Category Archives: St. Louis
I do brunch often, and recommend it for a healthy mind. We travel St. Louis city, ALL surrounding counties, and the Greater St. Charles vicinity as well, in search of the ultimate brunch experience. It really is all about creating the perfect marriage of ambiance, service, and good food. I love warm, cozy little diners. Admittedly, I choose a chain every now and again for the sake of … well… IHOP is just GOOD sometimes!
My recent brunch experience leads me to a place that continues to deliver the divine, and keeps me coming back to one of the staples of the St. Louis brunch scene. It is where I KNOW my food will be delicious AND sustainable, the service is awesome, and I will depart as a very happy (and stuffed!) brunch goer. Oh, the prime Central West End location right next door to Bissinger’s for a GREAT little post-brunch chocolaty treat doesn’t hurt one bit! I am speaking of Scape American Bistro on Maryland Plaza. If you haven’t been, you’ve got to go!
Initially, I just kept going back to Scape for the shrimp and grits. It’s lick-the-plate delicious. Every time I go, I daydream the chef coming to my table to scrape the last little bit of grits onto my cleanly-licked plate. Of course, it was only just a dream. But all great ideas start with a dream. And when I dream of the Nutty Waffle (malted pecan waffle with nutella, pistachio and warm maple syrup) for more than 3 nights concurrently, we know it’s time to make a trip back to Scape.
We have yet to have a negative experience among the multitude of times we’ve been to Scape for brunch. After trying nearly everything on the menu, it is decidedly flawless. The execution of each dish is consistent from visit to visit. The service is polished, and sings of an understated elegance that creates an ambiance fit for a Sunday brunch. And most brunches are defined by their potato. Seriously: if the potato is good, you know the food is good. Scape serves breakfast potatoes piping hot, and bursting with yum.
This is “Aunt Nei Nei’s Famous Potato Soup.” And be on the lookout for MORE FlavorPhilia soup recipes throughout the season! Soup is a forgiving dish. Unless an ingredient is burned or turned, you can usually doctor any errors made in seasoning. It’s a perfect dish for the Midwest winter, and feels cozy and comfortable.
OK! The Soup!
- 5 lbs. peeled and chopped potatoes (I use Yukon Gold, sometimes red)
- 1 standard Package of thick Peppered Bacon
- 1 cup finely diced celery
- 1 cup finely diced carrots
- 1/2 cup of chopped parsley
- 2 cups finely chopped onion (I use yellow)
- 4 Cloves of fresh garlic, crushed & finely chopped
- Rosemary, to taste
- Salt, to taste
- Fresh Cracked Black pepper, to taste
- 2 Chicken or Vegetable Bouillon cubes
- 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick of REAL butter!!!)
- 2 Cans of Evaporated Milk
- 8 oz. of Heavy Whipping Cream
- Whole Milk (to consistency – usually a quart)
- Freshly Grated Cheese (your taste)
- Sour Cream
- Chopped Scallions
- Boil potatoes in salted water until soft in a large stock pot.
- While the potatoes boil, fry bacon until crispy, & reserve bacon fat. Place crisped bacon to the side.
- Drain potatoes, & hold.
- In a LARGE stock pot, heat rendered bacon fat with the butter. Add carrots, celery, onions, rosemary, parsley, garlic, chicken bouillon, salt & pepper & cook until tender.
- Stir in potatoes & crumbled peppered bacon.
- Add the dairy to preferred consistency, and let it stew together for a while – until you can’t stand it any more, and you have to eat it! (At least 30 minutes, simmering)
And use what you like. Substitute the rosemary for sage. Use white instead of yellow onions… or LEEKS! Whatevs! (I mean, the yellow onions are so sweet and melty, but… to each his own! (Speaking of onions, see my roasted garlic and onions below!! In the soup, it’s divine! In ANYTHING, it’s divine!) I’ve also subbed veggie bacon for the real bacon, and vegetable bouillon for the chicken. I’ve omitted the parsley. I’ve used buttermilk, half and half… you name it, I’m sure I’ve done it. BUT, the recipe above is the one everyone keeps coming back to devour. We almost NEVER have leftovers
Perhaps it’s my methodology. Perhaps it’s the extreme over-sweet coating lingering in the back of my throat long after swallowing. Perhaps I simply need some PRACTICE.
Cake balls are ALL the rage, and I’m not nailing it.
My friend B came over one Tuesday morning, and brought this bad-a$$ cake ball book.
Bakerella ‘Cake Pops’
SO! We got to work. We practiced our ball creations. We made some bad-a$$ frosting, and MAN! Our cake balls were good when we made them. Super sweet, but good. The thing is: we dipped them in Ghirardelli chocolate. (It’s my fave!) Now, ANYTHING dipped in chocolate will be delish, but MAN… I’m tellin ya! HUZZAH! We baked a yellow cake mix. B mixed up some homemade buttercream, and I added vanilla bean paste. It’s the nectar of the gods… totally made my entire life worth living. Seriously. If you don’t have vanilla bean paste in your kitchen, RUN. Don’t walk, RUN. RUN to your nearest grocer or GOOGLE it, for heaven’s sake. It’s SO almost 2012, and you CAN find it!
But I digress.
Back to the balls.
SO. B and I made some pretty good balls. They were lacking in consistency, and I didn’t have Popsicle sticks to try making the POPS. But they were tasty. When I made them on my own, I had a couple of challenges. First, I think my initial ball size was too big. They wouldn’t stay on the stick! So, I read the book again, and of course, she directs you to a precise quarter-size ball. Yes, my balls were WAY too big. Story of my life! Anyway, I found my consistency to still lack the staying power I really wanted, and I added some cream cheese to my buttercream, and placed the smaller balls in the freezer.
They were GORGEOUS! I failed to photograph this time, but I promise I will be attempting again. I used the white chocolate candy coating, and pink sugar sprinkles with strawberry cake. Now. The CAKE ball portion was delicious. But I think… I just don’t like white balls.
Ah, coffee. As a hospitality mom working crazy hours with two babies – one teething 5 month old, and a 19 month old – I’d pump coffee into my body intravenously if I could. But I’d miss the FLAVOR! The first sip of the morning is cathartic. This week, coffee has been my BFF. And BLESS our Director of Catering, Shelly, for my skinny latte at 3:00pm. You have no idea.
There are some rather phenomenal coffees these days. I credit and thank my former boss, Judge Baker, for turning me into the coffee snob I am today. I was her judicial admin, and decided that it was a very “admin” thing to prepare coffee for the office in the mornings. SO I went to Target and bought a horribly crummy, leaky coffee pot and some Folger’s. Needless to say, within a week, Judge Baker had a Gevalia subscription and a new coffee machine.
This turned into a weekly trip to the City Grocer with Josie, and an introduction to “The Coffee Wall.” Fresh roasted beans, freshly ground, and brewed into glorious caffeinated nectar. Going to the School of Josie on coffee, I learned ever so much. She really opened my eyes and heart to the understanding of the religion of Coffee. And then, there was Jon.
One day, he came into Judge’s chambers with his mug, and asked if I’d tried Highlander Grog. It changed my life
Every morning this week, O has kindly brewed a pot of hair-growing Highlander Grog. The aroma fills the house with thick sweet-syrup scent, and I ALMOST taste pancakes with each breath. All Kaldi’s coffees that I’ve tried so far are truly divine, but this is far and away my favorite. Click. Buy. Brew. Believe.
I also recently tried a Peruvian micro-roasted bright brew. *sigh* I LOVE bright brews, but my faves are still the dark roasts. As a sucker for a delicious espresso, the dark roast preference makes sense. It’s reminiscent of a dark, luscious 80% chocolate bar, or a throaty red Syrah. THESE. Are a few of my favorite things…