by Nancy Stiles
There are festivals abound this weekend -- it is Labor Day, after all! Take advantage of the end of summer and your day off and spend it outside. Or, just use the halfway point between Mardi Gras as an excuse to eat Cajun food. Read on for our food-themed recommendations.
See also: Food of the Festival of Nations
Friday (Aug. 30):
St. Nicholas Greek Festival @ St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church "In what may be the best news of the summer, the festival is expanding this year to bring Friday night into the Labor Day weekend festivities, giving you not three, but four chances to enjoy the party. At 5 p.m. on Friday, August 30, head to St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church (4967 Forest Park Avenue; 314-361-6924), for four outdoor hours of eats (a select menu of delish dishes is available), drinks and live music. Then, with your appetite whetted, come back from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday (August 31 through September 2) for the full festival fun. Be sure to bring an empty belly -- there's not a bad item on the menu, but pastitsio, a ground-beef casserole priced at $8 a hefty serving, is always extra-yummy." Admission is free. Friday, August 30 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, August 31 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday, September 1 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Monday, September 2 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Visit www.sngoc.org for parking and other information.
Po' Boy Festival @ Broadway Oyster Bar It's time for the annual Po' Boy Festival, featuring twelve different po' boys to choose from, topped with stuff like smoked duck, fried alligator, oysters, crab and pulled pork. The "po' boy of all po' boys" is, apparently, "The Thanksgiving": sausage stuffing, fresh roasted turkey, gravy, homemade cranberry sauce and pepper mayo. There will also be live music from Phil Colombatto, Rhythm Section Road Show, All Roostered Up and Bottom's Up Blues Gang. Admission is free. Friday, August 30 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday, August 31 from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Saturday (Aug. 31):
Saturday market @ North City Farmers' Market "The North City Farmers' Market is, without a doubt, the little engine that could, operated by the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, whose overarching goal is to bring vivacity and excitement (and fresh veggies!) to a neighborhood looking to make a comeback. We're guessing most St. Louisans have yet to visit Old North (unless making a stop at Crown Candy), so let us entice into making a trip in the near future." 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Midwest Wingfest @ St. Clair Square Mall "Labor Day weekend always holds plenty of promise as far as food fests are concerned. Plan ahead (note to self: stretchy pants) to enjoy an eating extravaganza or two soon! On Friday, August 30 from 5 to 11 p.m. and Saturday, August 31 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Midwest Wingfest returns to St. Clair Square Mall (Highway 64 and North Illinois Street; 618-632-7566) with twenty-five vendors slingin' thousands of wings all day long. Feast on hot, spicy and gourmet varieties and enter the wing eating contest if you dare." Admission is free. Friday, August 30 from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday, August 31 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Vino Van Gogh @ 3500 Winhaus "All those tortured artists throughout history were on to something: Drinking while creating is a really great idea. Vino van Gogh, a Chicago-based company that came to town in last year, offers painting classes at area restaurants and bars several times a month, providing canvases, paint and an assortment of brushes. Soon your fellow artisans will be slowly crafting masterpieces that, like most people, look better the more you drink. After some gentle encouragement from booze and an ebullient instructor who'd rather cut off her own ear than say something negative about your work, that big blank canvas -- to say nothing of your dearth of talent -- suddenly doesn't seem so insurmountable." This weekend you'll be painting poppies at 3500 Winehaus (3500 Watson Road; 314-353-9463). $38. Sign up here. Noon to 2:30 p.m.
Halfway to Pardi Gras @ Highway 61 Roadhouse In case you didn't know, August 31 is exactly halfway between Mardi Gras 2013 and Mardi Gras 2014. Highway 61 Roadhouse (34 South Old Orchard Avenue, Webster Groves; 314-968-0061) is having a New Orleans-inspired celebration, and unlike March, this party won't be freezing cold! Enjoy Cajun food, Abita beer from Louisiana, Roadhouse Hurricanes, live music from North of the Quarter and, of course, beads. Admission is free. 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Forks and Corks @ Chesterfield Amphitheater Enjoy samples of food and wine while chilling outdoors and listening to live music at the Chesterfield Amphitheater (16365 Lydia Hill Drive, Chesterfield). What could be better? Purchase tasting books at the event for $15 for six food tickets or six wine/beer tickets. Or both! Try food eats from Charlie Gitto's, Balaban's, Sarah's Cake Shop, Oceano Bistro and more. There will be live music from Woo Daddies, Irie Sun, Smokey Lonesome, Kim Massie and Groove Thang, plus fireworks at 10 p.m. Admission is free. 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Kulishana Cookbooks Fundraiser Dinner @ 2720 Cherokee Performing Arts Center Kulishana Cookbooks is a local nonprofit that is working to give back to communities in third world countries and raise global awareness through food. The cookbook features personal narratives, photos and recipes from women in Camboida, Haiti and Kenya, who are paid royalties. 25 percent of the gross margin also goes back to those communities. The fundraising dinner at 2720 Cherokee Performing Arts Center (2720 Cherokee Street; 314-875-0233) will feature samplers from the cookbook. 6 p.m. $15 at Brown Paper Tickets or $20 at the door. Visit the Facebook page for more information.
Sunday (Sept. 1)
Chinese Dumplings Class @ Kitchen Conservatory The Kitchen Conservatory's (8021 Clayton Road; 314-862-2665) Anne Cori will be teaching you to fill, form and cook Chinese dumpings and make homemade dumpling dough. You'll also enjoy steamed shrimp shu mai, lobster pot stickers, pork-filled won tons, vegetarian spring rolls and real crab rangoon plus dumpling dipping sauces: sweet chile, lime-soy caramel, black winegar-scallion, plum and cilantro-mustard. $55, 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Call 314-862-2665 to register or do it online.
Labor Day at the Winery @ Mount Pleasant Estates Celebrate the end of summer in a pretty classic way at Mount Pleasant Estates (5634 High Street, Augusta; 636-482-9463): day drinking and barbecue. Enjoy live music from the Well Hungarians on the patio from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and barbecue on the terrace. Choose between barbecued pork steaks or barbecued chicken to go with coleslaw, potato salad, and a homemade cookie or brownie. Admission is free, but barbecue is $13 for adults, $8 for kids 6-12 and free for kids under 5.