Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Favorites: Royal Kansas City

Nothing beats finding a killer view of a city while on vacation. In San Francisco, we stood atop Telegraph Hill and were treated to a panoramic view of the city below. From the 95th floor of the John Hancock building, Chicago’s tallest buildings seemed to be within arm’s reach. And nothing will ever beat the view of New York City that the World Trade Center used to provide.

Directly across the street from Kansas City's Union Station, you’ll find a large, grassy hill that leads up to the World War I Museum. Now, we all know how I feel about stairs but despite my pleas against it, we made our ascent anyway. 

Boy, I am glad we did! The grassy hill presented us a breathtaking vantage point where we just sat and took in the view. What I loved best is that we were literally the only two up there looking down at the city below.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Left Coast Burgers

One of the things I look so very forward to every time we go out to California is hitting up In & Out Burger. You see, this is a fast food chain that we just don’t have in NYC and that saddens me because their burgers are heaven on a bun. The last time we were in Los Angeles, we literally ate there EVERY SINGLE DAY. I even may have considered ordering a mass quantity of burgers and shipping them home. I mean, take a look at the deliciousness below.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Tractor Story

While on the road, sometimes we’ll see a sign that reminds us just how far we are from New York City. That very thing happened as we were driving through Kansas City, Kansas. We somehow got lost trying to find the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway and ended up driving on a long and lonely road. In the distance I saw a sign for some type of hall of fame. As we got closer, I could see that it was advertising the “National Agriculture Center and Hall of Fame.” We certainly were NOT in New York anymore, Toto.

The National Agricultural Center & Hall of Fame is located at 630 Hall of Fame Drive, Bonner Springs, Kansas 66012

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Favorites: More Custard, Please

When it comes to ice cream, I have zero control. So it’s no big surprise that some of my favorite memories from our trip to Missouri involve eating this tasty treat.

Our first stop was to Fitz’s, a St. Louis institution best known for their premium root beer. After looking through the menu, we both decided on ice cream floats. I ordered The Better Brown Cow (Fitz’s Draft Cream Soda topped with chocolate ice cream) and Dan got a traditional Root Beer Float.

Best cream soda I have ever had.
We were shocked at how gigantic these floats actually were and Dan had no faith that I would come close to finishing those four scoops of ice cream. He had no idea that those four scoops would disappear within ten minutes. I am not even exaggerating here. It took me ten minutes to finish this giant float. Dan had to remind me that I wasn’t being timed and I wasn’t in an eating contest. I guess I was just channeling my inner Adam Richman that afternoon.

Somehow, I was STILL hungry after this.
The next place we visited was Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, a famous stop along the famed Route 66. Ted Drewes has been serving custard since 1929 and one taste of it will make you understand why it has stood the test of time.

The custard is so thick that the cup is handed to you upside down. I ordered a giant cup of custard (shocking, I know,) but decided not to force myself to finish it like I had done the day before at Fitz’s. If only I could have packaged up what I didn’t eat…SO GOOD!

Smooth and silky.

Since I was on such a frozen custard high, when I saw Sheridan’s Frozen Custard in Kansas City, KS, I nearly pissed my pants. I was all set to order a simple chocolate custard, until I saw a poster for a special blend that included Hershey’s Kisses and cookie dough pieces. I had to have it. This custard wasn’t nearly as good as Ted Drewes, but it did the trick in satisfying my new found daily custard craving.

Note Dan's body language in this pic. He is disgusted with my custard intake.

Last but not least was a trip to my old familiar ice cream paradise – Baskin Robbins. Not sure if it was because I was on vacation, but the Cappuccino Blast I ordered tasted so much better here than it ever did in Brooklyn.
Old reliable.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Quirky Roadside Attractions: The Day we almost Died

Our scariest, most harrowing vacation moment took place in Pine Bluffs, WY on our way to Bushnell, NE. I had read about the Our Lady of Peace Shrine, a giant statue of the Virgin Mary located right off the highway. Erected in 1998 by Ted and Marjorie Trefren, this statue is largest sculpture in Wyoming and one of the largest Marian Memorials in the United States. Like a good Catholic girl, I had planned a quick stop here because – let’s face it – when do you ever get to see a Virgin Mary statue that is THAT big? Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an address for it other than ‘you can’t miss it from the highway.’ (And once we eventually found it, that certainly WAS the case, but the important part of that equation is being on the RIGHT highway to see it from.)

This cloud looked like Jesus to me so I was convinced we were going the right way.

We came into Pine Bluffs from U.S. Route 30 (aka the Lincoln Highway) when in fact, the Statue is located along I-80. After driving around with puzzled looks on our faces as to how we could miss this giant statue, we pulled into the town to do some quick Google searches. The New Yorker in me was pretty on edge – being on a desolate street in a sleepy town…I was almost waiting for an ambush. But I quickly found some coordinates for the statue and punched them into GPS. We were back on track. (The town of Pine Bluffs is quite cute and darling!)

A left here and a right there, our GPS lead us to a residential street. Could the statue be visible from there? We drove on, even after our GPS told us to navigate off road for the next mile. It was at that moment we realized that our GPS was out to murder us as it directed us to drive off a cliff. Both terrified, we decided that the statue was not worth our lives so we turned the car around and proceeded into Nebraska. (Now you understand why we were just too scared to get out of the car there…we had nearly DIED moments earlier!)

Sweet victory came about an hour later on our drive back to Denver. We were stopping to take pictures at the ‘Welcome to Wyoming’ sign and there she was! Just as described – off the highway. Like, you literally CANNOT miss it as you cross the border into Wyoming on I-80.

Below are some written directions that I found online. Proceed with caution.

I-80 exit 1 in Nebraska. Drive north a quarter-mile to US 30, turn left (west), drive into Wyoming, and take the first left onto Statue Drive.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Favorites: Free Beer

One of the must do things during our trip to St. Louis was to take a tour of the Anheuser Busch Brewery. As a pretty avid fan of all things beer, it was something that I really looked forward to. We went with three expressed goals; to interact with the Clydesdales (easy), to get a Bud Bowl T-shirt (not so easy), and to enjoy our free samples (very easy!).

Much like many of the attractions in St. Louis, the tour we took was free. (There is a more involved tour called the Brew Master tour that costs about $25 and includes some freebies.) The free tours run from 10-4pm and last about an hour. All tours start off in the visitor’s center which doubles as a mini-museum for all things Budweiser including past packaging and some of the brand’s more popular commercials including pitchdog, Spuds Mackenzie. After our tour guide gave us a brief history of the brewery, we started a walk to the stables to meet the famous Clydesdales. To become one of Budweiser’s iconic Clydesdales, a horse has to meet the following criteria: must be at least 4 years of age, must be 18 hands tall, weigh between 2000-2300 pounds and have a bay color, four white stocking feet, a blaze of white on his face and black mane and tail.

From there, we journeyed on to see the actual brewing process through each step and ingredient. Our first stop was to where the beer was going through Budweiser’s “beechwood aging” inside giant aluminum tubs. (Note: during this part of the tour, the guide gave out pieces of beechwood for us to see exactly what it was like. Despite it just being a random piece of wood, numerous people on the tour kept said piece of wood. Steph and I still do not understand why. As she puts it, “they’re going to go home and open their suitcase to see a piece of wood and wonder ‘why the hell did I take this?’”

Next, we walked through the rest of the brewing process where we finally learned exactly what hops are - flowers! Our walk around the grounds proved to be an olfactory experience as well as a visual one. Some areas of the grounds had a very strong bread-like odor which was from the yeast, while others smelled very strongly of alcohol.

The final stop on the tour was a visit to the assembly lines where the beer is packaged and labeled. It was pretty cool to know that the bottles we saw being packaged would wind up on store shelves in the St. Louis that night.

Probably the most exciting bit of knowledge I gained during the tour was finally answering the questions as to why drinking Budweiser (to excess of course) always gives me the WORST hangovers the next morning…so much worse than other beers. Without getting too specific (as I don’t really remember the details) I learned that Budweiser is a rice based beer and the process of brewing and distilling triggers certain allergic reactions in many people. For others like me, they recommend the Michelob family of beers, as they do not contain rice as a central ingredient. Who knew?

At the end of the tour, you are treated to two free (full size!) samples of any number of different brews they have on tap. I chose wisely, having two drinks of Shock Top (1 citrus, 1 lemon), both equally delicious. Steph despises beer, but decided to try a raspberry beer called Wild Blue, thinking that she would like it. Needless to say, she did not. So I technically had 3 samples.

We sadly failed to accomplish our goal of finding a Bud Bowl T shirt. We scoured the gift shop up and down to no avail. If any good people from Anheuser Busch stumble across this post, I am a size medium and I will also accept royalties on the idea! Oh, and if you find the refrigerator magnet that I so conveniently left sitting next to the cash register, please ship it to my mother-in- law. Oops!

Budweiser is located at 12th & Lynch Street, St. Louis, MO 63118