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It was glorious today here in St. Louis, and I was stuck inside all morning, far away from even a window. I needed–absolutely needed–to get outside, on a rare 70-degree February day, and shake off the winter that’s been just sucking out my soul for the past 3 months.

Perfect weather, then, for The Royale, home of my favorite beer garden in the city (second, maybe, to Square One Brewery and their patio in the fall).

The Royale

Photo Courtesy of Bill Streeter, via flickr.

With sun on our faces, he and I ordered the brand-spankin-new Schlafly Vanilla Milk Stout. It’s the type of beer that makes you understand why Guinness used to advertise itself as a health-drink: rich, almost thick, tonic-like mouth feel.

With the sun on my (scandalously bare) shins, I ordered my usual: the Garlic Dippy Melt, and the sole reason I’m even bothering to post tonight. Let me tell you: if you haven’t eaten this, get thyself to The Royale. I’m not usually a one-item-orderer, unless that item is sliced roast beef slathered with garlic mayo, topped with melted cheese and served with a side of au jus. Then, I’m that girl that wants to stuff it in her face asap.

The beef was a little thick (remind me sometime to tell you how much I really don’t like an unbalanced meat-to-bread ratio on my sandwiches), but the lunch, the weather, the beer, the boy, were pretty much perfect.

And that, my friends, is my garlic dippy melt lunch. Go get it, St. Louis. Tell them Kathleen sent you.

Let’s pretend that I never left.

It’s winter, and I’m in my annual “try not to stuff my face” mode. Every January and February, the fear of bikini season kids in, and for a few fleeting moments I get ultra-motivated to exercise well and eat healthy food. That works in St. Louis, with there generally being nothing much else to do in January and February, and lasts me all the way until Fish Fry Season, when the siren song of jack salmon lures me to church basements and sides of canned green beans.

Problem is, I need salt. I’m not a normal female: chocolate I can leave well enough alone. But, I absolutely crave salty snacks and salty foods of all kinds. I headed over to Emily and Rusty’s house this past Sunday, to drink a bottle of wine, eat food, and watch the Grammys. Emily introduced me to Kale Chips, easy enough to make, full of good vitamins (I think), and plenty salty for me.

Kale Chips
(courtesy of Emily, courtesy of her sister, courtesy of ?)

Ingredients:

Kale

Olive Oil

Salt (kosher, I’d say)

Pre-heat the oven on broil mode. Like you’re preparing a salad, tear off pieces of the fresh kale into a large boil. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt. Toss. Spread on a cookie sheet, and pop them in the oven. Don’t let them burn, but if you do, do like Emily did and throw them out and start over.

Cook until just crisp.

Eat. If possible, eat while ridiculing a Justin Bieber and Usher duo.