Our guide is Chef Josh Galliano of The Libertine, a neighborhood eatery in St. Louis.
St. Louis 10 Do's and Don'ts
by Chef Josh Galliano
"St. Louis is a classic and classy city that is constantly changing but manages to maintain it's great treasures. The list of things to do in St. Louis will point you in a good direction, but that list will be different during different seasons! I guess the only answer is just stick around a little longer or come back often."
1. Go to a Brewery: St. Louis is a beer town, and even if everybody lives in the shadow of the King, we get the benefits of the historic Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Those benefits include a ton of local craft beers that are exploding locally and nationally. If you get a chance to visit a brewery, try to take a tour of Schlafly Bottleworks, Perennial, or 4 Hands. These breweries also have tasting rooms and some have food offerings to help make the trip to the next brewery tour.
2. Cultural Gems: There are quite a few high and low cultural treasures in St. Louis, and where you go might depend on how you are traveling. My family loves going to the (free) St. Louis Zoo and date nights are sometimes to the Fox Theatre for a show. One of the most eclectic museums on earth is the City Museum with multiple levels and exhibits and randomness. A different type of cultural fun would be going to a baseball game (or hockey game if you come during the winter), or some live local music, especially if you come during LouFest (September 6-7, 2014). Of course, it's a little hard to miss the Gateway Arch; just make sure you go to the museum underneath the Arch.
4. Get Some Coffee. The world as a whole is experiencing the post Starbucks coffee resurgence, and that wave has a stronghold in St. Louis. The venerable Kaldi's Coffee has recently re-modeled their Demun coffee house to focus on single origin coffees and pour-overs. Newer to St. Louis' coffee scene is Blueprint Coffee and Comet Coffee (and micro bakery) who feature coffees from small roasters around the country. A definite don't miss would be Sump Coffee and a conversation with Scott Carey, the owner, about the great coffee beans he brings in and that he roasts himself.
5. Donuts. I think everyone was surprised when Alton Brown came to St. Louis for Feasting on Asphalt and went to donut shops. But in all honesty, I would go for a donut from St. Louis any day of the week. There are a lot of great shops around St. Louis, and saying you prefer one over the other shop is like declaring your football allegiances! My favorite is World's Fair Donuts but my sous chef's favorite is Mr. John's. New to the donut scene is Strange Donuts, who have been making new age donuts and collaborating with area chefs.
1. Mass Transit: there is a light rail system and buses, but it's tough to get where you want to go. A bright spot is that the Metro doesn't charge for fares between downtown and the Arch weekdays.
2. Stay local, not chains: When I first moved to St. Louis, the big debate was between chain restaurants and local restaurants. Now the debate has moved toward 'what local restaurant are we going to tonight.' There is a local shop for everything that you could possibly be looking for.
3. Don't be mean. People in St. Louis are nice and it's the Show Me State, so locals are down-to-earth and humble.
4. Driving is a must, so rent a car. BUT, don't drive everywhere! There are plenty of walking neighborhoods that are fun to visit like Cherokee Street's edgy shops and classic Mexican restaurants or the Central West End for sightseeing or people watching.
5. Don't bring any stereotypes of the Midwest with you on this trip. We're not all meat and potatoes simple.
"Sometimes, you know, when you really don’t want to forget something, you write it down on the back of a piece of paper or something, right? That can be really useful! [Laughs]
It sounds a bit over the top, but that thing you wrote down can be even more valuable than a wad of money even. The seed of an idea. But if you just keep writing things down on the back of bits of paper, they get lost."
Shigesato Itoi also tells PingMag that he started designing first Hobonichi planner that the perfect size would be that of a Japanese bunko-bon paperback but he could find none that size.
Located at 256, Fifth Avenue, it is brought to Brooklyn by franchise owners Jonathan Young, a longtime Brooklyn resident, and Bruce Fox.
"There will be a light fare menu for several weeks with a raw bar featuring oysters and clams on the half shell, New England clam chowder and appetizers including: shrimp cocktail, oyster shooters, smoked salmon, fried oysters, fried calamari, popcorn shrimp, fried clams, mussels, crab cake, fish tacos, caesar salad, caesar salad with shrimp or crabmeat. Sandwiches will include oyster po boy, lobster roll, fried clam sandwich, and crab cake sandwich, all served with French fries and coleslaw.
The menu will ultimately include traditional oyster bar core recipes such as classic pan roasts, stews and chowders, with a focus on shellfish: from oysters and clams to lobster, crab and shrimp. Sixteen varieties of oysters - 8 from both the east and west coasts - will be on the menu. In addition, pasta seafood specials will be served daily. The accent will also be on local produce from area farmers’ markets."
I rarely drink cocktails yet went for the Berlin Snowflake.
While enjoying a plate of duck, fresh carrots, brussels sprouts and string beans served buffet style, we were given an update on upcoming celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall in 2014.
One of the main highlights around the official November 9 date:
"Along the former course of the Berlin Wall a new temporary Berlin Wall will be built with thousands of white balloons. It is going to run right through the city centre and it will be illuminated. If the weather is good enough this wall can even be seen from outer space. Visitors to Berlin have many choices to experience the history of the wall and what it meant to the city and the people of Berlin. These include a GPS-guided walking tour on the trail of the Berlin Wall, guided or self-guided bicycle tours on the Wall path, visits to underground Berlin, former watch towers, Wall memorials, The GDR Museum, or a drive into the East of the city in an original GDR Trabant car."
We also learned that Berlin is home to more than 160 museums and 6 symphony orchestras.
Because of its relative affordability, the city is now also home to thousands of artists and creative types.
Guests at the party could choose from a selection of cookie hearts with a message. I had to pick the one above even though i am not on my way to Berlin anytime soon. Wish I had a chance to visit its Weinachtsmarkt...