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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The secret ingredient is.... Lavender!


If you've never tried cooking with lavender, I highly recommend it. I'm still discovering new ways to use it. I've made lavender shortbread cookies and lavender tea cake, lavender lemonade and lavender-infused cocktails. The flavor pairs nicely with blueberries and lemon. Our lavender is blooming for the second time this summer and Michigan blueberries are in season.

My favorite lavender-inspired treat begins with a blueberry buckle recipe courtesy of Alton Brown. http://altonbrown.com/blueberry-buckle-recipe/ Alton is a huge fan of using a kitchen scale to measure ingredients, so the recipe is a bit fussy. He goes so far as to tell you the precise temperature the softened sick of butter needs to be before blending it with the sugar (60 degrees, if you're curious). Don't worry, the recipe is much more forgiving than Alton makes it seem. Guests arrived after I blended the butter and sugar, and in the middle of incorporating the flour. The batter sat for 30 minutes before I could put it in the oven, but it turned out perfectly.

The changes I made to the recipe include:

  • Adding the buds and flowers from 8-10 sprigs of lavender to the batter when I stirred in the blueberries. The easiest way to "chop" the lavender is by using kitchen shears to snip off the flowers directly into the batter.
  • Adding most of the zest of 1 large lemon to the batter. I saved about 1/4 of the zest to add to the crumble topping.
  • Omitting the nutmeg and ginger from the recipe. I love these spices, but I wasn't sure if they'd taste right with the lemon and lavender.
My next experiment will be blueberry lavender gooey butter cake with a lemon crust :-)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

WoW your sweetie with a personalized gift!



Recently, our guests have been delighted to find our new Napoleon's Retreat trinket boxes in their rooms. The boxes were designed and made by our resident craftsman, Brian. Numerous guests have taken home a special memory of their stay.


Brian has now added glass etching to his skills. We are happy to share his work by offering custom engraved wine glasses to our guests!

Commemorate your special occasion by ordering personalized wine glasses when you request a "toast of the town" package. Imagine how impressed your sweetie will be to receive a wine glass wishing them a happy anniversary, birthday, or simply stating "I love you".

Enquire about our custom glasses when placing your reservation. Please allow one week's notice to design your gift.

Monday, February 27, 2017

We're featured in Show Me Missouri!

We're in the news again! Last summer, Napoleon's Retreat had the pleasure of hosting Elizabeth Hey, travel writer for Show Me Missouri magazine.

Elizabeth's article detailing her experience at our bed and breakfast, and her interview with Stacy, was published in the spring edition of Show Me Missouri
http://www.showmemissouri.net/pages/stay.html

Stacy served two of her favorite dishes, a versatile egg roulade that can be filled with anything from fresh veggies to crab hollandaise, and chocolate shortcake featuring fresh strawberries from the local Soulard Farmer's market.

We hope you're able to visit us soon at Napoleon's Retreat to experience our hospitality!


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Holiday Parlor Tour

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Every December, residents of Lafayette Square open their homes for the Holiday Parlor Tour. Today, Napoleon's Retreat Bed and Breakfast was honored to be a part of this decades-long tradition. We spent weeks decking the halls to make the B&B merry and bright. 

The tour is a fundraiser for Lafayette Square, and all proceeds are used for neighborhood beautification. Over 2000 people visited our home today. Stacy was beaming from ear-to-ear. Brian was delighted to greet all of the tour-goers and answer questions about our B&B. Our docents (the neighbors who volunteered to help showcase our home) were fantastic!

Napoleon joined in the holiday fun and donned a set of reindeer antlers. :o) 

Happy holidays to all of our beloved guests! We wish you joy and cheer throughout the new year!








Friday, October 28, 2016

We're in the news!

Earlier today, the local Fox 2 News station broadcast a story called "In Your Neighborhood". The morning news segment provided viewers with a closer look at different businesses in Lafayette Square. Napoleon's Retreat B&B was featured as a warm, welcoming place to stay in St. Louis. Here's a link to the broadcast: Napoleon's Retreat on Fox2 News

Reporters Kevin Steincross and Margie Ellisor were really friendly and asked a lot of great questions about our bed and breakfast. It was rather amusing to admit on camera that we sort of "fell into" innkeeping, rather than pursuing it as part of a planned career path. Then again, our move to St. Louis was also somewhat spontaneous. We visited St. Louis back in 2004, several years before we moved here. By sheer coincidence, we stayed in Lafayette Square. We never dreamed that some day it would be our home!

Stacy mentioned to the reporters that we love living in Lafayette Square. There are so many great shops and restaurants for our guests to visit. Our neighborhood is close enough to downtown to hear the fireworks when the Cardinals score a home run, yet we're often called a "hidden gem". The Fox2 news segment will certainly help spread the word about the many things Lafayette Square has to offer its visitors! Here are a few links to the news segments for the other businesses in Lafayette Square:

SqWires
1111 Mississippi
Vin de Set
Bailey's Chocolate Bar
Park Avenue Coffee
Clementine's Creamery
Element Restaurant
Climb So Ill rock climbing gym

(In the photo are some of our favorite breakfast dishes that were shown on camera: pear & brie tarts, chocolate strawberry shortcake, egg roulade filled with bacon & gouda, and stuffed French toast with raspberries.)




Saturday, July 30, 2016

Visiting with old friends

A few weeks ago, I noticed that our in-room journals were on their last pages. Over the years, our guests have filled the journals with their thoughts about their time in Saint Louis and their stay with us at Napoleon's Retreat. I purchased new journals and gathered up the old ones.

We have a page on our website called "Guest Reviews". Years ago, I began the process of typing up the handwritten reflections of our guests, going back to the first guests we hosted back in 2011. I intended to update the "Guest Review" page every month, but fell woefully behind as projects like renovating the carriage house took over my "spare" time. Well, I now have the full journals sitting next to me and I've restarted the process of recording our guests thoughts.

Reading our guests' reviews the past several days has made me smile, laugh out loud, blush, and even tear up a bit. It feels like I am visiting with old friends. I want to take a moment to say "Thank you" to all of our guests. I really appreciate you taking the time to write about your stay. Your kind and thoughtful words mean so much to us. Running a large B&B is very challenging, and I sometimes wonder if we made the right decision to buy a 136-year-old house that requires so much upkeep. Brian and I love Saint Louis, and I feel so fortunate to have the chance to work at my dream job.

Thank you to all of our guests who make this job so rewarding - and so much fun! Meeting you and spending time with you is the best part of being an innkeeper. <3

Stacy

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Be brave and make a soufflé!



Years ago when we opened Napoleon's Retreat, one of the first breakfast items I was determined to tackle is the classic soufflé. 

There are so many myths around baking this delicate-looking egg dish, such as tiptoeing around your kitchen to ensure that it does't fall, or *never* opening the oven door while a soufflé is baking. Not true! I've never had noise affect a soufflé. I've also opened the oven door to make sure the soufflé was achieving a nice, golden brown and it's turned out just fine. 

The biggest challenge to overcome is beating the egg whites and tempering the egg yolks with the melted cheese. Tempering the yolks requires adding the melted cheese slowly in small amounts. As for the egg whites, if you can make a meringue or an angel food cake, you can make a soufflé. 

This morning's soufflés turned out perfectly.  I did need to extend the cooking time by a few minutes to adjust for the high humidity we're experiencing in St. Louis!

Here's my favorite soufflé recipe. Try it! You will WOW your guests.

Cheddar & Chive Soufflé

4 Tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup white wine
4 1/2 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 cups aged cheddar, grated
5 eggs, separated
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives, plus a few extra for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and position the rack in the center of the oven. Spray 4 8-ounce ramekins with nonstick spray, then lightly coat each ramekin with 1 Tablespoon of the breadcrumbs. Set the ramekins on a cookie sheet.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour to make a roux (a smooth paste). Cook over medium high heat until it bubbles, thickens, and turns a light brown color.
  3. Remove the roux from heat. Whisk in the garlic salt. Slowly whisk in the white wine, ensuring there are no lumps. Whisk in the milk. Add the cheese, stirring to remove any lumps. 
  4. Use kitchen shears to snip the chives into 1/4-inch pieces while holding the chives over the bowl containing the cheese mixture. Stir to combine and set the mixture aside.
  5. Separate the eggs by placing the egg whites in a clean glass, ceramic, or stainless steel bowl. (I use a paper towel with a little white vinegar on it and wipe the inside of the bowl to remove any potential reside. I then rinse the bowl and dry it with a paper towel.) Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, but avoid over-whisking. If the eggs are over whisked, they will break apart into dry-looking clumps. If you'd like, you can "cheat" and add a pinch of cream of tartar before you start whisking the eggs to help stabilize the peaks.
  6. In a separate bowl, stir the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the melted cheese. Pour half of this egg mixture into the pan with the melted cheese and stir to combine. Then pour this mixture back into the bowl with the remaining egg yolks. 
  7. Using a rubber spatula, take about 2 Tablespoons of the egg whites and gently stir it into the yoke mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the egg whites.
  8. Divide the mixture into the ramekins. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until puffed and golden. The outer edges should be firm to the touch, but the center should be soft and jiggle slightly when you gently shake the cookie sheet. Serve immediately!