St. Louis, MO: Citizen’s Report of Sweetie Pie’s, the Upper Crust

A hearty soul food meal at Sweetie Pie's, the Upper Crust.  Photo courtesy of  Raymond Massey

A hearty soul food meal at Sweetie Pie’s, the Upper Crust. Photo courtesy of Raymond Massey

Recently MCCN received a citizen’s report on the new location of Sweetie Pie’s in St. Louis, Missouri. Even though the restaurant has received increased popularity since Welcome to Swetie Pie’s started airing on OWN, Florida resident, Raymond Massey, remembers loving the taste of the old fashioned southern food before all the press.

When speaking about the latest location, Sweetie Pie’s, the Upper Crust, Massey confirms that Sweetie Pie’s has “great soul food and lives up to its name.” So what are some of his favorites at Sweetie Pie’s? According to this soul food fan, “The mac & cheese is mandatory and the pear cobbler was off the chain.” He adds that the pear cobbler will probably be his standby, an ironic statement for someone who has to travel several hundred miles to get in the neighborhood. By all indications, this will not be his last time visiting. “Everything was equally awesome,” he states enthusiastically.raymond_2

According to Massey, the third and latest location is also a cafeteria-style restaurant. It includes a banquet hall and now has cooking classes as well. Massey was given a tour around the facility and he was very impressed with the hospitality of the staff and Sweetie Pie’s owner,  former Tina Turner and Ike back-up singer, Robbie Montgomery.

One thing that Massey didn’t like was the fact that he couldn’t get two meats with his meal. Well, maybe that’s a testament to how good both the chicken wings and meatloaf are at Sweetie Pie’s. So just as a note to Miss Robbie Montgomery over at Sweetie Pies:

Dear Miss Montgomery,

Please include a two meat meal selection for your customers, so they don’t have to order à la carte. We’re guessing one meat is just not an option.

Written by Monica Johnson

The Iconc Rainbow Room in New York City Reopens Oct. 5


Credit Brian Harkin for The New York Times

The Rainbow Room was born with good bones, but that was 80 years ago. So when Tishman Speyer, the company that owns and manages Rockefeller Center, decided to reopen it after five years, the goal was to restore the glitter to one of New York’s most romantic settings.

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The Evolution of Taste of Mexico in Los Angeles


Now in it’s 4th year, the Taste of Mexico festival has expanded not only in size but become a day and night event.  This year was the launch of the Farmer’s Market Picnic.  People brought their blankets and relaxed under umbrellas.  If you have never been attended then look for unlimited food and drink sampling.  The night time event uses twice as much room as day but with the successful launch of the day maybe it will be bigger next year.

Photo by Multi Cultural Cooking Network

Photo by Multi Cultural Cooking Network

I love this event but having gone since the first year it does seem that a bit of the vision has been comprised “to show that Mexico cuisine is more than tacos.”  Now with multiple restaurants involved rather than the founding four (La Casita Mexicana, Frida, La Monarca and Guelaguetza), the shift has gone tacos.   High volumes of people require quick and easy food to sample.  The size of this event has easily quadrupled in four years.  And even though, there is a plethora of tacos being offered,  in many cases chefs are raising the bar on what is a taco.   There are unique offerings like quail, octupus and more.  Historically, La Monarca normally takes center stage as the providers of desserts; however, his year they made room for Compañía de Café.    Media sources like the LA Times and more are raving about this new establishment.  Now contributor Dave Miller(Dave Miller’s Mexico blog) and I disagreed on our thoughts in relation to this cafe and its offerings.  Dave is more traditional and authentic whereas I appreciated and enjoyed the fusion like Mole poundcake.  Hibicusus coffee and tamarind coffee drinks.   See MCCN Interview Below.

And of course there was Tequila.  See our interviews with Tequila Centenario and with Amor y Tacos.

Taste of Mexico – Los Angeles

Can’t make it to Mexico.  Make it to Los Angeles on September 27th for the annual Taste of Mexico event.  It gets bigger ever

Photo by Multi Cultural Cooking Network

Photo by Multi Cultural Cooking Network

year.  Don’t miss this event held in Downtown Los Angeles.   It is going to be a little different this year with two parts Saturday, September.  At 12-4pm (Farmers Market Picnic) and then  7-11pm (Dinner and Agave Night).  It will be held at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, 501 N Main St.

Reflecting the Association’s commitment to the authentic flavors of Mexico’s cuisine, each event will showcase LA’s most admired and respected Mexican chefs, restaurants and food purveyors and include unlimited tastings from participating restaurants, specialty drinks and live music. Tickets are on sale now at:

Farmer’s Market Picnic – Saturday, September 27th, 12:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Presented by Montejo Beer and Northgate Market

The fresh and seasonal flavors of LA’s Mexican cuisine are featured at a family-friendly daytime cookout, michelada beer garden by Montejo and Guelaguetza’s Miche Mobil, fresh cocktail bar by Centenario Tequila, churros, fruit carts, and live entertainment by cumbia DJ collective Dinamita. Restaurants include La Monarca Bakery, Frida, La Casita Mexicana, Loteria Grill, Mexicali Taco & Co., El Borrego de Oro, Mariscos Jalisco.


Photo by Multi Cultural Cooking Network

Dinner and Agave Night – Saturday, September 27th, 7:00 to 11:00 p.m.
Presented by Montejo Beer and Sysco

The Taste of Mexico’s signature event takes place under the stars with extensive tastings, tequila tent, mezcaleria installation by Ilegal Mezcal, michelada beer garden by Montejo and Guelaguetza’s Miche Mobil, and live entertainment by A Poco No!. Restaurants include La Monarca Bakery, Frida, Guelaguetza, El Coraloense, MexiKosher, Coni’Seafood, Yxta Cocina Mexicana, Mercado, Companñia de Cafe (full list below).
Farmer’s Market Picnic tickets are $35. Dinner and Agave Night tickets are $55. A limited quantity of VIP All Day Passes for both events is available for $75. Each ticket purchase automatically enters an individual into a raffle for a pair of round-trip tickets to any destination in Mexico courtesy of Aeromexico. Details and tickets: Connect on FacebookTwitter and Instagram (#TOM2014).

Let them Eat Grapes… Using as an alternative to Tomatoes: A cooking demo by Chef Marcela Valladolid

antipasto skewer

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken and Grape Skewers

Celebrity chef, cook book author, and host of the Food Network show The Kitchen, Marcela Valladolid joined forces with the California Table Grape Commission to bring a bright flavorful twist to some traditional Mexican meals. As a lover of fruit and Mexican food separately, I must say I never thought the two would ever enter into holy matrimony. How could something so light and sweet beautifully join together with something so rich and savory, I asked? This week Chef Marcela not only showed me how the two join together so well, she made me a believer. Now I see how fresh grapes can be used as an exciting, and texturally crisp alternative to tomatoes, sure to wake up your favorite appetizer, sandwich, taco or entree. 
Chef Marcela prepared delightful Grilled Salmon Tacos with Grape Pico de Gallo, which was a vibrant and healthy twist to traditional fish tacos; a Southern California favorite typically prepared with fried fish, cabbage, and a cream sauce. As a big fan of traditional fish tacos, I am an even bigger fan of Chef Marcela’s rendition. It showed me that using grilled fish and fresh ingredients doesn’t mean you have to comprise on flavor. The Grilled Salmon Tacos were a great introduction to cooking with grapes. It was also the perfect segue into more mouthwatering dishes and two cocktails; all made with fresh green, black or red California grapes. The Mediterranean Grilled Chicken and Grape Skewers were beautifully presented, perfectly seasoned and I just could not stop eating them. The Banh Mi-style Flatbread with California Grapes was amazingly delicious, and the Tostadas with Grape and Jicama Salsa, and Grilled Antipasto Skewers featuring grilled shrimp were also crowd pleasers. 
The perfect accompaniment for a great meal is an equally great beverage, and these grape based beverages did not disappoint. The Black Grape Margarita had the perfect balance of natural sweetness and freshness that no syrup based cocktail could ever duplicate; and the beautifully delicate Rosemary Grape Martini will have you thirsting for more. 
The recipes for these dishes and cocktails are easy to follow and great for everything from a date night, entertaining, or for a weeknight family dinner. Each and every one of these dishes is sure to please your taste buds and make your body very happy. 
There are over 80 varieties of grapes, and endless ways to use them. I encourage you to try these fresh and delicious recipes today. The next time you do your grocery shopping buy an extra bag of grapes. Wash them, freeze them and you will have a great low calorie frozen treat, or a nifty way to add coolness and flavor to your favorite beverage.
Multi Cultural Cooking Network… Giving you a taste of world… and inspiring you to Eat.More.Grapes.

Written by Lamou Keita

Grilled Salmon Tacos with Grape Pico de Gallo

Grilled salmon taco

Celebrity chef, cook book author, and host of the Food Network show The Kitchen, Marcela Valladolid joined forces with the California Table Grape Commission to bring a bright flavorful twist to some traditional Mexican meals.This recipe is compliments of Grapes From California. READ MORE


  •  1 cup red seedless California grapes, chopped
  • 1 cup green seedless California grapes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pickled red onions (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
  • Small pinch salt
  • 1 pound salmon fillets
  • As needed olive oil
  • To taste pepper
  • 12 small corn tortillas
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges

 Pickled Onions

  • 1 red onion quartered, cut in 1 -inch strips
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice or the juice of 5 limes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons crumbled dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients in mixing medium mixing bowl. Mix well to incorporate well. Let stand for 30 minutes. Can be made 1 day ahead.


Prepare a grill for cooking over medium heat.

Put the grapes, pickled onions, and jalapeño in a medium bowl. Season with salt and toss lightly. Cover and chill while you prepare the salmon.

Brush the salmon lightly with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until it’s cooked to your liking. Remove the salmon and keep it warm. Heat the tortillas briefly on the grill in batches until warmed.

To serve, coarsely chop the salmon and divide it between the tortillas. Top each taco with a heaping tablespoon of grape pico de gallo and serve with lime wedges.

Nutritional Information

Nutritional analysis per serving (3 tacos per serving): Calories 347; Protein 27 g; Carbohydrate 46 g; Fat 7 g; 18% Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 59 mg; Sodium 298 mg; Potassium 611 mg; Fiber 5 g.

Guacamole Game Day Tostadas

Yvette with shares how to make traditional and authentic guacamole with Avocados from Mexico in a molcajete served on tortilla chips for your next party or game-watching get-together.  Guacamole recipe video will be view after short intro video.

Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore


November 2011 was the beginning of a new era in Baltimore, Maryland — the era of the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore  being a functioning part of the leisure and commercial landscape of the harbor-famed city. With Four Seasons’ arrival, there was definitely a lot of expectations of grandeur, glamour, and posh resorting. It’s nothing the Four Seasons isn’t used to because it has created and branded itself to be “the standard” in the hospitality industry. Four Seasons has 86 locations in 35 cities around the world, and undoubtedly growing. So naturally, with the opening of its Baltimore location, the Multi Cultural Cooking Network wanted to know what makes the Baltimore location so different. We talked with the General Manager, Julien Carralero of the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore to find out more.

Carralero, looking every bit the part of a handsome, charming General Manager, came to greet MCCN in the exquisite fine-art adorned, marble floored-lobby. He quickly took us upstairs to one of the meeting rooms. On the way addressing employees with a warm-hearted smile and salutations, and occasionally doling out instruction. The meeting room where we set up has a view that makes you feel like the harbor is just steps away. That’s part of the Four Seasons’ strategy. Location! Location! Location!  Even on a dreary day the view is beautiful, as nothing separates the hotel from its harbor location.  As we set up video equipment, Caralero is moving chairs around, asking about our lighting, and making sure MCCN has everything we need. Hmmmh! Could this be part of Four Seasons’ culture of hospitality? Carralero explains that Four Seasons calls it “The Golden Rule,” which every employee is expected to utilize, treating each customers with respect. We like it! We really like it.

The first question we posed to the GM was why Baltimore was chosen as a location for Four Seasons; after all, to the south there is the Four Seasons Hotel Washington D.C., and to the north there is a Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia. Caralerro explains, “Baltimore was a destination that was chosen by Four Seasons because it was the right time for us to come to a city that keeps growing and developing. It’s a city that is strategically very well located between Washington D.C., Philadelphia and New York. The Northern Corridor has quite a bit of traffic….we believe that Baltimore is a city that has growth ahead that is positive.” Adding,”Granted the actual state of the economy is still very difficult.”The Four Seasons began building in 2007 but because of the state of the economy the process was delayed, but you won’t find any evidence of cutting corners in the Harbor East location, according to Carralero. “When it comes down to Four Seasons, we didn’t compromise anything. When it comes down to the actual features that go into rooms, that go into the restaurants, the designs, nothing was really compromised from the standpoint that you have technology in the rooms; you have decorum; the quality of the furnishings—nothing was replaced or reduced.” The owners, Harbor East and H&S Bakery, wouldn’t have it any other way. Carralero explains, “I think they believe that to create a product and to launch it, you should have the same continuity when it comes down to the actual specifications.”

….relax in the deep-soaking bath in the hotel’s marble bathrooms.

So back to that technology. Some of it is absolutely mind-blowing. On MCCN’s guided tour of the property we went into several suites which include the latest in Bose home-theatre system technology. You don’t have to miss a thing when you relax in the deep-soaking bath in the hotel’s marble bathrooms; just turn on the LCD television in the bathroom mirror. Yes, in the bathroom mirror.

On top of technology, is pure luxury, especially for the suite-life. Features and amenities include: carpeting that is 70-percent marina_room1wool, a stone-clad built- in fireplace, balconies overlooking the harbor or with a spectacular city view, custom chandeliers, full-size refrigerators, dishwashers, dining areas, which seat eight, 55 inch and 40 inch-LCD televisions for the bedroom and living areas. The list goes on and on when you choose any one of their suites from the Executive to the top of the line Presidential and Royal suites. However you don’t have to have a suite to enjoy a taste of the good life. Standard rooms are not so standard, with LCD screen or plasma televisions, wall-to-wall windows allowing natural light throughout the guest room. There are also impeccable water-side and city-views of  Fells Point, Little Italy and Harbor East (Pictured to the right is standard guest room with King bed. This room has a view of the marina).

The luxury continues outside where you’ll really feel like you’ve escaped the hustle and bustle and landed in a secluded palatial resort. Grab a chaise and find a place to relax  right near the harbor. Take a swim in the hotel’s outdoor shimmering pool, which appears to disappear right into the bay. Lounge and linger on the wet deck. Even in the winter, you can take spa1advantage of the hot tub, or warm yourself by the outside fireplace. Will people really use these amenities in the winter? Our sources say, “yes, they will.”

From the wet deck, you can make your way to get a European-style luxury spa. Make no mistake, the 10, 200 square feet spa is a destination its own right. With 11 spa rooms and an extensive menu of spa therapies, relaxation is imminent.

“So far the partnership with Michael Mina is going very well…”

Now, we couldn’t leave you without telling you about the dining options at Four Seasons. Already, getting loads of attention is the celebrity chef-powered  restaurant, Wit & Wisdom, A Tavern by Michael Mina. This is the second collaboration between Four Seasons and Michael Mina, the first being Bourbon Steak, located at the Four Seasons Hotel Washington DC. General Manager, Julien Carralera describes Mina saying, “He is a person that is very creative and he cares tremendously about innovation and the concept of doing something that is light, fast-paced and giving good food at a competitve price. So far the partnership with Michael Mina is going very well and I hope will continue to go well not just here in Baltimore.” Headed by Executive chef Benjamin Lambert, Wit & Wisdom’s menu  offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, serving modern tavern food with Eastern Seabord sensibilities and some distinctly Baltimore fare.


The hotel has a strong committment to work with local providers and local farmers, working within the state and the region to supply necessary resources from meat, to butter to preserves and more.  Carralera emphasizes, “We want our employees to be able to discuss the menu, recommend the menu and promote that specific menu.” He adds, “I think sometimes there are hotels and restaurants that open and they offer some generic menus, when I think the regional profile is very important.”

Also on the premises is LAMILL COFFEE, is an European-styled cafe which offers specialty beverages, pastries, sandwiches,lamill_coffee1 paninis and array of sweet treats. LAMILL has one location on the west coast, but this is the shop’s first venture on the east coast. What a way to lay down roots! And just when you thought you had nothing left to experience when it came to coffee shops, Carralera assures that LAMILL is a different experience, saying, “The culture of coffee is present throughout many cities, but I think the culture of quality coffee that is brewed right there, from the grinding process to the brewing process that is done à la minute, is something that hopefully people in the city and around Baltimore will value.”

Still more dining options are available, including a Japanese Izakaya-style restaurant called Pabu (opening in February of 2012). Pabu will be designed with bamboo ceilings and crafted solid wood tabletops. The restaurant overlooks the harbor with a sushi bar seating 60, serving a variety of sakes and Asian beers as well as small plates. If you just want to enjoy the wet deck and stay close to the hotel’s shimmering pool, you can also grab a bite to eat at the Pool Bar and Grill.

“We don’t take business for granted. We fight hard to get it and we fight hard to keep it…”

Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore is in the process of creating a list for potential buyers for their upcoming residences and they have been booking weddings long before the hotel doors actually opened. Then there are the banquets, the meetings and the stack of donation requests that have local businesses and nonprofits on pins and needles. With so much going for them, they still don’t rest on their name alone. Carralera admits the weight of the Four Seasons’ name in the local community where people know people who have used Four Seasons’ products in other locations does help. “That’s where the mystique of the name is very strong and the powerful delivery of the force’s name is very strong, but we’re only as strong as today as far as our performance. We don’t take business for granted. We fight hard to get it and we fight hard to keep it, and at the same time we want to have people come back to us.”

article by Monica Johnson

Click here to view the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore’s website