Thursday, December 6, 2007

Somewhere between the farmhouse & the townhouse...

"Countrypolitan Cooking" is an approach to cooking and entertaining that my friend Tagert and I live by.

That's Tagert making croutons he served along with an amazing chicken one Friday night.

Chris Freeland

That's me, Chris Freeland, on the right, carving a gourd at Sharon's Annual Pumpkin Carving Party. That's my partner, who is also named Chris, on the left.

We both grew up in the country on and around farms (I'm from Illinois and Tagert's from Arkansas) and learned how to cook traditional farmhouse foods from our moms and grams (and aunts, cousins, and yes, even dads). Growing up at my house we'd have an extended family dinner nearly every Sunday with at least 10 people and two tables' worth of homestyle cooking like homemade yeast rolls, ham or turkey, my grandma's mac & cheese (a Velveeta-infused delight, and a forthcoming recipe), noodles, mashed potatoes, and sweet corn as well as desserts like chocolate cream pie (see how I updated that one), rhubarb pie, apple, get the picture. It was a sneeze guard away from a Bob Evans buffet, but in a really good Home-Sweet-Home-comfort-food kind of way.

Well, like many country boys, we both moved to the big city. And in this case we both landed in (don't laugh) St. Louis. Don't laugh, seriously - St. Louis is a REALLLY big place compared to where we both grew up (1 hr. from the nearest mall, 2 hrs. from the nearest airport).

Also, St. Louis is a quietly cosmopolitan town, which does surprise many visitors from far-off the Isle of Manhattan. It's a very urban city with beautiful Victorian architecture and a mix of neighbors from diverse cultures and social backgrounds all mashed together. It's fun, and one of the best parts of that cultural diversity are the many authentic ethnic restaurants we have - in one stretch of road alone there's Japanese, Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, Persian, Ethiopian, Afghani - heck, there's even a 24-hour diner and a few martini bars. But the really best part is that the whole city is like that - there are amazing restaurants everywhere. And believe me, we partake of this bounty whenever possible.

As Tagert and I have started having dinner parties and backyard BBQs with our groups of (now almost totally intermingled) friends, we naturally pulled from cooking techniques and recipes from our country backgrounds, but updated them with spices and flavors and approaches to food preparation we've experienced here in the city. We call this "Countrypolitan Cooking" and we hope you'll enjoy the recipes and menus we plan to share here.


iledefrancecheese said...


While looking for blogs on food, wine and cheese topics, I came across your website and found it very interesting.
I’m emailing on behalf of Ile de France, a French cheese importing company
(Schratter Foods, since 1936). Their most popular and award winning cheeses
are the Ile de France Brie, Ile de France Goat and Ile de France Camembert.
(Ile de France Brie being the very first Brie imported to the US over 70
years ago.)

We would like to know if you would be interested in receiving a sample of
these French cheeses and write about one of them in your blog.
This is our second “sampling project” this year, and you can check online what other bloggers wrote last time:

Ile de France Cheese would send you one Goat cheese, or one Brie or a Camenbert to taste and comment on.
Please let us know before September 16th which cheese would you be interested in sampling and writing about.

We are giving you the choice between these three different products, because we plan to send you another type of Ile de France cheeses to sample later on this year if you enjoyed this project.

The cheese will be shipped in a cooler (UPS overnight) the 23rd of September.
Therefore we would need from you an address where someone can receive the UPS delivery.

We hope you will be interested in participating. In case you are not, rest assured, that we would not contact you anymore.

In addition to the sampling program, we are also launching a recipe contest.
The first prize will be $1000. The second and third prizes will be a cheese basket worth $150.
In order to participate, you would need to send us a picture/pictures or a video of you cooking with Ile de France cheese as well as the recipe itself. You may enter any type of dish (soup, sandwich, desert, etc.), as long as it includes Ile de France cheese. (There are no obligations to participate in the contest, weather you accepted and received the cheese or not.)
The recipe contest will start on September 25th and will end on October 15th when the voting will start.
More information on the contest will be posted soon on
If you are interested in participating please let us know.

Please do visit our website ( anytime, it is full of cheese recipes, tips, pairing ideas, and much more, regarding other specialty cheeses such as Morbier, Comté or Boursault.

Feel free to pick any of our recipes to write about as well, just remember that you need to mention the source and place a link to our website.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Wade Wilson said...

Forget the countrypolitan cooking. What I'm a little more curious about right now that we're doing home renovations is seeing more of your countrypolitan interior decor - furniture, plants, photo frames, and all.