Category Archives: St. Louis

The Hub’s Birthday Weekend = Lots of Breweries

My good friends in St. Louis planned the most fun day for my husband’s birthday – Anheuser-Busch Brewery tour plus a pub crawl of four smaller local breweries, then off to an (upscale) BBQ joint.  The hub’s about burst from contentment and happiness.  Here’s a quick run-down:

ANHEUSER-BUSCH BREWERY

At the giant Anheuser Busch Brewery, we first did a “beer school” to learn about different beers, food pairings, and proper pouring techniques.  From there, we started the actual brewery tour – which is free!  The brewery is beautiful and huge.  You get to see the Clydesdales,  the beer brewing area, the bottling plant, and some of the grounds.  It is unbelievable the amount of beer that place produces.  Definitely worth checking out.  Plus, you get two free beers at the end. Score!

Giant tanks of beer at AB Brewery waiting to be bottled

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A Winter Farmers’ Market

Usually about mid January, during the bleak winter months, I start getting antsy for the Farmers’ Market to return in May.  But, January to May is a long stretch, normally void of quality produce that has not been trucked/flown in from hundreds/thousands of miles away.   Luckily, St. Louis has started doing a monthly farmers market on Saturday mornings during some of the winter months (just another wonderful thing about St. Louis!), and now I can get my veggie fix even in the middle of a dark, cold winter.

The market is housed inside Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood and I’m guessing there are around 20 vendors.  It can get a bit crowded and congested, but the plus of having it there is knowing after fighting the crowds you can sit down at the bar at Schlafy and order a morning snack of a Bloody Mary. Ahh…alcohol and produce in the morning…what a great start to a Saturday!

The main room of the market at Schlafly

A few highlights –

Blue Heron Orchards:  We picked up a jar of roasted red and green jalapenos.  Sweet and spicy, but not overly so.  I see marinated flank steak tacos with guacamole and these jalapenos in my future very soon.  Plus, the owner was nice enough to offer me a sip of his beer when I showed signs of concern over the spiciness of the peppers when I took my sample.

Grandma’s Nuts:  They sell these little snack packs of mixed nuts with dried fruit and dark chocolate that are perfect for my “snack time” – about 2:30 everyday at work.

Ozark Forest Mushrooms: LOVE this one!  Dried and fresh mushrooms – Chanterelle, Oyster, Shiitake, even Morels at times.  (Mushroom risotto, anyone?) And, they sell some some of the most delicious butter ever – Truffle Butter. If you have the chance to buy some, do so immediately!

Ozark Forest Booth

Black Bear Bakery:  I believe they have an actual bakery in St. Louis that you can visit, but they sell their products at several of the farmers’ markets in town.  Today’s purchase was granola, but in the past we have had several of their breads and pastries – all of which have been awesome.  They also sell these  little pizza-like things (perfect for a late breakfast), with some seasonal toppings.  I think past ones we have tried have been tomato, basil, and mozzarella and I’m thinking we had a roasted red pepper and artichoke one once.

Black Bear Bakery

Marcoot Jersey Creamery:  This place is becoming my new favorite.  Several styles of cheeses – cheddar, tomes, Goudas,  soft cheeses, flavored cheeses, curds, and butter, too.  Turns out, I’m also seeing grilled cheese in my future…

Say "cheese!"

The Moms Birthday Weekend

My husband and I’s mothers’ birthdays are back to back – making this year’s fall on this past Wednesday and Thursday.  To celebrate, we decided a weekend eating in STL was in order.  My mother lives in St. Louis, and Zach’s mother lives on our way there. So, on Friday after work, we headed off for the big city, scooped up Zach’s mom, and were on our way.  St. Louis is truly a great place with so much to offer – great food, awesome music, always something to do.  Every time we visit we contemplate if/when we will move there.  But, as per almost always, we had some good eats and I thought I would share.

Winslow’s Home

For breakfast Saturday, we ventured off to  Winslow’s Home.  There were 5 of us.  I had asked my good friend to join us as well, but she declined, stating it was often times very packed there and sometimes a cluster, and she was afraid it might make seating our party even more difficult.  With this info, I became a bit apprehensive, but things turned out fine as we waited maybe 5 minutes to find ourselves a table.  It being our first time there, it was a bit confusing walking into the establishment as 1. It was packed.  2. It is not just a restaurant/cafe, but also a general/grocery/wine store and there are items for sale EVERYWHERE, causing a bit of a hodgepodge/garage sale/WTF type feeling.  3. There is no clear signage nor employees addressing new customers  to let them know how to proceed  to satiate their hunger.  Luckily, our group pressed on, and we quickly corralled a table  and made our way to the counter to place our orders.

All went well!  (And the garage sale feeling wore off soon, and I ultimately decided Winslow’s was actually very cute and I loved the pressed tin ceiling.) Food came quickly and was delicious.  My husband had the breakfast sandwich and this day’s was egg and cheese with bacon and spinach on foccaia.  Tasty!  The egg was thick yet fluffy, and the bacon was good quality – thick slices with just the right texture.  My egg Frittata was AMAZING!  It had pulled pork with sliced brie topped with spinach tossed in a horseradish dressing.  The pulled pork made the dish.  It was tender, smoky, and sweet.  The meat did almost border on too sweet, but the melty brie and zing of the thick horseradish dressing cut it just right.  I was definitely a member of the clean plate club upon finish.  Though I did ask the cashier for a recipe for the pork, my  plea went unheard and  I will have to make do with just returning for a sandwich of it, as she suggested.

The infamous Pulled Pork and Brie Frittata

Aya Sofia

For dinner, we ventured to Aya Sofia.  I had been here for brunch in the past, and had been wanting to try dinner for some time.  We were not disappointed.  We made early reservations for our party of 7, and the place was fairly quiet when we arrived, but by the time we left around 7:30 pm, the joint was kicking.  For starters, we had the Biber Ezme, a roasted red pepper dip with garlic and breadcrumbs served cool/at room temp.  I was concerned it would come with too much of a raw garlic flavor, but I needn’t worry.  It was sweet, balanced, and light – slathered on the warm pitas they provide, it was perfect.  We also ordered the Anatolian Mezze Platter – goat, feta, and a Parm like cheese, with olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, and basil.  The goat cheese was some of the creamiest I have ever had.  Sometime goat cheese can become almost too tart in a way, but Aya’s was fantastic.

For dinner, I had the special – whose Greek/Turkish-type name I have no recollection of.  But, it consisted of a puree of eggplant with mozzarella cheese with some very tender beef stew on top.  It was a solid dish and I was fairly pleased, but nothing to write home about.  The hubs had the Kuzu Incik – braised lamb shanks.  The hubs is a sucker for lamb and almost always orders if it is an option.  He said he felt it was cooked perfectly.  I think he was so mesmerized by the tenderness and flavor of the lamb shank that he practically forgot about the rice and beans it came with.

Biber Ezme (Roasted Red Pepper Dip)

In all, everything was a pretty solid two thumbs up.  The decor at Aya Sofia is very cute – reds, purples, very plush and soft.  I’m dying to try out happy hour in the summer months on their patio that looks great.  Our server was on the ball the whole evening, and we waited for nothing.  We did the “house” wine they seemed to be pushing quite hard to sell as a bottle of it was on every table for advertising type purposes, but we were pleased with it.  Nothing stellar, but it did its job. An Argentina Malbec Mendoza running  $32 – we went through two bottles.

Also –

We stopped at 3500 Winehaus to meet some friends for a pre-dinner drink.  I’m very pro this place as I feel it is just what the South Hampton neighborhood needs, but in the grand scheme of wine and food, it is nothing to really go out of your way for.  It is very pretty, with a great front and back patio that can be used year round (and a fire pit, too!).  The wines are priced so that you can do retail or drink there without a corkage fee and the selection is average.  You also have the option of a few beers and some liquors.   The food is very basic, but they are not in any way trying to reinvent the wheel.   Though this sounds a bit negative, it really isn’t.  It is a good neighborhood gathering spot just to enjoy some drinks or nibbles in an atmosphere that is not your typical bar while not being at a full-scale restaurant.  Thought I’m not doing backflips over my food and wine choices there, I am already looking forward to sitting outside in the welcoming patio there getting a buzz on with my friends when the weather gets warm.

Lastly-

We did not order dessert at Aya Sofia because we picked up a cake from Lubeley’s Bakery to have at home. If you have not had any sweets from this place yet, go now.  I think they have been around forever, they are not doing anything new or trendy, but they are good.  Like, consistently good.  Like, maybe I’ll have just one more small slice good.  Like, I think I’ll have another piece of cake for breakfast the next day good.  We had a yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  Sounds  boring, right?  Not the case one bit.  It has literally about 5 layers of cake with chocolate filling, the cake is ridiculously moist, and it is finished with the most creamy, rich icing.  You can’t get enough.