Breakfast at the Birdeye Store, Birdeye Ark.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Friday, May 14, 2010

A few weeks ago I had to go home on my lunch hour and get a foster dog and take her to the clinic to go with her family. I invited Julia Gardner to ride with me and have a quick lunch at the Birdeye Store. We arrived to a "come and go" style crowd and was pleasantly surprised to see Herman Damron behind the counter cooking fish. I sat Julia down, she is 96 in two months, and went to the counter to order up our food. The grill was broken but Friday was catfish day. This is a usual menu item around town and is most famous at the community hospital cafeteria that gets rave reviews. We had to choose from the fish or a cold deli sandwich. She had a ham sandwich and I the fish. We enjoyed the quiet store and our unsweet tea and coffee. I've had lunch at the store, just blocks away, only a few times. I loved our lunch and conversation that day and have been meaning to add photographs of her. By the way it wasn't a quick lunch, when we went to get the dog, she wanted to come in and see the remodel, done 2 years earlier. This stop took us the longest, I was praying she wouldn't fall up the steps like I did last fall breaking my hand. Meanwhile back at the ranch, it was a 2 hour lunch but she talked about it for weeks after. You'll love the Birdeye Store. The fish and hushpuppies were excellent and I loved the Louisiana Hot Sauce already on our table.

My original review is below:

July 22, 2009

It was great having Counts Louise Smith Shanks in town for a sleep over with Chloe. Counts Elizabeth and Chloe are a great pair of cousins, they just pick up where they left off. Wednesday morning we loaded up in the car that rainy day and headed to Chloe's favorite breakfast spot. Only a quarter of a mile away, it was my second culinary visit to the rustic kitchen and store. Chloe strutted on in while the rest of us needed a little time to figure out where to order and sit. The place was empty when we got there which is good with three children eight and under. The sweet lady asked Chloe, "you want the usual hon?", I thought now this is what small town America is all about. Chloe shyly said, "yes, ma'am". That was a pancake and sausage with Gatorade. Yes, I said Gatorade. Chloe's thrill in life is to go to a cooler and pick a drink out. Last time we were in there she picked a Yahoo, which is canned chocolate milk. But in a cooler with Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew, Gatorade wasn't that bad a choice, I keep telling juices by the way. Chloe, Counts Elizabeth and Ally are great-great-grandaughters of WM Smith.

Counts Louise and I got the biscuits and gravy and I loved mine. Very fresh and I didn't feel bad adding more salt and pepper. The girls loved their sausage patties, I am glad they weren't links, and the pancake syrup was an easy pour that they could handle themselves. Ally enjoyed her bacon and sausage, no pancake for her.

Several patrons came and went while we were there, a highway department truck full men and Bob Stafford, who lives nearby and who I hired to till my garden for several years until I had raised beds installed this spring. Bob is really a nice, southern man who takes care of Lee Wyatt. Lee was help in the WM Smith home and is the same age as Ann Quessenberry, the last living child of WM.

We enjoyed our no-frills breakfast. By the end of our breakfast, Chloe had her two cousins in the office on the tricycle and rolling a pop up ball. You can't do that in just any store but we were glad to be in this one just down the street. Chloe and her daddy eat here a lot on Saturdays I work and they brag on the grilled cheeses and burgers and the fried pies, yes, call ahead and get one in your favorite flavor. My sister-in-law has had many catfish meals catered from the store. It's all good in Birdeye.

Birdeye Store, 4377 Hwy 42, Birdeye, Ark., 870-588-4484

Homemade Pizza, Birdeye

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Night Tradition

Yes, after a busy weekend of usually working, nothing pleases me more than pulling out a frozen pizza dough and making a creation. Yes, I said frozen, homemade dough. My brother-in-law Martin started this tradition years ago and shared it with me. I make my usual yeast rising dough and do a 6-time recipe so I can have four doughs. I have a low fat recipe I have been homemaking for 15 years and I like it because it can be ready to rise in about 25 minutes. Once it rises, I separate it into four balls and squeeze, literally squeeze, them into quart size freezer zipper bags and date. Once it's been frozen, I thaw in the microwave 30-60 seconds and roll out on a lightly floured surface and bake. Below is the recipe for one dough. You can double it for a big pizza or six times it for four large doughs.

Pizza Dough

1 package yeast
1-1/3 to 1-3/4 C. flour
1/2 C. warm water, 120-125 degrees (I microwave it 2-3 min and put a candy thermometer in to test it. If it's too hot or cold it will mess up the dough, trust me, I've done it before)
1/2 t. salt
2 t. veg oil

Preheat oven to 425.

In a mixing bowl, stir 1 c. flour, yeast and salt. Add warm water and beat on low speed 30 seconds, scrapping the bowl down. Mix on high speed 3 minutes. Then add the remaining flour and turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead for 6-8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm part of kitchen, when is a kitchen not warm?, for 10 minutes.
Flour surface again and roll out with pin and place on pizza stone, turning up sides for crust. Prick dough many times with fork and bake 12 minutes at 425. Remove from oven and add pizza sauce, cheese, pepperoni and mushroom (or whatever topping you prefer). Bake additional 12 minutes.
Cool 10 minutes before cutting. Store leftover pizza in a zipper bag for 3-4 days.

Pizza Sauce, my style.

For one crust:

1 8oz. can tomato sauce, no substitutions, I've tried all of them.
1 generous t. Italian Seasoning
1 t. garlic powder, not garlic salt

Mix in a microwave safe bowl 3 minutes until really hot. Add to pizza crust after it's half baked on a stone.

Viking Cooking School, Greenwood, Miss. July 18, 2009

Our tradition of a girls weekend emerged three years ago with a trip to New York City then Fayetteville and now Greenwood, Mississippi. We stayed at the fabulous Alluvian Hotel in downtown Greenwood. This southern style boutique hotel is really something. We had adjoining rooms on the fourth floor which was perfect since the breakfast buffet that comes with the room was on our floor. We all commented that it was like our sorority houses in college, we kept the door open the whole time and enjoyed late night talking and pizza eating, yes, they brought that tradition back as I got some much needed shut eye. Every morning we enjoyed the breakfast buffet that was blessed with grits, southern potatoes, fritata, eggs and bacon. I loved the homemade granola and fruit and especially those grits. We loved sitting outside on the terrace and enjoying the sunshine. We also used the terrace before going to the cooking school for some cheese and crackers brought from room 409 and a cocktail from the manager's reception in the lobby.

The Viking Cooking School is located across the street from the Alluvian and a new facility where our demonstration class was held was just a few short blocks away. Our culinary weekend was with Chef Ken Smith, of the Upperline restaurant in New Orleans, and Julia Reed, author of "Queen of the Turtle Derby". The Viking Store gives participants 10% off anything in the store so some of us shopped before the demonstration class. I bought Chloe a kids utensil set that had a rolling pin, whisk, spatula, measuring spoons and cups. Kara bought fabulous feather pillows and was thrilled with the $40 price for the king plus our discount. I also bought a new cutting board I'll report on soon and some Pistachio's for Jackie. Mary Margaret bought the Jack, which was served with this baked cheese dip with Frito's at the front desk, which we all were thrilled to partake. This dip is sharp cheddar, cream cheese, sour cream, topped with bacon (yes, makes me gag too) and green onions then top with the Jack syrup (I think you can leave this off). It was darn good if I don't say so myself. She also bought a scraper/cutter that Kara recommended. I was about to buy a butter kettle but wasn't sure about it and its $35 price tag and when the girl helping us said that I can leave my butter at room temperature for a week, I didn't get it. I learned something new and am going to try this technique. I've been tired of buying the lite spreadable stuff that has all the polyunsaturated chemicals that are bad for you. I'll report on this new idea soon.

Our demonstration class cost $85 each which included a four course meal and all the wine and champagne you wanted. It was about four blocks from the hotel and we all cringed when the bellman offered us a ride in the shuttle, we all agreed it should be a sin to ride instead of walk the easy four blocks. Plus we beat the shuttle there! The demonstration building was something else!! We were seated on the side on two top tables we could see the tv display and most of the kitchen. Our girl Swayze seated us there and said they were great seats but we preferred being in the middle so we could at least hear what Chef Ken was saying. Nevertheless, we shut up those comments when the champagne arrived. When we were getting seated, Swayze asked Beth who would like to do a demonstration and she said me and Alexis would. What a surprise when my name was called, I was just getting aclamated with the place. I got to help him make the Southern Pecan Pie which featured browned butter and a Bourbon Vanilla, both of which made that pie better than any pecan pie I'd ever had. He browned a whole stick of butter over high heat then slowed it down a bit, and it made a unique butter flavor in the air. When we got to the dessert, Kara and I thought that butter was the key to the sweet pie as was the thick Bourbon Vanilla, it was caramel in color and almost as thick.

Alexis got to help with Oysters St. Claude. She looked so good up there making it. Benton is a huge fan of Oysters and she loved facebooking a picture of the appetizer to him. Now that was really good and Beth found a pearl in her oyster, we couldn't believe it then she realized the next morning she left it on the plate!! Recipe:

Oysters St. Claude

4 lemons, thinly sliced, no seeds
1 C. garlic cloves, peeled
1 bunch parsley, chopped
3 T. Worcestershire sauce
4 T. paprika
2 T. Tabasco, no substitutions
1/2 t. white pepper
12 ounces unsalted butter, melted

Puree all ingredients except butter until smooth.

Add puree to butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir until garlic is softened. Don't burn, it should be dark red and thick.

Add salt, spoon on top of fried oysters. Keep at room temperature for 3-4 hours or store in refrigerator.

Lightly Fried Crispy Oysters

1 pint P&J oysters
2 C. corn flour, not corn meal
1/2 C. flour
1 T. salt
1 T. pepper

Drain oysters and check for shell bits, drain liquid.

Mix corn flour, flour, salt and pepper.

Dredge oysters in flour mixture, shake off excess flour.

Deep fry in hot oil 350 degrees until brown and crispy, DO NOT OVERCOOK, drain.

Serve 3-5 oysters per person, top each oyster with about 1 T. St. Claude Sauce. Serve with French Bread.

Can I say, it was divine? WOW, and the oysters were fabulous!

Mary-Margaret got to demonstrate the salad. She made Southern Ranch Dressing, which cracked us all up because Kara and I lectured the night before at the hotel restaurant that we never and I mean never, use bottled salad dressing, we always make our own vinaigrette. Then what? MM makes homemade ranch, we loved it. And it was very tasty over the iceberg wedge salad with tomatoes.

For dinner, we had Petite Filet with butter, garlic and parsley sauce. It was really good coming from someone who doesn't ever eat steak these days. I just ate a bite but it was good and the girls loved it.

You know my thoughts on the dessert, divine. Every one of us loved the class and the autographed books by Julia Reed. We all wished she had on a mic, we couldn't hear her very well but we all had a ton of fun and enjoyed our walk back to the hotel and Viking Store to get that discount.

The Alluvian and Viking Cooking School is a must. It's a hidden secret in Middle Mississippi, shops, food, spa and hotel accommodations. Divine, that's for sure.

Viking Cooking School, 325C Howard, Greenwood, Mississippi, 38930, 866-451-6750

Veronica's Bakery, Greenwood, MS July 18, 2009

We took the recommendation of the fabulous Alluvian Hotel and walked two short blocks to Veronica's Bakery for lunch. Some of us had spa appointments that morning and the others had been shopping on Howard Street that morning. There are several dress shops, antique shops, a fabulous bookstore, a children's store and of course the Viking store which sits across the street from the Alluvian. The small shops were all really fun to shop in, everyone was so friendly and had southern charm. It really beats the shopping in Chicago and New York.

When we walked into the bakery, a nice lady was in the lobby reading the paper and a lady behind the counter welcomed us and passed us menus. You order at the front desk, take a number and pick a table. The restaurant was so charming with high ceilings and had a cabinet full of pictures of wedding cakes and a cake to purchase in the shape of a handbag, very cute. The counter we ordered from was full of eclairs, carrot cakes and other sweet temptations. The lady with the newspaper stood up and began telling us about the specials and other items on the menu, she turned out to be the cook. She recommended the quesadilla and the cuban sandwich, which Kara ordered. I ordered the feta and tomato sandwich with fruit. The sandwich was really divine, it was panini style and I had them add avocado and hold the mayo. It was really great, the feta was somewhat melted and the avocado was perfectly ripe and you can't say that about avocado just anywhere.

Kara's cuban sandwich was great, she reported. Mary-Margaret ordered the chicken salad croissant with homemade chips. She liked her sandwich and couldn't keep us all off her plate of chips, they were good and everyone of us was devastated we didn't order the chips. When our waitress came back for drink refills we asked if we could get a basket of them and she said it would be a minute since they are cooked to order. Let me say, you have to order them. They were that good. Sarah Jane and Beth both had the quesadilla with salsa and they really liked it too. I should mention the table Alexis found for us, it was a table that was against a wall and had a door to it and it was like we were in a reserved room. It was perfect for the six of us. We needed a door on our table because before long we got louder, laughing about our conversations the night before, our children and about what the boys might be doing. It was nice to have that privacy, even though the room didn't have a roof on it so I am sure our voices floated over the whole restaurant. It was packed when we left an hour and a half later. The service wasn't slow, we just sat around and talked and enjoyed the stories. The tea was exceptional as well.

When we paid our bill we noticed the front cabinet had new items like blonde brownies and chocolate cake slices. Alexis and I got a brownie and cake to go and we all shared it on our way out the door. The brownie had a flour and butter crust and had corn flakes in it, talk about divine. Two bites later, I had to pass it around or I'd eaten the whole thing.

Next time you're in this part of America, or Mississippi, you've got to try Veronica's.

Veronica's Bakery, 222 Howard, Greenwood, Mississippi 662-451-9425

Vin de Set, St. Louis, July 11, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Jackie and I drove to St. Louis after work Saturday to see Sheryl Crow play a concert at the arch for the MLB All Star weekend and to celebrate our 16th anniversary. The town was totally decked out in signs and banners and the streets were filled with more vendors than I have ever seen. All Star everywhere!! We found out about Vin de Set at the St. Louis Brewer's Heritage Festival. It's a rooftop restaurant that overlooks downtown and the Arch in the distance. We took an $8 cab to the restaurant and were promptly seated on the roof under the awning. There had been a down pour an hour earlier and all the tables were covered up, the waitstaff quickly got things dry and in working shape. We were pleasantly seated in the shade and loved our little nook on the patio.

Jennifer was our fabulous waitress and so knowledgeable. First off, I needed that appetizer I shame all my friends and family about because I had a low blood sugar. So I quickly asked if the Roasted Eggplant Flatbread had any carbs. It was highly recommended by her and it was out of that kitchen before our cocktails. It was topped with arugula, olive oil and kalamata tapenade, very light and full of flavor. Jackie ordered the French 75, a combination of gin, champagne, lemon juice and lemon mariner. He was a little embarrassed when it came out in a champagne glass. It did look a little girly with its lemon rind. I ordered the house Cabernet, it was dry and oaky. The view from this rooftop restaurant was from the west side of the city overlooking downtown and the arch. It was beautiful.

For dinner I ordered one of the specials, Grouper served with fiddle head fern, which was described as a super green food. It looked like a long pea curled up like a real fern. It was really tasteless but had a crunchy, meaty feel to it. I ate most of them! The grouper was perfectly cooked and topped with sauteed beets and red peppers. Very good and the perfect size.

Jackie ordered the tomato bisque which was a hot, creamy soup that Jackie said was really a winter soup. He was right, it was hot outside but the soup was thick and flavorful. He ordered the Grilled Versailles, MO Trout served with asparagus, coconut milk, buerre blanc and mango relish. He likes trout and this did not disappoint.

For our anniversary celebration we ordered the Marscapone cheesecake with an apple and caramel topping. It was really creamy and sweet. I loved the apple and caramel twist to it. We both really enjoyed our easy evening on the roof at Vin de Set.

The photo is of Sheryl Crow under the arch. It was a wonderful concert that featured songs from her debut album and recent hits. My Favorite Mistake, Soak Up The Sun, Gasoline, Angels, Winding Road, Home and Love is Free to name a few of the songs she played. Her guest was Elvis Costello, who I had never heard before, he was good too.

Vin de Set, 2017 Chouteau Ave., St. Louis, MO 314-241-8989

Rocky's Corner, Hot Springs, Ark.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Kara's Favorite!

Rocky's is located right across the street from Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. This fine restaurant boasts Chicago Style Pizza, Italian sandwiches and other Italian specialties like vienna hot dogs. This is Kara's favorite pizza place in Hot Springs and was a must while in town. On the way from Magic Springs Waterpark, we called in our pizza at Chloe and Whit's request, they were starving at this late 1:30 pm hour. Chloe only wants a cheese pizza and Kara knew to order the Knockout. The Knockout features Italian sausage, pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers and tomatoes. She has to have green olives on half this pie, by the way.
So by the time we arrived at Rocky's, Whit was passed out in the 3rd seat but we plucked him right on up and into the place. When the waitresses saw our crowd, they quickly pulled tables together where else than the back of the restaurant. Chloe and Whit quickly took a four top, bar stool height, table away from us and ordered up pineapple and cranberry juices, alrighty then.
The rest of us shared some Cabernet and pitchers of New Belgium Fat Tire. Kara ordered toasted ravioli, yes, cringing here, and talked Jeanie and I into ordering their small house salad which was divine I might add. This iceberg lettuce salad has a really good vinaigrette dressing and artichokes. Very good and amazing because Kara hates iceberg lettuce.
The pizza arrived before the salads did but we expected this. The cheese pizza for the kids was perfectly thin and they tore it up. The pizza's are served on cake stands and the kids loved standing up in their chairs and serving themselves at the no adult table. The Knockout was great and I loved the green olive addition. The pizza although round, is cut like tick tack toe. So the pieces were small which is great and the dough in not Chicago style like Gino's in Chicago. It was ordinary pizza dough, but good nonetheless.
Stella was passed out in Kara's arms in the end as we finished off the pizza and beer. I have always liked Rocky's and enjoyed our friendly waitress who was attentive and nice to share the ravioli's weren't homemade but the pizza crust is.

Rocky's Corner, 2600 Central Ave., Hot Springs, Ark., 501-624-0299

The Pancake Shop, Hot Springs, Ark.

Good Morning! July 4, 2009

Saturday morning of our family vacation, we all eased our way across the street from the Arlington Hotel to our favorite breakfast place in Hot Springs. Jackie and I have been patrons of this legendary shop for over 17 years. There is sure to be a wait at this small breakfast only restaurant. A wait there was and waiting on Central Avenue is really not a problem on our cool July morning. We finally made our way through the dining room to the back, which is fitting with three children eight and under. I have to say my usual breakfast is nothing but Killough's blueberries, a good cupful, with Grapenuts and coffee every day. So when you mention a pancake to a diabetic, it does send chills down my arm. "Buck up little camper", is a saying Jackie uses on me when I am out of my comfortable surroundings involving food. Everyone at our table ordered pancakes, Buckwheat and Blueberry, and eggs and sausage. I had to order grits with blueberries and one egg and wheat toast. Lame I know, but I didn't want my sensor to alarm everyone if I'd climbed to a reading of over 200!
We had a great, informative waitress that was quick with coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice, as well as fresh butter, not pats, and a full bottle of maple syrup. Within minutes we had our food and all new better to have ordered only one pancake. One pancake filled the entire plate and a good 1/4 inch thick and cooked to perfection. Wow, I had a bite of Jackie's blueberry pancake and that was enough for me, it was delicious and sweet. If I had realized the toast came buttered I would have ordered it dry as it glistened with plenty of that condiment.
We also figured out never to order for chidren here, there is always so much left over that will satisfy these young ones. For instance, a sausage order is 2 thin but very large pieces and one egg is really two.
It averages $8.00 a person at this fine morning establishment. I did notice it was $1.55 for coffee and was glad that included my 3 refills of the hot joe. Their coffee could have been stronger for my palate.
The Pancake Shop is a must in this racing town. It never disappoints.

The Pancake Shop, 216 Central Ave., Hot Springs, Ark., 501-624-5720

Rolando's, Hot Springs, Arkansas

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th of July Family Vacation

My fabulous sister-in-law and I decided to take our 3rd annual family vacation to Hot Springs this year after discussing many other destinations. I have a warm fuzzy feeling for Hot Springs every March during racing season when Jackie, Chloe and I go for the Thoroughbreds and fun at the race track. Hot Springs during the summer was a first for me. Kara is a huge massage and spa queen so we booked rooms at the Arlington, a historical hotel built in 1924. About twenty years ago the hotel got a makeover but none since as we noticed when we could hear the tv next door to us, the dripping sink and the scuffs on the woodwork in our room. But I love the Arlington and I love its lobby bar that brags of its Friday and Saturday night big band music and ballroom dancers.
Under Kara's direction, we walked across the street to a mexican restaurant she recommended. We were sat in the front room and had to wait for just a few before the table for nine was built. Central avenue is a great tourist street and we enjoyed waiting outside on the sidewalk. We all noticed a sign about Happy Hour on the patio at Rolando's so Jeanie and the boys quickly went upstairs to check it out. The patio was really neat featuring a deck against the hillside surrounded by trees. It was shaded and cool out there.
We were pleasantly surprised by the fabulous menu at Rolando's. Entrada boasted a menu of Guacamole, Tamales, Queso Flamado, Spcicaldo de Pollo, Sopa de Camarones among others. With chips and a homemade corn salsa already on our table, I did cringe when Kara ordered Guacamole as an appetizer. Much to my dismay, I really liked the gauc and its seasoning which I think was cumin, lime and definately red onion. Under Plato Principal we were overwhelmed with the choices of LuLa's Enchiladas, Guacatastada, Esnsalada De Le Casa and El Plato Cubano. Jackie ordered the Lula's Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas featuring black beans and brown rice. The plate looked like a piece of art decorated with sour cream, parsley and a tomatillo sauce. I had a bite and I will say it was divine.
Mother-in-law Jeanie ordered the Guacatosta, guacamole served on corn tostadas which cheese, vegetables, Argentinean sauce and sour cream with black beans and rice. Another piece of artwork nearly licked clean.
Martin, Harmon and I ordered Pescado de Mesias. It generally bothers me that three of our nine patrons ordered the same thing but I decided after seventeen years, why should I change my order? The Tilapia was really, really good. It was seasoned and grilled to perfection. It was a huge plate I will say, somewhat overwhelming. I had two tilapia fillets over black beans and rice sprinkled with cheese and sour cream. The third work of art at our table. Kara ordered the Ensalada De la Casa which was hand tossed greens with mixed vegetables, cucumbers, red onions and Argnetinean sauce topped with gaucamole and mango sauce. Yes, another work of art. Have I mentioned what Chloe had? She picked Andrew's Favorite, chicken tenders and beans and rice. This was a fabulous plate for our 8 year old. The chicken wasn't fried out of a fry daddy. It was a boneless, skinless chicken breast seasoned and sauteed to perfection. It was served over black beans, the rice was served on the side. She loved it and shared a bite for all of us. It was a good meal for her and a good experience to eat what you don't expect. She didn't even ask for ketchup.
My tilapia was so good and I have to confess I had to try the tamales at this authentic latin-mexican restaurant so I did order the appetizer portion of tamales to split with Jackie and they were really good. The handmade pork tamales were steaming in the husks and the mesa was just thick enough. Even the tamales were art on a plate surrounded by tomatoes and sour cream.
You can't truly experience a restaurant with Chloe and not order dessert. She got the Molten Lava Cake with ice cream. And it was that, molten lava chocolicious.
I didn't mention the heat in the restaurant but by the time we were all finished with our dinner, we were all sweating bullets. It was warm in there and the front door of this restaurant was open the whole time. The bulding was built the early 1800's on a hillside in the downtown historic district. Kara and I admired the 15 foot ceiling featuring painted metal tiles.
I love mexican food and Rolando's is a must when you're in Hot Springs. It put Happy Mexican and Topolobambo to shame.

This picture is Whit passed out in his chair after Rolando's. I'd say he liked it.

Rolando's Restaurante, 210 Central Ave, Hot Springs, Arkansas 501-318-6054

St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival, Forest Park June 5-6, 2009

Beer Festival, St. Louis

After unpacking our bags from a great 4th of July family vacation in fabulous Hot Springs, Arkansas, I finally found my event guide from the beer festival Jackie and I went to in June. We went on Saturday after running in a 10K that morning at Forest Park. The festival was great but I was recovering from a real struggle at the 10K. We were out late the night before with friends and we partook in Anheuser-Busch products at the Cardinals game. We got to the festival just before it opened and it was filling up quick, but no lines to get in when we arrived. The festival had three of the biggest possible tents set up, two were full, corner to corner, with beer stands, one marked Lagers and one marked Ales. The other tent housed the food vendors and where I preferred to set up in the shade. There had to be 100 portapotties set up and found out later that was just about the right amount. We'd decided there was a crowd of at least several hundred by the time we took a cab home at 3 pm.
The food tent was blessed with five different St. Louis restaurants. We first toured each set up that boasted their menu on a grease board or rack of items offered. The festival cost $35 which included all you could drink but the food was additional. Squires, Harvest, Vin De Set, Companion and Lorusso's were the restaurants represented. Jackie ordered a Brisket sandwich from Lorusso's that featured horseradish on a roll. I will say this was one of the best sandwiches I have had. The horseradish was a nice surprise with the tender beef.
We meandered our way over to the Ales tent, we needed another beer to top off the delicious brisket. The Blonde Ale, Anheuser-Busch, was a smooth blonde beauty that I really liked. The beer tents at this point were filling up with what looked like frat boys sprinkled with overweight blue hairs with facial hair. Not many at the festival looked like Jackie and I, old married people. Next we tried Belgian Siason and the Belgian Dubbel from August Brewing Company. I was a bigger fan of the lighter Saison but Jackie liked the Dubbel. From the Morgan Street Brewery I loved the Vienna Lager, which was my favorite from the Lager tent that was full of these college boys all looking around for some sorority girls. Schlafly Beer had fifteen of their beers on hand, the Biere de Garde and the American Brown Ale were two of my favorites. I must say at this point Jackie is drinking the 8 oz beers and I can only sip since I am still on empty from the strenuous 6 mile morning run.
The beer festival was a fabulous idea for our St. Louis weekend. As we left, the complementary water, pretzel and coffee tent was bare but I enjoyed my pretzels and water in the 95 degree heat. Cabs were lined up in Forest Park and we were delighted to get one with a good air conditioner.

Grilled Portabella Penne, Birdeye

Friday, July 3, 2009

Cooking at Home

Well after last night's meal, I have to share my new recipe that I got out of the last Gourmet magazine. This is a fast meal that is light yet satisfying. Even Jackie approves of this meal, he's had it twice in a month and didn't complain, that's a miracle!

1 lb. penne pasta, cooked to package directions. Save 3 T of the water when draining.
2 portabella mushrooms
1/4 C. vegetable oil, I use Grape seed oil
3/4 C. Parmesan cheese, recipe says to use Porcino cheese but I used Parmesan
1/4. C. olive oil
2 T. fresh marjoram or oregano, I use my fresh oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta, drain saving 3 T. water. Prepare your grill pan, medium-high heat, add grape seed oil. Use a damp paper towel and rub tops of mushrooms removing dirt and debris. Pour a little grape seed oil over tops and salt and pepper to taste. Grill tops down about 5 minutes each side, be careful not to burn. Remove from pan and chop when cool.
In a bowl, add cheese, olive oil, reserved water, pasta then mushrooms and oregano, stir well and serve with room temperature french bread.

I just love this 20 minute recipe with its fresh ingredients.