Shakespeare Festival cooks up fun


Eye of newt, toe of frog/Wool of bat, tongue of dog/Adder’s fork, blind-worm’s sting/Lizard’s leg, howlet’s wing These are all fine if it’s a bit of witchcraft you’re after. But if your interest lies more with aphrodisiacs, you’ll be wanting something more along the lines of frog’s saliva, truffles and rhinoceros horn.

No, I have not taken leave of my senses, in fact, just the opposite. I’m honing them in preparation for the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis’s fall fundraisers, “Aphrodisiacs: Myth or Reality” and “Shakespeare’s Kitchen: The Art of Feasting.”

If you think I am making these up, you are giving me far too much credit.

These events are indeed the brainchildren of the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis (SFSTL) with input from their new Artistic Director, Dawn McAndrews.

So, if you are looking for the real answer as to how four and twenty blackbirds were baked in that pie, these are the events for you.

Prepare early for the holiday season with Shakespeare’s Kitchen on Friday, Nov. 16 as SFSTL presents Francine Segan, the award-winning food historian, author and one-woman compendium of historical food trivia.

“The Art of Feasting” will take place in the Centennial Ballroom of the restaurant Vin de Set, 2017 Chouteau.

This is a gorgeous room, and though not authentically Tudor, it does have a wonderful period feel, with its high vaulted ceilings, arched windows and exposed brick walls.

Plan to arrive at 7 p.m. so you can leave your coach with the valet footmen for complimentary parking. As you enter the second floor ballroom all your senses will be engaged, from Shakespeare’s cider martinis and sumptuous appetizers for the palate including those infamous meat pies, stuffed figs and faux apples which are actually meatballs (authentic but not too authentic), to music for the ears by our own Kingsbury Ensemble, and a silent auction for the eyes, featuring a plethora of items from imaginatively hosted dinners to jewelry and artwork and even some exciting one-of-a-kind sports memorabilia.

Ms. Segan (who is both beautiful and thin enough to make you wonder if she eats) will be inscribing copies of her cookbook Renaissance Recipes for the Contemporary Cook, one of which can be yours for a mere $35.

After you have had a chance to peruse the auction items and bid silently (items can be found at the SFSTL website, Ms. Segan will demonstrate why she is the darling of the Smithsonian set, as she presents a mix of bawdy humor, recipes and answers to your questions about Shakespeare’s kitchen (including the mysterious blackbird pie).

By this time you will be ready to fall on the extraordinary buffet from Vin de Set’s Chef Tony Cole, based on Ms. Segan’s recipes.

You’ll find something for everyone, including kosher and vegetarian eaters. Everything will be labeled, so you can pass on the frog’s saliva, should it not appeal. Just kidding; it proved too expensive to serve to 200 diners.

After dinner you will be treated to a lavish dessert buffet, followed by a live auction, conducted by Mark Howald of Ivey-Selkirk.

Here you can bid on serious 21st century thrills, including dinner with the cast of Richard III, rare items worn and signed by Albert Pujols and a chance to experience a weightless ride in space, which may be just the ticket after this incredible night of feasting.

And, all of this can be yours for the tiny sum of $150 by calling 314-531-9800, but call soon or there won’t be a blackbird left.

If this is too rich for your blood and you are between 21 and 35 (give or take), Young Friends of the Shakespeare Festival St. Louis and ArtLink have planned a night of Aphrodisiacs for Thursday, Nov. 15 from 7 to 9 p.m. at 609, the trendy eatery at 609 Eastgate in the Delmar Loop.

Francine Segan will be there to give you the scoop on oysters, truffles and rhino horns, and their purported aphrodisiacal powers. If they work, you can buy her book, which she will sign for you. A champagne toast is included in the $25 ticket ($15 if you are a member of ArtLink), as well as truffled popcorn and other aphrodisiacs. Call 314-531-9800 for tickets.

Proceeds from both events will benefit the Festival’s year-round education and artistic programs and keep Shakespeare free and alive in Forest Park.

For information on the season which features Richard III, go to

If music be for thee the food of love, get thee to Maryville University’s University Auditorium on Sunday, Nov. 18 at 3 p.m.

James Richards will conduct the St. Louis Chamber Orchestra in a luscious program of Haydn, Hindemith, Brahms and Mozart.

St. Louis’s own Ingrid Jacoby will be the soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto in E-flat, K. 449. This is a wonderful opportunity to hear both a first rate chamber orchestra and the enormously talented Ms. Jacoby, who since leaving St. Louis has become an undisputed international musical force.

Tickets are a bargain at $8 for adults, $5 for seniors and no charge for students.

For more information call 314-965-2341.