Monday, December 19, 2011

Bloody Fucking Mary, Indeed.

Besides, "I'm going to be a beautiful ballerina," the second most common phrase out of my mouth is, "Is there chicken stock / any meat in it?" Well, most of the time.

I didn't think to ask that about my Sunday brunch bloody mary at Jefferson Avenue Bistro, partly because I don't think to ask if there's meat in my beverages, and partly because I had called ahead to see if they served bloody marys AND if they had vegetarian menu options AND the person who assured me "yes" to both on the phone remembered me upon arrival AND took my order for a "veggie omelet and a bloody mary - hold the Lee & Perrins". . .

I should have asked.

"Bloody" mary has a whole new meaning in my world, these days. Bloody hell.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Come to Jicama moment...

Dear Food:

We need to talk... Where do I begin?

It’s been a long year. Neither of us has been happy. I know you’re going to say that I’VE CHANGED. But truly, I think you have, too.

This is not an attack. I am the first to admit my wrongs, my faults, my shortcomings. I admit that I haven’t made this easy for you. I’ve been impatient, and, well, rude. Even things that you do well, or we’ll say relatively well, I’ve criticized. I know I can be demanding and judgmental, and while I’m not picky, maybe I’m holding you to an unrealistic expectation. You should be allowed to have an off day, make mistakes, learn lessons, grow, change. I acknowledge that I’ve made it hard, that I’ve been walking around town saying, “I don’t even know who you are anymore” or “maybe I never knew you” and, ok, I get that it’s not easy maintaining confidence when your partner is constantly disparaging you.

But food – really. I’m dying here. I spent four months only eating Whole Foods salads. I’ve lost weight. I can't remember the last time I took your picture. And, well… I am hungry.

So what do we do? How do we remedy this? Your Katie’s Margherita Pizza that once captured my fancy seems dull and lifeless these days.

Don’t get me started on your Monarch hummus (shudder).

It can’t be just me. I have to believe you’ve let yourself go – your tomatoes aren’t as fresh, your mozzarella not as melty, your chickpeas, a little too canned?

Brasserie in all of your French former-Chez-Leon owned-by-Niche glory? The cauliflower gratin is. Just. Cheese. On. Cauliflower.

I ate it, yes, paired with a lovely Bordeaux, and I didn’t squabble with the fact that I couldn’t eat your chicken-stock risotto. But I need MORE.

Please hear me – I’m not trying to pin this all on you. But what do you want from me? I’m a grown, educated woman, and I’m relegated to midnight toaster-oven nachos and lumpy Trader Joes’s instant fair trade cocoa made with water! I need love! I need adventure! I need compassion!

I’ve tried being independent, I’ve given you your space. I've done the whole "fly solo" thing. Heck - I mastered a three-egg omelet with breakfast potatoes!

I’ve even got a specialty in my pear-leek-goat cheese pizza accompanied with an orange-and-toasted-pumpkin-seed salad!

But we all know that god invented – ahem – food for a reason. Girl’s got needs.

So here’s the deal, food. I know we love each other; now we just need to start treating each other better. I don’t know how, but I will promise to try.

Let's compromise: you cook up something new and exciting, I’ll try to muster up the old thrill of food-photographing and stop declaring to anyone who will listen, “I’m not even sure it’s worth eating anymore.”

Or if that’s too much, let’s try baby steps – you start by never bringing up eggplant again, and I’ll get back to work on learning to love olives.

Maybe, if we work really hard, we’ll meet in the middle. Preferably at a vegetarian restaurant, but I haven’t forgotten my earlier comment so yes, I will be happy even with a good veggie menu option.

Good chat. Thanks. I feel closer to you already.



Wednesday, October 6, 2010

You Bore Me...

Let’s just say that I went on a blind date with – I don’t want to name names, so we’ll call it “Schmanco” – and let’s just say that I’m not that into it. If you want, I’ll say it’s me, not you, but...

Ok you lost me at cheesy poofs, if I’m being honest. Cheesy poofs are what they are – flour, salt, egg, gruyere. Not earth shattering, ok, but I’ve said before and I’ll say again, I’magirlthatlikestoknowwhatI’meating. But I didn’t need to know this. Was it really necessary to go on and on? You may call them “gougeres,” but I call them… (yawn). Wait – what was I saying?

Oof and then I have to say, really? In mixed company? You’re going to pull that out? Tomato salad with cucumbers. Should be a safe bet for any situation. But you throw down a fistful of salt and, what should have been a rather innocuous experience turned, well, shocking, to be honest.

I let it go. I mean, we don’t even know each other. Things can be awkward at first, misunderstandings, whatever. I can get over it. But after three long hours of what was simply uninteresting at best and really, what was becoming rather tedious, you try to round the bases with julienned squash in a red sauce? This is not pasta. If you’re trying to impress a vegan, you do realize we eat grains, right? Don’t tell me your favorite activity is “cooking vegetarian” just to impress me. Uh-huh - and I read comic books. Religiously. Right. I hate an ass kisser and frankly, “Schmanco,” we both know who you are. It’s not sexy to pretend.

I didn’t want to have to say these things, but you pressed the issue. Maybe this is why you’re alone on the weekends so often. Take up a hobby; experiment; educate yourself. I have no hard feelings, but, I’m not going to say “let’s be friends.” I have lots of friends. Thanks anyway.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What is it about "I love you" that gives people the wrong idea?

Can't we just be very passionate friends?

People always mistake my passion for something other or else. In fact, thrice lately people have misinterpreted my affections for something greater than they were meant to express. For the record, I love Sanctuaria. But please don't take that the wrong way. I don't need more confusion this week. But I digress; this is megfoodblog.

Here’s the story. My friend took me to this place I thought would be "meh" at best and more likely was the type of place where big buzzooomed girls wear cheap sateen boustiers and red red lips. It's called "Sanctuaria Wild Tapas," after all. It kinda looks like that inside. Don't get me wrong - I dig black and I appreciate that pleather wipes down nicely, especially in a restaurant - but it was a little "meh" mixed with "big red black buzzoom." I digress for a second time.

This. Place. Is. The. Only. Place. In. Town. To. Have. A. Cocktail.

Pour your G&Ts and your Cosmos and even your pathetic STL-version of a Sauzerac down the drain and let the bartender at Sanctuaria mix you an herb-infused, tincture-enhanced, frosty glass of something special. I don't know what's on the menu and I don't care. I'm sure they are nice. Better than whatever was written for the masses is if you sit at the bar and let the bartender invent something directly for your liking.

He Loves Me Not:
Hibiscus- and lavender-infused gin cocktail with rose petals floating on top.

Gypsy Punk (don’t ask how this was named):
Lavender- and lemon verbena-infused cocktail probably with gin, though it might be vodka, and with fresh lavender floating on top.

New York Sour:
Red-wine infused whiskey (I think) and lemon cocktail.

Other fantastic cocktails:

Now for the misapplied affection - I took my mother there, knowing she'd enjoy the experience of having a cocktail infused solely for her drinking pleasure. She mistook my passion to be directed at the bartender rather than the lavender tincture. That was confusing! I quickly disabused her of that notion. What's wrong with a modern woman embracing an appreciation for the finer things in life? I'm expressive! I call it healthy. I digress yet still again.

Beyond the cocktails, there are some worthwhile snacks. Sanctuaria is a tapas restaurant. I love the idea of small plates, but I'm not a fan of standard tapas. In fact, I find the food at Modesto and Barcelona to be facile and uninspired, not to mention needlessly fatty, off the top of my head. I would not classify Sanctuaria's tapas in that same way, though I do think some of the dishes lack merit. Three in particular are worth eating.

First, the tostones. On the menu they sound like plantain chips (read: "meh"). They are anything but, however; although if you are a smoker or prone to heavy salting, you might miss their exquisite subtlety. They look like peanut butter cookies but are plantains mashed and baked into little patties, then you spread on this sort of black bean mash, then the best part is the chimichurri sauce which they make with cilantro and parsley and some canola oil and some other herbies from the back garden. It is the earthiness of the beans topping the almost-fruitiness (though not sweetness) of the plantain patty, combined with what can only be described as the fresh greenness of the sauce that makes them so amazing. Increasingly I find I can only palate simple and fresh flavors. I get that heavily seasoned foods can be the product of serious gourmet preparation, but I'm more of the IwanttoknowwhatI'meating kind of girl, meaning I like flavors I can recognize. Truly delicious. Now I'm really digressing.

Second, the empanadas. Now these border on your average empanada - fried pastry. Good, yes, but we've had that before. The difference here is that they are filled with chihuahua cheese and guava, which tastes a little like raspberry and ricotta. It is accompanied by an "amarillo sauce," the ingredients of which I cannot recognize but which is very very tasty. These are not vegan; nor are they healthy. They lack the subtlety of the tostones so you'll have to disregard my prior paragraph as I now type that even though I don't know what I'm ingesting, these are good.

Third - this is a strange dish - plantain rounds atop a bed of melted mozzarella with a guava jelly. Just like it sounds, though the guava this time tastes a little strawberry. I'm new to guava, so I'm not sure what it's supposed to taste like. Strange, I reiterate, but delicious.

Beyond those, the salads were disappointing and the cornbread was the epitome of "meh." That's OK though, because as long as you're not trying to cover your 5 food groups and can stomach a meal subsisting of cheese and plantains, this is really more than sufficient.

Now when I went, I wore jeans once and pants another time and did not feel like the sore JCrewThumb sticking out on the BlackBoustier hand, so I’d say do your thing, whatever that is. But I would suggest prefacing your passionate exhortations - which you will no doubt have - to your mother or your grandmother or whoever worries about these things with a clear message that you’re really just in it for the drinks and while you may bring her to Sanctuaria to check it out, you won’t be bringing anything (read: anyone) home to meet her for the checking out, if that makes sense. No offense at all to bartender,of course, who I'm sure is a lovely person and who most certainly, truly, is an artist in his own right.

I just want to make clear that when I say, "I love you," I'm referring to the booze.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Maybe this time...

Maybe this time, I'll be lucky
Maybe this time, he'll stay
Maybe this time
For the first time
Love won't hurry away

I know I just wrote you off, St. Louis. I apologize. I had things to say, and while you might not feel better, I do, for having said them.

Of late, I’ve felt a spark. Just a little fluttering. I don’t want to read into things, because I know that our chances are slim, but The Good Pie has shown me that there may be hope for us yet.

Hand made crust cooked perfectly in a hand made brick oven, topped with fresh tomatoes crushed into a sauce and buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil. That’s all. Just perfectly warm, crisp, melty, and delicious.

Let’s not jump the gun, here. Let’s just leave it at maybe, just maybe...


Nooner, anyone?

I like working downtown, for many reasons, but not the least of which was once CITY GROCER. Unlike overpriced and under-flavored Straubs, and over-salted and over-meated Schnucks, City Grocer's fabulous deli counter was replete with as many salads as you could ask for.

Sampling was mandatory. Options were diverse. Mr. Deli Counter was, um, engaging.

Asian broccoli salad and mac-and-cheese!

Italian summer veggie salad and broccoli pepper goodness!

Whoa, I must have really liked that broccoli business because I kept coming back for seconds! But also black bean salad with other deliciousness!

Tofu bok choy salad and light summer salad of peppers, tomatoes, and onions!

See, I have a thing for deli counters. The best I've seen in the world was located outside Galway, Ireland at the cafeteria at the Clifs of Moher:

But now City Grocer has been "upgraded" to City Gourmet in an effort to compete with the new fancy downtown market, Culinaria.

I hate to be a downer, but from what I can tell, the deli salads have suffered a sad fate. (Although they do create some really intereting cakes, now...).

Interesting cakes!

Where will I go for a delicious quickie around noontime now? Fast and cheap (and vegetarian), people! That's all I ask for!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing.

You ever toss and turn,
you're lying awake and thinking about the one you love?
You ever close your eyes,
making believe you're holding the one you're dreaming of?
It hurts so bad when you finally know just how
low, low, low, low, low, she'll go.

Baby did a bad, bad thing.
I know I am not supposed to patronize your, ahem, establishment. I know that I'm not supposed to, um, eat you. But I can't help myself. A girl's got needs.

Aspiring vegan, yes, but when your siren song of triple cream, or baked mac-n-cheese, or melted cheese between two deliciously buttered grilled pieces of bread, or - oh my - goat cheese scone! calls to me, I can't control myself.

I've seen the videos of horrible treatment of dairy cattle and I've supported my vegan friends in their personal and professional endeavors, but I just, er, melt, when you're near.

I'm not saying I need you. I'm not even saying I love you. I'm simply saying I'm weak in your presence. I'm intrigued by your creaminess. I'm fascinated with the way you, uh, taste.

I can't promise this will go on forever. I don't think either you or I want that. But for now, just for the moment...

Friday, March 26, 2010

I'm disappointed in you.

I think it's time we compiled a list
of places that we shouldn't go.
Now is not the time to lose your voice.
Everyone should have a choice.
-Maximo Park

Game over, St. Louis.

I believed your promises, I did. I thought we had potential. Most definitely. I tried to love you. But you’ve let me down. As my friend recently said, “most of the time St. Louis is cool. But when it lets you down, it lets you down in the worst way.” Indeed.

I hate to write you off, as I’ve always tried to be your number one fan. But in light of recent events, I have no choice but to say that your food options aren’t doing it for me. I dare say it’s over.

First, all of your good qualities, the good places to eat, seem to close down. I’ve already mourned the losses of Revival and Eternity Deli, as well as the unfortunate transformations of Erato and City Grocer. But Sol, sweet, Sol, once the greatest lounge in the world, complete with velvet sofas, curtains, and espresso martinis, now a hideous warehouse techno dance club. Sol, simply, my bangs aren’t big enough. And I have reason to fear that the ONE vegan resty in town won’t be here forever.

But I’ve not even begun to touch on my other issues. I try to maximize the positive. I’m a person that accepts you for who you are and embraces you in all of your individuality. But if we’re being honest, really truly honest, then I really do have some complaints.

Mosaic, although you’re one of my favorite places to go, while your asparagus gnocchi, fried artichoke hearts with chili aioli, blood orange broccoli salad, and grilled asparagus are fantastic, the truth is, you haven’t changed your menu in more than five years. I know where to go if I want truffled frites, but seriously, have you got nothing going on inside of that kitchen of yours?

As for Indian: again, St. Louis, good effort. Rasoi you have taken upscale Indian and made something of it. I commend you.

But at the end of the day, what have you done for me lately? I’ve been to Graffiti, which seats less than twenty patrons and the kitchen is equipped solely with some frying pans, microwaves, and crock pots and still, still, their green curried mango cheese and hummus pizzas put your Korma to shame. It’s Indian alright. But it’s new; it’s edgy; it’s amazing.

And I don’t even know where to begin with sushi. I don’t eat meat or fish so maybe you don’t want to make an effort with the veggie rolls and seaweed salads and wasabi and soy sauces. Maybe you put all your sushi eggs in the fish basket and couldn’t be bothered with anything else.

But I’ve seen the sushi light. I’ve met a real contender in Blue Ribbon in Brooklyn with my choice of more than THIRTY veggie rolls including spinach rolls and black forest mushroom and avocado rolls… plus my choice of two different kinds of seaweed salad.

I could go on. But clearly you don’t want to. You’re content with mediocrity so who am I to force you into taking chances?

Look, I don’t want to be a downer, and I hope I don't sound bitter. I wanted to be the champion of your assets and your number one fan. But the truth is you had the opportunity and you blew it. And it's not even that I can't forgive your shortcomings. It's really the way you handle them that is so disappointing.

I mean, 50% of restaurants don't make it - I get that. But to transform from one of the best places in town into a sports bar? Or simply to put a sign on the door without notice - "closed"? After all of these years, St. Louis, that's simply not going to cut it.

I’m sorry, St. Louis, but game over. As soon as I finish law school, I’m outta here!