Monday, 9 May 2016

Beer, baseball and... rain

It's our second day in St. Louis and it dawned cool and cloudy, but by no means cold. We woke slightly earlier than yesterday due to the earlier breakfast time, together with the added excitement of yoghurts to the breakfast mix as well as actually having some waffles. We ventured out of the hotel about half past 10 to begin our second day exploration in  earnest.

Ballpark village next to the baseball stadium.
Our first port of call was the Busch Stadium, famous home of the local baseball team The Cardinals, and currently in it's third incarnation. Last time we were here the stadium was a circular Romanesque structure which looked like a Roman coliseum. However, this was flattened in 2006 to make way for the current replacement structure. Like it or not, the current structure looks pretty cool, although I think I preferred the old structure as it was more iconic. Still, things change and you have to roll with the punches!

View of the Gateway Arch from the Cardinal's home ground.
After visiting the baseball ground we made our way down south towards Lafayette Square, an elegant district of old Victorian homes and quality independent shops, and centred on a sizeable park. We didn't venture into park due to the rain, but ducked into Park Street Coffee, a local joint selling a good range of coffee, but not before going in a shop called Four Muddy Paws which sold the most amazing dog biscuits with icing that looked good enough for us humans to eat!
The most colourful dog biscuits in the world?
We then headed into the coffee shop, which stocked a wide range of the locally traditional (and famous) gooey butter cake. I had the key lime variety, a simple twist on the original recipe but utterly delicious with my cappuccino. The cafe also had big (454g) bags of coffee on sale for between $14 and $16 - not bad value when you consider the size and the quality of the coffee. Nonetheless I didn't buy any at this point and we moved on to our next stop.

Traditional gooey butter cake at Park Avenue Coffee - a local delicacy.
This was a store called Looking Glass Designs run by a local woman who must have been approaching 70. She spent around half an hour just chatting to us about the city, our travels and what to see and eat in the city. This seems to be a habit of people here but it's nice and I ended up buying a lovely pair of owl earrings as a present before moving on. The lady wrapped them up so nicely and even gave us a nice jewellery roll made of cloth to keep them nice for travelling.

Traditional Street sign in Lafayette Square.
By this point we were getting hungry so went into Square One Brewery and Distillery, a restaurant and bar that brews it's own beer and distils it's own whiskey, rum etc. You'd be forgiven for thinking the place might be overstretching itself with all that going on but it manages to be great at all three of them. I had a sample rack of four beers; Park Avenue Pale Ale, Single Malt Scotch Ale, In Hawaii and a truly delicious Maple Stout infused with maple syrup from Vermont as the name suggests.
Delicious local beers from Square one brewery and distillery.
All the beers were delicious and it was great to see all the different colours lined up on the tray together. To accompany the beer I ate a Stout-braised pot roast served with mashed potato and green beans. To end my stay here I had a look around and saw both the mash tun where the whiskey is distilled and the barrels where the whiskey is kept through a glass section in the floor. To end the visit I bought one of the small glasses and a neat looking old style whiskey glass.

Local brews on sale in the Field Foods supermarket.
Last stop for the day was a local supermarket called Field Foods specialising in local produce and  products. I bought some Salted Caramel coffee (!) and spent a while perusing the craft beer section although I noticed many of them were quite expensive, ($7 and up), so I didn't buy any at this stage. I was pleased to spot  6 packs from the local independent Schlafly brewery though, with some very interesting flavours and for only $9. I'm planning to visit the Schlafly bottleworks and tap before I leave town so with luck I'll be able try some of their brews too.
Local supermarket specialising in local products.
Now it's time to sit back and enjoy some quintessentially American television! Until tomorrow.

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