Around Town, Sharp Knives, and Black Beans

One of the things that Dr. Fiance and I are always talking about is that despite the size of this city, how small it feels at times. We have only been here six months, but we’ve found that it is nearly impossible to go out to dinner, go shopping, or even go to the airport without running into someone we know. Just last night while having dinner at Basil Spice on Grand when someone started banging on the window next to us. In New York it would have been a crazy person, but here in St. Louis it was just a friend who happened to be walking by and spotted us in the window. Even better, he knew the people at the table next to us as well. Gotta love it.

You know what else I love? Sharp knives. I don’t think I’ve ever had my knives professionally sharpened until last Friday. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even really know that my steel wasn’t meant to sharpen my knives, only straighten out the edge. After considering my options (buying new knives, buying an electric knife sharpener, learning how to use a strop) I decided that it was simpler and cheaper to just have someone who knows what they are doing sharpen my existing knives for me. And Bertarelli Cutlery on the Hill got the job done for a mere four bucks per knife while I waited. I am going to chop the crap out of everything.

St. Louis Food Photographer Jonathan Gayman

As a side note, I carried my knives to and from Bertarelli’s in a knife case my sister gave me years ago. A guy in the elevator of my building noticed the case and yelled “Take your knives and GO!” then laughed hysterically. Apparently this is a Top Chef reference that I missed (since I don’t watch the show).

Friday night I earned a Night Owl card at Sanctuaria for being there between 1am and 3am. ’nuff said.

On Saturday Dr. Fiance and I had dinner with a couple of new friends at Banh Mi So #1 (also on Grand) and I finally got to scratch the banh mi itch I’ve had since I left New York. Banh mi is a result of the French colonization of Vietman and is a baguette sandwich filled with (among other things) pickled vegetables, pork, cilantro and pate. There was a joint in New York that I loved and have been looking for banh mi here in St. Louis. Banh Mi So #1 fit the bill, at least on that cold night. It was really delicious. Next time I’ll likely go for the double meat, but it sure was tasty.

On Sunday we spent the morning tailgating outside of our apartment (ha) and then watching Kansas City cream the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. I still love the fact that we can walk to the game and more importantly, walk home afterwards. Love it. After the game on Sunday night I attempted to cook some black beans. I’m not going to blame the beer I drank at the game entirely … The recipe I used was bland. Plus I boiled the beans too hard so they exploded and made an ugly mess. Hence no photographs of that little adventure. More testing is clearly needed. I love beans, but I want them to be pretty beans! I think a low simmer and a little more attention next time will fix that.

But it wasn’t a complete failure in the end. The next day (using some leftover egg whites from a cookie recipe) I made an very tasty black bean and cilantro omelette for breakfast which renewed my confidence in my beans. Again, ugly, but amazingly good. To quote the song “your looks are laughable … unphotographable … yet you’re my favorite work of art … ”

St. Louis Food Photographer Jonathan Gayman

As you can see by how much I left on my plate, my omelette was just terrible.


  • Alanna
    December 21, 2010 at 10:21 am

    I had exactly the same experience when I moved to St. Louis. I moved here on New Year’s Day, started work on Jan 2, that night had to pick up airline tickets at Lambert and ran into someone I’d met at work that day! On the Friday, I ran into someone else from work at Powell Hall!

    In eight YEARS in Dallas, I’d run into someone I knew exactly once.

    So glad you’re enjoying the city!

    • ShootToCook
      December 21, 2010 at 10:31 am

      Yep, it’s pretty funny how that works. It actually happens more here than when I lived in an even smaller city back in PA!


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