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After a long winter and April showers, flowers are nice … but I’m declaring May the official visit-a-military-museum month. After all, Armed Forces Day is May 20 and we have fantastic museums around Missouri dedicated to our men and women in uniform, past and present.

The Civil War is well-represented in the Show-Me State with a trio of stops:

The Missouri Civil War Museum in St. Louis brings our history to life, from Ulysses S. Grant to Jesse James. Two floors of exhibits and galleries document the state’s role in the Civil War, complete with original uniforms, weapons, photographs and much more.

The Stars and Stripes Museum and Library in Bloomfield celebrates the newspaper created specifically for the men and women in the U.S. military. The paper started in Bloomfield with the publication of the first edition on November 9, 1861, during the Civil War. That first issue and other artifacts are on display, as well as stories about the people who produced the publication over the years.

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Visitors Center in Republic features a 27-minute film, museum and rotating exhibits, plus a five-mile self-guided driving tour through the battlefield that was the setting for second major battle of the Civil War. More than 2,500 Union and Confederate soldiers were killed, wounded or declared during the intense five hour battle.

Museum of Missouri Military History

Moving forward through history, make plenty of time for the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, the only American museum dedicated solely to preserving the objects and personal experiences of those who fought in the “War to End All Wars.”

Indulge your love of both the romance and the hardware of World War II at the Commemorative Air Force Missouri Wing, Portage Des Sioux. With its collection of historic World War II aircraft, museum and gift shop, history and vintage plane buffs alike will love this stop.

Closest to home for me is the Museum of Missouri Military History at the Ike Skelton Training Site at the Missouri National Guard Headquarters in Jefferson City. Check out the set of newly-restored guns – believed once used by the Missouri Naval Militia back in the 1920s – now on display outside the museum. Venture indoors for a variety of exhibits documenting Missouri National Guard contributions in our country’s military and humanitarian efforts around the world.

Museums at Fort Leonard Wood, Ft. Leonard Wood: Take the driving tour of the memorials at Fort Leonard Wood and then linger at the Mahaffey Museum Complex, which pays tribute to the Military Police, the U.S. Army Engineers and the Chemical Corps.

Obviously, there is more to see than one day will allow – I’ve just scratched the surface of our state’s military museums and memorials here – and seriously, our military deserves more than a day. Good thing May is also Armed Forces Month!

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The post Celebrate Armed Forces Days with a Tour of Military Museums appeared first on VisitMO Spotlight.

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For centuries, moms have served as inspiration for art, movies, music and more. They also have inspired some memorable places in Missouri. From ravioli to Route 66, you don’t have to look far to find “mom” in the Show-Me State.

Moms and great food go hand in hand, so it’s no surprise to see their influence in culinary offerings across the state.

The mom behind Momma Mary’s in Springfield frequently fed her growing family frybread tacos based on a recipe she received from a Navajo friend. Mary’s children now serve the traditional Navajo-style tacos, along with burritos, enchiladas, nachos and more, at the popular food truck named in her honor.

Photo by Momma Mary’s Navajo Tacos

At Mama Toscano’s in St. Louis, handmade ravioli is still made the way “Nana Kate” did decades ago. The three-day process involves butchering and grinding the meat, mixing it with spices and other ingredients, and making the homemade dough. The wholesale and retail shop offers two types of the meat-filled pasta – one for boiling and the other for frying (St. Louis style). The shop also serves toasted ravioli and a variety of sandwiches to enjoy at one of its outdoor tables or carry out.

As its name implies, Not Just Desserts by Mom in St. Joseph serves breakfast and lunch items in addition to cakes, pies, cinnamon rolls and cookies. Originally called Just Desserts by Mom, the one-time bakery has now become known for its home-style meals and “world-famous” tenderloins. The owners take great pride in making everything from scratch, just like their moms and grandmas did.

Enjoy fine dining and patio views of the Missouri River at the Mother-in-Law House located on Main Street in historic downtown St. Charles. The restaurant resides in a “double house” built by a wealthy mill owner in 1866. The structure was originally divided in half – one side for the owner and his new wife and the other side for her mother.

At any one time, 3-6 “mommas and grand mommas” are busy baking homemade pies at Sugar Momma’s in Hermann. The shop owner learned her pie-making skills from her own mom, known as the “pie queen” in the nearby town of Rhineland, where she baked pies for a local restaurant. Housed in a historic building that was once home to the Ewald Bakery, Sugar Momma’s makes more than 50 kinds of pie and offers old-fashioned candy, ice cream and gift items.

In addition to favorite dining spots, you can also find “mom” in some of Missouri’s most historic spaces.

Bolduc House, National Historic Landmark

As the first permanent European settlement west of the Mississippi River, Ste. Genevieve is known as the Mother of the West. The town’s National Historic Landmark District is home to dozens of 18th and early 19th century buildings, many reflecting Missouri’s French colonial history. Guided tours of the Felix Valle House, the Amourex House, the Bolduc House and others provide a glimpse into the community’s colorful past.

Moms are a major focus at Hallmark, headquartered in Kansas City. The company has been making cards for Mother’s Day – the country’s third largest card-sending holiday – since the early 1920s. Tour the Hallmark Visitors Center to learn about the teenager who turned two shoeboxes of postcards into a billion-dollar brand.

Route 66 – famously called the Mother Road by author John Steinbeck – heralded the age of cross-country travel. As one of the original U.S. highways (and the first to be completely paved), the road ran from Chicago to Los Angeles. But it was in Springfield, Mo., in 1926 that the highway was officially named. Running through eight states and dozens of small towns, the Mother Road spurred the growth of many mom- (and pop-) owned businesses including service stations, restaurants and motels.

Written by Liz Coleman

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The post “Mom” is a Mainstay in Missouri appeared first on VisitMO Spotlight.

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This Mother’s Day consider a gift with a Missouri twist. Exclusive items from locations across the state would make memorable gifts for mom this year.

Here are a few ideas:

Indigo Wild in Kansas City uses goat’s milk, botanical extracts and other natural ingredients to make a variety of products – including soap, lotion, and lip balm – in more than a dozen scents. Try the new Mumzie Zum bar soap and aromatherapy mist made with lemongrass and lavender.

Find custom-designed stationary, notecards, notebooks and journals at 1Canoe2 in Fulton. The shop also offers phone cases, hand towels, recipe boxes and more.

For moms who appreciate craft beer, consider a gift from Mother’s Brewing Company, based in Springfield but available throughout the state. Their Little Helper variety is a perfect choice for IPA lovers.

Take the traditional box of chocolates to the next level with a gift from Bissinger’s Handcrafted Chocolatier in St. Louis. The limited edition Carl Bissinger Collection comes in a newly designed spring flower wrapping.

For quilting enthusiasts, consider a gift from the Missouri Star Quilt company in Hamilton. Choose a pre-cut quilt kit, quilting book or a gift card so your mom can choose a favorite fabric for her next creation.

Goat cheese from Baetje Farms would make a unique gift for the foodie mom in your family. It’s made in Bloomsdale, but widely available in grocery stores across the state.

For one-of-a-kind handmade gifts, check out Poppy’s in Columbia. Jewelry, home décor items and paper goods are a few of the things that you will find.

A made-in-Missouri experience is always a great gift. Consider tickets to a Cardinals or Royals game, the Fabulous Fox Theater, or the new Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium.

Whether your mom calls Missouri home or it’s a place she loves to visit, a gift from the Show-Me State is a sure way to make this Mother’s Day a special one.

Written by Liz Coleman

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The post Made for Mom in Missouri appeared first on VisitMO Spotlight.

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Tacos. Eaten with your hands and overflowing with the tasty contents of your choice … what’s not to love? This humble yet versatile Mexican staple traditionally involves a folded tortilla packed with meat, cheese and lettuce. However, veering off the classic path can be deliciously fun. Check out a few of Missouri’s exciting options for non-traditional tacos.

Family-owned Kalbi Taco Shack offers Asian food with a Mexican twist on St. Louis’ vibrant Cherokee Street. Choose a corn or flour tortilla filled with Asian beef short ribs, sweet and spicy pork, teriyaki chicken, tofu or sweet and spicy jackfruit (a recently added vegetarian option) topped with Kalbi aioli and Asian slaw. Added bonus, they have bubble tea.

Photo provided by JQ’s on High

With a limited menu and seating capacity of 15.5 (it’s an inside joke), recently opened JQ’s on High in Jefferson City specializes in barbecue and smoked meats. Choose from three taco varieties served in street-style tortillas: pulled pork with cole slaw, grilled fish with made-from-scratch tartar sauce and smoked-then-fried pork belly with D.a.T. sauce. Or don’t choose; order all three and share.

Extraordinary is probably the best word to describe Not’cho Ordinary Taco truck in Bolivar. Indulge in the “Chicken-N-Waffles” taco with hand-battered, buttermilk fried chicken wrapped in a made-to-order waffle shell. Get it “Country Style,” smothered in rich, house-made white gravy and cheddar cheese, or “Sweet-N-Spicy,” with buffalo chicken, maple syrup and powdered sugar.

Check out Tinga Tacos in Springfield offers appealing new combinations for street tacos. The “Cheese the Moment” combines cheese curds, taco rice, jalapeños, mango-habanero and pico de gallo. For seafood lovers, the “Get Off My Prawn” has shrimp, guacamole, fruit pico, cabbage, citrus syrup and lime crema.

Walking Steak Taco-Tacos from 44 Canteen in Columbia

Sister to 44 Stone Public House in Columbia, 44 Canteen is downtown and features smaller plates and a range of cuisines including Mexican, Asian and European. While the taco menu is fluid, their signature tacos such as the “Sloppy José” (with house-made chicken chorizo, avocado, queso fresco, pickled onions and red chile sauce) make regular appearances.

For Mexican fare with a Midwestern flair, check out James Beard Award semifinalist Patrick Ryan’s Port Fonda in Kansas City. Order the “choripapa” taco, loaded with chorizo verde, chipotle-ranch tater tots, tomato serrano, cilantro and onion. Seriously, a tater tot taco; it doesn’t get more Midwestern (or delectable) than that.

Tacos are not just for Tuesdays, and Missouri’s tacos run the gamut: from Mexican to Asian and everything in between. Be daring and try one of the Show-Me State’s refreshingly exciting out-of-the-norm tacos. Don’t forget to tag your pics #MissouriAdventure.

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The post Missouri Modern Tacos appeared first on VisitMO Spotlight.

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Another month, another full moon. Too many times we let night pass us by without appreciating that big ball of light in the sky. It’s been a fixture in our lives since the beginning of time and has inspired countless sites around the world. Find your muse right here in Missouri at these Moon-inspired attractions.

Prepare to be entertained at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center. Located in Branson, you can pick from a selection of shows performed daily in the Moon River Theatre. From magic and illusions created by Rick Thomas to the soulful serenade of AYO – Voices of Glory, excitement is just a road trip away. Create a playlist for the road, listening to “Missouri Moon,” recorded by 2018 Grammy Award-winner and Missouri-born bluegrass artist Rhonda Vincent.

No one knows the Moon better than Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. View artifacts from their famous lunar landing at “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission,” a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition display through September 3, 2018, at the Saint Louis Science Center. The exhibit features the crew’s living quarters/onboard controls, space suits, star charts and more.

Celebrate the night sipping a finely crafted Missouri beverage. The moonshine is a hit at Ozark Distillery in Osage Beach, which offers flavored varieties such as apple pie, vanilla bean, butterscotch, blackberry and cinnamon moonshine. If wine is more your style, Arcadian Moon Vineyards and Winery in Higginsville has a glass for you – and most of their products are named after all of the objects that fill the night sky!

Head to the Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium inside Union Station Kansas City for an up-close view of the cosmos. Their 60-foot dome will have you feeling like you’re floating among the Moon and stars.

After a jam-packed day, the full moon is high in the sky and it’s time to lay your head down to rest. The Moonrise Hotel in St. Louis offers fitting accommodations. The massive Moon sculpture that sits atop the hotel makes it easy to spot in the skyline. A step inside offers quirky décor of all things outer space. Enjoy the view from the Rooftop Terrace Bar before heading to bed.

Now that we’ve got you in orbit, get out there and enjoy all that the Show-Me State has to offer. We promise you’ll be over the moon for our Missouri attractions!

Written by Ashley Sneed.

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The post Over the Moon for Missouri Attractions appeared first on VisitMO Spotlight.

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It may not feel a lot like spring to you and me, but for Missouri’s wild turkeys, the season of strutting and gobbling has arrived. And right on their heels come an influx of hunters from across the map, hoping to bag one or two during the spring firearms turkey season, April 16-May 6.

Hunters from all around the country know the Show-Me State is a great place to hunt wild turkey and come in droves each spring (and fall). The largest number head north from Arkansas, but we draw in hopeful hunters from as close as Iowa, Illinois and Kansas and as far away as Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Florida and Texas.

Much of the credit for the popularity of our state as a turkey hunting destination goes to the citizens of the state and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). Thanks to the dedicated sales tax for conservation, we can offer nearly a million acres of public lands for hunting. Turkey restoration and extensive habitat management efforts made by MDC, their partner organizations and private landowners over the past decades make for good turkey numbers around the state.

It’s important to us that you enjoy your time hunting in the Show-Me State and that all the excitement you have comes from bagging a big tom or two. So please practice safety while you’re in our woods:

  • Avoid turkey “fanning.” This dangerous technique – hiding behind a turkey fan and moving it around to attract other turkeys – can lead you to being mistaken for game.
  • Sit with your back against a tree; this shields you from any hunters that may be behind you.
  • Call your turkey in to you, don’t stalk it. Besides, mastering a great turkey call is fun.
  • Orange is the new everything: wear it and wrap it around a decoy or bagged turkey when you’re moving around in the woods. In addition to your hunter orange, dress defensively, avoiding common turkey colors (red, white, blue or black).
  • Know your target: ID the turkey’s head and beard before shooting.

Just a few practical habits and you’ll head home from your adventure with nothing more than memories of a great hunt and hopefully – a great bird.

If this happens to be your first foray in Missouri turkey hunting, a free MDC hunting certificate is the perfect way to memorialize your first turkey harvest in the Show-Me State.

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The post Spring is the Time to Talk Turkey in the Show-Me State appeared first on VisitMO Spotlight.

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Bordered by towering limestone bluffs and stretching across the state from Machens to Clinton, Missouri’s Katy Trail is 237 of mostly flat miles perfect for running, hiking and biking. But all that activity is bound to make a person hungry… and thirsty. Luckily, the Katy Trail is also bordered by numerous great spots to fuel and hydrate (I’m not just talking about water) trail-goers.

Begin or end your adventure at The Bike Stop Café and Outpost in St. Charles, near the eastern trailhead. Grab a deliciously healthy breakfast or lunch, cup of coffee or glass of wine, and buy, rent or have your bike worked on all in one place; it’s literally a one-stop shop.

Stop off at Augusta Brew Haus for locally made Droege’s bratwurst served with red potatoes, onion, cabbage and Brew Haus mustard. Soak up the sun while sipping one of Augusta Brewing Company’s craft beers or one of the many Missouri wines on the menu.

Enjoy the Missouri sunrise and dig into a hearty breakfast at the Trailside Bar and Grill in Rhineland. For midday bikers and hikers, wash down all-can-eat fried chicken and catfish with a frosty mug of beer, followed by an indulgent slice of homemade pie.

Sink your teeth into a freshly ground, hand-pattied hamburger at Holzhauser’s Bar and Grill in Portland, located on the Missouri River. Family-owned and -operated, you can bike, walk or boat practically right up to the front door.

The Station House at Katfish Katy’s in Huntsdale is open seasonally April through October. Sit on the patio and watch the Big Muddy flow by while listening to live music and munching on a Katfish Taco. Quench your thirst with a local brew from Logboat Brewing Company and glass of wine from Les Bourgeois Winery.

Meriwether Café and Bike Shop in Rocheport is the perfect stop (or start) for trail-goers with kiddos. Rent bikes for all ages, including tandems and trailers, and munch on their locally sourced “simple scratch” menu items such as the Forager Bowl with roasted root vegetables, red quinoa, local spinach, Goatsbeard Farm Moniteau Bleu, pomegranate beet reduction and sauerkraut.

Newly renovated and renamed, Revival Restaurant and Lounge in Boonville’s historic Hotel Frederick touts an elevated yet approachable menu. everything in-house from churning their own butter, to baking their own bread, to butchering their own meat.Almost everything is made in-house, from churning their own butter to baking their own bread to butchering their own meat.

An easy two miles from the Clinton trailhead, visit Square 109 where downhome comfort food is on the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Save room for homemade cheesecake and hand-scooped milkshakes.

Don’t be afraid to work up an appetite on the Show-Me State’s Katy Trail; there are plenty of great food stops to eat, drink and enjoy the great outdoors. Don’t forget to tag your pics #MissouriAdventure!

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This story is a difficult one to write because the subject is so painful, so appalling and so shameful – the Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jewish people – as well as other “undesirable” populations like the Roma, the disabled and the mentally ill – through organized, industrialized, wholesale slaughter. The Holocaust. Shoah.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2018 starts the evening of April 11 through the evening of April 12. The date marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and in 1951, it was chosen in Israel as the first officially organized day of remembrance. In 1979, Missouri Senator John Danforth proposed an American version, which became a week of commemoration that includes the official date.

It seems an auspicious time to discover the small but exquisite gem that is the Holocaust Museum & Learning Center in St. Louis.

Explore the history: how anti-Semitism in the ‘20s became a political movement in the ‘30s and resulted in the atrocities of the Nazi regime. Follow the audio tour from propaganda through anti-Semitic decrees to Kristallnacht when the violence and destruction directed at Jewish citizens came out into the open, through the ghettos and concentration camps to liberation and resettlement. The story is skillfully told through news clippings, artifacts, journals and photographs – the most disturbing of which are displayed in a way that protects children too young for such barbarism.

Considering the seriousness of the subject, I found the museum to be both an educational and uplifting experience. I had a taste of the richness of Jewish life before – the strength and determination to survive during – and the heart to carry on after. I never knew how many survivors chose St. Louis as their post-war home, carrying their experiences and stories with them … many of which are documented in the museum.

A small photograph reached out to me. A group of boys with their Rabbi at Hebrew School. Only one child survived the Holocaust – he grew up to be Dr. Gustav Schonfeld, former head of the Department of Medicine at Washington University and a long-time St. Louis resident. His is just one story among many.

I recommend budgeting at least two hours to tour the museum – which is free (but trust me, you’ll want to leave a donation) and open to the public Sunday through Friday. They are renovating the atrium, so call before visiting to make sure the museum is accessible.

For those of us who did not live through those horrifying times, it is an event that is beyond comprehension. It can seem unreal, impossible. But I once met a World War II veteran who was a witness to some 83,000 bodies laid out in the streets near the Nordhausen Concentration Camp, most of whom died from starvation and dehydration. He told me he still had nightmares.

The phrase “Never Again” has become shorthand for a commitment to remember the Holocaust and a dedication to preventing anything like it from occurring again. I would have thought that goal would be an easy one. But the day I visited, after viewing a wall of propaganda from the ‘20s and ‘30s, I saw a news story blaming Jews for American election interference.

Amazing, enlightening museums like the Holocaust Museum & Learning Center continue to hold the line, helping us to understand what happened, and without vigilance, could happen again.

There is a quote from a survivor of Sachsenhausen posted near the end of the tour: “I have told you this story not to weaken you but to strengthen you. Now it is up to you.”

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The morel mushroom. Elusive. Mystical. Coveted. As these delectable gifts of spring begin to erupt from damp Missouri soil, veteran and novice mushroom-hunters alike visit their secret spots with possessive zeal, hoping to find the mother lode.

Famously difficult to find and impossible to cultivate, morels are a prized possession during springtime in the Show-Me State. Visit the Missouri Department of Conservation Field Guide to discover helpful hints on finding and identifying morel mushrooms, and other edibles as well. First-time hunters should always accurately identify any mushrooms before consuming them.  A good rule of thumb is when in doubt, throw it out.

Take your passion for fungi to the next level and join the Missouri Mycological Society, a non-profit organization focused on, you guessed it, mushrooms. Learn about edible and non-edible mushrooms and enjoy weekend camping trips and festivals including their yearly “Morel Madness,” where members gather to forage for mushrooms. Attire is “mushroomy apparel and hats and anything weird.”

Typically, Missourians like to bread then fry or sauté morels in butter.  But don’t be afraid to explore other techniques that highlight their earthy goodness. Feast Magazine features an array of morel recipes developed by local chefs that showcase their distinct flavor including a leek and morel gratin which can be served as an entrée or side dish. Try this Missouri Department of Conservation fettuccine recipe which pairs two spring favorites, morels and asparagus.

Perhaps your morel foraging adventure left you empty-handed. You’re in luck, because at Fulton’s annual Morels and Microbrews Festival both fresh and fried morels are available for purchase.  Enjoy live music, sample craft beers and, of course, fill up on your favorite fungi.

Many Missouri restaurants feature morel-centric dishes on their menu during the season.  Make a reservation at James Beard Award Semi-Finalist Stone Soup Cottage in Cottleville.  The April 2018 Chef’s Tasting Menu includes a fourth course of beignet with wild mushrooms.  Blood & Sand in St. Louis also features morels on their menu and in their specials whenever they have access to them.

Fortunately, Missouri has much to offer in terms of morels for the hunter and non-hunter alike.  For a sure find, take a trip to Nevada, Missouri, and snap a selfie with a 30-foot-tall morel mushroom replica.  Be sure to tag your photos with #MissouriAdventure!

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Somewhere between the crack of dawn and afternoon siesta lies the delicious and wonderfully lazy affair known as brunch; one of the many things to love about the weekend. Whether your tastes buds crave savory or sweet (or a combination of both), Missouri offers a variety of destinations to enjoy indulgent dishes and fully sanctioned day drinking. These restaurants feature Missouri wines on their menu. Take this opportunity to pair a glass of Missouri wine (or a bottle) with your favorite brunch options.

Order the Milton Potato Cake at Columbia’s Broadway Brewery in The District with a glass of Adam Puchta Winery’s Norton. The Milton cheddar in this potato croquette complements the bold blackberry and black cherry aromas and flavors of the wine.

Harrisonville’s Forged by Fire offers a breakfast biscuit topped with egg, cheese, and bacon, sausage or ham that tastes delicious with a glass of Red Fox Winery’s Chambourcin. This medium-bodied wine bursting with currants and cherries goes well with a variety of grilled meats and cheeses.

Sunday brunch at Voltaire in Kansas City should include a steaming bowl of shrimp and grits with gulf shrimp and andouille topping creamy, Anson Mill’s grana padano grits, charred tomato and scallion and soft boiled egg. Pair with Amigoni Urban Winery’s Sauvignon Blanc, an easy-drinking wine that is light and seafood friendly.

Rooster’s South Grand and downtown locations are St. Louis brunch staples. Enjoy the zucchini, roasted tomato, red onion, spinach, mushroom scramble over potatoes with Augusta Winery’s Vidal Blanc. The clean summer feel of this wine is an impeccable match to the veggies in the scramble.

Visit Farmington on a Sunday and order the Grilled Pork Chop and Cakes at 12 West Bar and Grill  with a glass of Twin Oaks Vineyard Two Brothers Rose. This award-winning Catawba and Concord blend is intense and fruity and goes perfectly with the brown-sugar-marinated pork chop resting on a potato pancake and topped with fried apples and eggs.

Try the Chicken and Waffles at Les Bourgeois Vineyards Blufftop Bistro with a glass of their Solay. With no oak aging to mask the intense tropical fruit overtones, this wine pairs well with the panko-crusted chicken tenders over Belgian waffles topped with fresh fruit compote.

Boozy brunch… it’s a thing.  Find your perfect pairing at one of the Show-Me State’s tasty options. Don’t forget to tag your pics #missouriadventure.

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