A t-shirt speaks a thousand words

A t-shirt speaks a thousand words

Change comes slowly, as I realized when I wandered into the gift shop at the Missouri History Museum after checking out the Little Black Dress exhibit. I came face with the demolished relics of my past … as souvenir t-shirts. Seriously. Talk about taking a walk with the Ghost of Christmas Past. My specter took me on a food episode.

Macarons from La Patisserie Chouquette

Macarons from La Patisserie Chouquette

Here are a few lovely photos my niece texted to me from St. Louis’s La Patisserie Chouquette. At 13, she has a good eye as well as good taste! The patisserie was started by Simone Faure, former executive pastry chef of the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans. It’s a “peanut free gluten free friendly French bakery” and was voted Best Bakery in last year’s Riverfront Times poll. It’s the place you have to check out the next time you are in the Show Me Stte. ...
Homemade provel cheese

Homemade provel cheese

  True story: St. Louis-born in a decidedly un-foodie time, I did not know that provel and provolone were two different cheeses until after I had moved to California and was married with a baby. Really. I had a sudden taste for one of those delicious house salads we used to get from Talayna’s back when there was only one enormous and dirty location in DeBaliviere, before it got all prettied up and moved. The salad was an enormous mound of iceberg lettuce with a few Greek olives, cherry tomatoes, croutons, and delicious gooey tubes of provel cheese, all tossed together with the house dressing, a garlicky creamy Italian that my BFF assured me her mother said was very close to Marie’s. I can’t find a picture of it, but here’s a similar salad from Leo’s Pizza in Kansas City that will give you the idea: I made the salad that night with provolone and was disappointed. Where was that soft, gooey cheese I craved? I confessed to LL being confused that the provolone in California was so – different from my midwestern cheese. “But we called it provel,” I reasoned. “Maybe there’s some difference.” And that’s when I learned they’re two completely different cheeses. “Provel is like Velveeta,” he informed me. It’s processed. It’s not even cheese. I’ve never seen it around here.” To this day, I have no idea how my native California-husband knew about provel 22 years ago when just 2 years ago even Anthony Bourdain hadn’t. He just knows things, it’s his superpower. So I moved on and found other cheeses, and for all these years provel was just...
Little Italy’s Davanti Enotica – nouveau Italian

Little Italy’s Davanti Enotica – nouveau Italian

davanti – in front of enoteca – wine bar –  from the glossary on Davanti Enoteca’s menu The Italian restaurants in the St. Louis of my memory are the Cicero’s, the Rossino’s, and the Talayna’s;  a vowel-laden litany of boisterous, dimly-lit, wooden-walled, linoleum table-topped rooms filled with baseball teams, cast parties, church groups, girls’ nights out, first dates, and second anniversaries mingling with clattering trays and decades-old smoke and grime, where as high schoolers we’d share plastic pitchers of soda and crunchy iceberg salads tossed with buttery tubes of provel cheese and creamy Italian vinaigrette and as college students we’d share pitchers of Busch Light and chewy pizzas topped with sliced black olives and bacon and jalapeños. That old-school vibe was overthrown in the Foodie Revolution in favor of “nouveau Italian” – handcrafted salumi perched in pepperoni’s throne and purple pickled cauliflower in waiting on tables instead of breadsticks. And across the country in San Diego’s Little Italy, Davanti Enotica reigns as Rossino’s glamorous cousin, the ultimate finishing school graduate of the foodie revolution. Davanti Enoteca is bricked-walled and plank-floored just like those Italian restaurants of my youth, but clean – oh so clean – and decorated in a nod to the past with black and white photos of wooden Italian speedboats docked in tidy harbors and yellow #10 Marzano tomato cans stacked in tidy pyramids, then dotted with single white orchids and tiny tea lights flickering in 4-oz Ball canning jars. My glass of wine was served in a miniature carafe accompanied by an oversized stem – nice to pour just a bit at a time to sip while browsing the...
Man on wheel

Man on wheel

Have you ever seen the movie Man on Wire? We did, a few months back. It’s a very nicely done 2008 documentary that probably fell under your radar, about Philipe Petit’s 1974 illegal walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Oddly, though, a few weeks later, a friend gave me the book Let The Great World Spin. It’s novelist Colum McCann’s fictionalized account of that same tightrope act. So balancing acts have evidently been working overtime in my brain, Last Saturday, then, when our local paper reported the King of the High Wire Nik Wallenda was slated to perform a stunt at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, I knew I had to go. Who’d want to miss the chance to see a man taking a stroll around a 52-foot Ferris Wheel? Definitely not me! The early morning fog was giving way to blue skies as I gathered Kid Two, his Buddy, and a pocketful of quarters. We set out for a bit of morning adventure, and the boys took in a few rides while we waited for The King of the High Wire to begin. When the time came, a crowd of two hundred or so gathered under the Ferris wheel, jostling for position. The wheel s-l-o-w-l-y started to move. Parents and teens brandished smartphones in anticipation. Roller coaster oriented children complained loudly at the interruption. Finally Nik Wallenda appeared, riding s-l-o-w-l-y to the top of the wheel. He summoned his balance pole from the ground, straddled the top of the ride, stepped out to the top, and strolled s-l-o-w-l-y around the wheel as it made a rotation....