A family wedding (with CWE connections)

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Food and Drink  The Parkway Hotel The Coronado Ballroom Graham Chapel Gourmet Magazine

Over the Memorial Day weekend my gorgeous niece Claire and her delightfully charming Matt were married in Graham Chapel at Washington University. Claire's sister Molly was married in the same setting last June, so you could say that my sister and brother-in-law have got the wedding thing down. Out-of-town guests stayed at The Parkway Hotel on Forest Park & Euclid, which enabled them to explore the CWE when they weren't involved in wedding activities.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Food and Drink  The Parkway Hotel The Coronado Ballroom Graham Chapel Gourmet Magazine

The reception was held in the grand Coronado Ballroom on Lindell at Spring. It's a beautiful venue, the food was really good, and the excellent staff makes a big production out of the food service, which added to the fun of the evening.

The bride is shown at the reception above with one of the sherbet-colored peonies from her bridal bouquet tucked in her hair. The stunning flowers were also used in the centerpieces which are visible on the tables. After the party was over, I was invited to take one of the centerpieces home. It was so huge that I took it apart and spread the flowers around the house, see below.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Food and Drink  The Parkway Hotel The Coronado Ballroom Graham Chapel Gourmet Magazine
Late the next morning our California relatives came by for lunch before heading back to San Francisco. I fixed a favorite recipe of Tomato Bread Pudding, taken from the July '08 issue of the late Gourmet Magazine. If you'd like a copy of this delicious recipe, just email me. This sizzling weather isn't the right time to heat up the kitchen for this very rich dish, but you might want to have it on-hand nevertheless.

It was hard to say goodbye to those who came in from out-of-town, especially because we all realize that our family wedding days are nearing the end. These family occasions are to be cherished and remembered.

 

One topic leads to another at Big Sleep Books

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News  John Burdett Big Sleep Books Bangkok 8

It is our good fortune to have two independent book stores located within several blocks of one another in the Central West End; and in the case of Big Sleep Books at 239 N. Euclid, one solely devoted to mysteries.

I love visiting Big Sleep for many reasons. When you walk in the door past the Humphrey Bogart photo, whether Ed King or Helen Simpson (proprietors) is on duty, he or she always has his/her nose in a book. And though I have never inquired about the identity of the "mystery reader" who seems always to be sitting on a folding chair in the back with her nose in a book too, it's obvious that this crew knows their merchandise. For that reason alone, you know will get a good recommendation. Last year, Helen Simpson handed me the amazing Winter's Bone by Ozark native Daniel Woodrell, and said "read it!" How could I resist with that kind of informed salesmanship?

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News  John Burdett Big Sleep Books Bangkok 8

Earlier this spring Ed King informed me that many customers purchase mysteries to use as travel guides, which I had never considered. The afternoon I visited, I had just missed two couples who were traveling to Brazil and looking for book suggestions by Brazilian authors. Ed's experience is that if the author lives where the mystery is set, a reader gains much more insight into the country, its people, and culture. Earlier that week, an Australian who was staying at the Chase stopped in and Ed had a chance to discuss authors from "down under."  Big Sleep attracts many customers from out of town.

To demonstrate his point, Ed handed me Bangkok 8, a NY Times Notable Book by British author John Burdett. The book is about a Buddhist detective who stays true to his religion in spite of his profession. Burdett lived in Bangkok, and while the story unfolds, the reader learns interesting details such as how the public feels about the above-ground subway, much about the red-light district, and where the best and worst (i.e., tourist-trap) shopping areas are located. To admit that I enjoyed this rather graphic book will definitely taint what I perceive to be my "goody two-shoes" reputation, but in fact, I did.However, it is definitely not one I would recommend to my mother. And if you suffer from ophidiophobia, ask for another suggestion. Whether you are travelling to an exotic locale this summer or trying to stay cool right here in the neighborhood, there is bound to be a book on the shelf for you.

Big Sleep Books, 239 N. Euclid, Mon. to Thurs. 11-6, Fri. & Sat. 11-8, Sun. 12-6, (314) 361-6100.