Talli started it, William decided to give it a shot, and I thought...why not?
It should be easy to think of ten things I love about my hometown, right? I was born here. I grew up here. I know it pretty well...though I must confess that even after all these years, I know little about the city north of Forest Park....
1. Ted Drewes: Located on the Mother Road, the original Route 66, Ted's has the best frozen custard on the planet, bar none. Actually, he calls his stuff concretes because it's so thick if you turn the cup upside down, it will take a while to fall out. No joke. I have a preference for the specialty sundaes, like the Cardinal Sin--named for our baseball team. It's vanilla custard topped with hot fudge and cherries. I was once accused of ordering it just so I could hear the order called out to the guys who prepared them: "Big sin!" or "Little sin!"
2. Toasted Ravioli: We claim the right to be called its birthplace. It's a St. Louis original, and I defy anyone to try it and not love it!
3. The St. Louis Zoo: Widely regarded as one of the world's best, our zoo is spectacular, from Big Cat Country to the Penguin and Puffin Coast to the beautiful Bird Garden (and the aviary that's been around since the 1904 World's Fair). One of our past curators was none other than Marlin Perkins of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom fame.
4. Laclede's Landing: One of my favorite places in the downtown area, it's as if time has stood still there--cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and the Train Wreck Saloon. And that's just for starters....
5. The Central West End: Our artsy neighborhood. Galleries and fine dining. My personal favorite places there are the Silk Road and Culpeppers. I'm still mourning the demise of Balaban's, a French restaurant I've loved since my days as a student at St. Louis University.
6. The Delmar Loop: home to Blueberry Hill, the Pageant, the Tivoli theater, and the St. Louis Walk of Fame.John Goodman, Vincent Price, all the local celebs are immortalized there. No, I don't have a star there. That can be found on the soon-to-be-inaugurated Walk of Shame....
7. Ronnies 20 Cinema: It's huge--so big I think the ticket-takers are actually border patrol guards. I always expect to be asked for my passport. It boasts all the latest in film viewing, along with an enormous video arcade and numerous concession areas (don't ask me how many; I've lost count). There are a few larger cineplexes in the area, but I haven't seen any of them. I'm afraid I'll get lost.
8. Forest Park: Home to the St. Louis Art Museum, the Zoo, the Jewel Box, the Muny Opera, and the Planetarium. Bigger than New York's Central Park--so take that, Manhattan! (The Planetarium is always gift-wrapped at Christmastime!)
9. Merb's Candies: A legend in its own time. Seriously. Home of the Bionic Apple, the best caramel apples in the world. If you don't believe me, ask Steven Spielberg. He and Kate Capshaw have them shipped out to California every fall, the only time they're available.
10. The Gateway Arch: Last but most certainly not least, it's our most recognizable landmark. I've been to the top of the Arch (the view, for the uninitiated, is spectacular, especially at night). I've been in the observation deck during a thunderstorm, a minor earthquake.... Not to be missed if you're ever in the area!