What will happen to AAP?

An American PlaceThe second of a one, two punch that began with Josh Galliano leaving An American Place for Monarch, the Renaissance Grand is up for auction.  Couple that with the economy and it has to make you wonder how much longer An American Place will be able to survive.

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Slow Food Art of Food Menu

This is why you want to buy tickets for Art of Food

222 Artisan Bakery / Goshen Coffee – Debbie Sultan / Matt Herren

  • 222 Artisan breads in roll form: bacon, brioche, and sun dried tomato olive and feta
  • Goshen-roasted Costa Rican pour-over drip coffee

Bailey’s Chocolate Bar / Rooster – Robin Murphy

  • Fruitland roast beef sandwich with red onion marmalade and herbed Heartland Creamery goat cheese on a housemade roll
  • Bailey’s buttercream chocolate bar cake

An American Place – Joshua Galliano

  • Prairie Grass Farms lamb and foie gras ballotine, apple mustard, chickpea salad, saba

Annie Gunn’s – Lou Rook III

  • Duroc pork belly confit on Companion brioche roll with Atomic horseradish mustard and house made local peach chutney

Araka – Mark Curran

  • Prairie Grass Farms housemade sausages
  • Local heirloom tomato salad

Erato on Main – Kevin Willmann

  • House smoked Guthrie Farms chicken with local vegetable chow chow

Local Harvest Grocery – Clara Moore

  • Housemade hummus served on local cucumber circles and local tomatoes tossed with fresh pesto and served on Companion crostinis

Moxy Bistro – Eric Brenner

  • Duck breast with grilled peaches

Niche – Gerard Craft

  • Slow-roasted Greenwood Farms pork butt sandwiches with brussel sprout slaw on Companion bread

Schlafly Bottleworks – Matt Bessler

  • Schlafy “Gardenworks” beet and Arugula salad
  • Troutdale Farms smoked Trout Mousse with English cucumber cups
  • Bacon-wrapped Hinkebein Hills Farm smoked pork tenderloin with Schlafy pale ale raspberry BBQ sauce

Sidney Street Café – Kevin Nashan

  • Hinkebein Hills Farm smoked pork butt with cornmeal “toast”, Eilerman Brothers peach bbq glaze, Claverach Farm greens and pickled peaches
  • On the Wind Farms watermelon gazpacho with jumbo lump crab

Veruca – Mathew Rice

  • Local peach and lavender trifles

If you were cool…

you would be at Mad Art Gallery this Saturday for Slow Food St. Louis’s annual fund raiser, The Art of Food.

Art of Food

Full event details are at artoffood.org though what you’ll really want to know is who the chefs are:

Debbie Sultan & Matt Herren – 222 Artisan Bakery and Goshen Coffee
Joshua Galliano – An American Place
Lou Rook – Annie Gunn’s
Mark Curran – Araka
David Bailey – Bailey’s Chocolate Bar and Rooster
Kevin Willmann – Erato on Main
Eric Brenner – Moxy Bistro
Gerard CraftNiche
Matt Bessler – Schlafly Bottleworks
Kevin Nashan – Sidney Street Cafe
Mathew Rice – Veruca

and possibly more to come…

Local Cook on Hell’s Kitchen

hkchristinaAlthough it’s the one Ramsey show that actually irritates the hell out of me, Hell’s Kitchen is back upon us tomorrow night and with it a local, Christina Machammer, will be hitting the national airwaves.

Josh Galliano gave me the heads up saying that “Christina is from St. Louis and used to work with us at An American Place and she is [now] attending the CIA.”

The winner “will earn a coveted senior chef position at Ramsay’s new restaurant, Gordon Ramsay at the London West Hollywood.”

Congratulations to Christina for getting on the program and for putting up with Ramsey on his most ego-boosting program.

Chef’s Garden

Lee Jones and Thomas KellerJudith Evans made a brief, but nice, blog post about the Chef’s Garden event held over the weekend on her Recipe Exchange blog on stltoday.com.

If you don’t know, Chef’s Garden, utilizing a term coined by Joel Salatin, is a Beyond Organic purveyor of Micro Greens, Micro Herbs, and Specialty Heirloom Vegetables based out of Ohio that sells to many big name chefs.

I would like to comment that I always feel bad how Joshua Galliano gets hosed on the name droppings anytime An American Place pops up on the who’s who style best chef lists since Forgione is such a heavyweight.

Absolutely they should mention Forgione, and I’m not implying for a second that they shouldn’t, but the day to day operation of the kitchen falls to Galliano and it’s his food you’re dreaming about the next day when you’re thinking to yourself about how delicious everything was.

He’s also a super nice guy, and as you can see on his forum post, not only did he cook up a stellar meal with what Chef’s Garden dropped An American Place’s way, but he also gave away the excess to Gerard Craft and Kevin Willmann where their restaurant’s diners (like me) got to benefit from his generosity.

Josh Galliano's Beet dish for Cat Cora
“beet plate with herbed orecchiette tossed in lemon oil, poached baby beets, golden beet chips, red sorrel leaves, raw parmesan and a red wine – beet reduction that was flavored with ras al hanout

– Josh Galliano

It was really nice to taste something so fresh and green in the first week of March, and the quality of at least what I tasted was an obvious indicator as to why Thomas Keller is a Chef’s Garden customer.

Jennifer Blome also spoke with Farmer Jones on KSDK

3 Things I Learned Last Night

An American Place LogoWe had a great meal at An American Place last night, and although I will comment on it further when I have recovered, I wanted to make three quick comments.

  1. Duck Testicles are really not a big deal. They have the texture of a soft sausage with its casing removed, and they are wonderfully delicate. If you didn’t tell someone what they were, they would devour them with glee.
  2. Cockscombs I don’t quite get. It doesn’t really taste like much, and has a rubbery texture that I likened to soft liccorice before our server rolled in with the win and called it gummy-bear-like. Yes, yes it was.
  3. Tripe. I hate tripe. I loved Josh’s tripe.. It was the best of the offal we ate last night. I was in utter disbelief.

They’re cooking up some great food at An American Place and it’s sad there were so many available seats on a Thursday.

I have no room to talk on that point, as we’d only eaten there four times previously, but we’ll definitley be doing our best to go a little more frequently than before.

And man, that is such a beautiful restaurant.

Questionable Foods

Unable to be a ringer on your Convivial Pursuit team, I and a few others are heading over to Mike’s house Saturday to act as guinnea pigs for a test run of the questions.

Kimberly Henricks — Slow Food Member, blogger, and I think friend of Cupcake Grand Champion Stef has vowed to make The Cupcake Projects Beer Cheese Cupcakes with Bacon Cheddar Cream Cheese Frosting.

beer+cheese

I am terrified at the prospect of eating a sugary, cheesy cupcake topped with bacon, but at the same time it will be a part of this weeks personal food challenge.

Namely, which will I enjoy more?

  1. Joshua Galliano’s offal tasting at An American Place including common offal like tripe and not so common offal like the duck testicles (which they say has a texture like sausage).
  2. The Bacon Cheese Cupcakes

We will see.

In regards to the forum, you were right!

twoheartsSo, um, yeah, I had no idea the forum would take off like that.

In basically three weeks 47 people have posted 835 articles, and while a nice chunk are from only four of us (and you know who you are), we have everything from magazine editors, to a wine rep, to local chefs.

This morning, one of them who we will call Josh Galliano, walked away with the award for greatest post (by about twenty fold) in this thread about offal. One of Josh’s tasting menus at the moment is completely comprised of offal like cockscombs and honeycomb tripe, and he took pictures of a lot of it to not only explain to us what he’s up to, but show us as well.

The pic above is actually beef hearts from American Grass Fed Beef, and it’s An American Place’s amuse for the weekend. I don’t know which I like more, that they’re getting away with serving beef heart, or the fact that he titled the pic “two hearts” and I can’t stop laughing because of that goofy eighties song.

So thank you everyone for posting and showing me that there is a core group of people in St. Louis that get it. I’ve never been more proud to live in St. Louis.

4 Star St. Louis

10_mobile_lg.jpgMobil Travel Guide announced its picks yesterday and The Ritz and Tony’s once again recieved 4 Star ratings.

From what I gather it is a lot harder to get a Five Star Mobil rating than it is to get a AAA Five-Diamond. Tony’s did in fact have the Five-Diamond previously, but looking at the 2008 lists, they’ve been dropped to 4-Diamonds and now share company with An American Place, Faust’s, and Giovanni’s on the Hill who also all have 4.

Excuse me, where is the restroom?

bathroomAs this is a food blog I could do the appropriate thing and tell you all about my dinner last week at Araka. Perhaps I could even write about the meal I ate there a couple days before Christmas, and how in both those meals, while I definitely ate some good things, I ate a couple flawed dishes as well.

Instead, however, I want to talk to you about something we can all relate to. From the pickiest of gourmands to the diners thrilled each time McDonald’s brings back the McRib, I’m talking about bathrooms — everybody needs them.

If you frequent enough restaurants, even if you’re one of those people that can only take care of the business on your home throne, sooner or later there comes a need that can not wait; one that sends you on an embarrassing quest in search of the restroom.

You hope in these situations that the bathroom will maintain the same level of quality as the rest of the restaurant. And sometimes — hopefully not often — in certain restaurants you cross your fingers and pray to the god you may or may not believe in that the bathroom is maybe even a touch better than the rest of the joint.

bathroom1

This retro throwback, for instance, is from a bathroom I was recently faced with. It’s been along time since I’ve see one of these babies, and when you go toe-to-toe with one, you really do have to ask yourself: is it maybe more sanitary to not wash my hands?

It was a question I pondered long enough upon entering the bathroom that I had time to snap the picture while coming up with my game plan, but fear not, I did wash them — before drying them on my pants!

While not dirty in anyway there are also restaurants where the bathrooms just don’t meet your expectations not because they’re dirty, but because they’re a bit run down in comparison to the vibe the rest of the place is going for.

I know it’s because it’s technically the hotel’s, but on my last visit, with a steel trashcan complete with a kicked in dent, An American Place is a pretty good example of a bathroom that’s awfully worn down compared to the opulence of the restaurant it’s attached to. Plus, with lighting so bright compared to the restaurant that it’s like walking straight into the sun, they go for a double by adding another bathroom flaw.

Certainly I don’t mean to suggest dimmed lighting to cover up the sins of an unclean bathroom, but is there anything more jarring then walking from a dark restaurant into a disproportionately bright restroom?

There are also flukes; places where the bathrooms are particularly nice compared to the restaurant you’re in.

kohler.jpgStellina Pasta Cafe is one of these places. Not that their restaurant isn’t nice, but it has a mild identity crisis as it sits in limbo between order-at-the counter fast food and casual upscale dining. Yet they have one of the nicest restaurant bathrooms in St. Louis.

The first thing that hits you is that they have one of those fancy vessel sinks with the spout and handles that come right out of the wall. On the floor and wall they have a great deal of detailed tile work that looks like someone definitely spent some serious time on that bathroom.

They also have really nice towels to dry your hands with. That might not seem like a big deal, but who hasn’t dined at Niche and noticed they use actual cloth towels instead of paper towels? While unnecessary, it’s a touch of class that does not go unnoticed.

As you can see, like most things, this is something I’ve considered more than the average person, and not one to hold back an opinion, the obvious question is: Where do these exquisite shrines to your public needs await?

Truffle’s is one example of a really rockin’ bathroom. Although it’s another story entirely I worked there for about thirty days around the time they first opened. Easily containing a top contender for the 7 wonders of the men’s bathroom world, they have one of the urinals from the original American Theater. And it’s no ordinary toilet as it’s absolutely the biggest I have ever seen. Standing about five feet tall I would describe it as art deco, and as I recall, the whole thing was carved from a solid chunk of marble stretching from about my upper chest all the way down to the floor. Smaller men could just step right in, and children, forget about it — play it safe and send them to the stall because they would surely be swept away.

But of course the real point of this is that Araka’s bathroom…it’s slammin!

arakadoor3.jpg arakahandle.jpg
arakasink1.jpg

From the moment you grab the door handle and its interesting texture strikes you as you pull it open, to the moment you exit realizing that as cool as it looked on outside it’s nothing compared to it’s warm glow within, when David Schefer Design was designing Araka they didn’t stop in the front of the house — oh no — they took the vibe right on into the oft-overlooked but always necessary bathroom.

Inside walls are lined with sleek masculine tile, and beautiful wooden stall doors are outfitted with shiny chrome handles that (thanks to my TLC vocab) really pop.

And “sinks” are a thing of the past. Illuminated from the direct lighting above, water simply runs down the sloped contours of textured sea foam green glass where it collects in a shiny metallic trough running the length of wall.

And so, with even the choice of soap seeming deliberate as the neon orange liquid glows from within, in the world of restaurant facilities, if I’m handing out stars, Araka’s bathroom is a true five star affair.

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