Friday, June 6, 2008

St. Louis in 3 parts

Part one: The food

DiscoJen and I took her 3 and 1 year old children to St. Louis last week for two reasons: 1) to visit her 92 year old grandmother and 2) attend my cousin Ashley’s wedding.

I must say, Jen’s grandmother is spunky. She does quite well for being 92. We stayed at Grandma’s house since Grandma recently moved to a very nice assisted living facility. She said “I don’t ever want to move back! They cook and clean for me here!” Grandma’s house was a cute 1940’s type of row house, just 15 minutes or less from all the good stuff St. Louis offers, yet it has real small town neighborliness to it.

I really liked St. Louis. I think the heat is the only drawback. 82 degrees is my limit. 83 is right out! St. Louis feels like a small town, but has all the great things that a big city has. Not a lot of quilt stores though. More on that in a separate post.

The night we arrived, we ate at the Macaroni Grill. This generally goes against both of our travel sensibilities, since we would both rather eat at local places, but it was right next the Trader Joe’s and we had 2 small children to feed and fast. This was the first time I have ever seen Carolina get anything from the children’s menu. She usually has half each of what DiscoJen and I have. She really wanted macaroni and cheese though, so DiscoJen ordered the chicken fingers w/mac and cheese, hoping to give some to Santiago (the one year old). We also both gave her part of our meals as well.

After dinner, the waitress brought out Carolina’s ice cream sundae for her. Carolina asked me why she got a special treat when I didn’t. I explained to her that we ordered her dinner from the kids menu, and that comes with a special treat. Being 3 years old, she responded: “why?” I told her that kid’s portions were smaller and come with ice cream. “Why?” I explained that kids are smaller and don’t eat as much as adults do, so they get ice cream with their meal. I could see the little wheels in her brain turning as she digested this information. Then she looked at me and said “but I do.” Meaning that she eats as much as adults eat! I totally cracked up. The thing is that she’s right! But you wouldn’t know it looking at her. She’s tall, but not too round.
After dinner we went to Trader Joe’s to stock up, not 2 steps into the store, Carolina wanted to know when she could go get her snack at the snack counter. The bonus is that we can take her anywhere with us, and not worry that she’ll be picky about it. The only thing she really dislikes is potatoes.

I got a lovely manicure/pedicure for the wedding at the Chase Park Plaza spa. The manicurist kept calling me “baby-doll”, which I really liked, as it makes me feel I’m younger than I am. Much better than M’am. What a great Art Deco hotel in a great location! They started building the hotel in 1922 but didn’t finish until 1931, due to the depression. Everyone there was pretty, the men included. Every woman I saw, even the ones in line for the movies (there was a theater in the hotel) had 4” heels on. The area around the hotel was fantastic too. It was surrounded by large brick and stone manses from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

The shops and eateries around it were wonderful as well. I found the Cupcakery and Crepes: etc! And they both had my favorite things! The Cupcakery’s cupcake of the week was red velvet. I have been looking for a good red velvet cake that matches my memory of the one I had in college, and I found it! Their dark chocolate cake was phenomenal too. Disco Jen and I thought they really didn’t need icing.
After my cupcake purchase, I went around the corner (in an effort to give my nails time to dry) to Crepes: etc. They had crepes of all kind, like you find at the little crepe stands in France. But the best part was that they had Nutella crepes, and Gianduja gelato! Since an order was 2 crepes, the nice man taking my order suggested that I get one filled with Nutella and one w/the Gianduja gelato. Pure inspiration! It was in the upper 80’s that day, so the gelato really hit the spot. I couldn’t take a picture though, as I left my phone in the car and my camera at home, which is a shame, since it was a really pretty plate.

For those who don’t know what those flavors are, Nutella is a chocolate/hazelnut spread that’s amazing. Gianduja is an Italian concoction, also of chocolate and hazelnuts. It’s pronounced something like this: jenduuya. The g is a soft sound, not really a j, but something to that effect. Actually, I think Nutella might be Italian too. My sister can confirm that for me, since she lived in Italy.

DiscoJen took me to her childhood favorite, Ted Drewes frozen custard. They invented the Concrete, which “inspired” the Dairy Queen Blizzard. We went twice, calories don’t count when you are on vacation.

We had Ashley and Chris’ rehearsal dinner at a place in downtown that Chris found called Kitchen K. They had the greatest mod lighting. The food was good too. Well, mine was. The waiter wasn’t very helpful. When DiscoJen asked for her shrimp pad Thai to be made mild so she could share it with Carolina, he gave her a hard time, even though the waitress had said it would be no problem. Then when her meal came, it had no sauce at all! Just the noodles and shrimp! Blah! I had a fabulous steak. The appetizers and salad were so good though that I only had 2 bites and took the rest home for later. As a side note, I totally forgot my Audrey Hepburn hat. Ashley did a “Tina Turner” wardrobe change between the rehearsal and the dinner because she had found this vintage dress she was dying to wear. It was so cute on her! The hat would have gone perfectly with it! Look at that cute little pleated bustle on the back.

The wedding took place in the rose garden at the Missouri Botanic Gardens. The food at the wedding reception in the Spink Pavilion was fantastic too. Everyone got a fillet, 2 jumbo grilled shrimp, and perfectly done vericots and carrot sticks. There was a blueberry theme going on, I’ll have to ask Ashley if they symbolize something in particular or if she was concerned her friends and family weren’t getting enough antioxidants. There was a very refreshing blueberry mojito and blueberries in the wedding cake. More on the wedding in a separate post as well.

On Sunday, Mom, Dad and I went to St. Louis Art museum for the Wolfgang Puck breakfast buffet that Karen (the binding guru) told us about. It was out of this world. There was a gorgeous Chihuly hanging in the entryway (that’s a chalupa to you, Donna). The fruit alone was worth the price of admission. It was all so juicy and flavorful! They also had eggs benedict w/avocado and chipotle hollandaise, biscuits and gravy, and the best bacon I think I’ve ever had.

I think that’s enough for now. I hope you enjoyed our culinary adventures in St. Louis!


DiscoJen said...

The road trip to St. Louis was mostly fabulous. It would have been all fabulous except both kids got sick and kept waking up in the middle of the night coughing or throwing up. Thank you Vicki for all your help! Other than that, Ted Drews was great as usual..calories definitely don't count on vacation..and the gardens were amazing. We even got some sewing done. I'll never forget jamming to Car Wash on the way home with Vicki and the kids dancing in their seats. Such a fun scene.

Anne Langridge said...

Hi Vicki, how are you, sounds like you had a wonderful time in St Louis. Maybe we should go there next time we are over....
I am enjoying reading your blog!