Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 – A Year in Review – Whew!

Welcomed the New Year with these fabulous friends:

Turned 30 and celebrated all month long!

Jeremy and I celebrate my birthday with a viewing of 'Black Swan' at the The Chase Park Plaza
Toasting to the Big 3-0 with my family at Joe Buck's Downtown 
Donned cocktail attire and celebrated with dinner and drinks at home 

Celebrated Valentine’s Day with my girls and these sweet treats from The Cup

St. Louis hosts one of the nation’s largest Mardi Gras celebrations and my neighborhood, Soulard, welcomed half a million visitors in 2011 to watch the “American Treasures” Grand Parade.

Said farewell to Lisa with dinner and drinks at 1111 Mississippi before she left St. Louis for new adventures in Ohio. 

Brought a touch of the big city to Springfield, MO with a trip to visit Ruthie and a visit to the original Bass Pro Shop.

Surprised the birthday girl with dinner at Coco Louco Brasil.

Visited Manhattan and the Jersey Shore with my Jersey Girl, Lori. Sadly, Snooki was nowhere to be found.
Lori outside of the original Magnolia Bakery on Bleeker Street in NYC
After a fabulous brunch at Toast in Montclair, NJ
Fist pumping outside of the Seaside Heights house made infamous on Jersey Shore!
In all its neon glory, it's the Bamboo Bar, made famous by Snooki and the gang 

Visited the “Birthplace of Rock N’ Roll”, Sun Studios, and rocked out to Sara Bareilles at Minglewood Hall in Memphis.

Awoke at 4:30am to watch the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton (ahem, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) and celebrated in style with sweets fit for a Queen.
Imported British candies from Global Foods Market

Started a new job and celebrated with “Vegas and the Rat Pack” at Powell Symphony Hall and drinks at Cielo.

Visited St. Louis’ newest brewery, Urban Chestnut Brewing Company.

Celebrated the engagement of these two cuties at The Wine Press.

Headed West to Colorado Springs for a business trip and had dinner at the swanky Summit at The Broadmoor Resort.

Showed my favorite Bostonian, Jamie, that there’s more to St. Louis than Budweiser.

The big city Bostonian gets her first glimpse of an Illinois cornfield
Jamie and I strike a pose under The Gateway Arch
After a dinner of pizza at Pi
Jamie gets in the 'spirit' with a beer flight at  Square One Brewery and Distillery

Took in a sunset picnic on Art Hill and a free concert performed by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Remembered those we lost on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 with an emotional visit to the "America's Heartland Remembers September 11, 2001” tribute on Art Hill.

Enjoyed a reunion seven years in the making with a trip to Soulard Oktoberfest and the “All Mozart” concert performed by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Lori and Jeremy strike a pose outside of the sparkling Powell Symphony Hall

Visited sunny San Diego and tried my first In-N-Out burger!

Watched in awe as the St. Louis Cardinals became the World Series Champions! With their 11th World Series win, the Cardinals have won more World Series titles than any other team in the National League and only second overall to the New York Yankees. GO CARDS!

Watched this cute nephew become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scout program.
Photo credit

Celebrated Sylvia's 28th birthday with dinner at Oceano Bistro, drinks at Bocci Bar and karaoke at the infamous Mike Talayna's Jukebox.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Restaurant Wednesday: There's More Than Just (Missouri Raised) Beef at Bailey's Range

Burgers Battle It Out at Bailey's Range

There’s a new stop on the St. Louis culinary scene from local restaurateur, David Bailey: Bailey's RangeSt. Louisans will be familiar with Bailey’s other endeavors Bailey's Chocolate Bar in Lafayette Square and Rooster and Bridge Tap House and Wine Bar located in downtown St. Louis. While each of Bailey’s other locations are established St. Louis favorites, Bailey’s Range acts as the hipper, cooler and eco-conscience sister to the other restaurants. The concept for Bailey’s Range is simple: To serve the highest quality, Missouri-raised 100% Beef in an urban environment. Walking into Bailey’s Range, you get the feel of being inside an upscale, shabby chic barn. Like Rooster and Bridge before it, David Bailey has transformed a vacant downtown building and redesigned it with a unique and modern feel, while keeping the original brick and piping intact. Over-sized, pastel milk jugs hang above a modern family-style table. Fresh-cut flowers adorn every table and water is served in thin mason jars.

But, it’s the food that’s the centerpiece of this Bailey’s experience. Everything from the buns to the pretzel rolls to the ice cream is made from scratch, with extra care to avoid adding artificial ingredients.   

The "Dave's Smoked Burger" (smoked beef, caramelized onions, fontina cheese,  lettuce and tomato with their "crazy ketchup" on the side)

Donna and I sample the "The Classic" Float (organic root liqueur, Fitz's root beer and homemade vanilla ice cream)  

Bailey's Range provides an urban oasis in the heart of downtown St. Louis. Friend them on facebook and follow them on twitter

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Carols That Aren’t Considered Classics

Little Linda sitting on Santa's lap, ca. 1984

I love this time of year when radio stations start playing Christmas carols in November and homes and shops are decorated for the holidays. There’s something magical, dreamy and nostalgic about hearing Bing Crosby sing "White Christmas" or Gene Autry belt out "Here Comes Santa Claus". I vividly remember sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car (shout out to the 1985 Ford LTD LX!), on the way home from Christmas Eve Mass and listening to classic Christmas carols on the radio. I also remember listening to the reports that NORAD had spotted Santa’s sleigh over New York City, Cincinnati and Chicago, inching closer and closer to St. Louis. After a family dinner, my parents and I would head home and leave cookies (usually Chips Ahoy Chocolate Chip) and milk (always Prairie Farms 2%) for Santa and carrots for his reindeer. 

The carols, the NORAD tracking and the fact that I would awake on Christmas morning to find that Santa and his reindeer had, in fact, finished the cookies and milk (and usually left a thank you note!) led me to believe in the magic of Santa until I was in the 8th grade! I digress...

The standard Christmas carols are everyone’s favorite, but I also like the lesser known Christmas tunes such as the 1997 duet between Kenny Rogers and Winona Judd “Mary Did You Know?” and Whitney Houston’s 1987 version of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” And, did anyone else’s family “dance the Christmas Polka?” Anyone?

What are some of your favorite quirky Christmas carols? Or, am I the only one with memories of the Monkees Christmas Melody?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Ice Cream Martini's & More at The Fountain on Locust

The Fountain on Locust, all decked out for the holidays
Located in the developing area of Midtown St. Louis, just east of SLU, sits the fabulous, the quirky, the charismatic The Fountain on Locust. The Fountain has the charm of a vintage ice cream parlor, with twists of whimsy scattered throughout. There are art deco murals hand-painted on the walls, black and white Subway floor tiles and delicate light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. 

Art deco accents inside The Fountain on Locust
I love the decorative details at The Fountain and apparently others agree. In 2010, The Fountain beat out such venerable nominees as Bryant Park in New York City and the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City to win the 9th annual “America's Best Restroom” award, sponsored by the Cintas Corporation. Quite a crowning achievement, I'd say!
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The Fountain is known for more than just their bathrooms. A sign just above the vintage bar proclaims, “We Serve Cocktails”. Part old-time soda fountain and part martini bar, The Fountain combines the best of both worlds with their signature Ice Cream Martinis. I've sampled the Chocolate Covered Almond, the Grand Chocolate Martini and the Thin Mint (it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it). Each Ice Cream Martini has a unique flavor and tastes just like drinking a milkshake…with a kick! And, you have to wash down all of that martini with something hearty. Take my recommendation and try their homemade Polish Dill Pickle Soup. It is, as my fellow Polaks would say, "ambrozyjski!"

Stessie and I sample the signature Ice Cream Martinis
Lori looking fabulous with the Chocolate Covered Cherry Ice Cream Martini

The Royal Grille Sandwich (white cheddar and mozzarella cheeses  with Fuji apple slices  on  whole grain wheat) and a cup of their famous Polish Dill Pickle Soup
Besides the bathrooms, besides the ice cream martinis, The Fountain is also home to The Randy Dandies, a burlesque sketch comedy group who entertain patrons between rounds of bingo. "Burlesque Bingo" is performed on the first and third Thursday of every month and is not your grandmother’s bingo! With the likes of Swifty Deeds and Little Bo Peepshow dressed (and undressing!) in colorful and provocative costumes, you’ll be thoroughly entertained and you might just win a a prize or two!
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Stessie wins at Bingo!
Lori and I aren't so lucky
Burlesque Bingo is an excellent idea for a girls night out, date night or just a night out on the town and The Fountain on Locust is a unique treat for any St. Louisan. Follow them on twitter, facebook and check in on foursquare to earn their "Check In" special.  

Striking a pose with Roxy Red Rockets of  The Randy Dandies