Showing posts with label Beer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Beer. Show all posts

Friday, August 16, 2019

Literature and History in Hannibal, Missouri

After a big, complimentary breakfast at the Holiday Inn & Suites in Hannibal, Missouri, Brittany, Amanda, and I got ready for a jam-packed day.

There was quite a bit to do in the city made famous by Mark Twain, who was known in his hometown under his real name, Samuel Clemens.

We had seen some of Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home & Museum the previous day and went back to visit some of the buildings we missed.

It was interesting to see Becky Thatcher’s House, the Huckleberry Finn House, and J.M. Clemens Justice of the Peace Office. 

Becky and Huck Finn were popular characters in the Mark Twain series, but J.M. Clemens was the actual name of Samuel Clemens father.

One of my favorite exhibits within the Boyhood Home buildings was something I’d love for every child to see. It was called “Growing Up to Fast.”

Using the examples of Becky, Tom, Huck, and Jim, all growing up in different levels of income, it examples how their life would be at that time. It explained their ability to go to school, and if (and when) they might have to leave to go to work. 

Many children during this time in Hannibal would have to forego finishing school to help support their family.

Within the block with the recreated houses is also the Haunted House and Wax Museum. 

It’s worth a visit to look through the museum, especially the life-like replicas of the characters Mark Twain wrote about.

The Hannibal History Museum shows the industry passing through this Missouri City, as well as other famous people who lived here. Among them were “Unsinkable Molly Brown” who survived the Titanic, and performer Cliff Edwards, who is best known as the voice of Disney’s Jiminy Cricket.

We walked down to the dock to take a scenic cruise on the Mark Twain Riverboat. The trip, which runs along the Mississippi River, straddling Missouri and Illinois, was very relaxing. There is narration throughout, telling you all about the area and Mark Twain.

Mark Twain Riverboat’s sightseeing cruise is an hour and they have a snack bar with some food, soft drinks, and alcoholic drinks. There is also a dinner cruise. You do not need to worry about the weather as the boats are completely enclosed. It’s also very accessible and I had no trouble taking my scooter on and off.

When we left the boat, we headed over to Mark Twain Caves and Cave Hollow West Winery. While Brittany and Amanda explored the caves, I tasted the offerings at the winery.

I was pleasantly surprised at just how good Cave Hollow West wine is. There were two wines that were so good I went home with bottles: An Innocent Broad, a slightly sweet blend of Vidal and Vignoles, and Lighthouse White, a sweeter white with citrus notes.

When they returned from the Cave, which is celebrating its 200th birthday this year, we sipped some more wine and enjoyed some snacks on the patio.

I needed some rest, so we went back to the hotel for a bit, deciding to have dinner after the show.

I was very impressed with Mark Twain Himself, a one man show in which actor Richard Garey, dressed as Mark Twain, presents an impromptu look at the author’s life through his writings. The show changes with each performance so you never know what part of his life you will be learning about.

We were more than ready for dinner at Mark Twain Brewing Company.  I nibbled on giant pretzel with beer cheese sauce while Brittany and Amanda sampled the beer.

In addition to their brews, this eatery is known for its barbecue. 

We sampled the brisket and the ribs, with smoked in house and topped with their own BBQ sauce. They were all good.
Mark Twain Ramblers Red Ale, Scotch Ale, King Arthur IPA, Chocolate Coffee Stout

For dessert, they had one of my favorites, pecan pie.  

I went back to the Holiday Inn & Suites to turn in for the night. 

Brittany and Amanda headed downtown to take the Haunted Hannibal Tour. They had fun with the combination of ghost tours and history, which ended at Hannibal’s Old Baptist Cemetery.

Friday, April 6, 2018

In the Home of Purdue

It had been a few years since I had been to Lafayette,Indiana. I visited a few times when I was covering tennis.

I was looking to make a quick trip not too far away, and Lafayette kept coming up. 

Once I contacted the tourism board at Home of Purdue, I could easily see why. This little college town had a lot to offer.

My friend Jaimee was visiting and we headed out for the two-hour drive with a full itinerary. 

Our first stop was at Wolf Park. Anything to do with animals is always fun for me and I was surprised to hear this place had been here for 46 years.

Wolf Park was opened by a former Purdue professor. 

He not only wanted a refuge for these animals, but he wanted to promote the conservation of wolves and help people understand more about them.

Thanks to generous donations, the park now has its own medical center and they don’t need to go back to Purdue every time an animal needs treatment.

While the wolves are the primary focus, the 75 acres here houses more than the current 12 wolves, which includes one set of six-year-old siblings. It’s not safe to actually touch the wolves, but you can watch them interact, especially during the weekend Howl Nights.

In addition to the wolves, the park has bison, foxes, and coyotes, who will howl for you any time of day. A beautiful bridge makes a great spot for weddings and other events at Wolf Park.  

We were really hungry from walking among the wolves and we headed straight to Triple XXX Family Restaurant. This place originally opened in 1929, making it the first and oldest drive-in restaurant in Indiana.

They are known for serving Triple XXX Root beer, which dates back even further, to 1895.

The diner was a lot smaller than I expected and I’m glad they saved us a table. 

It’s popularity with out-of-towners exploded after being featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

I had to obviously start with a Triple XXX Frost, a cross between and ice cream soda and a milkshake. 

We decided to both get burgers. I went for the one featured on the Food Network, the Duane Purvis All-American. It’s ground sirloin, topped with American cheese, peanut butter, pickles, lettuce and onions.

I liked the burger, but I loved the sweet potato fries when I discovered they came with a mouthwatering cinnamon marshmallow dipping sauce. How did no one think of this before?!

They brought us a hot fudge sundae and their famous Triple XXX Root Beer Cake to taste for dessert. I wasn’t overly excited about the later, until I tasted it. It was moist and delicious.

We were running late to the Haan Mansion, where Ellie Haan was graciously waiting for us beyond closing time. 

This beautiful building, filled with treasures (many priceless) was her home for 31 years before she and her husband donated the mansion to the city as a museum.

Originally the Connecticut Building during the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, it was moved by railroad to Lafayette, Indiana, after being purchased for $31,0000. 

The art, including one of the best collections of Indiana art around, is spectacular, as are other rarities, such as a Tiffany Grandfather clock, a one of a kind music box, and treasures too numerous to list. 

Haan Mansion Museum is definitely worth a trip.

We made a quick stop at McCord Candies downtown. It is a soda fountain with handmade chocolates, but that’s not their only claim to fame: they are only one of five stores in the whole country that make candy canes, right in the little shop upstairs.

Owner Chris Johnson met us at People's Brewing Company to tell us about the company he started in 2009. 

He took us through the expanding operation and back to the bar for Jaimee to do some tasting. 

She picked six of the dozen beers they have available for customers.

The favorites here are the obvious Boiler Gold, and the Farmer’s Daughter, a citrusy local specialty.

We didn’t make it to the nearby restaurant that People’s Brewing has because we had dinner scheduled at another popular local spot, Bruno's Pizza.

This family-friendly sports bar has been around for 60 years and I really enjoyed their twists on some old favorites.

We started with Bruno Dough. This deep-fried pizza dough looked like a zeppole, but it’s brushed with garlic butter and sprinkled with parmesan. 

It was served with a cheese sauce and a marinara sauce we dipped the dough in.

No matter how long I live in the Midwest, I’ll never get used to people cutting squares out of round pizzas, but that didn’t make us enjoy a spinach mushroom any less. 

We were pretty stuffed when the waitress came over to tell us about the dessert pizzas. I was too intrigued not to order one.

Bruno’s dessert pizza is covered in peanut butter, mozzarella, and chocolate chips. 

I certainly love the idea of peanut butter and chocolate in anything, but I wasn’t sure about adding cheese to the mix. 
She suggested we do half with and half without the cheese.

Well, it was so good both ways that we had to take it with us when we couldn’t finish more than a few bites. I can tell you it also makes an amazing breakfast cold!

By the time we got back to the TownePlace Suites in Lafayette we were stuffed and exhausted from a very full day. It was time to get some sleep before an equally busy one to come.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Grand Rapids Beer and LaughFest Finale

My friend Lisa and I started our morning with a room service breakfast at the Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton.

I had the Michigan Cherry Bread French and she chose the Eggs Benedict. Both were excellent.

After breakfast, we headed to Founders Brewing Co. for a tour and tasting. It was pouring rain so we decided to take an Uber.

I didn’t know too much about this place before we arrived, but left with a lot of knowledge and a very positive experience.

From the outside, the building could blend into the neighborhood. Inside, Founders Brewing was massive, new, and modern, even though they are working on yet another expansion.

The history of Founders Brewery only goes back a few decades, but it’s rise in its industry came swiftly and has continued to flourish. The tour is definitely worth it to learn more about it. I have never seen such a clean and detail oriented brewery.

It has been set up so that everything could be done to make quality beer under this roof.

All the employees we encountered were also generally happy to be working there.

At the end of the Founders Brewing tour, we finished up in their tap room. This was far from an ordinary tasting room. 

They give the option to enjoy all of their beers here, in addition to buying food.

Lisa, my official beer taster, really liked the rich, coffee-flavored Kentucky Breakfast, as well as their signature Dirty Bastard.

I was quite impressed with the deli menu.  It included snacks such as nachos and Beer Cheese Dip, as well as handcrafted sandwiches.

I had to give the Louis A. Cornelius a try when I read the description: Corned Beef, Roasted Chicken, Cheddar & Cream Cheese, Dirty Bastard Sauerkraut & 1,000 Island Dressing on Polish Rye.

I am not a sauerkraut fan and left that out. The sandwich was outrageously good, and so big the two of us together couldn’t finish it.

Lisa and I still had a full night to go on this rainy day so we decided to head back to the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel for a few hours of rest before we showered and got ready for dinner.

We just had to walk across the street to the Six One Six restaurant at the JW Marriott Grand Rapids.

There we met Stephanie and Kelly from Experience Grand Rapids for dinner.

Everything on the menu sounded wonderful. We took some advice from the women, who had been there before, and ordered some small plates to start with our cocktails.

I was unable to eat the Truffle Fries because they were cooked with the seafood, but Lisa loved them while I enjoyed the Cheesy Pesto Flatbread.

All the main courses were popular, but I definitely picked the best of the bunch with the Butternut Chevre Pasta, filled with fresh ingredients and a perfect balance of flavors.

The desserts at Six One Six were also hard to pick from. We ordered an assortment. While the Crème Brulee was very good, the winner was definitely the Chocolate Madcap,  a chocolate lover’s dream.

We didn’t have long to sit around with our desserts as Lisa and I needed to go down to the Fountain Street Church to catch one of the LaughFest acts I was especially looking forward to.

Chris D’Elia is known for his stand-up comedy as well as his stints on the television sitcoms Whitney and Undateable. I had enjoyed watching him on the latter and his performance kept everyone in the audience laughing.

We headed back to the Amway Grand Plaza by Hilton for our final night in Grand Rapids after the show. It had been quite a trip and I was sure I’d be returning to this city again. 

Monday, February 29, 2016

Denver Beer and Connecting with Friends

It was day two of my press trip with SpringHill Suites Downtown Denver and Infinite Monkey Theorem Wine.

We had tasted and paired the wine on day one, and now it was time to check out some more food and beer.

Our schedule didn’t start until 9:30 a.m. so we got to sleep in a bit, which was much needed after the late night.

We got started by all meeting for breakfast. The SpringHill Suites offers a nice hot breakfast to begin with, and the chef from the Degree restaurant next door brought us some scones and treats to go with it.

After breakfast, we all piled back into our limousine to hit some of the breweries of Denver in the nearby LoDo and RiNo Art District.

Even though I don’t drink beer, the tours were fun and informative as we went through Wynkoop Brewery, Falling Rock Tap House, and Epic Brewing.

We then went back to the SpringHill Suites to say goodbye. Most of the group was heading home, but I decided to stay another day.

Since I was finished with the press group, I was able to make more plans for my last day in Denver.

The first was with Jesse Davis, Director of Public Relations for the Denver Convention and Visitors Bureau.

We had a nice talk about all the improvements coming to the city, including a train directly from the airport.

After Jesse left, I headed to Avanti Food and Beverage to meet up with Chris Moose Koons, whom I had met during a trip to Colorado. He does marketing for Peach Street Distillers, a favorite artisan distillery of mine.

We had kept in touch over the years and I was glad to hear the company was doing well. We toasted to it with the Peach Street Gin.

He took me around Avanti Food and Beverage, a very interesting concept.

They had all types of food booths as well as a bar, set up with general seating in between. The seating ranged from tables and chairs to couches and loveseats.

Avanti also has a great rooftop with terrific Denver views.
We left together and he dropped me off at Amato’s Ale House.

I’d known my dinner partners for more than half their lives, but hadn’t seen them in a few years and not together in more than five.

Catrina and Christian Thompson, and Christian’s boyfriend Stephen Bass, had all played junior tennis while I was covering it and then later on played for (and graduated from) Notre Dame.

Catrina had ended up back at Notre Dame as an assistant coach while Christian was now the Head Coach of the University of Denver. As luck would have it, Catrina was visiting Denver with her boyfriend Matt the weekend I was there.

I had a glass of wine at the Ale House while I was waiting for my friends. It was so great to see them and catch up. Although most of my writing now is travel and not tennis, I am grateful for the relationships like these I’ve made and kept.

I also have to give a shout out to the Ale House’s Four Cheese Penne.

Christian and Stephen brought me back to the SpringHill Suites.  

I went straight to sleep when I got back. I had an early flight to head home.

The trip ended as good as it began, with my second straight upgrade on American Airlines and looking forward to visiting Denver again sometime soon.