I have always loved theme parties. From summer camp to college, I was always down to dress up for a party. By the end of college I had collected a serious costume box. But as you get older it seems costume parties just don't seem to happen as often. I for one think that needs to change. Thankfully I got the chance to dress up over the weekend thanks to the Pat Connolly Tavern. My friend Kate invited me to the VIP party to celebrate the Dogtown institution's 75th anniversary. The Irish bar has been a classic spot in the area since the 40s, so what better way to celebrate their birthday than with a 40's bash?
I was so impressed with all the fun costumes, I wish I had gone all out because hello! How often do you get to wear a hat? But I donned my circle skirt, red lip and tried my best at a 40's inspired up-do (spoiler alert, it did not come out like the YouTube video). Classic cars outside made for the perfect Instagram background and live music made us feel like we were right in the middle of the Notebook. But the best part was trying all their classic cocktails. With all the great cocktail bars in St. Louis, Pat's isn't one I often think of, but that all changed the moment I tried their Ward 24. Jameson, real grenadine, lemon and orange juice create the perfect boozy yet refreshing drink for summer. Of course you can never go wrong with a classic Manhatten. So if you missed the party don't fret, head on down to Pat's one night for a cocktail, and maybe don a hat for old time's sake.
So how is it already April? This year is flying by. I’m taking a look at my goals for the year and the one I am definitely nailing is traveling more. One of my goals was to travel to several new cities this year and I’m finally getting around to posting about my first one - Miami!
Our long weekend trip to Miami was Matt and my anniversary/Christmas gift to each other. Technically it wasn’t a “new” city since I went when I was a kid. But since the only thing I remember about that trip was buying a white corduroy blazer from AX Exchange (yes take a moment and let that image sink in), I feel like this was a first time trip. Plus Matt used to live there so it was so excited to get to see a part of his old life.
We flew into Fort Lauderdale because we flew on Southwest. So we picked up our rental car and drove to Miami. First stop was getting lunch and cocktails. We had lunch at Suviche in Wynwood for fresh ceviche and mojitos. The rain cleared up just in time for our afternoon. We walked around Wynwood, which is my kind of neighborhood. Its the former warehouse district so its still very industrial but its been transformed with incredible murals and new boutiques, bars and galleries. We hit up two breweries - Concrete Beach and Wynwood Brewery. Because the rain was on and off, we hung around and played games at Wynwood Brewery which had a solid shelf of board games.
We checked into our hotel in downtown Brickell. We stayed at the Aloft Brickell which we really enjoyed, the location was perfect for us since we weren't doing too much on South Beach. Just wish the weather had cooperated more for some pool time!
We did head to South Beach for pre-dinner drinks at a really cool bar called the Broken Shaker. Its in a hostel/hotel with a gorgeous pool setting. Dinner was back downtown at Mignonette. We sat at the raw bar and had oysters and some incredible seafood. Following dinner we headed over to a great cocktail bar down the street, Corner Bar.
We woke up and head straight for coffee. I had read about Panther Coffee and it was delicious. There are a couple of locations around the city but we went to the one in Wynwood. We got an empanada and croissant to share for breakfast. Then we hit the streets. The weather was one our side so we wanted to take in all of the murals in Wynwood. It was early enough in the morning that it felt like we had the streets to ourselves to admire all the cool artwork. We also popped over the actual Wynwood Walls, which is a curated space in between several buildings with of course a trendy juicery inside.
For lunch, it was time for tacos. We went to Coyo. It was packed, so we grabbed our tacos (shrimp, chicken, asada), guac and churros, and headed to stand in the sun. We followed lunch with another brewery - J Wakefield Brewery. This was probably my favorite. They have a lot of sours, with fruit accents. Really tasty IPAs that were perfect for sipping all afternoon. Favorites were Stush, a berlinner weisse and Mango and Cash, a double IPA.
For dinner on Saturday we headed into the Design District for Michael’s Genuine. Michael’s Genuine is one of those rare restaurants. It’s been around 10 years and is still attracting great reviews for its seasonal and local dishes, plus huge crowds.
We aren’t big club people so we headed to some bars in Wynwood for a little dancing. Gramps was a really cool spot with an outdoor patio and dance area. I just wish it was a little warmer and we could have enjoyed it more. Here we had our favorite cocktail of the weekend, the Rosemary’s Baby, gin, lemon and Earl Grey simple syrup with a piece of rosemary that they lit on fire giving it a smoky taste.
Beach Day! We headed to South Beach to get our fill of the ocean, unfortunately the wind was not our friend and we were whipped to death by the sand. The water in February was also a little too chilly given the temperatures. Once we couldn’t take the wind any longer we headed to Ocean Drive to check out the shops. It was packed with not only people but pretty much every store you could want. We caught the sun setting over the harbor at Monty’s South Beach over a plate of oysters.
For dinner we met up with friends at Cake Thai. We shared a bunch of dishes which were all incredible, but the service was lacking unfortunately, as several of our dishes were forgotten or took forever to come out. The restaurant is fairly new so hopefully they will get that hammered out because that yellow curry dish would have me coming back again and again.
After dinner we walked over to The Wynwood Yard, a really good spot with live music, a bar and food trucks in a permanent outdoor space. We had shaved ice cream, which was melt in your mouth good.
On our last day in town we needed to check to more food musts off our list - pastries from Zak the Baker and a cubano sandwich. Zak the Baker is located in Wynwood (told you it was gong to be my favorite neighborhood). They have their bakery and then down the street they have a kosher deli. Honestly breakfast at the delli looked incredible, but my heart was set on pastries. Matt and I went all our and split four different items - croissant, chocolate croissant, an incredible babka and a cinnamon roll. Guys, this place was beyond good. I desperately wanted to try their bread, but our stomachs could take no more. Next time!
We spent the rest of the morning lounging by the pool at Aloft, soaking up a few rays of sunshine before they darted behind the clouds. We hit the road to head to the airport, but not without stopping for a Cubano. We asked several locals for the best spot - there were mixed opinions of course but we settled on Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop. When you walk in at lunch and it’s packed with locals, you know you’ve picked right. We sat up at the counter at the simple, no fuss eatery and placed our orders. For me - chicken soup, with the most delicious broth, giant chunks of giant and big slices of veggies. I could have been satisfied with just that. But I had a Cubano coming. I’m no expert in Cubanos but for me it was everything I wanted, the perfect ratio of pickles, mustard, ham, pork, and Swiss. After our morning of eating, I felt like I could fall right into a food coma, so we grabbed a cortadito for the road. The strong Cuban coffee drink of half espresso and half milk. The milk isn’t frothy like a cappuccino, but dense, think more cafe con leche.
Our trip was the perfect amount of relaxation and exploration, and like almost all my vacations focused on eating and drinking my way through a new city. For me, I think the best way to explore a new city or culture is through their food. I’d love to hear your favorite spots because we have another trip to Miami planned this winter for a wedding!
Let's talk breakfast my friends. I love breakfast...when someone else is making it. I know they say it's the most important meal of the day but during the week I am more about grabbing some oatmeal with apples or a scrambled egg. I would rather just have some coffee and wait until lunch. But if someone else is making me breakfast well then I could make an argument that it's my favorite meal.
St. Louis has a ton of weekend brunch spots. Every neighborhood has a great place for eggs and Bloody Mary's for Sunday mornings. Some with hour long waits that are worth every minute. But today we're talking breakfast, not brunch. Because of my schedule, I am off on Fridays and a lot of times I'm ready for someone else to make me some delicious potatoes and bacon for the start of my weekend. But I've found there are not as many options for weekday breakfast. Enter, Egg.
Egg, located in Benton Park, opened last October. It originated as a brunch pop-up in Spare No Rib and then expanded to it's own concept. I went about a month ago and fell in love. They have a fantastic eclectic menu. It's short but the menu items each pack a punch. You could call it fusion. There's tex-mex elements and then there's a chakchouka, a traditionally Tunisian dish with eggs sauteed in a tomato sauce. I've yet to try it but definitely on my next visit.
You must try their take on eggs benedict. I went with the spinach and avocado, but there's also one with smoked pork belly that harks back to their original start as a barbaque restaurant (Spare No Rib moved to it's own location near Cherokee Street). Instead of your usual English muffin, the perfectly poached egg perches on top of a slightly sweet biscuit. It surprises your taste buds and veers away from the traditional brunch staple in the most perfect way.
The hashes are also fantastic. They pack a lot in that little bowl. Lots of veggies, spices and the potatoes have that perfect crispness. The El Cerdo hash with carnitas, corn and jalapenos packed a lot of heat! It's all perfect hangover food for weekend brunch but the portions also aren't insane that if you go for a week day breakfast you don't feel like you immediately need to go home for a nap.
But if you are looking to indulge during your week day...or you're visiting on the weekend, their Bloody Mary is not to be missed. They make their own pepper-infused vodka and homemade mix. Its the perfect amount of heat, just like a lot of their dishes. Fresh squeezed orange juice tops a generous pour of sparkling wine for their mimosas.
Egg is opened Tuesday through Sunday. Where are your favorite weekday breakfast spots?
It's the new year and every one is in resolution mode! I touched on my thoughts about goals and resolutions earlier this week. Whether your resolution is to eat healthier or you just need a little reset after all the Christmas cookies and New Year's Eve champagne, this soup is perfect. I drew inspiration from a recipe I saw on With Food and Love's site and a dish we made at our cooking class in Sevilla. It was chickpeas cooked with spinach and saffron. It was super comforting. Plus I have been looking for more ways to use the saffron I brought back from Spain (You can read about my trip here!).
This soup can sort of take on a multitude of forms depending on what you have on hand. You could use spinach instead of kale or white beans instead of chickpeas. You could use vegetable brother to make it vegetarian. I used bacon fat to cook the onions and celery in, but obviously you can use olive oil to keep it vegetarian (or healthier). I just wanted something warm and a little lighter to help counter all the heavy holiday stuff. Plus I am kicking off a 12 week challenge at my gym this weekend and this is the perfect soup to make at the start of the week and keep on hand for a quick healthy lunch. What are your go-to meals to have on hand when you're trying to stay healthy during a hectic week?
chickpea and kale soup
-So I have this problem with St. Louis that in reality is the best problem to have - there are too many yummy places to eat. When I lived in Knoxville there were some amazing restaurants but after a while I was very tired of my options (of course since I've left the Knoxville food scene has exploded, every one should visit BTW). Coming home to St. Louis I was so excited to try the plethora of restaurants that had opened since I left. But of course that was while also getting my fill of life-long favorites.
Basically my weekly dilemma becomes, how do I fit in all my favorite spots while also checking off my (ever growing) list of new places? (While also trying to keep my wallet and waistline in check?) That's why it's taken me nearly a year to get over to Byrd and Barrel. But the wait was worth it. This was some solid fried chicken
I already knew I loved the space (obsessed with idea of rehabbing vacant buildings) and had an idea of exactly what we were going to order: chicken, mac n cheese and the poutine. The space was better than imagined, I love love love the re-use of the old Popeyes, the bar was beautiful. Only complaint was the stools at the counter (not bar) were horribly uncomfortable. Thankfully we we're able to snag bar seats when a couple left. We naturally chose to eat fried chicken while it was 100 degrees outside but that didn't stop our eyes from devouring that menu. I wanted so many things. We settled on the pre-planned order but of course had to add on biscuits. Knoxville taught me I can never pass up a biscuit.
Let's first talk about that poutine. Byrd and Barrel's version is tator tot-esque potato ball compared to your usual fries, and that gravy was so delicious. I wanted to smother it on every thing else we ate. Gravy plus tator tots plus cheese curds plus chicken? I mean what more could you want? Well you could want the cheddar biscuit which I will say happily reminded me of a more upscale Red Lobster biscuit. (Don't judge, I freaking love cheddar biscuits.) And then you could want to follow that with more guilty pleasure goodness. Cheesy mac-n-cheese and that chicken. We got the two piece and could barely finish half of it. It's peppery and crispy, the perfect kick of heat. Granted in 100 degrees we were slightly regretting our glutinous lunch choice.
But there we go, I have checked off another on the list. Thanks to the drive-through though it may become one my list of rotating favorites...
A month after our epic #SistersInSpain trip and I finally have sorted through all our photos and am ready to share my favorites from the vacation. It’s not hard to see why my sister has fallen in love with the country and wants to stay another year. Our trip was such a wonderful time to get to experience her new life in Madrid but also explore some new cities together. I’m splitting the trip up into three posts Madrid, Seville and Southern Spain: Granada, Cadiz, Jerez.
We started and ended our trip in Madrid and with just under three days in Spain’s capital we attempted to make the most of the visit.
Day Three (which was really our last day of the trip because we circled back to Madrid)
Spring in St. Louis means two things: crazy weather and weekends filled with festivals. (Well three things if we want to add allergies to that list. Anyone else dying from the pollen?) There's nothing I love more than a good festival. Live music, tasty food, drinking in the street and mingling with everyone after a long winter stuck indoors.
This past weekend was the huge Cinco de Mayo festival on Cherokee Street and since it coincided with the Kentucky Derby and one of the first 90 degree days of the year, St. Louisians were out in full festival force. (Plus the Blues won! So every one was in a celebratory mood.)
Cherokee Street is one of my favorite streets in this city. It's got hands down the best Mexican (I'm partial to La Vallesana) and some of my favorite second hand stores (Future Ancestors for fantastic furniture finds and Mesa Home for quirky clothing and accessories). Plus Earthbound Brewery and Melt and Hop Shop! The list can go on and on.
Saturday it was all about dancing in the streets, drinking Mint Juleps out of pineapples and cheering on my horse during the Derby. (I picked SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS because, duh.) And in St. Louis fashion, the skies opened up on us with a fast moving thunderstorm. But no one let that put a damper on the day!
So I'm curious, what's your favorite St. Louis festival?
Let's start off with a confession. After living in Tennessee for nearly three years and visiting Nashville multiple times, I'm ashamed to admit I never visited the famed hot chicken joints (Hattie B's or Princes!). I know, I know. Judge me if you please.
So I've anxiously been awaiting St. Louis' own hot chicken spot. And boy did it deliver.
Southern opened their doors last week and the word quickly spread around town. We got there around 11:30 and the line was already creeping down the block. The Midtown restaurant shares a building and a co-owner (Mike Emerson) with the already beloved Pappy's. So if you're used to waiting in line at Pappy's, this is no different. But what made that line seem to fly by was a friendly visit from co-owner/chef Rick Lewis. Not only was he armed with a smile and a hello, but better yet, SAMPLES. In a little cup was his house made bologna. A far cry from the kind I remember as a kid that was wrapped in that red plastic. This my friends was some fantastic bologna.
But I came for the chicken. And that first bite was worth the 25 minutes we waited in line. Crunchy, juicy and just enough kick to make you want that piece of Companion white bread it sits atop. I went with Mild which was plenty spicy for me, but if you're a braver soul there's also a 'Cluckin' Hot' and a 'General Tso' that is supposed to have a nice soy kick.
The sides are as a classic as they come, from greens to mac n' cheese (amaaaazing) to a vinegar cole slaw. In addition to the chicken, there's also several great looking sandwiches (one of course with that delicious bologna). I think it'll be tough for me to go back and not get that chicken but perhaps I'll just have to go twice as often…I'll be glad to wait in that line if it means more samples!
Welcome to my blog! Here you'll find a behind the scenes look at the day-to-day life of a TV news reporter. I have a love for food, traveling and all things St. Louis. This is a place for me to write a bit more about my passions.