We'd Like Fries With That: The Fries Sandwich at the Vine

Categories: Unusual Eats

The "Fries Sandwich" at the Vine. | Patrick J. Hurley

The Drunken Vegan, a.k.a. Patrick J. Hurley, is a full-time barman at the Civil Life Brewing Company and cocktail enthusiast about town. He's an unapologetic drunkard, a vegan and a bon vivant, and, no, he doesn't think those last two terms contradict each other.

Ever since the 18th century, when an easy-to-eat bread-and-filling combination earned the name "sandwich" after John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich (who didn't want to leave the gambling table to take a meal), the sandwich has become the most popular form of lunchtime calorie absorption for busy Americans. And if you're really hungry, get something on the side, like french fries. And yet -- if only someone would take the french fries and actually put them on the sandwich. Crazy? Until you've had the "Fries Sandwich" at the Vine Mediterranean Cafe and Market (3171 South Grand Boulevard; 314-776-0991), you might think so.

See also: The Life, Death and Resurrection of the Craft Cocktail in St. Louis

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Beast Feast Benefits Cancer Research with Wild Game Dinner at Stone Hill Winery

Categories: Unusual Eats

       Fried catfish at last year's Beast Feast. | Stone Hill Winery

These days, it's all about eating local. For the 26th annual Beast Feast on December 13, Missourians go super local: The dinner is based around wild game donated by local hunters. Hosted by Stone Hill Winery (1110 Stone Hill Highway; 800-909-9463) in Hermann, the terroir-heavy fundraiser benefits the Gateway Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This year, they're hoping to raise $20,000 -- all with some barbecue pulled raccoon. (OK, and some other stuff too).

See also: Eat More Beaver: Missourians have a healthy appetite for wild game meat. Some say raccoon tastes better than roast beef

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Smoki O's "Snoot," the Other-Other White Meat You Should Definitely Eat

        There's a snootful for ya. | Zach Garrison

On the north side, at the corner of Mullanphy Street and Broadway, trails of smoke can be seen billowing out behind Smoki O's (1545 North Broadway; 314-621-8180) known as one of the best barbecue joints in the city. A family operation, Smoki O's has been pulling pork and slicing brisket since 1997, receiving many accolades along the way (including from the Travel Channel's Andrew Zimmern) and devoted fans along the way.

On the day we visited, the St. Louis Police Department put in a massive take-out order, which, understandably, garnered the immediate attention of the staff. And while scouring the menu, our eyes were drawn to the ribs, the pork, the chicken -- it all sounded delicious. But we were there for one reason and one reason only: the snoot. That's right, snoot, or pig snout. It's considered a fine delicacy when cooked properly, and lucky for us, Smoki O's nose (sorry, couldn't resist) a thing or two about snoot.

See also: Open Mouth, Insert Tongue: Why You Gotta Try the Tongue Sandwich at Kopperman's Deli

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Meet the Pawpaw: Missouri's Forgotten Fruit

       We compared the pawpaw to two pup's paws and found few similarities. | Mabel Suen

A couple weeks ago, Gut Check came into possession of some mystery produce: the pawpaw fruit. As soon as we learned some of its common nicknames, "a poor man's banana" and "American custard apple," we were intrigued. What is this? Where did it come from? What can we do with it?

Enter Andy Moore, who delivered the pawpaw to us directly from grower Jerry Lehman in Indiana. Moore stopped in St. Louis to conduct research for his book, Pawpaw: The Story of America's Forgotten Fruit, and he had plenty to impart about his adventures thus far.

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De Palm Tree Restaurant Slow-Cooks a Mean Oxtail Stew

Categories: Unusual Eats

        De Palm Tree's oxtail stew. | Pat Kohm

When St. Louisans think Jamaican cuisine, jerk chicken with a bottle of Red Stripe is probably what first comes to mind. Now, to be sure, there's nothing wrong with such a classic combo, but why not do some exploring?

At De Palm Tree (8631 Olive Boulevard, University City; 314-432-5171) University City's much-beloved authentic Jamaican restaurant, you can try out the codfish balls, curry goat or okra creole-style to gain a new appreciation for the island nation's variety of delicious dishes.

Then again, if you're brave enough, if you're strong enough, you'll order the oxtail stew.

See also:
Jamaica Jerked Chicken at De Palm Tree and Marley
- Red Stripe, De Palm Tree

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Try This Now: Lamb Liver at the Kabob House

       The Lamb Liver. | Pat Kohm

When scanning a menu, it's easy to gravitate toward the familiar, the go-to. Far too often, though, that means missing out on a specialty dish or ethnic delicacy. In this series Gut Check tracks down St. Louis' more unusual culinary offerings in hopes of expanding our collective food knowledge and answer the question: Should you really "Eat This?!"

While driving south a ways down Kingshighway, you'll pass a few neighborhoods taverns and a couple barbecue joints -- stellar south city staples each and every one -- but then, a bit unexpectedly, the Kabob House (4940 Christy Boulevard; 314-832-2977) appears and you'll pretty much have to stop, because you've just stumbled upon some excellent Middle Eastern cuisine. There's a strong chance you're thinking falafel, and with good reason: they're pretty amazing. But we decided it was time to try something new. Like lamb...lamb liver.

See also: Open Mouth, Insert Tongue: Why You Gotta Try the Tongue Sandwich at Kopperman's Deli

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