When I travel, I make it a point to find out where the locals have their coffee. Sometimes it’ll be a quaint little anonymous neighborhood cafe and other times it’ll be a nationally recognized coffee roaster. Of course with Chicago, it was the latter. I was lucky enough that Intelligentsia had a small locale nearby my downtown hotel, perfect for two visits in less than 24 hours.
I really enjoy the way Intelligentsia describes themselves and their various chosen headquarters:
Intelligentsia now has three cities it calls home: Chicago—a city that is brooding, practical and reluctantly beautiful; Los Angeles—a city that views creativity as a birthright, is immensely vast, decidedly impractical and equally messy and marvelous; and New York—a city of paradoxes, hulking but chock full of intimate corners, timeless but achingly current, polished but decaying, worldly yet oddly provincial, all crashing together in perfect cacophony (or is it harmony?).
Honestly, we love all of these places, but for very different reasons. Straight backed-Midwesterness gives us pragmatism and self-discipline, West Coast optimism leads us to believe anything is possible, and the dynamism of East Coast is an unending source of energy. This combination provides the fuel for what we love to do: sourcing, developing, roasting and delivering the best coffee in the world.
I’m far from being a coffee connoisseur, but I know what I like and what I don’t like. And if I were living in Chicago, I know that this would be one of my go-to spots. I had the chance to enjoy my two standards, latte in the morning and iced coffee in the afternoon. Also, croissant and an oatmeal raisin cookie – all good things in life, all good things from Intelligentsia.
I forgot to share this one last piece of St. Louis! Cool Stuff Really Cheep is a lovely little boutique full of curated vintage finds and antiques. Around every nook and cranny, there was another treasure to behold.
I was so intrigued by the mosaic piece above; I’ve never really seen anything like it. Timeless and well-crafted, I’m kind of sad I didn’t snag it. Also was obsessed with the bar cart below. I tend to swoon over almost any bar cart I come across, but I found this particular configuration of shapes and lines so uniquely elegant and sleek.
And here is where I received my stunning statement necklace and bracelet set. Absolutely in love! If you’re ever in the 314, be sure to make a pit stop at this place. I’m pretty sure you will find something you can’t live without!
As if these ridiculously tempting pictures were not enough, I have to tell you that Olio served up one of the best lunches I’ve ever had. Sitting in their carefully converted oil service station, listening to Nancy Sinatra spin on their record player, I knew I was about to experience something special.
Though we only selected a few side plates to share, it was enough to convince me that these guys know exactly what they are doing. We began our stay with a bottle of Bordatto “Basa Jaun”, a cider unlike any other I’ve ever had. It had the satisfying carbonated crisp I crave, along with a lingering smoky finish that I didn’t know could exist in a cider. Filling my mouth with a sense of the forest, it set a lovely stage for all the lovely fresh ingredients I was about to nibble on.
Just thinking about it is making me want to go back! It’s so difficult for me to accurately describe how delicious it is. Well-balanced, but always peppered with a little surprise, their plates felt as exotic as they were comforting. I didn’t take pictures of every single plate (since I didn’t want to be a dick), but I guarantee you they were all worth remembering.
Coffee can be quite a mystery to me sometimes, and I bet you feel some degree of the same. Much like wine or chocolate, there are mounds and mounds of knowledge that I seem to not have access to, but am very curious about. I worship at the altar of this addictive dark liquid and wonder if my life might be different had my college courses been more focused on roasting beans instead of playing with colors. Here, at Blueprint Coffee, I felt right at home. Well, not home home… more like coffee heaven home.
St. Louis had never really crossed my mind before I met Ben. I guess the Midwest in general just wasn’t on my radar because I had no family, no friends, no ties to the area. But as you can see from previous posts, it’s actually a pretty wonderful place if you have the right guide. We were only there for a weekend, but saw so much beauty and vitality – a truly burgeoning city. And of course, a visit to the 314 would not be complete without an up-close look at the infamous landmark arch.
In pictures it tends to just look like this big curve over the city. And while that is true, you don’t truly realize the magnificence of the structure until you’re standing right underneath it. The sheer enormity is overwhelming and though I didn’t manage to ride to the top (too long of a line for the time we had), I can easily imagine how incredible it must be.
Little did I know that St. Louis would have some great art in store for me. It truly shows that all it takes is a few donors who truly appreciate art to transform the visual landscape of a city. Atlanta, please take note. Here are pictures from our visits to The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, The St. Louis Museum of Art, and Citygarden (a downtown sculpture park). We also visited the Contemporary, but I failed to take pictures there. However, what I did manage to capture was pretty magnificent…
Thanks to the generosity of my beau’s parents, I had the pleasure of visiting St. Louis at the end of July. Let me tell you, St. Louis is a hidden gem. I had no idea that one weekend there would pack so much lovely sights and entertainment! It didn’t hurt that the STL heat seemed mysteriously absent the minute we got there. The sun was shining, the breeze was blowing, and everything was beautiful. I couldn’t contain all of this within just a single post, so I’ll start off sharing two highlights: Tower Grove Farmer’s Market and Ben’s mother’s garden.
This market was pretty darn wonderful. Nestled within a park beautiful on its own, the farmer’s market was everything you could ever really want or need out of a farmer’s market. There was an abundance of seasonal fruit, adorable families with puppies, and even a jazz band to brighten your mood. Though I wanted to buy a truckload of food, I just went with my morning usual of a french baguette. I do love me some bread.