Thursday, October 28, 2010

STL Eats, Pt. 3: A Day of STL Specialties

by EP

On my last day in St. Louis, Annie and I packed in a lot of activities, including stopping by the Taste of St. Louis and walking around Lafayette Park. We also happened to pack three St. Louis food specialties into the day (and, well, our mouths): gooey butter cake, toasted ravioli, and Ted Drewes frozen custard.

Specialty #1: Gooey Butter Cake

Gooey Butter Cake may not be the most appealing name ever created, but people in STL are crazy for this stuff. It's a yellow cake made with butter, sugar, and cream cheese, then different ingredients/flavorings are mixed in. Annie and I went to Park Avenue Coffee near Soulard, a bakery that boasts 73 flavors of GBC! We ordered coffees and heard about the dozen or so flavors they had in the shop that morning (the flavors rotate daily; for any of the other 60 flavors, you need to order online).

We ordered a piece of the traditional and a piece of blueberry white chocolate flavor. The verdict? Even for me, with my debilitating sweet tooth, it was a little too sweet for me. The first bite was lovely, and then I felt myself slipping into a diabetic coma.

The atmosphere at Park Avenue was lovely - a warm and inviting coffee shop with couches and wi-fi, and a sunny back patio with flaming tables in place of coffee tables. Very Miami.


In the end, I wasn't a huge fan of GBC but before I make a final decision, I'll need to try Annie's version, the Gooey Louie's :)

Specialty #2: Toasted Ravioli

Before college, I had never had toasted ravioli. When I landed in St. Louis for college, I learned about this awesome treat, essentially breaded and deep fried ravioli (usually filled with beef), served hot with marinara or meat sauce on the side. We had toasted ravioli (affectionately called T-ravs) in our dining halls, at bars, and at restaurants, and I have very fond memories of them. I was eager to have some T-ravs on my visit a few weeks ago, and we asked a lot of people about the best place to have them.

On a recommendation from Max, Annie and I trekked out to The Hill (the Little Italy of STL) to Mama Campisi's to try their T-Ravs. The raviolis came out quickly and fresh from the fryer (and/or perhaps oven), and were served with a nice marinara. These were very good but not like I remember - there was a lot more filling (beef) than I remember, and the outside was not as crispy as I recall. Great flavor, just not representative of what I thought a classic T-Rav should be.

I was still glad to get them though, and I appreciate Annie chauffering me around to check off all of these foodie goals!

Specialty #3: Ted Drewes Frozen Custard

Our last stop of the trip (i.e., we went immediately to the airport afterwards) was to Ted Drewes, an ice cream shop that's been in St. Louis since 1930. Ted Drewes doesn't sell regular ice cream, but instead offers frozen custard, a creamier, thicker frozen treat. One of their most popular treats is a "concrete," which is vanilla custard mixed with a mix-in (or two), topped with whipped cream, and served upside-down (just for a second) to show how thick the custard is.

One of my very first memories of college was having Ted Drewes during orientation (a difficult time for any freshman, made a tiny bit better with ice cream) and throughout my 4 years at Wash U, we would make the trip out for concretes every now and again. I was very excited to have this treat as my final goodie before heading back east.

Annie and I got two concretes and shared (of course). We got 2 of their seasonal flavors: apple pie and pumpkin pie. SO GOOD. Pieces of pie crust and pumpkin pie mixed in with custard, or bits of apple and crust and sweet cinnamon-y goodness mixed in with custard....hoo boy, I was in heaven.

It was a very "productive" last day in STL and I was happy to get all of those treats in! Thanks SO MUCH to Annie and Max for their hospitality, I had such a wonderful visit back to my old stomping grounds.

With T-Rav wishes and concrete dreams -

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