Category Archives: Missouri

A Caviar Fix in Missouri – L’Osage Caviar Company

L'Osage Caviar from the Ozarks, MO

A jar of L’Osage Caviar

When I was growing up in a foreign diplomatic family in Tehran, we were very fortunate to sample the caviar for which the country was famous. In addition to having it for special occasions, we would often leave school, stop in the local equivalent of a deli and order a caviar sandwich – about an inch thick slab of the ambrosial gray or black pearls on a slab of bread. The price? A mere $1! Caviar was as common as oysters once were on the streets of New York.

Fast forward 60 years and how things have changed! Oysters are no longer the street food of New York City. Hot dogs have replaced them!! And caviar is now an almost unreachable luxury. It is enough to drive you to despair!

What exactly is caviar? It is usually the roe of Sturgeon, found predominantly in the Caspian Sea and fished almost to extinction by Russian and Iranian fishermen. Here, the three most expensive Caviars in the world were produced– Beluga, Osetra, and Sevruga.

When sturgeon became an endangered species in the 1980s, we stopped buying it. Since then we have made do with red salmon roe and, periodically, with a one-ounce jar of either French or German-produced sturgeon caviar to celebrate a special occasion.

Paddlefish roe caviar

Steely gray pearls of paddlefish roe

But the drought is now over! And believe it or not, the rescue is coming from the crystal-clear waters of the Ozarks in Missouri! Back in 1953, Jim Kahrs and his family started the Osage Catfisheries, selling different species of fish indigenous to the waters in this part of the world. When sturgeons became endangered, Jim began to produce paddlefish. Unfortunately, Jim passed away a few years ago, but his sons Steve and Paul have continued the company and are now the proud producers of exquisite caviar made from the roe of these fish.

Paddlefish have been around for about 300 million years and are relatives of sturgeon. They look just as intimidating, growing to be five feet in length with thin, extended noses that are over a foot long. The fish live to be over 50 years old and can weigh up to 100 lbs.  Osage Catfisheries hatch and raise them before releasing the fish to live for 10-12 years in privately owned ponds and lakes around the region. They feed on a diet of plankton, making them the only “green” fish of their kind, and they are farmed sustainably without impacting the environment or decimating the fish stocks.

When it comes time to collect the roe, giant nets are used to catch the fish. While the largest females are kept for breeding purposes, the rest are harvested for their roe. A typical fish yields about 9 lbs.

Thereafter, the eggs are processed through a sieve in the traditional Russian manner by a highly skilled, trained processor. The result? Beautiful, pearly gray, glossy balls that shimmer in the candlelight and almost melt in your mouth with a creamy, buttery flavor that is reminiscent of the finest Beluga.

Caviar with baguette and lemon

A spoonful of caviar

Whereas in Russia caviar is accompanied by vodka, we prefer the French choice of a glass of sparkling Champagne. Some people serve caviar with blinis (small buckwheat pancakes) and smother it with sour cream and onions. I am a purist. I like it by the spoonful, straight out of the jar or else on a slice of fresh Baguette with a smear of butter and a spritz of lemon. (Always use a spoon made from mother-of-pearl or wood. Silver changes the taste of the caviar.)

Some of America’s finest chefs have already discovered L’Osage Caviar. If you love caviar and have missed it for all these years, help is now available!

You can contact L’Osage Caviar Company at (573) 348-1190 or by email losagecaviar@usmo.com.

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The National Blues Museum, St. Louis

Entrance to the museum

National Blues Museum, St. Louis

Notwithstanding the declaration by the New York Times that St. Louis is one of the top destinations for 2016, it remains a vastly underrated city. Yet, in terms of its quality of life, the friendliness of its inhabitants, its restaurants and its museums, the city has much to offer. The latest addition to the repertoire of things to see and do is the National Blues Museum.

Creating Blues music, National Blues Museum

Writing a blues composition

A quote from Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones on one of the walls epitomizes the raison d’etre of the museum: “If you don’t know blues, there’s no point in picking up a guitar and playing rock and roll or any other form of popular music.”

Few forms of music can claim a history as long, as influential or as rich as the blues. West African slaves originally brought the sounds to America. It was their means of recalling their lost lives and of maintaining a link to their traditions and cultures.

As African-American musicians migrated from the southern states, and specifically the Mississippi Delta, up Highway 61, looking for new opportunities, they brought their musical tradition, first to St. Louis and then beyond to the entire world. In the process the blues have influenced every genre of popular music for the last 100 plus years.

Suitcases from the Great Migration, National Blues Museum

Wall of suitcases, National Blues Museum

Opened on 2 April 2016 in a cavernous, renovated department store building in downtown St. Louis, the single-story, 14,000 square foot National Blues Museum takes you on an exploration of this musical tradition in all its aspects, accompanied by the sounds of classic blues musical performances by the likes of Howlin’ Wolf and the Allman Brothers. Photos and memorabilia highlight the historical importance of the blues and its impact on the present.

An introductory video includes clips from Morgan Freeman proclaiming that “The Blues is the soundtrack to Segregation,” to Robert Plant of Led Zepplin explaining how the blues sparked the creative interest of such groups as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and others, bringing them to America. “In the UK we were transfixed by the Mississippi Delta and the poetry that came out of it,” says Plant.

Nearby is a fully equipped sound stage with a seating capacity of 180 that hosts both local and internationally known musicians with live performances on Thursday through Saturday of each week.

Harmonicas as art, National Blues Museum

A wall of Harmonicas, National Blues Museum

One of the first (and probably most popular) displays you come across is a computer screen where you sign in and then write your own song lyrics. As you wander through the displays, you add musical riffs (guitar, harmonica, piano) to your composition. Just before you leave the museum, you stop in a sound studio and mix it all up into your own blues creation. Then you email it to yourself! I can’t say that our original effort was anything worth keeping, but it was an education in the elements that go into creating a blues composition.

The Jug Room is another very popular display. Inside a small studio you touch a computer, and your face is added to the members of the Jug Band performing on the screen. You then select your instrument – spoons, a washboard, bones, or shakers – and play along with the band. If you are going with kids, be prepared to spend a lot of time in here. It is a good lesson on how music can be created with anything and everything.

You can take the process one step further. Imagine yourself on stage! Step up to a microphone in front of a life-sized vintage photo and sing along with Mamie Smith and the Jazz Hounds of the 1920s.

The Fab Four, National Blues Museum

The Beatles, National Blues Museum

Just beyond is a wall lined with battered, worn suitcases and trunks. The Wall immortalizes the journey of musicians who came up to St. Louis from the Delta during the so-called Great Migration.

Around the corner, a display of silver harmonicas twinkle in the floodlights. Who can forget the lonesome, haunting sound of a harmonica played in the twilight at the end of the day? They belong to Jim McClarnes, a St. Louis harmonica player who donated his 900 harmonicas to the museum.

One display of particular interest is an old recording device used by John Lomax, Curator of the Archive of American Folk Songs who, in the 1930s, traveled the byways of the Deep South, making recordings of the music performed by sharecroppers and others. The original sounds of the blues have been preserved for posterity thanks to his efforts.

As you reach the end of the exhibits a quote from Muddy Waters proclaims, “The blues had a baby and they named it rock and roll.” A display about the great Chuck Berry (a St. Louis resident) sits near one about British musicians, including the Beatles, explaining how they created their own versions of the Delta blues songs for a new generation that was hearing the genre of music for the first time.

The National Blues Museum is but the latest of the many opportunities to enjoy life in St. Louis.
IF YOU GO
The National Blues Museum is located at 615 Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis in the Mercantile District. It is open Sunday –Monday from noon to 5 pm, Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to 5 pm. www.nationalbluesmuseum.com
Admission is $15 for adults and lesser amounts for seniors, students and groups.
To reach the Museum use the Metrolink at 6th and Washington. On weekdays trains run approximately every 10 minutes during peak hours and every 15 or so otherwise. (See www.metrostlouis.org for fare stations and timetables).There are numerous parking lots in the downtown area as well.
If you have worked up an appetite, be sure to stop in at Sugarfire Smoke House right next door to the Museum (605 Washington Ave. (314-997-2301), www.sugarfiressmokehouse.com; open seven days a week from 11 am until they run out of food.) The barbecued Baby Back Ribs and baked beans are the best!

 

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Winston Churchill and Fulton, Missouri

 

 

The Breakthrough Sculpture and National Churchill Museum

The National Churchill Museum, Fulton, Missouri

Mention the National Churchill Museum and you might be tempted to think of the War Rooms near Horse Guards Parade in London, Blenheim Palace (Churchill’s boyhood estate) or Chartwell (Churchill’s home in Kent, outside London). But the National Churchill Museum actually is in the United States, in the small mid-western town of Fulton, Missouri.

Fulton, Missouri, National Churchill Museum

Winston Churchill invites you to visit his Museum

Shortly after losing his bid for re-election in 1946, ex-Prime Minister Winston Churchill received a letter from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, inviting him to speak. Across the bottom, a handwritten note penned by President Harry Truman reads “This is a wonderful school in my home state. Hope you can do it. I will introduce you.”

Churchill, indeed, accepted the invitation and delivered what is one of his many landmark speeches known officially as “Sinews of Peace.” Unofficially, it is “the Iron Curtain speech.” In it he noted that, although World War II had ended, “an Iron Curtain has descended across the Continent,” which, he predicted, would lead to the “formation of a Soviet sphere.” To counter the mounting power of the Soviet Union, he proposed a “fraternal association of the English-speaking Peoples.” It was the first time that the expression “Iron Curtain” was used to describe the situation in the world.

Stained glass of the phoenix

The Phoenix Rising

To pay homage to this Elder Statesman and to the speech, Westminster College created the National Churchill Museum. The 17th century Church of St. Mary the Virgin (that originally stood at the junction of Aldermanbury and Love Lane in the City of London) was specifically brought to the United States to house the memorial.

A victim of the 1666 Great Fire of London, St. Mary the Virgin Church was rebuilt by Christopher Wren (the 17th century architect of St Paul’s Cathedral, London) only to be destroyed during the 1940 Blitz. With only the walls left standing, it was destined for demolition. Instead, the stones were transported to Fulton and, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the church was reconstructed brick by brick on the grounds of Westminster College, exactly as Christopher Wren had designed it.

Edwina Sands and the Berlin Wall

The Breakthrough Sculpture by Edwina Sands

Situated on the bucolic campus of the liberal arts college, an English garden, accented by the 1990 sculpture “Breakthrough” by Churchill’s granddaughter, Edwina Sands surrounds the church. The 11-foot high, 32-foot long sculpture consists of eight graffiti-covered sections of the Berlin Wall that originally stood near the Brandenburg Gate. In the middle two sections, the words “Unwahr” (“lies”) are spray-painted in vivid colors. Male and female silhouettes cut out of two sections of the wall by Ms. Sands epitomize the reestablishment of communications between East and West. Ronald Reagan unveiled the sculpture a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Inside the Museum the life of Winston Churchill is laid out from his childhood, his early military and journalistic career (including capture and dramatic escape during the Boer War in South Africa), his political life across two World Wars, through his appearance at Westminster College.

The church above the Museum

Interior of St. Mary the Virgin of Aldermanbury Church

The displays are informative and imaginative, especially the sights and sounds of life in the trenches in World War I. Of particular interest is the light and sound show of a simulated London air raid from World War II. It is so realistic, if you close your eyes, you can almost be there. In a short film Walter Cronkite (himself a Missourian) narrates the story of Churchill leading Britain through World War II.

Following in the footsteps of Churchill, many other world leaders including Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, Lech Walesa, Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev have also lectured at Westminster College.

World War II, London, The Blitz

Experiencing the Blitz

You might expect to visit Churchillian monuments in England. A visit to the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri, is a serendipitous discovery.

IF YOU GO
The Churchill Memorial and Museum is located at 501 Westminster Ave, Fulton, MO; Tel 573-592-5369. Fulton is about 20 miles north of the state capital, Jefferson City.
www.nationalchurchillmuseum.org

 

 

 

 

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Salume Beddu

 

 

Salume Beddu, St. Louis

The blackboard and counter, Salume Beddu

My taste buds love surprises, and what a surprise they have in Salume Beddu, a small artisanal company in St. Louis dedicated to the craft of creating Italian and European-style cured meats, sausages and Italian foods uncommon in America.

Before we have even walked into the store in a nondescript St. Louis strip mall, the aroma of spices, herbs, citrus and sausage have us salivating. It feels as if we have been transported to a small town in Tuscany, Abruzzo or Calabria.

Salume Beddu, St. Louis, MO

Stacks of Salamis, Salume Beddu

Inside, piles of dry salamis are stacked near a refrigerated showcase next to the counter. Nearby, a tiny seating area with a long table and a few chairs fill the space beneath walls covered with framed articles and awards. A chalkboard near the door lists the daily specials that are available in addition to the many sandwich choices on the regular menu, all featuring the salamis and other cured meats produced in the store. Salume Beddu is a favorite spot for lunch and fills up quickly.

Until a few weeks ago, the meats were produced in a tiny space in the store. Now, a new 8,000-square foot space a few miles north in Olivette, means that production will be increased six times over.

The most popular cured salami sold at Salume Beddu is the Veneto, a lean Venetian-style salami flavored with a secret blend of ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and black pepper. Others include the Finocchiona is a Tuscan-style salami flavored with fennel seeds, citrus zest, black pepper and garlic, and the spicy Calabrese salame from southern Italy flavored with chili, coriander and red wine. There are many other types to choose from as well as fresh sausages and seasonal specialties.

Only a few spots in the eating area, Salume Beddu

The tiny dining area, Salume Beddu

At the end of the year, Italians who live in St. Louis line up outside the door to pick up their Cotechino – a boiled, fresh pork sausage that includes pig skin ground with the meat, fat and numerous spices. The Cotechino, served with lentils, is the traditional Italian New Year’s Eve dinner and, according to legend, will bring good luck to those who eat it. (Salume Beddu is one of the few places in America where you can find fresh Cotechino).

Our favorite is Culatello (considered by many to be the finest type of Italian prosciutto ever), so delicate that its velvety texture melts in your mouth. In our house a pound of Culatello from Salume Beddu rarely makes it to the dinner table. It disappears in a matter of seconds, eaten straight out of the packaging.

Salume Beddu is the brainchild of St. Louis native Mark Sanfilippo. It is no secret that Missouri produces some of the best pork in the country, and Mark uses the best of the best – Heritage pork – not usually produced by mainstream breeders. Using traditional methods to cure the meat dating back hundreds of years, the small batches of sausages and meats are spiced and hand-tied to produce some of the best Salami in America. And we aren’t the only ones who think so. Even Forbes Magazine has declared that Salume Beddu makes the Best Salami in the Country!

Artisan Cured Meats, Salume Beddu

Salume Beddu, St. Louis

If you can’t make it to the store, Salume Beddu products are served in a number of restaurants and sold in many St. Louis stores, as well as in Eataly in Chicago. Not traveling to St. Louis any time soon? You can order them direct.

And with the new production site, Mark will be able to add a number of new products including salamis flavored with lavender or hazelnut that were only made once-in-a-while. Yum! We can’t wait!

 

IF YOU GO

Salume Beddu
3467 Hampton Ave
St Louis, MO 63139
www.salumebeddu.com
Tel (314) 353-3100
Open Tuesday to Saturday; check website for hours and directions

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Craving a Croissant in St. Louis

Designer shoes and wedding cakes, La Patisserie Chouquette

Fanciful cakes

Yesterday morning I had a hankering for a good croissant – you know the kind I mean – the buttery, soft, crisp, flaky, salty, melt-in-your-mouth kind that you find in Paris. The type where (if you are not careful) the layers of crispness shatter in your hands leaving crumbs all over your shirt! But here I was in St Louis where, notwithstanding having been part of the Louisiana Purchase, French influence is hard to find.

The interior of La Patisserie Chouquette

Macaron case, La Patisserie Chouquette

What to do?

Well, let me tell you a secret that really shouldn’t be one. In fact, we should be shouting from the rooftops about this little treasure. Here in St. Louis there is a place where you can get that type of croissant and much more, and it even has a French name — La Patisserie Chouquette, the brain-child of New Orleans-born Pastry chef, Simone Faure.

Translated loosely, and in its simplest form, the chouquette (a viennoisserie) is a circle of choux pastry filled with custard or cream. It can be as basic or as fancy as the chef desires. Here it is the basis of the name of this delightful café and, of course, chouquettes are among the many pastries available. The flavors change almost daily. When I bought mine, they were filled with peaches and cream.

La Patisserie Chouquette, St. Louis

Peaches and Cream Chouquettes,

But these delectable little pastries seem almost pedestrian next to the fanciful cakes you see in the glass cabinet – cakes made in the shape of designer shoes with spike heels; cakes made to look like a Hermes handbag; for the younger generation, a neon colored sneaker. And then there are the wedding cakes – fanciful, theatrical, ethereal creations that combine textures and flavors and are as much art as cake.

Lime Eclair from Patisserie Chouquette

Lime eclair

And let’s not forget the macarons – hand-made in delightful flavors. The showcase greets you as you enter with at least six flavors to choose from including such mouth-watering combinations as Lavender Mascarpone and Key Lime. As with everything else in the shop, the flavors change daily based on the whims of the Chef.

That is not all.  One of my favorite places in New York City is our favorite English Tea Shop, Tea and Sympathy, where on any given afternoon you can treat yourself to a pot of tea with finger sandwiches, scones and pastries.

Enjoying a piece of frangipani torte and a cup of coffee for breakfast

A slice of frangipani torte and a cup of latte, La Patisserie Chouquette, St. Louis, Missouri

Imagine my surprise to find that Patisserie La Chouquette serves afternoon tea on Saturdays (by reservation only from 11 to 1 pm). The tea menu changes regularly but the favorites are there – English cucumber sandwiches, Egg salad, Salmon. Then there are scones with Sweet butter and jam, mini fruit tarts, crème puffs and other morsels. What a treat!

But back to that croissant – the morning I wandered into La Chouquette, they were all sold out! Oh dear! I suppose a return visit is required.

I am sure St. Louis has many other treasures but La Patisserie Chouquette is a winner! Be sure to look for it if you are traveling to St. Louis.

Earl Gray cookies_LR_DSC0330_5051IF YOU Go

1626 Tower Grove Avenue
St. Louis, MO
314-932-7935
Open Tues- Friday 9 am to 2 pm; Saturday 9 am to 5 pm.
www.simonefaure.com

 

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At the St Louis Zoo

A Passion for Conservation at the St Louis Zoo

A pair of Grevy Zebra at the ST. Louis Zoo

A pair of Grevy Zebra at the ST. Louis Zoo

Scientists have been more than explicit! Many species on earth are severely threatened or on the edge of extinction. Some scientists, like Anthony Barnosky at the University of California, Berkeley, speaks of “mass extinction on the scale of the dinosaurs.” It is a silent tragedy of epic proportions that inevitably will affect each one of us in this interdependent, interlinked world of ours. However, there is perhaps still time to slow down or even stop the destruction. This is the mission of the St. Louis Zoo.

A young Grevy Zebra at the St. Louis Zoo

A young Grevy Zebra at the St. Louis Zoo

Situated on 90 acres in Forest Park, St Louis, the Zoo (which is free) is a very popular destination with residents and visitors alike. It is home to over 19,000 animals from 655 species, many of them rare and endangered. However, this is not just a place to go and see wild animals. Since its founding in 1910, the St Louis Zoo has been a world leader in the conservation and reproduction of several endangered species, including through the creation of the WildCare Institute, whose impact extends far beyond the St. Louis City limits.

The Institute aims to address three major areas: conservation of endangered species, recovery and management of wildlife, and support to the human populations that live together with the animals. The need is great across the world but WildCare Institute has chosen to focus its efforts on a select number of projects. These include teaching ranchers how to coexist with cheetahs in Tanzania, developing a recovery plan for the horned guans of Mexico and Guatemals; and teaching the locals in Niger how to protect the Saharan ostrich (which is practically extinct) once the species is returned to the wild from captive breeding.

One of the Zoo’s most extensive projects is the WildCare Institute Center for Conservation in the Horn of Africa that is partnered with a number of local conservation programs such as the Grevy’s Zebra Trust and the Northern Rangeland Trust. During one of our visits to the St Louis Zoo, we are fortunate to meet with the Curator of Mammals/Ungulates and Elephants, Martha Fischer, who is also the Director of the WildCare Institute for Conservation in the Horn of Africa.

Zebra stripes are like fingerprints, each pattern is unique.

Zebra stripes are like fingerprints, each pattern is unique.

Ms. Fischer, who is passionate about her work, tells us that, without the support and active involvement of the local populations to protect the animals, conservation will not succeed. She explains how the Center is working to raise awareness and achieve balance between the needs of the local people in the Horn of Africa and several nearly extinct species which share the land. These include the Ethiopian Wolf, Speke’s Gazelle, the mountain nyala and Grevy’s Zebra, which have suffered one of the more substantial depopulations of any African mammal.

Three decades ago, more than 15,000 Grevy zebra inhabited the plains of Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea. Today, they are extinct in Somalia, and there are fewer than 150 left in Ethiopia with perhaps no more than 2,200 in Kenya. They have become the victims of poaching as well a losing their territory and water supplies to the increasing number of livestock that compete for grazing lands. The Grevy’s Zebra is the largest, wildest and most untamable of Africa’s three zebra species. Named after Jules Grévy, a former President of France, who was given a zebra as a gift in 1881 by the Government of Abyssinia, it has a long history, having first appeared outside Africa in Roman circuses.

The St. Louis Zoo is home to a number of these zebras, the most recent additions born in April 2011. They are part of an on-going effort to increase the population and maintain a robust gene pool that could be used to repopulate the wild herds. Compared to a plains zebra, a Grevy’s zebra is bigger with rounded ears, a white unmarked belly and very fine black stripes. (A zebra’s stripes are like a fingerprint on a human. No two patterns are identical.) The mane resembles a series of very still brush bristles, sticking straight up. Watch as they gambol around their enclosure, braying periodically to each other. How sad it would be if this species became victim to the “mass extinction” that we are not doing enough to prevent. You cannot help but admire the work of Martha Fischer and her colleagues who are working so hard to preserve life on earth, one species at a time.

IF YOU WANT TO HELP
The WildCare Institute has created Grevy’s Zebra scholarships to pay for the secondary education of Kenyan youngsters. If you want to help conserve the Grevy’s zebra, consider making a donation to the Zoo at 314-768-5440 or visit www.stlzoo.org/conservatoin/wildcare-institute.
The St. Louis Zoo is located at Forest park, St Louis (1 Government Drive, St. Louis, MO). It is open daily from 0900 to 1700. Check website for winter hours, directions and transportation options.

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Pappys — Smokin’ hot in St. Louis, Missouri

Pappy's Smokehouse, St Louis

Pappy’s Smokehouse, St Louis

We are warned to expect long lines at Pappys Smokehouse in St. Louis so it is a pleasant surprise to see only six people ahead of us. That doesn’t last long! By the time we order there are at least 100 people behind us, the line snaking past the back of the non-descript L-shaped restaurant and out the door. Another typical day!

A basket of ribs and beans at Pappy's Smokehouse, St Louis

A basket of ribs and beans at Pappy’s Smokehouse, St Louis

This is a decidedly eclectic crowd — businessmen in suits, police officers, students, parents, children, all waiting patiently for the opportunity to order some of the best barbecue in St. Louis and salivating at the mouth-watering aromas wafting around them. Some amuse themselves playing with the life-sized pig that sits near the single cash register. Others chat with the very friendly staff or owner, Mike Emerson, clad in Pappys Smokehouse T-shirts which proclaim that “You can’t get enough butt” under the picture of a cute little pig.

A board lets you know what is sold out as the line inches forward. Pappys serves freshly made food so only a limited amount is prepared every day. When it is gone, the restaurant closes, irrespective of the posted hours. The menu is very specific and straightforward. You can choose a sandwich or a platter (6 oz or 12 oz), selecting a meat (pulled pork, pulled chicken, beef brisket, turkey breast, spicy sausage) or if you can, go for the ribs. All meals come with a choice of two sides — baked beans, slaw, potato salad, fried corn-on-the-cob, sweet potato, fires, green beans or applesauce.

The meats are prepared in a huge smoker parked right outside on the street. They smoke for 4.5 hours over apple or cherrywood. Pappys uses a dry rub on the ribs followed by a brown sugar glaze. No sauces are used in the smoking process but you can add your own (Pappys Original Sauce, Sweet Baby Jane or Holly’s Hot Sauce).

Delicious!

Delicious!

Once you get to the register and place your order, you find a table (taking a table before your turn is not considered proper etiquette), selecting one covered in red and white checkered tablecloth or a high table with barstools. Your food is quickly brought out by the highly efficient staff.

We choose the full rack of ribs with sweet potato fires and baked beans. As you bite into the crisp brown exterior, the succulent meat melts in your mouth; any tiny piece left on your fingers quickly gets licked off. The sweet potato fries are thin, crisp on the outside and sweet, the baked beans thick and smoky. This is a meal to remember.

When you are done the staff quickly clears the table. This is not the place to linger and chat. Others are waiting for your table. But know that you will return again and again.

IF YOU GO
Pappy’s Smokehouse is at 3106 Olive St on Cardinal (Tel 314-535-4340; www.pappysmokehouse.com). Open Mon to Sat 1100 to 2000; Sunday 1100 to 1600 unless they run out of food in which case they close earlier. Call ahead to be sure.

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