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Jul 28, 2014
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By the Book: Michelle Tam and Henry Fong’s Uova In Purgatorio

July 26th, 2014


Nutritionally speaking, can the Paleo diet really save us from ourselves? You are invited to think so. I mean really invited – strongarmed even – by the vocal, rather overheated boosterism of those espousing the movement. Admittedly, the constant pro-Paleo rhetoric is getting a bit wearisome these days, despite the slick packaging and glib explanation of its premise.

That premise is this, essentially: Homo sapiens, as a species, physiologically haven’t evolved to be able to metabolize things like grain, legumes, sugar and other omnipresent sources of sustenance in our modern, industrialized food complex. The logic is that eating like our pre-agriculture, hunter-gatherer ancestors (read: cavemen) will help the modern, often sedentary human to be healthier, lose weight and enjoy a longer life expectancy.

It’s a gutsy claim. Never mind that anthropologists have refuted much of Paleo’s scientific underpinnings, pointing out that nearly all the things we eat – grain, beef, nuts or otherwise – were selectively bred by humans in the first place. (On a quiet night, I can sometimes hear hoots of laughter emanating from Wash. U’s anthropology building, a few blocks from my apartment.) Still more dietitians have questioned Paleo’s ability to provide enough of the nutrients found in legumes, grains and dairy, all no-nos under the rules. Yet the movement has taken hold.

But let’s decamp from the ideology battleground and consider Nom Nom Paleo, a hip, well-curated cooking tome assembled by husband-wife duo Michelle Tam and Henry Fong: Crossfitters, card-carrying Silicon Valley-ites and parents to two young boys. Turning the pages, it’s a rather nice family affair, shot through with Paleo talking points, tasteful layouts and Fong’s gorgeous photography on matte gloss pages.

Kudos to its logistics, too. The first 40 pages are devoted to Paleo ingredients and how to procure them, and the recipes are laid out in a flow chart-esque format, not unlike a comic strip.  Indeed, the book is splashed with charming cartoon renderings of the authors and their children as they quip their way around the kitchen. As a production, this cookbook outclasses most others.

Following the Tam-Fong family’s instructions, I made Uovo in Purgatorio, a classic Italian ragu appropriated by the Paleo set. The simplicity of most Paleo dishes is on full display here; the ingredients cost less than $15, there’s minimal chopping involved, and the whole ensemble’s ready in a half-hour.




The first ingredient is ghee, or clarified butter, a basic recipe on a separate page. Divorcing the dairy fats from the butter makes for a high smoke-point oil that’s useful for sauteing (and is Paleo-approved). It’s easy enough to make, though lacking cheesecloth, I strained the melted butter with a coffee filter, which took a long time.




The sausage will braise in the sauce, but it’s good to brown it a little beforehand.




I regularly worship at the Church of Put an Egg on Top, so I welcomed the opportunity to crack a couple over the marinara-sausage ragu. Lacking four oven-safe cocottes, I used two 16-ounce Corningware dishes – which meant more eggs for me.

The pepper flakes are a nice touch here, offering robust heat without overwhelming the palate. After baking 17 minutes (two more than prescribed), I had to switch on the broiler to finish off the egg whites, which made the top surface crispy and extra good. This is a hearty, protein-rich dish that goes well with sauteed vegetables.




The marinara sauce is the weak link in the recipe: It’s a Catch-22 of convenience versus quality. Store-bought marinara makes this a quick, easy option for after work or feeding kids on the go. But homemade sauce always tastes better, and since it dominates the flavor profile of the dish, is essential if serving this to more discriminating company.

Uova In Purgatorio
4 servings

1 Tbsp. ghee or fat of choice
½ medium yellow onion, ¼-inch dice
¼ lb. cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. loose Italian pork sausage
2 cups marinara sauce
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 large eggs

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the rack in the upper-middle position.
• Melt the fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Toss in the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until the moisture released by the mushrooms evaporates.
• Add the sausage to the pan, breaking it up with a spatula. Cook until it’s no longer pink. Pour the sauce onto the meat and add the red pepper flakes. Stir to combine the ingredients, and cook until the sauce simmers.
• Divide the saucy mixture into 4 8-ounce ovenproof ramekins or mini cocottes. Makes a small well in the center of each, and crack an egg in it. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the eggs. Place the ramekins on a tray in the oven, and bake until the eggs are done to your desired consistency, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

What fad diet dish has made regular appearances in your kitchen after you first tried it? Tell us about it in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Nom Nom Paleo. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

Drink This Weekend Edition: 5 can’t-miss events to kick off St. Louis Craft Beer Week

July 25th, 2014



It’s the most wonderful time of the year for local craft beer aficionados. St. Louis Craft Beer Week kicks off this Saturday, July 26 and culminates Sunday, Aug. 23. The sixth annual event celebrates the thriving beer community in St. Louis, and dozens of local breweries, beer bars, restaurants, distributors and retail shops are in on the action.

There are more than 80 events lined up for this year’s week of St. Louis beer love, including tap takeovers, beer dinners, a pop culture comedy/trivia mashup, keep-the-glass nights and even a beer-centric yoga session. There’s something for everyone, from the hardcore hophead to inquisitive beer nerd to the occasional sipper. This weekend alone features nearly a dozen events; here, your itinerary to get you in the STLCBW spirit.

1. The week starts where it does every year: 33 Wine Bar in Lafayette Square. The wine bar switches its focus to brews Saturday at 11 a.m. for B33r and Brats, with bratwurst from Mac’s Local Buys alongside a draft list we’re told will have a few must-taste surprises.

2. At noon, head to Six Row Brewing Co., for its Srawberry Braggot release. Braggot is an ancient drink that brews spices, barley malt and local honey with beer and mead. This is a limited release, so be sure to get there early.

3. Then, make your way to Three Kings Pub for dinner at 6 p.m. and sip a sour during the New Belgium Brewing Sour Saturday. Some of the best sour beers come out of this Fort Collins, Colorado brewery, and many of them will be on tap Saturday night, such as a 2014 La Folie, 2014 Transatlantique Kreik and 2013 Tart Lychee.

4. Once you’ve recovered from Saturday, get your barbecue on at Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.’s monthly UCBC Blues and Q, starting at noon at its Midtown brewery and Biergarten. This event features liter and half-liter specials, live music and barbecue from UCBC chef Andy Fair.

5. Finish your craft brew weekend at the aptly named Epic Beer Tasting at Craft Beer Cellar. Starting at 1 p.m., there will be 20 different beers to taste every two hours, including a special 4 Hands brew.  While you’re there, nosh on Strange Donuts, pretzels from Pretzel Boys and brownies from Pint Size Bakery.

And that’s is just the beginning. Click here for a full schedule of the week’s events and make  plans to enjoy some of the most creative, interesting beers in St. Louis.

Sauce contributing writer Eric Hildebrandt is also a member of the STLCBW planning committee.

Tweet Beat: The week’s best tweets from #STL foodies

July 25th, 2014

Are you following us on Twitter? Come on, get Saucy @saucemag



Lemon concrete, served upside down #StLouis style… @ Ted Drewes Inc. http://instagram.com/p/q0UuMgk3Is/ 

Last night a I dreamt I was eating @MissionTacoSTL Soulard. #soon #awesomespace #rainingtacos

My friend’s daughter raised $250 thru her lemonade stand for the American Cancer Society in honor of my dad. I’m in tears.

Wine and Star Trek.

Picking a president is like picking something to drink. You get to choose coke or pepsi. As long as you like soda you’re good.

I got a little @PeacemakerSTL  preview tonight, and all I can say is, get in line, it’s gonna be awesome! #somethingspecial #can‘twait

Now wondering how to get my waffle maker clean. Bacon waffles, anyone?

Holy caped crusader, Batman is 75 today. Drink coffee and you too can be a superhero! ツ http://instagram.com/p/qzCdN-P0aL/ 

Think you should be on this list? Follow us and let us know @saucemag

The Scoop: Café Pintxos at Hotel Ignacio to become sushi lounge BaiKu

July 25th, 2014


Japanese flavors are coming to Midtown. Sushi lounge BaiKu is slated to open in the former Café Pintxos space at Hotel Ignacio at 3407 Olive St., in early September.

When Café Pintxos opened in 2011, it operated as a soup-salad-sandwich cafe by day and a Spanish tapas bar by night. Neither concept quite caught on, and Café Pintxos has been quiet for some months.

Steve Smith, a partner in Hotel Ignacio and the owner of a trio of businesses in the complex - Triumph Grill, Moto Museum and Moto Europa – looked to reinvigorate the space. Smith tapped as his consultant Brad Beracha, owner of the now-defunct Japanese restaurant Miso on Meramec and Araka. The plan: Japan. “There’s not a lot of sushi for Midtown in this area by Grand (Boulevard),” Beracha said.

BaiKu, which means “motorcycle” in Japanese, will specialize in sushi. It will offer basic rolls, as well as five to seven specialty rolls. “It’s not a big roll menu,” Beracha said. “I want it to be small and done great.” The restaurant will also offer eight to 10 Japanese-inspired appetizers, such as ginger-scallion-sake wings and lobster shumai (steamed dumplings). The dinner menu will be rounded out with a couple Japanese entrees. During lunch hours, BaiKu will also offer Asian noodles with an eye on ramen. Other mid-day meal options will include bahn mi and a few stir-fry items.

BaiKu’s beverage program will focus on sake and wines that pair well with sushi, which will be offered as a special during happy hours. Look also for a small cocktail menu and Japanese brews on the beer list.

Helming the sushi bar will be chef Soung Min Lee, who worked at Miso until it shuttered, and then held the position of executive sushi chef at Central Table Food Hall since it opened last year. Beracha said Lee departed from Central Table a month ago. While the sushi-making action will take place behind the bar at BaiKu, all hot food will be prepared next door in the Triumph kitchen, where chef Josh Norris leads the culinary crew.

Beracha said sushi was a perfect fit for the space’s small bar, and he also hoped that the lighter fare of Japanese cuisine would appeal to ticketholders attending performances in Grand Center. “It’s not heavy,” he said. “When you go to a show, you’re not wanting to take a nap.”

The entire space – bar, dining area, lobby lounge area and patio – will undergo a remodel. Besides new furnishings, look for pieces of a disassembled motorcycle to be a focal point along one of the walls.



Readers’ Choice 2014: Favorite Chef – Ed Heath

July 24th, 2014



When you’re one of the area’s most popular chefs, everyone wants a word with you. We yanked Ed Heath out of the Cleveland-Heath kitchen for 1 minute to pepper him with questions about his pasture-to-plate restaurant in Edwardsville, then let him get back to making more slinger-like lomo saltado and Japanese pancakes.

What dish on the Cleveland-Heath menu are you most excited about?
The duck breast with the German potato salad. English peas, bacon … oh my God, it’s so good.

What menu items surprise you with their popularity?
For the breakfast menu, the lomo (saltado). It’s even more popular than our biscuits and gravy. For the starter menu, the okonomiyaki. We get more comments about that than anything else on our menu. The popularity is almost shocking.

What dish can you not take off the menu?
The BLT.

Are you working with any new farmers or food producers?
Jenna Pohl. She owns Midwest Lamb. She’s all-natural in her feed, but these lambs are huge. They dress out at 90 to 100 pounds. We wonder if we should call them mutton. They are massive, and they are delicious.

What’s the biggest thing you learned since opening Cleveland-Heath in 2011?
Staffing – learning how to be an appropriate manager of people, and keep them happy and wanting to come back every day, and hungry so they want to keep learning on their own. We have a killer staff, but it’s been the most challenging thing.

What music do you listen to in the kitchen?
I hate really heavy metal, so we stick with contemporary rock ’n’ roll, Willie Nelson, good old country, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, some old-school rap, a ton of old blues. It’s really who gets a hold of the radio.

What are your typical hours at the restaurant?
I am there Tuesday through Saturday, 15-plus hours each day.

How do you keep up your energy?
After work, I either jog or go to a 24-hour gym. If I didn’t exercise six or seven days a week for a minimum of an hour, I couldn’t keep up with it.

Find out who else you voted your favorites in St. Louis. Click here to see all our Readers’ Choice winners. And click here to get Ed Heath’s recipe for Chiva Cubana, deliver to you By Popular Demand.

-photo by Carmen Troesser

By Popular Demand: Chiva Cubana

July 24th, 2014

A reader requested this dish so long ago, we no longer have the person’s name. Well, mystery reader, here is your long-awaited recipe for Cleveland-Heath’s Chiva Cubana – mouthwatering pulled goat meat and black beans, deftly spiked with garlic, ginger, jalapenos, mint and cilantro.



Chiva Cubana
Courtesy of Cleveland-Heath’s Ed Heath
4 servings

1¼ lb. saddle or leg of goat or lamb
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
7 Tbsp. butter, divided
3 Tbsp. minced shallots
3 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 14-oz. cans of black beans
¼ cup vegetable stock
3 Tbsp. minced ginger
¼ cup pickled jalapenos
10 mint leaves
¼ cup minced cilantro
1 Tbsp. lemon juice plus more to taste
Thinly sliced radishes for garnish (optional)
Hot sauce for garnish (optional)

• Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees. Season the meat heavily with salt and pepper and let it come to room temperature. Smoke 1½ hours.
• Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place the smoked meat in an oven-safe dish and fill with boiling water until the meat is half to three-fourths covered. Simmer the meat in the water 4 to 4½ hours, until it reaches an internal temperature of 187 degrees. Shred the meat into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
• Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a saute pan over low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sweat until translucent, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the canned black beans with their liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes.
• Add the stock and bring to a boil again. Add 4 tablespoons butter in small pieces, stirring constantly to emulsify it into the beans. Remove from heat and set aside.
• In another saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons butter over high heat until it begins to brown. Add the meat and ginger and saute until it crisps and turns dark brown, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.
• Making sure the sauce is still emulsified, return the beans to the stove over medium heat, bring to a boil and then turn off heat. Add the pickled jalapenos, mint, cilantro, lemon juice and salt to taste.
• To serve, divide the beans evenly between 4 deep bowls. Top with the crisp meat and, if desired, garnish with thinly sliced radishes, hot sauce and additional mint or cilantro.

What else did readers crave? Click here to see seven more recipes from local chefs, delivered By Popular Demand.

-photo by Michelle Volansky

The Scoop: Local sushi star Naomi Hamamura joins the culinary team at United Provisions

July 23rd, 2014


With the opening of United Provisions just weeks away, there’s news that another talented face from the local culinary scene is joining the team at the highly anticipated international grocery store at 6241 Delmar Blvd., in University City.

Naomi “Hama” Hamamura, previously executive chef at the Wasabi location downtown, has been hired as the chef at The Dining District, the prepared foods and dining section inside the grocery store. United Provisions partner Ben Poremba said he hired Hamamura two weeks ago. “He’s the best,” said Poremba, who also owns Elaia and Olio and co-owns La Patisserie Chouquette. “I called him up. He liked the idea of a new place … something a little different from what he’s done so far.”

While Hamamura will be in a new location, he’ll still be the focus of attention as he prepares sushi, ceviche and other raw far at the 16-seat raw bar at United Provisions. The Dining District’s other stations include a grill, a plancha and a deli with cured meats and cheese, according to St. Louis Magazine. Executive chef Jay Stringer will overseeing the entire dining and prepared foods operation. A veteran of the Chicago dining scene, Stringer has worked in the kitchen at Olio since it opened almost two years ago.

Lunch hours at The Dining District will be counter service with dine-in or carryout options, while dinner will be full service at this restaurant within a grocery store. There will also be a coffee shop serving up drip Northwest Coffee and pastries from La Patisserie Chouquette. Poremba said United Provisions is expected to open Aug. 11.

While Hamamura’s career began in Japan, the chef has made a mark on the local food scene since arriving to the U.S. in 1979, including working at now-closed Japanese steakhouse Robata of Japan and Ritz Carlton – St. Louis, and owning and operating the now defunct Sansui and Sansui West. In 2010, when Hamamura sold Sansui West to Wasabi, he stayed on as its corporate chef. After a stint at Prasino, Hamamura returned to Wasabi, where he worked until July 14.

-photo by Greg Rannells

Editor’s Note: This piece originally misstated Naomi Hamamura’s responsibilities at The Dining District. It has been corrected.

The Scoop: Chef Chris Lee leaves Mad Tomato, opens Chef’s Table STL

July 23rd, 2014



Chef Chris Lee has parted ways with Mad Tomato chef-owner Vito Racanelli to launch a new venture called Chef’s Table STL, a prepared meal delivery service and catering company. Lee, who joined Racanelli at Mad Tomato just three months ago, decided to launch his own business after friends requested his help creating diet-specific meals, as reported by St. Louis Magazine.

Lee rolled out Chef’s Table STL last week; customers can call or order custom, nutritious meals online, to be delivered twice a week. “The thought was to offer that to people so they can stay home, relax with the family and not have to drive around,” Lee said. The menu, which will change according to ingredient availability, features entrees like seared chicken with Southwest-style quinoa and a gyro salad, small plates like maki rolls and crisp pork meatballs, as well as a selection of sides, soups and salads. Chef’s Table STL currently is using the kitchen at Wild Flower in the Central West End while Lee hunts for a commissary kitchen.

Years of experience with professional kitchens and catering have prepared him for running a one-man catering operation. Prior to teaming up with Racanelli at Mad Tomato, Lee worked as a banquet room chef at River City Casino. For a number of years he was executive chef for In Good Company, which operates Café Ventana, Sanctuaria, Diablitos and Hendricks BBQ. “I took all the things I learned in the past eight or nine years and squeezed it into one thing,” he said. “From a lifestyle choice, I like this much better. Not only am I not using my physical being as much to crank out food for service, I’m running a business … I’m no longer behind the stove. I’m in front.”

He added that Mustard Seed, a joint venture between Racanelli and Lee, had not yet taken off when Lee left Mad Tomato two weeks ago. The concept saw the two chefs visiting and assisting other restaurants, then using some of those consulting fees to help establish small restaurant businesses in developing international communities.

Racanelli said he was surprised at Lee’s departure, but he was confident he could handle any extra workload at his Clayton restaurant. “I’ll get it all done. God gave me some really strong shoulders,” he said. “I always find a way to get it all done.”

Ligaya Figueras contributed to this report.

The Scoop: Local distiller Pinckney Bend wins big at international spirits competition

July 23rd, 2014


{Ralph Haynes, Pinckney Bend’s vice president of marketing}


Area distillery Pinckney Bend continues to rack up accolades for its spirits. Today, July 23, the International Wine & Spirits Competition announced the results of its 2014 spirits competition held in London, and the New Haven-based distillery was awarded two medals. Pinckney Bend earned a silver medal for its American rested whiskey and a bronze medal for its American gin, the only American gin to win a bronze.

Now in its 45th year, the IWSC promotes the quality and excellence of the world’s best wine, spirits and liqueurs. Competition entries, which hail from nearly 90 countries, undergo a blind tasting by a panel of judges comprised of industry professionals.

“The IWSC in London is like the World Cup of spirits competitions,” said Ralph Haynes, the distillery’s vice president of marketing. “For small craft distillers like Pinckney Bend, winning a medal at this venue gives us a rare chance to position ourselves on a world stage, in the company of the most respected spirit brands on the planet.”

This spring, Pinckney Bend won a double gold for its American rested whiskey at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, where it has earned medals for the last three years. The rest of the world is picking up on the quality of Pinckney Bend spirits, which are now available overseas in Singapore and Italy. In addition, the distillery just picked up a distributor in the Caribbean, Haynes said, with product slated to export to that region this fall.



The Scoop: Tenacious Eats brick-and-mortar plans on hold

July 23rd, 2014


{A classic film screening from a recent Movies for Foodies event, hosted by Tenacious Eats at Meyer’s Grove}


Fans of film-and-dining concept restaurant Tenacious Eats will have to hold on a little longer for its permanent home. Chef-owner Liz Schuster said she will no longer open her brick-and-mortar location at 4195 Hampton Ave., in South City, citing disagreements with the building’s owners.

When Schuster announced the Hampton Avenue location in April, she envisioned a traditional breakfast and lunch spot that would also allow for Tenacious Eats’ current dinner-with-a-show format that Schuster used at her Movies for Foodies events at Meyer’s Grove. However, Schuster said delays in getting the building up to code forced her to move on. Schuster is still on the hunt for another location, with eyes on burgeoning urban neighborhoods like Cherokee Street and Maplewood.

In the meantime, Schuster said she will continue to host film-and-food events, including Harold Ramis classics like Animal House and Caddyshack in August. Keep an eye on Tenacious Eats’ website for more event details.


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