For our last Midwest taste escape this month, we're heading west to the Gateway City, where there is no shortage of tasty eats and drinks.
- Before you go, take a peak at what St. Louis cooks are talking about these days. The city is home to a strong foodblogging community and popular sites such as A Veggie Venture and One Hot Stove. Alanna Kellogg of A Veggie Venture has compiled a list of local bloggers and other resources.
- While you're there, stop by one of several farmer's markets, such as the Tower Grove market, which is currently featuring Cherokee purple tomatoes, jade melons, Ozark premier plums, triple crown blackberries and sungold cherry tomatoes. Yum. Or, check out Sauce Magazine's in-depth profiles of several other local markets.
- With a strong cattle industry, St. Louis and the surrounding regions offer a variety of sources for farm-fresh meat. For the full farm experience, head about two hours south to Hinkenbein Hills Farm, just north of north of Cape Girardeau. The farm raises antibiotic-free and hormone-free beef and pork, and free-range chickens for eggs. Visitors may tour the farm and sample meats in the retail store. Hinkenbein Hills and other local producers also sell their goods at St. Louis markets.
- Approximately 80 miles east of the city is Swiss Meats in Swiss, Mo. Local food writers Joe and Ann Pollack say it's worth the trip for the "fine wursts and other sausages, including various bacons, salamis, summer sausage, braunschweiger and other meats sold at retail." They add that owner Mike Sloan is "a big believer in free samples." We like those!
- As some recent commenters were quick to point out, one quintessential St. Louis dessert is a must try: gooey butter cake. Legend has it that a German baker stumbled upon the recipe by using the wrong proportions for a cake, and the rest is delicious, gooey history. This treat can be found in numerous local bakeries – including Hollyberry Baking Co. and Gooey Louie (both of which take online orders). It's also available in many grocery stores. (Or perhaps you have a favorite recipe?)
- To quench your thirst, after all this good eating, stop in at Fitz's American Grill & Bottling Works for a locally made root beer, and watch the vintage bottling line in action. For something a little stronger, head to Schlafly Bottleworks where you can tour the bottling brewery and sample handcrafted Schlafly beer. And, of course, St. Louis is home to the self-described "king of beers." Tours of the Anheuser-Busch brewery are also available.
Thanks for taking a few Midwest escapes with us this month!
Related: Taste Escapes: Milwaukee