Barrel Aged Knickerbocker Gin Launch! Distillers Take Over @ The Gin Room August 2014

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I say that I’ve always been a Gin girl, but perhaps that isn’t fully true. Never really was a big drinker, but I always had my default drink. A chilled extra dirty martini with olives please! Little did I know that my favorite beverage could get better, until I met my match; a dirty GIN martini!!!! Although I got over the strange look that bartender gave me when I interrogated him about what he did different to make the most delicious martini I had ever had. (Thus far at least) He looked down at me with a puzzled look and said, “Vermouth, olive juice and Gin” My world had been thoroughly rocked. I was officially a Gin Girl.

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But it wasn’t until I met the beautiful blue Knickerbocker bottle that I realized that my love of Gin went much further. Overall less dry than most London Dry Gins, Knickerbocker has a well balanced array of botanicals that satisfy your cravings and keep you wanting more. Citrus without overwhelming, bright juniper and light floral nose all come together in what I find to be quite a knock out product from Michigan’s New Holland Brewing. This Gin, Knickerbocker, was and always will be my “Gateway Gin!” My love of Gin and the expansion into The Gin Room can all be linked back to one little bottle of Knickerbocker….

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New Holland Brewing Barrel Aged Knickerbocker Gin Launch Party

Tuesday August 5th 6:30 to 8:30

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Barreled Rebellion : Barrel Aged Knickerbocker with Clock Work Orange!

Clockwork Orange Barrel Aged Knickerbocker

The Stash

New Holland Booze

 Distillers Take Over Events! Only @ The Gin Room!

Distillers Take Over rev 2

Celebrating 30 Years of Yum

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Since its roots were born in downtown Saint Louis in 1983 as “The Little Kitchen” a small Mom and Pop establishment on the ground level of the Paul Brown Building, the cafeteria-like restaurant laid the foundation for present day Cafe Natasha’s from Delmar to South Grand. Hamishe and Behshid Bahrami churned out favorites with only a small convection oven and a stove top burner, serving made-from-scratch dishes to satisfy the cravings of Saint Louisans then and for the last 30 years.

Little Kitchen Pictures 1Paul Brown Building (2)

It is because of your love, support and appetite we have made it to this milestone. This year marks a very special occasion where we celebrate life, success and the future of our relationship with the Saint Louis foodie community.

To thank you for all your years of consistent love and support, Cafe Natasha’s  held a 30th Anniversary Feast on August 15th,  a true celebration of the amazing family, friends and food!

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Link to 30th Anniversary Photos

On that evening August 15th, Mayor Francis G. Slay along with Alderman Steve Conway awarded a Proclamation to Cafe Natasha’s for 30 years of business and commitment to the Saint Louis community officially honoring it as Cafe Natasha’s day.

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The Exclusive festive evening at Cafe Natasha’s showcased a newly renovated dining room, bar area and the Garden at Natasha’s for an abundance of food, drink and entertainment from live Persian music to belly dancing.

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“The best thing about having our restaurant? The amazing people we’ve met and the friends we’ve made…There is no place I’d rather be than Saint Louis. The people of this town have embraced us, loved us and it is our pleasure to feed them. We couldn’t do this anywhere else.”  ~ Hamishe

All our love,

Hamishe, Behshid and Natasha~

Before and After: Cafe Natasha’s Renovations

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As we papered up our windows the last day of June, we were overwhelmed by excitement and nerves. Closing for only 10 days to do the biggest renovation since we opened our 3rd location on South Grand 12 years ago, our 30th anniversary changes would be a drastic, much needed makeover.Cafe Natasha's Crew

Motivated by our color scheme and simple layout of our second location on Delmar designed by Saint Louis Artist John Pils, our goal was to replicate the simple layout and classic pastels that brightened the small dining room on Delmar.

Cafe Natasha Delmar   Cafe Natasha Delmar

A lighter brighter Natasha’s was underway as we tore out the carpets, walls, bar, lights, bathroom and ceilings. Check out the tear out and tiles that transformed our north dining room into a more casual and spacious bar area.

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We were most excited about our new bar design by our interior designer Vicki Dreste, transforming our current display into a bold and bright showcase.

Cafe Natasha's Bar Before Renovations02 During Construct4

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The before and after tin ceilings redone:

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Cafe Natasha's Tin Ceilings After Renovation

Cafe Natasha’s re-opened Thursday July 11th with a fresh new face. Check out the renovations soon!

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Newly Renovated Cafe Natasha IMAG1927 IMAG1928

Reminder! Cafe Natasha’s 30th Anniversary Feast is Thursday August 15th! Contact Natasha @ CafeNatasha30@gmail.com to receive your invite.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The best grilled meats in town
  • The biggest feast of fresh local lamb! Braised, smoked, pulled, stewed, sauteed and grilled in every preparation you can imagine
  • Cold smoked meats and fish, freshly smoked and carved to order
  • Falafel Bar
  • Vegetarian and Vegan specialties
  • Delicacies from the “Little Kitchen” menu; Yes, the famous baked fish and quiche will be served!
  • Chef’s specialties; off menu specialty items
  • Live Persian Band and plenty of dancing!
  • Belly Dancing shows
  • Bubbly and Hamishe’s Signature Sangria
  • Our favorite wine reps providing wine samples and tasting notes through the night
  • Ceremony and Thank You words to all in attendance

Don’t miss our 30th Anniversary Feast. Cafe Natasha’s family won’t stand for your absence and neither will our food. It is going to be amazing, so RSVP on EventBrite before they sell out as you know we have limited space!

Cheers,

Natasha and the Cafe Natasha Team

A Fresh New Face

Our first blog post in 2013 and we have lots of fresh new changes to boast!

Many of you have noticed our new facade changes in the last month, just the beginning of the many interior and exterior changes we will be implementing for our 30th Anniversary celebration 2013! Cafe Natasha’s was established in 1983 as a small mom-and-pop cafeteria called “The Little Kitchen” located in downtown St. Louis in the Paula Brown Building. 30 years and 3 restaurants later, Cafe Natasha is re-igniting the flames to bring you are biggest, tastiest year yet!

We are most excited to present our new awnings! These sleek black awning bear our stamp and our new color palate that will be complimenting our coming interior renovations, marking a new, more modern Cafe Natasha’s.

Awning

The talented Autumn Wiggins and her husband designed and built our new wooden signs posted above the awnings in our new colors. Autumn is the owner of Upcycle Exchange a fellow Grand South Grand business is locate next door to Cafe Natasha and specializes in post-consumer art and craft supplies at pay-as-you-wish pricing. Make sure you stop by Upcycle Exchange on your next visit!

New Sign

More esthetic changes to come in our 30th Anniversary year but one thing we promise will not change.
“We Will Not Offer Anything, Unless it is Wonderful!”

Happy New Year!

Valentines Day Bliss February 14th -16th Live Music & Truffles from Kakao Chocolates

Join us Valentines Day weekend for Live Music and Truffles from Kakao Chocolate!

We have joined with our friends at Kakao Chocolate to bring you an extra sweet Valentines day weekend. Dine with us February 14th, 15th or 16th and receive a voucher for a 4 piece assortment of fine Artisan Truffles from Kakao Chocolate with any purchase of $50 or more.

Live Music from St. Louis’s own Ro Anderson begins at 7pm Thursday February 14th and Friday February 15th.

Let us treat you!

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Double Bonus from Cafe Natasha @ Kakao Chocolate this February!

Receive a bottle of wine from Cafe Natasha’s with any purchase $35 and above at Kakao Chocolate.

Dine-in only. Not redeemable February 14th-16th. Voucher is good through March 31th 2013

For Love Of Chickpeas: The Falafel Champions

This year’s falafel eating competition has come and gone crowning a new champion and a new record. Props go to our neighbor Jared at TRX Tattoos & Piercing for becoming the 2012 Falafel eating champion after beating last years record by consuming 22 Falafels in 6 mins! Last year’s winner, who devoured over a dozen falafels for the original title, returned and tied for second place!

With live Persian music flowing and our favorite wine reps freely pouring wine through out the night, the Festival was a big hit. Overall guests devoured patrons of South Grand devoured 36 LBS of falafel 40 LBS of Hummus and 20 LBS of Eggplant at the Hummus Bar Fest.

How much goes into the preparation of the hummus bar you ask? Mounds and mounds of chickpeas ground, pureed and sauteed into hummus, falafel and our smoked pomegranate eggplant. Who knew the oddly shaped garbanzo bean could be so versatile. Cafe Natasha only began serving falafel and hummus at the South Grand location originally named Kabob International to allow for influences from other ethic cuisine.

With all your favorite Gluten-Free, Vegan and Vegetarian items available for $10 all-you-can -eat each and every Tuesday no need to wait for the next festival!
FKA~

Perfectly Shanked

Simple Instructions for Braising

It’s finally fall and your senses are all about the changing seasons. Something about the ginormous pumpkins and colorful squash lining the produce stands at every local market or the aroma of warm savory spices floating from the kitchen of the corner café that has got you craving; an oddly insatiable craving for lamb.

 

So stricken, you even passed on your favorite Sirloin Shish Kabobs last weekend at the Persian place down the street and instead opted for the braised Lamb Shank! So tender and flavorful, your craving for lamb grows stronger and BAM! You find yourself with 3lbs of fresh lamb the local butcher had on sale this week.

 

And sure enough, I receive the frantic phone call “Help Please! How do I cook lamb?”

For all those who have ever found themselves in the same predicament, we would like to impart some valuable know how. Cooking lamb is an art. And because American, New Zealand, and Australian lamb is more gamy than Middle Eastern lamb, specific preparation will produce a superior outcome.

Ingredients:
Depending on the amount of meat:
½ to 1 cup of water
1 to 2 large onions quartered
2 to 4 Bay leaves
2 to 4 clove garlic
1 tsp Cinnamon,
1 tsp turmeric,
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tbsp curry paste

Preparation:

Select a heavy soup pot, Dutch oven, or larger saucepan
 Rinse and dry lamb shoulder or lamb shank
Sprinkle the meat with seasoned salt, pepper,
Dash cinnamon, turmeric, cumin powder, curry paste
Cover the pot and cook over medium heat for ½ to 1 hour until steam forms and sustains, and the meat changes color.

Tips for stovetop cooking:

Cover the meat with cold water and bring it to a boil. Then reduce heat to simmer until all the meat is falling off the bone.

Tips for crock-pot cooking:

Put meat into the crock-pot and cover completely with water. Add any combination of tomato, paste, sauce, and dried fruit you like for taste.

The essential element of this method is to reduce the gamy character of the lamb. Furthermore, when the meat has finished cooking, separate the meat from the broth. Skin the fat and add seasoning to taste. Put the cleaned and seasoned meat back into the broth until ready to be served.

Natasha~ FKA

The Sky is the Limit at the 2nd Annual Falafel Eating Competition and Hummus Bar Anniversary

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It’s that time of year again! Tuesday August 28th will be the celebration of the 2nd anniversary of the Unlimited Hummus Bar Happy Hour and annual falafel eating competition.


UNLIMITED hummus bar ALL NIGHT LONG: Hummus, Falafel and a buffet of vegetarian and vegan items are only a glimpse of all the goodies that will be offered during the anniversary celebration. $10 dollars, all you can eat from 4pm to close!

FREE WINE TASTING: Wine will be poured freely during a specialty wine tasting exhibiting our extensive Spanish and South American wines. All wines will be deeply discounted for your drinking pleasure.

FALAFEL EATING COMPETITION: The second annual falafel eating competition will take place between 6:30 and 7:00 and all are encouraged to join! Last year’s champion will be taking on the competition to defend his title! What’s your falafel limit? Ten? Fifteen? Could you devour Twenty-Five? Check out the video from last years competition on South Grand’s Facebook page.

Hookah Garden: Hookah hot and ready for your enjoyment! Double Apple, Mint, Lemon, Strawberry and Mixed Berry flavors available. First timers and experts welcome!

Cafe Natasha’s Falafel-Eating Contest: Gut Check Investigates

By Ashley Atkins Thu., Sep. 22 2011 at 2:02 PM

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Cafe Natasha’s Kabob International (3200 South Grand Boulevard; 314-771-3411) recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of its $10 all-you-can-eat hummus bar the only way it knew how: a falafel-eating contest.

“We decided to do the falafel-eating contest because it is the most popular part of our hummus bar,” Bahrami says. Plus, hummus would just be too messy.

The eating contest was set for 7:30 p.m. First prize was dinner for two at the restaurant (which, hopefully, need not be redeemed that day), along with a plaque of recognition. Says Bahrami, “I think that [the plaque] is better than the actual dinner prize, because it gives you the bragging rights… that you are the falafel eating champion.”

Maurice Muia told Gut Check he’d come to the restaurant to eat — “and it just turned into a three-hour event” when he found himself signing on to participate in the contest. “I think I can win it,” he predicted confidently. “I am in it to win.”

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Lee Harris

​ When the participants slowly made their way to the gluttonous stage, your humble Gut Check correspondent was among them. Considering we had spent the last three hours chowing down on the hummus bar, we were not physically or mentally prepared for more consumption of any kind. But what could we do? We dedicated our services in the name of journalism.

As we waited, we contestants discussed strategy. Fear Factor was a frequent point of reference, which should give some indication of the state of nervous trepidation. As for Gut Check, we had only one strategy, and that was not to blow chunks.

When the clock started, the crowd of friends and family got rowdy. We had three minutes to put on a show.

All four male contestants started slamming their balls into cups of water. Did we somehow miss the memo about how to properly digest a falafel ball? We came to a realization as we started chewing our first one and noticed that it started to expand in our throat. It literally had no give. We nearly choked. Is this what it’s like to scarf down cow brains in a couple of seconds? Of course not, but it still managed to work up a little adrenaline.

We thought, after the first ball: “Some tahini sauce’ll soften things up!” We were wrong.

When the ending time was called, we were still chewing our third ball. Not too impressive.

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Lee Harris
Your Gut Check correspondent, in action!

​ In those same three minutes, the first-prize winner had managed to consume at least a dozen falafel croquettes, and he took his picture with his plaque. But our hosts announced there would be a 30-second run-off for second place. Two gentleman had come too close to declare one better than the other.

Unfortunately, the second contest was also too close to call. Impressed by their dedication, Bahrami decided to award the runner-up prize to both of them. So our new friend from earlier, Maurice Muia, wasn’t exactly “in it to win it,” as he predicted — but he did get one of the runner-up certificates.

Bahrami’s convinced that falafel is a universal treat, even for the non-gluttonous. “It is almost like a hotdog in Middle Eastern cuisine,” she says. “Once they are introduced to it, it becomes a favorite.”

If you’re not into falafel, she suggests that Cafe Natasha’s sirloin beef shish kabob with its secret marinade might be worth a try.

“It has been 28 years now that we have been in business, and we have been using it all those years, and it is the one thing that no matter what cannot be found anywhere else,” Bahrami says. “I have heard people say, ‘I have dreamed about it,’ I have had people say, ‘You must put crack in this.'”

Sounds delightful. Just don’t expect us to gobble it down in a race against the clock. We learned our lesson with the falafel.

Riverfront Times Gut Check September 2011

How to Make: Vegan Stuffed Pepper and Tomato

Vegan Stuffed Pepper and Tomato (Cafe Natasha)

First Posted: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 12:00 am  STL Today.com

Feast

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

1 cup TVP (texturized vegetable protein; see note)

1 cup boiling water

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon pressed or crushed fresh garlic

1 cup tomato paste, divided

1/4 teaspoon dried mint leaves

1/4 teaspoon dried savory leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup yellow split peas, cooked and drained (see note)

1/2 cup cooked basmati rice (see note)

2 medium green bell peppers (about 3 inches in diameter)

2 medium tomatoes (about 3 inches in diameter)

1 small onion, peeled and diced fine

5 to 6 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced fine

1 teaspoon advieh Persian spice blend (see note)

1. Place TVP in a medium bowl. Pour boiling water over TVP and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Combine vegetable oil and olive oil. Heat 6 tablespoons of the oil mixture in an 8-inch or 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, reduce the heat to low and stir for 3 to 4 minutes, until garlic is fragrant and soft.

3. Stir the TVP into the skillet, and mix well with a spatula, breaking up the TVP until the texture is fine.

4. Increase the heat to medium. Add 1/2 cup tomato paste, mint, savory, salt and pepper. Cook until tomato paste is incorporated, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Add cooked yellow split peas and turn mixture with a wooden spoon. Carefully stir in cooked rice with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees if using a clear glass pan).

6. Slice off and reserve green pepper tops. Remove the seeds and the membranes. Slice off and reserve tops of medium tomatoes. Seed and core medium tomatoes. Hollow out those tomatoes. Reserve tomato pieces, but not the seeds and juice.

7. Stuff tomatoes and peppers with rice mixture. Replace the top on each vegetable. Place in a 3-quart casserole with a lid. Cover; bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. The tomatoes may be done first; if so, remove from the casserole dish and return the peppers to the oven.

8. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 3-quart pan. Add onion; cook for 5 to 8 minutes over medium-low heat, until the onions turn translucent. Add diced plum tomatoes and tomato pieces from the medium tomatoes. Cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

9. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup tomato paste. Stir in advieh. Cook until the sauce is thick and dark red, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat.

10. For each serving, place a stuffed pepper and/or tomato on a plate; top with sauce. Pool additional sauce on the plate. Serve immediately.

Per serving (based on 2): 975 calories; 56g fat; 8g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 40g protein; 85g carbohydrate; 25g sugar; 23g fiber; 1,335mg sodium; 250mg calcium.

Notes:

• TVP is available at Whole Foods Market and from Bob’s Red Mill.

• Any long-grain rice may be substituted for basmati rice. Yellow split peas and basmati rice are available at Jay International Foods, 3172 South Grand Boulevard, St. Louis; and at Global Foods Market, 421 North Kirkwood Road in Kirkwood.

• To make your own advieh spice blend, stir together equal parts ground cinnamon, ground cardamom, ground cumin and ground dried rose petals (optional). Store in an airtight container.

Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/food-and-cooking/recipes/vegan-stuffed-pepper-and-tomato-cafe-natasha/article_9ec87cd9-89df-54d9-b8cc-68b4bcee2a4e.html#ixzz20oIPDqHu

Local Bee Keeper Inspires Our New Honey Bourbon Cocktail

While developing our summer cocktail list our goal was to use local seasonal ingredients in our muddles, smashes and infusions and supplementing flavors with ingredients grown in our own garden.

However our latest crafted inspiration came from a small bottle of honey locally produced in Maplewood. Interestingly enough I was introduced to the sweet syrup during a Sauce Magazine photo shoot with photographer Greg Rannells. The feature by Ligaya Figueras pondered the age-old question of how to culminate a great life through food as we aptly bonded over a pot of Moroccan mint tea that Rannells generously hand-picked and brewed fresh from his garden.

What I learned was that above and beyond his talents as a photographer, Rannells was also a professional bee keeper; proudly showing off the voluptuous queen bee he had recently acquired. I must have made a good impression because I was sent home skipping with my very own golden bottle of homemade honey!

Inspired by my first batch of homemade bee nectar, our new summer drink was born. Composed of concentrated honey syrup, fresh lemon and good old fashioned bourbon, “Honey I’m Home” infuses every sip with rich honey flavor.

Honey I’m Home Cocktail: Serves 2

4oz Your Favorite Bourbon                                                                                       2oz Local Woodside Urban Honey Syrup (Boil 2 parts honey to 1 part water)                                                                                                                                  ½ oz Fresh Lemon Juice                                                                                             Garnish with a cherry and serve chilled on the rocks. Enjoy!

Purus Rose and Honey I’m Home Cocktails

Our Purus Rose cocktail blends organic wheat vodka with rose water and fresh squeezed lemon juice. However this champagne laden cocktail is dusted and topped with a perfumed rose petal from our own garden adding a fresh aroma to the already fragrant beverage.