Tag 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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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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