Friday, August 5, 2016

Travel Adventures: IAFP St. Louis

Every year I attend the International Association of Food Protection (IAFP) Conference.  This meeting is the best meeting for food safety professionals.  I always walk away from this conference learning so much about the latest scientific findings concerning all things food safety.  Usually, the FDA attends to give updates on the latest rules and regulations.  My favorite workshops deal with recent outbreaks and the investigation into finding the cause.  This year there was a great workshop on the cucumber/Salmonella outbreak that occurred across the US this year.

My dear husband (DH) usually attends this conference with me.  Usually, it is in a different location throughout the US and DH has a goal to visit all 50 states.  Last year it was in Portland, so he got to knock Oregon off his list.  This year it was in St. Louis, Missouri.

I can tell you that this trip did not start off well, especially with the fact that my last trip involved the dubious "Southwest Debacle".  We flew out of Tampa on American Airlines and had a layover in Dallas.  We get to Dallas, eat lunch and are informed that our connecting flight to St. Louis is delayed - not by too much, only an hour.  Long story short, the plane scheduled for our flight was undergoing some maintenance.  We didn't board the plane until about 6:00, which means we didn't arrive in St. Louis until about 8:30.

American Airlines gave everybody on the flight a $12.00 voucher to use at any of the vendors in the airport - but it was only good for that day.  I spent our vouchers at Garrett Popcorn.  If you haven't ever tried this popcorn, you are missing out.  Get the Garrett mix, which is caramel and cheese popcorn mixed together.  Yum!  I also was given a glass of wine on the plane for free.  I had my credit card out to pay, but the flight attendant told me it was the least she could do because of the delay (Sweet!). We also received an email the next day apologizing for the delay and credited us with 5,000 bonus miles for our frequent flyer program.  I'll give AA props for trying to make up for the delay. 

When we arrived at the airport,  it was completely deserted and all the shops were barred up and closed off.  This arrival really set the tone for the rest of our trip.  We caught a cab out of the airport and headed downtown.  (We tried to use Uber, but only the black car option was available).  We were staying at the Marriott Grand Downtown, right across from the convention center.  It's Saturday night, downtown at about 9:00, and the place is a ghost town.  No people are walking around, hardly any bars or restaurants are open.  Very spooky!  We are exhausted anyway from a day of doing nothing really, but waiting around and decide to go to bed.

Sunday was better.  We got to experience ribs at Pappy's Smokehouse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  If I have to describe the only thing worth going to St. Louis for, it would be Pappy's.  Seriously.  The ribs are fall-off-the-bone delicious and meaty as all get out.  This place opened up at 11:00 AM on a Sunday.  We got there at 11:15 and the line was already through the restaurant.  It wasn't quite out the door yet, but close.  They have a really good system, so you go through the line pretty quickly and even though you think you won't get a table, you will.

DH so happy about Pappys BBQ!

We took a trolley ride around St. Louis, which showed us some of the popular sights for tourists.  Much of the trolley ride focused on Forest Park, which is where their zoo, art and history museum are located; all of which have free admission. We didn't have time to do that and I would have loved to go to the history museum because they were having a Little Black Dress exhibit I would have loved to see.  It featured black dresses from several time periods.  Ugh!  So up my alley!

The rest of my trip was spent at the conference.  Monday and Tuesday were full days of food safety workshops.  DH was on his own to explore the city.  I will share with you his opinion of this city in his own words. 

"I just realized it's not an arch.  It's a big fucking frown."

Needless to say, DH was not a big fan of St. Louis.  He rated the city a D+, saying he would have rated it an F if it wasn't for Pappy's and the Busch Stadium tour, which is where the Cardinals play.

I can tell you, I was more indifferent than he was.  But looking back, yes the downtown was devoid of shops and restaurants and there were not many people aside from those of us who came for the conference.  It was strange.  It is definitely not a place I am dying to get back to visit again any time soon.

I just realized as rereading this post, I really hope I don't offend anyone from St. Louis!!

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