Monday, May 18, 2009

A Whirlwind of a Weekend

As planned, Ginny came out to visit this weekend, and once again, even though I threatened, I didn’t get any pictures of us. Grrr.
This “girls” weekend was meant to be a relatively short, sedate weekend, just centered around a cooking class we had signed up for in St Louis. However, true to form, our plans rapidly spun out of control as we began adding activities to the agenda, even adding an entire day to the visit. Here’s a recap of some of the fun!

Magnolia’s You all know I live in Podunk, USA. As a foodie, that can be like living hell more than just occasionally. Recently, a new restaurant opened in the town where I work, and I have been uber pleased to have them here. Naturally, I had to take Ginny for breakfast on Friday to share the love. Named “Magnolia’s”, it resides in the building adjoining a defunct church, and has been completely redesigned by its new owners, including textured walls, arched ceilings, and a great new relaxed atmosphere, both inviting and elegant. I’ve been there several times since they opened with various friends. For breakfast Friday, I had the Eggs Benedict, which is by far the best I’ve ever had, with honey ham instead of Canadian bacon, and a luxurious hollandaise sauce. From there, we drove up to Springfield for just a little bit of shopping, lunch at the Mongolian Barbecue, and the Angels and Demons matinee. (by the way, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, but I have no doubt that there will be a lot of critiquing by people who have read the book. There were definitely some obvious discrepancies between the two and a lot had to be cut out in order to keep it down to only two plus hours.) After the show was over, we had to beat feet outta town, as a very nasty storm front was coming through, and we basically raced it the whole way back to Podunk to pick Little Man up from the MIL’s.

Even though we had quite a full day on Friday, Saturday was really the meat of the weekend, with a trip to St Louis in store for us. The day started with a trip to the Soulard Farmer’s Market, where we picked up some lovely cherries, avocados, gourmet pasta from Pappardelle’s, and some gorgeous basil plants to supplement my garden.
After the farmer’s market, we headed straight over to Maplewood to pick up a few things at Penzey’s Spices, including some really pungent Vietnamese Cinnamon, some English Prime Rib Rub (the reason for the visit), and a few other tasty items.

Beer and the Bottleworks
We headed from Penzey’s around the corner, and signed up for a tour at the Schlafly Bottleworks. If you aren’t familiar with Schlafly’s beer, well, frankly you are just missing out. They have a number of regular brews, including Gin’s favorite, the Dry Hopped APA, and mine, the Oatmeal Stout, as well as some seasonal beers, including a hard cherry cider, which was fantastic.
There was quite a demand for the tour that day, so even though we arrived in plenty of time for the 3 o’clock run, we couldn’t fit in the group, so we signed up for the 4 o’clock and had “lunch” in the restaurant while we were waiting. The menu there is absolutely phenomenal, and we started with a flight of beers each, and then sampled a few other items from the menu to share. Here are a few shots for you to drool over.
Flight of Schlafly's beers, including a sample of the Hard Cherry Cider.
Beer Biscuit Basket with Blue Cream Cheese and Cheddar Chive Butter
White Cheddar Soup, made with the Dry Hopped APA
Three gran blend with Quinoa, Barley, and I believe, Hops! Or maybe it was malt....
Beer Brined Chicken Sandwich
Once we were finished, it was time to see the Bottleworks itself. Our enthusiastic tour guide was Stuart, who was as witty as he was charming, not to mention just being a font of information about all things beer-related. We had quite the entertaining group for the tour, and at the end, we all hung out in the tasting room for some free beer. I had never tried the No. 15 brew, so that was one I really enjoyed.
If it wasn't so dark, you could see how cute Stuart is! Hi Stuart!
Tanks, Tanks, and more Tanks!
After drinking more than our fair share, between lunch and the tour, we headed to the gift shop to pick up a 6-pack of Coffee Stout to try at home, and headed off to the Kitchen Conservatory for our cooking class.
(Sorry I didn’t mention more of the technical details of the tour, Stuart, it really was great, but there’s been a lot of beer under the bridge since then!)

Girls Night out: Napa
The main purpose of this visit was a cooking class Ginny and I decided to sign up for. We’d been to a class at the Kitchen Conservatory in February and couldn’t wait to go back. We’ve decided that we are going to make these classes a regular part of every visit she makes out here. This class was actually a demo (versus hands-on), so we all got to sit back and relax while Chef Christie prepared some lovely treats for us and we enjoyed a few classes of wine (are you sensing a theme for our day out). On the menu was a Blue Cheese en Croute,
Crab Tart on arugula salad,
Apple and Rhubarb stuffed pork loin,
and shortcake biscuits with macerated berries and white chocolate cream for dessert.
Everything was delicious, but we quickly discovered that eating a late lunch at Schlafly’s was a mistake. We were so full after the class, I don’t know how we made it home without falling asleep.
The same chef (and wine director) that put on the last class we went to will be back at the end of July for another round, and we have already decided that attendance is a must! So, you’ll be getting another review in July.
The last day of Ginny’s visit, we spent more time relaxing than the others, but still managed to whip up a lovely meal of Pesto Marinated Flank Steak paired with a wonderful fresh pasta Gin brought out with her which we tossed with saut√©ed broccoli rabe and three peppers, and a sauce I picked up at the Hill in St Louis (our own version of Little Italy) that was actually a red pepper and pine nut bruschetta topping, but it went along famously with the pasta and peppers. What do you think? Doesn’t it look amazing?
So, that’s it, I know it was a painfully long post, so thanks for bearing with me. I hope to be back to my regularly scheduled blog-nonsense later this week.

1 comment:

NV said...

Sounds like a classic goodtime to me! Those pics are awesome. I'm so glad I have a full gut at the moment or I might have some nasty things to say to you. :-)