Friday, July 17, 2015

Edie Adams – "Big Spender" (1966)

The minute you walked in the joint
I could see you were a man of distinction
A real big spender

(Hey, if the shoe fits . . . )

On day two of the 2 or 3 lines "Tour de Missouri," I rented a bike in Defiance, Missouri, rode it from Defiance to Dutzow (one of the oldest German immigrant communities in Missouri) and back to Defiance, and then hopped in my rental car and headed west on Missouri Route 94.

My first destination was the Blumenhof Winery, one of ten or so wineries accessible from Route 94 between Defiance and Dutzow.  

Blumenhof, which has been producing wine for about 30 years, uses mostly its own grapes.  (It buys the rest from local growers.) 

The majority of its wines are made from hybrid grape varieties that were bred to be grown in the United States, including the Vidal and Vignoles (which are made into white wines) and the Chambourcin and Cynthiana (which are made into reds).

The Cynthiana is genetically identical to the Norton, which is the official grape of Missouri.  The Cynthiana/Norton not only makes delicious red wines, but is high in anthocyanins, which are the antioxidant compounds that make blue, purple, and red fruits especially beneficial to your health.  So drink up, boys and girls!

After sampling half a dozen Blumenhof wines, I headed south across the Missouri River and then proceeded west along Missouri Route 100 until I reached New Haven, which is home to the Röbller Vineyard winery.

When I got to the Röbller tasting room, the winery's very personable owner – Robert Mueller – was on duty.  I not only got to taste some very nice wines, but also heard the story of how Röbller got started in 1988.  (The name "Röbller" is a contraction of "Robert Mueller.")  We ended up talking about wine, music, and other topics until well after the tasting room's posted closing time.

Robert Mueller
Like many Missouri wineries, Röbller produces a number of semi-sweet German-style white wines, including a Traminette (a hybrid grape that's related to one of my favorites, the Gewürztraminer).

Röbller grapes
But the tasting highlight of my visit to Röbller was its Norton, a red wine that was easily distinguishable from Bordeaux and Burgundy-type reds but just as enjoyable.  I bought a bottle of Röbller's 2011 Norton and enjoyed it greatly when I returned to my parents' home in Joplin a few days later.

From New Haven, I continued west to Hermann (population: 2431), which was founded by the German Settlement Society of Philadelphia in 1837.  

The statue of Hermann in Hermann
Hermann is German through and through.  It was named after Hermann der Cherusker, a Germanic warrior who defeated the invading Roman legions in the Battle of Teutoberg Forest in the year 9 A.D.

The town claims to be the sausage-making capital of Missouri, and the immediate area is home to seven wineries, including Stone Hill (the largest winery in Missouri).

Oktoberfest in Hermann
Hermann is a charming town.  There's nary a chain hotel to be found, but there are dozens of bed-and-breakfasts and guest houses.

Based on a local's recommendation, I ended up eating dinner at Wings A-Blazin', an unprepossessing restaurant on a side street that featured spicy chicken wings and "chicken lips" (which are sliced chicken breast pieces prepared like hot wings).

Wings A-Blazin' is an aviation-themed restaurant.  The facade of the building features a replica of a World War II fighter plane:

Inside there are airplane-related signs on the walls:

Here's another one:

Someone has made model airplanes out of beer and soda cans and hung them from the restaurant's ceiling:

The restaurant was crowded when I arrived, so I took a seat at the bar and ordered catfish fried in cornmeal, curly fries, and baked beans.

Wings A-Blazin' had an interesting selection of draft beers, including several from Missouri microbreweries:

The Wings A-Blazin' draft beer list
I struck up a conversation with the only other person eating at the bar, a young woman named Sarah.   (When I call a woman "young," that means younger than my daughters, who are 28 going on 29.)

Sarah was a soil engineer who was staying in Hermann temporarily while she worked on a construction project at a nearby nuclear generating station.  (I hope she studied hard when she was getting her engineering degree.  I wouldn't want a C student working on a nuclear power plant.)

We talked mostly about bike riding and music – she was a fan of the White Stripes and Sonic Youth, who are favorites of 2 or 3 lines, and recommended several other groups I wasn't familiar with. 

When I ordered a second beer, I bought one for Sarah as well.  Later, I found out that Wings A-Blazin' sold pints for two bucks on Tuesday nights.  "Hey, big spender," indeed!

Are you old enough to remember the Muriel Cigar TV commercial that featured Edie Adams singing "Big Spender," a Cy Coleman-Dorothy Fields song from the 1966 Broadway musical, Sweet Charity?  (You didn't have to be a big spender to smoke Muriel Cigars, which sold for a dime when that commercial was filmed.)

Edie Adams
Edie Adams earned degrees from the Juillard School of Music and the Columbia School of Drama, and also studied at the Actors Studio.

Adams first gained fame as the co-star of The Ernie Kovacs Show.  (She and Kovacs were married in 1954).  She appeared in dozens of other TV shows and a number of movies, and won a Tony for her portrayal of Daisy Mae in the musical Li'l Abner.  

When Adams died in 2008, the New York Times said she "both embodied and winked at the stereotypes of fetching chanteuse and sexpot blonde."  

Here's Edie Adams singing "Big Spender":

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