"Spring can really hang you up the most," wrote Fran Landesman and Tommy Wolf, and "Younger than springtime," said Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. We're solidly into the season now, with flowers budding and weeds sprouting, and there's a great deal going on to interest readers of St. Louis Eats.
For example -- we found a couple of dynamite desserts in Webster Groves recently. We like to go out for a drink and a snack of some sort, either sweet as in dessert or savory as in pizza, to accompany a drink, maybe alcoholic, maybe a fancy coffee or tea, and therefore we appreciate places that are open late enough for a post-theater stop. We like Sasha's, both on DeMun and on Shaw, and we like Atlas, and the Good Pie on Olive street. But we were dazzled at Cyrano's and at Robust, a mile or two apart on Lockwood avenue.
Carolyn Downs, an owner of Cyrano's with her husband, Charlie, has been an outstanding pastry chef at numerous restaurants for many years, and her recent triumph on our taste buds may be the simplest yet. How complicated can chocolate-covered bacon be?
Thick, nicely smoky bacon and extremely dark chocolate, but what a treat on the tongue.
The over-the-top joy at Robust was described as a special, but if other customers reacted the way we did, it should be a regular by now. Anyone with a sweet tooth just goes belly-up at the thought of bread pudding that begins with two doughnuts, one cake-style and one--hang onto your belt--glazed. The sweetness was under excellent control, the whole thing absolutely succulent, causing us to paraphrase George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" song, "It Ain't Necessarily So," into "Little doughnut was small but oh, my. . . ."
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The incipient passing of Atlas, the brilliant bistro by Jean (out front) and Michael (in the kitchen) Donnelly is a sad moment for those who appreciated its simple, beautifully prepared dishes and warm atmosphere. Bryan Carr will be taking over, which may be very good news if he can keep the CWE spot purring like he has done in Clayton.
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An interesting move on the Missouri wine scene begins next winter. For some 25 years, the Missouri Wine and Grape Board, as efficient as most bureaucratic organizations, has run a three- or four-day wine affair, the Midwest Grape & Wine Conference, at a Lake of the Ozarks hotel. There have been seminars, lectures, dinners and speeches organized around a trade show for the wine industry and those who support it, and are supported by it.
Most of the Missouri winemakers and winery owners showed up to gossip and swap stories and show off their wines. There was good fellowship and a lot to drink, and some good stories to write in the days when the Post-Dispatch was a real newspaper and covered a lot of events, even some not connected to baseball spring training. One of my favorite memories was meeting a couple of veterinarians from from Oklahoma who made wine on the side under the Dos Okies label, a splendid, geographical, bilingual pun with a beer reference
I've not attended for many years for a number of reasons.
But for 2011, the conference is being taken over by a magazine, Vineyard and Winery Management, which has considerable experience in running trade shows for the wine industry. Its headquarters are in Santa Rosa, Calif., the county seat of Sonoma County, and if you want an advance clue on the purpose of the partnership, well, the magazine also runs the Tasting Room Profitability Conference and Trade Show, which it considers a "similar event."
The first item on the magazine's agenda was to move the conference from the lake, a pleasant, scenic and relaxing site even in mid-winter, to beautiful downtown St. Charles and the St. Charles Convention Center. It will be held Feb. 5-7, and its press release announcement noted that its new location will provide "easy access from all Midwestern wine regions and accommodate a 50 percent expansion of the trade show (120 vendors).
See you there. . . .