I have been privileged to dine at some great restaurants.
Dinners at Le Bernardin before I even knew who chef Eric Ripert was. Same with Jean-Pierre. Dinner three nights running one magical week at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans in the era of chefs Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme. A buffet catered by Alice Waters. Dinner at the original Spago by Wolfgang Puck (ask me about him sometime…). Citronelle, Jean Claude, Le Bec Fin, Café Milano, Nobu, etc.
It is one of the few privileges of being a journalist – to dine with the rich and famous while you are neither.
This week I dined with journalists at a restaurant in St. Louis that is the equal of any of the elite. It was a meal that one jaded journalist said was the best of her life. I told her: if you can remember any one dish in six months, then indeed it was the best.
Where? Farmhaus, in St. Louis, where chef Kevin Willmann is at the helm. Born into a farm family, raised on the Gulf of Mexico, trained in kitchens all over and then came “home” to cook his own food, a passionate blend of local ingredients from Missouri, Illinois, the Mississippi River and the Gulf.
Willmann delivers. I had an amazing meal there with 20 journalists chosen for the National Press Foundation’s food and farm sustainability seminar. His restaurant is normally closed on Mondays but Chef Willmann made an exception to teach journalists about his special brand of locavore.
He created a menu to showcase the best of the season:
*Missouri caviar (from paddlefish) on a corn blini
*Charcuterie board with porchetta di testa, smoked hogs head, chicken liver mousse, cheese and assorted embellishments
*Summer veg salad with corn, pepper, tomato, goat cheese on a lettuce leaf.
*Snapper en papillote with chanterelle mushrooms, husk cherries and fennel
*Bacon-wrapped meatloaf with charred tomato reduction
*Peach cake with candied ginger streusel and blackberry sorbet
Did I mention the local wine and beer pairings? Without reservation I can recommend Farmhaus. If you’re in St. Louis, see a baseball game or walk the amazing botanical gardens. Then find an hour or two for Farmhaus, a foodie’s dream.
Watch the 5-minute video by NPF digital manager Reyna Levine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eu9a6rpGVOM
Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA. Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening