Why I’m Here

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.

~Henry Ford

Years ago I decided that I would start a blog and it served primarily as a way to engage in self-therapy. I figured that if I could just start talking, even to myself, I might be able to work through some issues I was having.

I’ve always been a writer at heart and I still feel that way though I seldom make the time to be one in practice. This blog became a means to that end when I told myself I’d make a post every day, or when I started publishing bits and pieces of my writing (fiction) here via various prompts and/or activities, like the Blogging 101 class, for instance.

When I started blogging I never cared much who might read it or if anyone would read it, it was mostly for me. As time has gone on I’ve found I really enjoy engaging with readers and other bloggers with regards to the opinions or thoughts I share on my blog. Getting a huge audience has never been a priority, but I definitely enjoy the fact other people read my words and I’m probably a bit more careful with the presentation as a result. I’m not going to censor myself because others are reading, but I’ll probably proofread a second time or be more mindful of my composition. I’m vain and I wouldn’t want people reading my blog thinking, “This guy sounds like an uneducated imbecile.”

Readers may think that because they don’t agree with my opinions, but that’s fine. I’m not asking anyone to agree with everything I say.

Onward & Upward

Having my own blog led me to start writing about the St. Louis Blues on other websites. You can currently find my hockey posts at The Hockey Writers. I’m definitely still looking for opportunities to write more and I would love to be writing for a living. That chance hasn’t presented itself yet, but I’ll continue looking for it.

Whether you follow my blog or just come every once in a while to check out what’s new, you’ll find me occasionally voicing my opinion on current events, sharing recipes, restaurant experiences, baseball insights, or samples of my favorite music and books. Since I’ve taken my specialty writing (about hockey) off-site, my blog remains a sort jack-of-all-trades kind of entity. That’s not to say it couldn’t become something more focused in the future, but I enjoy a lot of different things in life and for now I’m content with them all being a part of my blog

Thanks again for taking time to read, I hope you’ll leave comments during your stay.

Advertisements

Wednesday Eats – The Block

Tuesday night I had the pleasure of dining at The Block in Webster Groves. Voted one of St. Louis’s Best New Restaurants in 2011 and St. Louis’s The Riverfront Times’s Best Neighborhood Restaurant 2012, I may have a new favorite restaurant of my own.

 

 

The Block combines locally grown and raised ingredients in its dishes and locally brewed beers behind the bar. Setting itself apart from most local eateries, The Block also features a full service meat counter where you can buy whole and half hogs as well as cuts of beef and pork from local farms. My dad and step-mom took my girlfriend and me there for birthdayIMG_1693 dinner and it’s one of those places where literally everything on the menu sounds incredible. From the salads and appetizers to sandwiches and full plate entrees, the Block offers what I felt was the kind of comfort food you’d want to cook for yourself at home, but with exotic twists most of us probably don’t have stocking the fridge or cupboard.

We started off with these amazing pretzels, dark and crunchy on the outside, white and chewy on the inside, served with a delicious savory and sweet mustard sauce with some kind of caramelized onions. Wow. My dad and I both commented that we could probably just eat the pretzels and drink beers and be happy! More on the beers later. For the main course my step-mom had the Double Star Farms Amish Chicken: grilled chicken accompanied by Yukon gold potatoes, butternut squash, mushrooms, and arugula with a local honey balsamic reduction.

They have a Grass Fed Beef menu special, sort of like the “catch of the day,” and that night it was a 12oz ribeye, served with garlic herb fries and The Block’s house steak sauce.  Ribeye is my favorite cut so that was a no-brainer and it was cooked exactly how I asked. The meat was smooth and cut like butter though I didn’t even need a knife. I believe the cut of Grass Fed Beef changes, but I will get that ribeye every time they offer it.

The off-the-menu specials were amazing too. We enjoyed a flatbread appetizer with shrimp and roasted red peppers which changes daily, like the Grass Fed Beef on the menu. My girlfriend had pan-seared cod with roasted red potatoes, roasted garlic, shaved Brussels sprouts, wild mushrooms and topped this unbelievable bacon jam (that you can buy in jars from the butcher’s counter, do it!) AND truffle oil! Decadent. My girlfriend and I thought we’d end up sharing but both of us cleaned our plates relinquishing only a bite or two at most.

IMG_1695 IMG_1696

My dad had an 8oz sirloin, also cooked perfectly, served with a root vegetable gratin: potato, sweet potato, fennel maybe? And Swiss cheese. The coup de grâce though, was a BIG rib, cooked sous-vide, and riding shotgun along with the sirloin. The meat was falling off the bone as the plate was presented at the table. Amazing. All the meat is butchered fresh, on-site, and again, most of the vegetables were said to have been harvested locally. The Block even has a garden project with the local grade school nearby in the spirit of seed-to-table.

Go to The Block for the food, but by no means ignore the incredible, locally brewed beers on tap. There are a lot of micro and artisanal breweries in St. Louis these days, and most restaurants in town feature at least a couple of selections. At The Block their choices matched SO well with the food. It was masterfully done. IPA, altbier, a vanilla porter (awesome) Perennial’s Hommel Bier (RFT’s Best beer 2012) and multiple Urban Chestnut offerings, including Zwickel, Urban’s “flagship lager.” Cloudy, yeasty, unfiltered, unpasteurized, authentically German, and I swear to you, probably the best beer I’ve ever tasted while eating a perfectly cooked steak. I’m a dark beer guy and they also had Civil Life milk stout, one of my favorites, but the grass-fed beef and that Zwickel were so good together it was almost criminal.

IMG_1694

My folks drove a good hour to meet us last night. They got there ahead of us and had time to meet and talk to some of the staff who were genuinely grateful they’d come all that way to try the place. The Block is co-owned by Marc and Amy Del Pietro and Brian and Lea Doherty. Our server was friendly, knowledgeable, and made excellent suggestions. She even brought us a bit of dessert, complete with a candle, when she found out about our birthdays. A very sweet gesture, pun intended. No, they don’t sing Happy Birthday.

The owners are present and engaging. Everyone there did a nice job of making the patrons feel like guests in their home, in my opinion. Oh, and while they’re making mouth-watering lunch and dinner, The Block makes their own ice-cream too! We will try that on our next visit (maybe even the Bacon Candy Crunch!) but honestly, the Six Row vanilla porter would’ve sufficed as my dessert all by itself.

Come to St. Louis, seek out Webster Groves, and find The Block. You’ll be glad you did, and like us, you’ll be making plans to come back even as you’re walking out the door.

IMG_1692

 

 

Thursday Eats: Thanksgiving Edition

Woke up from my food coma just in time to get this post up today. Here in the US we celebrated Thanksgiving today complete with the tradition of eating until we’re full up to our eyeballs. Don’t lie, you did it too.

The menu at my dad’s included:

A deep fried turkey: awesome crispy skin & so juicy, nice job Dad

Mashed potatoes & gravy

Roasted sweet potatoes: thank you for doing half w/o marshmallow, I don’t like marshmallow

Green bean casserole, a must have

2 kinds of dressing, my favorite part

Rolls, etc, and the only dim spot: canned cranberry jelly thing stuff, which was fine because it made my 9yo happy and I don’t eat that anyway.

So, dinner was a hit and I ate too much. Had both pumpkin pie AND really good pumpkin bread pudding, for dessert. It was rich, delicious, and had caramel pecan sauce, yum.

I’m very thankful for my family, and for the opportunity to do it all over again tomorrow with my mom’s side. If you’re reading and celebrated today (some of you may be Canadian) what was the highlight of your feast?

Thursday Eats, “Smell That Smoke”

If you listen to radio in St. Louis, or in other parts of Missouri and in certain parts of Iowa, Indiana, and Illinois, you may be familiar with that second bit. I’m here tonight to praise the delicious offerings of Bandana’s Bar-B-Q, specifically their ribs. “Smell That Smoke,” is a big part of their advertising, at least around here. I picked up dinner on the way home tonight and it was well worth the trip and the money. Didn’t cost any more than dinner for three would anywhere else, highly recommend it.

I like pretty much everything on the menu at Bandana’s, but my daughter is partial to their ribs. She’s 9 and could probably eat at least a half slab all by herself and we all love ribs so that was a no-brainer. Smoked the way Bandana’s does them, with Chicago Sweet and KC style sauce on the side, dinner was delicious. I combined the ribs with their fried corn on the cob (awesome) and their Bar-B-Q beans, a bit of green salad and their bread, mmm, I may have to go eat some leftovers after I write this, I think I’m getting hungry again. Yes, it’s a chain, and yes, I know there are places in St. Louis everyone raves about for good ribs, but I’ve not been to them. Bandana’s has the best I’ve personally tried.

Take-out from Bandana’s is super easy to call ahead and order, but my daughter and I have eaten there more than a few times, and the dine-in service at the Rock Hill location is always fantastic, friendly, and fast. If you’re ever near Manchester & McKnight you should stop in for a meal.

Sunday Eats, a Review

I finally had the chance to eat at the Syrian restaurant in town and it was delicious! I’m not well versed in Middle-Eastern food, but I’ve had some, and thankfully my girlfriend knows all about it and could tell me what was good.

We had falafel, kibbeh, tabbouleh, fatayer, hummus, baba ganoush, and warak inab. There was very little meat but it wasn’t missed. I *love* eggplant and there was plenty of that and I’d heard of falafel but never tried it. I think the falafel was my favorite, along with the baba ganoush (which I’d had before, though at another place.) Everything was so fresh tasting, including the warm pita, mmmm, SO good, and it smelled incredible. I’m mostly a carnivore, but this meal was amazing without featuring meat. They have shwarma, a more meat centered dish, but I’m glad I tried some new things. I can’t wait to go back.

Today was a very lazy Sunday otherwise, with coffee, NFL football and more lounging on the sofa. I’m struggling with NaNo so far, barely getting out a few hundred words a night, but I’m committed to the challenge, and I believe the characters in my head *do* have somewhere they’re going, even if I’m not sure where yet. Hopefully as a month wears on I’ll have more positive things to say about the experience.