Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New Restaurant Wednesday: Winslow's Home

Nestled on a tree-lined street in the St. Louis suburb of University City sits a two-story, non-descript brick building housing one of St. Louis’ “must try” restaurants, Winslow's Home.

U. City is best known for the Delmar Loop and its eclectic and diverse restaurant, bar, and shopping scene. The “Loop”, as locals call it, is home to such St. Louis staples as the Riverfront TimesVintage Vinyl, and Fitz's.

But drive just a few miles west of the busy, gritty Loop and the atmosphere changes entirely. Gone are the fluorescent lights advertising the latest art house films playing at the Tivoli. Silenced is the din created by the clanging silverware from the sidewalk diners. And hushed is the background buzz created by the people who live, eat, and shop here. All of the energy of the Loop is replaced by a sedate residential neighborhood with wide sidewalks and historic homes.

I’d wanted to try Winslow’s Home for months, reading the rave reviews about this restaurant in the New York TimesMidwest Living, and Feast Magazine and hearing from my friends who already tried it and loved it. Prior to our Twilight movie marathon, Ruthie and I headed to Winslow’s Home on a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon. The restaurant was busy and the line to the counter was long. Think I was stuck in line bored to tears? Think again.

Winslow’s Home first opened as a general store in 1924 and current owners Randy Lipton and Ann Sheehan Lipton pay homage to the original concept with shelves, tables and corkboard walls selling everything from cooking utensils, kitchen accessories and weird little books like eat tweet. In the market for some 100% Kosher soap? They sell it. What about a Bananagram? They’ve got it. Looking for a bottle of wine to go with your white cheddar, fontina, and herb butter grilled cheese sandwich? They have a 500 bottle Wine Room for you to peruse.

Locally grown, organic, and sustainability are words thrown about the restaurant industry these days with few restaurants actually putting these words into action. If the fact that Winslow’s Home has earned accolades from St. Louis Magazine, Sauce Magazine and the RFT weren’t enough, they also know the food they serve. Sitting on four chemical-free acres in Augusta, Missouri is Winslow’s Farm. As quoted on their website, “Living sustainably is not just a trend to us, it is a way of life.”

We only had time to sample their blueberry pie, tea, and iced mocha, but I’ll definitely be back. After all, Home is where the...award-winning, Missouri-raised, grass-fed beef is.

Ruthie enjoying a hot cup of tea at Winslow's Home.

{All photos taken with my iphone, using the Instagram app and the 1977 filter.}    

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I'm a Thirty-One Year Old Twilight Fan...So Bite Me

{Read at your own risk: Spoilers included}

On Saturday, I held a slumber party of sorts. I invited over one of my best girlfriends, we lounged in our pj's on my pull-out couch, rented movies, ate, drank, and swooned over the movie’s lead actor. This may sound like the journal entry of a boy crazy pre-teen, but Ruthie and I are long past our teen years (whew!). We ate pasta instead of popcorn, downed champagne instead of soda, and watched movies that certainly don’t reflect our entrĂ© into adulthood.

For six hours and through all four movies of the Twilight saga, we sat mesmerized by the likes of the Cullen’s, the “vegetarian” vampire family residing in rainy Forks, Washington, the werewolf pack made up of boys from the Quileute Tribe in nearby La Push, and the damsel at the heart of it all, Bella.

A few months ago, I wandered into my local Barnes & Noble in search of a good book that would capture my imagination and hold my attention. I’ve been an avid reader since childhood, spending hours at my local library picking out the latest tale from Camp Sunnyside Friends and The Baby-Sitters Club. Since those early days of reading, I’ve matured to authors such as Joshua Ferris, Frank McCourt, and Truman Capote and to historical biographies from Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Palin.

When I read a good book, I tend to lose myself in the plot, the characters, and the storyline. But until a few months ago, I hadn’t read anything really page-turning since diving into A Million Little Pieces and The Help last summer. My friends (adult, professional women!) all read and loved the Twilight series. She read it. She read it. Heck, even he read it! So, I knew the books came highly recommended. But, could I really sink my teeth into (oh yes, I went there!) a book about vampires and werewolves?

The Cullen Family of the Olympic Coven
The Quileute werewolf pack of La Push

The answer my friends, isn’t blowing in the Olympic Peninsula wind, it’s in the fact that I lost hours of my life to the trials of Edward, Jacob, and Bella. Once I started reading the books, I couldn’t put them down. I stayed up late at night, hurried home from work, and discussed the characters endlessly with anyone who would listen. Will Edward and Bella ever become a couple or will their romance remain requited? Will Bella choose Jacob over Edward and save her family a lifetime of pain? Will the Volturi seek their revenge? And finally, what does the future hold for Renesmee?  

After I finished each book, I rented the corresponding movie and quickly caught up to Breaking Dawn Part I. Creative credit is due to fashion designer Carolina Herrera, herself a fan of the books and movies, who designed a $35,000 custom-fit wedding dress, complete with hand-sewn Chantilly lace, fitted satin bodice, and 169 buttons. Even I'd get bitten for that kind of couture!

A slumber party toast to Edward and Bella! 

I finished the last book of the saga a few weeks ago and, like any good book, the characters and their stories remain with me still.

Have you read Twilight? And if so, are you Team Edward or Team Jacob? Did you become obsessed with the saga and the characters? Tell me I'm not the only adult Twihard!

{All images, unless my own, courtesy of Google}

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Proud Member of Cardinal Nation since 1981

A lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan, inside the "old" Busch Stadium

It’s the crack of the bat that sends our player home.
It’s the Seventh Inning Stretch.
It’s the view of the St. Louis skyline beyond the outfield and The Arch as the dramatic backdrop.
It’s Big Mac Land.
It’s the statue of St. Louis’ favorite son, Stan "The Man" Musial, poised eternally “at bat.”
It’s Fredbird.
It’s “The Wizard.”
It’s the old Busch Stadium and those iconic 96 arches, now gone forever.
It’s the new Busch Stadium and that fabulous view.
It’s growing up with the booming voice of Jack Buck announcing the plays on KMOX Radio.
It’s Game Six.
It’s having a beer and a hot dog at every game. Always.
It’s the majestic Clydesdales making their grand appearance.
It’s Darryl Kile.
It’s beating the Cubs. Always.

It’s the Boys of Summer and, after winning the 2011 World Series (sorry Becky); they’re finally back in town. And as we like to say in St. Louis, “Go Crazy, Folks, Go Crazy!”

Laura and I inside the "new" Busch Stadium, 2011.

Monday, April 09, 2012

To Market, To Market: A Visit to the Historic Soulard Farmer's Market

This Saturday dawned cool and crisp in St. Louis and I knew it was the perfect day to head to my neighborhood farmer’s market. I was tasked to bring strawberries* on Easter Sunday and the best place in St. Louis to buy locally grown fruits, vegetables, and meat is the historic Soulard Farmers Market.

St. Louisans have been buying and selling local wares at the market since 1779 when the “market” was a simple tract of land where farmers would gather to sell their livestock and other goods. In 1836 Julia Cerre Soulard, the widow of Antoine Soulard, a surveyor and former lieutenant in the French navy, acquired the deed to the land and commissioned two buildings to stand as an official farmer’s market. 

The buildings are still there today and have been designated one of America’s “Great Public Spaces” by the Project for Public Spaces. Soulard Farmers Market stands as the oldest public market west of the Mississippi River.

In the beginning: Soulard Farmers Market, ca early 1800's
{photo credit}

Visiting Soulard Market this weekend, I was reminded of the open air farmers markets where I would practice my German after class (“Was ist der Preis?”) when I lived and studied in Salzburg and of the famous La Boqueria, the public Barcelona market built in 1217 and located off the busy La Rambla, an area I visited for five memorable days in 2004.

Soulard Market is open year round Wednesday through Saturday and on the weekends the market is busy and bustling with locals, families, and tourists.  

Planning a trip to the market? Visit their website, like their Facebook page and follow them on twitter.

*When learning how to cook, you’re often tasked with bringing things like strawberries and cartons of iced tea. Non-cooks, FTW!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

New Wine Bar Wednesday: Bin 11 - Inside the Tami Scott Studio

A few weeks ago, on a rainy St. Patrick’s Day, my friends and I wandered into Bin 11 – the newest bar in Soulard.

Soulard is situated in the shadow of one of the largest breweries in the world and has been home to beer makers and beer drinkers since 1852 when Eberhard Anheuser, a German born candle maker, rescued the Bavarian Brewing Company from bankruptcy. A marriage, a business partnership, and countless Clydesdales later and the residents of Soulard have been drinking ever since. Soulard is home to a tap house with nearly 500 beers on the menu, a traditional Irish pub, and a Mexican cantina. But, one thing we’ve never had is a wine bar. That is, until Bin 11 was born.

From Tami Scott, the owner of the Tami Scott Studio and Rusty Oakes, former General Manager of SLeeK and Prime 1000, comes the wine bar known as Bin 11. Opened inside an operating Paul Mitchell Focus Salon and the Tami Scott Cosmetics studio, Bin 11 is the perfect place to get pampered, preened, or just plain plastered.*

With the owners of Bin 11, Rusty Oakes and Tami Scott

Tami and Rusty have created a wine bar that is open, inviting, and oozing with fun. No stuffy sommelier attitude here, Bin 11 is chock-full of class and sass. Sparkling chandeliers hang from the rehabbed tin ceiling, plush window seats overlook a bustling Soulard street, and original art is displayed on the walls.

"Get Gorgeous" at the Tami Scott Studio

Stop by Bin 11 for their “American Idol” viewing parties on Monday nights**, schedule a spray-tan party, or saddle up to their makeup bar.

Bin 11 is sassy, classy, and the perfect addition to the Soulard bar scene. Like them on Facebook and follow Rusty Oakes on twitter.

*Soulard is a French feminine noun meaning “boozer”, after all.
**Rusty is a little fan of Steven Tyler. If by little, I mean that he’s seen Aerosmith in concert thirty-six times! 

Monday, April 02, 2012

Fabulous Find: The World's Largest Rocking Chair

It’s no secret that I love classy establishments. If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know I prefer places like Cielo at the Four Seasons and cute little cars like the Gucci Fiat. But even I, self-proclaimed CityDiva, can appreciate the simpler things in life.

In 2010, my mom, sister, and I headed west for a weekend in Branson. Making our way along historic Route 66 (now known as Interstate 44 in Missouri), I managed to spot a small, hand-written sign along the side of the road advertising the “World’s Largest Rocking Chair.” Loving all things quirky and “World’s Largest anything” we were soon pulling off I-44 and onto the winding side road of Highway ZZ in rural, central Missouri.

Formally known as the “Route 66 Rocker” and standing 42’1” tall and 20’3” wide, it was designated the Largest Rocking Chair by the Guinness World Records in 1998. Guests who travel off the beaten path to see the infamous rocker should also visit the Fanning 66 Outpost General Store. Home to an archery range, traditional Ozark souvenirs, and a Taxidermy Studio (when in Missourah…), you’ll have a one of-a-kind Ozark experience.

Whether you're taking a drive across the country or a native Missourian planning a summer stay-cation, plan a trip to Cuba, Missouri and the World's Largest Rocking Chair for a rockin' good time.