The Southern Illinoisan just put out another Readers' Choice issue. Last year, Miranda and I were thrilled to be mentioned. We weren't surprised to lose out to Larry's House of Cakes in the "Best Place For Dessert" category because they're pretty awesome. This year, Miranda I were thrilled to be mentioned and again took the runner up spot to the fine, first-place folks over at Larry's. Miranda doesn't like losing, she thinks it's habit forming. I, on the other hand, am pretty good at it and don't mean to brag, but am kind of a natural.

I played Right Field (baseball) when I was kid. I was also fat, had a pompadour, and wore a fully-developed red Kool-Aid mustache--which didn't really hinder my ability to play baseball, but it speaks to the many dimensions of my inability. I really looked the part of the kid who decided whether or not he was going to swing before the ball was even thrown.(This is a terrible idea.) I was in it for the sunflower seeds, the sportsing drink, and the Big League Chew. Everyone knew this because the kid who brings the biggest bag of sunflower seeds usually has the most time to eat them. More often than not, I batted ninth out of nine batters. (That is not good.) But my coach, who was just a  wonderful coach, always read the entire line-up with such enthusiasm that he sort of tricked me into thinking we needed strong hitters at the bottom of the order. I mean, he read the names [seventh batter], [eighth batter], and Stapel! He'd clap his hands. We need strong hitters at the bottom of the order, now! That's what he said--every game. He'd clap a lot. I don't remember the exact moment it hit me that bottom-of-the-order hitters sucked, or that bottom of the order hitters got less chances at the plate to swing and miss, but around the time it did I remember asking my dad if I was a good baseball player. 

He said, Well, son...
...To me, you're good. 

I knew what that meant. And from that day forward decided to stick to things I was good at. You ain't good at everything, and that reality is a fine reality to live in. So, if we ever lost a "Best Place for Pie" category I'd take it a little harder. But it got us to thinking and gave me reason to annoy Miranda with a lot of questions about her favorite things.

One more preface, if you're reading this and disagree with our favorites, or think we've left something out (we've definitely left stuff out)  leave a comment---or, uh, maybe start your own blog. Feel compelled however. Now, without further ado:

Favorite Restaurant?
Miranda: Hunan. Thai Taste, too. Wow, I don't know. I have a lot of favorites. 
Rick: Yeah, I agree with those places. They're really, really good. Also, Cummares. Not only is their pizza the most legit, the dude making the pizza looks like he has been doing it his entire life. Goatee is impeccably trimmed, hair is always on-point, bespectacled and laser-focused on the dough he's working. The shop is his orchestra, man.

Favorite Brewery?
Miranda: I don't like beer. I like cheese though. 
Rick: All of them. 

Favorite Winery?
Miranda: Pomona Winery.
Rick: Same. 

Favorite BBQ?
Miranda: Oh, Jeez. How do you pick that?
Rick: Yeah, picking between 17ST and Pat's BBQ is like picking between a magic genie and Joel Osteen's wish-a-jesus. That bbq is just a-making people happy, man. Dreams are being wrought by that bbq.

Favorite Sushi?
Miranda: Sushi Ai, STL.
Rick: All you can eat. 

Favorite Breakfast?
Miranda: Dish? Or place? Dish--of course, Mary Lou's B&G.
Rick: Harbaugh's skillets are my kind of food. I'll drink that Mary Lou's gravy. Flame has a nice little Sunday brunch menu going on too. People might sleep on that, but shouldn't.

Favorite Coffee? 
Miranda: I would kind of say our store. Otherwise, I'd say probably Longbranch.
Rick: Uh. I'm definitely saying our store. WTH kind of question is this? Steam Shovel all day. Jen's Joe til i die. Also, Sump Coffee, STL. Look at that beard. It's enough to make your knees weak.

These are a few of our favorite things. Comment with yours,  categories, places, whatever. Link them up, spread the love. Here's to celebrating some of the stuff we've got going on in the region.