These days, it is not enough to go to a wonderful restaurant and order a meal that's well-prepared and served gracefully. These days, food must be an event.
And so we found ourselves, last night, standing in the visitors' dugout at Busch Stadium, shivering a bit in the unseasonably cool air and drinking "Autumn in Jalisco" -- a champagne glass filled with an intoxicating mix of Patron Silver, the French apple-based apertif Pommeau, lemon juice and sparkling wine. We'd already slurped up our amuse bouche, a little plastic spoon of steamed clams in sangrita. We were about to swap out our champagne glass for a bigger drink, this one featuring Patron Reposado and Patron Citronge, plus ginger ale and passion fruit juice and lemon -- a concoction that would ultimately leave us a bit tongue-tied and giddy in the way that multiple tequila shots often do.
We were among the few, the lucky. We were, last night, the Patron Secret Dining Society.
You might ask how one gets to join a "secret dining society." In our case, it was because we are media, and Patron, surely, was hoping we'd be so intoxicated by the experience, we'd write about it. (Done!)
But for our companions, the whole thing was a bit more organic, and interesting. Some of them had gotten the tip-off from a friendly bartender. Others had read about the opportunity on a food blog. One even got a call from a friend who saw it on a food blog. Whatever. Through those disparate paths, the 30-plus people in our party made their way to a Patron-sponsored website, where they answered a trivia question. And when they answered correctly, they were lucky enough to get an email from Patron -- telling them that if they RSVPed right away, a seat would be theirs at the very first secret dining society event the company was holding in St. Louis, which included a much-vaunted local chef and some premiere local mixologists. On the day of the event, they'd get instructions on where to go.
As it turns out, the instructions took them to the valet stand at the Hyatt downtown; after that, they were whisked along to a (relatively) secret entrance to Busch Stadium and ushered in, into spaces that mere fans are not permitted to access. Of course photos were taken. Of course all the men in attendance couldn't help but brag about how they were the envy of St. Louis -- this before we'd even had a drink.