Archive for the ‘Missouri’ Category

Is Jay Nixon Ashamed to be a Democrat?

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

I’ve long maintained that Governor Jay Nixon is as arrogant and corrupt as a Republican, but I had no idea that he is actually trying to pass himself off as one. Check out his slick new web page, and try to decipher what party got him elected. He doesn’t make it easy on you – he does not identify himself as a Democrat anywhere on the front page of his website. Go ahead and check his “Meet Jay” page, and you won’t find himself mentioning his party affiliation.

Is it any wonder that Missouri Democrats are struggling? With leaders like Jay “What Party Am I?” Nixon, it’s hard to inspire much pride in being a Democrat.

The Daily Meal’s 101 Best Restaurants – KC BBQ Carries the Local Load

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

The Daily Meal has come out with its list of the 101 Best Restaurants in America, and local greats such as Bluestem, Justus Drug Store and the American failed to make the grade. Instead, Kansas City cuisine is represented by Oklahoma Joe’s (#97) and Arthur Bryant’s (#18).

Is it coastal condescension that turns up its nose at Kansas City’s many fine dining restaurants while embracing our more rustic offerings? Or is it simply true that you can find better fine dining elsewhere, but Kansas City does barbecue better than anywhere else?

I don’t see any St. Louis restaurants on the list; has the Hill been flattened? Would the critics view Kansas City to be merely another fly-over city like our undistinguished cousin to the east if not for smoked meat?

O’Fallon Brewery Tasting at Gomer’s South

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Tony Caradonna of O’Fallon Brewery brought his beers to Gomer’s South yesterday evening, and I met two of my beer-loving friends there to sample the line-up. (If you’re from St. Louis, you’ll want to know that Tony granduated from St. Mary’s High School in 1975. If you’re not from St. Louis, you don’t understand the fascination with high school provenance, but it means a lot to those of us who are. If you think that’s just a personal quirk of mine, note that it appears in the second line of his bio. If you look at his staff profiles, everyone who grew up in St. Louis mentions his or her high school at the top, while none of those from out of town mentions the name of his or her high school. What can I say? It’s a regional thang.)

As beer-tastings go, this was a casual affair, standing around a counter sipping samples from tiny mouthwash cups. We sampled 6 beers, and they were placed in a thoughtful order. No formal presentation, but the brewer was there to answer questions.

First came O’Fallon Gold. Obviously intended to be a crowd-pleaser, it is lightly hopped, smooth and, frankly, kind of bland. It’s not a bad beer at all – I didn’t find any flaws with it, and it might be kind of interesting to taste it alongside other brewers’ “entry level” beers. An ounce or so of this was plenty to get the idea, though, and then it was upward toward the more interesting offerings.

Next up was O’Fallon Wheat, and it was a clean, basic American wheat beer. Obviously intended to be a crowd-pleaser, it is lightly hopped, smooth and, frankly, kind of bland. It’s not a bad beer at all – I didn’t find any flaws with it, and it might be kind of interesting to taste it alongside other brewers’ “entry level” beers. An ounce or so of this was plenty to get the idea, though, and then it was upward toward the more interesting offerings. Yes, I know I just repeated myself, but the shoe fits. In this case, it might be interesting to try it in comparison to Boulevard Wheat.

On second thought, American wheat is one of my least favorite styles, so why attempt to differentiate between two very competently made, commercially successful beers made by great Missouri brewers? I am thankful that each of them brings in revenue to subsidize the more experimental beers that thrill beer geeks like me. So what if I don’t like American wheat beers? Lots of people do, and Missouri produces two excellent, well-brewed versions.

The third beer of the evening was O’Fallon 5-Day IPA. This is the one I bought to take home – well-balanced with hops and malt, it is a great example of an excellent beer that isn’t trying to set any records. Too many brewers use their IPAs as entries in a hops arms race, competing to melt your face with overwhelming hop bitterness, flavor and aroma. 5-Day IPA brings a little detente to the IPA world, with a tasty but balanced approach that leads you to say, “I think I’ll have another,” instead of simply, “Whoa, what just hit me?”. This is a really good beer, and it could easily become one of my regulars.

O’Fallon Smoked Porter came next, and it came as a jolt. I’d reviewed this beer 3 years ago in my “99 Bottles of Beer on the Blog” series, and I think I enjoyed that bottle more. The smoke in the beer last night was overwhelming – it tasted like liquid barbecue. Perhaps the bottle I reviewed earlier had aged a bit – aging tends to smooth out strong flavors, and my prior review mentions a slightly tart and acidic aftertaste, which could be a sign of age, and which would have been overwhelmed by the smoke in last night’s sample. Even though the beer didn’t rank among my favorites last night, it’s great to see brewers trying new things and expanding the catalog of beer tastes we can find in our stores.

The fifth beer was O’Fallon Whiskey Barrel Smoked Porter. I wish I had bought a bottle of this to try by itself. As it was, coming right on the heels of the super-smokey Smoked Porter, I was unable to give it a proper tasting. There was definitely smoke there, but I couldn’t tell how much of it was due to overlap from the prior beer, and how much was in the sample I was tasting. I picked up on vanilla and maybe even a little honey flavor, but that’s about all I’m going to say about this beer until I get a chance to really experience it. I will say, though, that it seemed to have a lot of complexity and that it’s a beer I look forward to trying again.

Finally, we closed out on one of O’Fallon’s seasonal offerings, O’Fallon Cherry Chocolate Beer. This tasted amazingly similar to those chocolate covered cherries my mother used to get when I was a kid; I wonder if Tony’s mom shopped at the same store. I’d never want to plow through a six pack of this beer, but it’s a pleasant surprise and, once again, O’Fallon is pushing the limits of what you might expect a bottle of beer to hold. It was also interesting to me that the base beer on this confection is actually a dark wheat, instead of the more typical porter or stout. I would love to see how he makes this beer!

O’Fallon Brewery has a 15 barrel system, which they are using to produce 3,000+ barrels a year. They’ve been quietly building their reputation and they’re the second largest American brewery in the St. Louis area (now that AB has been sold to foreign interests). They recently got their license to produce stronger beers, so look for them to start experimenting even more in the coming years.

(If you’re interested in hearing more about tasting opportunities at Gomer’s, sign up for their newsletters here.)

Great Beer in Cabool, Missouri?

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Have you ever heard of Little Yeoman Brewery? Have you ever heard of Cabool, Missouri?

In doing a little brew research yesterday, I stumbled upon word of a micro micro brewery located on a family farm off a tiny road out around Mark Twain National Forest, producing great beer in tiny quantities. The beer doesn’t show up on liquor store shelves – you have to make the 80 mile journey from Springfield, MO to drive down a gravel road to the brewery to buy it. And, despite all that, you might want to call ahead, because they sell out of everything they make.

People from German have made the trek to this outpost of rural brewing
, and yet I had never heard of it.

Who’s in for a trip to Cabool in October? The brewery hosts an Oktoberfest on the last weekend of October: “We usually cook a pig in the ground for that, or make brats, and we have a live bluegrass band,” Frederick said. “We encourage camping. Bring a tent, bring a lawn chair and come on over.”

Sounds good to me.

Osceola Cheese – Disappointment on Highway 13

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

When traveling through Missouri, there are lots of fascinating spots to visit for a quick break. Those brown Missouri Department of Conservation signs point to dozens of small parks, and the flea markets and antique shops hold treasures.

But the Osceola Cheese Shop is not one of them.

Always crowded with slow-moving sample-takers, the store is harshly lit, poorly laid out and filled with cheese that mostly tastes like American with artificial flavorings. On top of that, you get “gifts” offered by an attached Christian bookstore and Precious Moments figurines next to dew rags festooned with the flag of the Confederate Losers.

It manages the difficult feat of being completely tacky without even offering visitors an opportunity to be ironically amused by kitsch. It’s a cheese shop that can’t even be engagingly cheesy.

Missouri Bar Keeps its Money in Missouri

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

For years, the Missouri Bar Board of Governors has treated itself to a lavish trip to some exotic locale, underwritten by the bar dues of less-exalted attorneys. In January, while the rest of the state was struggling with sleet and freezing rain, the Missouri Bar Board of Governors would jet off to the Bahamas or the Florida Keys or the people-watching paradise of South Beach. While there, they would hold a sinfully brief meeting to “justify the expense”. Incredibly, they would even use that meeting to plan raising the bar dues or to convince legislators to pass judicial pay raises.

Irony sunbathed on those trips.

Finally, the Bar has listened to the complaints and decided to scale back the meeting, bringing it back to Missouri. Not surprisingly, this dose of common sense comes from Skip Walther, the President-elect of the Bar. Skip is a great guy with excellent judgment. Under his leadership, the Missouri Bar will increase in its credibility as a voice for justice.

No Idea is Too Stupid to Voice in Jefferson City – or to Win a Republican Majority

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Missouri State Representative Ed Emery (R-Lamar) has proposed totally eliminating the state income, franchise and corporate taxes, and shifting the cost of government disproportionately onto the backs of the mid-Missouri poor through an increased sales tax. This may be the single dumbest thought voiced out loud in Jefferson City in the past quarter century, but it still passed the House on a voice vote.

Just think for half a second, and the flaws of this approach will occur to any but the most slow thinkers. The sales tax is a regressive tax, and Emery’s idea would tax the poor at a far higher rate than the wealthy. It would eliminate virtually all retail business within an hour’s drive from the border, and create boomtowns in our 8 surrounding states. The only positive economic impact would exist only in far-fetched “trickle-down” fantasies, in which corporate CEOs would somehow lower prices rather than simply use their tax boon to finance a new house on the border of Johnson County.

In reality, this thing has zero chance of passing, and only a few of the truly dense people in Jefferson City really think that such a radical, economically disruptive, and anti-working poor proposal is a good idea. But irresponsible Republicans moved it forward because now they can claim on the stump that they voted to eliminate the income tax, and they will draw a hearty cheer from the ill-informed.

In a better world, with better leadership, such a proposal would never see the light of day. In a more dignified time, Emery would feel ashamed of himself for making such a poorly-thought-out proposal, and his Republican colleagues would be embarrassed for him. Instead, we see a majority of his colleagues voting in favor just so they can have a cheap throw-away line in a campaign speech.

We deserve better than crackpot ideas embraced by opportunists.

Are Electric Cars Useless in Missouri? Change the Law!

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Sammy Hagar famously claimed he couldn’t drive 55.

How does 25 sound?

Under Missouri law, a new breed of electric vehicles will be condemned to go no faster than 25 miles per hour, and must remain on streets with a speed limit of 35 or under, even though the cars are capable of driving at 45 miles per hour.

Personally, I would enjoy the opportunity to handle my 5 mile commute in a noiseless vehicle that doesn’t produce emissions, but not if I am going to get pulled over for doing 30 on Gillham or Southwest Trafficway. Such a low speed would be dangerous and obnoxious to my fellow commuters. The laws made sense when electric vehicles were modified golf carts that were incapable of going over 25 anyhow, but Missouri needs to update its laws now so that its citizens are able to take early advantage of emerging automotive technologies.

What Have You Learned in the Past 3 Weeks

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Here’s what my state representative, Jason Kander, has come up with for the past 3 weeks. I can’t claim to have been as productive . . .

10. While it’s an honor to receive an appointment to the budget committee as a freshman, it’s also pretty intimidating to be on that committee when Governor Nixon is inheriting such a troubled deficit.

9. Just keeping up with my day-to-day schedule is a challenge! Whenever I think that I’ve caught up, I come back to my office and find a desk full of legislation, research, or correspondence that needs my attention. If you know me at all, you know I actually love this aspect of the job.

8. It’s going to be tough to get used tousing language like “the gentleman from St. Louis County” when giving a speech.

7. Reporters pay VERY close attention to the words you use and they are definitely earning their salaries.

6. It’s easy to lose touch with reality if you spend too much time talking only to other politicians (especially if you only talk to folks from your own side of the aisle). I’ve learned a tremendous amount by setting up phone calls with Department Directors, University Presidents, etc.

5. My staff is incredible. Without my legislative aide or my interns, I think I would be a complete and total mess.

4. The Republican majority has the option of shutting the Democratic minority out of all policymaking for no reason at all.

3. The title of a bill may sound good, and the summary may sound great, but it’s extremely important to read the actual language. I almost got burned on this a week ago and I’ve resolved to treat every potential “yes” vote like I do a potential signature on a contract.

2. A law degree and some experience practicing law is, I think, a real advantage. I count myself very lucky to come into this with so much experience interpreting and arguing over the meaning of state statutes.

1. It seems like there are at least five lobbyists for every one legislator in the Capitol at any given time

Keep on keeping on, Jason.

Whitlock – Winning Mizzou Team Should Feel Awful?

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

I know that Jason Whitlock doesn’t get paid to put reasonable views onto paper – he justifies his massive salary by attaching his name to counter-intuitive perspectives, and every now and then he hits paydirt with a fresh insight.

That said, this morning’s column berating the Mizzou Tiger football team after they defeated a similarly-ranked team in the Alamo Bowl Game is a classic example of saying something stupid in a vain attempt to be original. In it, he seeks to rain on the Tigers’ parade because their victory was not a stomping of their opponent. He called the victory “an embarrassment”, because the #21 team in the nation went into overtime to defeat the #23 team in the nation. He was shocked and horrified that the Missouri team celebrated on the field after the game.

Jason, a bunch of 18-24 year-old kids just won a nationally-televised big time football game, and it was the last time that many of them will get to play together. Do you honestly, truly think that they should feel bad about themselves, because they won the game but didn’t complete the grim task of meeting the expectations of a middle-aged guy who can’t play anymore? Do you really expect the winners of the Alamo Bowl to sulk off the field in a storm of self-loathing because they “merely” won the game?

Congrats to Mizzou for finishing among the top football teams in the country, and enjoy your ticker-tape parade in Columbia. College sports are for college kids, not for semi-pro joy-sucking parade-rainers.