Go to the Bridge!

We are back with a great new place to try in St. Louis. Recently we visited Bridge Tap House and Wine Bar for our Valentine’s Day night out. Choosing to go on the Monday after Valentines Day, we were able to enjoy this wine bar without the stress of the Valentine’s Day crowd. Having tried other Bailey’s restaurants (Bailey’s Range, Bailey’s Chocolate Bar, and Rooster) my thoughtful sister gave me gift cards for Christmas to try more of their establishments. Being a wine enthusiast, we chose Bridge.
Going on a Monday, the place was not as crowded which gave us a nice, relaxing evening. Walking in, you get a modern yet cozy wine bar feel, which does not feel pretentious. Featuring ceiling fans on a pulley system and tree branch chandeliers, the Bailey Family theme can be felt throughout.
Dan chose beer, while I did wine to start dinner. I tried their Pinot Gris and Dan tasted two new beers (one being suggested by our kind server) both he enjoyed. We got two different dips as an appetizer- the hummus and pita bread and IPA cheddar cheese and tortilla chips. Both choices were unique and delicious! The hummus was my personal favorite, but Dan loved the IPA cheddar. The portions were not large, which was great as it did not spoil our dinner. Moving on to entree, Dan chose the Roasted Duck Tacos whereas I got the Roasted Pork and Ruby Grapefruit Salad. Both entrees were well portioned with complex flavors. I actually wished I had chosen the tacos as they were excellent! It was so nice to just sit and relax, something Bridge really caters to.
Come here for an intimate date night or drinks with friends. Located in the heart of downtown, this is a great spot to try.

Happy Tasting!

Denise

My Thoughtful Valentine

Hello Everyone! We are back and since it is the weekend of reminding the people we care about that we love them, this blog is right up that alley.

I had a birthday milestone last week (and no I am not going to say which one ;) ) which I had sort of told Dan that I wanted to at least do something fun with people that I enjoy being around, so Dan and one of my best friends Amber and her husband took it upon themselves to do just that! About a month or so ago Dan had casually asked for a list of names and phone numbers for people that, if we went to dinner or drinks, we could invite. He said to not limit the list, but to not make it too big which I was fine with. As like all of our lives do, both of us got extremely busy and I had mentioned several times that I didn’t really want to do anything. Well…he didn’t listen and boy am I glad!

Saturday, February 7th, Dan had said that we were going to dinner with a few friends but meeting at Amber’s house beforehand for a drink. Cool, I thought, and continued my day with rehearsal, errands, and laundry. We were suppose to be at Amber’s no later than 6 pm, but as it started to get closer to when we needed to leave our house, Dan wasn’t moving. He kept saying that it was a fluid time and we didn’t need to be there right at 6. Then it got to be 6:20 and I started to get angry because I knew we couldn’t have a drink and get to the restaurant in time to meet people (I hate making people wait!). After more waiting around (and Dan going into the bathroom for 20 minutes) we finally left for Amber’s…and I was not very happy!

Arriving at Amber and Lanes, I walked in and Amber immediately said, “Come see my new wine rack!” I walked around the corner and there was about 15-20 people saying “Surprise!”. I had no idea! For weeks Amber, Lane, and Dan had planned a party without me knowing…and they thought of everything! Dan had spent the day picking up food, beer and wine, and balloons, while Amber and Lane had made stuff for chicken fajitas (I love Mexican!), baked these amazing white cake with raspberry filling cupcakes (which was one of our wedding cake flavors), and made a batch of margaritas. Between the three of them, they thought of everything and their hard work paid off! They told everyone that they were providing drinks and food so there was no pressure to bring anything. Dan had created this great Facebook event with wonderful directions (GPS pictures included) and also spent time calling people. It was amazing! There were so many people there and several that I had not seen in a long time. Dan even was able to get my best friend from KC, Shannon, there with her boyfriend Shawn. I was floored!

Both Dan and the Parkers did an amazing job and threw a great party. I was so happy/shocked/touched and I could not say thank you enough. Happy Valentines Day to you three and you know how much I love you!

Happy Reading!

Denise

The hosts, Shannon, Shawn, and us

The hosts, Shannon, Shawn, and us

Denise's B-Day

Party Planners!

Amber's beautiful gift!

Amber’s beautiful gift!

Love her!

Love her!

Theresa and I

Theresa and I

Dan's co-workers/our friends

Dan’s co-workers/our friends

Friends!

Friends!

Denise's co-worker/friends

Denise’s co-worker/friends

Two of my besties!

Two of my besties!

Shannon!!!

Shannon!!!

Blowing out candles on my cupcake cake!

Blowing out candles on my cupcake cake!

Dan and Erin!

Dan and Erin!

Our cousins and great friends!

Our cousins and great friends!

Amber and I

Amber and I

A Sweet Tour

Hello everyone! We’re back with another blog post about a fun and “sweet” tour of historic downtown Maplewood. This past Saturday was the 2nd annual Sweet Tooth Tour sponsored by the City of Maplewood Special Business District and Feast Magazine. The tour was self-guided and led “tourists” to a total of 14 small businesses, each offering a small sample of a signature sweet treat.

We began the tour at Living Room ( arthousecoffees.com ), a new specialty coffee roaster and cafe located on Sutton. They offered two samples, a buttery hot-out-of-the-oven scone and a gluten-free chocolate and peanut butter cookie; both were amazing. As we strolled up Sutton, we stopped by Encore Baking Co ( encorebaking.com ) where we sampled a small raspberry-filled white cupcake with buttercream icing. We’ve tried their cupcakes before, and they were equally delicious this second time around. Before turning onto Manchester, we stopped by Pie Oh My! ( pieohmystl.com ), Traveling Tea ( traveling-tea.com ), and Strange Donuts ( strangedonuts.com ) where we sampled an apple pie, multiple sweeten tea varieties, and a gooey butter donut. Luckily we were able to take the donuts to go.

Starting on Manchester, we stopped by Great Harvest Bread Co. ( greatharvestmaplewood.com ) and La Cosecha Coffee ( lacosechacoffee.com ) where we tried a coffee brownie and received a to-go sample from Great Harvest, all in one stop as the two business share a store front. Luckily Denise knew about The Book House offering samples of World’s Fair Ice Cream, even though it wasn’t an “official stop”. It was delicious and unique at the same time. Stopping by Penzey’s Spices ( penzeys.com ) we each received a small jar of cinnamon sugar – perfect for cinnamon toast! Next we visited Vom Fass ( slmo-vomfassusa.com ) and Larder and Cupboard ( larderandcupboard.com ) where we tried cupcakes (VM) and got Divinity to-go (L&C).

We began the final leg of our tour by visiting Foundation Grounds ( foundationgrounds.com ) and Mystic Valley ( mysticvalleyonline.com ) where we received a molasses cookie to-go (FG) and samples of gelato, strawberry and blueberry smoothie, and delicious cannoli (MV).  Next we went to one of Dan’s favorite places, Kakao Chocolate ( kakaochocolate.com ), where we were given chocolate marshmallow cookies to-go – mmm! Finishing the tour we stopping in a well known Maplewood business, Schlafly Bottleworks ( schlafly.com ), where we tried sticky toffee pudding (a Scottish delight) with a small glass of Schlafly Oatmeal Stout; both items can be found on their current menu.

Full and high on sugar, we made our way back to our house, loving the fact that we are within walking distance to so many eclectic small businesses. Maplewood has truly transformed into a “foodie” destination. So if any of these businesses sound appealing, check out their website, or better yet, visit downtown Maplewood for a truly unique experience.

Thanks for reading!

Denise and Dan

Pie sample from Pie Oh My!

Pie sample from Pie Oh My!

Pie Oh My!

Pie Oh My!

Encore Baking

Encore Baking

Walking up Sutton Blvd

Walking up Sutton Blvd

The Living Room

The Living Room

The Book House

The Book House

Outside La Cosecha and Great Harvest Bread Co.

Outside La Cosecha and Great Harvest Bread Co.

Divinity at Larder and Cupboard

Divinity at Larder and Cupboard

Outside Foundation Grounds

Outside Foundation Grounds

Samples at Mystic Valley

Samples at Mystic Valley

Wine Tasting at home!

Hey everyone! Hope 2015 is finding everyone well and happy. I am so excited to write about this experience as it was amazing.

Recently I hosted an in-home wine tasting through WineShop at Home with Amanda Uhlmansiek, an independent wine consultant for the company (http://wineshopathome.com/amandauhlmansiek). I met Amanda at the Apple Butter Festival in Kimmswick, MO and she piqued my interest. After contacting me in early December, she let me know about an amazing hostess special in January, I took the plunge and scheduled a tasting.

Hosting a tasting is quite simple. For only a small fee the consultant comes into your home, leads an informative and casual wine tasting (6 bottles total), and then at the end collects orders from you and your friends; wine is delivered directly to your provided address within a week. All remaining wine from the tasting is left for you to enjoy with your guests. How cool is that?! Amanda was a great consultant as she not only gave me an invitation to hand out, but also provided me a great list of instructions/suggestions to help make the tasting a great experience for everyone.

A diverse guest list is key. The idea is to get between 8-14 people to attend; Amanda’s suggestion was to invite about 20 people. I invited a wide array of people from both old and new friends to co-workers and college classmates, all with various wine experience. Food pairings are also suggested with each bottle of tasted wine. Again, Amanda had given me a list of suggested cheeses, crackers, fruit, etc. to have at the tasting. To ensure everyone felt included, I assigned each person to bring a food pairing to taste along with the wine.

Amanda arrived about 30 minutes prior to the tasting to set up. Once everyone arrived, we started our 1 to 1 1/2 hour tasting/pairing event. She led us through our fun and interesting tasting which ended up being the perfect mix of spunk and knowledge. To not ruin anyone’s future experience I won’t go into the details of the tasting, but let’s just say it was a very enjoyable afternoon. I was incredibly fortunate to have two dear friends help with setting up, which helped the whole afternoon run smoothly. Thank you Amber and Lisa!!!!

I would highly recommend this company/activity to anyone who is wine-lover with friends that share the same taste. Of course novice wine drinkers may be surprised as well. It is a great way to get together with a group of friends and family. Try this as a birthday party for a special wine loving friend, or an excuse to try tasty wine in the comfort of your home!

Happy Reading!

Denise

WeDo’s New Year Resolution

Hola! It’s safe to say that we could have written a few more blogs to capture all the fun, and in many cases, new things we did during 2014. That being said, we now have a great topic for our first blog of 2015: a review of the latter half of last year!

To begin, in June we took a small extended weekend vacation to Kentucky where we traveled our own version of the “Bourbon Trail.” While Dan is a fan of bourbon, Denise at the time did not have a taste for it. Therefore, we ventured off the official Bourbon Trail path to visit a few wineries. We stopped at a handful of distilleries including Buffalo Trace, Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, and a couple local craft distilleries. Denise actually found a taste for bourbon along the way, particularly enjoying the Woodford Double Oaked Single Barrel and the Four Roses Single Barrel. Winery wise we tried Wild Rose Winery, White Moon Winery (where Denise got to bottle her own bottle of wine!) and Forest Edge Winery. Each one was unique and fun to visit. As far as lodging is concerned, our recommendation is to stay at Talbott Tavern, a bed and breakfast that is not only extremely affordable but also rich in history. It is located in Bardstown, KY named the “Most Beautiful Small Town in America” which it completely lives up to its claim to fame. If you enjoy bourbon, wine, history, and good food we highly recommend checking out Kentucky!

Fortunately, two of Denise’s sisters and their families were able to travel and visit us in St. Louis where we got to show them some of the city. Visiting various iconic St. Louis features and restaurants was the themes of both trips. City Museum was a huge hit with both of the families as it is an adult size jungle gym made out of recycled materials. The Saint Louis Zoo was also on the agenda which of course wows the kids and adults alike. Having never visited the Butterfly House, we were excited to visit with one family; everyone seemed to be impressed as it was beautiful. With the other family we tried the St. Louis Science Center in which the kiddos got to build their own program to operate a robot. We also saw Madagascar Island of the Lemurs, which was really funny and educational (anything that Morgan Freeman narrates has to be fantastic!). Several restaurants were also on the agenda. These included Fitz’s on the Delmar Loop, Bailey’s Range (a burger bar which is TO DIE FOR!) and Charlie Gitto’s on The Hill (Denise’s brother-in-law had been waiting two years to go back!). Overall both families were impressed with the city and had a great time!

Moving on to Fall 2014, we went a festival that began with us waiting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Hwy 55. What festival, you ask? It’s the annual Apple Butter Festival in historic Kimmswick, MO. Having been our first time attending, we did not know we needed to arrive early to avoid all the traffic. After parking in a nearby field, we walked a 1/4 mile or so to the main gate. The number of vendors was unbelievable! Not to mention the continuous smell of tasty food that filled the air. From funnel cakes to burgers, it would be impossible to leave hungry. Not only did vendors line the streets with all sorts of handmade crafts, but all the local shops in Kimmswick showcased their merchandise with great sales. We managed to walk away with gifts for family and friends, some new decorations for the house, and a new appreciation for country festivals. Next year we’ll remember to leave early!

Last but not least, in November Denise bought Dan an absolutely fantastic birthday present – VIP tickets to the Whiskey in the Winter festival at the Hyatt Regency in downtown St. Louis. The night began with us navigating the hectic downtown streets amidst all the construction on the Arch Riverfront before finally arriving at the Hyatt. After a short visit to our room to change, we headed up to the President’s Suite to attend the VIP Jim Beam Suntory event prior to the actual festival. To be honest, this was one of our favorite parts of the night. The limited attendance, combined with delicious drinks, rare bourbon tastings, and a sushi bar made it hard to leave; let’s say the hour certainly flew by. VIP tickets meant we could arrive 30 minutes early to the actual festival. This gave us time to survey the various booths as well as try some of our favorite bourbons. Begin a festival centered around sampling bourbon, the organizers were very smart to include a wide array of unlimited food prepared by the Hyatt kitchen staff. From prime rib to salmon, and appetizers to dessert, the menu was stacked with delicious options. We regret only going through the line twice. Now don’t think we ate and drank the entire night (though with 300 whiskies available, it’s hard not to sample). The event included a wide array of education seminars with topics ranging from the history of bourbon to crafting classic bourbon cocktails with a twist. By 9 o’clock, the festival commenced, and we were ready for some rest. If you’re even remotely a fan of bourbon, this festival is sure to impress.

Overall, we had a great 2014 (see pictures below for some highlights). Besides doing many different activities we also tried a variety of amazing restaurants throughout the St. Louis area. One of our goals for 2015 is to not only write blogs about these fabulous establishments, but also to write more blogs in general. We hope you enjoy reading and continue to check in with us in 2015.

Happy Reading,

Denise and Dan

Easter, Misc, Kentucky 2014 Trip 046 Easter, Misc, Kentucky 2014 Trip 085 Easter, Misc, Kentucky 2014 Trip 011 Easter, Misc, Kentucky 2014 Trip 019 Easter, Misc, Kentucky 2014 Trip 066Denise bottling her own bottle of wine Easter, Misc, Kentucky 2014 Trip 103 Easter, Misc, Kentucky 2014 Trip 137 Going away with Muff and Julie, misc 002First ever green seat game!

Going away with Muff and Julie, misc 003 Going away with Muff and Julie, misc 009 National Championship Game, Halloween, Whiskey in the Winter 004 National Championship Game, Halloween, Whiskey in the Winter 009 National Championship Game, Halloween, Whiskey in the Winter 012 National Championship Game, Halloween, Whiskey in the Winter 014 National Championship Game, Halloween, Whiskey in the Winter 020 Not quite right at Great Rivers Saloon in January 2014 021 Not quite right at Great Rivers Saloon in January 2014 033 Not quite right at Great Rivers Saloon in January 2014 039 July 2014 Blueberry Hill, Beth and Rich STL visit 002Science Center Fun! July 2014 Blueberry Hill, Beth and Rich STL visit 021

 

Baxter’s at the Lake

Greetings from Lake of the Ozarks! It has been a little while since our last post so we thought what a great time to write another one…on our anniversary!

We came down to the Lake to spend a little time getting away while celebrating…wait for it, wait for it…our 1st year of marriage! We made it (sometimes surprisingly so! ;) ). We are so fortunate that we have this little get-away to go to and relax. Anways…on to the main part of the blog.

Last evening we had our anniversary dinner at Baxter’s Lakeside Grille ( http://baxterslakesidegrille.com/ ). This is the second time visiting this establishment; we had been there the first time after rave reviews and recommendations from my sisters and parents. We enjoyed it so much that time that we thought it was the perfect place to celebrate.

We made reservations through the website with Open Table ( http://www.opentable.com ) which is such an easy, simple way to choose a time you wish while also being able put in special requests ( view of the lake, non-smoking, etc.). I had mentioned in that comment section that it was our anniversary and when the host greeted us he wished us Happy Anniversary. How thoughtful! He also upgraded us to a nicer table and low and behold it was the same place we sat the first time we came! How neat was that?! It had a beautiful view of the lake but also was far enough away from the bar to be intimate.

We started out with the Spinach and Artichoke Dip which was piping hot, creamy, and complex while also coming out very quickly. Baxter’s menu is not too big but with so many good choices I had trouble deciding whereas Dan took one look and said “I’m getting the sirloin” and shut his menu. Lucky! One great thing about Baxter’s is they allow you to bring a bottle of your own wine in for a $10 corkage fee as long as it is not one of the wines they sell. We brought a bottle of red wine we bought on our Kentucky trip which we had fallen in love with- Black Barrel Reserve from Wildside Winery. The wine is aged in bourbon barrels from one of the local distilleries.

For our main course Dan got Baxter’s Sirloin steak with Wasabi smashed potatoes and a Caesar salad and I got the Seared Ahi Tuna Salad. Both dishes were savory, cooked to perfection, and satisfying. After finishing our plates, April, our attentive waitress, brought us out a piece of cheesecake on the house as a anniversary surprise, as well as taking our picture for a “surprise gift”. When she brought the bill she also brought us our picture she took in a congratulatory photo memento.

We would highly recommend Baxter’s to anyone traveling down to the Lake. Not only is the food delicious and fresh and the atmosphere inviting, but also a dress code ranging from formal to casual lakeside attire is acceptable. This is a perfect place for an intimate dinner for two or a family who wants to enjoy spending time together while getting a great meal. Enjoy!

Thank you for reading,

Denise

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The Story About “A Pizza Story”

It’s been quite some time since our last blog post, so we thought we’d take a moment to tell you about a new restaurant that opened a few months ago in Maplewood. It’s called “A Pizza Story.” I guess this is a story about A Pizza Story. :)

Denise and I have been very busy lately, so a couple weeks ago we decided to go out and try the new, much-anticipated pizza restaurant: A Pizza Story. It was a Friday night, the weather was beautiful, so the place was packed, both inside and out. We arrived and were shortly greeted by a busboy (who gave us menus), and the owner then came by and took our name for the next available table. The service was off to a good start. The wait was not too long, but it was enough time for us to grab a drink at the bar. Denise ordered the sangria special, and I had a glass of red wine. Both our drinks were refreshing, and the bartender did a great job, especially given the busy night. Soon our table was ready. We were lucky enough to get an outdoor table! I love people watching.

After a few short moments our waiter arrived and took our drink order: another sangria special for D and a beer for me! Our drinks were promptly delivered, so we placed our dinner order (we were starving!). Denise ordered the Fantasy and I ordered the Thriller (yes, these are just a couple of the pizza names). Basically my pizza was a pepperoni pizza, except substitute the pepperoni for Spanish chorizo. Denise’s included mushrooms, red pepper, oregano, and parmigiano reggiano (cheese). Once our order arrived, we were immediately impressed by presentation. You could tell that the pizzas were hand made with fresh ingredients… this is definitely not “fast food” pizza. While smaller than I expected (~12″ diameter) considering the price (~$15 each), both pizzas were very good! The crust was amazing, as it was cooked in a wood fired oven (this is what sets this place apart from other St. Louis pizza restaurants). In all honesty, the crust just might have been my favorite part of the pizza. Check out the link below for menu information. If you like pizza (who doesn’t?), you must try this place! I know we’ll be back.

http://www.apizzastory.com/

Thanks for reading!

Dan and Denise