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Apr 16, 2014
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The List: Josh Rowan

April 15th, 2014

Welcome to The List, our annual homage to the people, places, dishes and drinks we love in St. Louis. Don’t miss a single pick; click here to read the whole List and share your thoughts on Twitter with #thesaucelist.




Say “mace” to local graphic designer Josh Rowan, and instead of conjuring an unimaginative can of tear gas (like we did), he’ll draw you an armor-clad Viking polar bear wielding a ferocious spiked club. It’s this battle-ready beast that guards the bottle of one of 4 Hands Brewing Co.’s newest brews, Bear Mace Baltic Porter.

Shortly after opening 4 Hands two years ago, Kevin Lemp was on the hunt for a local artist who could produce distinct, eye-catching labels. The designer also needed to keep up with the young brewery’s rapidly growing portfolio while staying true to the style of its first four label designs. “We made a commitment early on to not just create beer labels. Our goal was to create artwork and put it on the outside of our beer bottles,” Lemp said.

Rowan’s first design for 4 Hands, the label for Cuvee Ange (pictured), featured a winged goblet with waves of beer sloshing over the rim. The image drew from his background as a tattoo artist, with its heavily outlined chalice and Japanese-inspired waves. “There is a definite outline and structure to most of the images,” he said. “If the color was pulled out, you’re left with an image that can be reproduced as a tattoo, more or less.”

Two years and 15 labels later, those same striking colors and bold lines make 4 Hands’ brews so easy to spot amid rows of tap handles and bottles. “To put something like that – that has a little bit of a childish whimsical feel about it – on a product that is definitely meant for adults is a fun thing,” Rowan said.


By the Book: Lisa Fain’s Sopa de Lima

April 15th, 2014



I was curious about Lisa Fain’s second cookbook The Homesick Texan’s Family Table: Lone Star Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours because the same week it landed on Sauce’s bookshelf, Fain’s blog Homesick Texan was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award for individual food blog. Fain’s blog is reminiscent of Deb Perelman’s The Smitten Kitchen: recipes and anecdotes written by a likeable-sounding lady who lives in New York City, cooks in a small kitchen and takes impressive pictures of her creations.

But mostly I chose Fain’s new cookbook because I’m moving to Texas in about a month, and while I’m sure the Lone Star state is just great, I need a little persuasion regarding the move. Reading about the state from someone who makes a living out of her homesickness for the place seemed like a good start in the pro-Texas propaganda department.

The 125-recipe book is organized by breakfast and breads, starters and snacks, salads and sides, and so on and so forth. Between the sections are full-spread, beautiful scenic photographs of an almost mythical version of Texas: fields of bluebonnets, never-ending blue skies, grassy plains and so many cows. The recipes are all supposed to be Texas comfort food – the type of food a Texan grows up eating at a big family potluck.

Since April has decided to truly become the cruelest month with this week’s freezing temperatures, instead of fun outdoor barbecue fair, I flipped to the chilis, soups and stews section. I decided on this Mexican lime soup because in Fain’s introduction to the recipe, she writes that her friend from San Antonio (where I’m headed) grew up eating this dish.




I was also attracted to the soup because it looked easy and featured tons of fun spices and my favorite green ingredients: avocados, limes and cilantro.




I was slightly intimidated making the tortilla strips because I create a huge mess whenever I fry anything, but these turned out to be simple and fairly mess-free. I was too hungry to roast a chicken and then pull it, so I cooked some chicken breasts in my Dutch oven with a little water and olive oil, and they turned out great. If you’re feeling extra pressed for time, just buy a roasted bird at the store, but get an unseasoned one so as to not mess with the other flavors … and Texas.




In total, this took less than 20 minutes, including cooking the chicken. The resulting soup was bright, refreshing and simply divine. In cold April weather, it’s actually the perfect dish. While the soup is still warm and comforting, it’s not a heavy stew that you’re probably bored with after our epic winter. In short, while I’m not yet sold on Texas, I’m certainly sold on this soup.




Sopa de Lima (Mexican Lime Soup)

Oil, for frying
6 corn tortillas, preferably stale
1 yellow onion, quartered
10 gloves garlic
8 cups chicken broth
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. ground allspice
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp. lime zest
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup fresh lime juice

½ cup (2 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and diced
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and cubed
1 lime, cut into slices

• Heat ½ cup of the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 350 degrees.
• Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
• Slice the tortillas into strips ¼ inch thick. Add the tortilla strips to the hot oil and cook until crisp, about 1 minute. Drain on the paper towels.
• Place the quartered onion and garlic under the broiler. Cook until blackened, about 10 minutes, turning once.
• Combine the onion and garlic in a blender or food processor along with 1 cup of the broth. Purée until smooth, then pour into a large pot.
• Add the remaining 7 cups of chicken broth to the pot, and stir in the oregano, allspice, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, cilantro and lime zest.
• Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and cook for 5 more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the seasonings, then stir in the lime juice.
• Garnish each bowl with tortilla chips, Monterey Jack, jalapenos, cilantro, avocado and lime slices.

Reprinted with permission from Ten Speed Press.

What’s your favorite dish that one of your family members is the only one who can make just right? Tell us about it in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of The Homesick Texan’s Family Table.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Dan, whose comment on last week’s By the Book column has won a copy of Down South: Bourbon, Pork & Gulf Shrimp and Second Helpings of Everything. Dan, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.


The List: Umami Shakedown

April 14th, 2014

Welcome to The List, our annual homage to the people, places, dishes and drinks we love in St. Louis. Don’t miss a single pick; click here to read the whole List and share your thoughts on Twitter with #thesaucelist.


Spring has brought a bounce back to your step, but what about your palate? When our favorite dishes have lost their dazzle, we turn to dried mushrooms for a mega flavor boost. Mushrooms are a natural source of glutamate, the chemical responsible for the depth and complexity in flavor often referred to as umami. A shake of dried, granulated mushroom powder gives extra nuance to vegetable and fish stocks while allowing them to retain their lighter character. Ozark Forest Mushrooms’ porcini powder also provides an elegant pick-me-up to pasta dishes and scrambled eggs.

Mushroom Powder available at Seafood City Supermarket, 8020 Olive Blvd., University City, 314.993.2800, seafoodcitysupermarket.com

Ozark Forest Mushrooms’ porcini powder available at Maplewood Farmers Market and Tower Grove Farmers Market

Meatless Monday: Black Bean, Spinach and Feta Empanadas

April 14th, 2014



Looking for a Mexican restaurant? Ask vegetarians. Their GPS will find one like chips find salsa. Mexican restaurants, no matter how plain or fancy, promise a variety of meat-free options well beyond the ubiquitous iceberg wedge. Plus, margaritas are vegan.

As a home cook, I heart Mexican cuisine because the ingredients are inexpensive and easy to prepare. But how many taco nights can you have? (Not a rhetorical question – I’m really asking. Is two per week too many?)

So … in hopes of expanding my repertoire beyond cheese quesadillas, I studied up on empanadas. “Empanada” is Spanish for a pastry stuffed with yumminess. The specific yumminess depends on what’s produced locally. In some parts of the world, you’ll find empanadas filled with beef or eggs. In other parts, street vendors sell sardine or chorizo empanadas. And in warmer regions, sweet empanadas ooze with gooey yams and fruit.

Here in the Midwest, our empanadas usually tout chicken or beef, so I decided to create a vegetarian version. Black beans are the abundant resource in my habitat and would make a substantial filling.

Find out how Kellie Hynes took black beans to the next level. Get the recipe for Black Bean, Spinach and Feta Empanadas.

The Scoop: Russo’s Catering rolls out food truck

April 14th, 2014


Russo’s Catering has joined the fleet of local food trucks. Its mobile eatery, Russo’s Trucktoria, hit the pavement in late March.

The Italian-centric menu for the truck includes offerings such as a chop salad, linguine Bolognese, grilled lemon-herb chicken spiedini, jumbo ravioli and sandwiches like Italian beef and a chicken BLT.

The truck rolls onto the street three to four times a week, according to Trucktoria manager Jeff Robinson. Besides offering lunch to curbside diners, Russo’s Trucktoria will make an appearance at community events, including Food Truck Friday. Follow the truck on Twitter @russoscatering.

The Scoop: Eric Kelly leaves Scape to move to Seattle

April 14th, 2014


Scape American Bistro’s Eric Kelly has left the Central West End restaurant. After six years as chef and partner at Scape, Kelly is moving to Seattle to work for multi-concept dining operation Restaurants Unlimited. His last day in the Scape kitchens was April 10.

“I’m stepping away from the kitchen and going into operations,” said Kelly, who will join the company’s corporate office. Restaurants Unlimited manages nearly 50 restaurants, primarily located in California, Oregon and Washington. Kelly said the opportunity appeared just two weeks ago when the president of Restaurants Unlimited approached him. The two had previously worked together as employees of Levy Restaurants.

Scape began as a venture between Kelly, Ted Kolpar and his son, Sam Koplar, both of Kolpar Properties. The Koplars purchased Kelly’s share in the business. “It was a very, very difficult decision,” he said. “My experience at Scape, the relationships I built with hundreds and hundreds of great people from St. Louis – it is a difficult separation.” Kelly departs for Seattle May 1.

Taking the helm in Scape’s kitchen is Joe Everett, who transitioned from his role as Scape’s executive sous chef. “Joe is an amazingly talented chef,” Kelly said. “Culinarily, he’s more talented than I am. He’s going to take Scape to another level.”

Everett’s experience includes 10 years working for Levy Restaurants at venues in Florida like Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa before joining the team at Scape last year.

“He was ready for the task,” Ted Koplar said of his new executive chef. “We couldn’t be happier with the way the restaurant is right now. We have exciting plans for summer. We’re opening the courtyard soon. The team that is in place that people are used to is still there and doing a great job.”

-photo by Wesley Law



Eat This: The Maine Event at Sweet Art

April 13th, 2014



All great things start from small beginnings, and The Maine Event cookie at Sweet Art is no exception. It began years ago in Reine Bayoc’s home kitchen when she made chocolate chip cookies for her brother, Jermaine. So smitten was he with the sweet treat that he sold it at his office until Bayoc finally opened her storefront in South City. That perfect little cookie, named for Bayoc’s big bro, is flecked with sea salt and holds the rich flavors of high-quality butter and fine Belgian chocolate. But the main event is a piece of luscious Callebaut chocolate set in the middle of each cookie that keeps the texture gooey and chewy long after it’s pulled from the oven.

Sweet Art, 2203 S. 39th St., St. Louis, 314.771.4278, sweetartstl.com

-photo by Carmen Troesser

6 St. Louis Patios to Welcome Spring

April 12th, 2014

Patio season has officially arrived, and after a brutal winter, we’re ready eat, drink and play al fresco. Last year, you named Vin de Set‘s stunning rooftop spot your favorite patio during the 2013 Readers Choice Awards. Here, a view of what you’ll see this weekend, plus your 5 other top picks:


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The Scoop: R-café, R-space now open in Soulard

April 11th, 2014



Calling all coffee-hounds: R-café is now open, serving coffee, espresso, pastries, sandwiches and more as part of R-space, an artists’ and merchants’ cooperative located at 1704 S. Broadway in Soulard. A grand opening is scheduled for April 25.

Patrick Reiner, who co-founded R-space with Mei Yang, sees the project as a sanctuary for artists, designers and other creative types plugged into the Soulard community. “We feel Soulard already has a strong local arts scene. Instead of using art from elsewhere in the country, we have a lot of talent right here. The cafe is an extension of that,” he said.

Yang, an avid foodie and experienced home cook, will be behind the counter brewing coffee, pulling espresso shots and making the edibles in house. Looking to keep its footprint local, R-café will source its coffee beans from St. Louis roaster Chauvin Coffee Company.

The space is generous, seating 20 to 30 inside and 25 on the patio. Adhering to R-space’s architectural aesthetic, the cafe sports elegant, mid-century furniture for those looking to lounge in style. Reiner also has plans to host evening events at the cafe, including a continuing education course for architects and designers, a board game night and an open mic night. Exact dates for these, however, aren’t set yet. “We want to bring in traffic by having these events – bring people in and support our local artists,” Reiner said.

R-café is open Monday to Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Three cocktails with a new view

April 11th, 2014

Like everyone else in town, we’ve caught a strong strain of the patio bug. This weekend when the weather is beckoning you to sip a fruity drink al fresco, look no further than Herbie’s Vintage ’72. Along with a new spring food and cocktail menu, this weekend the restaurant will have patio seating for the first time.

According to Amanda Wilgus, Herbie’s beverage director and floor manager, whenever the restaurant changes its cocktail menu, the whole staff participates. Each bartender comes up with an original concoction, and then with the help of friends and Herbie’s regulars, everyone blindly tastes the cocktails and decides on the best. This year, seven signature cocktails made the spring menu. While patio drinking calls for many adult beverages between friends, to start you off, here are three of our favorites.



1. To truly invoke some easy living, warm weather vibes, start with the Kentucky Tropic. With Basil Hayden’s bourbon, lemon juice, mango purée and simple syrup, this martini goes down sweet and smooth but packs a punch. If you like your drinks with a bit more acid, a squeeze from the lemon wedge garnish does the trick.



2. Not to be missed is this week’s featured sangria. Red wine, orange liquor, brandy and fruit juices combine for a wonderfully balanced Spanish sipper. Not too sweet and with notes of nutmeg and cinnamon, we recommend ordering this one by the pitcher.



3. Yes, we know, Summertime Blues looks like something your mother or 21-year-old niece orders on vacation in Florida. But despite its neon blue color, this drink is really great. With Don Q rum, simple syrup, Yellow Chartreuse, citrus, mint and blue curaçao, this tart, floral cocktail has subtle hints of anise and a flavor that is entirely fresh.

Not a booze drinker? Herbie’s new menu also features two carefully crafted mocktails. After all, when it comes to patio drinking, alcohol or not, everyone needs something cold and delicious.



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