Friday, April 30, 2010


This post is less about sippin' stuff, and more about my personal life. I used to blog a little more about my own life on Fridays, and I just might start doing that again. Today's issue is about dreams. Not necessarily about dreaming at night, but more about the goals that the Mrs and I have for our lives. T.E. Lawrence once said:

"All men dream, but not equally: Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible."

With this in mind, I present to you two of the dreams that we have for our life. First of all is this bad boy
One of the Wife's dreams is to one day own a refurbished Airstream trailer, and to travel around the country for a month or two completely without an agenda. We would just go for a while, stop where we wanted, stay as long as we wanted, and then move on if we so desired. I love this idea. It would be awesome to explore this nation of ours with the woman I love in a bad ass trailer.

If that is the picture of her dream, then here is the picture of mine:

Anyone that has been around me for more than about 30 minutes knows that I'm sort of a beach bum stuck in the midwest. I grew up with access to a wonderful lake house in Arkansas, and that burned in my persona the need that families have for a place to vacation together. Therefore, I want to someday have a beach house that our family can go to whenever we want.
So, there you have it. Those are some of our dreams. What are yours?
Cheers, have a wonderful weekend, and drink a mint julep while watching the Derby.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ponies and Butterflies

I titled today's post that, because my wife told me to blog about Ponies and Butterflies. I really don't have much to say about either subject- Ponies are what little girls want for Christmas, but rarely get. Butterflies are fine. I have heard that the flapping of their wings affects the tides in Japan, or something like that.

Now on to business. If you haven't heard, tonight is Dining Out for Life- an annual event where local restaurants give a portion (sometimes up to 100%) of their sales of one night to benefit AIDS research. Reservations are tough to get, and most restaurants are packed, but it's a good reason to go out and eat, and feel good about it at the same time. Check out for more info.

Also check out Andrew Mark Veety's blog (listed on the side)- he is on a quest to find Saint Louis' best hamburger, and reviews McGurk's.

Lastly, on to Sippin' stuff. We have decided to make Wednesdays into "Wine Wednesday", and open a nice bottle of wine with dinner. The first bottle I opened was a 2004 Neyers Tofanelli Zinfandel, but it was corked. Secondly, I opened a 2001 Rodano Chianti Classico Reserva. It was delicious, with a really cool note of dried roses on the nose. Go find some, you'll enjoy it.

That's all folks, Cheers.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


The Death's Door liquors are also available at Five on the Hill.

Not much today

I'm just not feeling it today. The sun is out, maybe I'll go try to soak some up.

Sippin'-wise, go have some Death's Door Gin- it's available at Wine Merchant, Wine and Cheese Places, Friar Tucks, Atomic Cowboy, Taste by Niche, and Pi in CWE.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Beer I Didn't Care For

Very seldomly do I post negative things on here. Maybe it's the dreary weather, or maybe it's the fact I'm behind on my weight loss goals. At any rate, yesterday I tried a beer that I really, truly, honestly, thought about giving back to the bartender.

To set the scene, I was at a "Tweet-up". For those of you who don't know what that is, it is when a bunch of people on Twitter, some of whom have never met before, all meet in a given place at a certain time, to discuss a common subject. Because this is Craft Beer Week in Saint Louis, some of the local beer geeks and food bloggers all met at the Bridge (new spot- 10th and Locust, check it out) to talk about beer.

I tried the Schlafly Organic Pale Cask Ale (or something like that)- a beer straight from cask that has less carbonation than normal. I really liked it. After that, the mistake was made. I overheard someone talking about the New Holland Envious. "What the heck, I guess I'll give it a try. These guys know about beer" was my thought. Upon trying it, my initial response was that it tasted just like grape soda. Bill Burge tried it as well, and concurred. It just had a weird mouth-feel to it that I didn't enjoy. I looked it up on the New Holland Website, and it seems that they use pears and raspberries to create a secondary fermentation, and add tartness to it. Kind of like the ugly kid in class, or the little girl who is terrible at the clarinet, I'm sure there's someone that is really proud of this beer. For me, I'll stick with my Guinness.

Have a great day, drink something good.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Beers and Brats, Craft Beer Week has begun

Saturday, dozens of people decended upon 33 wine bar in Lafayette square for what has become the annual kickoff to Saint Louis Craft Beer Week, the "Beers and Brats" fest. The boys from Salume Beddu made up some killer Salsicca with pork, fennel, spanish paprika, chili flakes, and a bunch of other stuff, and were smothering them with home made sauerkraut, onions, and a pepper relish. Man, these things were killer! They grilled until about 2:00, when yours truly took over the tongs, and started burning some meat. This lasted until God decided to re-enact the flood of Genesis, and we had to pull it inside.

All of this to say that this is Craft Beer week here in the Lou. Since I'm not as much up on the beer scene as I would like, I would suggest you follow Mike Sweeny on, or his Twitter feed at @mikedrinksbeer. There is something going on just about every night this week that will give you ample opportunity to check out cool brews.

That's all for now. Have a great week, and Cheers!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wow...that was expensive

Since when did Pizza and a Movie become a special-occasion type of thing? Last night, the Mrs. and I broke away from our healthy eating and fitness plan to have a night on the town. We started with a first-time experience for her at Lemmons. They have delicious deep-dish style pizza (be forwarned- the 14" is WAY too much for two people. I had two pieces, she had one). The cost of wings, pizza and $2 beer: $50. Then we hit the movie theatre. Tickets were $9.50 each, and snacks there zinged us for another $20 even. For those of you keeping track, we had now spent $89.50 before we even sat down in our seats at the theatre. Holy Crap! I know this "growing older" thing is expensive, I just wasn't expecting that. As a side note, we saw Kickass which was pretty good, not amazing. I grade it 82/100.

At any expense, it was a really fun night with my beautiful bride, and I'm glad we went.

Have a great weekend folks- Cheers.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Don't Call It A Comeback

The last post that I had was about how I messed up a food and wine pairing. Last night, I redeemed myself by throwing one out there that was absolutely spot on. For dinner, we made some chicken tostadas that had a bit of spice to them, as well as quite a bit of acid from some pickled onions. What have I said in the past about pairing with spicy foods? Think slightly sweet wines. Also, since the acid from the onions was so high, I needed something that was also highly acidic. High acid plus slightly sweet equals German Riesling. We tried a 2007 Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Kabinett that was a really good wine, and went great with the tostadas. Ole!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An Argentinean Mismatch

One of the things I pride myself on is the ability to match food with wine. I tend to think that I have a good sense of flavor memory, not only for the wines I have had before, but also for food. Last night, I had a big ol' "swing and a miss". For dinner, I had prepared a seared flank steak with a chimichurri sauce. If you have never tried chimichurri, it is a combination of fresh parsley, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and a couple of other things that is popular in Argentina. Since we were having a steak with a preparation from down South, I figured that a wine from Argentina would go best with it. That's one way to cheat on food and wine pairing- look for wines that are indigenous to the area that you are making the food from. I chose a 2008 malbec from Ben Marco, one of my favorite Argentinean producers. In this case, it simply didn't match well. Both were delicious in their own right. I was hoping that the malbec was still a little "green" to go with the parsley, but it wasn't. It was dark, smoky, and had amazing red fruit components to it. The steak preparation was bright, fresh, and green. These are just two flavor profiles that tend to clash a little bit. In retrospect, I would have been better served to do something with a little more acid- maybe a rose of malbec (there are good ones out there from Crios and from Vida Organica.)
Oh well, I'm sure even Picasso had a bad day once.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wine for the spring: Viognier

I know I have written about viognier before, but due to the local gorgeous weather, I thought it bears repeating. This mid-weight, rarely-oaked white grape originated in southern France. There, it is the sole grape in Condrieu, and is often blended with Syrah in certain areas of Cote Rotie. The popularity sent this grape to flourish in Australia and California where it is blended in the same manner with Syrah/Shiraz, with other grapes, or produced on its own. It is somewhat susceptible to disease, which makes it a touch rare, but the versions you can find out there are typically inexpensive and delicious. The wines have a definite floral note- think walking through the fresh flower section at Whole Foods- along with a bit of viscosity that will help it stand out in a blind tasting. For your money, I would highly recommend the Yalumba (from Australia) which is a bit on the crisper side, the White Knight (from California) which has some alcohol "oomph" to it, or the blended wine that Pine Ridge makes using Viognier and Chenin Blanc. All are wonderful choices for sippin' on your back patio, and will cost you less than $20.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Good wines from the weekend

This weekend, we went over to Kansas City to celebrate our family reunion, my dad's 59th birthday, and my dad's retirement party. Whew!

First of all, I tried Bud 55. This is the new, 55 calorie, 3.2% alcohol beer that is being sold as "healthy". It pretty much tastes like most other AB products- not bad, but very watery. I suggest throwing a lime in there.

Let's get to the good stuff. Saturday night was the birthday party, and the lead-off hitter was a bottle of 2004 Trimbach Pinot Gris. What I love about this winery is that they make white wines that can age. I have had this particular wine dozens of times (I used to sell it in Boston) but this one was the best. With age, it still has the lime and slate notes, but it has picked up a really cool almond taste that is very enjoyable. Next up was a 2004 Beaurenard "Boisrenard" CdP. This wine is good, but still very young. I would suggest another at least 5 or 10 years if you have some- it doesn't have the flashiness of the '03, and the classic styling will give it some longevity. Next came 2005 Pride Merlot. Wow, I love these wines. This wine had plums, blackberries, and nutmeg all over it, and was drinking perfectly. Me likey.

For clean-up, I tried Liquor 43 from Spain. I had never tried it before, and my initial assesment is "eh". Not bad- kind of like a cross between Navan and Grand Marnier, but a bit syrupy for my taste.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend- Congrats to my father, and I look forward to seeing what the next years will bring!


Friday, April 16, 2010

Seeing Coffee in a new light

It's funny, just because this blog is called "Sippin' Saint Louis", a lot of people automatically assume it's just about booze. Yes, I am in the wine industry, and yes, I tend to be a fan of wine, really good whiskey, and most beer. I started a wine blog, but my wife has always made fun of the fact that I almost always have a glass, cup, or bottle of some kind of liquid within arm's reach: be it water, Diet Mountain Dew, coffee, wine, milk, Fresca, Iced Tea, or any other possible refreshment. I have lately begun to depend on one particular liquid for my ability to get through the day. For my birthday, my wife got me a really nice French Press for coffee. Bingo! I used to be an equal opportunist with coffee- the junk from Quick Trip was just as likely to be in my mug as something from Kaldi's or Goshen. This little press has changed my views on it a little.

I went out and got some Kaldi's Fair Trade Organic French Roast coffee, and started experimenting. I then talked to a guy that works there, and he gave me the following procedure:

Boil water,

Take water off of heat for 30 seconds, allowing the water to get to 2oo degrees

Meanwhile, put 10 g of coffee into the press for each 6 oz of coffee you want to drink

Set timer for 4:30, press start

Pour just enough water to cover the grounds- this allows the grounds to "bloom" and release CO2.

With 2:00 left on the timer, fill the rest of the press up with water.

When timer goes off, use a spoon to scrape foam off of top, and stir once.

Plunge the press.

Pour, and enjoy.

I do have to say that this process makes a really good cup of coffee, and Ihave started really enjoying my mornings reading while sipping the java.

This weekend will provide plenty to write about next week, with my family reunion (which last year consisted of tattoos, guns, and tobacco- and that was just the women) and also my father's birthday and retirement party on Saturday and Sunday.

Have a great weekend- Drink something good.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My New Toy, Getcha some Ice Cream

Last weekend was my birthday, and my parents were really nice in the gift that they sent to me. When they had visited a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that through Sip of Knowledge (my wine consulting company) I want to teach a class called "What's That Smell?". This class would aid people in training their noses to identify the different aromas that can be found in a glass of wine. To help, my parents bought me a kit that has 36 different vials- each having the essence of a particular note that can be found in wine. There are vials that smell like butter, oak, raspberry, peach, yeast, etc. It's a really neat little tool that can be used in teaching, and I'm excited to use it!

In other sports news, if you live in Kansas City, go check out a place called Heres Your Scoop in South Lee's Summit. This is an ice cream shop owned by a guy named Greg Berry that my parents met at a cooking class. Greg has developed some really great flavors including Oatmeal Cookie that just took 4th in a national competition and Beer and Peanuts that early field scouting reports indicate is a winner. Greg was mentored by a woman named Becky Jacobs, who owns Serendipity Ice Cream here in Saint Louis. If his ice cream is anything like Becky's, then it's fantastic!

I'm on vacation this week, so I'm trying to blog consistently. However, sometimes sleeping in prevails. Also, I have added a couple of new blogs that I read to the list on the right- check out Merridith's blog "The Fabulous Food Fanatic", and also cool cat Kelli's blog "South City Confidential".


Monday, April 12, 2010

One amazing weekend

This last weekend was a great one. Sorry I missed blogging on Friday, it was my birthday, and quite frankly I didn't feel like getting in front of a computer. That night, we held a party at 33 wine bar (33rd birthday at 33...get it?) and a lot of my friends showed up for the occasion. I asked that nobody would bring any presents, but would rather buy wine for everyone else to share. To say that people were being generous is a gross understatement. I have such amazing people around me- whether they are wine fans or not, they really brought out cool stuff! Monchhoff Riesling, ACV Chardonnay, Radio Coteau Zin, Sinskey Vin Gris, Moncayo Aquilon, Amon Ra Shiraz, Red Car Syrah, Sine Que Non "Labels" (yep, I have now had Sine Que Non two weeks in a row), Pride Cab Franc, Perrot Minot Clos de Beze, 77 Smith Woodhouse Port, 85 port, etc, were all bought and poured for everyone to enjoy. Between hanging out with my wife and friends, drinking great wine, eating pulled pork, and smoking a great cigar while having religion discussions, this was literally the perfect birthday. Thank you so much to everyone involved- I am a truly blessed person!

The fun didn't stop there, though. Saturday was awesome too, as the Saint Louis Wine Therapy group got together for a crawfish boil and blind tasting. Each couple was instructed to bring a riesling to try, and a "dealer's choice" red. The rieslings were amazing, however trying 12 in a row can be a bit taxing on the insides of your mouth. I hate to say it, but I liked mine the best- a 2004 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Vendage Tardive. A friend brought a 1990 one that was really cool (the name escapes me). The reds were quite funky though. We once again proved that "El Burro" Kickass Garnacha sucks. Some of the funky other ones were a syrah from Colorado (good, but overpriced), an aged Pinotage (actually pretty good- it didn't smell like Band Aids, like the other ones I have tried), and some killer 2005 CdP. That night, we went over to Farmhaus for dinner. If you haven't been there, go. Seriously. Go right now. Kevin Willmann makes some amazing dishes, including the best damn meatloaf I have ever had, really delicious scallops with mini twice baked potatoes, and a chilled roast beef with horseradish panna cotta that is to die for.

Once again, the fun didn't stop! On Sunday, we had a delightful lunch outside at Katie's Pizzeria with my wife and two buddies, then grilled burgers and played bocce last night at the house. The weather has been perfect, and to top it all off, I now have a week of vacation!

Wow- You are allowed to be jealous, because right now, I feel like I have an incredible life.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Weird, delicious wine

Last night, my wife made a wonderful little grilled chicken and orzo salad with arugula and goat cheese. This was a great opportunity for me to pull out a new wine that a friend showed me that is...well, frankly pretty weird.

The wine is the 2005 Segura Viudas Creu de Lavit. You don't know what this is? That's strange, all the kids are tweeting about it. I kid.

This particular wine, from a nice Cava producer is 100% Xarel-lo from Penedes, Spain. You might remember that Xarel-lo is one of the three grapes normally used in Cava production. The funny thing about this wine is that it is still, not sparkling.

The nose hits you with a cool combination of baked apples, bread, lemon zest, and granite. It's sort of like drinking a wine that tastes like cava, but has a consistency and weight similar to viognier.

I told you it was weird. Go pick some up, and let me know what you think- it should cost you about $16 retail.

Tomorrow- it's my birthday, so I'm smoking some meat. Also, where to get the best ice cream in Kansas City.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wine Reco- Rudi Wiest Riesling

Folks, riesling season is officially upon us. Although I would contend that riesling season is ALWAYS on us, this is the time of year that it makes the most sense. Riesling (and rose) are perfect for those days when you want to kick back for a long lunch on a patio, or go deep into the night with wine that doesn't have a ton of alcohol in it. My recommendation today is the Rudi Wiest Rhein River Riesling. Alliteration aside, it is a delicious bottle of wine. It is also perfect for those of you that say things like "I don't like riesling- it's too sweet" or "I only get the stuff in the blue bottle". The wine is made for Rudi (an importer from Chicago) by a dude named Fritz Hasselbeck, out of Germany. Fritz is the winemaker at another project called Gunderloch, has a love for motorcycles and Hooters hotwings, and is also the only person to ever achieve three separate 100-point scores in the Wine Spectator. In other words, he can make some serious wine. He has a good relationship with Rudi, so he makes the wine, Rudi puts his name on the label, and they sell it here for around $12 retail. It has fantastic green apple, lemon zest, and slate notes, with just enough sweetness to make it a crowd-pleaser. Try it, like it, tell your friends.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Forgotten Course

In my last post, I completely forgot what was probably the best course of the night! Chef Galliano is serving fresh morel mushrooms over rissotto. He added some crispy pork belly to ours, making it one of the greatest dishes I have tried in the last year or so. Seriously, go make reservations at Monarch, eat there, and order this dish. You won't be sorry!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

He is Risen

Yes, today is Easter, which due to my Christian beliefs, I think is the most important holiday of the year. However, since I know that some of you don't line up with me theologically, I'm not going to pound that into your heads. Instead, I'm going to talk about the amazing dinner last night at Monarch, and how Josh Galliano has "risen" from the destruction of his home town of NOLA to give us great food here in STL.

My parents, my wife and I went to Monarch last night for a dinner to celebrate my birthday a week early. The meal we had was nothing short of stunning. The amuse that was sent out was a delightful bite of skate ceviche on top of thinly sliced radishes. Both my father and wife commented that this is the only way they would eat radishes, and were really excited to see what else Galliano would send out that night. Our first course was a couple of soups- a celery root puree with caramel, and a vichyssoise with carmelized onions and thai peppercorn creme fraiche. The celery root puree was really good- a touch sweet for my taste, but the vichyssoise (served warm) was out of this world. Get it. We paired the soups with a delicious bottle of Pinot Blanc from Trinitas, and the pairing worked out very nicely.

The next round of food contained some steamed mussels with some sort of braised veggies under them (I can't remember), a phenomenal Wagyu tartare, crispy pork belly (pretty hard to screw this one up but delicious nonetheless- thanks to BB for the suggestion), and a spring salad with an olive brandade that was a hit with everyone at the table. The tartare literally melts in your mouth, although I know some folks are weirded out by the texture. At this point, we switched to red and drank the Alvaro Palacios Petalos, from Bierzo Spain- a neat little wine that you should try some time.

Next came the entrees. Oh, Lordy, the entrees. I might have blown all of my success over the last three months in losing weight with this meal, but I don't care. Mom and the Mrs. got the braised short ribs. Again- a pretty tough dish to mess up, but Chef Galliano served them with some sort of rissotto that was killer. Dad had the Lamb Ragu, which was rich, decadent, and fit for a log cabin in Colorado. I had the lamb duo- a spot-on medium rare loin, and a lamb pot pie that had one of the flakiest, most delicious crusts I have had in years. There was a fava bean puree that accented the dish nicely, and some perfect trumpeter mushrooms. Our server, Kris, paired Tres Picos Garnacha with our dishes, which worked out nicely. As a side note, she was an excellent server, and even dealt with a corked bottle of wine with aplomb.

Were we finished there? Hell, no. Now it was time to cram dessert into our over stuffed bellies. First of all, Galliano just brought back some strawberries from Louisiana, and made the best strawberry shortcake I have ever had. A new dessert (which was my favorite) was a deconstructed "Rocky Road" that was amazing. The chocolate, brittle, marshmallow ice cream, and other components worked in delicate harmony together. There was an almond cake with orange "caviar" that was very pleasant (I finished the whole thing), and also a strawberry gelee dish with pistachio muffins that was good- it was just a bit cerebral of a dessert at that time of the night!

Looking back, my father mentioned that it was one of his favorite dining experiences of his adult life, and I cannot disagree. It's really fun when family, friends, good wine, great food, immaculate service, and a great ambience all come together for a wonderful birthday meal.

Cheers, and go eat at Monarch soon!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Easter

This one will be short- my folks are coming into town, and my home office is a wreck. Have a great Easter weekend- drink something good!

Also, go check out Farmhaus, Kevin Willmann's new spot on Ivanhoe (where Koko's used to be). It's flat-out awesome.