By now you probably know about City Winery, an urban winery, restaurant, performance venue and private event space. The first facility opened in New York City in 2008. Today there are City Winerys in Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta, Boston, Washington DC, Philadelphia, the Hudson valley, and, the newest, St. Louis (opened 2023 in City Foundry STL).

Building facade at City Winery St. Louis

A front portrait of Chris Graziose

Chris Graziose

Chris Graziose joined City Winery’s team as executive chef in 2021. He said the job fits as he shares a passion forfood, music, and wine.

Working from a home base in Long Island, Chris oversees each facility’s food, which he describes as modern American with a wine component. His is no easy job. Chris not only designs menus and creates recipes for each establishment, but also trains and works with local chefs, who add their own specialties to menus.

Ever generous, Chris shared the recipes for a burrata dish we sampled at the St. Louis City Winery. This extravagant and utterly delicious concoction consist of a mound of soft and melt-in-the mouth burrata placed on a smear of cranberry cabernet relish and cilantro pesto. It’s topped with slivers of roasted fennel, a touch of orange zest, and a sprig of dill. City Winery serves this whole beautiful bundle with a thick slice of toasted sourdough, but other breads, crackers and even a fork will do for getting this work of art into your mouth.

Chris’s recipes follow, with some adaptations. We cut the recipe from restaurant proportions to home-cook size. The results should be enough to plate four large servings of burrata. Be aware that the cranberry cabernet relish is so thick, sticky and sweet that it should be called a jam, so we changed its name.

Here you go:

Burrata as served at City Winery St. Louis

Burrata as served at City Winery


Yield: 2 cups.

1-1/2 teaspoon blended oil (or use vegetable oil of your choice)

1clove garlic, minced

4 ounces (about 1 cup) dried cranberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup red wine

6 tablespoons red wine vinegar

About 3/4 cup cranberry sauce

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Put oil in a medium saucepan and set over medium-low heat. When oil is hot add garlic, reduce heat and cook garlic for a few moments until it is soft, but not brown. Add cranberries and stir well. Add sugar and stir well. Cook, stirring often, until mixture starts to get sticky and sugar starts to caramelize. Add wine and vinegar and stir well. Add cranberry sauce, vanilla, and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer. Gently simmer mixture, stirring very often, until liquid is reduced and mixture is a jam consistency, about 1 hour.

Cool and refrigerate in a covered container.


Yield: About ½ cup.

1 big bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped leaves and tender stems

1/4 cup slivered or chopped skinned almonds

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice



Put cilantro and almonds in the jar of a blender or food processor and puree until mixture is well-blended and forms a paste. With blender on high, slowly drizzle in oil to form an emulsion. Add lime juice. Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Refrigerate in a covered container until ready to use.


Yield: About ¾ cup.

1 large fennel bulb



About 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Julienne fennel and put in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle fennel with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Toss well to distribute all ingredients. Spread fennel on a baking sheet and bake in at 325°F until golden brown, 20 to 40 minutes.

Cool before using.

Serve with:

Wine and music.

Wine being served at City Winery St Louis

Two sets of wine flights from City Winery

Wine Flights from City Winery St. Louis.











Music by Steven Woolley


For more information about City Winery click HERE and HERE.

For more about Steven Woolley click HERE.



Chef Quincy Johnson in Robie's

Chef Quincy Johnson

Chef Quincy Johnson brings magic to Robies’s on 8th, a casual, classy restaurant/lounge tucked into the Magnolia Hotel St. Louis.

The Magnolia enjoys a heritage famous for hospitality and food. Originally open in 1925 as the Mayfair Hotel, the property housed Missouri’s first five-star restaurant and boasted a registry of famous guests, including several U.S. presidents and celebrities such as Irving Berlin and Cary Grant.

It was the Mayfair that initiated the world-wide practice of hotels putting chocolates on pillows. Seems that in the early 1950s, the married Cary Grant requested the Mayfair to leave a path of chocolate candies in his suite, marking the destination for a secret lover soon to arrive. The candy trail started in Grant’s sitting room, ran across the bedroom, up over the bed and ended with a single chocolate on the pillow. The Mayfair’s manager was so turned on by the gesture, that he began imbedding a pillow chocolate in the hotel’s turndown service–a practice copied by other properties around the world.

The word love written in chocolate kisses

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the hotel passed through several owners and renovations before opening as the Magnolia in 2014.

The Magnolia’s décor sports original sparkling chandeliers and treasured stained glass windows, with new renovations adding a lobby “game room,” and sleek reception area.

Collage showing hotel entrance, lobby, reception and game room of Magnolia Hotel

But true gem of the property is Robie’s, the hotel’s dining area that includes an attractive bar with live music (perfect for happy hours); cosy lounge seating, candle-soft lighting, well-spaced tables and food made by jewel in the hotel’s crown Chef Quincy Johnson.

Collage showing Robie's bar, lounge and tables.

Quincy’s describes Robie’s menu as classical American with unique twists. The fare rest on popular appetizers, entrees, salads and sandwiches, but the twists elevate the well-loved to new levels.

A collage of four dishes from Robie's

Pate with Tomato Jam, Bacon Wrapped Dates on Blue Cheese Mousse, Parmesan Crusted Scallops, New York Strip Steak

For example, Quincy adds Nutella to his version of St. Louis’ iconic dessert, gooey butter cake, to create a rich as sin, soft as silk, cheesy, caramelly, extravagant delight worthy of adoration.


Yield: 16 to 20  pieces depending how the cake is cut

For crust:Nutella Gooey Butter Cake pieces piled on a plate and garnished with hazelnuts, fresh strawberries and chocolate shavings.

Shortening to grease pan

1 box (18.25 ounces) yellow cake mix (see NOTE)

1 egg

8 tablespoons butter, melted

For filling:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

4 ounces Nutella

2 eggs

1 box (16 ounces) powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

8 tablespoons butter, melted

For garnish (if desired):

Toasted hazelnuts

Fresh strawberries

Chocolate shavings

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13 X 9-inch baking pan.

Make crust: put cake mix, egg and butter in a medium size bowl and beat with electric mixer until well blended. Pat mixture over the bottom of the prepared pan.

Make filling: Put cream cheese, Nutella, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and melted butter in a medium-size mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer on low speed until ingredients are well blended. Turn speed to medium and beat until mixture is a custard-like consistency.

Spread filling over crust. Bake in the preheated 350°F oven 40 to 45 minutes, until cake is “set” with center still a little gooey. Do not overbake.

Cool at room temperature and refrigerate until chilled enough to cut. Garnish as desired.

NOTE: To save money, many cake mixes have reduced their box size to 15.25 ounces. We suggest that if you can’t find an 18.25-ounce box of yellow cake mix that you buy two smaller boxes and add 6 tablespoons of mix from one box to the other 15.25-ounce box to make 18.25 ounces of mix.

For more information about the Magnolia St. Louis, click HERE.

For more information about Robie’s, click HERE.

For more about gooey butter cake and St. Louis click HERE.

Stained Glass window at Hotel Magnolia St. Louis


Cover of A Return to Ireland cookbookIt’s a travelogue, a history book, a memoir of sorts. But most of all Judith McLoughlin’s A Return to Ireland, A culinary journey from America to Ireland, is a cookbook filled with great recipes and alluring photos.

Judith’s first book, The Shamrock and Peach,

fulfilled her dream of telling “the Scots-Irish immigrant story through the language of really good food.” Her new book continues the adventure and “dives into the culture of Ireland expressed through some amazing food.”

Food is the essences of A Return to Ireland. Food is the joy. Food is the medium that Judith uses to convey her love of the Celtic lands and people who inhabit them. But food isn’t all that is special about this  256-page book. Personal stories fill each chapter. Interesting information accompanies each recipe. And gorgeous photography, taken by Judith’s high-school-sweetheart husband, Gary McLoughlin, spark the appetite and stimulate wanderlust.

Judith and Gary moved to the United States in 1996. The couple landed in Boston and eventually moved to Atlanta for Gary’s work. Judith started catering and teaching about Irish cooking. Before long, she earned the reputation of the unofficial ambassador/cheerleader of all things Irish.

She says that growing up on a farm in the County Armagh in Northern Ireland gave her great appreciate for fresh Irish ingredients and Scot-Irish cooking handed down from generation to generation.

Today Judith fuses Irish cooking with that of the deep South, and not only writes cookbooks, but also caters, teaches cooking classes and leads fun food tours to Ireland—sometimes adding Scotland to the itinerary.

Judith McLoughlin with a group on a food tour.

Judith with a food-tour group.

Because all of the recipes in A Return to Ireland look so appealing, I couldn’t choose one to print for you. Top contenders were the Southern-influenced Soft Sweet Potato Biscuits with Country Ham Spread; and the purely Irish, Aged Gaelic Steaks with an Irish Whiskey Cream Sauce; and the updated classic fusion dish, White Chocolate Buttermilk Waffle Berry Pudding. Undecided, I left it up to Judith. She chose Colcannon Potatoes, one of the national dishes spotlighting her chapter on “Legendary Ireland Dishes.”Glad she did. Colcannon is remarkably easy and inexpensive to make and goes with all sorts of entrees—Irish or not. Here straight from the pages of her book


A dish of Colcannon Potatoes

A recipe for Colcannon Potatoes from A Return to Ireland.

A recipe for Colcannon Potatoes from Judith McLoughlin's cookbook A Return to Ireland

A smiling portrait of Judith McLoughlinFor more about Judith McLoughlin click HERE.

To buy A Return to Ireland, see

or click HERE to visit (where I might get a commission.)


Glasses filled with Irish WhiskeyTo know more about Irish Whiskey, click HERE.



Ashford Castle in all it's glory.For sleeping around Ireland in great style, click HERE.



A mug of Irish CoffeeAnd to top off the whole shebang, click HERE.





A close up of a bowl of caramel corn.Jane Helms’ recipe for caramel corn could be the best recipe for popcorn on the planet. But I’m jumping ahead. Before we get to the recipe, let me tell you about her son Matt Helms and his new popping hot business venture.

A portrait of Matt Helms.

Matt Helms

Matt says that he loves family, farming, business, agriculture and marketing—passions that he ties together in one crackerjack product—popcorn.

He grew up on a 2200-acre farm located in Southwest Illinois that has been in his family since 1852. With farming in his heart, Matt studied plant sciences at the University of Illinois and earn an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. For the past 22 years he has worked in different capacities for various companies, mostly related to some form of agriculture. But it’s Matt’s sideline blockbuster business that fascinates Sweet Leisure.

Along with his wife, Michelle, and daughter, Lily Ella, Matt decided to create a product and start a business that people relate to fun and nice experiences.

The farm was there. The trio needed a crop beloved by the multitudes. Popcorn was it.

An ear of popcornPopcorn differs from other corn grown to feed people and livestock. And different types of popcorn serve different functions. To find the best, 13-year-old Lily Ella conducted family taste tests, coming up with an heirloom favorite. Matt contacted popcorn breeders for seed. And the Helmses planted the first two acres of their popcorn in 2017.

With the first harvest, the business burst into being, heated up and expanded greatly.

Harvesting popcorn

They named the company for daughter Lily Ella and Matt’s grandfather Ollie. Michelle designed the packaging and helped develop a line of popcorn products (seasonings, equipment, oils).

Two jars of Ella and Ollie popcorn with a bottle of seasoning salt and a bottle of oil.

Today, the Helms devote 100 acres of the farm to popcorn and Ollie & Ellie popcorn kernels are popping up in St. Louis gourmet popcorn stores, movie theatres, kettle corn stands, specialty shops and grocery stores. One can also order Ella &Ollie popcorn and assorted related items online.

Matt said that he loves a good handful of popcorn with a touch of seasoning salt,

Ella & Ollie popcorn popped with seasoning salt

but that his mom’s caramel corn remains his favorite dressed-up version, which brings us to the best recipe ever!  Jane’s caramel corn makes a great gift—that is if you can bear to share. Please forgive the phrase stealing, but when it comes to Jane’s caramel corn confection, the whole is better than the sum of its buttery sugary parts; it makes hungry where it most satisfies; and too much is never enough!


Caramel corn in a glass jar.Yield: About 5 cups caramel corn.

5 quarts freshly popped Ella & Ollie popcorn

½ pound butter

2 packed cups light brown sugar

½ cup white corn syrup

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

Put popped corn in a large roasting pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 250°F.

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Stir in sugar and corn syrup and bring to a boil over medium/high heat, stirring constantly. Stir and boil for 1 minute, then continue to boil syrup gently for 4 minutes without stirring. (The syrup gets really hot; be careful.)

Remove pan from heat and stir in salt, vanilla and baking soda (the syrup will foam). Pour the hot syrup over the popped corn and stir to coat kernels with syrup.

Set roasting pan in preheated oven and bake 40 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes.

Spread popcorn on wax paper and cool before packaging.


A container of caramel corn and ribbons preparing to give as a gift.

For more information, click HERE.

To order online, click HERE.

For more wonderful recipes to give as gifts, click HERE.


It’s as if Santa, on a pre-Christmas reconnaissance, took a rest stop at Union Station in St. Louis, wandered into The Train Shed and decided to stay. The popular restaurant renamed “The Sleigh Shed” for the holiday season, brims with spirit. Lights twinkle. Ornaments shine.

A collage showing four scenes of decor delights at The Sleigh Shed

 The staff radiates good will towards man and woman and kids and each other.

A collage showing smiling staff at The Sleigh Shed in Union Station.

Everything feels merry and bright, especially after one or two of the specialty cocktails the pop-up bar designed for yuletide indulging.

The Sleigh Shed comes gift-wrapped in good tidings.

The restaurant/bar opens at 11 a.m. for lunch and dinner, closing at 9 p.m. on Sunday through Thursdays and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

The Stuffed Tots served at The Sleigh ShedThe menu lists a wide array of family favorites. (The Stuffed Tots bring joy to the world.)

The St. Louis Wheel at night.Union station offers a winter wonderland of attractions including a magical ride on the St. Louis Wheel.

But it’s The Sleigh Shed’s cocktails that so capture the spirt of the holidays. Here is just a sampling of delights that prove ‘Tis the season to be jolly.”


The luscious Santa's Red-Eye Fix served at The Sleigh ShedYou might leave cookies and milk for Santa on Christmas Eve, but we are quite sure he would much prefer the ingredients popped into this Sleigh Shed cocktail.

Yield: 1 serving.

1 ounce chilled espresso

1-1/2 ounces 1220 Vodka

¾ ounce Vanille de Madagascar (vanilla liqueur)

½ ounce simple syrup

½ ounce heavy cream

Whipped cream

Crumbled chocolate chip cookies

Red and green sprinkles.

Put espresso, vodka, vanilla liqueur, syrup and cream in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake shaker vigorously for 10 seconds.

Strain into a frosted martini glass.

Top with whipped cream, cookie crumbles and sprinkles


The Resting Grinch Face bright green cocktail You can tell why the Grinch steals Christmas cocktail excitement with this Sleigh Shed special.

Yield: 1 serving.

6 mint leaves

½ ounce toasted coconut syrup

2-1/4 ounces Cachaça

½ ounce lime juice

¼ ounce Ruby Red Grapefruit Cordial

2 drops green food color

Club soda

Sprig of fresh mint

Powdered sugar

Put mint leaves and syrup in a cocktail shaker and muddle lightly.  Add Cachaça, lime juice, grapefruit cordial and food color. Add ice to shaker and lightly shake. Double strain into a highball glass over fresh ice. Add club soda to top. Garnish with mint sprig. Sprinkle sugar over top. Add green straw.


A Sleigh All Day cocktail garnished with cranberries and lime wheel.Comfort and joy comes with this Sleigh Shed treat.

Yield: 1 serving.

1-1/2 ounces Cava de Oro Blanco Tequila

¾ ounce Bruzco Mezcal

½ ounce Suau Orange Brandy

¾ ounce pineapple gum syrup

¾ ounce lime juice

5 drops Cocktail Punk Peach Bitters


Lime wheel

Put tequila, mezcal, brandy, syrup, juice and bitters in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain and pour over ice in a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with cranberries and lime wheel.


A holly decorated mug filled with hot cocoa and garnished with toasted marshmallows and a peppermint stick.Here’s a bit of naughty fun for adults that transforms, when you leave out the booze, into something super nice for the kiddies.

Yield: 1 serving.

4 ounces hot chocolate

1 ounce Dora Double Chocolate Liqueur

1 ounce Peppermint Bark Cream Liqueur

Toasted mini marshmallows

Peppermint stick

Pour hot chocolate into a mug. Add the liqueurs and stir gently. Top with marshmallows and add a peppermint stick.


To help ensure a happy holiday season DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE—but keep in mind that if you do overindulge you could check into the historic St. Louis Union Station Hotel without even leaving the Union Station complex.

Click HERE for more information on the Train Shed/Sleigh Shed.

Click HERE For more information on Union Station’s hotel and attractions.

The Sleigh Shed sign.




Cover of book St. Louis Coffee Get excited! November 7 marks the release of Deborah Reinhardt’s book: St. Louis Coffee: A Stimulating History. Deborah brews up interesting and informative food, drink and history related books, with her new coffee book preceded by Delectable Destinations: A Chocolate Lover’s Guide to Missouri (so fine) and A Culinary History of Missouri: Foodways & Iconic Dishes of the Show-Me State, a book she co-authored with Suzanne Corbett.

Books by Deborah Reinhardt





St. Louis Coffee highlights the history of coffee in a town that was at onetime noted as “the largest inland distributor of coffee in the United States,” and profiles about 20 current roasters in the St. Louis area. Deborah said that St. Louis brought many innovations to the coffee industry and that coffee men were just as important as beer barons in shaping the nature of the city. Unlike beer, the history of coffee remained somewhat hidden, that is before Deborah dusted off the background and put a spotlight on the history.

Deborah perked an interest in the St. Louis coffee industry after reading about an exhibit at the Missouri History Museum. “Wow, I didn’t know that!” she kept thinking as she learned a new fact linking the city to coffee. Figuring that others might not know about the city’s coffee connection, and stimulated by the exhibit, she developed a robust interest in research that bloomed into her book.

Photo of Deborah Reinhardt

Deborah Reinhardt

Dorothy Reinhardt in the kitchen.

Dorothy Reinhardt

A St. Louis native, Deborah lived with her grandparents and parents when growing up. Her grandmother always kept a pot of coffee in the kitchen available to visitors. Deborah called it “hospitality coffee,” and says that she associates coffee with lovely memories of family and friends.

In addition to writing books, the former travel editor blogs at, a site filled with terrific comfort-food recipes, cooking tips and family stories. The three Reinhardt women in the blog’s title are Deborah, her mom, Kathy, and grandma, Dorothy.

St. Louis Coffee, published by The History Press, sells for $23.99 and can be purchased, along with Deborah’s other books, on her blog, through her publishers, at local bookstores and on Amazon.

When asked for a favorite recipe, Deborah double dipped her passions and sent the following savory chili recipe that she flavors with both chocolate and coffee. She says that her recipe is “an evolving thing, especially with the chocolate, “I add some, taste, repeat until it’s at the level I like.”


Yield: 6 servings.A bowl of Chocolate/Coffee Chili

1 pound ground beef (I prefer 85/15)

1 medium orange bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 (15.5-ounce) can Brooks Chili beans (I prefer mild)

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 cup brewed black coffee

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate (chips or chopped)

Put beef in a heavy saucepan or Dutch Oven and cook, stirring often, until the meal loses its red color. Add the onion and bell pepper. Sauté, stirring often, until the beef almost starts to brown and onions are translucent. Add beans, tomatoes, coffee, salt, chili powder, garlic, and cinnamon. Continue to sauté, stirring often, until mixture starts to bubble. Turn heat down to low, stir in chocolate and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and correct seasoning before serving.

To buy Deborah’s books through her publishers: click HERE for St. Louis Coffee: A Stimulating History, and HERE for Delectable Destinations, A Chocolate Lover’s Guide to Missouri.

For more information about A Culinary History of Missouri: Foodways & Iconic Dishes of the Show-Me State, click HERE.

To see Sweet Leisure’s recommendations for the best places in the world to drink coffee, click HERE.


A collage for the St. Louis arch, a cup of coffee and fall leaves.


D’Arcy’s Pint, Springfield, IL, Horseshoe

A hamburger pony served at D'Arcy's PintThe horseshoe, an open-faced sandwich of thick toast topped with hamburger or ham heaped with French fries and drenched in cheese sauce, was born in Springfield, Illinois, in 1928. Through the years, the sandwich evolved—but not much. Although the enormous horseshoe produced a half-size offspring called a “pony,” and cooks added variations to base ingredients, today the crave-worthy construction remains the same and the sandwich is still a stay-at-home specialty not sprinting far from city limits.

Many Springfield restaurants serves shoes, but judging by popularity, D’Arcy’s Pint is the place to find the best of the best.

View of D'Arcy's Pint from outside front door.

Outside D’Arcy’s Pint


Collage showing inside of D'Arcy's Pint

Inside D’Arcy’s Pint

Hallie Pierceall opened D’Arcy’s Pint in 1998 and moved to today’s location at 661 Stanford Avenue in 2005. She runs the congenial Irish-style pub with the help of her brother T. J. Pierceall.

Portrait of Hallie Pierceall on the patio of D'Arcy's Pint.

Hallie Pierceall


T. J. Pierceall behind the bar at D'Arcy's Pint

T.J. Pierceall

Their dad lives in nearby New Berlin and supplies the restaurant with fresh vegetables from his farm. Ninety percent of the extensive menu items are housemade and all are delicious. This winning combination of family, fresh and fabulous draws more that 1000 guests per day, with more than half of the crowd ordering a horse or pony shoe.

D’Arcy’s menu lists not only ham and hamburger for the sandwich base, but also corned beef, pot roast, Italian sausage, vegetables, Buffalo chicken…well the list goes on.

Shoes listed on D'Arcy's Pint menu.

D'Arcy's cheese sauce in a take-out container.

D’Arcy’s cheese sauce

And although D’Arcy’s shoes include thick portions of juicy succulent meat and crinkly crispy fries, it’s the creamy, rich, smooth-as-silk cheese sauce that sends D’Arcy’s sandwiches to unbridled heights.

Amy Beadle of the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau sent the recipe for the original Springfield Horseshoe Sandwich below.

Hallie says that D’Arcy’s cheese sauce differs from the Welsh Rarebit-like sauce in the original recipe. Her secret is to replace the Cheddar or Colby cheese with white American cheese, to adjust the seasonings for a more mellow taste and to leave out the beer. D’Arcy’s sells cheese sauce to go, but only in store.

Whether indulging in a horseshoe at D’Arcy’s Pint, or springing to the kitchen to make your own, Amy offers two tips for enjoying this Springfield specialty: Save up your appetite and wear very stretchy/comfy pants.


A hamburger pony served at D'Arcy's Pint(Recipe supplied by the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau.)

Yield: One horseshoe; 4 servings.

2 egg yolks

½ cup beer

2 tablespoons butter

3 cups grated sharp Old English Cheddar or Colby Longhorn cheese

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

¼ teaspoon dry mustard

½ teaspoon salt

1 dash cayenne pepper

2 thick slices Texas toast

Just grilled hamburger patties or ham steak

A heap of hot French fries

To make the cheese sauce: beat the egg yolks with beer and set aside. Put butter and cheese in the top of a double boiler over boiling water, and heat, stirring in one direction with a wooden spoon to melt cheese. Stir in the seasonings. Stirring constantly, add the yolks and beer a little at time. Keep the mixture piping hot as you stir, but don’t let it bubble.

To make the sandwich. Put toast on a preheated platter. Top with meat and then the fries. Pour cheese sauce over everything. Serve while sandwich is hot.

For more information about D’Arcy’s Pint, click HERE.

For more information about the Horseshoe, click HERE.

And for more information about Springfield, Illinois, click HERE.



Ta-eem Grill, Hummus Fava Beans

Entrance to Ta-eem GrillLet’s see. Shawarma or falafel?  Kabobs or schnitzel? Humus or baba ganoush? Hard choice as Ta-eem Grill fills its menu with a seductive list of delicious Glatt Kosher Mediterranean fare.

Yoel and Sylvie Kraizberger, Israeli natives, opened Ta-eem in 2011, fashioning the restaurant after one they ran in Israel. Today, the Los Angeles restaurant has become a staple with the Jewish community and draws lovers of Israeli dishes from far beyond its Fairfax neighborhood.

The Kraizberger family (mom and dad, son and daughter) run the place, energetically greeting friends, filling orders and overseeing the grilling that take place at a station just inside the entrance.

Yoel and Sylvie Kraizberger inside Ta-eem

Yoel and Sylvie Kraizberger

Customers order and pay at a counter and then find a seat or just hover around if waiting for carryout.

The menu at Ta-eem

The restaurant sports a well-worn ambience. A smoky scent of grilled onions, garlic and seared meats greets one at the door. Personal photos line one wall. Scruffy wood tables with mismatched chairs provide seating for about 100. A few tables sit outdoors—on the Melrose sidewalk.

A collage of inside Ta-eem

Inside Ta-eem


Ta-eem has a few tables on the Melrose sidewalk.

Outside Ta-eem

Carryout or dine-in, people come for the food and it shines. Food writer Sylvio Martins claims Ta-eem’s falafel is one of the best in LA. (See “The Best Flafel In LA.”)  Food reviewer Brian Cox likes the Shawarma (See 6 Excellent Shawarma Spots in LA.”). I happen to crave the pargiot, a mound of marinated chicken thigh slivers grilled with onions and garlic.

Collage of Ta-eem's falafel on pita and Parrot plate with Israeli salad, rice and baba ganoush.

Ta-eem’s falafel on pita and parrot plate with Israeli salad, rice and baba ganoush.

Everyone loves picking and choosing favorites from the feast of side dishes that accompany most orders.

An assortment of side dishes that come with Ta-eem's entrees.

And Sylvie Kraizberger says that she favors the Hummus Fava Beans, a dish that she makes for the restaurant—like this:


Ta-eem's Hummus Fava Beans (Ful) with hardboiled egg garnish.

Yield: 2 to 4 servings.

1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans

4 to 5 garlic cloves, divided

2 tablespoon tahini

About 2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided


1 can (15 ounces) fava beans, rinsed

Olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 to 2 hard-boiled eggs, cut into wedges

Chopped parsley

Make hummus: Put garbanzo beans in a medium saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil over medium heat, gently boil beans for about 20 minutes. Drain beans, rinse in cold water and set aside until completely cooled.

Put cooled garbanzo beans, 2 or 3 minced garlic cloves, tahini, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and about 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor, blender or grinder. Process mixture, adding cold water as necessary to make a smooth, creamy paste. Correct seasoning, adding more lemon juice and/or salt as desired. Set hummus aside.

Cook fava beans: Put a thin coat of olive oil in a medium-size skillet. Set over medium heat. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and cook, stirring often, until garlic is fragrant, but not browned, about 1 minute. Add fava beans, 3 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, cumin and paprika. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are cooked through and flavorful, about 20 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning.

When ready to serve: Spoon hummus into the center of a large bowl. Make an indentation in center of hummus, spreading mixture in a circle covering bottom of bowl and extending a little up the sides. Add fava beans to indentation in center of hummus. Drizzle olive oil over top of all and sprinkle generously with parsley. Garnish with a hard-boiled egg.

Ta-eem Grill, Inc./7422 Melrose Ave/Los Angeles

For more information click HERE.

8 Perfect Places to Drink Coffee

To say I love coffee, understates. I adore, crave, treasure coffee. The only thing better than drinking a perfect cup of coffee, is drinking a perfect cup of coffee in an amazing setting.

Here are 8 sensational places where I find ultimate coffee-drinking joy.



This baronial mansion turned hotel in 1969 earned the praise of Queen Victoria who said, “I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot.”

The accolades keep flowing as Inverlochy continues to win top awards for both its hotel and restaurant. A day at Inverlochy that begins with wake-up, room-service coffee consumed in a luxuriously plush bed, and then, more coffee to accompany a full Scottish breakfast served in a lovely sunshine-filled dining room just could be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Click HERE for more about Inverlochy Castle Hotel and for the restaurant’s delectable shortbread recipe.

A plush bed at Inverlochy Castle Hotel  with coffee on a side table.

A full Scottish breakfast as served at Inverlochy Castle Hotel



Nothing beats traveling divinely, dreamingly, deliciously on a French hotel barge, especially on the Horizon II, a barge that floats with the grace of a swan, through the man-made canals of the Upper Loire. Everything about the Horizon II charms. I adored breakfast at the dining table, but lounging on the deck, sipping a cup of coffee while floating through the backyard waterways of France could just be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Click HERE for more about a Horizon II cruise.

The Horizon II Floats Through French backyard waterways.

Drinking coffee on the deck of the Horizon II



This luxury lodge near Victoria Falls in Zambia sports guest houses with only three walls. The fourth wall is open air where the bedroom and patio overlook the Zambezi River. Without telephones or alarm clocks, the lodge sends a valet with coffee, biscuits and a breakfast menu to rouse guests from sleep. Lounging on the patio as the sun rises, watching monkeys frolic in the trees and hippos bathe in the Zambezi River while drinking strong and fragrant morning coffee, could just be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Click HERE for more about Tongabezi Lodge and unique recipes for sweet potato jam and Zambian beans.

A valet brings wake-up coffee to enjoy on the deck of a room at Tongabezi Lodge




Café de Flore, named for the Roman goddess of flowers and fertility, opened sometime in the 1880s. Its rival, Les Deux Magot, named for “two stocky figurines from the Far East,” is equally historic. The cafes sit across from each other in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, in Paris’ 6tharrondissement. Through the years, both cafes collected a long roster of famous guests, including high-profile writers, philosophers, intellectuals, actors and celebrities. Sitting at one of these historic cafés, squeezed into a table facing the street, sipping un café and watching Paris walk by, could just be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Sitting at Cafe de Flores in Paris


Sitting at Les Deux Magot



Palms and ferns, bamboo, orchids and jasmine, plus a jungle worth of other lush vegetation surround the 43 stilted treehouses at Jamaica’s Sunset at the Palms resort. While walking paths yield a garden of earthly delights, lounging on the deck of a treehouse room, overlooking gorgeous greenery while listening to woodpeckers add drumbeats to songbird serenades, just could be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Click HERE for more about Sunset at the Palms resort and a terrific Jamaican chicken recipe.

Lush greens surround a treehouse at Sunset at the Palms


Drinking coffee on a deck of a Sunset at the Palms treehouse.



A rooster crows a wake-up call. I brew a cup of coffee in my rented stone cottage and take it out to a lounge chair placed in front of the pasture. The rising sun revels flawless blue sky. The brilliantly fresh and cool air wears the scent of drying dew on growing grass. Mooing cows and clucking free-range chickens play the soundtrack. Enjoying coffee in the incredibly peace of this working ranch/farm could just be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Click HERE for more information about Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch and a wonderful lamb stew recipe.

The front door of a cottage at Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch

Sitting in front of the pasture at Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch drinking coffee



I don’t want to make anybody jealous, so am going to list a few drawbacks to my room at Jade Mountain in Saint Lucia. The room at this luxurious mountain-top resort only has three walls. The infinity pool, where the fourth wall should be, doesn’t stretch forever into the Caribbean—it’s an illusion. The mountainous Pitons that dominate view never change; I waste a lot of time just staring at them. And although drinking butler-brought morning coffee at the ledge of the infinity pool overlooking the Caribbean and the awesome Pitons may be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience, the coffee eventually disappears from the cup before I am ready to move on. Just saying, nothing to arouse jealousy here.

 Click HERE for more information about Jade Mountain and for an extravagant chocolate ice cream sundae recipe.

Sitting at the ledge of the infinity pool at Jade Mountain overlooking the Caribbean



Untold glory awaits families and/or friends who rent a Forever Resorts houseboat and steer it through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada and Arizona. Swimming, fishing, cooking and just hanging out fill the days, but it’s the early morning that brings me supreme pleasure. While my companions sleep, I make a cup of coffee and wander away from the boat to find a secluded spot among the rock formations that line the shore. Alone with Mother Nature and her exotic desert creatures–lizards, burrowing owls, cacti, boulders–sipping strong and flavorful coffee while I wait for the family to wake could just be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Click HERE for more about the houseboating experience and for an outstanding egg strata recipe.

A collage of docked Forever houseboat and drinking coffee on a boulder.


Third Wheel Brewing and Brewmaster Abbey Spencer

Abbey Spencer holding a beer inside Third Wheel Brewing“I love the sensory,” says Abbey Spencer, “It’s my passion.” No doubt, Abbey’s dedicated attention to aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, appearance, and color accounts for the high-quality beer she produces for Third Wheel Brewing, a brew pub that opened in 2017 in St. Peters, MO.

Abbey became fascinated with beer after moving to St. Louis (from Chicago) in 2008 to be with her fiancé (now husband), Benn Overkamp. Abbey and Benn liked beer. And not just drinking it. Shortly after the move, the pair enrolled in a free beer school held at a local restaurant and started making beer at home from kits.

One thing led to another and Abbey produced so much home brew that she had to throw multiple parties for family and friend to consume the excess.

in her Pink Boots Her interests in beer became layered. She worked at a craft beer retail shop as well as at local beer bar. She co-founded The OG St. Louis Women’s Craft Beer Collective, a non-profit dedicated to “educating and involving St. Louis-area women in the craft beer movement.” She entered beer competitions—and won. She joined the Pink Boots Society, a non-profit which “assists, inspires, and encourages women beer (and other fermented-alcoholic-beverage) professionals through education.” Abbey and her beer obsession thrived. Her reputation grew.

In 2016, one of the attendees of Abbey’s home-brew parties, and a former owner of a brewpub frequented by Abbey and Benn, asked her to brew beer for a brewery that he was opening with a handful of partners. Reluctant at first, Abbey eventually accepted, becoming not only the brewmaster of Third Wheel Brewing, but also one of the partners.

Collage showing inside and out of Third Wheel Brewing


Timeline on chalk board showing when Abbey joined Third Wheel Brewing

At Third Wheel Brewing, Abbey produces, she says, “unique takes on classic styles and classic takes on unique styles.”

Brewing tanks at Third Wheel Brewing

The tap menu rocks with year-round staples, seasonal specialties, and special releases. From pilsners to “crazy big” stouts, there is a style of beer to please every customer. In addition to beer on tap, Third Wheel Brewing bottles and cans beer—and is branching out to sell in additional markets.

Collage of different types beer at Third Wheel Brewing


Beer, of course, takes central stage, but patrons can back up their brew with food from The Window, an independently owned kitchen inside the brewery.

A look into The Window kitchen  at Third Wheel Brewing

The Window’s menu includes many dishes designed to match beer and/or even contain beer, with specialties such as The Boozy Brownie, made with Abbey’s Goomah milk stout, a top seller. (Recipe follows.)

Third Wheel Brewing not only weathered the covid years, but also thrived, continuing to offer stunning beer, good food and a range of beer-centric games, educational programming, and musical events. And Abbey continues to blossom, not only producing outstanding new products, but also taking on new endeavors. She recently became an adjunct instructor in Saint Louis University’s Brewing Science and Operations program. True to form and passion, Abbey teaches about beer sensory evaluation.


The Goomah Brownie topped with Ice cream and chocolate sauce

(Recipe supplied by The Window at Third Wheel Brewing)

Yield: 6 brownies.

Shortening to grease baking pan

6 ounces dark chocolate chipsA can and a glass of Goomah Milk Stout

1/3 cup Goomah Stout (or any good chocolate or milk stout)

½ cup butter, melted

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

3 large eggs

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon hop salt (or sea salt)

Ice cream

Chocolate sauce

Grease an 8 X 8-inch baking pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F

Put chocolate and stout in a double boiler and heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate melts. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars together until well blended. Stir in eggs. Then stir in chocolate/stout mixture. Add flour, cocoa powder and salt and beat just until ingredients are combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Set in preheated 350°F oven and bake until top is slightly firm and batter no longer juggles when pan is lightly shaken, about 28 minutes.

Cool before serving.

Serve topped with ice cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce.

For more about Third Wheel Brewing, click HERE.

Floor mat from Third Wheel Brewing