Field Trip: Sazerac Tuesday at Old Standard Fried Chicken

My friend Jen and I have established a fabulous ritual that all cocktail-minded women of the world should consider: Sazerac Tuesdays! Sazerac Tuesdays: the best thing to happen to work weeks since weekends. Basically, we meet at various St. Louis cocktail spots and restaurants on Tuesdays and order Sazeracs. It’s a great tradition and you should try it. You should try it every Tuesday.

not Monday, not Wednesday.... Sazerac Tuesday!

not Monday, not Wednesday…. Sazerac Tuesday!

Jen is my favorite souvenir from our trip to St. John earlier this year. Dave and I encountered Jen and boyfriend Anthony (aka The Skeptical Cardiologist: find his unbiased, evidence-based, heart-healthy musings here) at the Fatty Crab in Cruz Bay one night; we discovered they were also from the STL area and also discovered they’re lots of fun and pretty great all-around; they had us at “yes, of course we should order another round of picklebacks.” Great minds thinking alike in boozy paradise.

Upon returning to St. Louis, Jen and I have Sazerac-ed Gamlin Whiskey House, The Royale, Pastaria, and Old Standard Fried Chicken and have separately Sazerac-ed at Planter’s House and Taste. This city is big and has become a stellar place to have a stellar cocktail. There is much more Sazerac-ing to be done around St. Louis, and we’re just the women to do it.

someone's gotta do it

here we come to save the daaaay!

Our most recent ST spot was Old Standard Fried Chicken. Old Standard is the brainchild of Ben Poremba, Tower Grove food wizard who brought Elaia, Olio, and Choquette to our fair city. The small restaurant, housed in what used to be a police stable on Tower Grove Avenue, showcases well-executed  fried chicken and an impressive selection of American whiskies. Poremba brings in his chickens from Miller Poultry in Orland, Indiana, a natural and humane poultry farm I envision to be not unlike the one in Portlandia (“Is it local?” “Yes, this is the chicken you’ll be enjoying tonight. His name was Colin, here are his papers…”). They’re fed an all-vegetarian diet and are hormone and antibiotic free. The chickens also vote in every election, support urban farming, and don’t vaccinate their children.

before Poremba, courtesy Google street view… after Poremba, photo credit Feast Magazine

After being brined and cooked in a pressure fryer to ensure consistency, Old Standard’s ethically raised, finger licking chicken is available à la carte, a service option that should be available at every restaurant with fried chicken on its menu. Jen and I started with the biscuit and bread basket, which came with a flaky biscuit, a fluffy biscuit, two types of cornbread, and our choice of three butters or jams. We went with the lemon-honey and pistachio-mint butters and the stone fruits jam. The biscuits were flaky and fluffy as promised, and the pistachio-mint butter was a real standout- I slathered it on every bite of bread I took. At just $7, the basket was a steal with quality much higher than its price and a good amount of food for two people.

old standard 1We each ordered a chicken leg, agreeing over our Sazeracs that dark meat trumps white meat, and split an order of skinny fries with blue cheese mayonnaise. I like eating with this girl because she’s not afraid to EAT FOOD. Butter? Yes. Dark meat? Yes yes. Blue cheese mayonnaise? Yes yes yes. YOLO, as the kids say. Our chicken legs and fries came out and my eyes, glittering with the reflection of drumsticks, had for once ordered appropriately for my stomach. Old Standard’s chicken legs are of a generous size, very juicy, not at all greasy, and have a slightly sweet flavor to it from the brine and possibly from the impeccable lifestyle they led before coming to Missouri. The fries were hot and crispy, the way Steak and Shake fries claim to be but never are, and the blue cheese mayonnaise- well,  how could blue cheese mayonnaise be bad?

old standard 3

To enjoy with the chicken and coming in just above my beloved pistachio-mint butter was another Better Than It Has To Be house-made condiment: Old Standard’s hot sauce. We ate at the bar and I was lucky enough to glimpse a nondescript but promising reddish-orange bottle behind the counter and requested that it be passed my way.  Good things come in unmarked squeeze bottles. Let me tell you: this stuff should be served at the door in shots. It’s perfectly balanced- spicy but not fiery, tangy but not a vinegar punch to the mouth, and quite literally made to be eaten with Old Standard’s fried chicken. I enjoyed my chicken leg in bliss, strategically exposing every nibble of crispy, meaty real estate onto which I could squeeze the hot sauce. If you go, please do yourself a favor and ask for it.

old standard 4

Lolo like-a da hot sauce

I suppose I should mention the Sazeracs since they got us here, didn’t they? They were great. You should go get one sometime. That’s all I have in the way of a Sazerac review- either they’re done well or they’re not, and OS didn’t mess around. In the way of beer, Urban Chestnut has an “Old Standard” pilsner on tap here- it’s quite tasty and pairs well with the chicken. Hints of honey, and it’s served in a stein (awesome). Anthony met us later in the night and was equally impressed by the chicken and by a side of braised red cabbage served in an individual cast-iron pot. On my next Old Standard visit, which I hope is sooner rather than later, I’m ordering the pickles, the boiled peanut hummus, and the greens (check out the rest of the creative yet authentically Southern menu here). It’s doubtful that anything on the Old Standard menu is less than outstanding; you owe it to yourself to check it out. Shoot, treat yo self. Maybe on a Tuesday… A Sazerac Tuesday.

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Momofuku’s Pork Buns

Buns. Bao. Pillowy, chewy, savory steamed buns stuffed with decadent pork belly, spicy sriracha, and bright, contrasting cucumber. Chef David Chang, the Korean-American, French-trained creator of legendary New York noodle bar and ramen heaven, Momofuku, rocketed pork buns into their sweet-salty limelight when he added his often imitated version to the Momofuku menu in 2004. Chang’s Momofuku is largely credited for the ramen craze and his signature pork buns have been equally influential.

momo

say this ten times fast in front of your mother

I like David Chang. He’s smart and talented and somehow an “everyman” but incredibly special at the same time. His Instagram makes my mouth water and he designed the Momofuku logo in part as a tribute to Eat a Peach. Which makes him fine by me. There are homages to Chang’s tasty buns (heh, heh, heh) everywhere, even in anti-coastal St. Louis, so the pork bun trend is established and legit. Let’s make some, mmkay?!

If you have time to marinate, roast, and chill the pork and to make the buns, which rise three times, they’re simple. You just need time. Eh, maybe quite a bit of time. Allow for a few hours of rising and prep time for the buns and a possible overnight marinating and chilling of the pork. These are more of an appetizer when made with pork belly since it’s so rich, so you can either be hardcore like the Cruses and eat these as a straight-up meal (I ain’t never scared), substitute a leaner cut of pork, or serve as an app. Glaze and grill tofu or stuff with kimchi and cucumbers for a vegan version.

MOMOFUKU’S PORK BUNS

Adpated from David Chang’s Momofuku Cookbook and Food 52

Makes 25 buns

Vanity Fair on the yin and yang of David Chang: His achievements notwithstanding, he is constantly haunted by feelings that he is out of his depth, even in the kitchen. He ascribes this to han, a uniquely Korean form of angst that manifests itself as both a resigned acceptance that life is difficult and a grim determination to struggle through this difficulty.

Ingredients:

For the pork and quick-pickled cucumbers:

  • 4lbs pork belly
  • 6 tbsp + 1 tbsp sugar
  • 6 tbsp kosher + 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cucumbers, cut into 1/8 inch slices

For the buns:

  • 2 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder, rounded
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/6 cup rendered pork fat, from the pork belly, at room temp
  • canola oil, for brushing
  • hoisin sauce
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • sriracha, for serving
  • prepared kimchi, for serving

Directions:

For the pork belly: mix the 6 tbsp salt and 6 tbsp sugar and rub all over the pork. Place the pork in a 9 x 13 dish or a roasting pan and cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. When the pork is cured, pour off any liquid from the baking dish and heat your oven to a blazing 450. Roast the pork for one hour, uncovered, basting halfway through. Lower the oven temp to 250 and roast the pork for an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the pork to a plate to cool and pour off some rendered fat to reserve for the bun dough (mmm. pork fat). Wrap with foil or plastic wrap and chill the pork until it’s cool enough to cut- we cooked the pork the day before we made the buns to allow for ample roasting and chilling time, which I highly recommend. Once chilled, the pork will slice and dice nicely. When you’re ready to eat, slice the pork into 2″ x 1/2″ slices and warm in a pan on the stove or microwave.

ch-ch-changes

ch-ch-changes

For the cucumbers: slice the cucumbers into 1/8″ thick rounds. I decoratively peeled mine with a zester because I’m fancy. Toss with 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp kosher salt. Let sit for 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use. So easy! Look at you, you’ve pickled something! So capable, you are.

For the buns: Add the yeast and 3/4 cup warm water to a the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the flour, sugar, dry milk powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and rendered fat. Turn the mixer on its lowest setting (I used “stir”) and let dough mix for 8 minutes, until it climbs the hook and forms a ball. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl and plop the dough ball in it; cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area to rise until doubled in size. What with it finally feeling like summer, feel free to place the bowl on a windowsill for extra cozy home points.

When the dough has doubled, punch it down with the back of your hand to expel most of the air. On a clean surface- I always use a large cutting board to work with dough, makes cleanup easier- form the dough into a ball or log. Divide into 5 equal pieces and roll those into logs. Cut each logs into 5 pieces the size of ping-pong balls. Use your knife to mark off the cutting areas before you slice. I made a double batch of dough, so these are double-batch photos:

Roll the ping pongs of dough into balls and place onto a baking sheet. Cover the sheet loosely with plastic wrap and allow the balls to rise 30 minutes. While these are rising, cut out 25 4″ squares of parchment paper to steam the buns on and slice the scallions. Refrigerate sliced scallions until ready to use.

When 30 minutes has passed and the balls of dough have puffed up a bit, use a rolling pin to roll each ball into a 4″ oval. Brush each oval lightly with oil, place on a square of parchment paper, and fold in half by folding a bun over itself onto a chopstick and sliding the chopstick out. Guess what? They have to rise again. PLace the squares of parchment back on the baking sheet or maybe across a counter, making sure not to let the buns touch. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise 30-45 more minutes. You’re almost there! We’re almost steaming!

And now…. we steam! Which means we eat soon! Set up a bamboo steamer (or other flat steamer) on a wok or over a large saucepan filled with about an inch of water, and bring the water to a boil. Place a few buns, parchment paper included, on the steamer, making sure not to overcrowd or allow the dough to touch. Cover and steam for 10 minutes per batch, removing buns to a platter as you go.

If you haven’t done so already, slice and heat the pork belly. Stuff 2-3 pieces of pork belly into each bun, topping with cucumbers, scallions, and 1 tsp hoisin sauce. Pass kimchi and sriracha and revel in your trendy culinary accomplishment!


Takeout Fakeout: CBW Steamed Veggie Bowl with Quinoa (v, gf)

Crazy Bowls and Wraps. I love this place. Crazy Bowls is a fast food chain where you can get all kinds of tasty creations, as healthy or unhealthy as you’d like, vegan or full-on carnivore, stuffed into a wrap or served over grains as a bowl with your choice of sauce.  Crazy Bowls is mainly in Missouri and California with a smattering of stores in Illinois, which seemed like a weird combination to me, until I thought of what other amazing thing Missouri and California share: Brad Pitt. That’s right. Let’s take a moment of silence for the sustaining force that is the MO-CA symbiotic relationship. Thank you, universe, for Brad Pitt. And thank you, Crazy Bowls, for inexplicably branching out into Eastern Missouri.

bright and beautiful

bright and beautiful

There’s a Crazy Bowls location with a drive though just a few minutes from my office and it’s where I go on the rare days I go to work lunchless. My order is the same every time I go. Every time. “Hi, may I please have the stir-fried veggie bowl with quinoa, double veggies, Thai sauce, and an extra side of Thai sauce? Thanks.” And the total is always $8.00, which always stings and makes me feel lazy and wasteful since I know how to cook a %&$#@ bowl of veggies for gosh sakes and since I know the bowl would cost about $2.00 to make.

Well, guess what? Today, I broke the witchy spell that veggie bowl had on me! I made my order at home, and way more of it. I know the ingredients by heart and grabbed a pre-made peanut sauce at Whole Foods to simplify the process.

saucesMy homemade bowl absolutely hit the spot and with a healthy bonus- I steamed the veggies instead of stir-frying them. Mind: blown. Have you made your favorite to-go food at home? Was it as satisfying? Here’s mine- let me know what you think!

STEAMED VEGGIE BOWL WITH QUINOA

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 head green cabbage, cut into 1/4 inch ribbons
  • 1/4 head red cabbage, cut into 1/4 inch ribbons
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into 1″ squares
  • 1 cup edamame
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1-2 cups quinoa, cooked according to package directions
  • bottled Thai peanut sauce or homemade sauce, ya showoff
  • Sriracha, for serving
  • optional: 1 cup kale, sliced into ribbons & 1 small zucchini, sliced into half moons (these are in the CBW bowl)

Directions:

You’re going to love this process- so easy and versatile! Chop all veggies. Put the quinoa on according to its package; as the quinoa cooks, set up a large pot and colander for steaming. Bring about 1/2 inch of water to boil in the pot, and add the veggies into the colander, with the carrots on bottom.

carrotsCover and cook about 10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa, spoon about 1/2 cup into bowls, then top with as many veggies as you’d like and some sauce.

eat up!

eat up!

Delicious! Meals like this will keep you young:


Ensaladilla Rusa (pes, gf)

The weekend of February 15th, I met Dave in D.C. for a lovely Valentine’s getaway. We stayed at the Willard the first night- which was FABULOUS and made me feel very important and as if I needed an official seal or something- and stayed with my lovely aunt & uncle in Annandale the rest of the trip. We walked all over the place, we saw art, we posed with sculptures, we ate tacos, we drank Yuengling, we ran and walked in Maryland and saw falls and boat locks, and there were memorable oysters at the Old Ebbitt Grill and an inspiring dish of ensaladilla Rusa at Jaleo.

ensaladilla rusa

What is ensaladilla Rusa, lady? you may ask, and why should I care about Jaleo? Well. You’ll be happy to know that ensaladilla Rusa is an iconic Spanish tapa, basically a simply dressed potato salad with tuna and peas. I’d read about it before, but we tried it for the first time at the José Andrés-owned Jaleo, a busy tapas spot on 7th Street in Penn  Quarter. Jaleo is full of tourists (like us) but the food is fast and tasty. I am always fine with having anything to do with José Andrés, who I admire very much, and Jaleo is an accessible way to try one of his restaurants with little-to-no planning required. Find his bio here– just know that he’s a legendary Spanish chef and a visionary. I won’t drag my chef groupie-ism out any longer than I need to… but check him out.

the spectacular Willard

the spectacular Willard

So! Those things being said, I recreated the tapa at home and it made quite the bright and tasty spring dinner. I’m looking forward to having it as a bright and tasty spring lunch tomorrow.

ENSALADILLA RUSA

Adapted from a José Andrés recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 red potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 2 cups shredded carrot, chopped
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh peas
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 large can white albacore tuna, drained
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • light mayonnaise, about 3/4 cup
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Carefully place the potatoes into the water, and boil for ten minutes (don’t drain yet- keep reading). While the potatoes are boiling, I’ll mention a fool-proof way to hard-boil eggs: place eggs in a pot and cover with an inch of cold water. Bring to a boil, then immediately cover and remove from heat. Let sit, covered, for 15 minutes, then remove to a bowl of ice water for five more. Perfect, and no green rings on the yolks!

poifect!

poifect!

Okay, back to the kitchen. Heat the peas for a minute in your microwave and drain; place in a large mixing bowl. Chop and add the parsley. Drain the tuna, drizzle it with the olive oil, and let sit. If the ten minutes are up on your potatoes, add the shredded carrots to the boiling water and cook them both for five minutes more, and drain.

the goods

the goods

Let the potatoes cool to room temperature, which should take t 10-15 minutes. While you wait, chop the eggs into small dice. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle and not crumbling when you cut them, cut them into 1/2 inch dice. Carefully stir the peas, parsley, and potatoes together; then carefully stir in the eggs. Stir in the 3/4 cup mayo, and then fold in the tuna. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. This will be a room-temperature dish. Serve with cracked black pepper and enjoy!

Quick shout-out to one of my other main men, John Singer Sargent, and the first Jaleo to capture my heart in the capital, long ago.

And here’s an allez! gourmet recipe for another spin on potato salad- broccoli and potato gribiche!


Follow allez! Gourmet On Twitter

bluebird5

Hey, folks! I’ve broken down and created a currently bare-boned twitter page, which I plan to use primarily for restaurant/grocery store/food news-and-industry-type posts. I’ll still post my recipes here, at the Allez! Gourmet homepage.

So! Follow me. Tell me what you’re eating. See what I’m eating. See what the people around me are eating and wonder why they ordered that, anyway. I can be found at @AllezGourmet.


BIG Summer Steak Salad with Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette (gf)

 

It’s HOT in Saint Louis. Close to 100 degrees hot, and actually entering triple-digits tomorrow. The heat has forced us outside (ironically), to grill quick meals and then run inside and eat them like hungry vampires in the safety of our cool, dark home.

yowza

I had a simple but phenomenal steak salad at Over/Under on Wash Ave last week, and began craving steak salad as soon as I’d polished off the last bite. We had a pretty active and busy weekend, and making a grilled steak salad at home seemed to fit the healthy, fast, craving-satisfaction bill. And I’ll be the first to admit that I’m one to eat and repeat (and repeat, and repeat) when I stumble across a meal that particularly hits the spot.

you look beautiful when you’re undressed

BIG SUMMER STEAK SALAD

For the salad. Ingredients:

  • 1 container Organic Girl Supergreens! or other bagged salad greens
  • 1- 1 1/2 lbs skirt steak
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • sprinkling of sugar
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 container NatureSweet Cherubs grape tomatoes- you can leave these whole
  • 1 cucumber, cut into chunks or slices (I like chunks)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • a handful of cilantro, washed and roughly chopped

Directions:

Preheat your grill to a medium-high setting. At room temperature, combine the canola oil, sugar, and soy, and spread over both sides of the flank steak. Let this sit and marinate while the grill heats up. Once hot, grill to desired doneness- I find that cheaper cuts like flank steak do well when cooked rare-to- medium rare, and always cut on the bias. Anyway, grill to your desired doneness (turning once) and let rest while you assemble the salad and dressing.

While the meat is resting, assemble the (prewashed!) greens in a pretty bowl. Slice the red onion, cut the cucumber, slice the avocado, and assemble all of those, along with the tomatoes, on top of your greens. Lovely!! If you’re a vegetarian, eat now!

delicious sans-steak

Meat eater or not, it’s time to make the dressing:

EASY BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE

For the dressing. Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp coarse ground mustard
  • large pinch salt
  • generous grinding of black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried parsley

Mix all ingredients except olive oil together in a small mixing bowl. Let sit for five minutes. Go feed the cat or pour yourself a glass of wine while this is sitting. When your wine has been poured, whisk in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, emulsifying it into the dressing. This is a delicious salad topper, and can be kept for days at room temperature. Yay! You’ve saved yourself a step for tomorrow’s dinner!

whisk it good

Slice the rested flank steak across the grain, at a bias, the best you can. You’ll need a sharp knife for this, and a serrated knife may pull at the delicate graining of the meat. The point of cutting this way is to tenderize the steak- cutting on the bias, against the grain actually makes sliced meat more tender and palatable. Message!

Now- grab your favorite BIG Salad Bowl, assemble greens, top with veggies, then with avocado and steak. Serve!! Enjoy your summery meal!!

dinner is served


Field Trip: Duff’s

To explain my absence during the last week, I had the stomach flu. Not. Good. Sunday, I finally had the energy to have a (delightful) day among the living… and it included food! Joy of joys!
We started our day with brunch at Duff’s, in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis. Duff’s is the kind of spot that’s been around for decades, is upscale casual, and serves simple, straight-up, delicious food. And I was blown away by their wall art: mob movie quilts!!

20120212-130015.jpg

could this idea BE any better!?!

The quilts had descriptive panels sewn onto them: money on The Godfather, little guns on Scarface… so funny! And mob unrelated, but no less spectacular, the piece de résistance: the Priscilla, Queen of the Desert quilt!!

20120212-130208.jpg
The vivid colors and clever subject of these quilts really brightened my day, and so did my food. I stuck with something simple and had scrambled eggs, which came with fruit and a toasted English muffin. Nothing too spectacularly different, but a safe bet for my battered stomach. I also treated myself to a piece of cinnamon raisin French toast on the side, which was a great call. Duff’s also serves a very fragrant iced tea that’s worth trying on your next visit. Looking forward to the coming week, which will involve cooking and eating instead of yacking and sleeping! Appetite > Stomach Flu

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classic breakfast… I can eat again!!


Camarofongo and Dominican Food

ca-ma-ro-fon-go

Last November, Dave and I made our first joint trip to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, my Dad’s hometown. We had an unforgettable time with my family, and every meal was special. I’m thrilled to have a family who is as equally food and cooking obsessed as I am, and chock-full of skilled home chefs.

A standout on this trip was lunch on an overcast day, watching the clouds roll in over the ocean. My cousin Michelle took us to Adrian Tropical, a famed mofongo spot on Avenida George Washington in S.D. for, you guessed it, mofongo (and fresh-squeezed tropical fruit juices).

Mofongo is a traditional Dominican dish of stuffed, mashed plaintains. The plaintains are fried and mashed with garlic, herbs and spices, and pork rinds, and served heaped onto a traditional wooden mortar. The dish is an incredibly flavorful indulgence, in an umami way; its sum is much greater than its parts.

On this visit, I tried a garlicky, brothy new spin on mofongo: camarofongo- mofongo with shrimp! Even though that meal is approaching, you know, 4 months in the past, I crave it daily- ha!! I thought the next best thing to having it flown in or drooling over the picture on my phone any more would be writing about mofongo, and my beloved camarofongo.

Note on La Comida Dominicana: contrary to popular belief, Dominican food is not spicy, nor does it involve tortillas (that’s Mexico, folks). Picture a lot of rice, beans, poultry, seafood, platano (plaintains), and bright, savory flavors, served family-style.* If you’re interested in Dominican food and cooking, Aunt Clara’s Dominican Cooking is a great site to visit. Clara is great at not only creating very easy-to-follow recipes, but explaining the significance of each dish and adding cooking tips. She mentions this very camarofongo dish on her website, too- the girl has great taste!!

Buen provecho!!!! 

*my mouth is watering right now……