Hot Soup and St. Louis
Soup. All I want is soup right now. This drafty bus is igniting my hunger, my craving for a hot meal. Soon. I hope.
Will we reach Grand Rapids? Is this bus destined to be sidelined by endless snow? We’re currently headed into whiteout conditions, complicating an already tedious 8 hour bus ride from Louisville, KY to Michigan. But, before I get ahead of myself, I’ll catch you up on my last few cities.
The Gateway to the West was trumpeted by nearly our entire cast as a wonderful place to tour, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Though I could regale you with food memories from a number of restaurants I will leave you with but one suggestion: Bridge Tap House. Impeccably designed, you’ll enter through glass doors and stand under a chandelier of birch branches, looking at the wide, high backed bar. The setting is matched by the menu, a collection of delectable small bites, locally sourced and well seasoned. Eat there if you only have one night in town.
We played to withered audiences for most of the run, the marketing of our show is left in the hands of local agencies and St. Louis had a hard time selling seats. On the upside, we’re now settling into a great rhythm upon reaching new cities and have smoothed out those Tuesday night bumps that soured our early moves.
The highlight of our week in Missouri was a late night visit to City Museum. Do you know this glorious institution? A rambling collection of repurposed shoe-factory chutes, vaulted rebar tunnels, spiraling mazes, a human sized hamster wheel and two jets balanced on castles, it’s a DIY Disney, a grown-up playground. We hurried to the space immediately after our Friday night performance, determined to make the most of the 2 hours left before closing. If you travel to/through St. Louis, do not miss this adventure.
I have to specify that this is in KY because where I’m from (Colorado) we also have a Louisville, but we mispronounce it (in statewide unison, we hiss out the “s”) and this tour, unfortunately, isn’t coming anywhere near CO in the near future. Anyway, onto Kentucky.
The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts has such a gloriously spacious backstage that we never felt frantic mid-show. Flashdance has a massive set with many automated parts, and in the smaller theaters we’ve had some trouble with the geometry of storage. A crowded backstage can mean trouble onstage, the misfortune of which we were spared here. We were fed enormous audiences, I offer a hearty thanks back to the folks in Louisville who came to support the show.
On my first morning free I wandered in search of a grocery store (I was certain Louisville would be the city I’d start saving money by eating cold cuts in my hotel room). Misled by Google maps, I walked toward what I thought was a market, only to find an out of business wholesale restaurant supply store. What fortune befell me instead? A street full of locally owned businesses and restaurants. I ate lunch at the appropriately spiced Taco Punk and scoured windows for dinner menus.
I walked by a charming shop, Gift-Horse, and decided to take a lap through their wares. Glory! A store full of locally made baubles and bow ties (some with an aprés holiday discount too!). I picked a few precious pieces and chatted with the owner, a barrel-chested milliner named Butch. Our conversation took many paths, but ultimately settled on his favorite restaurants in the neighborhood. His many suggestions provided the meal-plan for my entire stay in Louisville.
In search of a proper cocktail? Sit at the bar here and marvel at the selection of small-batch bourbons, ryes and whiskeys. Order an array of snacks from the menu and gorge. Their meat plate is filled with house cured chorizo, rabbit terrine, head cheese, whatever the kitchen happens to have churned out that morning will come to you splayed on a cutting board. Do not skip this.
Wiltshire on Market
Butch told me this charming story: Wiltshire is only open Thursday-Sunday because the chef spends the beginning of every week visiting farms and butchers and collecting gems. He comprises a new menu every week, limited choices, everything exquisite. If you don’t have a reservation get here early, it fills up on reputation alone. I’d suggest a dish but by the time you get here it won’t be on the menu. Fortune!
This is the sister restaurant to the very upscale Proof in Louisville. Garage cooks nearly everything in a gorgeous wood burning oven and does a bang up brunch (order their potatoes, never before has the tuber been presented to you as such a gleaming treat). It’s in a renovated old gas station and could not be more charming. Watch out for terribly attractive waitstaff, including a Freddie Mercury lookalike manning the host station. Eye candy and good food? Eat here.
I dearly wish we had two weeks to spend in Louisville, it’s my kind of town and I didn’t get to all the restaurants I wanted to try. Alas, we boarded a bus to Grand Rapids and drove headfirst into a snow storm. So long Louisville, I hope my travels cross your borders again.
And that brings me to Michigan, it’s currently a balmy 7 degrees with snow piling up in the moonlight. The cold weather makes me long for a giant pot of soup, but until I figure out what to do about my smashed induction burner I’ll have to eat vicariously through you. The soup in the video above is my go-to winter one pot meal. Collards, buckwheat, I usually throw in some italian sausage for protein, it warms my belly just thinking of it.
From the road,