Story and pictures by Meredith Geyer, Contributing Writer
If Saturdays couldn’t get any better, imagine if they were the one day of the week you could have sugar, carbs, or anything truly delicious. My boyfriend, God bless him, has not only come all the way from Memphis, TN to visit me once a month for the past two and a half years, but also follows a Ketogenic diet during the week. Well, almost every day of the week. On Saturdays I have the honor of partaking in Greg’s epic cheat day, which we have dubbed “Faterday.”
Greg’s most recent visit was especially exciting because he had endured an even more vigorous diet with his gym community at home for the entire month of January. Along with a number of strict rules for this new temporary diet, no cheat days were allowed for the entire month. This stipulation meant that his first cheat day of the year, and of the decade, would be during his visit.
We love St. Louis’ accessibility and usually find ourselves in the city because, while we have some favorite eating spots, we are always up to try new things and it seems like St. Louis provides limitless options.
Our morning started off a little early because I had to be back on campus for a swim team meeting at 9:30, which means we needed a little wake up elixir. MoKaBe’s Coffeehouse immediately came to mind (and was conveniently not at all on the way). As you walk in the door, MoKaBe’s freeing and eclectic atmosphere is just as welcoming and comforting as its drinks.
Despite the wide array of food and drink options we ended ordering the same thing, which doesn’t happen often. We both got a hot Mudslide which, after searching for a comparatively delicious coffee experience, I can easily say is one of my favorite coffee drinks ever. The double strength coffee was perfectly balanced with condensed milk, brown sugar, and spices including nutmeg and cinnamon. This drink is not overwhelmingly sweet, but instead provides a hint of spice, which was reminiscent of the holidays and complimented our next food adventure.
On our way back to Lebanon, we stopped for a little sweet treat to make sure our sugar levels matched our caffeine levels. If you are in the mood for the fanciest donuts of your life and you walk into Pharaoh’s Donut, the bakers might as well tell you, “Get outta here!” However, if you are looking for the tastiest donuts you might ever bite into, all you have to do is to get within 100 feet of the entrance and then just follow your nose. Having tried donuts from all over the city, as well as all over the country, Pharaoh’s has remained at the top of our list.
All of the donuts are freshly made every day which is evident by the flour mist that hangs in the air. While Pharaoh’s offers what would be considered the normal array of “fun” donuts such as sprinkle, jelly-filled, and cake donuts, these options, while delicious, are honestly just as good as the next donut shop. However, the real stars of the show are the somewhat traditional original glazed, apple fritter, and cinnamon roll.
I ordered a glazed donut and a cinnamon roll and Greg ordered an apple fritter and a cinnamon roll as well. The glazed donut, while not overly sweet, is thick and airy which makes the dough almost melt in your mouth. On the other hand, the apple fritter, according to Greg, has “crispy edges with a fluffy interior filled with pockets of cinnamon apples.” Lastly, our donut experience would not be complete without Pharaoh’s massive cinnamon roll. Unlike other cinnamon rolls where the cinnamon and sugar are uniformly incorporated, this behemoth has been hand-rolled in a way that creates distinct layers of the signature fluffy dough and a cinnamon-sugar combination. The distinct flavors of dough and spice are then tied together with a glazed topping that adds a perfect sweetness to the mix.
Soup Dumplings STL
For lunch we decided to try something new. For those of you who are not familiar with soup dumplings, they are basically little dumpling pouches filled with very hot magic. I use this description because while they were absolutely delicious, I ended up burning my mouth and somehow parts of my face during my first attempt at eating one. Thankfully Soup Dumplings STL was thoughtful enough to post directions for consuming these pockets of goodness on their wall. The directions are as follows: Gently pick up from the top, take a small bite, pour out the broth into your spoon, sip the broth from your spoon, dip your dumpling in vinegar and eat.
The directions were simple enough and eating some of them was indeed that simple. Others, however, seemed to betray us, which often led to a disaster. Burning my face, I will admit, was my fault because I took a small bite from the bottom of the dumpling and not the top. The other messier disasters were usually due to the stickiness of the fragile dumplings in unison with the rather pointy edges of the steaming basket they were served in. There was solace though when the occasional dumpling decided to hatch prematurely because no matter what steps you took to eat them, they were always delicious. We had never had soup dumplings before and had no idea what to expect but, along with the entertainment, they brought us a completely new take on Chinese cuisine.
We had three types of dumplings, 8 shrimp, 6 beef, and 6 pork dumplings and each flavor brought something different to the table. We agreed that the shrimp dumplings, which actually contained small shrimps, had the best broth out of the three options. The beef dumplings were different in the fact that the entire dumpling tasted beefy whereas the shrimp dumplings provided hints of shrimp flavor due to the actual shrimp contained inside. The beef dumplings had shreds of beef within the broth which provided for a powerful beef flavor and something rather gross to look at when the dumpling explodes before you can open it correctly. Lastly, the pork dumplings were similar to the beef dumplings but did not have as flavorful broth. In addition, the pork dumplings were not as complimented by the vinegar as the other two flavors. All of the dumplings were wrapped in the same wrapper which I believe was the best part of the meal. The smoothness of the dumpling and broth combined with the flavorful ingredients contained within provided one of the most beautiful textures and flavors I have ever had.
J.J. Twig’s Pizza and Pub
Faterday dinner has been and will always be pizza. No questions asked. Well, except for the question, “So where do you want to get pizza?” For the first pizza consumption of the decade we knew we didn’t want to mess up by going into uncharted waters, so we decided on one of our favorite St. Louis pizza places: J. J. Twig’s. Caution is sometimes warranted when eating at a sports bar, however, J.J. Twig’s is just as thoughtful about its pizza as it is about the St. Louis Blues or Cardinals.
J.J. Twig’s offers a whole new take on the traditional thin crust pizza. Each of their specialty pies can be ordered as “double-decker,” which is two thin crust pizzas literally stacked on top of each other with the outside edge of the crust rolled together. This option provides the best of both worlds because while you are eating the pizza you have the stability and crunch from two layers of thin crust, but at the end of your slice the crust is thick and fluffy from the two layers of dough that have been braided together.
We had a 14” double-decker “Meat me in St. Louis,” which is J.J. Twig’s take on a meat lover’s pizza with all of a carnivore’s favorites: Italian sausage, beef, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, and bacon (and remember, that’s all doubled, including the cheese!). J.J. Twig’s also has a number of nontraditional pizzas options with some interesting combinations, but if you commit to a double decker pizza of any size, make sure you pick the toppings you enjoy because they definitely don’t skimp!
The Taco & Ice Cream Joint
I’m not sure which is better, starting the day with sugar or ending the day with sugar. Either way, we did both without a second thought because Faterday is not a day to make sacrifices. While pizza is Greg’s favorite meal, my favorite food is ice cream, so we normally save just enough room to get some after our pizza has settled.
It was a tossup when deciding what ice cream shop to go to and to include in this article. We decided on The Taco & Ice Cream Joint because last time we ate here we also had dinner, during which I had a burrito that was so big it was honestly hard to embrace the massive “one-scoop” serving I was given. However, this time I was fully engaged in my ice cream experience. The Taco & Ice Cream joint has a whopping 52 flavors to choose from. Some of the flavors are somewhat generic while a majority of them are authentic Mexican flavors.
Greg ordered Horchata, which he described as “the milk left in the bowl after you eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch.” My flavor of choice, mint Oreo, was also quite good. While Greg said that the consistency of his ice cream was a little icy, mine was a little sticky and the Oreos were more mush than cookie. Even though my ice cream had an unusual texture, the flavor was on point by not being overpoweringly minty. In order to fully evaluate any ice cream shop, any connoisseur knows that the ice cream is only as good as the waffle cone it’s served in. The Taco & Ice Cream Joint’s cones are beautifully homemade and add a sweet but airy crunch.
All in all, as you can probably tell, the first Faterday of 2020 was a success. We have a few more St. Louis weekends before I graduate in May and move back home to Memphis, so we will use our time to enjoy our favorite places and find some more hidden gems.
Something that I have learned from Faterday, even while not being on a rigorous diet during the week, is that it’s ok to treat yourself. Food is something that should be explored, celebrated, and shared so why not take time to fully enjoy something that has the ability to bring the people of the world together.