the like.  It is like it was a new place to be seen and eat.

We sat down and when our seater asked if we had been there before, we had answered with "yes, 8 years ago", to which he gave us a strange and confused look and then walked away.

We were presented with the menu and a very knowledgeable waiter and after some explanations, we ordered.  I chose the garlic monkey bread, the grilled Brussels sprouts, The Donald pizza and the McDowell's Golden Arcs pizza.  We had our food come out quickly.  The first thing was the monkey bread:

The bread was moist, cooked nicely on the sides and was very garlicky.  It wasn't done in a bad way; I love garlic.  It had some other spices in there but the garlic overtook it and was very delicious.  For those of you starving when you get there and needing something in your belly while the food gets cooked, this is for you.  I give these a 3 out of 5, as I would order them again.

The Brussels sprouts were grilled with some oregano and pecans and had a nice texture to them.  I admit, I'm not a huge fan of this little vegetable and only had enough to try.  They were good in my book and the crunched pecan pieces gave them that crunchy texture to go along with their tenderness.  They were okay by me but my wife said they were good.  I'd say a 3 out of 5.

Okay, now comes the fun stuff.  At Basso, they do pizza and in a very big and cool way.  I remembered that as I was working my way through a 350 recipe collection by Mario Batali cookbook, I found this Roman recipe which was butternut squash ravioli with a sage and butter sauce.  Now, from what I remembered, I even drizzled some warm honey over the raviolis, taking it from a savory to a sweet dish.  Here is the same concept. So I know that the squash, when mixed with sage, gives it a small bit of savory-element, but when it is also mixed with the honey, it is sweet.  So, what you get on a pizza with cheese and big slices of prosciutto, is this sweet and savory with every bite dish.  Was this pizza good?  Yes.  Every bit was perfect and it needed no hot pepper flakes or anything else on it.  Would I change anything?  Yes.  There were these large strips or prosciutto.  One strip was as large as 2 inches wide and 4 inches long.  It was just a lot to bite into.  I think some smaller pieces.  I would still give the pizza a 4 out of 5.

The Donald is the name they gave their duck pizza.  What you have here, is a pizza with pieces of duck breast, black truffles, black truffle oil and a large fried duck egg on the top, with cheese.  It is a VERY rich pizza.  Every bite gets you an attack of tender duck and sweet truffle flavor and it has the richness of eating whole sticks of butter.  It is so rich and so sweet and I had only wished that there was something acidic to cut it.  It was good and was perhaps the weirdest item on the menu so in a group it would be great to order it  so everyone could try it.I'd give it a 3 and 1/2 out of 5.

So, to sum up: the two pizzas we tried are good indication that the other pizzas are good as well.  Service was excellent.  Everyone was friendly and nothing was too strange or nothing loud happened around us.  It is a good spot for friends as well as romantic meals.  I would say that Basso has moved up to one of my favorite hang-out/eateries in St. Louis.  So, I should be sure to be there again soon.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Toilet seats and a hot dog

I know that they have been there for a long time now, but for those who don't know, there are some hot dogs and other great foods at your favorite South County Home Depot location.  So, you wander what I'm smoking?  There are three locations, where you can get a Dirty Dog and these are in the St. Louis area.  There is always a rep, standing at a hot dog stand, with a counter and over 200 different sauces and condiments, freezing in one of the entrances or exists at a Home Depot.

So, while you are inside, getting toilet seats, plywood or even a double bladed dado machine, walking out the exit will get you a quick glance and even buy something yummy.  I stopped off at the Dirty Dogz location at the Home Depot near Lindbergh and Hooters.  Jason Gaines started this company in 2005 and slowly started to move around to all of these locations.  What is important to note, is that every item has been custom made for Dirty Dogz.  Everything from the Tamales to the hot dogs have been made for Dirty Dogz and are all beef and don't have the fillers and other junk in them.  The buns are also made by a local company and specially made for Dirty Dogz.  Now, the sauces are not made locally or specially for them, but with over 200 sauces per location, they have more of a variety than most grocery stores.

They also have an extensive menu and as long as I have been eating there, I have NEVER had a bad thing there:!menu

This is really great because it doesn't have to be summer time to have a great hot dog.  I suggest going in and picking a different sauce combination each time.

They can be found at the Sunset Hills and South Lindbergh locations.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Guerrilla warfare

I was already in the downtown area and thought that stopping somewhere cool for lunch would work great.  Getting out for lunch, in St. Louis is difficult when you only really get an hour for lunch and you work in Illinois.  So, any chance I get to leave, I make a side trip and aim for the nearest food truck I can find.  This time, it was Guerrilla Street Food.  With this truck, which resembles a Rhino from the battle lines of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, we have two experienced chefs cooking up foods with a Filipino spin.  Even last year the Riverfront Times had voted this food truck as the best food truck for 2012.  When I was ordering my food, I was told that the best dish that helped get them this title, was the Flying Pig.  So, let's get to the food and the tastes.

Guerrilla Street Food cycle out menu items depending on if they are seasonal, which insures that you will get the freshest ingredients and food.  If you are looking for low carbs or low calories, this truck is not for you.  However, if you are looking for something that you can get on your lunch break and will fill you up for the day, then find and locate this truck.

So, the first thing I had ordered was called the Lumpia.  This was like a spring roll, with added rice, more flavor and then wrapped in a thicker pancake-like coating.  It was also served cold, which I internally scoffed at.  I was wrong.  The flavor was great.  You could taste all of the vegetables as well as the herbs and the rice.  It all blended well enough that it worked together, for the gestalt but also was individual enough that you could tell that it wasn't just a mash-up of flavors.  I'd give it a 3 out of 5.

The next one I had ordered was the Beef Mechado, which was basically a great sauce, potatoes, beef and rice.  It was great and very tasty.  There is this sweetness and mellow flavoring, as it reminded me of a really good pot-roast.  I would give this a 4 out of 5 as it was good enough that I would order it again.

Now, I also got the Chicken Adobo, which was chicken cooked in soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, vinegar and black peppercorns served on a huge scoop of rice.  This was very tasty.  I loved it, my wife loved it and 3 other people who randomly came by to see what I was eating, at work, loved it.  I'd say it was a good.  It was also so good that my picky 6 year old had two bowls of it; about 8 ounces, and licked his bowls clean.  I'd give this a 4 out of 5 as I would surely order this again as well.

Now, what was the big winner here?  The Flying Pig.  I started off wanting just the Wandering Pig, which was a dish with pork, garlic, sesame seeds and garlic as well as some awesome sauces.  But, they guys talked me into getting the Flying Pig, which was the same thing, but with an egg on top.  An egg, that's it?  Oh, but this isn't just any egg, it was cooked, in the shell, sous vide style.  What this means, simply, is that the egg was cooked, much like a hard boiled egg is still cooked in the shell.  So, this sous vide egg was cooked in water, just the same way.  The difference is, when you cook an egg in the shell, normally, it become hard-soft boiled.  This egg, this sous vide egg, become so soft boiled, it has the slight appearance of a raw egg, except it is cooked.  Weird, huh?  But this dish was awesome, as in, so awesome that I can honestly say that it is the best thing I have eaten so far this year.  The flavors are strange and complex and familiar: all at once. What you have is pork on rice with scallions.  You take a bite with the sriracha sauce and it is spicy with an Asian flair.  Then you take a bite with this darker almost brown colored sauce and you get a completely different flavor to accent the pork and rice.  There was two different flavors on either side of my box, and yet if you mix them together, they went perfectly well.  It was strange and simple and if I was a judge on Iron Chef, I would say "the flavors seem to speak to me on a philosophical level as they discus the meaning of life and dance along with my senses."  Would I order this again?  Oh for sure.  I'd actually give this a 5 out of 5 this time.  I'd order this and easily and highly recommend this dish to everyone I know.

Now, what are we looking at here?  How much will this set you back?  Well, I was a bit struck with sticker shock when I was told the prices, but what you don't get then, is the surprise of what you get for your buck. Each one of these dishes, is huge.  I would say that first of all, the Lumpia is probably over 8 inches in length and about two inches thick.  It is a light dish, but it isn't a small one.  The Chicken Adobo was a $6.00 dish and for that 6 dollars, I was given a box which had to weigh in excess of 2 pounds.  There is a lot of rice and chicken and sauce in there.  That is a lot of food for $6.  I know that now I have lunch for the rest of the week at work.  I would safely say that one person could get one main dish for their meal and be satisfied and likely even have leftovers for the reasonable price.  The food really is outstanding.  After walking from my car to the food truck, standing there and waiting for the food to be cooked and freezing in the temperatures yesterday afternoon, I thought to myself: "I hope this is worth it."  It was worth it.  Go find them, drive out wherever you are and find them and eat from them and be happy.    


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Andrew Zimmern is coming to town...

I admit, this is in March and hasn't yet happened, but it will.  Talks have finished between the television chef and Soulard where the chef will make a visit to, in St. Louis, for his travel channel show:

Yeah, this is cool but cool for a variety of reasons:

First of all, this visit will help push St. Louis into the limelight and show that there is something here, besides an airport.  When Anthony Bourdain came by with his book tour and he fielded a barrage of questions from the audience at the Fox, 3 years ago, it was asked of him as to when he was coming to St. Louis.  His answer was "never".  He felt that St. Louis, one of the oldest cities in the US, one of the first founded and the only West of the Mississippi River and location of the 1904 World's Fair, to be not that significant when it comes to food.  Really?

I've had many discussions with people all over at how anyone who thinks the only thing Missouri is good for is the Ozark people, can be not much of an intellectual or even anyone to be bothered with.  And it showed because a few years later, Anthony Bourdain did in fact do an episode of his show where he came to the Ozarks and visited a favorite author of his and spent some days there.  What Mr. Bourdain failed to realize is that those people didn't spontaneously pop up there, they moves West in the early 1800's.  There were people already with restaurants in St. Louis at that time.

Now, another reason that this is cool is that it shows off a bit of history here.  The Soulard market, is the oldest food market, West of the Mississippi.  Considering that there are many more markets like this all over the West, this is cool, because the one in Soulard first started in 1779.  What else was happening in 1779?  Well, most people think that the Revolutionary War was done with in 1776 and the country was formed.  The fact is that after the constitution was signed, the wars went in.  In 1779, there were wars going on and that means that the food market is almost as old as our country.  I'd say that is a big deal.

Did I mention that St. Louis was founded in 1764?  That means that there were people living in the city of St. Louis, before our founding fathers signed anything.  The city is older than the county!  St. Louis was a huge powerhouse because all through time, we have had trains, airplanes, highways to travel on and even a river large enough to send things on.  Imagine how slow the country would have evolved had it not been for St. Louis.

What is great about Soulard, is that there are still farmers who have been going there for the past hundred years or more!  It is still a farmers market.  I know you may come across the random person selling cd's or old clothes, but just about everyone else sells homegrown and local foods.

Now, while it is a ways off, I suggest marking your calendar as you can show up and see him, meet him and talk with him.  I see Andrew Zimmern as not only being a very nice guy, but as a guy from the Mid-West, he is looking out for other Mid-Westerners.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Seoul Taco

Even though they are driving around downtown and have a permanent spot where they have a restaurant, I don't get out much.  I work in Southern Illinois, close to South County, and while this is still close to St. Louis, it is still far away enough that it is impossible for me to drive to St. Louis and track down a food truck, one of the many, within my one hour lunch break.  Anyways, the situations and variables were all perfect this one day and I was able to take a quick detour from doing an errand for work, to find this food truck and get what I could.  The only downside was that when I finally found the Seoul Taco truck, they were out of everything except the chicken and tofu.  Still, that just means that I need to go back and try some more things another time.

Since they had the tofu and chicken, I figured it would be alright, my wife likes tofu and I like chicken.  So, I tried to get a good bunch, since this was lunch for my wife and I and I had to take it back to work.
What was really cool about visiting the food truck, downtown, was after I identified myself to them and asked if I could snap a few pictures of them and the truck, they invited me to the back door to take some pictures of what was going on inside:

These guys were all super friendly and after deciding, I ordered two of the tofu tacos, 2 chicken tacos, a chicken gogi bowl and then 2 of the kimchi slaws.  The tacos had this flavor to them.  It was a flavor which I felt like I had experience before in one of the Korean restaurants in town.  This flavor was in the sauce and in the spices on the meat.  So, you had these Korean flavors, mixed into this chicken taco on a corn tortilla with some field greens.  This was like if someone went by the Taco Grande taco truck and got some of their awesome tacos and then put this Asian twist on them.  They were delicious and for the $2.50 each for a freshly made taco with that much complex flavors that marry together well, it was well worth it.  I'd give them a 4 out of 5, so if I returned, I would order them again.
Then I got the "gogi bowl" which is basically a bulgogi bowl with rice and the mixed greens, some sauce and the grilled meat but more closely resembled a bowl of bibimbop.  The meat had the same great flavor as the tacos and it was mixed it with their spicy hot sauce and the rice and fried egg on the top.  The bowl was $7 and while consuming it, I discovered how much food really is in there for the $7.  All the meat was juicy, the greens were fresh, the sauces and spices were tasty and I had no complaints.  I'd give this one also a 4 out of 5.
Now, the last thing left was the kimchi slaw.  The slaw was thin cabbage or radishes and they were tart with vinegar and spicy and tasted like hot and spicy kimchi, to me.  To people who love kimchi, like my wife or father in law, these 1/2 cup servings were inhaled.  I'd say that is a good indication that they were a 4 out of 5.

My final conclusion is that the trip all over the city is well worth it.  The food here is good and is different enough but still uses St. Louis friendly ingredients and flavors that no one here should complain about it.  For more information on these guys, you can check out their website at  They can be seen on other sites that track food trucks, but they have their own twitter and can be tracked from their site, more efficiently.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

King of Coffee- By: Chef John Johnson

St. Louis was King of Coffee a century old tradition you may not know.

Coffee has been a long tradition in St. Louis beginning in the early 1800’s as the king of coffee St. Louis was the largest producer of coffee in the world. Finally, in the 1900 there were over 86 coffee companies in St. Louis. By boat, these little beans were brought up the Mississippi from New Orleans and beyond. Roasted and blended before being sent westward by wagon train, stagecoach, and train.

I am sorry to hear that only two serving companies are left brewing here in town. (Thomas Coffee and Ronnoco)  Ronnoco which was first O’Connor coffee before being bought out and changing its name, if you look carefully you can see that the new owners just flipped the name around. St. Louis was one of the first to flavor coffee when during a sugar shortage; they used other sweeteners such as molasses, maple and sorghum.  It truly shows the resilience of St. Louis to be able to reinvent itself over the years to the changing world.

So here I ponder finding myself, looking for a different rub for our fire roasted pork loin and this story fell into my lap. I dedicate this recipe to those who came before with creative spirits and striving for the frontier.

Coffee Chipotle Rub

¼ c your favorite blend of finely ground coffee
2 tsp ground chipotle pepper
¼ c smoked paprika
1/4tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cumin
¼ c Piloncillo Mexican sugar
1 Tbl salt
1 Tbl garlic powder
1 Tbl onion powder

Blend all items together. Then rub an even coat on all sides of the pork. Let rest for 4 hours before cooking. You can choose to roast pork over open fire on rotisserie or in 350 degree oven for 55 minutes depending on the size. Check internal temperature to 150 degrees, then pull from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Meat will continue cooking for another 5 degrees.

For more information on Chef John Johnson or to see what he has been up to, check out his Facebook page here:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What did you do....?

Come'on guys, it is days before Valentine's day and you didn't get her anything yet?  I bet someone is gonna be in trouble...  While it may be difficult to get in and even make a reservation, I bet you could still give it a try.  There is this restaurant, downtown, part of the Four Seasons Hotel, and in the Lumiere casino.  This restaurant is Cielo Restaurant and Bar.  This restaurant is located on the 8th floor, which means that with the Weather Channel forecasting that the low on Valentine's Day night will be about 28 degrees, this means that it is the perfect weather to snuggle up and be close to the one you love.  It is an Italian themed restaurant and what they are doing on Valentine's night, is letting everyone go to the terrace and write your name on a red balloon to be released and fly over the St. Louis downtown skyline.  There is Valentine's Day themed food on the menu and it does sound like a romantic idea for everyone.

Not only do you release balloons and have good food, but the hotel will donate $5 for each balloon released to Food Outreach.  So, your fun romantic evening gets better as you technically, help out your community.  Then, you get your picture taken and things start to move along.  If that isn't enough to get your love melting and you out of the doghouse, the restaurant will also be serving complimentary hot chocolate and cider on the terrace.  So now, what excuse could you possibly use to get out of this?

(Well, having children without a babysitter is one possibility and perhaps the only one I can think of.  While it would be cool if the Four Season's Hotel or the Lumiere Casino had a day care, I doubt it would happen anytime ever.)  To make reservations, please call the Cielo Restaurant and Bar at (314) 881-5800.

Here is the menu, below: 
Valentine’s Day menu at Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis
Four Courses--includes a glass of Prosecco

Shrimp, Sautéed Spinach, Cream Sauce
Eggplant Caponata, Saba, Basil Oil
Celery Root Puree, Eckert’s Apple, Pancetta, Winter Vegetables
Rotisserie Potato, Ricotta Creamed Spinach

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Scottish Arms of this year

Last weekend, while enjoying some pleasant conversation with Chef John Johnson and his wonderful wife, Maria, my wife and I tried to push some of the great selection of foods upon the two of them.  This really gives me an idea of how busy a chef can get if he has been in St. Louis for a few years and had not gotten the chance to eat at some of these better locations.  I always get happy, like a 4 year old boy who sticks his hands into paint for finger painting, the look and happiness in my eyes at sharing and recommending some food items which I love, to someone whom I know will appreciate them as much or if not more.

What I also like, as does he, is when I go places I enjoy ordering small plates and getting a feel for the flavor of a place as much as I can.  Ordering a dish or two at a restaurant gives you an idea how they do with those two dishes, but ordering 3 or more, gives you a better idea.  So, with the Chef and his wife, my wife and I tried to make some good selections and choices and here is what we did:

(First off, I want to preface this, Chef John enjoyed the food, I didn't ask nor demand what his thoughts were on the food.  It looked as if he did enjoy what was in front of him.  I do enjoy food when I eat it.  If I don't like it, I won't eat it.  When I think of things to write about it, I try to describe it in the most accurate way I can which matches what I experience.)

I will say this, sometime within the past year, the Scottish Arms has turned into more of a European Arms restaurant than just a Scottish one.  Items on the menu involving sausages, baguettes and even Italian cheeses suggest that the newer international items are there to help round out the menu.

The first thing we had ordered, was called the Highland Gathering and consists of 1 scotch egg, 2 haggis fritters, Scottish smoked salmon, 2 sausage rolls.  The scotch eggs are my favorite, with sausage and breading over a hard boiled egg, the haggis fritters are little pastry puff items with ground lamb, liver, oats, spices inside, the smoked salmon was cut slices of salmon and the sausage rolls reminded me of fancy pizza rolls.  All were delicious.  I give this sampler platter a 4 out of 5, meaning that I would order it some time for myself.

We did also get the Meat Plank, which was "spiced mixed nuts, house pickled vegetables, dried fruits, aged Irish cheddar, volpi sopressata, finocchiona salame, sopress da veneto salame".  This was a nice selection of all sorts of things and the salamis and sausages were very tasty.  I'd give it a 3 out of 5, meaning that it was good but I wouldn't eat everything on it myself.

Another item we ordered was the Currywurst Sliders, which were a homemade sausage cut in half and placed on a small hamburger bun with some onions and a curry-ketchup sauce.  I thought that these were great.  I didn't have as much trouble as some with the casing still on the sausage, as mine was tender enough for me to bite through.  The flavor of the sausage was great and a bit different but still very tasty.  The sauce was very good at playing with the sausage flavor and the onions.  The fries were cut fresh as well and cooked perfectly so there wasn't an issue where one was too crispy on the outside and one was mushy on the inside.  I'd give this one a 3 &1/2 out of 5 because it was good but I'd have to think about how I was feeling as to if I wanted them or not.
So, if you are in the area, check out Scottish Arms.  They still have a great selection of beers, whiskeys and all sorts of good stuff.

Scottish Arms on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What I would do for Mardi Gras...

Okay, I will preface this be letting you all know, I do not participate in Mardi Gras celebrations in Soulard.  I only did once, but never when I was younger.  Its not that I do not like beer or I do not like good food or admit that some of my ancestral line actually may have had some French in them, but I'm not a big wasteful drinker.  In my mind, beer should be enjoyed to a moderate level, like food.  I know and have known of people who will drink anything with alcohol, just to get drunk, then wonder around like Cain on Kung-Fu, peeing in people's yards and barging into their houses looking for more free beer.  I understand that we may now, have the largest Mardi Gras celebration, probably now larger than New Orleans, than anyone else in America.  But, we also have a lot more than just drinking.  There is this...standard thought by most people in St. Louis that if you don't go out and drink till your plastered and then tell your friends the next day of how awesome you are and how drunk you were and how many fights you were in, etc, at Mardi Gras, then you just are nothing.  I'm sorry, I'm not here for the drink.  I have beer at home and its free, I don't need to pay $4 for a beer (or whatever they cost at Soulard).

I do feel bad that I missed the Crystal Cook-off.  I was a little surprised that the chef's were not allowed to give out samples to the people who paid for the tickets, although Chef John Johnson said that even though they were not allowed, many of the chefs were handing out samples.  Chef John Johnson beat out the competition by creating some amazing dishes, including the corn dogs, which he shared the recipe with us last post.  I do like Crystal Hot Sauce and use it all over on just about everything; even thought it is not a St. Louis brand.

Anyways, coming up there are some things happening that I would look forward to and you should to:
First of all there is River City Casino Grand Parade on this Saturday.  This parade has over 130 vehicles rolling down St. Louis from the stadium to the A&B Brewery and it is a non stop party along the way.     Now, keep in mind that the parade starts at 11:00AM, and on top of that, the Weather Channel is predicting that Saturday will have a high in the low 50's, so it will be a nice jacket weather and no need to freeze your butts off like normal.  So, be sure to stake a good spot for that and bring the kids!

Also, next week after this, on the 12th, aka: FAT TUESDAY, will be the Lumiere Place Light Up The Night Parade.  This parade will start at 7pm at the corner of Washington and Broadway and continue Westward until it reaches 14th street.  All the vehicles and floats are lit up to show off the lights and colors at night.  The Weather Channel is predicting that the low on this night will be about 29 degrees, so make sure to dress warmly, get your hats, gloves and coats so you don't freeze while watching the parade.  If you don't have these things and don't dress warmly, be sure to hug or be close to a loved one.  If you fail to do that, then there is something for you on the following Thursday.

That Thursday, is Valentine's day and is perfect for you to get out of trouble with your loved one, by taking them to Cielo Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel. There you can write a special love note to your sweetheart and then attach it to a balloon and then let the balloon float up in the sky, from the roof-top terrace of the hotel.  For every balloon released between 5 and 10pm, the hotel will donate $5 to Food Outreach.  There is even a special menu available at the Cielo Restaurant. Oh yeah, I would mention the low of 28 degrees on this night, but if you have someone you love with you or you are in love, no amount of cold could bother you.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Home made corn dogs......-By: Chef John Johnson

I grew up like everyone else with the traditional corn dog. A hot dog dipped in a corn meal batter and deep fried to perfection. I later found out that the first corn dog is claimed by at least three states but I believe that it was at the Texas world's fair sometime in the 1920's is where it all began. Missourians can claim the first corn dog served in a drive in. Working in Los Angeles I was introduce to lobster corn dogs. Tasted so good with a lemon garlic aioli they served with them.

So with Mardi Gras coming up I have been playing with different types of corn dogs. Cajun spiced corn dogs, smoked gator corn dogs, andouille craw fish corn dogs. Using the recipe below as a base I challenge you to come up with your own variety of corn dogs. Hit me up on Facebook and let me try your favorite recipe.

Corn batter mix
1c      yellow cornmeal
1c      all-purpose flour
1       tsp baking powder
1/2     tsp baking soda
1/4     tsp chipotle powder
1/4c    Brown sugar
1 1/2c  buttermilk
1       8oz creamed corn
1/4c    minced onion

There's been a long time habit by chefs and home cooks alike that they need to hold tight their secret recipes, never sharing them or loosing them to time. I tell you this that when I first started working as a cook for a very talented chef in Florida I was given the opportunity to use his short rib recipe. I still have it today. It is the base for the recipe I serve at the buffet at River City today. Over the years I have tweaked it and twisted it until it became mine and now I see my cooks taking my short rib recipe for their own. I can't wait to see them 10 or 15 years from now an see how that recipe grows.

I will have the great pleasure to see how a recipe that was given to me by my mentor so many years ago has been nurtured and grown in my hands and final get to see how it changes and develops in the future. This process is how the history of food has gone since the first time someone decided to cook food over an open fire and create the first recipe.

Playing with your food is not a bad thing anymore!