This week marked the end of my second full academic year of college, and I am quickly approaching my second anniversary of moving to Quincy. In the spirit of sharing good fun, I thought I might suggest a list of 50 things everyone in the region around Quincy should do at least once, based on my experiences since moving here.
Some of them you will find suggested elsewhere. For instance, you will find a few listed on the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau website. Others I found through The Local Q or The Herald-Whig. Still a few more are strictly from experience or learned by word of mouth. I have not completed everything on the list, so I need you to comment on this article. Tell me where to find a few of these things. Also, feel free to compare your experiences with mine and share them!
1. Blues in the District. My hometown has a similar program, but Quincy’s Blues in the District music nights are more fun, in a nicer atmosphere, and safer! Spend an evening once, and you will go again and again.
2. Romantic dinners out. I like the Pier, Tiramisu and the Elkton for these, and I recommend them all. Sprout’s burned down before I had a chance to go there, but I am waiting for them to re-open so I can add their restaurant to this list.
3. Trap or skeet shooting. You can shoot trap or skeet in West Quincy or at one of the many leagues in Adams County and the immediate surrounding area. Even if your feelings are on the fence about guns, I recommend giving this a chance. I never tried before coming to Quincy, and now I love the sport.
4. Walk the island from end to end. You know the island I mean: Quinsippi Island. From the north dunes to the flagpole on the south tip, Quinsippi Island has no less than five distinct micro-environments, ranging from swamp to arid brush reminiscent of southern Africa. Bring a hiking stick, sturdy footwear, bug repellent, water, and your camera. Park on the mainland, walk across the bridge, then go whichever way you fancy. You will be out all day and never know a city was just 500 yards to the east.
5. Fish. Quincy is surrounded by water teeming with fish, turtles, and who-knows-what else. Grab a pole (and a license), and head out. I grew up with grandparents who fished for musky, the only fish in the world you never catch. By age 14, I was not interested in fishing anymore. Quincy, however, has changed my mind. This summer I will be out there again. Do you have any recommendations on where I should go or what bait to use? I could really use some advice.
6. Take a class. By this, I mean further your knowledge. Within a 30-minute radius there are five colleges offering higher education. You can also take courses in art at the Quincy Arts Center and attend workshops of all kinds in the area. With this much convenient access to fine higher education, everyone should do this at least once.
7. The big parks. So far I have found two parks in the Quincy area that blow away almost anything in my home area: Siloam Springs State Park in Illinois and the Cannon Dam/Mark Twain Lake recreational areas in Missouri. I know they get a bit “touristy” in the summer and fall, but they are beautiful places to visit.
8. Take in the “must-eats.” My favorites so far, that I recommend to everyone I meet, are simple. You must eat (see how this goes?): the fried chicken at Mr. Bill’s, the onion rings at Elders, the gator eggs at the 18-Wheeler, the lobster mac-and-cheese at the Pier, the biscuits and gravy breakfast at Quincy University’s Hawks Hangout, brisket and beans at Fatback’s, an “egg salad, thick” from Winkings Market, and so on. Everyone in Quincy has a favorite, so compile a list from people you meet and run them down one at a time. Have some favorites you think everyone should try? Post a comment below and let’s exchange restaurant tips.
9. Concerts at the O-LC. Make sure to take in a concert or other event at the Oakley-Lindsay Center. Quincy is very fortunate to have an event venue of this size and quality, and not taking advantage of the variety of events scheduled there is almost criminal!
10. Buy local. Quincy has some of the best locally-owned establishments I have ever seen. No matter what you may need, the chances are you can find it without visiting the chain stores that cover so much of Broadway and the east end of Quincy. You can find bquality jewelry at Sturhan’s, accessories at Premier Diva and Asian food at One Restaurant, and never have your money leave the local area.
Well, I think that is enough for now. More to follow shortly.
‑ Gregory Carter
Are you planning a relaxing day in the Cherokee-Lemp District after reading my last article? Perhaps you are looking for something equally relaxed, but maybe a little more lively? I hope you are. Read on!
For the second Saturday excursion I want to introduce you to, let me suggest something trendy and a bit more, well, lively. I love quiet strolls, antique neighborhoods and antique books, but I am conflicted. I like hopping, busy neighborhoods. After leaving my hometown a few years ago, I have really missed them.
If your idea of a good time is a neighborhood filled with the newest shops, a wide variety of food and activities, I have the perfect spot. Follow the same directions I gave you in the last article that lead you to the Cherokee-Lemp District, but instead of driving straight through the city, hop off I-64 at McClausland Avenue and head into University City’s Delmar Loop area.
The Delmar Loop is anchored to the north by the Washington University music center and to the south by the old Wabash Railroad terminal. In between there are 140 shops, restaurants and entertainment venues for you to take in. You really read that correctly. In two-thirds of a mile there are 140 different places to go.
Want some exotic cuisine? How about Thai, Lebanese, Vietnamese, or Indian? I love all of the above, but one particular restaurant caught my eye, and that one is described below. For dessert you can have frozen yogurt, Cold Stone ice cream, visit the Ben & Jerry’s outlet or have gelato, the Italian dessert dish I list among the best things I have ever had for a dessert. There are so many choices for food here you could actually eat at a different place for every meal, every day, for a week and never visit the same place.
Do you want live music? How about 10 venues simultaneously? There’s a library and a museum, the Star Clipper comic book store my friend Sean found particularly appealing and dozens of other places to go. Now we must talk about the good part: dinner. Just as with my last article, I am going to recommend one restaurant above all others. It caught my eye as I drove down the street, and I was drawn in as if in a trance. That restaurant served one thing and just one thing only. It was my favorite food: macaroni and cheese.
The restaurant I am talking about is Cheese-Ology, 6602 Delmar Blvd. The service here is not only friendly and fast; the food is prepared as you wait and served in a cast-iron skillet so hot the cheese is still cooking! I have been chasing my favorite food across the country for almost 34 years, and I can say for a fact that my dinner, a dish called the Bacon Bacon, was the best mac meal I have had in my entire life. Macaroni, chopped thick-cut bacon and a mixture of gruyere and mozzarella cheeses, topped with bread crumbs and baked to a perfect golden-brown. I have to say it again: this was the best mac and cheese meal I have had in my entire life. It is, to paraphrase Anthony Bourdain, my official death-row meal, if I ever wind up in that situation.
— Gregory Carter
If you read one of my last articles, you already know I spent last weekend in St. Louis and had the once-in-a-lifetime honor of meeting a survivor of the Holocaust. In addition to this experience, I had the opportunity to tour the city with a carload of close friends, and I made some discoveries. In the course of this article and my next one, I want to introduce two St. Louis neighborhoods that are well worth a visit.
Plan two Saturday trips, and try to allocate a whole day to each neighborhood if you can. Set your compass needle to the south and hop on U.S. 61 for the short drive. In just over two hours, you will arrive at each neighborhood.
The first place I recommend spending a day is the Cherokee-Lemp historic district. Located along Cherokee Street between I-55 and Jefferson Avenue, the Cherokee-Lemp district was once home to the Lemp Brewery, now unfortunately defunct. The beautiful neighborhood of preserved brick and brownstone houses and shops extends for the better part of a mile.
I suggest you arrive in this neighborhood early in the day for good parking. Dress casual and wear comfortable footwear. Don’t forget your camera, either. Virtually the entire length of Cherokee Street and several of the side streets are lined with unique shops, restaurants and even the occasional music venue. On Saturday you will be competing with other tourists, however, if you go on Sunday many of the stores are closed.
Three or four particular stores come to mind that you might check out. If you are an old book junkie like I am, I recommend Hammond’s Books, 1939 Cherokee Street. If you like very vintage apparel, swing by Ruth’s at 2001 Cherokee St. and let her walk you through her aisles of clothing styles that range in age from the late 1940s to modern, vintage-inspired pieces.
There are several stores that specialize in architectural salvage. Missing one piece of trim for your home in the German District? Several of the shops on Cherokee Street can help you. Make sure to stop by and see Kristin at the St. Louis Curio Shop, 2301 Cherokee St. She specializes in art, books, music and other things produced by St. Louis artisans. Every penny spent in this store goes directly back to the community.
Somewhere in this trip you should also grab some food. I went to one spot on my trip and I recommend them for breakfast or lunch. Stop at the Mud House at 2101 Cherokee St. Plan on a bit of a wait, as this restaurant is busy all day long. Just place your order, grab some of freshly prepared baked goods and a custom coffee or tea, head out to the patio (unless it is raining!) and relax. This is a great place to put your feet up and soak up some sunshine while you wait for your main course to arrive.
My friend Richard called their American breakfast the best breakfast he has ever had. I thought the gingerbread cake and the Cuban sandwich I had were fantastic.
Stay tuned for day trip No. 2 shortly!
— Gregory Carter
I enjoyed the break that came with Holy Week and Easter. I was lucky to have four days off school, so I took advantage of one day not to do homework or type history papers. Just one day. That day was Good Friday, and I dedicated it to reading something else: magazines.
I have a number of magazine subscriptions, and thanks to my mom, I gain several more it seems every year. Unfortunately, between August and May I have to put them aside for the most part, turning instead to reading dusty tomes of history from dawn until well after dark. Every now and then, however, I stop, take a day off to download some school stress, and catch up on other things.
Magazines are wonderful, and tailored more to an individual’s taste more than other print media. What’s new in pop culture, fashion, food, travel, and a myriad of other things? All the answers are found in the magazine world.
I started the morning off with Field and Stream, then Sports Afield. Always love to read hunting stories and see what’s new in the fishing lure industry. Tips on how to call a turkey? Always good to know.
Over lunch, it was the most recent copy of Saveur, followed by Bon Appetite, then National Geographic Traveler.
The afternoon was committed to GQ and Cosmopolitan, and then closed out with Midwest Living and Southern Living, two of my favorites. I finished the evening by digesting all of the articles of the Historian, a quarterly journal I receive thanks to Quincy University. I guess I did homework after all. This quarter’s issue was all dedicated to studies of the Soviet Union, so it made for good bedtime reading. Nothing makes one doze off quite like communist rhetoric, after all.
The point is: I read about everything I like to do outside of class. Talk about stress relief. I spent the day in relative quiet, zoned out the world, and read for enjoyment. I can’t recommend this practice strongly enough. Swing through wherever it is you pick up your periodicals, then head home. Kick back, grab your favorite beverage, and read away.
It may seem a selfish practice, it may not be the most social thing to do, but relaxation does everybody good. You have seen my reading list. What’s yours?
– Gregory Carter
The week following Easter is Holocaust Remembrance Week throughout most of the western world. It is celebrated in over two dozen countries. It is a time to look back and face what psychology pioneer Carl Jung referred to as “the shadow.” To Jung, the shadow represented the worst of human nature, and if we did not watch out, it could overwhelm us.
From 1942 to 1945, it overwhelmed a small group of people in the worst possible way. Six million deaths later, things changed.
Quincy is both lucky and unlucky. For many years, Quincy was lucky to have two survivors of the Holocaust living here, but today they are both gone. For that we are unlucky. The nearest Holocaust center to Quincy is only two hours away, however, and for that we are lucky. On April 7 I am heading there with a carload of history students from Quincy University for a program called “Voices from the Holocaust.” I have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet three survivors and talk to them before the program.
Talking to these people will be one of the hardest things I have ever done. I may be a big tough man, but I have to admit that after visiting the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., I had nightmares. I have the feeling I will be standing two feet taller than one of these ladies and still feel like a flea in their presence.
This program, fortunately for everyone, is open to the public and is free to attend. I can’t recommend going to it enough. Grab your older kids (the content may be too much for the little ones) and head down. Visit the museum first and then head over to the program, which begins at 4 p.m.
I know this may sound like a tough assignment. Why turn a bright spring day dark with the gloom of this historical subject? The answer is simple: time. Like our distinguished World War II veterans, for Holocaust survivors, time is running out. In another five years, there may not be any left alive. For you and your children, this may be the last chance to meet a living survivor of the darkest time in human history. Don’t miss it.
If you need directions or need a schedule, contact my friend Dan Reich at the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center. You can find his contact information and also view the schedule of events online at www.hmlc.org.
– Greg Carter
Writing this story a few days after the fact may make me seem a tad behind on the news, but I promise I’m not. Two police sergeants and two police officers made big headlines this week for their daring rescue of a family from a burning building.
The reason I took a little time before writing was this: I am in awe.
Talk about the stuff of legend. That is what bravery is. Thinking on your feet with zero time to spare, putting aside your safety to save the lives of others? Not too many people do that. My hat is off to these folks, to say the least. In fact, it’s not only off, it’s behind me about ten feet.
Talk about being blown away. I don’t have something in my makeup that they do. Despite this, I know the tag line that will be said again and again, and it goes like this:
“I was just doing my job.”
Really? Not so much. Calling somebody a hero is not something I say lightly. You have to do something mighty amazing to get that kind of accolade from me. Perhaps I am too critical of the modesty that public safety workers display all the time. I say the four officers who rescued that family on 8th Street are heroes, brave, tough, quick-thinking and moving too.
Too often today the stories about police are bad. They revolve constantly around use-of-force abuse, misconduct, or just plain, old meanness. Someone got a ticket some time ago and that induced a critical response. This kind of thing is everywhere.
Right here, right now, all of us are being protected by a solid set of four heroic police officers and it’s high time to tip our hats, clap, or anything else we can do. Unless you can say “I saved a whole family at my day job,” you must agree with me on this one.
To Sergeants Dusch and Yates and patrolmen Hagan and Yates, my hat is off to you. You are legendary, at least to me.
The other day I received a tip from a friend of mine about a local spot for bizarre foods. I was looking for two items: head cheese and tureen. She recommended a small place on Fourth Street, so I took the plunge and walked right in.
The next thing I knew, I was standing in 1949. It was almost as if I were experiencing the Chisholm, Minn., scene from the movie “Field of Dreams.” I was Kevin Costner for a moment, then the wonderful girl at the counter brought me back to my senses, or rather, almost did.
I have to say I did not manage to pick up what I was looking for, but did not leave disappointed. I left with a huge bag of samples of things they make, added a stuffed egg salad sandwich for good measure, and threw in some oldies from the candy bar assortment they stock. My dinner that night was nothing but smiles.
You probably know where I am talking about: Winkings Market. You probably know it as the little white building at 416 S. Fourth St. What a gem, literally! Back home in Rockford I used to frequent two of these places, one called Parthenio’s, another called Pinnon’s. The best of both of those old home establishments were found in Winkings.
In my sampler was some cured salami. Excellent! The next item was a cheese they produce that I was promised would taste like French onion dip. It did just that. I added some cured ham that was delicious; then at the bottom, I found the item that took me back to my childhood: liver loaf. I know it doesn’t immediately sound appetizing, but it is. My grandfather was a huge liverwurst fan. He liked his one rye with mustard and lettuce, and every time I was at his house as a kid, you can guess what I had for lunch. I did not pick the items in my sample pack, so I was entirely surprised and thrilled at the same time.
Here’s my mission for you: swing by this place. Grab a sandwich of choice. Personally I recommend the egg salad or the liver loaf. Get it double-stuffed. Unlike a fast food joint, the price doesn’t really double, and the sandwich comes out weighing about a pound. One of those is enough for two. Don’t forget to have them slice you some Shullsberg Cheese, one of the best cheeses to be had in the United States, and then turn to the candy rack.
Pick up a pair of Clark bars, grab two cans of pop (soda, sorry), and head out. Didn’t know they still made Clark bars did you? Well, they do. Take your lunch, tip your hat, and go have lunch at a park with your sweetheart. I promise you it will be the best lunch you have until you go back for more.
Oh, and if you see Moonlight Graham while you are at the counter, get his autograph for me.
‑‑ Gregory Carter
Everybody likes a good deal, a worthwhile coupon, a sale, a special. It’s no secret. This especially applies here in Quincy. I have never seen so many coupon clippers in line at a supermarket in my life. Quincy residents also have a knack for hosting house “parties” to sell stuff on a scale that would make Tupperware salesmen of the 1950s blush. We are crusading garage sale bargain hunters. We also like to nickel-and-dime our restaurant menus, but maybe a little too much to discuss here.
As a college student, I appreciate a bargain and all that stuff, but a line has to be drawn in the sand on how far to go. If you go overboard you become parsimonious, which sounds like a real compliment, but is really the opposite.
Parsimony is a bright word for being cheap. I don’t mean the kind of cheap that saves money when prudent and takes advantage of a good deal. I mean the kind of cheap that pulls a bank-fresh, crisp $20 bill to pay for a discount haircut, and then doesn’t tip. The other day I was out a Great Clips for my usual flat-top haircut, and the guy in front of me didn’t tip. The $20 he paid with was so new and fresh it didn’t even have a crease in it. I could smell that “mint” smell on it even.
The woman at the counter smiled back and didn’t say anything, but I could see the icy disappointment in her eyes. The ladies at Great Clips are always super nice to me and never leave me with an off-kilter haircut, so I hate to see them slighted like that.
What I thought was the most amazing was that he smiled at the cashier as he walked out.
This kind of thing is no good! I know saving money is of paramount importance, but doing so to the point of being rude is bad juju. Most tip-worthy staffers at any business are paid about half of the minimum wage and expected to make up the rest in tips. Imagine if your pay was cut in half, the opportunity came for making some of that up, and your boss smiled at you and kept the change instead.
No good, right?
There are lots of holiday dinners, haircuts and other such things coming up in the next few weeks. Let’s all go out there and remember what the friars over here at QU say: “It is in giving that we receive.” At least give 10 percent. You won’t miss the $1.20 on the haircut tip and your server might actually thank you, which is always a good turnaround.
- Gregory Carter
Until today I was not a fan of flavored potato chips. I prefer my potato chips to taste like potatoes and my Cheetos to taste like cheese. In fact, I prefer to even make my own potato chips and fries rather than scooping up bagged chips. One more fact: I will not eat barbeque-flavored chips of any kind. Barbeque chips are the one food I simply cannot eat. Never have liked them, never will. It seems to me that recently, more and more new flavor combinations of chips have been released by all the major vendors.
Despite my strong stance on flavored chips, I was swayed today by my friend Richard. He forced a new flavor of chips on me, and I tried them mostly to make him take them away. I now readily admit that I was wrong, and I am officially a fan of one flavor of new chips. If you have had them, you probably know where I’m going with this:
Lay’s Fried Chicken and Waffles-flavored chips.
Right now a few of you are probably recoiling in terror from your computer screens, but let me tell you, you have got to try these things out! Pick up a bag cheap, since they are on special virtually everywhere in town that sells chips. Crack open the bag, bite down on the chips and hold…
First you are treated to the flavor of light maple syrup, and then a quick moment later, the chicken flavor finishes off the chip
… right now you are hopefully agreeing with me.
Aren’t these things absolutely wonderful? I wish I could say the same for most of the other flavored chips out there. Cheesy garlic bread? Not so cheesy. Loaded baked potato skins? TGI Fridays’ chip brand already did that one. Beer-battered onion rings? Sorry, Funyons beat that flavor to death years ago.
Chicken and waffles? Nothing close to Quincy compares to this unless you can find a Waffle House in the upper Ozarks. Hands down, these might be my new favorite. They don’t constitute a “death row meal” for me, but they are mighty good.
Everybody stereotypes New Orleans. Mardi Gras, right? Dens of sin, flashing for beads, and drinking around the clock, and all that jazz, jazz, jazz. To a point, those stereotypes are very true, but they are made so by the tourists, not the locals.
If you’ve never been, I recommend this city to you highly as a vacation destination. I just returned from my fourth trip to the city since 2008, and I want to take you on a culinary tour. New Orleans is home to more than the stereotypes above. Pack comfortable clothing and shoes, pack for the unpredictable weather and set your compass south. DO NOT go there during their festivals unless you are prepared to encase yourself in throngs of idiotic and disrespectful tourists, drunk out of their minds and screaming at the top of their lungs. Go another time.
Oh yes, and don’t forget your appetite.
New Orleans is home to some of the finest restaurants in the world. The city is virtually draped with Michelin stars and Beard Foundation awards. If you are a serious foodie, you know what these mean. On my trip last week, I was lucky to eat at a few restaurants off the over-beaten path used by the tourists, and I encourage you to visit them all.
Your first meal on arrival should be at the cafeteria of Xavier University, 1 Drexel Drive. The professionally-trained chefs prepare both everyday college fare for the students and offer a special of the day that is a local favorite. Park at the campus police parking lot and walk through the sculpture-filled campus to the student union, which contains the cafeteria. It is a buffet, so for one small fee, you can eat all you want. Start with the special of the day. Don’t worry about what it is, just eat it. On my trip it was shrimp etouffee, a dish served only on the Gulf Coast.
If you had this for lunch, your next stop for dinner should be Louisiana Pizza Kitchen, 615 S. Carrollton Ave. Be adventurous here. Everyone in your tour should order their own individual pizza and share. I went thirds on a roast duck and fresh parmesan pizza, an alligator and Andouille sausage pizza, and a smoked salmon, caviar and cream cheese pizza. The smoked salmon and caviar pizza was decadent and rich-tasting. Hands down, it was the best pizza I have ever had, period. At just ten bucks per pizza, you are in for a taste treat you will never forget at a small fee. If your hotel is on the streetcar line, you can take the streetcar right to the front door and leave your car safely parked in the hotel garage.
The next place you should visit is the French Quarter. Start with coffee and beignets at Café Du Monde on Decatur Street. Get black coffee, not the cream-drenched café-au-lait. Walk straight north across Jackson Square, shop and take pictures like every other tourist, and end at Clover Grill, 900 Bourbon St. Get a burger, fries and a coke. It will be served on a hubcap and not be fancy, but it will be filling and extremely cheap. If you want lighter fare, head down Bourbon Street to Desire Oyster Bar, 300 Bourbon St. This eatery fronts the Royal Sonesta hotel. Ask for oysters raw, with a side of Herbsaint sauce and lemons. The sauce is horseradish based and will clear your sinuses, but it tastes divine.
For dinner, swing by Cochon, located at 930 Tchoupitoulas Street in the arts district. Award-winning chef Donald Link has crafted a menu for this restaurant that has earned it the distinction of being one of the 20 best restaurants in the United States. Go there. For fun, pick up some fresh meats at the second Link-owned restaurant, Butcher. Butcher is a deli with a selection of meats that will thrill the senses. Take this catch back to the hotel and save it for breakfast the next day.
After breakfast, take in some of the sights, then aim for lunch at Parkway Bakery and Tavern, 538 Hagan Ave. Try the alligator or hot sausage po’boy sandwich and sweet potato fries. You won’t spend much, and your taste buds will thank you. Make sure to arrive with time to spare, as the line to order usually stretches over a block beginning 30 minutes before they open.
Ready for dinner? I recommend two places. If you are in town on a Friday, make sure to visit Loretta’s Authentic Pralines, 2101 N. Rampart St. This dessert specialty shop only serves regular food on Fridays. Pick up some desserts of course, but don’t miss out on the pan-fried oysters or the jambalaya.
If you can’t make it to Loretta’s, visit Neyow’s Creole Café, 3340 Bienville St. Have whatever the special of the day happens to be, or fall back on the red beans and rice with pork chops. Don’t forget to order the crawfish balls (hush puppies stuffed with crawfish meat) and the grilled oyster appetizers. This is a restaurant that also packed from open to close, so plan ahead and call in a table.
Is your mouth watering yet? If it is, go online to the New Orleans Visitor’s Bureau website and request your travel planning packet today. You won’t regret it, and like me, you will soon be an addict for this city and its food.
‑ Gregory Carter