Peggie Jean’s Pies (wordage to match the pie-ness)

September 17, 2014

One thing I learned in speaking with the subjects of Columbia Home’s next food section feature is that the mother-daughter team behind Peggie Jean’s Pies II are forces of nature. My full piece will be out in the next issue of the magazine, but until then you should be reading daughter/lawyer/baker/mom Rebecca’s blog. It’s hysterical and (probably a little too) candid. Great reading. The latest update:

Today is a PJP Buttonwood month-aversary…we ushered in our fifth month of existence this morning with a nod to the milestone and two large mochas from Caribou.  And in our tradition, here are our thoughts about five months in…

  1. Our space is finally starting to feel like it belongs to us.  While writing a check for $1560 a month to The Kroenke Group for rent and triple nets is a harsh reminder that we will only be at home for the next 54 months with an option to renew, the addition of the wooden display unit, the bench, and a few other touches make us love our 1,000 square feet like we built it ourselves.

  2. Speaking of building, we’ve learned that going through the construction process on our own space was overwhelming.  Working in our space while construction is in full swing on the units next door, well, that is enough to make us crazy.  Our new neighbors are required to install a firewall between our spaces.  I don’t know what a firewall looks like or what it is made out of, but I do know that installing one requires hammering, sawing, and drilling incessantly.  If a chunk of our wall fell out and a construction worker rolled onto our floor, we likely wouldn’t even notice.

Read the rest. And I don’t know if I could bake with them (yes I do and the answer is “no”) but they are hiring.

School Lunches, Part One

September 8, 2014

The school year is just a few weeks old and I’m already hitting a creativity wall. This wall is not CPS’ doing in this case, as 92.8% of the lunches the kids have had have been sent by me (one day the girl decided on school lunch and ended up with “Trout Treasures,” which are neither trout nor particularly treasured). One kid likes sandwiches, the other prefers hers deconstructed. Both like fruit but not always the same fruit. One would take a bath in my newly-created “BLT Dip” but the other was repulsed. In short, morning lunch-packing gets interesting. But with a little advance planning we’ve managed pretty well. Here’s what we’re doing.

Fruit

Kids like sugar, big surprise. But most of what they get is the processed variety. HFCS isn’t inherently worse for you than regular sugar, but the former ends up in everything, owing to its indefinite shelf-life (note: things that don’t go bad are not good for you. Except for honey. That’s pretty good for you.). Anyway, we’ve been packing their lunches with cherries, bananas, pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon, kiwi, apples, peaches and so on. It’s still sugar – so they love it – but it’s also natural. Sugar tastes good to humans because it’s good for us, just not in the quantities we’ve grown accustomed to. Put fruit in their lunches and keep a variety on hand for Thursday, when they have dance and soccer.

“Salads”

Lettuce is fragile and largely devoid of nutrients. Kale and Brussels sprouts are neither of those things, bringing heft and bite and the durability to stand up to being tossed around in a kid’s lunch box for six hours before lunch. Before the lacinato kale finally succumbed to summer and the ravages of caterpillars we’d slice it very, very thin, treat it with an on-the-spot vinaigrette (2-1 olive oil to vinegar mix, or to taste) and a shake of salt and crack or two of pepper. The most popular Brussels sprouts treatment so far has been this one:

Read the rest of this entry »

House of Chow

August 18, 2014

House of Chow is a venerated mainstay in the Columbia Chinese food scene. They go way back, and some customers have been going for decades. I always found it solid, if easy to overlook in an increasingly crowded and competitive Asian-food market in Columbia.

So when Amy Chow sold it to her nephew last year and he told Marcia Vanderlip,

“I like the lighter side of Asian food,” he said. “My direction is healthy with fresh ingredients, not so much canned.”

I thought we might have a new player on the rather dismal west side of town. My first visit made me reconsider. An order of “Chicken Lettuce Wraps” resulted in a plateful of lumpy, brown soup swimming atop a three long-destroyed leaves of iceberg lettuce. The vomitus-looking concoction was piping hot, you see, and had instantly wilted the lettuce into submission. It didn’t taste like much, either, and we ate virtually none of it. The new owner acknowledged a poor preparation, but it appeared on the bill just the same.

“Pork Belly Gua Bao Sliders” were chewy and, somehow, dull. The rest of the meal followed suit – lots of promise, no delivery (I forget – and can only assume to have forgotten upon departure – what we had for entrees, so unmemorable were they). Some acquaintances we happened to run into on our way out later relayed a similar experience, and in the months that followed I heard no reason to return (or to stay away for that matter, apathy apparently being the primary public sentiment).

On a lark today I returned, and was treated to a nice, finely shaved Napa cabbage salad with sesame dressing (hopes rise!) and then the crushing pendulum-swing of a lame egg roll (possibly forgivable) and an utterly bland “Sweet Basil Rice Bowl” (not forgivable). When I tell you I could not detect basil in this dish, I mean to say they didn’t wave a sprig of it over the bowl before bringing it to me. I mean to say that the carrots were recently liberated from a Sysco freezer bag, that the chicken, thinly-sliced and cooked perfectly, was devoid of a single iota of heat. If you’ve ever had the basil chicken at Bamboo Terrace, you’ll understand the depth of my self-hate for ordering this non-entity.

The last, if symptomatic, straw was the disappearance of my server after delivering my entree until dropping off the check ten minutes later and wishing me a nice day. The dish needed some chili sauce, and a request for the same brought a fiery but flavorless sriracha knockoff. It made the remaining bites I was willing to take better, but just barely. The aforementioned bill came to $6.51, so I guess if you’re looking for suboptimal Chinese food at McDonald’s prices, this is the place for you. I’ll be spending a few more bucks at Bamboo Terrace and their ilk. Let me know if at some future date House of Chow becomes relevant once again – right now they seem to have lost their way entirely.

House of Chow
2101 W Broadway
Columbia, MO 65203
(573) 445-8800
http://www.houseofchow-como.com/

Um, howdy

August 18, 2014

Oh hey there. Yeah, your (second) favorite blogger is still here. It’s just that between April and now things got crazy. I’ve turned half-farmer (more on that later) and there were soccer tournaments, road trips, the World Cup and a family trip through St. Louis-Chicago-Washington, D.C.-New York City, to say nothing of the actual work that keeps the lights on around these parts. The biggest obstacle to jumping back in is always the first post, so let’s get that out of the way right here and get back to business. It’s good to see you again.

Working with wild garlic

April 18, 2014

The wild alliums are up, as sure a sign of spring as no more snow and daffodils poking through the soil. There’s no shortage of them – and what I thought were wild onions – out at “the land,” our hopefully temporary name for the 20 acres we own out by Columbia Regional Airport. I dug up a few clumps last weekend, washed them off, washed them some more and then, after washing again, began to clean them. They’re a pain for sure, so I was hoping they’d be worth it in the end. Turned out it was (and that they were wild garlic instead). Here’s what we’ve made.

Wild Garlic Pesto

wild garlic pesto

I bogarted this recipe from a site called Edible Rhody, but after blanching the garlic had to add some back at the end just to get some punch back. Blanching is key though, for most wild garlic applications where other cooking isn’t involved.

Roasted Pork Loin with Wild Garlic Confit

onion confit

Wild Garlic Hamburgers (with Grilled Wild Garlic)

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burger

Wild Garlic and Spring Pea Soup

garlic and pea soup

 

My personal favorite was the soup, though the pesto takes a close second (and is good enough that one taster has ordered 150 pesto crostini as apps for an upcoming college alumni dinner). Recipe? Nope. I just blanched and chilled the wild garlic and blended it with chicken stock, bean broth (leftover from cooking a big batch of chickpeas) and frozen peas, then simmered until slightly thickened. Garnished with asparagus, turnip and radish sprouts from the garden and some flash-fried chickpeas. Good, good stuff.

Potatoes for Easter

April 18, 2014

I was put in charge of a potato dish for this Sunday’s Easter family lunch. Given our schedule between now and then I didn’t branch out, I went tried and true: potatoes au gratin.

Potatoes au Gratin (started out as a recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

Layer thin-sliced potatoes with swiss cheese, butter and salt and pepper in a Pyrex pan. Leave a 1/2 inch of space from the top of the pan and pour on some cream, half and half or (if you must) milk. Pour until liquid reaches roughly halfway up the side of the dish. Bake at 350 for an hour, or until browned on top and cooked in the middle.

Columbia Area Career Center Culinary Arts results at SkillsUSA

April 7, 2014

I know it takes unseen hundreds of hours of practice to build a state champion, but the Columbia Area Career Center’s Culinary Arts program makes it look as close to automatic as you can get. Year after year they take top spots at both the state and national levels, a testament to the kids’ hard work, the quality of their instructors and the investment the district has put into the program. It’s a juggernaut. Proof again today from the 2014 SkillsUSA State competition:

Chormaic Sullivan – 1st place Culinary Arts (RBHS Senior)
Austin Scoles – 1st place Commercial Baking (RBHS Senior)
Bailey Lawson – 2nd place Commercial Baking (RBHS Junior)
Jacob Ventrillo – 5th place Culinary Arts (RBHS Junior)

Read the CACC’s entire post here and congratulations to students and instructors.

No points for second place

April 3, 2014

So apparently I’m only the second-best blogger in town. This puts me on par with such silver medal-winning nominees/losers as William Least-Heat Moon, Café Berlin, Chim’s and Ozark Mountain Biscuit Company. Do better next year, guys. Do better.

Authentic Foods

April 1, 2014

My latest piece for Columbia Home – on “authentic foods” – is out. And while I recommend subscribing to the print edition, the online version of the story is much more comprehensive. We visited Bamboo Terrace, Coffee Zone, Las Margaritas and KoJaBa and ate very, very well. Angelique’s photos are awesome too.

Authenticity is a slippery prospect in the realm of food. That Italian tomato-based pasta sauce we all know and love? New arrival. Pad Thai as the very essence of Thai food? It’s brand new in the grand scheme of things. And noodles originated in China, so can they really be authentically Italian or Thai anyway? Heck, Italy wasn’t even a country until 1858.

So authenticity is tough, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know it when we see it. Mexican street tacos, chickpea dip, marinated and grilled meat and fiery Sichuan stir-fries are so emblematic of the cultures that created them that we don’t need to fuss too much with their provenances.

Check it out the full thing here.

True/False 2014

February 27, 2014

As I have chronicled before – and would be obvious to anyone who’s attended before – True/False is not on our calendars for the food we’ll eat. It’s all about the movies (and usually, walking in the bitter cold between movies). People are in a hurry and restaurants don’t much go out of the way to run special to-go menus and whatnot. I guess the upside’s just not there. That said, there are still good options and here a few tips I’ve developed over the years:

  1. Plan ahead. Know where you’ll be walking at lunch and dinner times and plot out your plan of attack. You may not have enough time to wing it.
  2. Take a few steps off the beaten path. Just walking a block out of the main downtown core of True/False will reduce the crowds – and restaurant wait times – considerably. Think Chim’s Thai Kitchen, Coffee Zone, Casablanca, Billiards on Broadway, etc.
  3. Multi-task. If you’re planning on getting in 16-plus movies in three days, you’re going to be doing some walking, fast. Why not eat on the go? Cafe Poland has great borscht they serve in to-go cups and Kaldi’s and Uprise do a good job with to-go sandwiches.
  4. Caffeinate. This is a long slog of a weekend, equal parts pleasure and pain (great overall vibe matched with domestic violence movies, orca-torture movies, atrocities in Indonesia/Rwanda/Afghanistan movies). Sometimes you need a pick-me-up, and while Columbia’s always loved its coffee, the last few years have reached a new level. Shortwave Coffee opened this week next to Kampai Sushi (another good, hidden gem for this weekend). Also see Fretboard Coffee and Kaldi’s.
  5. Coffee can take care of your mornings, but something stronger may be necessary by the evening hours. Top Ten Wines serves great wines by the glass, International Tap House is a playground for beer-lovers and 9th Street Public House is now open.

Some other recommendations:

Uprise Bakery – One of the few places that run T/F-specific items, Uprise feels like the film fest’s beating heart. Pre-made baguette sandwiches you can take into the theater, a chance to run elbows with a director at the bar. Every True/Falser should make at least one stop at Uprise. And this weekend, their excellent soups will come in handy.

Sunflower Waffle Company will be selling chicken and waffles from the parking lot across from Uprise/Ragtag. Perfect late-night snacking.

Ozark Mountain Biscuit Company – My current favorite local food truck – since Pepe’s closed for the winter – will be shuttling between The Root Cellar, The Bridge and Cafe Berlin all weekend.

I have several movies at Jesse Hall this year, so South 9th Street will be important. I foresee slices from Shakespeare’s, healthy smoothies from Blenders, beers at International Tap House and sandwiches from Quinton’s and Heidelberg.

Addison’s is a long-time festival supporter and promises to be able to crank out sandwiches and other festival-friendly dishes within 10-15 minutes, even at busy times. If you have a few minutes to spare, the two downtown breweries – Broadway Brewery and Flatbranch Pub and Brewing – are well-worth a visit. Sycamore Restaurant remains my personal favorite place to grab a drink and have some apps. Restaurateurs generally report an uptick in vegetarian requests this weekend, which is why Main Squeeze will be hopping. A Buddha Bowl and a smoothie will gladden the heart of many a doc-weary festival-goer. Next door is International Cafe, great for hummus, falafel and other Middle Eastern foods (soups are great, too).

Creative Combinations

February 21, 2014

ColHome

My most recent assignment for Columbia Home was on “creative combinations,” and they found four good local examples for me.

When it comes to food, creativity can be a hit-or-miss prospect. For every jolt of inspiration that cashes in on its potential, there are a dozen duds, such as kimchi carbonara and fish ’n’ chips ice cream. It takes skill and restraint to harness inventive food combinations and make them work. Here are four local spots doing just that.

Read the whole piece here.

*For what it’s worth, all four creative combinations were good – but the es alpukat at Les Bourgeois was on a different level. Cool stuff.

Friday Links

January 31, 2014

I was on KFRU yesterday morning (you’re welcome about the advance notice) talking about Lucky’s and a few other notable notes. We took an alarming number of calls about “Bubba Burgers,” whatever those are. One thing we didn’t get to because of time was Glenn’s Cafe. I’ll make a few more visits before doing a full review but my initial take is, “Go for lunch.” The 8th Street Burger, fries and cup of gumbo one day had me enthusiastic about their relocation downtown, but a full-on dinner experience last week was comedically poor. So, take it easy, go for lunch and let them work out their dinner kinks.

In other news, the Columbia Area Career Center was named one of the top 100 high school and technical culinary outposts in the country. If you’ve watched them over the years you know this is an honor but not a surprise – and it didn’t come without hard work by both instructors and students. Congrats all around.

A couple of must-reads from The Washington Post this week – this tragedy and this tragedy.

You need to check out 20 historic black and white photographs colorized. And here are some more. And here is what the world looks like to a bird. Michael Pollan explains how we ended up with all of this dishonestly priced food and makes the point that, 

In a sense, cheap food has subsidized the collapse in wages that we’ve seen. Part of repairing the whole system will involve paying people more and internalizing the real cost of producing this food.

 

Friday Notes

January 17, 2014

You may have heard about the original La Terraza in Peachtree Plaza closing. Turns out the property was recently sold and the new landlord was difficult to deal with. This is unfortunate because Christian and company had put a lot of work into the interior, even recently opening a new section of the restaurant. What you probably haven’t heard is that they will be opening a new restaurant – Mi Tierra – in the former Sky-Hi Grill location on Old Highway 63. I’m told the menu will be largely the same as La Terraza’s and they are hustling to open very soon. Meanwhile, the Forum La Terraza is open for breakfast, so…chilaquiles! Also,

  • There was a great, great review by the NYT’s Pete Wells this week, who you may remember for his demolition of Guy Fieri’s Times Square circusteraunt. So many wonderful lines, like, “Think of everything that’s great about fried chicken. Now take it all away.” Enjoy.
  • People seemed kind of jazzed up about the opening of Lucky’s Market this week. The 597 hits this blog received is an all-time one-day high. That said, I’m still running second to Mike Martin for Inside Columbia’s “Best local blogger” category with one week left in voting. Oh well.
  • Sauce Magazine ran a short rib taco recipe from a St. Louis restaurant and we made it this week – it’s brilliant. Go buy some short ribs from Show Me or Missouri Legacy and get busy.
  • I’m a big fan of kids learning early how to behave in restaurants, but I don’t think it would ever have occurred to me to take mine to Alinea. Yeesh.
  • We’re headed to St. Louis for a weekend soon, so if you’ve hit a place we need to check out, please let me know.

Have a great weekend.

Lucky’s Market Opens

January 14, 2014

After a decade of dormancy and decay, Lucky’s Market officially breathed life into Columbia’s most depressing corner this morning, opening their cheery doors for business at 8:00 am. The Colorado-based, full service grocery store focuses on high quality, organic and, when possible, locally-sourced foods. On a tour last night both beverage manager Marcie Davenport and the marketing manager, Shelly (doh, last name no get!) said that while Lucky’s aims high, they desperately want to remain accessible to the entire community.

photo 1

“I really want to put good food in people’s hands,” she said, adding “Lucky’s is a judgement-free zone. We’re not here to preach.” For a store that owes at least a small debt to spendy shops like Whole Foods, Lucky’s may be better equipped to do that than you think. Two pints of strawberries were on special for $.88. Mom’s Best cereals were two for $3. Store-baked* breads were $5…for two loaves. They will run “ridiculous” weekly specials like this to draw customers in for fresh produce. Word is $.19 mangoes are on the way.

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The meat and deli sections will appeal as well. All deli meats are seasoned, cured and smoked in house and meat is sourced locally “as much as possible.” A “Made in Missouri” placard designates local (or at least state-produced items) throughout the store. The butcher section is currently helmed by the head meat manager for Lucky’s corporate office, who is training the staff. Guys, the meat – and especially the fish – looks amazing. In fact, go buy some fish there right now. I’ll wait right here.

photo copy 3

Davenport says the beverage section will be a work in progress. “We’ll have something for everyone, see what people respond to and go from there. We want everyone to be able to shop here.” And so they can. Customers seeking the Bud Lights and Millers of the world will find a cooler labeled “Old Standbys,” while craft beer aficionados will be able to wet their whistle as well. A quick glance revealed some unfamiliar (to me) brews like Goose Island Ten Hills Pale Ale and hard-ish to find stuff like Ska’s Decadent Imperial IPA. Bottles of Urban Chestnut are in the house. There’s a large wine selection too as well; regular tastings will be held.

Lucky’s is also clearly angling to be more than just a grocery store – they want you to hang out. There’s a “liquid lounge” near the front of the store where you can taste and purchase – and then shop with – coffees, beer or wine. The selection last night included an imperial stout from Perennial, which will improve any grocery store experience. Classes and monthly “tasting fairs” are in the works (the first being January 26).

Produce is understandably light on the local stuff right now, but what they do have is gorgeous, reasonably-priced and diverse (four kinds of beets!). There’s a juice bar in the veggie section too.

All in all, it looks to me like Lucky’s came to play. The staff are helpful and eager to please and will work on the (totally understandable) check-out kinks with a smile and a laugh. They’ll tell you how hard they’ve been working to get the place open. They’re proud. Bottom line: you should check it out. And the grand opening “bacon-cutting” tomorrow at 10:00 am would be a perfect opportunity.

Lucky’s Market
7:00 am – 10:00 pm
111 South Providence Rd
Columbia, MO 65203
Phone: (573) 442-2128

* Lucky’s breads are par-baked at a corporate facility and finished in the store. They look really nice either way. And a variety of Uprise Bakery breads are available for purchase as well.

Zaxby’s

January 9, 2014

Zaxby’s, as you may have heard, is a popular southern-based fried chicken joint. They specialize in chicken fingers and sandwiches and people seem to dig their fries and dipping sauces. Two opened in Columbia this past Monday and I happened to be near one while running errands during lunch today. Here are my thoughts.

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First, they’ve done a nice job (a la Applebee’s, I suppose) of tying in some local flavor to the decor. Lots of Mizzou and SEC memorabilia. That’s nice. And the service was understandably (and suffocatingly) chipper for day four. The food came out before I’d even been handed my change, so there’s that too. But we’re here for the chicken, right? Right. Anyway, it’s not that great. The chicken tenders do indeed appear to come from an actual chicken, and I they had a little more pull to them than some, which sort of disintegrate when you bite into them (a good thing to me). They were cooked perfectly. Other than that, well… The breading is lightly applied, pretty salty. “Salty” is what I got out of it. The fries are what we all enjoyed out of Ore-Ida bags growing up. The coleslaw and Texas toast were just utterly pointless. And the sauce, blech. It’s basically remoulade mayonnaise. Or maybe it’s mayonnaise remoulade. Either way it’s mayo with a dash of heat and tartness. The whole collection is pretty dull, if inoffensive.

The ultimate test came with a to-go order for Mrs. SMEs. She had identical thoughts: Zaxby’s is fine. Not as good as Lee’s, not as good as Chick-fil-A. So, give Zaxby’s a shot for yourself, but you might want to dial the expectations back.

Dish of the Year

January 9, 2014

Malaysian Curry Chicken in Hot Pot – Bamboo Terrace

photo1

It’s hard to imagine the same people behind the late, not-so-great Great Wall Chinese Restaurant over by the mall are also responsible for Bamboo Terrace, which opened by the Walmart on West Broadway in 2012 and has been made into – arguably – Columbia’s best Asian restaurant. Tasting the freshness of the ingredients they now work with and the pride they clearly take in every dish, one can only guess how much it must have hurt to serve crappy steam-table “Chinese” food. Having trained in China and worked in kitchens from New York City to Las Vegas, they knew how to make the good stuff. They just weren’t sure Columbia was ready. A year and a half later, I think it’s safe to say that we were. It’s also safe to to say that Celeste Chen, John Jiang, Ming Lu and Xiu Lu finally have something to be very proud of indeed.

Traditionally Americanized goodies like House Special Lo Mein, fried rices and Mongolian beef will satisfy the less adventurous. The wonton soup will delight all comers. But there’s more – lots more. Chicken with Basil Leaf is a Thai-style stir-fry that’ll keep you reaching for the bowl of rice (and, even with soup and egg roll, will set you back just $7.25 at lunch). Japanese-style udon noodles are thick and comforting and my son’s favorite. Stir-Fried Sole Fish pairs bright, fresh-tasting fish with crunchy sugar snap peas and pickles, a surprising addition that gives the dish a fun, sour kick. The lettuce wraps are wonderful. Finally, Bamboo Terrace’s specials and the no-longer-secret Chinese menu give executive chef John Jiang free rein to serve stir-fried duck with tofu and a steak and beef lung dish, served cold, that blew me away and won over even a squeamish Mrs. SMEs. Something for everybody here.

But the dish I kept coming back for again and again last year, a dish that offers the highest ceiling and general appeal, is the Malaysian Curry Chicken in Hot Pot. Tender cubes of chicken thigh and chunks of potato are simmered in a spicy, basil-scented coconut curry broth. I haven’t been to Malaysia, so for me it’s southern Thailand in a bowl – a very large, very hot clay bowl with a lid. Everything cooked just right, balanced and composed, order after order. It even works as takeout, though I recommend you eat in – the attentive staff and charming matriarch of the operation being part of the fun. Plus, they (finally) have a liquor license, so you can beat back the heat in anything you order with a couple of Tsing Taos (they’re also more than happy to dial down the heat – just ask).

Bamboo Terrace
3101 W Broadway, Suite 101
Columbia, MO 65203
(573) 886-5555

Best Chinese Restaurant In An Unfortunate Location

December 27, 2013

ABC Chinese Cuisine
3510 Interstate 70 Dr SE
Columbia, MO 65201
http://abcchinesecuisine.com/

This one isn’t too tough. ABC Chinese is tucked away on the far side of the traffic snakepit that is the I-70/I-63 intersection. Plenty of people have found the place though, and whether the people in the booths are medical staff from one of the many health care facilities nearby or are actually making the conceptual leap over the highway, ABC is rewarding them with solid Americanized Chinese food and a whole lot more of the real stuff than anyone else in town.

Dim sum, a sort of Chinese tapas, is available at all times and offers diners a few dozen choices ranging from entry level to grad school. There’s something for everybody at ABC (I like the spicy noodle soup, pork shu mai and any of their “Homestyle Dishes”). Naturally, there’s karaoke at night. The service is earnest but everything can come off a tad awkward at first. You may be asked if everything is fine every three or four minutes. You may have to chase your server down for the check. And do you pay at the table or at the hostess stand? Never mind, ABC is worth the trek and any oddities of service will be more than compensated-for by the food. And while you’re out there, be sure to stop in at Hong Kong Market for the best Asian produce and products in town.

Black Eyed Pea Soup

December 27, 2013

Originally posted in January of 2012. It’s well worth a revisit.

This is one of our favorite soups, and one we don’t just relegate to January 1 or thereabouts. It’s a hearty, warming soup perfect for any cold day. It’s adapted from a recipe by Chef G. Garvin. We usually don’t use all the sausage, preferring a thinner soup. I also stirred in some cooked lacinato kale this time around, just because. It was awesome. Feel free to tinker; this one’s a forgiving test subject.

Black-Eyed Pea Soup

3 T olive oil
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped shallot
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 lb. andouille sausage
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 t red pepper flakes
salt and black pepper to taste
2 15-oz. cans black-eyed peas
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 T hot sauce
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
Thinly sliced green onions, for garnish

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in onion, celery, shallot and garlic. While this cooks for a minute or two, dice the uncooked sausage. Add half of the sausage to the pot and stir.

In a saute pan heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Brown the remaining sausage. Once brown, use a paper towel to soak up excess oil in the pan. Set sausage aside.

Add butter, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste to the onion mixture in the pot. Let cook for 3 or 4 minutes.

Add black-eyed peas to the pot and cook for a couple of minutes. Add chicken stock. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes, then stir in cream and hot sauce.

To serve, ladle soup into a bowl and top with green onions*, browned sausage and cilantro.

* – The original recipe called for fried leeks. Feel free to go that route. We go with green onions because it’s easier and lighter.

Best New Space

December 26, 2013

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Günter Hans
7 Hitt St
Columbia, MO 65201
(573) 256-1205
gunterhans.com

Some might find $10 for a (maaaybe) 3-oz. pour of basic Portuguese red a bit steep. The cheese plate, allegedly an “Assortment of Europe’s Finest Cheese,” is a middlebrow assemblage of Edam, Havarti, Swiss and so on – nothing smelly or funky or runny. Cotswald is the lone interesting inclusion. So I’m not sold on Günter Hans from a food standpoint yet – though the “bretzels” are indeed very good and I haven’t had a waffle – but as a place to grab a beer or gelato, it’s drop-dead gorgeous. The patio will be a stunner come warmer weather.

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Best New Place to Watch a Game, Work, Drink a Beer, Drink a Beer While Working, etc.

December 26, 2013

International Taphouse
308 9th Street
Columbia, MO
http://www.internationaltaphouse.com/columbia/

We always knew International Taphouse opening in Columbia was going to mean an staggering expansion in the amount of beers available in Columbia. They backed that promise up with some serious delivery. An ever-evolving selection of 50-some beers on tap and hundreds more by the can and bottle. If you’ve been to any of their other locations, you figured you’d get that. What we didn’t know was just how amazing the space was going to be. It’s phenomenal. From the two dozen or so HD TVs to the comfortable seating to the lightning-quick wi-fi, this is the place to be. I want to move in. They don’t serve food? Who cares? The place is a temple to beer and television. Order some Shakespeare’s.


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