Monday, February 27, 2017

The London Tea Room

I'm a tea person. 

I usually prefer a strong black tea to start my mornings (weekday or weekend) and then switch to an herbal fruit-sweetened blend after midday. But sometimes, I want a chocolate-flavored tea. And sometimes, when the mood strikes me, I really crave a sharp green tea or an ultra peachy drink. Basically, I like having tea choices. 

And because I'm an impatient millennial and demand instant gratification, I'm pretty damn lucky that St. Louis has The London Tea Room so I can get the tea I want instantaneously (and pick up a pastry for Ben, of course!) 

Whenever I stop in, I'm always lured by their pretty tea ware displays. If you come with me, I'll ogle at tea towels like a mad person. 

I've have a couple of mainstays I always keep "in stock" at home in pretty tin cans: their Naughty Vicar blend and Coconut Oolong. For this trip, it was a quick in and out, stock up on essentials kind of visit, and Ben slunk off to get a Victoria Sponge to keep him occupied. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Humboldt, TN

A couple of weeks back, Ben and I decided on a quick day trip to Humboldt, TN to check out Companion Gallery where one of our favorite potters, Tim Kowalczyk was showing his trompe l'oeil work. Three and a half hours later, we found ourselves on the edge of a hibernating vineyard framed by the bluest skies and come-hither sunlight. 

After a quick stop at Crown Winery, where we had a couple sips here and there, we emerged with a couple of delectable bottles of Moscato and Traminette to be enjoyed after our drive home. After all, we had pottery to check out!

The Companion Gallery is located right next to the winery's villa and offers stunning views of the vines and a couple of massive white silos in the back. Ben and I, unfortunately, neglected to take any pictures of the inside because we spend the next two and a half hours in animated conversation with the gallery's owner. Priorities, people! We did get a few pieces that we will show in future posts-- so stay tuned!

No day trip would be complete without partaking in the local fare, and Ben and I felt like eating large slabs of meat. No lie-- we spent a lot of time looking for the optimal barbecue joint, and thank goodness we chose Sam's Bar-B-Q. Unassuming and unfussy, it sated our cravings perfectly. 

We both ordered rib plates, and let me tell you: those ribs were fucking delicious. The meat was tender, juicy, and exceptionally flavored. AND THE BAKED BEANS. You guys, I don't rave about baked beans much because they're just beans, but these beans were the tastiest baked beans I've ever had. The beans actually took center stage flavor-wise as opposed to the sweet/smoky sauce that usually overpowers them. 

For dessert, Ben and I split our first Buttermilk Pie. It tasted like custard heaven, ya'll. And I pretty much gabbed about the sweet crust the entire way home. 

On the cloudy drive back, we passed by little towns called Friendship, and I goggled at the massive Mississippi River.

Below is the piece we took home with us. I'm so thrilled to finally have this in my cupboard!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Local Soaps

We're testing out some new-to-us local soap brands this week. We love that there are so many options for locally made soaps in StL, and though I usually go for more frou-frou, chock-full-of-glitter bars, this time, we decided to try Seedgeeks and Hermann Handmade for more natural scents. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Pastry Fiend(s)

Just to make sure we're all on the same page, I wanna make sure it's clear: I am not the pastry fiend you think I am. Ben is. 80% of all pastries photographed and purchased by us is consumed by him. Unabashedly. I just go along for the (delicious) ride and take nibbles here and there. 

Except when it comes to macarons. Or Frangipane. 

OK. Maybe Ben's consumption is closer to 70%. Still-- he's more a fiend than I am. But I'm still a fiend, I suppose.

These treats are from La Patisserie Chouquette, a beautiful, small French bakery in the Tower Grove neighborhood. They have a lovely little area for eating in, but Ben and I prefer to purchase a few treats and brew a cuppa English tea and nibble while we read our books at home. Homebodies we are, yes. 

For this visit, we picked up an assortment of macarons (they always have new and different flavors to choose from). Our favorites being the Bananas Foster (his) and Espresso (mine). Since Ben loves anything cream-filled, I got him a strawberry shortcake Chouquette, which was lovely (according to him, since I barely got a taste.) Not being too big a fan of Choux (I know, kill me now) I got myself a slice of Frangipane with almonds and berries and apricots on top. Fruity goodness! 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Burgers at the end of the Work Week Tunnel

Sometimes, at the end of a long, hard work week, giving into your cravings becomes the ultimate reward you can give yourself. And at the end of this week, Ben and I had mad cravings for burgers.

Luckily, our Carondelet neighborhood has Stacked, one of our favorite burger joints to visit. I say one of our favorites because Ben is pretty partial to a greasier burger from another establishment which he swears is just so much better because of all that grease. Uh, no thanks. 

We love coming to Stacked because apart from all the options on their menu, you can also customize your burger! AND their sweet potato fries seasoned with Parmesan and herbs are omg so freaking tasty. 

This time, I got a bun-less Wakey-Wakey burger that comes with a fried egg, bacon, and strawberry maple jam. WITH a side of sweet tater fries. Yes. I was in total treat mode. Ben opted for a healthier side salad to go with his Burger of the Month which had a crab rangoon spread, fried wontons, and sweet and sour sauce all over the beef/pork patty. Hmmm. I guess he was in total treat mode too. 

But hey, treats are good. I mean, just look at our content faces after we had demolished our meals!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Perfect Brunch Alternative

Oh boy. As I type this I realize that this blog is quickly becoming a collection of food posts. What can I say but "a girl and her guy gotta eat!" The reality is, Ben and I visit a lot of local restaurants during the weekend to give us a break from our weekly work routine and meal prepping. We love exploring neighborhoods and trying out as many ethnic places as we can find. 

We found Sameem last year while looking for a place on The Grove to have lunch. Being as it was a weekend, every restaurant was serving brunch, and Ben and I were definitely not in the mood to get egged and mimosa'd. Luckily, we walked right by this tiny restaurant that boasted authentic Afghan and Persian cuisine, and we were instantly sold!

Sameem is now one of our regular haunts, and almost every time we visit (ok, every time we visit) we order their appetizer plate which includes hummus, falafel, eggplant burani, and pakowras. They serve the plate with spicy green sauce and cucumber salad. And yes, we got the appetizer plate this last time too. See photo above!

We split the dish below, a flavorful goat curry, which was their special of the day. The flavor of the curry was perfectly balanced and the meat was super tender. The fragrant rice was chock full of garbanzos and veggies and was well proportioned to the meat. 

Apart from their delicious food, we also really love coming for their amazing service. All their waitstaff are extremely friendly and have always given us great recommendations.  

Monday, February 13, 2017

Seafood Obsessed in the Midwest

It's taken me ten long years to finally accept that seafood in the Midwest just doesn't taste as good as getting it from the coasts. I know, I know. It's common sense. But it's hard of me to give up food I grew up eating. And sushi. OMG I love sushi. And Ben loves it too. So much so that we'd made it our mission to look for the best sushi restaurant in our area and vow to never stray from it even when the cravings hit hard.

We found Tokyo Sushi about two years after we moved to StL, and though we have an aversion to going to the suburbs for restaurants, we decided to trek to Kirkwood to try it out. And we were pleasantly surprised. 

We gave into our cravings for my birthday last month, and I had to order my favorite Sunomono Salad, which is chock full of seaweed and lightly pickled cucumbers. I also had to have the softshell crab tempura plate, because SOFTSHELL CRAB! I mean, I am just thrilled to find softshell crab in any form here in the Midwest! Of course we had to get some fish. We usually get sashimi, but this time, we opted for a roll and some nigiri-- toro for Ben because he's obsessed with fatty tuna!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Our Type of Literature

Picked up this month's issues of Sauce and Feast while shopping for snacks (which happens multiple times a week for us. We ARE snack monsters after all.) Though I've always preferred to hunt for food joints via word of mouth or reading between the lines of Yelp and Google reviews, I really do love perusing these magazines for new restaurants, hidden gems, and even recipes. 

How awesome is it that February's issue of  Sauce is all about PIZZA? I can't think of a more romantic food! Also super stoked about the Nathaniel Reid Bakery story in Feast because their pastries are pure heaven. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Lunar New Year Dim Sum

I've never celebrated the Lunar New Year until I moved to Midwest America.

It's true. Growing up, I can recall one time when I actually witnessed a Dragon Dance in parade. It was the same day I was allowed to choose pickled plums from a wall of jars full of the stuff. I remember those dark purple plums so well that my mouth salivates just at the memory of them. 

Truth is, I don't really celebrate the new year as much as get in the mood to get Dim Sum. And this year, Ben and I lucked out by going to a new-to-us restaurant, Wonton King, that actually had a Dragon Dance scheduled the very day we decided to go!

Dim Sum-wise, Ben and I are pretty steady in our selections. We always get a couple of Shumai (this time, it was shrimp and scallop) and he always ends up ordering Steamed Buns. I always like getting a couple of meat dishes, and my favorite is the crispy pork pictured above, served with pickled veggies-- the perfect complement to rich, fatty pork. 

Ben's developed a deep devotion to Lo Mai Gai, sticky rice stuffed with meat, wrapped in a lotus leaf then steamed. The ones we had were scrumptious and were crazy stuffed!

Chicken Feet. We get it every time we have Dim Sum. These were huge,  meaty, and perfectly tender. 

If you offer me anything with shrimp, I'm bound to say "yes, please." So here you have fried shrimp balls with a crispy coating. The sweet sauce was a bit much for me, so I dipped my balls in hot chili oil and enjoyed every spicy bite. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Rule-breaking Doughnuts

We believe that Sundays are for lazing about. It's probably the only day during the week when Ben and I treat ourselves by getting out of bed after seven a.m. and moseying about without committing to any plans. But hunger strikes almost immediately after we decide to arise. Perhaps due to the fact that it's routine for us to immediately break the fast every morning.  

We also believe that weekends are for indulging. So, it doesn't take much for us to agree to drive across town in Clayton for Vincent Van Doughnuts. And trust us, these doughnuts are worth the 20+ minute drive. They're pretty much the only doughnuts I'll break my low-carb rule for, and I won't even feel guilty about doing so. Their Maple Bacon doughnut is my ultimate favorite, and 9 times out of 10, I'll order that with a cup of Sump coffee. 

This time, we went full out carb loading and ordered each a biscoche-- a delicious fusion of biscuit and kolache. Ben had a sausage and gravy biscoche, and I noshed on a bacon, egg, and cheese-filled delight. Because it's Sunday, we had a Maple Bacon doughnut for dessert. For breakfast. 

Totes worth it. 
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