January 29, 2008

Shopping, Science, a Sandwich, & Sustainability

My yesterday started with a trip to The Wine & Cheese Place in Clayton, where I bought some new beers to try (like a blueberry lager & a sparkling ale!), a French rose wine (2006 Commanderie de la Bargemone), some Prosciutto di Parma, and a wedge of L'Edel de Cleron cheese.

Then, I was off to the St. Louis Science Center to see the Body Worlds exhibit. I couldn't help but notice how the thin cross-section slices of brain tissue looked remarkably like the prosciutto that I had just purchased. I also kept thinking about how tasty some of the exhibits looked. Sick, I know. But I've had food on the brain a lot lately, and I guess I was in a weird Hannibal Lector sort of mood. Still, it's not hard to understand that our bodies are not physically that different from the animals that we eat. Muscle is meat, no matter the species. And--I just couldn't help it--those muscles reminded me of steak.


I wasn't very shocked by the bodies on display, but it was interesting to see the differences between healthy lungs and a smoker's lungs. The fetal development display was the most intriguing part, but I was disappointed to noticed that it was hidden behind a black curtain. I guess those conservative right-wing pro-lifers had that put up so as not to offend anyone. I am staunchly pro-choice, but if there's anything out there to make someone question the beginning of life, it's seeing how completely formed an 8-week old fetus is. Crazy. Amazing.

My next stop was lunch at Iron Barley, a place I've been wanting to try for a while. (Check out my review.) Though I was craving steak (go figure!), they were out of prime rib. So, I went with "7 greens" soup, a "peppered pork" sandwich, and "pear crunch blaster pie" for dessert.

Afterwards, I drove out to St. Charles to visit Benne's Best Meat, an organic farm where you can drive right up to purchase beef, pork, chicken, & eggs. I discovered this farm through the Slow Food St. Louis website, because I've been interested in finding places to buy fresh, local foods. I bought a 4 1/2 pound chicken, 2 pounds of bacon, and 2 dozen eggs. Jolene, the owner, greeted me outside as I pulled up. She didn't have enough eggs in the fridge, so I walked down to the barn with her to get some of the eggs she had collected that morning. They were still a bit warm when I brought them home. My total bill was about $30. Not cheap, but I'm going to see if it makes a difference in taste, especially with the chicken.

I had planned to roast the chicken for dinner last night, but it was frozen. Instead, I boiled a couple of the eggs, which had more orangey yolks than store-bought eggs, and ate them warm. I prefer a medium-boiled egg:

  • Put the eggs in a small sauce pan. Don't stack them.
  • Add enough cold water to cover them.
  • Place on medium heat and bring to a rolling boil.
  • Let sit 8 minutes.
  • Immediately drain and rinse with cold water.
  • When they are cool enough to handle, peel under running water.
  • Dab dry, slice open lengthwise, & sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

The eggs did taste somewhat richer than store bought eggs. They are also much larger, barely fitting in the carton.

A few hours later, I made a platter of pinata apple, anjou pear, procuitto, the new cheese, aged gouda, dried figs, & rosemary crackers to enjoy with the rose wine...which was dry but light-bodied. I don't think I would drink it alone, but it went perfectly with the fruits and cheeses, particularly that L'Edel de Cleron. It is a creamy brie-like cheese with a rind thicker than brie. It is so soft that it is aged with a wood ring around the outer-rim to keep it from oozing. It is not as pungent as brie, but has an earthier taste.


This morning, I ate a fried egg with a few strips of the farm's bacon. It is thick bacon, so that it doesn't curl up when you cook it. It is also leaner than some grocery store varieties.

Are these foods worth the price and the drive? We'll see on Thursday when I roast that chicken!


Anonymous said...

That plate looks amazing.

Do you know if the farm supplies any local restaurants or retailers?

I went to Schlafly Bottleworks for dinner on Wednesday, and I was reminded again that one of the reasons I really dig the place (aside from the abundance of ridiculously fresh beer) is that many of their meat, bread, and produce purveyors are local farms and bakeries.

And if anyone thinks it doesn't make a difference, then might I suggest the Bison Stew at Bottleworks.

KELLY said...

Thanks, Ashby!

I think the farm is direct to consumers only, though I could be wrong.

I've never eaten at the Bottleworks, though I really want to. Slow Food St. Louis has their meetings there, and I always say I am going to go.