Posted by Porcshe N. Moran
This past weekend, my fiancé and I traveled to Washington, Mo. to visit a restaurant that I was reviewing for Missouri Life magazine. While planning the trip, I discovered that the 32nd annual Art Fair & Winefest would be taking place during our stay. The event promised three days of art, wine, gourmet food and live music, so it was a no-brainer for me to purchase tickets.
Day One: Artists and Winemakers Takeover Downtown Washington, Mo.
The festival began Friday evening. A few downtown streets were closed off to accommodate the vendors and attendees. We lucked out with getting a room at the Old Dutch Hotel & Tavern which was only about a block from all of the activities. We started the night by checking out the various artist booths. There was everything from watercolor paintings, photography, and pottery to handmade jewelry and clothing. Twenty-three artists were featured at the fair. They came from all over Missouri and even Illinois and Arkansas to participate. In addition, many of the downtown storefronts remained open to capitalize on the festival crowds and contribute to the lively scene.
Our next stop was the wine tasting tent which was set up at the Washington Farmers' Market pavilion. Upon entry, we were given 20 tasting tickets, each ticket was good for one ounce of wine, and a commemorative wine glass. Fourteen Missouri wineries were represented and each booth had four to five different varietals to try. There was also complimentary cheese and crackers to nibble on between sips. The festival organizers created a handy wine list with the name of each wine, a description and the price per bottle. This made it easy for us to keep track of all of the wines that we sampled. We spent more than an hour in the pavilion going from booth to booth. By the end, we had our favorites picked out. I really enjoyed the semi-sweet Devil's Den Red from Blumenhof Vineyards, the Vidal Blanc, a semi-sweet white, from Holy Grail Winery and Seyval, a dry white, from Robller Vineyard Winery. My fiancé was partial to the semi-dry Hunter's Red from Adam Puchta Winery and Hermannsberger, a dry red, from Stone Hill Winery.
Not surprisingly, the marathon wine tasting worked up our appetites. We headed down to the food court and our noses led us to a mobile eatery called Olivia's that was serving grilled pork kabobs, spring rolls, fried rice and noodles. Everything was prepared fresh and tasted amazing. I'm not sure how I resisted the urge for a second helping. During dinner, we were entertained by a rock band from Union, Mo. called "Crazy Aunt Linda". Following our meal, we each got a glass of our favorite wine from the tasting to use up our remaining tickets. After taking some silly pictures at the photo booth that was set up outside the wine pavilion, we decided to walk back to our hotel and call it a night.
Day Two: A Delicious Crash Course in Missouri Wine and Food Pairing
The next day, we ventured back to the festival for a wine and food pairing class called 'MO Wine/MO Food 101." The session featured a four course meal from Joe's Bakery & Delicatessen. The flavor and texture of each course was complemented with a wine from Robller Vineyard & Winery.
The first pairing was bacon wrapped shrimp with a horseradish mousse and an off-dry, white wine with hints of floral and spice called Traminette. The second course was a strawberry spinach salad with a sweet vinaigrette dressing. A blueberry muffin was added to the plate for a variety in texture. This dish was matched with a semi-sweet, blush wine called Rosé. Robller describes their Rosé as "the perfect summer wine" which is why it works so well with warm weather fruits like strawberries and blueberries. The main entree of pork loin stuffed with andoille sausage and topped with brandy Dijon sauce was served with Le Trompier Noir. This semi- dry red is Robller's version of a pinot noir. Our meal ended with a peaches and cream parfait that was matched with a sweet, white wine called Jeu D'eau. This dessert wine is like Moscato, but isn't quite as sweet.
The wine and food pairing session was extraordinary. I really enjoyed the bacon wrapped shrimp appetizer and the Traminette that went with it. Everyone was raving about the peaches and cream parfait and its spot on pairing with the Jeu D'Eau. Beyond the food and wine, the event coordinators took the time to elegantly decorate each table with pretty flowers, placed appropriately in blue wine bottles, and white linens. A couple of talented, local high school students set the upscale mood with violin music. Five other people sat at our table, including KFAV radio announcer Chris Dieckhaus who was doing a live broadcast from the event, and everyone was a lot of fun to hang out with for the 90 minute session. Throughout the weekend, there were three more wine and food pairing courses with each featuring a different restaurant and winery.
The 32nd annual Art Fair and Winefest in Washington, Mo. was an excellent way to spend a weekend. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed. The experience was bolstered by the picturesque setting on the banks of the Missouri River in the center of historic downtown Washington. My only regret is not staying in town for the third day of the festival. If I'm lucky enough to return to Washington again next May, I won't make that mistake again.
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24 Hours in Southeast Missouri
Posted by Porcshe Moran
Recently, I accepted an assignment with Missouri Life magazine that gave me the opportunity to travel to southeast Missouri. The majority of my stories are usually focused on happenings in the central part of the state, so I was excited about the chance to go someplace that is new to me. To add to the fun, my fiancé decided to join me on my work adventure.
My assignment was to review Dhafer's Mediterranean Steakhouse in the town of Dexter. It was about a five hour drive to Dexter from our home in mid-Missouri. After dinner at Dhafer's (I'll post my review when it is published) we drove around the city to see the sights. Our first stop was a full-service gas station. The experience of having an attendant pump your gas and wash your windows is something that most people don't get anymore. It felt like we had gone back in time. Next, we checked out some of the murals that are painted on various walls in the downtown area. Dexter has a population of 7,864 which explains why most of the businesses were closed early in the evening. Despite being such a small town, there were a few antique stores, galleries and boutiques that I would have liked to visit.
We spent the night at Auburn Place Hotel & Suites in Cape Girardeau, about 60 miles northeast of Dexter. I would recommend this place to anyone traveling to the area who wants a great hotel at an affordable price. It is clean, modern and has many amenities such as a fitness center, indoor pool, arcade, guest laundry facility, free Wi-Fi access and complementary continental breakfast with hot and cold food items. The staff was extremely friendly and professional. Another highlight is the cookies and milk that are available in the lobby every evening. Also, the hotel is conveniently located next to the interstate with dining and shopping in close proximity.
Our plan was to spend the next day touring the city before heading home. I had a whole list of places that I wanted to visit, but the rain put a wrench in my itinerary. Instead of going to the outdoor attractions such as Bollinger Mill State Historic Site, Fort D and the Trail of Tears State Park, we opted to drive around downtown and check out some of the murals. The most interesting ones were the "Mississippi River Tales" and the "Missouri Wall of Fame" which are painted on the floodwall in the Old Town Cape riverfront district. "Mississippi River Tales" contains more than 24-panels that depict historic Cape Girardeau events such as the Battle of Cape Girardeau during the Civil War, President Taft's visit to the city in 1909 and Lewis' and Clark's visit in 1803. The mural was completed by artist Thomas Melvin in 2004. The "Missouri Wall of Fame" is 500-feet long and honors 45 noteworthy Missourians such as Mark Twain, Josephine Baker, President Harry S. Truman and Yogi Berra.
It was still raining by the time we finished looking at the murals which meant that we needed another indoor activity. As we were driving down the street, I noticed a large, coral-colored house. It turned out to be Annie Laurie's Antiques, a 6,000 square-ft treasure trove. There was everything from furniture and housewares to clothing, jewelry and books. I have visited other antique shops in Missouri, but this was by far the most unique one. It was a lot of fun to explore.
Another building that will definitely catch your eye from the street is the office of the Southeast Missourian newspaper. The two-story building has a beautiful exterior made of brick, stucco and ornate Spanish tiles. The rain prevented me from getting a photo of the front of the structure, but I was able to capture the signage and a couple of the tile murals on the side of the building. We inquired about getting a tour of the presses and found out that they have to scheduled in advance.
While we were browsing the antiques, I worked up an appetite. I used my phone to search for good restaurants in the area and came across Broussard's Cajun Cuisine. It had stellar online reviews and the lunch menu was reasonably priced, so we decided to give it a try. I was in the mood for a shrimp po'boy, but when I saw that the lunch special for that day was a catfish po'boy, I opted for that instead. My fiancé ordered the crawfish etouffee. My po'boy was very good. The catfish was well seasoned and fried crispy just the way I like it. The etouffee was outstanding. It was flavored with Cajun spices that gave it the perfect amount of heat. I couldn't resist trying the homemade bread pudding with rum sauce, and I'm glad I gave into temptation. It was literally and figuratively a sweet ending to a mouthwatering meal. My dad's side of the family is from Louisiana, and I grew up eating these classic Cajun/Creole dishes. In my opinion, the food at Broussard's is as good as anything you'd find in the French Quarter.
Once our bellies were full, we headed over to the Cape River Heritage Museum. There were displays on the history of Cape Girardeau as well as the history of Missouri. I learned that the woman who designed the Missouri state flag, Marie Watkins Oliver, was a native of Cape Girardeau. I was also intrigued to find out about the luxurious passenger steamboats, like the American Queen, that dock in Cape Girardeau in the summer on their way up and down the Mississipi River. There is even a Dixieland band that greets the travelers when they depart the vessel! The museum is small, but worth a visit.
The museum docents suggested we go check out the Crisp Museum, which showcases exhibits related to fine art, history and archaeology, before leaving town. We drove over to Southwest Missouri State University's River Campus where the museum is located, but couldn't find a place to park. It was getting later in the afternoon, and we still had a four hour drive ahead of us, so we decided to save the museum tour for another time. Before leaving campus, we did manage to find the perfect spot to get a view of the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge. The $100 million cable-stay bridge is 4,000-feet long and 100- feet wide. It connects Cape Giradeau, Mo. with East Cape Girardeau, Illinois across the Mississippi River. It is a magnificent piece of architecture during the day, but it becomes even more stunning at night when it is illuminated by 140 lights.
My trip to southeast Missouri was brief, but enjoyable. There was plenty to see and do that far exceeded my limited timetable. I can't wait for the chance to take another road trip to this part of the Show Me State.
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True/False Film Fest 2013
Posted by Porcshe N. Moran
The 2013 edition of the True/False Film Fest wrapped up Sunday night in Columbia, Mo. after four days packed full of documentary films and live music from around the globe. This was my fourth year attending the festival and, as always, it was a phenomenal experience. Here's my take on the weekend:
Films & Events
True/False is considered to be one of the world's premiere film festivals. Sandwiched in between Sundance and SXSW, it has become a coveted destination for directors on the festival circuit. This year, 42 films were screened in eight downtown Columbia venues. One of the highlights of seeing films at T/F is that the directors and often times the subjects of the documentaries are in attendance. You are able to ask them questions at the end of each screening or even bump into them at a coffee shop for a one-on-one chat. It is always a treat to be able to get a behind-the-scenes perspective of how each film was made straight from the people involved.
I purchased a Simple Pass for the festival which allowed me to reserve up to 10 different films in advance. The pass also gave me the ability to "Q" (stand in line and try to get into a film that is sold out) throughout the entire festival. I ended up getting tickets to seven films. My plan was to also "Q" for two films. Due to my personal schedule, I wasn't able to follow my original plan, but here are the five films that I was able to watch:
Beyond the films, T/F also puts a premium on showcasing music from various acts from across the country and around the world. Before each film, audience members are treated to a performance from one of nearly 40 solo and group buskers who are part of the festival. Throughout the weekend, musicians can be found playing on street corners and at parties and events. My favorite act at the festival was a string folk band from New Orleans called Yes Ma'am!. I heard them for the first time before the screening of Crash Reel and then later that night at the Toast/False Saturday Busker Showcase. Side Note: While they weren't officially tied to the festival, Columbia, Mo.-based band Jenny Teator and The Fevers played a show on the first night of True/False at a downtown venue. Their set was amazing, and I really hope that they can be incorporated into T/F next year.
The Food & Drink
I consider myself to be a bit of a foodie, so what I eat during T/F weekend is as important to me as the films. Beforehand, I prepared a list of Columbia dining establishments that I wanted to try for the first time or revisit during the festival, and I was able to get to most of them. Several restaurants catered to movie-goers by providing discounts for pass holders and a selection of dishes that could be ordered quickly between screenings. These are the restaurants that I visited during the festival:
To see more of my photos from the T/F Film Fest follow PNM Media on Instagram (@PNMMedia). For more information about the T/F Film Festival go to www.truefalse.org
I have a few new stories published in the Spring 2013 edition of Lake of the Ozarks Second Home Living magazine.
You can read all of my articles and the entire Spring 2013 issue of Lake of the Ozarks Second Home Living magazine here.
Rocheport is a community of 242 people situated along the Missouri River Valley and the Katy Trail in central Missouri. Les Bourgeois Vineyards is arguably Rocheport's most well-known destination, and until recently it was the only frame of reference I had for the town. So, it was with great interest that I took a magazine story assignment that gave me the opportunity to journey to Rocheport for an overnight stay at the Yates House Bed & Breakfast. I arrived in Rocheport on a chilly, overcast January afternoon. Upon entering the Yates House, a reproduction of an 1850 roadside inn that was built in 1991, I was greeted with must-needed warmth from the living room fireplace. Innkeeper Dixie Yates also had a plate of her famous chocolate chip, coconut and almond oatmeal cookies waiting for me. We enjoyed a cup of tea while chatting about the history of the property followed by a tour. First, I saw the three guestrooms, the spacious guest kitchen and sitting rooms available at the Yates House. Then, we went next door to the Garden House which was built in 1840 and features two standard rooms, a suite, a commercial kitchen, a dining room and a common sitting area. Dixie and her husband Conrad are currently renovating the Garden House with new interior design and amenities to give it a slightly more modern and updated feel. Both buildings are beautifully appointed with antique furnishings and hardwood floors. I immediately felt comfortable and at-home in the cozy setting.
After the tour, Dixie took me around Rocheport to showcase some of the local businesses. January is off-season for the town, but a few of the shopkeepers opened up their doors just to give me a peek. We visited Manitou Studio, Richard Saunders, Inc., Shirhaze Gallery and the Rocheport General Store. One of the attributes of Rocheport is that it is small enough that you can walk everywhere very easily. Dixie says that many guests park their cars and never use them again until they depart.
The day ended with dinner at Abigail's. The restaurant's menu changes nightly and is presented on a rolling dry erase board that is taken to each table. But, don't be fooled by the casual atmosphere, the food at Abigail's is top-notch. I had the salmon topped with tomatoes, feta and spinach. The sides were roasted potatoes, broccoli and yellow zucchini. It was a phenomenal dish. The fish and vegetables were fresh, expertly cooked and bursting with flavor. For dessert, I tried the gooey butter cake. I'd had this sweet treat before at other restaurants, and this was easily the best version I've ever tasted.
Back at the B&B, I settled into my room on the top floor of the Yates House. I took a hot shower and lounged around in one of the luxurious robes that is provided in each room. Then, it was time for a good night's sleep in the plush king-sized bed with pillow-top mattress. The next morning, I woke up to a breakfast of decadent creme brulee French toast, fresh fruit, bacon, russet potatoes and a slice of frittata all prepared by Dixie. I can't think of a better way to start the day.
Although the winery is the first thing you'll see upon entering Rocheport, there is so much more beyond the grapevines to explore. Savor a glass of wine, the gorgeous views of the Missouri River and a world-class meal at the establishment's Blufftop Bistro and then continue on to the shops, eateries, art galleries and B&Bs that make up this charming mid-Missouri treasure.
My full story on the Yates House B&B will be published in the Spring 2013 issue of Lake of the Ozarks Second Home Living. magazine. For more photos from my trip to Rocheport, check out the PNM Media Facebook page and follow PNM Media on Instagram (@pnmmedia).
Hello! I am Porcshe Moran Murphy. For nearly two I've created print and and digital content for brands and organizations, cover food & wine, travel, home design, weddings, healthcare tech, business and more.