Thursday, September 8, 2011

Preparing to Go Abroad

Ever since 5th grade, being vegetarian was my thing. It was my fun fact, my dinner table conversation, and more importantly, what I ate. I was very happy exploring new restaurants and recipes while sticking to my comfort zone of fish, seafood, tofu, sushi, and delicious Mediterranean food. But, in the spirit of starting a new adventure abroad, I decided to embark on my own eating adventure before I even left the country: I would eat meat. Now, after being veg for 10 years, one cannot just decide to go out and order a steak, unless of course you want to spend the next three days sick at home (being sick IS the best diet). So, like any sane person, I started my adventures in meat slowly; and like any foodie, they involved delicious stops along the way.

I began simply with a little turkey, bland, then worked up to grilling chicken breasts with rosemary and garlic. Chicken was getting a little boring so I thought it was time to go big or go home and that was definitely the philosophy at Sweetie Pie's at the Mangrove in St. Louis. This famous fried chicken ands soul food joint, as seen on the Food Network's "Triple D" and the Travel Channel, was not a disappointment. I gorged myself on huge servings of perfectly tender yet crispy fried chicken, rich creamy mac and cheese, and boiled cabbage. The fact that they were filming a reality show for the new Oprah Winfrey Network while we ate there, just added to my delight.
Sweetie Pies at the Mangrove on Urbanspoon

Once I'd conquered my giant plate of fried chicken and soul food, it was time to move on to red meat. I made a great 7 layer greek dip from a recipe I found on the How Sweet Eats blog, one of my favorite, and made skewers to accompany the dish. The skewers were mainly different colored peppers and onions with a little steak then smothered in the dip; they were great! Next, I went to Arthur Bryant's famous BBQ institution in Kansas City, Mo. There I feasted on BBQ turkey as well as succulent, juicy ribs. Then it was time for the true challenge/euphoria: the burger! I knew my first burger experience needed to be great or I'd never want one again so I went to Annie Gunn's in Chesterfield, Mo. The whole restaurant really emphasizes local, fresh, and natural ingredients (the waitress went so far as to tell us the chickens for the wings were defeathered on site). So I ordered a big juicy burger made of their special blend of beef, with local cheddar cheese, homemade ketchup, and a brioche bun. NOW I know what I've been missing for the past 10 years! The burger was so good!

Arthur Bryant's Barbeque on Urbanspoon
Arthur Bryan't (left) and Annie Gunn's (right)
Annie Gunn's on Urbanspoon

I considered the burger the commencement of Eating Meat 101 however my work outside of class continues. In the week since that proud day (my mother and grandmother both bragged to their friends about my new meat eating) I have ordered meat several times in a few restaurants and I think I'm going to have veal picatta tonight. The best dish I've had so far, besides the first burger, would probably be the chicken potstickers at Nooshi in DC. I'm off to continue preparing in more practical ways for studying abroad next week.

Happy eating!


  1. I'm in STL also, so I'd recommend Firefly Grill in Effingham, IL as THE BEST place to try organic, tasty, eco-friendly, locally raised Beef... EVERYTHING on thier menu is TO DIE FOR! My husband and I even make trip East from STL just to have an excuse to eat there :) and when you get there, let your server know about your blog and venture into the world of meat eating, as they will gladly tell you all you need/want to know about all their menu items, and they might even hook you up with some special things made by Chef Niall himself!

    1. Oh, and for eating GOOD meat inside STL, NICHE :) their Monday nights special is "comfort food" where each week they specially prepare two dishes with a foodie take on down home comfort foods, with salats/appetiser choice, and a dessert too! We go quite often to these, and it is always fresh, tasty, and organically wonderful! I have some special diet req.s, but Firefly, Niche & Annie Gunns always look out and help me with them...

      Happy eating! :)