Joe and Ann Pollack, St. Louis' most experienced food writers, lead a tour of restaurants, wines, shops and other interesting places. When we travel, you will travel with us. When we eat, drink, cook, entertain or read, we'll share our knowledge and opinions. Come along for the ride!!
Copyright 2013, Ann Lemons Pollack.
News for the Donut Division: Ray's Donuts' home base is moving from their original location in Olivette to the Westgate Center in Creve Coeur. Still on Olive, but beyond I-270, and close enough to Barnes-Jewish West's facilities that we're sure they'll do a booming business. They have big shoes to fill, though. The original Barnes' cafeteria once had warm doughnuts as a routine breakfast offering, good enough to put a certain chain with a glowing "HOT NOW" sign to shame.
The move will occur sometime in September; the date is still up in the air, just like the aromas.
One of the nice things about the Fancy Food Show was the chance to meet some of the people who produce delicious things that I really like. One of them was Jeni Bauer, of Columbus' Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. We blogged about them a couple of years ago, in fact. Here's a story from Relish about her and her St. Louis connections - and her ice cream, too.
Talk about an eater's dream: Thanks to a tip from an old wine-writer pal, I was able to go to the summer Fancy Food Show, held this year in Washington DC. Just as huge as every one says it is, there were still a few familiar booths, and one familiar face. I wrote about it for Relish, and you can read about it here.
"Are you unhappy, darling?" "Oh yes, yes! Completely."
This conversational fragment first saw life on a page of The New Yorker as a caption to a cartoon showing Gomez and Morticia sitting by the fireplace. Charles Addams, a cartoon artist for more than a half-century, developed the family of misfits, bad actors, sadists and other anti-social types, gave them his name, saw his one-panel cartoons become a highly successful television series.
And now it's a Broadway musical that's been running for a year and a half, despite reviews whose highest praise was to call it mediocre. However, it's been revamped, partly re-written, songs added, veteran director Jerry Zaks hired to replace the original directing team of Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, ran for few weeks last month in New Orleans and opened at the Fox last night, the first show of the grand old theater's 2011-12 season.
While it may be praising with faint damns, or damning with faint praise, and despite having read a lot of scathing reviews, I liked it a lot more than I feared I would. It's still not a great show, but the funny lines worked, thanks to some splendid timing by the cast and some snappy direction. The Addams family includes the parents, Gomez (Douglas Sills) and Morticia (Sara Gettlefinger), 18-year-old daughter Wednesday (Cortney Wolfson), pre-pubescent son Pugsley (Patrick D. Kennedy), Uncle Fester (Blake Hammond), Grandma (Pippa Pearthree) and Lurch the Butler (Tom Corbeil).
They enter in a graveyard, surrounded by ghosts of their ancestors in a variety of period costumes. That's also the chorus, of course (or of chorus), and they provide a great deal of fun with Sergio Trujillo's choreography.
But once we meet them, the evening turns into a standard musical comedy love story with a middle-American family (insert New York put-down jokes) and their son, Lucas (Brian Justin Crum) falling for Wednesday. She invites him and his parents Mal (Martin Vidnovic) and Alice (Crista Moore) for dinner (no, there are no malice jokes), telling her family to act like normal people, which plays out like a similar dinner party in "You Can't Take It With You."
Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice wrote the original book; either they or Zaks tossed in all sorts of stuff they adapted from others, like an exit that comes from "The Sound of Music," a Peter Lorre accent here and there, a wig for Uncle Fester that gives him a John Madden hair-do, and later, the evening's biggest laugh. It's set up for two scenes. First, Fester sings "The Moon and Me," expressing his love. Then he comes back on stage in a primitive space suit, with a rocket attached to his back. Alice sets him up by asking where he's going and, after the proper pause, he utters Jackie Gleason's famous, "To the moon, Alice!" and promptly stops the show. Hammond is a sheer delight from start to finish. Sills is excellent as Gomez and although his relationship with his daughter turns over-sentimental, it touches a chord in all of us who have children, and especially daughters. Gettelfinger shows all the proper attitude, and while her costume threatened a continual malfunction, she managed to defy gravity.
Despite its problems, "The Addams Family" brought fun and entertainment to the Fox, and that's what theater is all about.
The Addams Family Musical opened at the Fox last night and will run through Oct. 9
Regular readers know how much we like sausage. We're big fans of G & W Sausagein South St. Louis, and never visit Hermann without a cooler so we can take the short drive down to Swiss. Wherever we go, the mention of sausage always makes our ears perk up. This week we found a new one, of a style we've never heard of, and had it for breakfast.
Jack's Gourmet (and, no, Mizzou alums, this is not from Jack's Gourmet Rendezvous) is a new company offering all-beef sausages. What caught our eye at Schnucks was the Boerwors sausage. Boerwors, as some may have guessed, is of South African heritage, “boers” being Afrikaans for “farmer” and “wors” meaning “sausage.” A medium-coarse grind holds notes of coriander, black pepper and vinegar, just enough to taste a little acidic, much as though a bit of mustard had been daubed on. These are pre-cooked, four to a 12-ounce package; browning them brings out almost no extra fat. They are kosher, from a company in Joe's old neighborhood in Brooklyn.
The producers also make Mexican-style chorizo, both hot and sweet Italian sausages and bratwurst, all at the Ladue Crossing store; $8.49 a package, but kosher, like organic, always seems a little more expensive.
With the approaching Super Bowl, we're about to wrap up the winter eating season. This last day-long orgy of eating is by far the most casual of the season, Thanksgiving and Christmas generally involve sit-down dinners; New Year's Eve, if it's not a dinner, usually is a time for lighter food that goes well with sparkling wine, and New Year's Day is right for some sort of brunchiness. But for Super Bowl, we're thinking pots of chili, hundreds of chicken wings and oceans of onion dip, right?
Over the holidays, we discovered one of the most remarkable mail-order foods we've ever had. Our daughter-in-law, who lives in Virginia, found a bakery in Annapolis, MD, that does traditional Southern cakes. Caroline's Cakes offers several types, but the headliner and by far the most popular is a 7-layer caramel cake.
The cake itself is a tender yellow, astonishing to those whose idea of yellow cake is the stuff Twinkies are made of. And the frosting...well, it's dense, creamy, clearly a cooked candy-like sort of icing, reminding us of nothing so much as pralines. Some might argue that it's more like butterscotch than caramel, but that's quibbling. No fancy decorations that could be smooshed in the shipping, just a classic layer cake style.
The 9” cake serves 14-20, which seems impossible, but this is rich, rich, richand should be sliced thinly.
The cake arrives frozen, and can be returned to the freezer if only part of it is eaten. It' keeps that way for six months. We left it at room temperature, since we knew it was going to be eaten fairly quickly; the baker doesn't recommend refrigerating it.
Yes, additional flavors, too, and a few other items including a delightful cupcake necklace. And if you're in the neighborhood, they have a retail operation, plus a breakfast and lunch menu.