Defiance is mostly known in St. Louis' food community for its abundance of wineries. Just past St. Charles, the town of 155 is home to Chandler Hill, Sugar Creek and Wine Country Gardens wineries, among others. In a small bed and breakfast just down the street from Yellow Farmhouse Vineyard and Winery, owners Christine and Jeff Comotto and chef John Richardson are getting in on the farm-to-table movement.
Since the Comottos bought the place in early 2014, it has undergone extensive renovations. The Inn at Defiance has been holding intimate dinners (eighteen people) in the art gallery below the bed and breakfast every few months in conjunction with local wineries and breweries. On June 23, Richardson presented a menu based upon the history of Missouri and regional flavors.
The menu was originally paired with beers from Ferguson Brewing Co., along with a special beer Richardson himself developed with the brewers. Unfortunately, a few days earlier, a fire hit Ferguson Brewing and the beers were all ruined. Augusta Brewing swooped in to save the day, and Jeff Comotto was refilling everyone's glasses from growlers throughout.
Richardson and his sous chef, Patrick Peterson, prepared six courses based on Missouri's history. We began back in its pre-settlement days with a Native American-inspired dish of corn and trout. Next, the deconstructed take on toasted ravioli was based upon the wave of Italian immigration that shaped St. Louis in the 19th century.
The third course was inspired by the German immigrants who poured into the city and surrounding counties in the same time period; plates of cured meat, pickled vegetables and hearty potatoes were presented on wood slabs cut by the chef's father. Richardson's next dish was influenced by Sunday dinners favored by St. Louis' African American communities and contained unexpected takes like pickled okra.
Next was barbecue, which dates back much further than the current boom would suggest. Richardson's smoked ribs were complemented by roasted carrots and baby leeks. Most creative, perhaps was the dessert, inspired by the appearance of the ice cream cone at the 1904 Worlds' Fair. The "cone" was made of Wonder Bread, while the "sprinkles" were colored, puff rice.
Richardson, whose resume includes Les Bourgeois winery and The University Club at Mizzou, cooks breakfast for guests at the Inn at Defiance on the weekends, but the team hopes to put together collaboration dinners a few times a year.
For more information and announcements about future dinners, visit the Inn at Defiance's website.
The Inn at Defiance, 125 Defiance Rd., Defiance, Missouri, 636.987.2002, thedefianceinn.com.