The Foodie in St. Louis

Our experience in St. Louis was so much fun I couldn’t squeeze it all in into one post. For more details about our drive to St. Louis and its amazing architecture check out my previous post. But do come back for we are going to discuss the foodie goodness over here!!

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We began our foodie trails in St. Louis by reading up on what to eat and where. After almost a week of drool-worthy research we narrowed down on the following list –

#1 Toasted Ravioli

#2 St. Louis style pizza

#3 BBQ ribs

#4 Brisket

#5 Deli sanwiches

Two days and with 6 heavyweight dishes on the list we began our trip

The first stop Toasted Ravioli and St. Louis style pizza

Many food blogs and articles online suggested that we visit Imo’s Pizzeria for their Toasted Ravioli and St. Louis style pizza. The toasted ravioli is meat and cheese stuffed raviolli, fried and served with tomato dip. The St. Louis style pizza is made with very thin crust having cracker like consistency made without yeast and loaded with cheese and toppings right till the edge.  Imo’s Pizzeria is was close to Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis which was our first halt and hence we decided to rejuvenate from the long drive with a slice of pizza and some toasted ravioli 😀

The Toasted Ravioli

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This is our first time of tasting the toasted ravioli, so we did not know what to expect. This is sometimes a good thing…sometimes not a good thing 😛 Imo’s ravioli was a tad blander than what we expected it to be. The tomato sauce also did not not live up to our expectations so overall I would rate it as 3/5.

The St. Louis Pizza

Next up in our lunch was the St. Louis pizza. We have tried a few variants of pizzas in the past and this one was definitely different than what we had tried earlier. The crust was thin and crunchy. The topping was well spread…yes right till the edges and it was generous. The sauce was however not as tangy as I usually like it to be so that was a bit of a dampener there. But overall I would say it was 3.5/5.

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Next Up…Ribs, brisket, sausages and more…a.k.a The Meat Daddy at Sugarfire Smokehouse

The Sugarfire Smokehouse at downtown St. Louis is famous for its BBQ ribs, brisket, sandwiches etc. The restaurant is huge and on a weekend night we were greeted with a quick-moving but large queue.

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The menu is extensive and the serving size is substantial too and we wanted to get a taste of most of the things…which is why we chose their Meat Daddy Speciality plate which includes 2 sides with 4 bone rib, jalapeno cheddar sausage link, & 4 oz each brisket, pulled pork and turkey. In the sides we had house fries with mac and cheese. In the end our full plate looked like this –

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Every table is lined with their Housemade Condiments being St. Louie Sweet BBQ, Texas Hot BBQ, Carolina Mustard, White Horseradish, Sugarfire 47, Coffee BBQ, Special Sauce, Ranch, Cider Vinaigrette. Each paired with the Meat Daddy gave a distinct flavor. My favorite was the White Horseraddish with Jalapeno Cheddar Sausage link!!

We had been to the City Museum prior to this and exploring the museum had left us famished. We both could easily finish off this huge plate of Meat Daddy without stuffing ourselves. Overall we loved our time at Sugarfire Smokehouse and would love to visit there again! This restaurant gets a 5/5 rating from me.

 

The final halt for Deli Sandwiches + Music @Blues City Deli

The next day to wind up our stay in St. Louis we decided to check out Blues City Deli which is famous for its sandwiches. It was a rainy day and we had visited the Anheuser Busch brewery so we were famished! By noon the Blues City Deli was beaming with patrons and live music. There was no space for us to sit but the ambiance simply could not dampen our spirits. There was live music and friendly staff offering efficient service which ensured that our wait for the food was pleasant and our hungry tummys were happy.

We ordered the Mels Blue and Tangy Sandwich (which has Smoked Pulled Chicken & Bacon, Tomato, Onion & Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing & Zing Sauce, Italian Roll), the Thunderbird Sandwich ( which has Turkey, Pastrami, Cappicola, Bacon & Provel, Tomato, Onion, Pepperoncini & Boom Boom Sauce, Hoagie) with sides of Potato Salad and Cole Slaw. This is the first time I tasted potato salad in USA 😛 and now I am a fan!! Sadly because of the rain and the lack of seating arrangement in the Deli we could not click photos of the sandwiches. We would rate this 4/5 with a point less for the lack of space to eat 😛 otherwise…Blues City Deli..you guys rock!

So this concluded our foodie trail through St. Louis, MO.  If we have missed out anything or if you have any suggestions for our next foodie trail…leave a comment!!

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The Gateway Arch & beyond in St. Louis

A long weekend means road trip time for us. Since spring has not yet sprung in Chicago, going up further north meant facing more cold which we did not fancy. We were looking for a place with warmer weather but within a days drive from Chicago. We also wanted a place which would have monuments, museums, great restaurants and natural beauty. We love those things!! And so the search began…

LOOKING FOR A DESTINATION IS NOT AS EASY AS IT SOUNDS

Google maps is really helpful while planning a road-trip, there is no denying that. But the number of options it can present you with makes the task a bit more challenging. Have you ever faced a situation where every location sounds so great you can’t decide where to go? Well that is exactly what happened to me. I wanted to explore the Illinois capital of Springfield, visit the quaint town of Joliet, go up north to Doors County in Wisconsin and  the city of St. Louis was honestly not my first choice since I knew so little about it.

Upon suggestion of a friend we decided to look it up and I am glad we did that! The first thing that pops in the search window is the massive Gateway Arch of St. Louis. This structure looks so amazing and it is difficult to fathom that you can actually go right on the top of the Arch and get a birds eye view of the city. The next thing I saw was obviously the food….St. Louis style pizza, toasted ravioli, ribs, butter cakes and deli style sandwiches…I was sold! This was the location I wanted to visit. Plus it also met every criteria in our checklist –

  1. Was it warm out there? Not warm but yes more pleasant than Chicago!
  2. Could we drive there in a day? Yes!!
  3. Does it have good monuments, museums, great restaurants and natural beauty? Yes, Yes and Yes!!

And so we decided the next road trip had to be St. Loius.

IMG_20180330_201731.jpgThe drive from Chicago, IL to St Louis, MO is approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes. We drove leisurely taking a number of halts and made it in around 6 hours. We started in the morning reaching St. Louis just in time for lunch and our first spot, The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

A STAINED GLASS WONDER

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The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis took 7 years to be completed and more than 30 years of planning. The cathedral was completed in the year 1914 and was designated a basilica in 1997. The cathedral is open for visitors everyday except when the prayers are in progress. The ceiling of the cathedral is decorated with stained glass mosaics to depict the stories of its namesake King Louis IX of France and the main dome depicts the biblical events of the Old and New Testament. It took us more than an hour to view the basilica although we could not access a few portions as it was closed for prayers.

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Outside the basilica in their lawn you will find the Angel of Harmony. This is a 14-foot high stainless steel sculpture by Wiktor Szostalo depicting racial harmony. The Angels wings are made up of wind chimes which play a delightful melody with every breeze.

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THE CITY MUSEUM – EVERY CHILD’S WONDERLAND

A former warehouse for the International Shoe Company now holds a museum which is fun, unique and a must-see on any travelers list, be it an adult or child. This is the City Museum whose exhibits consist largely of re-purposed architectural and industrial objects. Unlike the other museums, this one is to be explored without any map, you have to climb through caves and crevices and slide downstairs.

You ideally need a whole day to explore this museum in its entirety but we could squeeze in our visit just in the evening. Which is why we rush for the slides, the caves and all climbed, crawled and slid through most of this wonderland with childlike glee. Next time in town…do check it out for yourselves!

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DAY 2 – THE GATEWAY ARCH

The 630 feet huge monumental arch of the city was the first on our list on day 2. From a distance, this Arch seems like a thin arched sheet of steel and it is impossible to fathom that you can actually climb right till the top of it!! Constructed between 1963 to 1965 this Arch is internationally recognized as a symbol of St. Louis.

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We had booked our tickets online which helped us skip the line. The entrance to the Arch is from its basement which has wall dedicated to the history of the Arch and  explains the purpose behind its construction. After a short wait for our turn in the tram ride to the top we were led to the tram. This is a uniquely designed tram which gradually winds its way to the top where the breath-taking sights of St. Louis city and Mississippi river awaits you

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When the winds are strong, the Arch swings ever so slightly which adds to the adventure of the whole experience.

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The Brewery Tour

The Anheuser Busch brewery in St. Louis founded in 1852 is the largest and oldest brewery of Anheuser Busch, the creators of Budweiser. The brewery offer free tours to everyone and free beer of your choice at the end of tour. The tour itself is fun-filled where the guides take you from the stables of their ambassadors, the Clydesdale to the locations where the barley is sorted, fermented and then made into beer. The brewery is worth a visit for its architecture and a sneak peek into the cutting-edge brewing technology.

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You may have to wait for a while till the free tour starts, since this brewery attracts a lot of crowd, the tours tend to fill up fast. But the tour is worth a wait and you get to sample beer once while entering the brewery and then at exit, in their restaurant the Biergarten where you can choose a large glass of beer of your choice. P.S – The beer is not for minors but they can choose from a large variety of soft drinks available at the restaurant.

Do give this brewery a visit and let me know if enjoyed the trip as much as we did!! Need a more detailed itinerary…where we stayed,how we divided our time between the attractions, etc etc…go ahead and leave a comment and I would be glad to help you out!!

A SPICE RACK THAT HEALS!

 

The flu season is here and that means a lot of sneezing and sniffling following by a big dose of antibodies, flu medications and possible drowsiness. Now who doesn’t want to get an easier and healthier way out of this!! I recently came down with a bad bout of flu which caused me to stick to my couch for a week. The medicines worked fine for a few hours and once the effect died down, I was back to feeling groggy and drowsy. So what helped me out of my misery….it was a nice combination of flu medicines with traditional concoctions made at home with a few spices which worked wonders.

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Since we all know a lot about the flu medications available over the counter, what I want to concentrate on here is the effects of all these spices. I am no expert at medicine, these remedies have been going around in my family for years, some have been sourced by me online, tried and tested at home, but as a fair warning….use these in moderation and if you are allergic to any ingredients please avoid it or get a medical opinion. Here are a couple of spice mixes which will work wonders with your flu and your overall health – 

1. The ever so effective warm water with lime, honey and cinnamon

The internet is beaming with its medicinal uses and this miracle weight loss concoction, but I am not going to speak about its weight loss wonders 😛 This is because, personally for me, it has not really shown any miraculous weight loss effects. But it has proven to be so very useful as an anti-flu drink. I drink this first thing every morning and go about with my day as usual and the days when I do drink it, the flu doesn’t really affect me. I tried this last year in India during the winters and even after moving here to Chicago.

PS – I missed out on a couple of weeks of having this and that is why it couldn’t help me with the flu 😉

For those who wonder how to make this warm citrusy drink…here is how –

  • Start by heating water till it is warm enough for you to sip through. A minute in the microwave on high works for me.
  • Squeeze juice of a whole lime into it, with a teaspoon of organic honey and just a pinch of cinnamon powder.
  • Mix this well and sip through as you start your day!

Give this drink about 3-4 weeks to start helping your immune system and you can continue to have it all year round irrespective of the season.

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Here are a few benefits I found for this drink –

  1. Honey which has simple sugars along with lemon which is a booster for metabolic activity will give you an energy boost you need to start the day.
  2. The wound healing properties of honey combined with antibacterial properties of lemon works well to ease that sore itchy throat.
  3. The vitamin C will help you boost your immune system, detox and help in the digestion
  4. Cinnamon is known to kill flu viruses which gives you that added advantage.

2. Turmeric Milk with Honey

Turmeric is the go to healing herb in almost all the Indian families. You’ve scraped yourself…apply a bit of turmeric to stop the bleeding, you have flu…have a glass of turmeric milk at bedtime, having issues with digestion…again a glass of turmeric milk to your rescue. There are many more benefits of turmeric but I will share with you the one which I have personally used….Turmeric Milk with honey for flu. For my lactose intolerant friends, keep on reading, I have a good alternative for you below.

Turmeric with Milk and honey is an ancient Indian go-to drink for dealing with flu, cough, cold, digestive issues, skin problems and even for boosting the overall immunity. Infact, most of the households have a culture of every member of the family drinking a glass of this milk prior to bedtime just as a tonic. I personally am not a big fan of finishing a whole glass of milk myself so I restricted my drink to a cup of milk which worked equally well for me.

How to make this golden milk

    • Heat a cup of milk till its warm enough for you to drink.
    • While your milk is heating, in your cup/glass add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder, pour a teaspoon of honey over it and mix this into a paste
  • For my lactose intolerant buddies and friends who hate milk…this paste is yummy enough to be consumed although slowly..not in one gulp as it may cause you to cough!
  • Slowly pour over the warm milk into this paste while gradually mixing it into a lovely golden drink which you can sip prior to bedtime and sleep that flu virus away!
  • PS – this can also be made using warm almond milk which is very tasty and the almond milk adds on to its nutritional value.

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This is sugar free, can be made lactose free and vegan with almond milk and trust me on this, it is very yummy! This has proved its mettle for helping me fight that itchy sore throat and flu symptoms. So do give this a try and let me know how it worked for you!

3. The herby spicy anti-flu tea

This is a slightly tedious and time consuming recipe but has worked wonders with fever and flu. Since it takes some time and effort to make, I usually end up making this for my family only when one of them is down with flu although it is recommended that you drink this at least once a day. We call it a “Kadha” or a concoction of herbs and spices boiled together for sometime and strained and consumed with honey. I will call this a herbal spice infused tea as the ingredients in it give it a lemony-tea kick. The number of herbs and spices in it will give it a distinct herby spicy taste. Bear with me for the long ingredient list and preparation process, but I assure you, this is one of the most effective remedies –

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Ingredients –

    • 3-4 leaves of mint
    • 3-4 leaves of basil
    • ½ inch of ginger minced
    • A couple of strings of lemongrass
    • Juice of a lime
  • Dry roasting ingredients
    • 2-3 black peppercorns
    • 2 pieces of cloves
    • 1 inch of cinnamon bark (if you cannot find this, add ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon powder to the liquid mix)
    • 2 pods of cardamom  (if you cannot find this, add ¼ teaspoon of cardamon powder to the liquid mix)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

Instructions –

  • Heat a heavy bottomed pan and add the dry roasting ingredients to it and roast them till fragrant. Once fragrant, set them aside, this should not take long.
  • In a teapot or deep pan, heat water and as the water is parboiled add the mint leaves, basil leaves, ginger, lemongrass to it.
  • Let the water come to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer.
  • Add the cinnamon and cardamom powders to the water if you are substituting them for whole spices.
  • As the water is simmering add in the dry roasted spices and a teaspoon of turmeric.
  • Let the water boil on a low flame, partially covered till the volume of water reduces to half.
  • Remove from heat and let the tea cool down to a drinkable temperature.
  • Strain and serve with a teaspoon of honey for each cup of tea.
  • To add additional herby-goodness to it, strain the tea immediately after taking off from heat and add plain a green tea bag to it while it cools down to drinkable temperature. This is your tea-version to it!!

Visually this may not look so palatable but the heat of the spices and the medicinal qualities of the herbs will definitely help put a strong fight against that stubborn flu!

Do try these remedies and let me know how they worked for you.

Gesundheit!!

Kheema Masala goes Lean

Kheema Masala is a quintessential Mumbai styled dish. It consists of minced meat made into a juicy gravy with onions tomatoes and peas. I love adding peas into this recipe as it gives a sweet pop to the otherwise spicy dish. This dish is served with pao (bread) . The word Keema/ Kheema is derived from the Turkish word kiyma, which means minced meat.  Kheema masala is India’s chilli con carne, although with a different spice mix.

Mumbai is famous for its Kheema variations which would include kheema pao (the gravy served with bread), kheema ghotala (same gravy with an egg added to it) and kheema cutlets (minced meat patties which have milder spices compared to its gravy counterpart). The original kheema masala is made with a lot of oil and spices along with full fat meat. This gives it the rich flavoring but is not always favored by our systems 😛 So when I started craving kheema masala in USA I had to develop my low-fat leaner version of it which would mean I could cook it repeatedly without the guilt of overindulging myself.

Here instead of the minced red meat, I opted for Turkey Mince which was 93% lean and consisted just 7% fat. The spices were also toned down a bit but eventually it turned out to be a great and juicy version of the Mumbai Kheema Masala which is now a part of my regular meals. Also, while serving this, instead of the white bread I made fresh rotis at home along with raita (chopped veggies with yogurt) which added to the protein value of the meal.

Here is the recipe for this, along with a picture of the final result –

Ingredients

  • Turkey Mince – 1 and ½ cups
  • 1 and ½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 4 garlic pods
  • 1 whole onion chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes chopped
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons mutton masala (recipe coming out soon 🙂 ) 
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • a small bunch of finely chopped coriander leaves for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garam masala (recipe coming out soon 🙂 )

Preparation

  1. Prepare the turkey for cooking – add a teaspoon of the ginger garlic paste to the turkey mince and mix it up and let it settle it till you prepare the other ingredients
  2. In a deep pan heat oil and saute sliced garlic till almost fried but not burnt.
  3. Add in chopped onions and saute them till translucent
  4. Add the chopped potatoes and cover the pan till the potatoes are tender and cooked. You may have to stir the potatoes in between to avoid them from sticking to the pan.
  5. Add in the tomatoes at this stage and stir up the mixture. Let it all cook at medium heat till mushy.
  6. Once cooked, add the tomato paste, mutton masala, chilli powder and salt and stir the whole mixture till well blended.
  7. Cover and cook for about a minute or two to let the spices blend in well.
  8. Add the frozen peas and turkey and mix it well together.
  9. Cover and let the mixture cook for around 8 mins on medium heat or till the turkey is tender and well cooked.
  10. You wont need to add water as the mixture will gradually turn juicy. However if you feel like the mixture is drying out, add in some water (around ¼ of a cup). (PS – the mixture drying out would be a sign of over-cooking the turkey so be careful!) 
  11. Once the turkey is cooked through, taste and adjust the salt and top the kheema with the garam masala. Stir it in and turn off the heat.
  12. Top off the kheema with finely chopped coriander.

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Serving Tips

  • You can serve this with soft buttered bread to create the Mumbai style “Kheema Pao”
  • I served this with rotis and salad for a wholesome protein rich meal
  • Stuff the leftovers in a paratha for more awesomeness 🙂

Do try this out and let me know if you guys would love to have a look into how to make the basic healthy Indian Roti/ Chapati and Raita to go along with any meals. Bon Appetit!

 

Welcome to My Foodie Trails

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Nothing brings people together like good food! And I love food, reading on it, trying new cuisines, finding out the stories behind every dish and off course cooking. Since childhood I remember associating my emotions with food and planning my days around various meals (PS – I still do that).  My family hosted a number of parties where my mum’s food was the most awaited part. So naturally I got more involved in the kitchen helping Mum cook and hearing stories of how a particular recipe came to be developed or is made in the family. This was my initiation into the world of foodies which has taken me on a long journey across India and now a new journey in USA. I would love to invite you all on this journey with me!!