Tag Archives: food

Say hello to Pappy’s!

Happy Fourth of July! Errr … I mean post Fourth of July weekend!

I don’t know about you but I was very busy. Not only was it a glorious four days off, I had friends in from out of town, which means there was a constant stream of activity – BBQs, fireworks, City Museum, bars, restaurants etc. My friend Ryan even got engaged. All in all, nothing beats a mini reunion over good food and drinks.

One of the joints that we found ourselves at was Pappy’s Smokehouse, home of the most famous BBQ in STL. Heralded as one of the 101 best places to chow down in America by The Travel Channel, expectations were high. And apparently, everyone had the same idea since we had to wait 50 minutes before placing an order and finding our seats.

The menu is very simple, similar to the plain brick facade of the restaurant and wooden tables scattered throughout the inside. The only way you would know the place is of any importance is by the pictures of celebrities and celebrity chefs peppered on the walls touting the accolades of Pappy’s.

Your options are the traditional smokehouse selection: ribs, pulled pork, chicken, brisket, turkey and sausage. For about $18, you can get a half rack of ribs in addition to 1/4 pound of another meat – in my case, brisket. Let me tell you up front, no need for the second meat. After juicy, smoky-flavored ribs, the second protein was left forgotten on the plate. The brisket was just OK and the bite I had of the pulled pork was delicious but the big daddy of Pappy’s is the rack of ribs.

Obviously, the main focus of any smokehouse is the meat but we all know that a true BBQ experience wouldn’t be complete without the sides and Pappy’s delivers in spades. All the regulars are on the roll call: baked beans, slaw, sweet potato fries, corn on the cob, green beans and applesauce. I know, I picked the same ones you would have – baked beans and cole slaw a.k.a. the best sides I’ve ever had.

Let's dive in!

Before – let’s dive in!

It’s impressive when you remember more than just the proteins from a BBQ restaurant and I guarantee you’ll remember these. The beans were very sweet, but not heavy. Soft and even a little smoky, you’re left with the perfect blend of flavors. The slaw was a keeper too. The dressing was vinegar-based versus mayonnaise, which means it was light, citrusy, and a great refreshing, bite to follow up the richness of the meat and the beans. See for yourself, I left nothing on the plate … except the brisket because I was too full.

After.

After.

And here you have it, the abbreviated review of the best BBQ joint in STL:

  • Price: $$
  • Taste: 4/5
  • Ambience: 3/5
  • Service: 5/5 – while we had to wait a little bit, everyone was very friendly, brought us samples of beans in line and checked in regularly once we sat down after placing our order. A+

Oh, and before you ask me about the BBQ sauce, know that I didn’t have much since the meat was flavorful and moist enough. You’ll have to make your ranking of Pappy’s Original, Sweet Baby Jane and Holly’s Hot Sauce when you pay a visit.

How was your Fourth of July holiday? Try any new restaurants? Where’s your favorite BBQ?

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The Perfect Taste

Disclaimer: Unless you’re from St. Louis or are planning on visiting, you probably won’t find this post very interesting. However, I’m hoping that it inspires you to explore some of the wonderful local restaurants you have in your own backyard – you never know what you’ll find! Oh, and this post is long one.

I announced a couple of weeks ago that I had moved to STL, which is how I will be referring to the Lou from now on. It’ll probably mess with my SEO – Search Engine Optimization for all you non-marketing folk, but I’m perfectly OK with it since we need to work on rebranding this city so that it’s not overrun by high school enthusiasts.

I’m not going to lie, moving from an international destination like Chicago, chalked full of museums, architectural history, and an incomparable food scene, I was nervous about my new surroundings and how it was going to affect my cultural horizons. After being here for almost a month and exploring the Gateway to the West, I’m thinking that this place might make a suitable substitute – minus my awesome friends, DMK burger and public transportation.

While on one of my STL adventures, I stopped in at Taste, an upscale bar/small bites eatery in the popular Central West End neighborhood. Unfortunately, their website doesn’t offer much information on how it started but I will do my best to convince you that the food and experience are worth any detour.

Before setting foot into taste, you’re greeted by a simple wooden door, topped with a very explicit sign so as to prevent any confusion as to where you’ve stumbled to. It would be easy to walk right by it if you’re not paying attention but on the rainy night that I found myself there, the warm candle light couldn’t have been more welcoming.

No  way you're going to get this place mixed up with anything else.

No way you’re going to get this place mixed up with anything else.

Like I mentioned, Taste is first and foremost a bar – not a bar where you go for cheap drink specials and fried food. A bar that enables you to try liquors in combinations that you will probably find strange at first. Because of the hundred classic and innovative cocktails to choose from, I won’t elaborate on them here. Instead, I’ll direct you to their menu and give the best advice I received at a similar place: try a cocktail that has an alcohol you don’t usually gravitate towards.

Now, most people treat Taste like an upscale bar with a couple of amuse-bouches to choose from. I, however, wanted dinner and decided to indulge with six items off their snacks, small plates, large plates and sweets menu.

Gremolata

Roasted curried cauliflower with anchovy chili gremolata – don’t forget the bread crumbs!

First off is the roasted curried cauliflower with anchovy, chili gremolata. I was nervous about this one since I’m not a huge cauliflower fan but consider myself a convert. It tasted a little pickled, which combined some great vinegary, sweet flavors with the freshness of the vegetable and spiciness of the curry. Add some gremolata and you now have a sharp citrus tang that cuts through all the flavors while managing to bring them all together and playing to the velvety taste of the side of aioli.

Bacon fat fried cornbread. Ugh. I want some now.

Bacon fat fried cornbread. Ugh. I want some now.

Next up, we have the bacon fat fried cornbread. For those of you that know me, you’re aware that cornbread is one of my favorite foods. Fry it in bacon fat and you pretty much have the perfect meal – I’m not joking. I could have eaten a full plate of this and asked for more. The bread is perfectly moist on the inside, surrounded by a salty, crunchy outside that creates the perfect contrast of flavors for anyone to enjoy.

Potato gnocchi with bacon, dates, snap peas and basil.

Potato gnocchi with bacon, dates, snap peas and basil.

The third stop on our culinary adventure finds us trying the potato gnocchi with bacon, dates, snap peas and basil. It sounds like a mouthful but it’s the best kind. The gnocchi is so soft and a little sweet with the hit of the dates. All of that is offset by the salty bacon or lardons, which make for a heartier bite.

Pork scrapple, brown butter, sage and fried egg.

Pork scrapple, brown butter, sage and fried egg.

Barbacoa, masa, salsa verde, red onion, queso fresco and cilantro.

Barbacoa, masa, salsa verde, red onion, queso fresco and cilantro.

The next two dishes, pork scrapple, brown butter, sage and fried egg, and the barbacoa, masa, salsa verde, red onion, queso fresco and cilantro, were not my favorites so I’m not going to elaborate on them here. They’re perfectly OK but you should save room for dessert.

Moving on to the sweets! We asked the waitress for a recommendation and after spending 45 seconds describing the churros but only saying that the “Manhattan shake” was good, we knew the choice had been made for us.

Churros, almond ice cream and chocolate.

Churros, almond ice cream and spiced chocolate.

Churros have a lot to live up to after having savored the ones served up at Xoco in Chicago, however when churros, velvet almond ice cream and spiced chocolate showed up, I dove in and didn’t look back.

These were the best churros I’ve ever had. Light, airy, sweet, dipped in chocolate. They were a little spicy but the almond ice cream was the perfect counter balance to the heat. I would go back just for those and the cornbread.

Alright, I’ve bored you enough. To streamline this process, I created a key below and will use it on any restaurant reviews moving forward (look at me and my business speak):

  • Price: $$
  • Taste: 4/5
  • Ambience: 4/5
  • Service: 4/5

So there you have it – my first STL restaurant review! How do you think I did? Anything else on the menu I should have tried? What would you have gotten?

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Friday Favs, Kansas City Edition

I hope everyone had a wonderful, relaxing holiday! I’m still on mine, which means that I haven’t been on a computer much. That’s why I’ve decided to spend this Friday telling you about some of my must-do activities when visiting Kansas City, the home of my parents and extended family. If you ever visit, I think you’ll enjoy your time in this underrated midwestern city. For all you natives, is there anything that I’ve missed? Be sure to let me know in the comments!

BBQ

Oklahoma_Joes0005

Don’t freak out but yes, the flagship location is in a gas station. It just adds to the charm!

You know me – I love to eat! So let’s start with the food. Kansas City BBQ is a staple, right up there with Chicago Pizza and New York City bagels. Pretty much any joint you decide to try will be good, like Famous Dave’s and Arthur Bryant’s. However, the general consensus is that Oklahoma Joe’s is the best. Hands down. Over the years, the restaurant has amassed quite the accolades including a spot on Anthony Bourdain’s list of “13 Restaurants to Eat at Before You Die” and Men’s Health “Manliest Restaurant in America.” The meat falls off the bones, the sauce is the perfect balance of sweet and savory and the fries can’t be beat with their signature seasoning. What more could you want? I particularly recommend the Z-Man: a decadent sandwich of brisket, provolone cheese and onion rings on a kaiser bun. My mouth is watering just at the thought.

Boulevard Brewery Tour

boulevard-4If you’re a fan of craft beer, you’ll enjoy the local brewery’s flagship offering: Boulevard Wheat, a great example of a mild, light colored beer with depth of flavor. Don’t worry, you’ll get to try the full selection but be sure to get your hands on the classic. Now, I hate to say that I have yet to go on the tour myself – it’s not for a lack of trying! For some reason they get booked up quickly, which means that you need to be on top of your game and plan ahead, something I’m clearly failing at.

The Country Club Plaza

webhome_PlazaLights_stormyThis is the Mag Mile of Kansas City. Or, if you’re unfamiliar with Chicago, the Rodeo Drive. A quaint boulevard near downtown, it houses 150 high-end shops that you’re used to finding in more urban areas. You can take a stroll through the spanish-inspired ornate buildings covered in bricks and mosaics, surrounded by fountains now synonymous with the city. I highly recommend a visit during the holidays as you’re able to feast your eyes on more than 80 miles of light. While you’re at it, be sure to stop at Topsy’s for a taste of their cinnamon popcorn!

Nelson-Atkins Art Museum

One-of-four-large-sculpture-birdies-placed-throughout-The-Nelson-Atkins-Musueum-of-Arts-Green-by-husband-and-wife-team-Claes-Oldenburg-and-Coose-van-Bruggen.-Each-birdie-weighs-5500-pounds-standing-nearly-18-feet-tall.2Sure, you wouldn’t think of Kansas City as a big destination for art enthusiasts but you’d be surprised. Often housing some of the most prestigious exhibits in the world, it boasts more than 33,000 pieces of art that frequently rotate to provide a new experience during each visit. And be sure to take full advantage of the giant shuttlecocks placed randomly throughout the property. They’re the prefect photo opp.

Power and Light District

image.aspxSo you’ve eaten, you’ve toured and you’ve shopped, which means you’re ready for a drink and some relaxing at the bar. Kansas City has done a wonderful job at revamping its Power and Light District over the past couple of years. It now consists of a covered courtyard surrounded by bars and restaurants that allow you to walk around with your beverage of choice, be it alcoholic or non. Frequently, you’ll find live music acts which just add to the ambiance and sets the scene for a good time. Cheers!

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Friday Favs

I was a little more organized this week and able to get my Friday Favs up on Friday and not use my busy schedule as a poor excuse for posting on Sunday. Lesson learned. One thing you’ll notice below is an alliteration of Gs! This was actually unplanned until I noticed that four of the topics I was talking about started with the same letter. It also helps that two things to come out of this week are from Google.

Good Music

Phillip Phillips is the man. While his debut, post-American Idol album came out three weeks ago, I was only made aware of it on Monday and have been looping it since. Most of you probably know him from the Olympics and his now memorable song “Home” that was used in commercials and highlight reels of the events. Luckily for us, the rest of his music is just as catchy, uncomplicated and easy on the ears. Unlike his reality TV show peers, he decided to stray from the catchy pop tunes an instead stay true to his more vocal and acoustic influences. Well done!

Girl and the Goat

Now picture this place filled to the brim with people.

Now picture this place filled to the brim with people.

Anyone living in Chicago or remotely interested in the culinary world has heard of Girl and the Goat. First restaurant from “Top Chef” winner Stephanie Izard, it was voted Saveur’s Best New Restaurant, received a James Beard nomination and is known for taking three months to get a reservation. I made my GATG debut earlier this week and wasn’t disappointed. The decor is very rustic with charred wood paneling, colorful artwork and pops of cotton trees. The dim lighting only heightens the intimate atmosphere, creating a cozy place to catch up with friends and dine on some stick-to-your-bones American cuisine. Served as tapas meant for sharing, you can choose from an extensive list of veggie, fish and meat platters. Between four of us, we managed to down about eight, which came to $40 per person. When you consider that you’re eating at one of the best restaurants in the country, it’s well worth it. Oh, and the Pig Face is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

Google 2012 Zeitgeist

You probably saw this video appear in your Facebook newsfeed a few times this week but just in case you didn’t, I thought I would include it here. Like I mentioned, I love the yearly recaps that are synonymous with December and this is just another example of a great one. Known for commercials that can make even grown men cry, Google explores 2012 through the abundant searches that were done on its platform. What you’re left with is a triumph of human achievement, a basket case of emotions and memories that will keep 2012 branded in your mind.

Golden Globe Nominations

Award season is starting and I couldn’t be more excited. The first to kick off this joyous time of year is the Golden Globes that released their list of nominees yesterday. While I’m not looking forward to watching all the politically charged movies (i.e. “Lincoln,” “Argo,” “Zero Dark Thirty” etc.) that usually dominate the Oscars and other prominent ceremonies, I am excited to see Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in action. This was truly a match made in heaven.

Google Maps for iOS6

4S-5047This is more of a selfish one since the day has finally arrived for me to update the software on my iPhone! iOS6 was released three months ago and while it deserved praise for its new features, it instead was drowned under criticism for its new Apple Maps application. Yes, the maps had some visually pleasing features but those fell to the wayside when people started to notice glitches (spawning a dedicated Tumblr page) and the lack of public transportation information – the #1 reason I use the app in the first place. With all that in mind, I decided to keep my reliable iOS5 until Apple could figure things out, notably fire the ones responsible for the fiasco. But, that time has finally come to an end as I am up to speed on technology! Now, if I could only get an early upgrade for an iPhone 5 …

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Friendsgiving Pt. 2

I know I’m overdue for part 2 of my friendsgiving saga but work had me running at a hundred miles a minute this week, which culminated in an hour-long new business pitch yesterday. I can now say goodbye to reviews, decks and brainstorms! A least for a while.

The Big Day

Don't be fooled by the bland colors - taste makes up for them!

Don’t be fooled by the bland colors – taste makes up for them!

As mentioned here, I started preparations on Tuesday. Cornbread stuffing, sweet potato casserole and pie were my contributions to our friendsgiving feast and I needed to get a head start if we ever wanted to eat on Thursday. I learned quickly that getting everything to be ready at the same time is probably the hardest element of planning a meal. Coordinating all my dishes with a turkey, rosemary rolls and mashed potatoes, courtesy of the Scholtz clan, was like solving a math problem where you factor in cooking time in relation to temperature and hope all your timers go off at once. In the end, good food and good friends (including a lonely neighbor) make for a delightful friendsgiving. While I missed home and family, this was the perfect way to start off a four day weekend!

The Unexpected Hit

You know you're jealous.

You know you’re jealous.

Never one to shy away from a good time, we found ourselves the next day at Medieval Times. No joke. Greeted with a flurry of “my lords” and ” my lady,” we knew we were in for an experience as we walked the drawbridge into the castle just northwest of the city. Our knight, the yellow one, didn’t win the tournament or the fairest maiden in the land’s hand, but he did provide an entertaining two hour show. I was surprised at the number of splinters and sparks that flew at the clash of lances and swords. I was not surprised at the quality of the feast. Let’s just say that the tomato bisque was more like Campbell’s tomato soup.

The Disappointing Flick

Katniss facing Bradley Cooper head on.

Katniss facing Bradley Cooper head on.

My last Thanksgiving activity was to do what so many do over the long weekend: see a movie. My first choice was Anna Karenina, which I’ll probably see this weekend, but we eventually settled on “Silver Linings Playbook.” Hailed as a must-see and Oscar contender, I went in with high expectations and walked out disappointed. The heart of the story is good, it’s the pace of the movie that’s bad. Let’s put it this way, it’s very slow and is probably more suited for Redbox!

What have you been up to as of late? Did you like “Silver Linings”? Big plans for the upcoming weekend?

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Time to Be Thankful

I’m thankful for pie – can’t wait to dive into these today!

All over the internet, Facebook and TV, you catch celebrities, friends and newscasters proclaiming what they’re thankful for. What’s great about this holiday is that it forces you to take inventory on your life and boil it down to what’s dearest to you.

At Thanksgiving, my family traditionally goes around the table and shares what we’re thankful for and since I’m not home to do it, I figured I’d use this outlet to celebrate and reflect.

Family: This one is obvious and usually comes first for most people but I’m very fortunate to have a close-knit family. All of us experienced change this year  and through it all, we supported each other with long phone calls and an abundance of laughter.

Friends: Having spent three years in college, more than 2,000 miles away from familiar surroundings, I had to rely on other people, namely my friends, to be my support and my home away from home. Luckily the relationships that I cherished at that time are still alive and well today – crazy to think that I’ve known some of them for close to eight years now! I’m also extremely lucky that I’ve been able to make close friends since graduation. My friend Alison wrote about her love for these cities but more than what those cities have to offer, it’s the people living there that make them all the more precious. Thank you, friends! You keep me on my toes.

And that’s it! I know my list is short but when you have those things, what else do you need? With that, I’m off to chow down on some sweet potato casserole, stuffing and pie. Notice the missing turkey because we all know that sides are the best …

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Friendsgiving Pt. 1

This year, I’m not going home for Thanksgiving but I’m not letting it get me down either. Instead, my roommate, his sister and I are holing ourselves into our small apartment and gorging on our own feast, complete with wine pairings.

Now, if I had left this to my roommate, everything would be store-bought and fantastically artificial.

You think I’m joking but he really did send around an email stating that if we didn’t commit to cooking some items, he would just buy them. Yep, sounds like the worst, most unthanksgiving Thanksgiving ever.

After divvying up most dishes between his sister and me, my roommate bought the turkey and, as I told my mom, will “stick it in the oven and hope for the best.” Cross your fingers, say some prayers and wish him luck that he doesn’t burn down the apartment and that we have an OK bird to eat tomorrow.

You might be wondering why part one of this saga is coming to you on Wednesday. Well, I had to get a head start on cooking since some ingredients to the overall dishes require a little prep and pre-cooking themselves. Any ideas what I’m using pecans and cornbread for? Let me just say that they’re definitely going to be the stars of the night.

Things to expect over the next couple of days – or week, depending on how long it takes me to write: family favorite recipes, a fantastic Friendsgiving recap and an overall good time.

What are you looking forward to for Thanksgiving? Going home or Friendsgiving it up?

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