Thursday, June 27, 2013

My Father's Day Present

I admit it, I tend to be hard to shop for.  I have been told that I am actually impossible to shop for because I don't really want anything, at all.  I admit, I want money, because everyone needs money, but I don't really want things like a new TV or a new game or things like that.  So, I just played it cool when my wife surprised me with a Father's Day gift that is actually cool enough that I would want it.  She got me a Bamix hand-held food processor or immersion blender.  Yeah, it is one of those things that you literally put into a pot of something and turn it on and then it blends it into whatever you need.  It is so cool that even Gordan Ramsay does a 20 something minute long presentation and demo on the product:

No, I didn't get the chrome one, I got one that is black and white.  Still though, the device comes with all of the bells and whistles that it does in the demo and it is amazing.  Last year, I purchased a Cuisinart version, which is small and about $20 and even has trouble mixing milk and peanut butter together; for my shake.  This thing, eats through anything.

It first comes with three attachments: a whisk, which can turn cold heavy whipping cream into whipped cream with stiff peaks in about 30 seconds, a beater, which can mix brownies batter in about 15 seconds, and finally a mincer, which can turn a whole pot of chopped vegetables to a pureed soup within 2 minutes.  



I understand that there is a cost difference between this Bamix and other blenders, but it is way worth it.  Had I made this same soup with a normal blender, you would have to bring the blender to the pot and scoop a bit at a time, and make sure there is plenty of water, to properly blend and then dump that out into a separate container and mix the rest.  Then you need to place it all back in the pot to reheat and get it back to where you need it to finish it.  It would have taken me about 30 minutes, just to blend.  With my new Bamix, I stick it in with a mincer attachment and let it go for 1 minute, chopping up everything big on low speed, then let it cool down for a minute.  Then I went again on full speed and was very happy within a  minute.

Now, is this awesome?  Yes.
Would I recommend this?  Yes.
Does everyone need this?  Yes.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

World's Fair Donuts

I know that this place has been here, forever, and I know that it was once listed as one of the top 10 in the nation, but this was my first time, that I can remember, getting some Worlds Fair Donuts.  This donut shop is located near Shaw Avenue near The Hill and has been making fresh donuts since 1976.  There isn't anything secret in these wonderful heaven bites.  There is no fake sugars, no high fructose corn syrup and no artificial anything.  Everything tastes awesome and fresh and light and fluffy.

The building is small on the inside.  There is no large kitchen, no huge vats of frying oil and no conveyor belt to move things through.  No group of teenagers in fancy uniforms flipping the donuts and then watching them as they move through another machine to be glazed.  Nope, this is all done in a little shop, in a little room, and all in front of you.

I've been there twice in the past month and have gotten a dozen each time.  What I have to say, is that out of the random selection I ask from them, none of the donuts have been bad.  I know it may sound like there is no such thing as a bad donut, but some donut places serve donuts that after you have the first one, the second one starts to gnaw on you and so on.  By the third or fourth donut, you realize that you are indulging in the sugar rush rather than enjoying yourself.  These donuts are not like that.  These are real and so much more tastier that you will find yourself eating and eating and soon find yourself in a donut orgasm.

So, my advise: go there and get a donut.  Jut get one, if your don't believe me.  But, you will find yourself coming back and getting more and more.  This is my second favorite donut shop in St. Louis.  So, everything I have had was a great 4 out of 5 stars as in I highly recommend it.

World's Fair Donuts
1904 S Vandeventer Ave, St Louis, MO 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Not all Hooters are the same...

I was alone with my kids last night and downtown and wanted to find a cool, clean and nice place to sit down and eat.  I also wanted a location where I know has food that they will eat as well.  I saw the Hooters downtown and after navigating  the maze of one-way streets, I found a nice spot in front of Kiener Plaza.  My two sons and I were greeting warmly by a server named Nona and we were directed to a booth close to the door.  My kids had a bathroom emergency however, and we ran back to use the bathroom then.  The bathrooms were clean, which is always a plus.

Now after we sat down and were greeted again nicely by the server, she took our drink orders and she left to fill them.  I looked at the menu when my oldest had some questions.  First of all, I think everyone from Gordan Ramsay to Robert Irvine has said this, but you don't put items on the menu that you have no intention of serving!  The Hooters here had "Kid's Liver and Onions.....$22.99" on the menu.  So, it was the bottom item on the kid's menu and at first thinking it was a joke and then doubting myself because why would there be a joke on a menu?

Nona came back to take our order and she was asked by my son about the liver and onions which she replied that it was in fact a joke.  But still, why do that on a menu?  What if someone ordered it and wanted it?  Then that someone would complain because there was something on the menu that wasn't real.  It was not a very good or well placed joke.

So, we ordered boneless wings and went on waiting.  Just like other locations, we had received our food rather quickly and it felt like less than 20 minutes.  Albeit that the restaurant maybe had 10 other people it besides us, so it shouldn't have taken long at all.  But the waiting time wasn't an issue with this; the issue was afterwards.  You see that the service at restaurants has to be consistent and when our server is super nice and greets us and checks in on us every 10 minutes at most and then stops, it sends sense that she doesn't care.  The problem was that from the front door, 3 people came in who appeared to be friends with our server.  These two women and small child, hugged Nona and Nona went and sat down at the first booth with them.  Now, I had finished my food at the time and was waiting for my children to finish their's.  But, I watched our server chat and frolic with the group she sat at the first booth.  One of the older women even grabbed and squeezed her butt in her shorts.

So, now I sit and wait, and wait, and wait as my kids finish and we wait 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes the server, Nona, gets up and walks 4 feet over to our booth and asks if we need anything else.  You know, there is a certain kind of special when you ignore a paying customer for your friends.  I bet her friends will pay and I bet they will tip, as well, but the difference is that I would likely tip more if I had better service.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Just because you won, doesn't mean you are the best

I don't really want to talk trash or spread vile rumors.  The fact is that while an institution or restaurant or chef may have won something at some point in time, doesn't mean that they forever have that power and prestige'; such as any episode of Restaurant Impossible, Mystery Diners or Restaurant Stakeout may prove. There are many episodes which had famous or world record holding chefs and restaurants whom have since then become relaxed in their work, lost their passion and thought that just because they were famous at one time, people will come back and spend money.

Along Delmar, near 170, is an Indian restaurant named House of India.  House of India was a staple for my wife and our family and whenever someone wanted great Indian food, we would go there.  It is our favorite Indian restaurant: to date.  It is just perfect.  Now, next to it, where a fabric store used to be, is a new shop. The new shop, is a Jilly's cupcake bar and cafe.  Jilly's is well known because they won on the show Cupcake Wars, in Season 3.  Now I know that they went back again in February and won another round of cupcake wars, but their food doesn't really show it.  When we went there, we picked up 3 cupcakes.  We picked up a 24 carrot gold which was a carrot cake flavored one with some dusted gold sugar on top, there was a Twisted Pink Velvet which was like a red velvet cake, there was one called the Bee Sting which has flavors of lemon and honey and finally we ordered a plain one: Simply Iced.

First off, there were some things that just didn't seem too comfortable about the cafe and experience.  First of all, it was very crowded and while that is great for places, when people left a table and no one came to clean them off and bus them, it made it look dirty inside.  Now, that we finally had gotten a table, there was 6 of us and I had to sit at a dirty and messed table and wait for someone to come by and clean it, we sat with our cupcakes and began eating and tasting.

The 24 Karot carrot cake cupcake was okay.  I'd give it a 2 out of 5, but it didn't taste anything like a carrot cake.  It had such a heavy and pronounced spice-ness to it that it tasted like a spice cake, heavy with nutmeg or allspice and cinnamon and walnuts.  If you didn't tell me it had carrot in it, I would have thought it was a banana spice cake.  It was just okay for $5, actually it wasn't worth $5.

Then there was a Twisted Pink Velvet and it tasted like the red velvet cakes that are made with cocoa powder.  It had a chocolate hint to them and was moist and good.  I'd give this one a 3 out of 5.  It was good and I'd order it again; it was also $5.

The Bee Sting was interesting because as much as I thought it would taste like honey, it tasted more like strong fake lemon flavor than anything else.  The little piped icing bee was cute and the little lemon candy shaped honey comb piece was tart and the cake seemed pretty normal and subtle.  I'd give it a 2 out of 5 and it was also $5.

The last one was the Simply Iced and was their regular iced cupcake and was $3.75.  This one was better priced and for its flavor, which was a regular vanilla flavoring, I'd say that it was still over-priced.  It had a vanilla cake and the icing was pretty normal for a Jilly cupcake.  I was expecting something grand but maybe my taste buds are not as refined because their Tahitian vanilla icing tasted just like the fresh vanilla bean icing I can make at home using the beans I buy at Costco.  The ones at Costco are from New Guinea or somewhere like that, so they taste the same to me.  Still, I'd give this regular tasting cupcake a 2 out of 5.

Here is the thing: the cupcakes all seemed normal.  There wasn't anything strange like a beer flavored cupcake with bacon or something strange that should be in a cupcake.  Furthermore, while these cupcakes are large, they are not as large as the huge cupcakes you can find at places like Sams or Costco.  I dunno.  Maybe I'm just not a cupcake snob, but I will not get there anytime soon.  This is like the trouble wine.  You need to get wine tasting experience by learning about wines and tasting wines.  But if you don't have the funds to buy wine all of the time, how can you tell which wines taste the best?  Here, at places that charge as much as a full meal, for cupcakes, makes it difficult to taste as many as I can.

If you are hungry for a cupcake and you have $5 and some change in your pocket, then go there and have one.  If you are hungry for a cupcake and you want more than 1, then go some place else.

Monday, June 3, 2013


Many years ago, my wife and I went to both the Manchester location and the Delmar location of Pi.  They were several months apart and I don't think either one of us was way too impressed with the pizza or prices. Now, recently we went back, with a large group and the 2 kids we had and 4 adults thought would be enough to get a good variety.  So, we tried an appetizer and two pizza pies.  What I did forget, was just how large those pies are.  I completely forgot that they were super thick deep dish, like a Chicago style pizza.

So, we started off with these little Pi Bites.  These things have about 6 of them and they have cheese, prosciutto and rosemary and then they were breaded with bread crumbs and then deep fried.  They were not greasy and were cooked nicely so they did not have molten lava cheese on the inside.  They were served, stacked and had a very sweet sauce on the side in a little dish.  I'd say that they were good and the price of $7.95, for 6, which is what I think a bit steep as other restaurants have entree dishes starting at that price.  I'd give them a 3 out of 5.

I then ordered the Kirkwood, which is a deep dish pizza with mozzarella, sausage, red peppers and basil and then had a gallon of red sauce on top of that.  The pizza was huge and larger than I remember.  It was thick, sweet and meaty.  I would give the Kirkwood a good 3 out of 5 stars as it seems an easy choice for a go-to pizza for everyone.

We also ordered the Delmar, which is a pizza with mozzarella, cheddar, chicken, BBQ sauce, peppers, red onion and cilantro, all in a giant deep dish pizza.  The pie was colorful and flavorful.  It tasted good and the vegetables, unlike the Kirkwood, were still a bit under cooked so they were half way between cooked and under cooked.  It was in that space between mushy and crunchy where things were sitting and left you wondering if they were supposed to be crunchy or supposed to be soft and tender.  Either way, there was a lot of flavors going on and in one case, my case, I thought that there was too many different flavors and you couldn't really taste one because it was masked by another.  I'd give this one a 2 out of 5 stars as while it was okay, I wouldn't order it again.

Now, while prices are high on the pizzas, there is definitely enough for leftovers for many days.  This isn't a Pointer-saurus, I doubt that there is anyone who can finish a whole deep dish pizza and walk out.  So, ordering one or two for a party of people is a perfect idea and gives people a choice between the two.  In an age where you can get a large pizza for $5, this does make anyone who is a bit budget conscious, to find a reason to eat here.  But, if you are looking for hormone free chicken on your BBQ pizza or organic and Amish raised, Monsanto GMO free, and no green house gassed tomatoes on your pizza and are willing to pay for it, then come here also.