Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Eggnog, Closings & Openings, and Attention Last-Minute Shoppers

I look forward to a few things every December: exams being over, smugly packing my suitcase full of short-shorts and swim suits for my vaycay home in Florida (although I don't know if that will happen this year... ugh), and eggnog. It's really easy to make for parties because it only has 6 ingredients.

Anyway, yeah, it's got raw eggs in it, but so does that stuff you buy at the store. I always use locally-sourced eggs from farmers I know and trust. Donnell Century Farms has been my go-to place lately, but great eggs can also be had from Flora Farms, West Wind Farms, Bonnie Blue Farms, Newman Farms... there are probably more. It seemed like eggs at the market was the biggest thing in 2009. I started seeing a lot more raw milk in 2010. Will 2011 bring an abundance of asparagus? Crossing fingers and knocking wood.

Homemade Eggnog
From the Bartender's Black Book

Separate 6 eggs. Beat the yolks with 1 cup sugar until thick. Then blend in 1 cup dark rum, 1 cup brandy, 1 cup cream, and 3 cups milk. Chill. Before taking to your final destination, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold into the nog. Definitely top with nutmeg.

In Cooper-Young neighborhood news, Restaurant Grace is closing. Chef Ben Vaughn will focus more on expanding his Au Fond farmtable concept. I'm sorry to see Grace go; I had a wonderful, low-key, elegant birthday there in 2009. But I'm glad to see that Au Fond will expand into the space and give Vaughn more room for the "market" concept of Au Fond that has fallen by the wayside lately. The Reef, which just opened this year in the old Blue Fish space, will also close. An Italian restaurant is set to open in the old Dish space, though. I think the key to succeeding in this little crossroads is to focus on more casual, moderately-priced things. Preferably things you can drink. On a patio. Sweet Grass and the Beauty Shop are holding the market for fancier places, which, I think, may have contributed to Grace's closing. But I never see the Deli, Ole, or Celtic dead. This new place should take note.

Finally, I stopped by the Trolley Stop Market on Madison yesterday for some local honey (itching to make another Honey-Thyme Apple Pie, for real). While the restaurant was in the late-afternoon quiet, the shelves were stocked with great last-minute holiday gifts: pretty items like goat milk soap, delicate robins-egg mugs from Brigman Pottery, and lovingly handcrafted bacon from West Wind Farms. I would be delighted to have any of those things show up under my potted Christmas palm (just kidding guys; just because I'm from Florida doesn't mean we decorate palm trees... my family has a long history of decorating potted magnolias). The TSM is run by Jill and Keith Forrester, who own Whitton Farms. Between their CSA, several farmers' markets, and the TSM, they seem to have been in a thousand places at once these past 6 months. And yet they are never too busy to talk and are some of the nicest people I know. Things must really be going their way -- their blog says they'll be opening a new restaurant in 2011. Keith and Jill, we are so lucky to have you in our community.

One more: the SO and I are headed to St. Louis this weekend for a little winter getaway. In between editing my law review note (did you think I was just baking and blogging this week?), I've been checking out Chowhound for restaurant recs, but do readers have any suggestions? We'd like to find a pub with solid food and lots of local brews on draft, preferably in the Loop or the Central West End. We're also open to a fancier place for dinner one night.


  1. Check out this post from Fuzzy Brew on the Local Beer scene in St Louis, which also links to a WaPo travel story:
    I'm definitely checking out some of these on my next trip to the Lou!

  2. Brad - thanks! I had forgotten about that post (and the SO's brother is one of the FuzzyBrew bloggers -- shame on me). We're definitely going to check out Schlafly, but it looks like we also have a ton of options to get a bite to eat and a good beer on Friday night.