Tag Archives: missouri

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival and other Columbia, Mo, attractions

Well, it’s been about two weeks since I posted anything. I’ve been swamped! I am writing a cookbook featuring my best 50 rotisserie chicken recipes, and that was due the publisher 10 days ago. The very next day, I left to Florida for the Association of Food Journalists conference. It was an amazing conference.

I got back and had a lot of cleaning and writing to do. This is the first moment I’ve had to pause for literally 10 minutes. I will be back at it next week with more rotisserie chicken recipes and other recipes. As I near my 117, I am going to branch out with more recipes.

Also, I have so much to share about the incredible trip to Florida.

But for anyone in Missouri, I wanted to share this story I wrote last week for the Joplin Globe about Columbia. There’s an amazing concert there this weekend.  Columbia is a great town. I have several recommendations of things to do and see.

By Juliana Goodwin

For the Joplin Globe

My husband and I visited Columbia a few months ago and we’re counting down the days until we go back.

I had not been to the college-town in years and was just amazed at the downtown revitalization.  Downtown Columbia was bustling with new boutiques, shops, bakeries, upscale and causal restaurants, breweries, a dueling piano bar and more.   We had a blast exploring.

The downtown offers enough reason to visit, but what has us so excited this time is the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival Sept. 25-27 in Stephens Lake Park in Columbia.

For three days, big name musicians like Dwight Yoakam, Lucinda Williams, Irma Thomas, Buddy Guy, Brandi Carlile and many more—will play to throngs of music lovers in Columbia. The line-up of 30 national, international and local musicians is spectacular.

This will be my first big music festival and I am so stoked.

Photo Courtesy: Roots N Blues 2014 - RNB

Photo Courtesy: Roots N Blues 2014 – RNB

If those musicians interest you and a road trip is calling your name, you better start looking for lodging or plan to camp because hotels are hard to come by. Festival tickets are $49.50 Friday; $65 Saturday; $49.50 Sunday; $125 for a Weekend Pass. Given the talent that will be on the stage, I think it’s a bargain.  I’ve paid more to see a single musician.

The fall festival was first organized in 2007 and features musicians in the genres of roots, blues, gospel, country, folk, bluegrass, rock, and soul.   American Blues Scene Magazine called it “One of the most prominent festivals in the country!” – at least that is what the website says.

If you hate crowds this is not the weekend to visit, but Columbia is still worth a trip and fall is my favorite time to travel. Here are a few recommendations:

On our last visit, we stayed downtown at the Broadway Columbia, a Doubletree by Hilton hotel, which is about a year and a half old. We loved the hotel, particularly its rooftop bar.

rooftop bar

The view is amazing, albeit it’s a view of Broadway and the city, so it’s not like you’re looking at nature but it’s still wonderful. We were fortunate to have a gorgeous sunset that night- so much so that we pushed our dinner reservations back to take more photos of the orange-encrusted clouds against a pink sky.

Rooftop sunset

The rooftop bar is clearly a local favorite and it’s easy to see why. There are fire features, tall barstools, a festive atmosphere, and a menu to order from.

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We had dinner reservations so didn’t order any food, but it smelled heavenly. I will definitely plan to try it next time.

If you like craft beer, you have a few choices in Columbia. First, is Flat Branch Pub & Brewing, 115 S. 5th St., which was producing craft beer since 1994 before craft beer was cool. The beer and food are both pretty good and this is a downtown staple.

But Columbia has two other breweries: Broadway Brewery & Restaurant, 816 E. Broadway, which is another good choice; and Logboat Brewing Company, 504 Fay St. I haven’t personally tried Logboat but it has excellent reviews online and the Belgium-style IPA is on my list for my next trip.

For a casual dinner but good food, try Addison’s, 709 Cherry St.  This restaurants puts a twist on traditional American fare, like nachos. Here’s a description of their nachos: Italian pasta chips topped with Asiago cheese sauce, tomatoes, scallions, kalamata olives, banana peppers, mozzarella cheese, and chicken, black beans, or chorizo sausage. My favorite appetizer is the Crab Rangoon Dip- you get all the creaminess of the filling, but use fried wontons to scoop it up. Again, just an innovative way to present something traditional.

For a fine dining experience, I highly recommend with Wine Cellar & Bistro, 505 Cherry St., downtown.  Chef Craig and Sarah Cyr (sommelier) own the restaurant and wine bar, which has an award winning wine list and affordable options. The couple have owned the restaurant for 11 years and it’s my favorite place to eat.

But if the dinner menu is out of your price range, then be sure to check out the lunch menu because it offers half-size dinner portions for half the price.

Also, Sunday through Thursday, there’s a three course menu available for $30.  I dined on the delectable goat cheese truffles that melted in my mouth the second I tasted them; and tender scallops for the main course.  For this appetizer, they rolled goat cheese into balls (hence the truffle), breaded and fried the balls and served on it a bed of caramelized onions with balsamic reduction.

For my main course, I had the blackened scallops with Missouri pecans, organic California wild rice, ginger-scented braised greens, lemon and grapefruit beurre blanc sauce. The restaurant sources as many local and regional foods as possible, which I love.

I was also amazed at the olive oil and balsamic vinegar served with the bread. They reduce the vinegar in house and they sell it to take home.

Whether you chose to dine at one of these places or go to the concert, Columbia should definitely be on your list of places to explore.

Want to go?

For more information on the festival: http://rootsnbluesnbbq.com/

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Vivilore in Independence, Missouri has it all. It’s a must eat and see

It’s not every day that you’ll find a fine art gallery, restaurant, bar, gorgeous courtyard and stunning antiques in one location.

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But at Vivilore in Independence, Mo., you’ll find all of that, delicious food, and an interesting dose of history.

Located in the Englewood art district, this restaurant is refreshingly unusual.

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Independence is just outside Kansas City, so on our last trip to K.C., we made a quick detour to the restaurant which was voted best patio in Kansas City.

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I was not disappointed. In fact, I was stunned at how beautiful it was.

Vivalore is owned by brother and sister by Whit Ross and Cindy Foster, two Independence natives who spent two years renovating this building.

They had no experience in the restaurant industry when they decided to open Vivilore. He had worked in catering; she was a pilot for 23 years.

They bought the historic brick building in 2010 and opened in 2012. They expected renovations to take six months, but it was two solid years because it was an historic building.  The building used to be the Sermon-Anderson interior design/antique business.  Before it closed, the business partners provided window treatments for Harry Truman’s home. One of the owner’s fathers was a close friend of Truman.

The building is 7,000 square feet and started as a private house built in the 1920s.

“It was a rather small house, but they started adding on the back, the front, they raised the roof, made it into a rather large house. In 1951, they built the front part of Vivilore which is the street side,” said Foster.

Because of the history of the building and its expansions, the restaurant feels like a home, but an elegant one. There are magnificent murals on the wall; antique plates; oil paintings; chandeliers, stained glass windows.

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Ross has a flare for interior design, gardening and arts and he is responsible for the elegant table settings, white linens, collection of vases and overall theme of the restaurant.

Art and antiques adorn the walls and all the art is for sale, said Foster.

As beautiful as the interior was, we chose to sit outside the courtyard.

Ross and his mother tend to the gardens daily and their hard work shows. This courtyard is lush and feels like a spa escape: there are statues, various annuals, shrubs, birch trees, a fountain, and a large Weeping Willow tree provides shade. It was a colorful backdrop to an excellent meal.

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My husband and I like to sample so we ordered two appetizers, one main course and one dessert, all to share.

We started with the Beef Tenderloin Tips ($14), which was Angus beef with peppers and onions and a garlic-sherry demi-glaze. These were the most tender beef skewers I’ve ever had. The meat melted in my mouth. We toyed with the idea of ordering a second, but we decided against it as we had dinner plans, too.

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Next, we had the Smoked Salmon Bruschetta ($12) with pickled onions, herbed cream cheese, capers and goat cheese. It was so refreshing on a hot day and the goat cheese elevated a traditional salmon dish. This is one of the best sellers, Foster said.

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The Lobster Roll $14 was our main course and very good, but I used to live on the East Coast so I don’t think it quite compared to some of those but I am a tough critic when it comes to those rolls.

We had a flourless chocolate cake for dessert that was rich, intense and incredible.

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We didn’t stop into the art gallery, but it’s housed upstairs in the restaurant. Foster said they didn’t plan to open an art gallery initially, but five years ago this are became designated as an arts district so they opened a gallery upstairs with its own curator.

Vivilore is a wonderful experience and well worth the quick detour from Kansas City.

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Want to go?

Vivilore, 10815 E. Winner Road, Independence, Mo. Hours: 11a.m. – 9 p.m. Tuesday – Thursday; 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Friday – Saturday. For reservations call: 816-836-2222. Online: http://www.vivilore.com/

Missouri Botanical Garden is a must for natives and travelers

The Missouri Botanical Garden is considered one of the top botanical gardens in the country.

The first time I visited I understood why.

It was spring and there was a colorful blanket of tulips: ruby, orange, peach and pink, gold, yellow tulips with a red bases that swayed in the gentle breeze.

Large water lilies floated on fountains and ponds.  Blood orange poppies and purple and gold irises were in bloom.

But aside from stunning flowers and plants, there’s an amazing collection of sculptures, incredible architecture, educational events, and history all over the gardens.

After my first visit, I couldn’t believe that I’d lived in Missouri for 10 years at that point and had never visited this gem. Since that first trip, I’ve been back several times and am planning another jaunt this summer. If you’ve never been, you should plan a trip but expect to spend several hours there because there’s so much to take in.

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I’d also recommend a narrated tram tour of the park, which lasts about 30 minutes, costs $4, but is a good way to snake around the property, soak up the beauty and learn a little bit of the garden’s history.

Founded in 1859 by Henry Shaw, the Missouri Botanical Garden spans 79 acres and boasts 23 demonstration gardens and three conservatories.

The Climatron is the largest conservatory and it’s fascinating. The dome shaped building houses more than 2,800 plants, including 1,400 different tropical species.

I felt like I’d ducted into the tropics when I walked into the Climatron. The first thing that made me feel that way was the humidity, but then there were banana trees, cacao, spice plants, orchids, and exotic, rare plants such as the double coconut, which produces the largest seed in the plant kingdom.

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In 1976, the Climatron was named one of the 100 most significant architectural achievements in United States history.  It rises 70 feet in the center, buy has no columns and no interior support.

It provides a wonderful opportunity to see plants from the rainforests in Brazil to the jungles in Borneo, all without leaving Missouri. There’s so much to see, but I only lasted about an hour inside because of the humidity (it averages 85 percent humidity and 85 degrees in the day).

I also enjoyed the kaleidoscope of international gardens at the garden: Japanese (one of the most photogenic parts of the park); English (always whimsical); Chinese (whose architecture stood out more than the plants); Ottoman; Bavarian and German.

The serene, 14-acre Japanese garden was my favorite. The website says this is one of the largest Japanese gardens in North America. Photo opportunities abound here from cherry blossoms in the spring to stone features to arched bridges that are reflected on ponds below.

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There’s also lanterns of historic significance, including a snow-viewing lantern at the entrance that is preserved from the 1904 World’s Fair.

Another beautiful area at the Missouri Botanical Garden is the Victorian district which pays homage to the Henry Shaw, the garden’s founder.  You can also tour the Tower Grove House which was built in 1849 and was Shaw’s country residence.

I was also amazed at the number of beautiful sculptures — more than 50 –  that are peppered throughout the garden, including blown glass by artist Dale Chihuly. When you come into the visitor center, you’ll see the 928-piece “Missouri Botanical Garden Blue Chandelier” suspended in the atrium.  Pieces of his blown glass can be spotted at different areas of the park.

If you have a green thumb, then one of the many demonstration gardens are a must. The botanical garden hosts a variety of classes throughout the year, so if you are an avid gardener you can check the schedule and plan your visit accordingly.

And something I’ve never done but would love to do is the Whitaker Music Festival on Wednesday nights in the summer. Every Wednesday through July 29, there’s a free outdoor concert at the garden. You can bring your own picnic supper, baskets or coolers. Picnic fare, beer, wine, soda and sno-cones are also available to buy.  After 5 p.m. on those Wednesday nights, admission to the park is free. Music begins at 7:30 p.m.
It sounds like a wonderful way to spend a summer evening.

NOTE: All photos were courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden. This story was written for a publication for The Joplin Globe.

If you go:

Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis. Admission: $8 adults (ages 13 and older): Free for ages 12 and younger. Call (314) 577-5100. For more information: http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/

Wear comfortable shoes and plan to spend several hours at the gardens.  They key is to try and go on a cool day and or head there first thing in the morning before it gets too hot.

Bring sunscreen and a camera.

The Missouri Botanical Garden features flower shows, live music and special events throughout the year. Visit the online event calendar to see what’s “growing on” at the Garden!

If you get hungry, the Sassafras Café has a surprisingly good lunch.

Special Event:

Also this summer is the “Lantern Festival: Magic Reimagined,” which is a beautiful evening Chinese lantern festival (I still recommend going in the day to see the garden).  Twenty two sets of lanterns will light up the Missouri Botanical Garden and will be constructed using traditional materials including silk, wire and porcelain.  Each set will be accompanied by interpretation detailing the design’s tradition, symbolism and meaning and some sets will incorporate recycled materials.

It is on display during select nights now through Aug. 23.  Open Thursday-Sunday evenings from May 23-July 31. Open 6 to 10 p.m. nightly from August 1-23.
Evening Admission for May 23 – July 31: $22 adults;  $10 children (ages 3-12).  Aug. 1-23: $26 adults; $10 children (ages 3-12). Discounts for Missouri Botanical Garden members.

Midwest Beer, Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Festival

What did you do yesterday? Well, I attended the third annual Midwest Beer, Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Festival at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds and it was awesome.

The festival attracted throngs of people who lined up to sample more than 200 products- many made in Missouri.

The fair puts this on and from year one, attendance has more than doubled and it’s easy to see why.  It was an incredible opportunity to sample as much I wanted and discover new products. I’ve fallen in love with beers I would never have ordered at a bar or restaurant, and tried locally produced food that I will now seek out.

While there was wine and beer, it definitely felt more beer-centric.

My only complaint were the lines were very long everywhere I went and it could 10 minutes to get to a booth. But in true Ozarks fashion, some people would pass samples back down a line if it was stagnant, which was nice.fesgtival

To my amazement, with this many samples, there wasn’t anything I disliked but there were definitely standouts. Here were some of my favorites that are definitely worth trying, if you haven’t already:

Booze:

Springfield’s White River Brewing Company’s Copper Creek IPA was exceptional. This English-style ale is hoppy and aged in charred oak barrels which gives this beer an incredible flavor with hints of caramel, butterscotch, and a fruit finish. This was my favorite beer of the day. http://www.whiteriverbrewingco.com/beers/

The Chocolate Thunder from Mother’s Brewing Co., in Springfield, uses nitrogen instead of carbon dioxide in the brewing process, lending the beer a creamier mouthfeel. The full-bodied American porter style, has a rich chocolate taste, almost to the depth of a brownie. http://mothersbrewing.com/

I had to stop at The Traveler Beer Co., because I am a traveler and loved the name, but I found the beer was fantastic, too. The grapefruit, yes grapefruit, was exceptional and perfect for spring. The lemon shandy was also excellent and will be on my list this summer. You seriously taste the fruit in these beers but it’s fresh and natural tasting, not a fake chemical flavor. It’s so refreshing. I picked some up at Harter House on my home and my husband’s initial thought was “grapefruit?” But he loved it, too. This is not a Midwest product, it’s out of Burlington, Vermont, which is an incredible city if you’ve never been. http://travelerbeer.com/

Crown Valley Brewing and Distilling in Ste. Genevieve had a nice blackberry cider and the best Missouri-made sparkling pink Moscato I’ve ever had. It was light, bubbly, fruity (particularly with strawberry notes), sweet and retails for about $16. If you like Moscato, give this a try. http://www.crownvalleywinery.com/

Wenwood Farm Winery out of Bland, Mo., wins the award for best Missouri red. The Century Farm Red is a dry red made in the tradition of Pinot Noir and it tastes like a Pinot. It’s very fruit forward and smooth. I’d never heard of this winery or Bland, Mo., so this was a nice surprise. I went on the website and it looks so quaint. I want to visit this place http://wenwoodfarmwinery.com/

Food

Cloud’s Meats Inc., out of Carthage, Mo., has been in business since 1959 and it’s easy to see why. The family-owned business produces smoked meats and other sausages, which were delicious. Summer sausage and similar products can be too greasy, or overly garlicky, but this was just right. I particularly liked the cranberry sausage and the buffalo sausage. Although this is what they offered at the tasting, if you visit the website, you see there’s so much more for sale from bratwust to ribs. They also custom process deer and other meats. http://cloudsmeats.com/

Crazy Uncle Dave’s Beef Jerky out of Branson is homemade, all natural, and it’s one of the best beef jerky’s I’ve ever sampled. It has an intense smoky flavor and doesn’t taste processed at all. It was great. This is all I could find for a website, although the man serving the jery said the product is or will be available at Silver Dollar City. http://www.crazyuncledaves.com/~shop/crazy-uncle-daves-beef-jerky/252631/

The Branson Craft Mall served up incredible, warm, cinnamon-kissed candied pecans and almonds. The pecans were outstanding; sometimes candied nuts have a hard coating or the coating is as thick as the nut, but these were softer and just the right amount of candy coating. I will go to Branson just to visit this place. It has free samples daily of other products and lots of crafts and work from local artists. I love that type of thing. http://bransoncraftmall.com/

Cake Pop Co., served up a moist stout cake with a bourbon buttercream frosting that was heavenly. This Springfield company has national business and it’s wonderful to see its success. http://www.cakepopco.com/

Panera Bread Co.,’s chocolate croissant was buttery but light and had a delicious chunk of chocolate tucked inside. I love Panera but always eat lunch there, so this was my first time sampling something sweet for breakfast. https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/home.html