Farmhaus, a review

On Thursday night, after a week of wrangling middle schoolers on bicycles in increasingly hot temperatures, I mustered the will to hop back on the bike for a dinner date.  We were torn between Stellina Pasta Cafe (an old favorite) or Farmhaus (something new).  I’d read a couple of good reviews about Farmhaus, so it was on my list of places to try.

Matthew voted for Stellina, and I was too tired to care much one way or the other, so we biked there, only to find a thirty minute wait (not outrageous, but it was already 7:30pm and we were HUNGRY).  Fortunately, Farmhaus was only a few blocks away, so we decided to try our luck there.

We walked in the door and were immediately hit by the strong fishy smell (the seafood is the main component of their menu that is NOT local).  We exchanged a look.  Ultimately, they had a table and a menu with some nice vegetarian options, so we stayed.

We choose between three or four salads that all sounded fabulous, settling on the marinated vegetable salad (not sure that’s the exact name).

It arrived in a canning jar — fun! For ease of eating we dumped it out on the plate.  A flavorful and fresh start to our meal, the corn melted in my mouth, buttery and sweet, a nice compliment to the other veggies.

By this point, after the initial wall of odor and adjustment period,  our olfactory systems became desensitized to the fishy smell.

Next up, sweet potato nachos.  These were only so-so.  To be fair, we made some changes to this dish.  We ordered it without bacon and subbed goat cheese for the blue cheese because someone doesn’t like blue cheese.  They came with some kind of a house-made catsup.  Our homemade catsup beats Farmhaus’, no contest.

We discovered a new wine, a “sweet” shiraz (Jam Jar, S. Africa) that was basically a perfect red wine for us.  Not really “sweet” in our book, but definitely not dry — a perfect dinner accompaniment.

For our entree, we shared the vegetarian succotash, tomatillos, grilled okra, corn, and peppers, served over spoon bread.  Mmm, spoon bread — my first, but definitely not my last, encounter with this food.  We ate this and were very sad that we couldn’t lick up the last bits in the bowl 😦  In some cultures, that’s considered very polite.

I don’t have a dessert pic, but we ordered a peach and ricotta pastry.  The pastry was light and flaky, with a generous amount of fresh, local peaches, served hot out of the oven with peach sorbet on top to cool things off.

We chatted with our waiter about local biking options and headed home after a delicious dinner adventure, both glad we ended up at Farmhaus.

Shopping spree

In a complete reversal from my teenage years, I really dislike shopping, and it’s not just that I’m spending my own money now instead of my parents’.   I now prefer getting rid of stuff to acquiring more, but over the last several weeks, we’ve made some contributions to our local economy.

First came our Home Eco trip, which netted a new Kleen Kanteen (stainless steel water bottle), some new-to-us glass jars (from their resale section — love that they have this), a gardening tool, and these on-the-go silverware holders.A local St. Louis woman makes the Sew Good and Trendy Eco-Wrappers from either repurposed fabric scraps or hemp.  The wrapper includes an organic cloth napkin and spots for a knife, fork, and spoon (supply your own, those are not included).  I initially balked at the price, but when you consider that these are made locally with quality materials . . . . Eh, worth it.

Unwrapped

We replaced some of our non-stick cooking pans with these new-to-us pans from The Future Antique and picked up a hand blender there, too.

I just realized that all of these purchases were food-related.  No wonder I like them so much 😉

Clothing optional?

St. Louis boasts a multitude of outdoor entertainment in the summer, most of which is free.  We favor the Whitaker Music Festival at the Botanical Garden and The Muny free seats.

Last week, we ventured out to our first Muny show of the season, The Sound of Music.  The first few shows really didn’t appeal to me this year, and, though I wanted to see Cats, that week ended up being pretty busy and it just didn’t happen.

I insisted on biking, despite the fact that it made a late night even later.  The actual time difference between biking and driving there is pretty minimal for us, but I know the biking will leave me too keyed up to fall asleep immediately.  Ah well, we enjoyed the show, and riding home under a full moon was worth it.  It’s hard to properly enjoy the night sky from inside a car.

Anyhow, we scored some good tickets to Footloose tonight.  Actual tickets, not free seats!  The only problem?  101 degrees.  Actual temperature.  Add in heat index, and we’re looking at 110+.  Does The Muny have a policy against nudity?

Sausage on the side

Everything about the vegetable and sausage panini at Bixby’s in the Missouri History Museum sounded good to me.  Everything but the sausage, that is.  I would have ordered sans sausage, but my grandpa offered to eat the sausage.  I doubt they would have lowered the price of the sandwich if I omitted the sausage, which would have annoyed me, so this worked out well all around.


Reluctant dairy queen

Shortly after I stopped eating meat five-and-a-half years ago, I also eliminated almost all animal products from my diet.  I traded in cow’s milk for soy milk, and stopped buying eggs, cheese, and other dairy products.  To make this manageable, I never set a hard and fast, “Thou shalt not eat any animal products” rule, so if you offered me a nice homemade baked good, I enjoyed it, knowing full well that it had eggs in it.

I was a bit more stringent with the dairy, especially avoiding cheese and other fatty dairy products. My dairy avoidance was due, in part, to some anti-dairy explanation of milk as, “Filtered cow’s blood.”  Scientifically, that may be true, in a sense, but stating it as such shows some definite anti-milk bias.  Though if you want to talk about bias in the dairy industry, the pro-milk studies funded by dairy associations would be a better starting point.  I digress.  (I have other issues with/questions about milk, both on the environmental and health fronts, but I’ll save those for another day.)

Time passed, and my not-so-hard-and-fast rule turned into a less-hard-and-fast rule, and next thing you know, I’m writing posts like this one.  Since writing that post, we continue to purchase raw milk, though we switched to another local dairy, Greenwood Farms, because they sell certified raw milk, meaning they test their milk regularly and comply with stringent standards.  For all I know, Lavy Dairy’s milk MAY meet those same standards, but I do kind of like having the assurance.  Greenwood Farms milk does have a couple of downsides: 1) It costs more than 3 times (!) as much as the certified organic milk from Lavy Dairy and 2) Greenwood Farms uses standard plastic (read: non-reusable) milk jugs.  On the upside, they offer pick-ups at Tower Grove Farmers’ Market, which, compared to driving to Silex, MO, is almost as good as home delivery.

Although freezing milk, which we did with our large Lavy Dairy purchase, does not ruin it, it does change it a bit, and we prefer to avoid that with our premium-price product.  However, for two people who don’t actually drink milk, consuming a gallon of the stuff before it goes bad presents a bit of a challenge (it seems to stay good for about 10 days, which is similar to the point when pasteurized milk goes bad).  We plan to experiment with cheese making, but we don’t have the cultures and vegetable rennet.  In the meantime, we’ve been making yogurt and ice cream.

After several edible but imperfect yogurt attempts (flavor not quite right, too thin, strange consistency), I remembered that we had a yogurt maker growing up.  A quick call to my mom confirmed that said yogurt maker still existed, plus two others that my parents acquired at garage sales over the years, all sitting in the basement, quite neglected.  While I certainly was not about to go out and buy a yogurt maker, I happily adopted one of my parents’ trio.

I greeted the new appliance with some suspicion, since it just barely felt warm when I plugged it in to preheat it.  After about seven hours, I very skeptically opened one of the yogurt containers to find . . .  perfect yogurt!

What with the milk, homemade yogurt and ice cream, and local cheese purchases, I somehow find myself eating dairy (often a relatively small amount that wouldn’t count as an official “serving”) at least once a day, if not more.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.