A few weeks ago I caught a snippet of a song being broadcast on satellite radio during one of our sand volley ball games. As soon as I heard it, I knew I had to hear more. It took me 2 weeks to figure out that it was Felicia by The Constellations, a band out of Atlanta. I bought the album on iTunes and have been playing it almost non stop ever since. In the car, on the computer at work, at home turned up way too loud while cleaning house.
Let me just pause right here to say that I never thought that I would find myself so enamored with a song about a blow job. Yep, you read that right. The whole album is sex and drugs and life on the streets in rough neighborhoods and dive bars, all to a toe-tapping beat. When I told The Kid what Felicia was about he was mortified. Seriously, I thought he already knew. Back to our regularly scheduled programing...
I was ridiculously excited to learn that The Constellations had a gig coming up in KC and then proportionately bummed to learn that it was the same night as a friend's daughter's wedding I had already RSVP'd to. Lucky for me I was able to talk Trophy Husband into coming with me to see the show on Halloween in St. Louis. All it took was a few dozen reminders of his excess vacation days and the fact that White Castle is widely available in STL (not so here in KC). Tickets to the show at the Firebird were purchased and a room reserved. (Another side note here, I walked around for three days calling the bar "The Phoenix." Technically a Phoenix is a Firebird so it makes perfect sense, to me anyway.)
We left bright an early Sunday morning to drive to STL. Well, not quite as "bright and early" as TH would have liked but hey, it's a weekend and I get up at 5:30 M-F so I don't want to hear it when I sleep until 8 on a Sunday.
Arriving about 1:30, we checked into our largely empty hotel and headed south to Ste. Genevive, MO. The 5 or so of you who are regular readers may recall the many Hussies trips to Hermann, MO. Ste. Gen is another Missouri wine trail, this one on the St. Louis side. We found Cave Winery and Charleville Vineyard well outside of town. Charleville also has a micro-brewery and Bed and Breakfast in an 1860's log cabin. TH sampled some of the brews and we had a snack of local sausage and cheese. Still feeling the buzz of a rather potent Stout, TH passed the keys off to me and since we were short on time we decided on just one more stop, Ste. Genevieve winery in the historic downtown. We drove right past two other Ste Gen wineries and I pressed on, with TH protesting loudly from the passenger seat.
Having been to Hermann several times I was looking forward to seeing Ste. Gen and comparing the two. Hermann wins, hands down. While smaller, Hermann seems to have a little more character, a little more going on. I'm sure we'll be back to Ste. Gen again and maybe if I spend more time there I'll change my mind. After picking up two bottles and making a pit stop, it was back to the hotel to change for dinner and the bar later that night.
I've always heard great things about the Italian food on "The Hill" in STL so we decided on Guido's Pizzeria and Tapas, a unique mix of Italian and Spanish food. On Sunday night at 6 we were able to walk in and be seated immediately. We ordered the breaded artichokes appetizer. Light and crispy little artichoke hearts served with the best red sauce for dipping. I wanted to order the paella but it can take 20-30 minutes to prepare so I opted for the Spanish meatballs at the last second. And that part's key, I failed to fully process the description and totally missed the part about the meatballs being beef and pork. While TH enjoyed them, I couldn't eat them at all. Instead I hijacked his Cannelloni only to discover the delicious red sauce, creamy cheese and tasty pasta were filled with another beef/pork combination. Well, the salad was terrific and TH is now pretty sure I'm nuts for not liking either of the entrees.
But hey, silver lining, I had plenty of room for dessert! Torn between the Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake and Tiramisu we decided to see what is made in house and let that guide us. Tiramisu made in house, cheesecake is delivered by Hank's Cheesecake, a local bakery. You know how they say your first choice is usually the best one, well I ignored my instincts and ordered the cheesecake. And we were handsomely rewarded for it. Smooth and creamy, the cheesecake was so perfectly light and delicious that we decided a stop at Hank's was in order on our way out of town. And that whole meal, appetizer through dessert cost us $36. In my book, that's pretty darn cheep. Even though I didn't care for what I ordered, we'll return to Guido's next time we are in STL. After all, if you hate cabbage and then order it anyway, it's not really the chef's fault.
So, have you forgotten about the band yet? You know, the whole reason for the trip to STL and by extension, this post?
We arrived at the Firebird about 7:30. Doors were supposed to open at 7 (or so I thought) for the 8:30 show that started with The Breaks, followed by The Constellations with Electric 6 headlining. The parking lot had maybe 15 cars in it. There was a small group of people hanging out near the front door. I was really starting to wonder what was going on here. We sat in the car for a few minutes enjoying the heated seats and procrastinating as long as we could. Finally we took the plunge out into the cool fall night only to find that at 7:50 the doors were still not open... Come to find out they had forgotten to unlock them. Uh... ok. It was warm inside and the drinks were cheep so who cares.
The Firebird is a small-ish club with a bar on one wall, a few booths and a long bench seat facing the stage and standing-room-only audience area. We snagged seats at the end of the bench and slowly watched the place fill up. While waiting for the first act we played a rousing game of "costume or every-day clothing." Sometimes it was hard to tell. Next thing we knew, 4 costume-clad guys had taken the stage (including one dressed as Rock-a-hontus, another as a Smurf) and The Breaks started their set. It was short, maybe 30-40 minutes, but we enjoyed it as did the rest of the crowd.
While the stage was set up for The Constellations I informed TH that I would not be watching this one from the comfort of the upholstered bench, I abandoned him shortly there after. The Constellations took the stage in costume, 6 band members dressed as Dalmatians and the bassist as Cruella DeVille, they were great... I've never seen a show with such a small audience before (or in such a small venue) outside of a band playing in a restaurant, imagine 150 or so people. It was so exciting. They played everything I wanted to hear and even did a David Bowie cover. Before I knew it TH had joined me on the floor in front of the stage and we finished out the show together. My only complaint was that the set was too short, it was over before we knew it. TH and I stuck around for the first part of the Electric Six set, bought The Kid a t-shirt and then took off for the hotel about 11:30, ears ringing all the way. TH had to hit While Castle en route, it was part of the deal so I had no choice but to go along with it.
The next morning we were up at 8 (but that took negotiating, TH tried 7:15!) and out of the hotel shortly there after. First on the list for today, the brewery tour at Anheuser-Busch. Seriously, I've never seen TH so excited. That silly grin right there on the left? He wore that through the whole tour. And while enjoying his two free samples (along with one of mine). I'll admit it was pretty cool to see the plant and I couldn't help but sing the Laverne and Shirley theme song in my head as we looked out onto the bottling floor. Next up? LUNCH! My lousy bowl of cereal from the free continental breakfast had full on wore-off by this point.
I consulted the swamis at Yelp and we decided on Blues City Deli. How does a deli earn a 4.5 star rating and almost 100 reviews? By being awesome. It's nestled in a neighborhood not far from the brewery, we parked about a block away and walked to the deli, rubbernecking the whole time. There were about 6 tables on the sidewalk and a line that ended just outside the door. I guess we deserved that for showing up at straight up noon. Lucky for us the line went quickly and even luckier, a table cleared out just after we placed our order with the super friendly staff. For a place that was wall-to-wall-packed, the food came lickety split. TH had ordered the The ‘Benton Park’ Po-Boy and I had the BBQ Pulled Pork Po-Boy with St. Louis sauce. We also ordered a bowl of the red beans and rice. They offer an extensive selection of funky local sodas and chips too. The food was phenomenal. I can't wait to get back there. It's a good thing STL is close enough for a weekend road trip. Seriously our sandwiches were so great we didn't even get to the read beans and rice.
Back in the car for one more stop before we finally head home, time to check out Hank's Cheesecakes. I swear on all that is sugary I'll never eat Cheesecake Factory again. This quiet little bakery cranks out the most amazing cheesecakes. Their motto, "The finest Cheesecake created this side of Heaven" is no lie. And you know how that huge, heavy slice, drowning in whipped cream from the Cheesecake Factory will easily set you back $8? We got two light fluffy slices for about that price. I had the lemon (creamy citrus Heaven) and TH ordered Ibarra Mexican Chocolate (dark Mexican chocolate with cherries). And we got a whole large Pumpkin Swirl to take home and freeze. I just hope I can keep it that way until Thanksgiving!
It was a long drive home, back to reality and we finally got in about 5:30. With no energy for dinner TH ate the leftover Guido's and I had the red beans and rice. O. M. G. So good. Well seasoned and spicy but not so hot you couldn't eat them and LOADED with Andouille sausage in every single bite. Oh yes, STL, we'll be back. We'll be back very soon...