We have made A LOT of waffles this year. Right now, one of our favorite kinds is a spiced waffle of my invention (more or less). It’s the perfect warm treat for a cool fall day!
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. hawaij (if you can’t find this spice blend, you can mix and measure from 1 Tbsp. ground ginger, 1 Tbsp. ground cardamom, 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. ground cloves and 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon…this blend is also great in coffee!)
2 c. buttermilk
1/3 c. melted butter
2 lightly beaten eggs
1/2 Tbsp. vanilla
Whisk dry ingredients in large bowl. Mix wet ingredients, and then slowly incorporate into dry ingredients until just blended. Cook according to waffle iron instructions.
Who doesn’t love chicken wings, am I right? I was intrigued when Beast Butcher and Block announced a new sub-restaurant providing delivery and carryout wings running out of their St. Louis location, and I was ecstatic when I found out that it was also going to be offered right here in Belleville!
Wing Runner currently offers 10 different flavors of wings (plus a cauliflower “wing” for the non meat-eaters who darken the doorstep of a BBQ joint). Sides are very limited, and because it’s a separate business, you can’t just tack items from Beast onto your order. We went with a bulk pack of 50 wings (there are seven of us, after all, but we didn’t finish quite all of them in one sitting!)…you can get up to five flavors, but for our first visit, we chose the four we were most interested in.
First up, my choice, the roasted garlic butter wings:
Of course we had to try the traditional mild buffalo (they also have hot buffalo, but not all of our children are open to that level of spice):
The spicy BBQ mustard was another popular request:
And the char siu, featuring sesame seeds, was our “wild” choice:
Well, not as wild at the habanero jerk…we got a 5-piece order of those to try alongside the other flavors.
Have you ever seen a better-looking plate of wings?!?
OK, on to the flavors. The habanero jerk was HOT. Like, scary hot. Even Ryan, who is the biggest fan of heat in the house, couldn’t eat more than two wings. So, if you order those, just be aware that your face may melt off. They’re excellent…I know that on a culinary level. But my taste buds would not thank me if I ate them again!
The other four flavors were all a huge hit. I don’t think I could pick a favorite if I tried…they were all delicious in their own way. The char siu was especially amazing…it was such an unexpected flavor on wings, and that just made it taste better. The spicy mustard had a great kick, and I loved the actual mustard seeds on the wings. The garlic butter had just the flavor I was hoping for, with the pleasant addition of cotija cheese crumbled over them. And the mild buffalo was exactly what you want out of a traditional buffalo wing.
I’m hoping it won’t be too long before our next order. I really want to try the shishito lime wings, and the fish sauce caramel sounds just unusual enough to be delicious. I’m also pretty sure I need to try the dry rub wings, too, and any seasonal varieties they offer in the future! It’s always exciting to see what new ideas David Sandusky and Beast come up with, and they never fail to disappoint!
Last month when we went to the new Beast Craft BBQ location in St. Louis, Beast Butcher and Block, I was excited to see the #beercheesesteak on the menu, because it’s something I’ve been wanting to try for a long time! Aren’t I lucky that it’s something that has now shown up at both locations?
So here’s the deal. Chopped brisket (which of course, I already knew I loved), tallow, beer cheese, and onions. On that amazing bread Beast uses. And I got some of Beast’s delicious fries to go with it. Perfect dinner. Melt-in-your-mouth perfection. And I didn’t really understand how tasty tallow is before Beast. Actually, I’m not sure I’ve really ever had tallow prior to Beast!
Every time I try something new at Beast (no matter the location…I love that I can say that now!), I figure that’s it, there’s just no way they can top that. They always do, though, and I am constantly waiting to see what they come up with next! And now that they’re on both sides of the river, if you’re in the St. Louis metro, you have no excuse not to taste just what that might be for yourself!
I’ve mentioned that our summer school theme this year is built around Rick Steves’ Europe, and focuses on learning about the cultures of various European countries. It’s a great topic, but as you might imagine, it is a little difficult to plan field trips in the midwest that relate to the topic (although we did pretty well with exploring German culture in Frankenmuth, MI, earlier this month!).
There was one thing I knew I wanted to do for sure, that would give us as close to an immersive experience as we could get here in St. Louis. Actually, St. Louis is the best place outside of Europe for this experience, as St. Louis has the largest Bosnian population outside of The Continent. So after looking at many restaurant options in St. Louis, we went out for dinner at Berix, a Bosnian restaurant in South County.
The inside of the restaurant was just what I expected, and completely charming:
We tried a variety of Bosnian dishes, including Cevapi (small beef sausages), Doner Kebab (with the most amazing flatbread I’ve ever had!), Sarma (cabbage rolls), and a banana dessert that was delicious.
I also had Turkish coffee for the first time. I was a little shocked at the sludge of grounds in it (and thankful that the waiter explained how to prepare it!), but it was the most delicious coffee I’ve ever had!
We all really enjoyed our experience at Berix. Our waiter was amazing, and explained the food (and the slow-paced meal culture of Bosnia). The food was excellent (and the portions were quite large, which means leftovers, which I’m a huge fan of!). I’m sure we’ll go back, because there were many other delicious menu items that we’d like to try someday!
Last week, Beast Butcher & Block opened on Manchester in the Grove neighborhood of St. Louis. I was really looking forward to seeing the new location, so I was especially excited when we were invited to preview the restaurant at their soft opening. As soon as we walked in, I was impressed with the look of the place. Notable are the colorful chairs and cool artwork:
Beast Butcher & Block isn’t just a restaurant, though. Yes, you should go for a meal, which better include meat prepared in one of their six smokers. You can also buy uncooked meat and other items in “The Butchery” at the front of the store. But my favorite part (well, other than the food!), is The Skullery (allow that name to sink in and enjoy).
The Skullery is a private event space, which I’m sure is going to host many awesome occasions in the future. Just look at that grill!
Did I mention the food? Here’s a look at some of the items we enjoyed, including the #beercheesesteak, spare ribs, wings, and turkey.
And check out the lineup of sauces!
The exterior of the building looks just as cool as the interior!
OK, let’s be realistic. Parking in the Grove can be an issue, and the parking lot at Beast Butcher & Block is small, so I recommend you give yourself extra time to find a place for your car. I would also assume that you should be prepared to wait in line, because this restaurant is going to draw large crowds. But as is always the case with Beast, the food is worth the wait, especially if you’re on the Missouri side of the river, and don’t want a long drive into Illinois for the best BBQ in St. Louis!
When we decided to go to Frankenmuth, we knew we’d have to try one of their famous fried chicken dinners. There are two places in town that offer such a meal, and they’re right across the street from each other! After checking out the full menus, we chose to dine at the Bavarian Inn:
It’s a beautiful (and extremely large!) building:
There are many dining rooms, each one as charming as the last:
They had both their own beer and root beer on the menu:
And they start you off with bread, both plain white bread and stollen. They also offered us fresh rhubarb jam to go with it!
We decided to try their ultimate family style Bavarian dinner (the perfect fit for our European-themed summer school this year!), which we had a coupon for, and which would allow us to sample many of their offerings, including the famous fried chicken.
We started with noodle soup and a variety of salads:
The fried chicken was just as good as promised:
We also tried the sauerbraten, bratwurst, kasseler rippchen (smoked pork loin), and schnitzel:
There were also plenty of side dishes, including buttered noodles (my favorite!), vegetables, dressing, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and potato cheese puffs. It was seriously delicious, and we definitely did not leave hungry!
The meal included housemade ice cream for dessert, and I tried the cranberry, which was amazing…I can’t believe I’ve never had cranberry ice cream before!
We also split a piece of apple strudel:
This was a pretty expensive meal for our family, even with the coupon, but it was definitely worth it…and we even had enough leftovers for a second dinner once we got home!
If you have traveled on IL 159 in Swansea recently, you may have noticed that there’s a new taco place in town. Specifically a taco truck and a taco stand…Valle Taco Express. The stand is only open when the truck doesn’t have an engagement, so you want to check their Facebook weekly page for their hours and locations.
Now, on to the food. I tried the taco plate, which included three tacos…steak, chicken, and fish, plus sides (I had a double order of the street corn), while Ryan had the steak and chicken Fuego burritos.
We both thought the steak options were a little dry, but still tasty. The sauce on my other two tacos was great…it had a nice kick to it. The meat was also cooked just right. The real star of the meal, though, was the corn. It had a nice char, and the addition of the cheese was the perfect topping.
I definitely enjoyed my meal, and I’d like to eat there again…it would also be fun to catch their truck at an event!
Belleville’s Beast Craft BBQ has daily specials, as you might expect from a restaurant, and I’ve reviewed many of them in the years they’ve been open. But every now and again, they have something extra special, something so unique that it’s only around for a day or two, and you have to jump at the chance to get it before they sell out. Over the weekend, they offered such an item, a pork belly pastrami sandwich topped with dill cucumber salad, on sourdough, plus fries:
So, here’s the thing. When the owner of Beast messages you to let you know about the special, and tells you to get there early to try it, you really have to listen to him. So even though Ryan was out all day on Saturday (with our only vehicle), he found some time to swing by and pick one up for me.
That was a good call.
It’s obvious that I’ve liked everything I’ve tried at Beast, and have many favorites. This sandwich was extra special, though. The meat just melted in my mouth. It was so tender and so flavorful, and then when you add in the crunch of the cucumber salad…it’s definitely now one of my Beast favorites! I don’t know if they’ll ever bring it back, but if they do, I’m certainly going to have to get it again, and this time I know that I need to be there when they open, because I’m pretty sure Ryan got some of the last of it they had on Saturday, and that was at lunchtime!
Ladybug and I have been planning to go to dinner at Texas de Brazil in the St. Louis Galleria for almost a year…Saturday was finally the day!
As soon as we walked in, we were impressed…there were color-changing lights behind the bar, which looked really cool through the various bottles!
The table was super fancy, and Ladybug was shocked by the napkin service, which is something she had never encountered. Not only did they place our napkins in our laps when we sat down, they refolded them every time we got up from the table!
If you’ve never been to Texas de Brazil, here’s how it works. After you’re seated, you can visit the salad bar. There were so many delicious options! (But watch out for that plant…it attacked me several times!)
In addition to the cold offerings, there are also some heated options, including their famous lobster bisque, Brazilian black beans, rice, and moqueca (fish stew):
At your table, you’re given a “coin.” One side indicates that you would like the waiters to stop by with whatever carved meat they’re carrying, and the other that you are content with what you have (at least for the time being!):
There are so many meat options, from all of the main meat groups…beef, chicken, pork, and lamb (plus the fish family at the salad bar…I tried all five kinds of meats!). Some are wrapped in bacon, some are seasoned with parmesan cheese, and all are delicious. In general, the meats are prepared medium-rare, but you can request more or less done options. And watching the waiters carve the meat table side is quite a treat!
In addition to the salad bar offerings (both cold and hot), a few side dishes are brought to your table, including garlic mashed potatoes, sweet fried bananas, and Brazilian cheese bread (Pao de Queijo), which I’ve actually made before!
We enjoyed everything we tried, from the drinks (Ladybug had a Brazilian soda, and I had their signature drink, the Caipirinha), to the salad bar (the pineapple carpaccio, couscous salad, and giant capers were some of our favorites!), to the meat (I was so happy to see so many rare options, including filet mignon and plain old steak):
And then the desserts. There was a tray with some of their offerings, including Brazilian cheesecake, carrot cake, and key lime pie), but they also have other choices including Brazilian flan, Crème Brûlée, and Brazilian Papaya Cream.
Ladybug and I both chose the chocolate mousse cake, and we were definitely not disappointed…it was AMAZING!
This was a very fun and special evening. I wish it was a place we could all visit someday, but it’s not practical for a large family. I do hope that I’ll get the chance to go back with somebody someday, though, because I had a great time, and really enjoyed my meal!
My love of Beast Craft BBQ is well-documented, and I never thought I’d have a need for any other BBQ, but ever since Sugarfire Smoke House opened a location in the Metro East, Sugarfire 64, I knew I would have to try it out eventually. Sunday was that day.
Why Sunday, you may wonder? Well, Sugarfire recently took first place at the 2018 Sandwich World Championship. And on Sunday, they offered the World’s Best Sandwich, the Cuban Reuben, at the O’Fallon location. Not only did I want to try out the best sandwich in the world, I’m a sucker for a reuben, so it was the perfect opportunity.
The sandwich had three types of meat…pit ham, pastrami, and pulled pork…all were delicious. That was topped with Swiss cheese, horseradish mustard, and pickles. And if all that wasn’t enough, the “bun” was actually two grilled cheese sandwiches, which had both provolone and white American cheese and sourdough bread. I added some of Sugarfire’s white BBQ sauce, too.
When they say “World’s Best Sandwich,” they’re not exaggerating, at least not by much. It was the perfect combination of ingredients for lovers of both Cuban sandwiches and Reubens. The BBQ sauce was good, too (Ryan thinks Beast’s is still the best, and I tend to agree, although I’m not a connoisseur of BBQ sauce like he is), and the portions were beyond generous….splitting it was definitely not a problem! I also tried the brisket au gratin potatoes for my side, and if that isn’t comfort food right there, I don’t know what is.
Beast will always be my first BBQ love, but I wouldn’t mind going back to Sugarfire 64 and trying some of their other offerings, because their food is excellent!