Juniper, Central West End – Finger Lickin’ Good

If you are a health nut that removes the chicken skin before cooking, go find another post to read.  Besides that, hang your head in shame for missing out on something glorious.  If you are the type of person that savours every crispy bite of the skin when you make fried chicken, let me tell you about a dish you must try:  the “Nashville Hot” Fried Chicken Skins at Juniper.

chicken skins

These chicken skins are fantastic!  It’s the best part about eating fried chicken.  They are salty and slightly spicy, and the strawberry buttermilk adds sweetness.  I could eat these all night.  In my opinion they are one of the best bar snacks PERIOD.

I realize this is a short post, but this was something that more people should be talking about.  I tried these on my third trip to Juniper and this will ensure that I visit more frequently.  I may need to get baseline readings on my cholesterol, because I’m sure it’s going to be climbing with this new addiction.

juniper

Dive 2 Five Scale: 3.  Juniper is slightly off the beaten path in the CWE.  It has a lively atmosphere even though it is not on the busier Euclid Ave.  I have been a fan of the chef since my first trips to Entre Underground events and he continues to provide great fare to his patrons.

Strange Donuts – Coming Soon!

Obviously I love trying new restaurants.  It’s even better when you have a chance to have a sneak peek at a new restaurant.  Last night at the Post Sports Bar and Grill, Strange Donuts handed out samples for their upcoming shop in Maplewood.

Each person was given 2 of the 3 to try:

  • Chocolate peanut butter: a chocolate cake donut topped with peanut butter icing and more chocolate.
  • Crunch Berries: a donut topped with Crunch Berries cereal.
  • Maple bacon: not one that I sampled 🙁

DSC00495

I am always a fan of chocolate and peanut butter together so it was a given I would try this.  The Crunch Berry donut was more out of my comfort zone.  It surprised me and was actually my favorite of the two.  I think the change in texture is what I liked most.

If this is a taste of things to come, I’m very excited to see what other flavors they create.  My two challenges for them are: Samoas (Girl Scout cookie) and Gooey Butter Cake (after all this is St. Louis!).  Those should provide a good enough sugar rush to thwart the worst Monday morning ever.

By the way, they have a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for some equipment needed for their new shop.  You can read about it here.  Show them support!

Dos Martinis Por Favor

Since people enjoyed the first post that featured a cocktail in it, I have created a Quick Byte post that about 2 martinis.  Both of these are easily accessible when in Lawrence, KS.  I am a sucker for a good martini.   If you don’t believe me, check out the new sign for my house:

The first was a classic vodka martini from the Bourgeois Pig.  You can’t go wrong with this mainstay served up.  I really enjoy the atmosphere of the Pig.  It’s relaxing and they take the time to make each drink correct.  Check out the art while you are there.  It features a different artist every so often.

The second was the Former Spy from 715.  This is also a vodka martini with house made limencello and lavender.  I love the contrast of the tart and sweetness from the limencello. This is an extremely smooth drink.  It is really easy to lose track of time (and count) when drinking this martini.

I hope everyone enjoyed the 2nd post with cocktails.  Any suggestions for “must try” drinks in St. Louis?

Bourgeois Pig on Urbanspoon

715 on Urbanspoon

Sylas and Maddy’s Lawrence, KS – Should I Scream For Ice Cream?

It’s been a while since my last Quick Byte post.  What’s a better way to bring it back but on food that most people love, ice cream.  With a hot summer like this, it’s a necessity.

On my road trip last weekend, I made sure to stop at one of my favorite ice cream shops:  Sylas and Maddy’s.  What makes it a favorite?  It’s a small town shop that has homemade ice cream.  There is a cornucopia of flavors.  If you can’t find a flavor here you like, you should seek professional help.

When I go, I usually zero in on one that has one (or more) of these things: chocolate, peanut butter, or cheesecake.  Maybe someday they will make one that has them all…hint hint.   This time I went for the chocolate fudge brownie in a waffle cone.  Always get the waffle cone. I don’t see how you can go into their shop, smell the fresh waffle cones, and walk out with ice cream in a bowl.  It should be a crime.

You can see pieces of brownie!

As always, it’s rich, but not overpowering.  The waffle cone is fresh and has a nice crunch.  When you get to the bottom, and you will, you are rewarded with a malted milk ball. It was a great way to enjoy a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Dive 2 Five Scale:  3.  It’s a very simple building with limited seating.  The staff is very friendly and will allow you to have small samples of flavors until you find what you need.  It’s a great way to cool off during some window shopping on Mass street in Lawrence.

 
Sylas & Maddy's Homemade Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Calories Be Damned…..Deep-Fried Cookie Dough

Last Saturday I stumbled across a roadside stand in Kimmswick, MO as we were heading back to I-55 from the Blue Owl Restaurant. It was serving all deep-fried foods and Hawaiian ice. Since I had just eaten, I didn’t get to sample anything. However on July 4th, I intentionally stopped at that exit again and found that the stand was still there.

Living in Missouri, we love our deep-fried food. This stand had many things to try: Twinkies, Oreo’s, Kool-aid balls, brownies, and cookie dough. The cookie dough was calling out to me. As you would imagine, it’s simply cookie dough battered and deep-fried. They serve it in a paper basket topped with powdered sugar and glaze. Obviously, this wasn’t decadent enough.

Fresh from the fryer

As I closed the door to my car, it filled the space with the smell of doughnuts.  They were still piping hot when I had the first bite. The batter wasn’t too heavy. The cookie dough had that still somewhat gritty consistency. The chocolate chips melted as if they were cookies fresh from the oven. They were pretty much golf balls of gooey calories with a high dose of vitamin G (grease) and sugar. I loved every bit of them. If you get a chance to try them, don’t pass it up!

Any other fried foods out there people have enjoyed?

 

Gigi’s Cupcakes – Was it Fate? (Atlanta, GA)

Hello again. This is the final blog from my weekend trip to Atlanta. This is a 2nd “quick bite” blog.

While dining at FLiP burger, I noticed this cupcake shop, Gigi’s, on my Foodspotting app. There were some amazing pictures of cupcakes with an intense amount of frosting. I resisted the urge to indulge myself because I knew I had limited time and a long list of places left I wanted to sample. However, when I was in a shopping plaza 5 hours later and saw a 2nd location, I had to wonder if it was fate?

Gigi’s was voted best cupcakes in Atlanta for 2012. Ok, you have my attention. Wait a minute, they have stores in 18 states? I have never seen or heard of them before. I typically stay away from franchised restaurants but since they were voted best in Atlanta…..we picked up four 🙂

Fancy traveling case

They come in a nice box that keeps them safe during the ride home. The four we choose were: Orange Dreamsicle, Scarlett’s Red Velvet, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Midnight Magic. The two that I tried were Midnight Magic and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.

The fearsome foursome. The orange dreamsicle isn’t very photogenic

We’ll start with the Midnight Magic. This cupcake was devils food cake with dark chocolate chips topped with a chocolate buttercream frosting and more chocolate chips. First off, look at this frosting. It’s taller than the actual cake! They are very messy to eat and I’ll admit that I worried it would be too much of a good thing. Surprisingly the frosting was rich, but not overpowering. In general a good cupcake but not overwhelming.

More frosting than actual cake!

My 2nd cupcake was the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. It was a chocolate chip cookie cake with cookie dough frosting, chocolate chips, topped with a chocolate chip cookie. The cookie was the chewy kind, which I prefer. The frosting was the best part and there was plenty of it. It was like those amazing bites of cookie dough when baking or from a great cookie dough ice cream.

Gigi’s is a solid choice for grabbing a cupcake that fits that sweet tooth craving. If you aren’t a fan of frosting, I would stay away. The cupcakes were standard size and the cake was moist. They have a great variety to choose from. That being said, I think we have some better cupcake shops in STL. I think it may just inspire a future blog entry….

 

Six Feet Under – It’s Not Funny, My Mouth Was on Fire! (Atlanta, GA)

Hi again. Welcome to the first “quick bite” post. This is just a quick review of a late afternoon snack during last week’s food adventures in Atlanta.

I love to research restaurants before each trip that I take. During my recent research, I stumbled upon Six Feet Under. The menu had two appetizers that caught my eye: spicy rat toes and extra spicy dragon toes. 

Six Feet Under view from the street

The restaurant itself wasn’t in the best neighborhood. Next time I go there I would take advantage of the free valet parking. The inside resembles a sports bar but features seafood. There are great views from the upstairs patios and the bar itself is nice.

Extra spicy dragon toes are a baked Habanero stuffed with scallops and wrapped with crispy bacon. My wife and I both made the same mistake….we tried these first. Now I understand why you can order them individually. I don’t know why you would ever want more than one. I love spicy food. I spent almost 10 years in New Mexico enjoying hot green and red chili. However this was just a little much. Scallops are a favorite of mine but I was not able to enjoy them due to the heat of the Habanero. It took at least half an hour for the burn to go away. They had a side of ranch, but it didn’t do anything to cool the burn.

Yes my wife ate the smaller one and left the other for me

Next we tried the spicy rat toes. They were jalapeños stuffed with shrimp and wrapped with bacon. These were better. The subtle kick from the jalapeno’s was nice (especially after the heat of the previous appetizer). The shrimp was fresh and the bacon was still crispy with a good smokey flavor. These were amazing. I would order them again. They came in an order of 3, but I could have eaten many more.

The less spicy rat toes

Take my advice and stick with the rat toes. Only go for the dragon toes if you are preparing for a spicy food challenge for Man v. Food. I think next time I will have to enjoy one of their seafood steamers.