Hitting the Street with St. Louis Culinary Tours
Nothing defines the character of a neighborhood more than its bars and restaurants. Think of Cherokee Street, the Central West End, the Grove, the U City Loop or the Hill, and the first thing that comes to mind are the dining and entertainment diversions the neighborhood offers. Now, individuals or groups have the opportunity to dive deep into the food culture of some of the area’s top foodie enclaves with St. Louis Culinary Tours.
Read the original story, “Eat Outside the Box,” in the December issue of ALIVE.
Founded by food evangelist Beth Huch, tour participants descend on one of St. Louis’ food-centric neighborhoods and visit specialty shops, bars and restaurants, sampling cocktails and cuisine at several locations, including a multicourse gourmet meal. Guests meet the owners, bartenders and chefs who strut their stuff and answer questions from the mundane to the sublime.
In the grand scheme of things, culinary tours are nothing new—New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and dozens of other cites have had them for years, but this is the first in St. Louis, and it takes someone like Huch to pull it off. Her orbit in the culinary world includes public relations involving some of the biggest names in the biz, like Charlie Trotter, Jacques Pepin and Julia Child. When she travels abroad, she creates her itinerary based on restaurants she plans to visit instead of sights to see. The native St. Louisan returned home in 2003 and immersed herself in the local food scene consulting with some of St. Louis’ top chefs, hotels and directing Public Relations at L’Ecole Culinaire, eventually co-founding the St. Louis chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier. She is, to put it mildly, culinarily connected.
The first tour offered by St. Louis Culinary Tours is of Maplewood, and she’s just added a one-night-only downtown tour for Jan. 8 (though additional future dates are expected), beginning at Cielo for cocktails and appetizers, then moving to Blood and Sand with Chef Chris Bork for three-course dinner with cocktail pairings. Additional tours are being planned for Chaumette Vineyards, Charleville Brewery and Baetje Farms, the Central West End and Webster Groves.
ALIVE recently joined Huch on her Maplewood excursion to find out why it’s a top foodie destination and how St. Louis Culinary Tours brings out the connoisseur in all of us.
The eclectic evening began at Vom Fass, where guests enjoyed an apricot grappa cocktail (recipe below) and a demonstration pairing vinegars and oils (each guest got to take home his/her favorite combo). The culinary tourists then commenced sampling the many cask-aged vinegars, oils and spirits—if one was inclined to linger by the Irish single malts, comparing the smokiness of one whiskey to its neighbor, who could blame him?
We then took short stroll to Acero, where chef Adam Knau served up a three-course meal beginning with Gnocco Fritto—commonly referred to as meat doughnuts—featuring fried house-made bread dough (recipe below) served with slices of salumi and assorted olives and caper berries. Next came Yellow Fin Crudo with a sprinkling of truffle salt, and then housemade Farro pasta with a ragu of mushrooms, including King trumpets, Cremini, Portobello and locally-foraged Hen of the Woods. Each course was paired with a superbly selected wine.
In the creative hands of Chef Knau, the simple, rustic Italian fare was elevated to the divine, reminiscent of our most romantic notions of Italian farmhouse meals with good food, good wine and good friends, enjoyed in a companionable celebration of life.
The nightcap was hosted next door at Water Street by sibling owners Gabe and Maria Kveton, who served a Gin and Champagne cocktail topped with St. Germain foam (recipe below) along with house-made red velvet cupcakes—an unexpected and welcomed treat.
St. Louis Culinary tours delivers everything promised, and more. The best meals are not defined by food alone, but by the people you share them with. Surrounded by like-minded individuals, there is a conviviality—a joie de vivre—Huch delivers that’s sure to create an indelible memory in everyone from casual foodies to the most demanding gourmands.
Fruit Medley Delight
2.5 oz Vom Fass Apricot Grappa
1.5 oz Vom Fass Honeywill
Splash of 2 Vom Fass Fruit Balsamics of your choosing (We like Waldburg Balsam Raspberry and Waldburg Star Apple)
Shake with ice, Serve chilled
Garnish with fruit of choice
Acero Gnocco Fritto (Meat Doughnuts)
Make your favorite homemade bread recipe
Shape into approx. 2×2 pieces
Allow to cold rise (in the refrigerator ONLY)
Deep fry until done and puffed up
Serve with sliced salumi from a local salumeria and assorted olives.
Water Street Cocktail
.5oz Death’s Door gin in a champagne saucer
FOAM: In a whipped cream charger, add St. Germain, egg white and lime.)
Fill glass with champagne
Top with St. Germain foam