This Week's Dish: St. Louis' Own Wins Best Young Sommelier And Area BBQ Masters Gear Up For Competition

By Molly Rippinger
In Food

This spring, wines are staking their claim in suds-soaked St. Louis thanks to a wave of one-of-a-kind dinners and award-winning sommeliers. First, be sure to mark your calendars for Balaban’s next wine dinner on Sunday, May 18 when they welcome master sommelier Jesse Becker to lead diners in a tour of fine Italian wines. A unique, five-course dinner will complement the nuances of each glass with spring-inspired dishes, such as veal agnolotti with peppered sage and pecorino or fresh morel mushrooms with layers of flaky pastry. Reservations are required; the dinner is $95 per person, not including tax and gratuity. 1772 Clarkson Rd., Chesterfield, 636.449.6700. 

Image by Molly Rippinger

Image by Molly Rippinger

Another dinner oenophiles won’t want to miss is at The Libertine, where highly acclaimed winemaker Eric Hamacher will be on hand for the kickoff of their one-year anniversary celebration. On Tuesday, May 13 executive chef Josh Galliano will prepare a special four-course dinner paired with three Hamacher wines and one wine-inspired cocktail. Staying true to the style that has earned them their accolades, The Libertine’s menu will showcase the best ingredients of the season with plates like an opening dish of kampachi yellowtail served with English peas, spring onions, wood sorrel, whey and raw chickpeas. And just a quick tip—mention the winemaker’s table when making your reservation and you’ll sit with Hamacher himself promptly at 6pm. Dinner is $80 per person and the wine dinner is available all night in the dining room along with The Libertine’s regular a la carte menu. 7927 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.862.2999.

Local wine lovers should also note the recent achievement of Elaia & Olio’s general manager, Andrev Ivanov. Early this month, Ivanov competed in the Chaine des Rotisseurs’ Best Young Sommelier competition in California and tied for first place. The national contest puts qualifying participants through a rigorous weekend consisting of a written exam, blind tasting and service exam that tests their dining room demeanor in specific scenarios. A St. Louis sommelier has never won the Best Young Sommelier competition, so take advantage of the opportunity to reap the rewards of Ivanov’s hard work with a world-class wine experience at Elaia & Olio.

In other libation news, Planter’s House will welcome William Grant & Sons along with seven brand ambassadors to showcase their specific spirits in the first annual Bar Back Takeover on Sunday, May 18 from 2 to 6pm. Sip cocktails crafted specifically by master ambassadors of Hendrick’s, Reyka, Tullamore Dew, The Balvenie, Monkey Shoulder, Milagro and Sailor Jerry. Chef Bradley Hoffmann will provide an appetizer buffet for guests to enjoy during the event and Planter’s will even have an ice bar on their recently opened patio. Tickets are $45 per person and can be purchased online. 1000 Mississippi Ave., Lafayette Square, 314.696.2603.  

Mark your calendars for Sunday, June 1 and join the conservationists at Magnificent Missouri for their event, “A River, A Chef & An Eagle.” During the evening, guests will learn more about the Missouri River’s role as a source for St. Louis County drinking water and will have the unique opportunity to take a selfie while overlooking “The Big Muddy” and holding a bald eagle from the World Bird Sanctuary. Afterwards, guests can snack on a buffet prepared by chef Ben Poremba, owner of Elaia & Olio. Tickets are $100 per person and can be purchased online. 901 Hog Hollow Rd., Chesterfield, 314.367.8181.

With spring in full swing, area barbecue masters have been busy gearing up for competition in the St. Louis Occasional Barbeque Society (also known as the S.L.O.B.S.). The season kicks off on Memorial Day at Iron Barley, where nearly 20 competitive ‘cue-rs will cook up their best ribs for the judges and guests enjoyment. Live music, beer, wine and spirits will be available and all proceeds benefit Lift for Life Gym and a charity of the hosts choosing. Check their website for a full schedule of S.L.O.B.S. events.

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