Tag: Missouri (page 2 of 4)

The St. Paul Sandwich

We’re working our way through our St. Louis-specific food traditions list. This week, I took a poll to decide my next lunch. Imo’s St. Louis-style pizza in all of its Provel glory or a St. Paul Sandwich?

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The St. Paul Sandwich won.

This combination of white bread, an Egg Foo Young patty, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo supposedly originated with a man named Steven Yuen who named it after his hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota. Ironically, this isn’t popular in St. Paul, Minnesota like it is here in St. Louis, despite its name. Jennifer Lee’s Fortune Cookie Chronicles blog post goes on to explain how the St. Paul Sandwich is typically an inexpensive treat available at many local Chinese American restaurants.

Egg Foo Young isn’t one of my favorite dishes, but every once in a while I’ll get a craving. Jake has very few food aversions, but Egg Foo Young is at the top of his short list.

I headed to one of our favorite restaurants Mai Lee for my first one. There’s nothing we haven’t enjoyed here so I guessed it would be a safe bet. At Mai Lee, St. Paul Sandwiches cost around $5-7. Before choosing Mai Lee, I did a little bit of internet research and many people said theirs was a particularly delicious version. I chose the shrimp St. Paul Sandwich.

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While filming a short video, I took my first bite and enjoyed the variety of flavors and textures. The soft white bread contrasted with the crispy egg patty, and tangy mayo, pickles, and onion balanced the fried richness. I really liked the pieces of plump, springy shrimp. All of a sudden the sandwich was nearly gone and I realized I had forgotten to take more photos. Jake couldn’t get into the sandwich, which was just as well. I snatched it back from him and ate the rest.

One local reader suggested that I order extra pickles. I like this idea and so next time I will.

Do you have any thoughts on St. Paul Sandwiches? Who makes your favorite version?

St. Louis Food Firsts: Pork Steak & Cheese Spread Burger

Moving to a new state is stressful but it is also fun.

One of the things I like best about moving is learning about the local food traditions which vary state to state and region to region. Missouri is only two states down from Minnesota. Still, we’re finding that St. Louis has plenty of foods we’ve never tried before.

For one thing, there’s Provel. We both learned that we like it raw and shredded into salads, but we’re less sure how we feel about it melted. Jake’s tried more versions of St. Louis style-pizza than I have. In some cases, he’s liked it, and in others, not so much. We’ve literally never encountered Provel outside of Missouri, so imagine our surprise when we visited a local Italian restaurant and found it topping the chicken parmesan and baked ziti. The jury’s out on melted Provel. We’ve got plenty of time to decide.

This week we entertained several out-of town-guests who treated us to dinner at two restaurants we haven’t visited yet. These meals provided the perfect opportunity to try two foods I haven’t encountered outside of St. Louis:

Burger With Cheddar Cheese Spread
Burgers topped with cheddar cheese spread might be a thing elsewhere, but I haven’t encountered them yet. A while ago, I ran across this Chowhound thread in which a man asked for help finding a burger with cheddar cheese spread in St. Louis. Based upon the responses and a quick internet search, it seems like this type of burger is offered at many local restaurants.

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I spotted it on the menu at Schlafly Brewery in Maplewood, MO. If you’re in the camp that likes goopy cheese sauces, cheese balls, and cheese spreads, you’ll like this style of burger. There’s really nothing not to like. The fact that the cheese spread’s temperature was cooler than the burger struck me as interesting, since I’m used to the cheese being melted onto the burger. But eventually the warm burger patty made the cheese more melty.

Finally, there are two more things I really like about Schlafly: The brewery offers small 10 oz. glasses of beer & did NOT overcook the burger.

Pork Steaks
According to this Feast Magazine article, the pork steak is a slice from the pork shoulder or Boston butt. This cut was made very popular in the 1950’s by the second-generation owners of one of our major grocery store chains, Schnucks. I’ve only seen people cook pork shoulder low and slow in a braise or crock-pot. Supposedly, pork steaks take well to grilling. It seems like they’re typically baked or smoked before receiving a char on the grill. At Hendricks, this was the case.

My North Iowa Blogger friends visited St. Louis this week to promote North Iowa’s new flight service to and from St. Louis via Air Choice One. The city of St. Charles provided a warm welcome and treated us to a meal at Hendricks BBQ. Pork Steak was the Wednesday special and so I ordered it.

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Keep in mind that this is the very first pork steak I have ever tried. The meat wasn’t as spoon tender as the menu described, but, honestly, I preferred it not to be. I dislike ribs that are cooked so long that their meat slides from the bones. I prefer the meat to still retain some chew. This pork steak’s flavor and texture reminded me of pork ribs. I especially liked the melting fatty bits around the edges. Jake got to enjoy the leftovers and agrees that we need to eat more pork steaks.

So far, we’ve tried Provel, toasted ravioli, pork steaks, gooey butter cake and cheese spread burgers. We’ve had Mr. Wizard’s frozen custard, but not Ted Drewes’. I still need to try an Imo’s pizza and neither of us has ordered a St. Paul Sandwich, Syberg’s-style wings, or slinger (yet). What unique-to-St. Louis foods should we try next? 

Raw Oysters & Spicy Thai Food At Lake Of The Ozarks

We rented a cabin in the woods.

Not a scary cabin, but what the owners referred to as a fishing cottage at the bottom of a very steep hill on the edge of Lake of the Ozarks. It was a vacation rental we found on HomeAway, equipped with a full kitchen, wireless internet, and a big deck that faced the lake.

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This was the first time we ever used a vacation rental website and are happy the property was a clean and beautiful as advertised. Our friend has had both good and bad experiences using sites like VRBO. Fortunately, these owners responded promptly and were very helpful.

My only critique there’s $90 cleaning charge added to the nightly rate. Since we haven’t used a vacation rental site before, I don’t know if this is normal. I can’t blame renters for preparing for the worst, but wish they’d just roll it into the nightly fee or take a deposit in case renters cause damage.

One of the best parts of the weekend was that Trayse could come, too! We still paid an upcharge to bring him, but it was less than what we’d pay to board him.

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“Did you fish?” friends asked.

“We talked to people who were fishing,” we replied.

So, we’re not the most outdoorsy people, but we enjoyed being outside. We saw deer casually standing at the fork in the driveway, a turtle swimming by the dock, and hawks circling above the trees. We frantically Googled whether or not hawks would carry Trayse away and decided to error on caution. I also saw a bug that looked like a twig on the deck. Bugs get weirder the father south you drive from Minnesota.

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This little nook of Lake of the Ozarks was quiet and peaceful. We occasionally saw people boating and fishing, and heard but never saw our neighbors from their secluded decks. At night, we heard murmurs of conversation and laughter floating above the water. The way lakes carry sound is comforting and eerie.

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We cooked several of our meals at the cabin. However, we did venture up the scarily steep driveway for Saturday’s dinner. I refused to even attempt driving up or down it, myself. Our car has four-wheel drive. We made it up and down just fine, but can’t imagine attempting it in the frost or rain. Heck, it was difficult to even walk down. Trayse did just fine.

We ventured to the Bagnell Dam Strip because it’s the location of the Thai restaurant from which we ordered take out. It’s zany. In a recent article about local apple orchards, Heavy Table introduced an Orchard Insanity Meter to help people navigate the spectrum between “a field with apple trees” to “the apple orchard as a theme park” a.k.a. “autumnal purgatory.”

This little strip of restaurants and touristy gift shops brought to mind the Orchard Insanity Meter. If there was a zany lakeside tourist street meter, the Bagnell Dam Strip might land at a 7.

We stopped at Tucker’s Shuckers to grab a quick drink while we waited for our take-out order.
My whiskey cocktail reminded me of a mojito. It was small but mighty.

“Do you want to try some oysters?” asked Jake. I pretended like I didn’t hear his question. In all honesty, I was apprehensive about ordering raw oysters from a restaurant I didn’t know much about, outside of a big city. I admit, this assumption may be unfair. I’ve never gotten ill from eating shellfish, but I have bitten into some funky oysters. “They specialize in oysters,” argued Jake and ordered a half-dozen ($10.99).

And you know what? They tasted very fresh. Anthony Bourdain often recalls the first time he enjoyed a raw oyster during his childhood in France in great detail. I can’t see how one could ever forget eating his or first raw oyster. During a spring break service trip during my sophomore year in college, I tried my first oyster. We sat on the balcony of a restaurant located on River Street in Savannah, Georgia and the girl with the roaring laugh walked us through the process involving hot sauce and soda crackers. They cost $.50 cents each. For the first time, I understood what it meant when cookbook authors and television chefs said they tasted like the sea.

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Grandma’s Candy Kitchen advertised fudge and was located just across the street. Obviously, we had to visit. The phrase “Made with real cream and butter” adorned the wall behind the candy cases.

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Sea salt and caramel fudge.

Wok N Roll caught our eye because the rental owners left a menu tucked inside their visitors guide.

“Thai hot, please,” I requested when I placed our order. “Which dish?” they asked. “All of them.

A friendly young man greeted us at the restaurant. He boasted about the fresh habanero peppers in their kitchen and a special dried chili mix they just received.

The heat level of the food was exactly what we hoped for, and everything tasted really good. Jake usually doesn’t gravitate toward Thai coconut curries, but really liked their Penang curry with beef. The pad thai was a little dry with a good flavor. Still, far better than when restaurants make Pad Thai with the cloyingly sweet sauce. It included plenty of chicken and cabbage, a vegetable that is always a welcome addition in my book.

Thai Food

Our little nook of Lake of the Ozarks was quiet during this fall weekend. We were content to simply sit by the water and stare upwards at the fall leaves and circling hawks. The lake is less than three hours away from St. Louis and we hope to return next year. There’s a lot more here to explore and eat, like lakeside restaurants, BBQ, and moonshine distilleries.

Trayse slept all the way home.

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They say this is the fun lake.

I Still Can’t Stop Laughing About Muffins

This has been quite a week.

1. Our Mason City home is no longer in our hands.

2. I’m going to Bloggy Conference this weekend.

3. Not only am I attending BloggyCon, but I’m a panelist for the first time. Sara invited me to join her and Donna on a panel discussing why local connections matter. Plus, I get to room with Beth! I’ll always have North Iowa to thank for introducing me to such good friends.

4. BloggyCon is located at Cedar Point Amusement Park.

5. There are haunted houses at Cedar Point. I love haunted houses.

6. Cedar Point is located near a Swensons Drive-In, a restaurant we used to patronize regularly for Galley Boy Cheeseburgers and fried zucchini sticks when we visited my grandparents growing-up. I’ve been waiting for this burger reunion for over a decade. Here are some more thoughts on Ohio.

7. It’s my birthday week and I’m cashing in on all of my freebies. Of course, you often have to to sign-up for chain restaurants’ loyalty clubs, but I just use an old email address. I get really excited about my free birthday bagel each year. It’s the small things, right?

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Best combo ever: Salt bagel with honey walnut at Bruegger’s or Pretzel with honey almond at Einstein’s.

8. Jake & I booked our first getaway to a fishing cabin on Lake of the Ozarks. We totally don’t know how to fish and I couldn’t put a worm on a hook to save my life, but it’s a new place to explore and the first time we’re bringing Trayse the dog.

9. We enjoyed take-out from a Chinese restaurant so authentic they had to remove crab ragoons from their menu because nobody ordered them for months. Yummy17 is connected to the Asian Supermarket and it’s another gem we learned about from Whiskey Soba’s blog. We didn’t get too adventurous on this visit, but their spicy orange beef, salt and pepper squid, and pork fried rice were better than any version we can remember ordering.

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10. Sometimes I find random things so funny that I’ll crack-up for days. Jake fondly refers to these as “Jeni Jokes.” Is this another “Jeni Joke,” he’ll ask when I laugh hysterically at something he doesn’t quite understand.

Every once in a while, I’ll scan the latest TripAdvisor & Yelp restaurant reviews. One local restaurant caught my eye. I remembered hearing about from a couple who also stayed at the same bed and breakfast with us in St. Charles back in May. Over breakfast, they recalled how they were struck by a woman who served them muffins from a basket like they were precious jewels.

I kept scrolling through reviews and noticed diners kept describing a woman dressed in period costume who gave each person one and only one, small blueberry muffin. They couldn’t have more muffins if they asked nicely and they couldn’t have more muffins even when they offered to pay for them. However, they could have more of everything else.

I still can’t stop laughing at this.

Don’t Smoke Weed On The Patio: Tropical Liqueurs

The warm welcome we received at Tropical Liqueurs curiously morphed into explicit instructions not to smoke weed on the patio. Then, with a wave of his hand, the gentleman sent us inside with a cheerful, “Have fun!”

We giggled as we heard him repeat this same greeting to everyone behind us. An establishment that has to work this rule into their greeting must have had quite the problem with people smoking weed on the patio.

Ever since I heard that Tropical Liqueurs opened a store in St. Louis’ Soulard neighborhood this past August, I wanted to go. Call it curiosity, or something. An entire bar whose offerings are composed of swirling slurpee machines filled with a rainbow of house-made alcoholic concoctions; what wasn’t there to be curious about?

Most know what raspberry lemonade and a Long Island Iced Tea taste like, but the names Tiger Paw, Silver Bullet and Voodoo Brew leave one with little clues.

The hilarious and sad thing about our first Tropical Liqueurs experience was ordering our Voodoo Brew while Hootie & The Blowfish’s “Hold My Hand” blasted over the sound system and finding ourselves the oldest folks hanging out on the patio.

Getting old is weird.

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Voodoo Brew tastes like banana and bubblegum. We sipped and shivered outside in the cold until we could take it no more.

Tropical Liqueurs’ motto is, “Where it’s always 85 degrees and sunny” which seems to be the law of the land here. There’s really not much room to chill inside by the bar (no pun intended), so you probably need to take your drink and go. *Addition: There’s plenty of seating upstairs. Thanks @nancerdancer

The evening dipped into the 40’s, but this didn’t stop anyone from hanging out on the patio and balcony living like it was 85 degrees and sunny. Also, we couldn’t leave the patio. Not with our drink, anyway. The employee sitting at the back exit conveniently reminded people who forgot.

The next time we visit Tropical Liqueurs, we’re going to remember we can mix different flavors. A handy chart on the wall by the bar lists prices and each size’s approximate strength. For example small ($4) has 2-3 shots. We split a medium.

Just as you’re never too old for pita pizzas, Hootie, or french toast sticks, you’re also never too old to get a kick out of neon slushies.

With a little love, and some tenderness
We’ll walk upon the water
We’ll rise above this mess

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