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Like most chefs Bob Brazil is a busy man. With a long list of culinary achievements already under his apron Bob is showing no signs of slowing down. Seven months ago Bob and his partners opened Byrd & Barrel on South Jefferson just passed Cherokee. It’s a gourmet chicken restaurant in a fast casual atmosphere with a great beer, whiskey, and bourbon selection behind the bar. Featuring as much locally sourced ingredients as possible, they serve late and have a nice patio area and a drive through window. Two months ago he became a partner in Tamm Avenue Grill in Dogtown. As if that isn’t enough on his plate just this week he announced his latest venture with partners and Byrd chefs Ryan McDonald and Hana Chung along with Corey Smale of Strange Donuts, Good Fortune, a “Chinese Americanese” concept set to open in the Central West End this fall. Extra sleep is not in his future.
I first met Bob and go to see his skills in the “kitchen” when we were on Mac’s BBQ team for the Travel Channel’s Underground BBQ Challenge. We had a blast battling it out all day in a make shift space outdoors at The Civil Life until 1am in 18 degree weather. It was a great bonding experience. Helping a friend win $10,000 will do that.
Cut Of Meat Of The Week
Many of us get locked into using the same cuts of meat over and over for our meals. At times because it’s what is readily available or on sale but many times I find it’s because we don’t investigate other cuts and how to use them. Each week we’ll feature a different cut and give you info on it’s use and recipe suggestions.
This week’s selection is pork shoulder or pork butt as it is also called. Those from the area that are familiar know that this is where pork steaks come from. That bone you find in your park steak comes from the shoulder blade of the pig. It can be used for sausage making, roasted whole, cube and cooked for stews and soups, and one of the most popular uses is for BBQ pulled pork. Don’t be intimidated about the idea of smoking your own pork shoulder for pulled pork. There are many ways to go about it but if you have a good rub, go low and slow, no matter how you do it chances are you’ll turn out something succulent and flavorful. Here is a simple method using the oven from The Food Network. Or try your hand with the smoker and this more involved recipe.
Bob Brazell shares his recipe for dumpling filling using pork shoulder.
Spice Of The Week
Every culture uses spices to bring wonderful flavors to their dishes. The history of the spice trade goes back centuries. It has been the motivating factor in travel and exploration around the world and even wars. With so many spices available it can be an overload of choices. What to use and how can be an overwhelming pursuit. Many of us again just go for what we know and are comfortable with. Each week we’ll feature a different selection from the rack and go over uses and recipe ideas in a effort to help you break free from the garlic powder and Italian seasoning that you’ve been using in every dish.
This week’s selection is sage. Sage is from the mint family and has a great smell with somewhat of a piney flavor. It grows very well. I have a plant in my backyard that has been going for over 4 years and winters over nicely. I enjoy putting whole leaves under the skin of chicken when roasting and of course love it in my morning breakfast sausage. One of my favorite recent uses however is in a cocktail I discovered on Christmas enjoying a special night with someone I love at The Fox and Hounds at The Chesire Inn. It’s Makers Mark, a Guiness ice cube, and sage simple syrup and is amazing. The earthy sweetness with the Guiness and whiskey gives it an almost exotic chocolatey taste.
Sage Simple Syrup
1 Cup sugar
10 – 15 roughly chopped leaves of sage
Heat water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the sage and simmer for about 5 minutes. Strain.
3 ounces Makers Mark
1, 2 ounce Guiness ice cube
Sage simple syrup to taste. I like mine sweet so I use at least 1 ounce.
Upcoming Food and Beverage Events
Friday, May 6th – Feast Magazine Taste & Toast
Saturday, May 7th – Cinco de Mayo Patio Party at Byrd & Barrel
Saturday, May 7th – Kentucky Derby Party at Tamm Avenue Grill
Sunday, May 15th – Pigs & Pints
Saturday, June 11th – St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival
I am very happy to announce that Tony Loves Food will be coming to the airwaves on The Fan 590 AM, Saturdays from 1 – 2pm. Each week I’ll be joined by someone from the local food and beverage scene to share with you what they do. We’ll also talk about what’s happening around town, where you should eat, cover food events, share recipe ideas and cooking tips, have fun with the food game, and even give stuff away from time to time. My first guest this Saturday is my friend Chris “Mac” McKenzie of Mac’s Local Buys. Tune in on your radio, listen on line, or download the app.
So I went west! I had my list of destinations, a departure and return date set, a convertible loaded up with my stuff and an incredible feeling of excitement and anticipation at the possibilities of three weeks on the road. I wanted to have new experiences and see new places. Bucket list stuff. Being a food lover and a person getting more interested in farm to table eating I thought it would be a great experience to work on a farm at some point on my trip. Maybe I could find a place where they would let me stay for a few days and work with them. You know, because everyone just lets strangers who are interested in what they do come stay with them. The whole trip came up quickly and I didn’t really know how to go about it so I dropped the idea.
From St. Louis I drove through Kansas City up in to and across Nebraska to eastern Wyoming. The only time bound destination on the trip was The Taste Of The Tetons in Jackson, Wyoming so I was working my way there. The event was in the famous Town Square and was a great time. Jackson is a fun city with great people, lots of shops and plenty of places to eat and drink. It was easy to get stuck there for a few days as I laid out a plan for camping Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. One day in Jackson I was grabbing lunch at New York City Sub Shop based on a recommendation from a local. Always a good strategy when on the road. They were right. Not only was it a good sandwich but a very fortuitous stop. I was going to start camping in the next couple of days and wanted to load up on some fresh produce for some good camp meals. I noticed a flyer on their bulletin board for The People’s Market promoting building the community through food, art, music and family while celebrating products produced locally. That sounds great to me. It was the Slow Food logo that caught my eye. I had been attending Slow Food St. Louis events so I was familiar with the organization and happy to support the local chapter, Slow Food In The Tetons. It would be a great place to have a fun night and get supplies. It was also where I would meet Erika and lead to an experience I’ll never forget. Read more
Eleven months ago I lost my job. Like many people over the past handful of years I was consolidated. I saw it happen to many people I know but that day it was my turn. In that moment I was initially surprised and hurt. Oh my god! This is it. It’s really happening to me. For a few seconds I was numb while my boss’s words hung there and then sped past me in a blur as I quickly flashed on that journey I had started 16 years earlier and was now coming to an end in less than a minute. After the initial shock I quickly found myself feeling strangely at ease. I realized I was no longer responsible for the long list of things I had been working on and it felt as if a huge weight was literally lifted off of my shoulders. It also started to occur to me that since I was a manager who had been with them for 16 years the HR Director was hopefully going to be giving me details on a nice exit package and that indeed was the case. I loved my job and didn’t want to leave the company but I was ready to take my career in another direction and now that opportunity was handed to me. I never want to have that experience again and it stung but I can honestly say they did it as respectfully as possible. I was allowed to say some goodbyes through the building at my own pace without an escort which meant a lot and they enabled me to take plenty of time to figure out my next move. So there I was going on 40 and unemployed in a terrible economy without a solid idea of what I was going to do. I knew that I wanted to take some time to figure out ways to take life after 40, “The Second Half” as I’ve been calling it, in a different direction…with more direction. Learn new things. Have more experiences. Go places I’ve never been. See what I’ve always wanted to see. Make more plans. Take more chances. Reach for my dreams. It was time to go west! Read more
Craft beer is in and it’s no secret that St. Louis is a hotbed for local craft breweries. Recently some friends and I had the opportunity to tour Urban Chestnut in the Midtown Alley area on Washington Avenue and it was easy to see a piece of the spirit that has hopheads grabbing growlers all over the Gateway City. Read more