Posts Tagged ‘food’

After most of our errands, our minds turned to lunch at Smith Alley Brewing Company where we’d had good beer and food a few years ago. We were happy to see they’d survived Covid. As we sat outside, I was excited to see the vertical growing platforms used to divide the eating area from the walkway of the alley with a variety of fruit, vegetables, and flowers growing on the five what? Trellises? Re-reading the information below, I see they’re called walls.

In the water at the bottom of each wall are fish. Our server informed us that the fertilizer provided by the fish is then taken by the water to each part of the wall. No fishing, of course, and any fish served here do NOT come from these!

I don’t want to forget to mention that Smith Alley has great beer (I had Black Pegasus, robust with heavy notes of coffee and chocolate.) What’s not to like?? The fries were hand cut, the French dip delicious. My husband once again had a peculiarly Wyoming dish: chili with a cinnamon roll meant to be dipped or put into the chili. We were told last time that this was served in school cafeterias. My husband loved it, although I personally would never do that to a cinnamon roll. It was the perfect way and place to relax and rejuvenate before finishing our errands and heading back up the mountain. The next day we’d be closing up the cabin for another year.

We’re on the road in the dark again, over Raton Pass when we’re unable to see the beauty and my eyes are as wide as they go watching through the dark for possible deer or elk on the road. We have to driving the length of Colorado and right through downtown Denver. There’s so much smoke from fires that we can’t even see the Rockies and can barely see them in Colorado Springs where they’re almost next to the highway. Not much to say about driving through Colorado except that it’s great to leave. I-70 through Glenwood Canyon, a major east-west highway, is closed due to mudslides caused by rain in an area burned in 2020.

We see a few more interesting animals in Wyoming: a herd of bison (AKA buffalo, although incorrectly) which are in on someone’s ranch and oddly two camels, also not wild and in a large fenced area. But still–camels!

We stop at another interesting rest area, this one using passive solar. I love this!

On one side of the rest area is a sign celebrating the necessity of keeping cottonwood trees and we saw quite a few as we drove along.

Our original plan, going to the cabin and then back down in the morning to drive to Billings, Montana to pick up our older daughter for a week’s visit, changed to driving straight to Billings, an extra two hours, and then staying overnight, picking her up, and shopping at Costco before heading back to Sheridan for more shopping and then the drive up the mountain. You have to understand that although the distance from Sheridan up the mountain to the cabin isn’t too far but the road up the mountain is not only not paved, it’s in no way smooth, more suitable for four-wheel drive vehicles than our Toyota Sienna, although the Sienna goes up well. It turned out to be a good choice as the road was particularly rough and rocky this year, forcing me to ascend in first gear almost the entire way. Going down necessitates first gear until the bottom while trying not to ride the brakes. So we go up and down as little as possible. Besides, going to town isn’t nearly as much fun as staying up. 🙂

At any rate, we were tootling along at 80 mph through Montana and only about half an hour from Billings when the phone rang and plans were thrown into momentary disarray when we found out our daughter’s flight had been cancelled and there wouldn’t be another until Friday (this was Sunday and she would have arrived on Monday), leaving not enough time for her trip. After a bit of dithering, we decided to stay in Billings anyway, have a leisurely morning (i.e. not get up a 3:30 am), and then head back to Wyoming. We had a major, annoying glitch when our confirmed reservation through Hotels.com turned out to have been viewed by someone at the motel but not entered and our king room wasn’t available. The less-then-helpful woman at the desk said all she could offer us was a double bed…at basically the same price. No thanks and can you say “Poor customer service?”. But we did have a nice time before that in a nearby park where the trees weren’t cottonwoods but were huge and beautiful and older lovely homes surrounded the park.

After a frustrating time of sitting in parking lot trying to find another (and more expensive) motel, make the reservation, drive there, and check in, we were more than ready for the outdoor patio, smooth dark beer, and tasty food at The Montana Brewing Company! If you’re ever in Billings, we highly recommend it. The BBQ shrimp salad and the pork belly sliders with homemade fries were both delicious, although the online menu appears not to be current.

In his infinite wisdom, my husband decided we needed dessert, which we asked to have halved in the kitchen. They went over and above, halving the cookie but giving us each a full measure of local (and awesome) ice cream. We couldn’t even finish but the entire experience made the hassles of earlier fade into stuffed oblivion.

While back in Illinois, I managed to work in a good amount of delicious food, all in good company. A friend and I met for coffee one day and then on a second day for lunch at Blue Sushi Sake Grill in downtown Naperville. After a year of Covid, it was a treat to once again be eating in a restaurant. We’d planned to eat outside, but the wind kept us in although still distanced from other customers. Neither of us eats raw fish, but we managed to dine exceedingly well anyway. This first selection, called Crunchy L.A., consisted of 8 pieces (yes, each of those four is made of two pieces) of crab mix, avocado, cucumber, crispy panko, and sweet chili sauce. I love panko for its crunch and the entire dish was delicious. I’m a big fan of square dishes, so I would have loved to have taken the plate home with me. I also just want to put out there that holding a piece of sushi with chopsticks while dipping it in sauce and thengetting it to your mouth, all without it falling apart is NOT the easiest thing in the world to do and you’re forced to put the entire piece in your mouth because trying to bite it in half ensures that it will come apart if it hasn’t already. Don’t ask how I know this; just take my word for it!

The Hawaiian Roll (tempura fried, mango, salmon, crab mix, and mango sauce) was a surprise because it was served warm but it was still oh so good. Even though the pieces appear relatively small, after two dishes each, we were replete and a stroll along the Riverwalk, followed by a time of sitting in the sun chatting was just the thing. If there are any things that can enhance time with a friend or friends, good food is certainly one of them. And a friend paying for your lunch is the unexpected but much appreciated end to a perfect day (or at least the middle of that day.) 🙂

for Six Word Saturday

I’d planned to make dark chocolate cherry scones, but that didn’t work out. (I’m also trying to find more whole wheat pastry flour but have had no success so far. Maybe people are making toilet paper from it.). But I had some Trader Joe’s croissants in the freezer, so last night I pulled out one chocolate (AKA pain au chocolat) and one almond for my husband. Just let them sit all night and bake in the morning. Easy peasey and quite tasty, too.

The mug, filled with Mao Feng black tea, was a gift from my parents a few Christmases ago. Not as fancy as some of my teacups, but much used. I’d be happy to get you a fancier, more delicate cup of you like.

Happy teatime!

For Teatime in the Blogosphere

If my mom hadn’t grown up in California, I might have missed artichokes altogether and what a shame that would have been! Artichokes weren’t big in Nebraska. But we never had them stuffed in the Italian way. We dipped the meaty ends of the leaves in Miracle Whip and enjoyed the tender heart the same way.

My husband and I went through a phase of dipping them in butter, but now we eat them just plain, at least until we get to the heart. I use mayonnaise and my husband uses butter then. Yesterday morning when I was grocery shopping and trying to get used to wearing a mask, I found these beauties. Rinsed, then steamed, they were delicious and quite filling.

I often wonder who first looked the head of a thistle, complete with little sharp ends, and said, “Wow, I bet that’s tasty?” Must have been someone quite hungry!

I also wonder what life would be like if all the thistles in the world, that grow everywhere and are difficult to get rid of, were artichokes. Oh, what a world it would be!

What on earth is okonomiyaki? Nami, a Japanese cook based in San Francisco at justonecookbook.com defines it thus:

Okonomiyaki (literally means ‘grilled as you like it’) is a savory version of Japanese pancake, made with flour, eggs, shredded cabbage, meat/ protein and topped with a variety of condiments. Better known as ‘Japanese pizza’ in the US, you can definitely prepare the filling and toppings however you like it. A wonderful way to use up your leftovers!

In Chicago, Stephaine Izard of Girl and the Goat fame serves a marvelous okonomiyaki, certified to taste authentic by our younger daughter who’s been to Japan, at her Little Goat Diner. The first time I ate there, my dish was overwhelmingly voted the best of the three dishes, according to the other two diners. This time, we all ordered okonomiyaki (with a giant, homemade cinnamon roll as our appetizer!) and all agreed it was amazingly delicious. That’s a soft-yoked egg on top, ready to meltingly join the rest of the dish, which includes eggs, cabbage, pork belly, scallion, and tasty Japanese mayonnaise.

You can get Stephanie’s recipe and even watch her make okonomiyaki by clicking here. If you don’t feel like making it, you won’t be sorry to find a restaurant that serves it. If you’re in the Chicago area, make a reservation at Little Goat Diner. If not everyone wants to try this, they have plenty other delicious choices. Here’s a link to the diner menu, from which you can also access the bakery and coffeehouse menus and other of Stephanie’s restaurants.

There are other restaurants in the Chicago area serving okonomiyaki, including one that just opened and is dedicated to various styles of this dish, but I haven’t tried any of them, so I’ll stick with what I know and perhaps have a chance to try another place before we move.

January 21 update. One of my online friends tried this dish, putting her own spin on it and making it more user-friendly. Take a peek and see what you think (and what her husband thought): Down-home Okonomiyaki.

I’m not sure if Jo’s walking today, but we’re on a mission to find good food no matter what.  Tighten your seat belts because we have to drive to our walk today at col du Mont de Fourche…unless you’d like to cycle to the top of a pass once part of the Tour de France.  Or you can give this big boy bike a try.

Usually our walks end with a tasty bite.  We’re going to turn that around: start and end with a walk and focus on the food in between.  Be a rebel with us!

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Monday on the blog we were walking in France, tiring work, so let’s hop over to Colmar for a bit of lunch.  We ate at the same restaurant as the prior year, sitting outside by the river (Little Venice).  If you’d like to see a number of photos of places we saw and read a bit about them, click here (not my photos.)  It was hot, so we opted for salad and a glass of wine, while watching flat-bottomed boats filled with tourists pole by and swans glide past.

Colmar was part of France, then Germany, back to France, again to Germany, and finally ended up on the eastern edge of France.  Consequently, the architecture and food represent both cultures.  We opted for a lighter, more French lunch this visit.

This delicious, refreshing, filling, and beautifully presented salad had foie gras (front left), prosciutto (middle left), smoked salmon (hiding on the right), lots of beautifully cool, thinly-sliced veggies, and was topped with a crisp breadstick.  It was just what I needed before hitting the streets for photos of doors and other delights.  I would order it again in an instant!

© janet m. webb

© janet m. webb

for One Word Sunday