Tag: Donut

St. Louis Is Delicious: Seven Favorite Tastes

St. Louis is a delicious city, that’s for sure. When I haven’t been drinking ranch dressing-flavored soda or making pizza hot dish in the crock pot, I’m doing one of many things: Trying to stay cool (It’s so hot here!), job searching, completing Microsoft Excel tutorials, learning about coding on CodeCademy, walking the dog, or eating things.

You can find most any type of food you could possibly wish for in St. Louis. While I used to write posts on most of our restaurant experiences, I share more of these snapshots on my Instagram feed. Here are some of my favorite and most interesting tastes from the past month.

Guerilla Street Food at #FoodTruckFridaySTL
I attended my first Food Truck Friday, a recurring event sponsored by Sauce Magazine. On Friday, the food trucks convened at Tower Grove Park. I’ve seen a lot of posts about and from Food Trucks in my social media feeds and look forward to visiting my first one. In an attempt to avoid long lines, I arrived at the park around 4 p.m.

Street Food Fest

Guerilla Street Food was the truck I was most curious about trying and it was surrounded by the most people. It serves Filipino-inspired food and just opened a brick and mortar store. I placed my order and didn’t have to wait more than seven minutes for my name to be called.

I didn’t read the menu descriptions too closely and found the Fresh Lumpia a surprising take on the Filipino egg roll. It was a crepe wrapped around cabbage-veggie filling, a lettuce leaf, and served with sweet chili sauce. What we enjoyed the most was the Wandering Pig Bowl (also available inburrito). The pulled pork was tender and succulent and the combination of hoisin, Filipino lime, sriracha, scallions and fried garlic made for a very flavorful and umumai-filled combination. It was a hefty portion for only $6. I’ve always wanted to try Filipino food and want to return to try some more dishes.

GS Bowl

I read that attendees can purchase a Food Truck Friday speed pass for $10 (or 3 for $25), which can be redeemed to bypass the line at one food truck. These passes seem like an expensive way to enjoy the event. If you can go when the lines aren’t too long, it’s a lovely way to spend a Friday evening. There were many other food trucks serving everything from gyros to beer to cupcakes. People sat together on park picnic tables and picnic blankets with their families and their dogs.

One friendly tip from me to you is to wear closed toed shoes walking through Tower Grove Park, or follow the paved path. To take a short cut back to my car, I tromped through the grassy field covered in lawn mowing clippings and stepped on a bee.

House of India
One weekend we ordered take-out from House of India, as recommended by several people. It was exactly what we were looking for. The sauces were wonderfully complex and addicting and totally “hot” as requested. House of India distinguishes the terms spicy from hot and the person who took my order politely corrected me over the phone when I asked for “extra spicy.”

House of India Collage

The vindaloo wasn’t our favorite of the three entrees, but the bhindi masala and paneer makhni (reminded us of paneer tikka masala) were some of the best we’ve ever tried from anywhere. When we lived in the Twin Cities, we loved ordering bhindi masala from Surabhi who made it in a similar style. Some restaurants make a saucier version that includes other vegetables like tomato or green pepper. We prefer the dryer, more okra-centric version like this.

Chai Tea & Ham and Raspberry Jam Biscuit at Half and Half.
Half & Half is an often-mentioned breakfast/brunch/lunch cafe located nearby.The restaurant includes some communal tables, an open kitchen, and more mason jars than I could count. On two visits, what stood out is that the food is cooked with a lot of care. My family member’s fruit bowl side was not some wintermelon-filled afterthought and the crispy breakfast potatoes were lovingly sprinkled with finishing salt. I’m especially fond of their little biscuit filled with ham & raspberry jam. It’s the perfect, compact breakfast.

Half and Half Collage

Blueberry Cake Donut at Vincent Van Doughnut
When we first moved here, I spun into a donut frenzy. There weren’t many places that sold donuts that didn’t arrive at the store pre-packaged. And the one time I bought a package of donuts from the farmers market, they were so soaked in fishy-tasting grease that I threw them away.

There are many donut shops here! One of my favorite local bloggers Whiskey & Soba recommended Vincent Van Doughnut. When I had arrived on a weekday by 10 a.m., they had sold out of most of their donuts. Fortunately, I’m the most un-picky donut fan. This blueberry donut was my jam. The texture was similar to the cake donuts I’ve tried in the past, but with more bite and a crisp crust. The glaze was tart and naturally fruity, and its spicing almost reminded me of Chef Shack’s Indian-spiced mini donuts. I loved the donut’s delightful, state fair fried food essence.

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Jake said the flavor reminded him of his Norwegian grandmother’s donuts. He preferred their other style of raised donut that remind me of a beignet just as Whiskey & Soba described.

Fortune Teller Manhattan, Fortune Teller Bar
The Fortune Teller Bar caught my eye for several reasons: Recommendations from friends, tales of a roaming palm reader & mention that it served Lunchables. When we visited, we had just eaten dinner but noticed the bar has a full kitchen. I did not see a fortune-teller and wonder if he or she is present on certain nights or later at night than 7:30-8 p.m. Getting my palm read seemed like an amusing thing to do, but after reading about a blogger friend’s terrible palm reading experience I’m a little relieved & $20 richer.

Unless I’m dining at a Mexican restaurant or chain, I go for less sweet cocktails. This Fortune Teller Manhattan ($8) made with J.J. Neukomn whiskey, Byrrh Grand Quinquina, Angostura bitters and dark cherry was strong & delicious with the tiniest hint of sweetness.

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Sugarfire Pie Gooey Butter Cake. I’ve tried baking gooey butter cake twice with varying degrees of success. One was too dry and the other, too gooey. “My gooey butter cake is too gooey, ” is a St. Louis problem. Until I master the art of baking gooey butter cake, I’ll let someone else do the honors. We have many versions to try, but so far, our favorite is from Sugarfire PieI hear we need to try Russell’s on Macklind. 

Seafood City Supermarket, Fish Cake: There are many Asian restaurants and grocery stores along a street called Olive Blvd. Seafood City is probably the largest. I can’t tell if it’s part of the Seafood City Supermarket chain since its website does not list a St. Louis location. Seafood City is similar in size to United Noodle in Minneapolis. However, it has a large selection of fresh seafood, smaller produce section and no in-house deli or restaurant.

When I was paying for my purchase, I noticed plates of some type of still-warm food sealed in ziplock bags at the end of the register. I asked what was inside the packages, and an employee who described it as fish cake started offering samples to customers and employees, alike. It had a golden brown crust and savory flavor that wasn’t at all fishy. I did pass on purchasing the plate since it contained too much food for Jake and I, but would consider getting it again if we could serve it fresh to a small group.

At the end of this week, we’re hosting more family members who are coming to visit St. Louis for the first time. Our Missouri adventure continues. . . 

Trayse yawn

Trayse says, “Hello,” and “Why is it so hot here? I’m a Minnesota doggie.”

Chicagoland Adventure Part I: Calumet Fisheries, Mariano’s, Greektown & Revolution Brewpub

I’m having a difficult time writing about Chicagoland.

The city is a monster. It’s so massive. Mindblowingly diverse and strikingly segregated. I wanted to eat everything. The buildings are tall and there’s nowhere to park. We hit a terrible, $4 tollbooth (that’s not a toll, that’s extortion!) and Jake got his first traffic ticket, yet we love it anyway.

One and a half years ago, we got married amidst a small group of family and friends with a reception the following April. We were transferred to Mason City so quickly the next summer that we couldn’t even think about planning a honeymoon. With the reality that life will never slow down, we took off part of a week from work and hit the road towards Chicago. 

My cousin Brian, his wife Sara, and their five children invited us to stay with them in Calumet Heights. You may remember Brian wrote the guest post How to Make the Perfect Frozen Pizza. Growing-up, our family spent every holiday with Brian’s family. He and his brother always seemed much older than us, even though they are within about six years. It’s been a joy to get to know them and their wives as adults and relate more as friends.

The architecture is so different from what we’re used to. The homes are mostly built from brick and stone and adorned with sculpted shrubbery. From the outside, houses look small. Inside, they are deceptively spacious because they’re built long and in multiple stories. People seemed surprised that we were staying on the south side of Chicago, but Brian’s family likes their quiet neighborhood and we do too. I would totally live there.

One of my favorite moments occurred when Jake awoke to a new kind of alarm clock. The kind that’s two years old and sits in your face, diaper first. On Sunday morning, Matthias told us early risers he wanted to wake-up Uncle Jake. We instructed him not to, yet none of us tried very hard to stop him. Oops.

Here are some culinary highlights from the first two days we stayed with Brian and family.

Calumet Collage.jpgBrian and his daughter Grace took us to Calumet Fisheries for our first meal. Grace likes to explore new places and try every kind of food. She reminds me of myself a gazillion years ago.

  • We ordered the smoked salmon with black pepper & garlic, smoked trout, and smoked shrimp.
  • The smoked salmon had the most beautifully creamy texture.
  • Everyone’s favorite was the smoked shrimp. Lightly smoked so it didn’t overwhelm the natural shrimp flavor. Perfect snappy texture. Not cheap at $23/lb. but they are large and worth a taste.
  • Housemade hot sauces. The mild was our favorite. It tasted a little bit like BBQ and the kids liked it too.

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Brian took us to explore Mariano’s Fresh Market in Greektown. Here’s why this grocery store is so magical:

  • Large organic produce section with affordable prices.
  • Giant cheese section.
  • $1 donuts. Brian encouraged us to try his favorite salted-cashew variety.
  • Sushi bar, oyster bar, juice bar, wine bar, gelato bar with $1 scoops. The lemon was my favorite.
  • Seafood section: Grace’s class took a field trip behind the seafood counter earlier this year. She excitedly asked us if we saw the whole fish with eyes and the little squid.
  • I tweeted that Mariano’s should come to Mason City. They said they’d, “pass my interest along.” I hope they are serious.

Gyro edited.jpg

After wandering through Mariano’s, we explored Greektown.

  • Lunch at Mr. Greek GyrosGyros the size of fetuses, lots of tzatziki, and practically a whole onion’s worth of slices (which I like). The boys ordered combos which came with a large bag full of french fry planks. I’m glad I skipped the combo. One gyro was big enough to tide me over well into the evening.
  • Brian also took us to Artopolis Bakery. We were too full to try their pastries, but Jake got a strong, Greek Coffee.

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 We met some of our old Fargo friends at Revolution Brewpub in Logan Square.

  • Loud and busy. Service was friendly.
  • This may be heresy, but I prefer light, cheap beer in bottles. Even though I was in a brewery, I chose the cocktail with absinthe because, well, absinthe. Jake enjoyed trying the tap beers.
  • Calamari was fine and I appreciated that it was not greasy. However, the barley-feta salad was weirdly the most compelling thing on the plate.
  • I was surprised when the side salad was only $3. It was generously sized and full of cherry tomatoes, carrot curls and cucumber. Not a limp lettuce leaf in sight. Perfectly dressed with house vinaigrette.
  • Our favorite food was the Farm Burger topped with spinach, roasted beet, horseradish cream & a fried egg. The burger was cooked medium-rare as requested and juicy. We loved the combination of burger + beet. My friend who lived in Australia told us that burgers topped with egg and beets are more common there. I hope we see this combination more often.

Thanks Dahlen family for opening your home to us and showing us some of your favorite places!

Stay tuned for Part II. I’ll tell you about the unique bed and breakfast we stayed at in Lincoln Park and our first experience dining in a Ghanaian restaurant.

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