In my last post, I mentioned a peach bruschetta from my fabulous Springfield trip that I couldn’t stop thinking about. It was on the menu at one of Laura and Ed’s favorite local restaurants, American Harvest, a farm to table spot that had me thinking about how dang close the farms actually were. Everything we had was delicious–I would be very happy to have a plate of their “organic cheese curds” in front of me right now–but the standout was definitely the peach bruschetta. And I’m still thinking about it! So much so that I suggested it to a friend who was looking for something to round out a rotisserie chicken dinner last weekend, and finally made it myself this week. It absolutely lived up to my happy memory, and made for a perfect summer dinner.
I’m currently on vacation at my parents’ house in Virginia, practicing the arts of doing nothing and eating a lot. Ed and I always plan our vacations around food and this week has been a spectacular ongoing feast. My dad kicked off the week with his juicy, smoky bbq pork shoulder. Topped with a vinegar-based sauce and creamy slaw, it was as good as anything we’d find on a dusty Carolina back road. Ed and I provided dessert, an over-the-top s’mores pie. Imagine a grahammy cookie crust filled with 7 Hershey’s bars and a whole container of marshmallow creme topped with more marshmallows and graham cookies. It was sweet and very, very s’mores-y. Will I make it again? Probably not, but it was fun.
When Ed and I decided to take a road trip to Nashville, Tennessee, I wasn’t planning on blogging about it. I’d hoped the food would be good, but it would be my first visit, we’d only be there for a couple of days, and I didn’t think I’d have enough to say. What I didn’t expect was to love every single spot we tried. The food was at times comforting, at times exciting, and all around let’s-do-it-again tasty. Even though I’m far from a Nashville expert, I’m still so high on fried chicken and biscuits that I absolutely must share with you my Music City dining highlights.
After my first visit to Portland, Oregon, I was a starry-eyed amateur: I loved every single bite and there was still so much more to taste. Now that I’ve gorged myself four times in PDX, I understand that being starry-eyed is the way to be: there is an overwhelming amount of delicious food and there will always be more to discover. So how does a person begin to digest all that Portland has to offer? The following list of traveler’s tips are my attempt, after serious contemplation and a few handfuls of Zantac, to give some guidance to my fellow hungry tourists on how best to stuff oneself in the City of Roses.
I love it when I leave a bookstore feeling ravenous and inspired. It means I’ve found a cache of great cookbooks—a place I can get lost dreaming about my culinary potential, admiring the creativity of the world’s best chefs, and planning my next ten meals. Cookbook junkies like me are especially at home in Boston. The combination of a lively dining scene and a brainy community has resulted in a handful of stores tailor-made for us bookish food lovers. I made it my duty to find the best of the best—the shops with the most unique, vast, or thoughtful collections. I explored 17 stores in the city and surrounding towns, hitting up bookstores, kitchen shops, and boutiques. Below are the five destinations I believe will delight even the most casual cookbook admirer.
For about as long as I’ve known Hal, he’s been telling me stories of Tales of the Cocktail, a week-long cocktail festival held every July in New Orleans. His tales of Tales made it sound about equal parts intriguing (New Orleans gorgeousness! awesome events! deelish drinks!) and daunting (so. much. excess.), but when he asked if I wanted to go along this summer, intriguing won out. I wanted to see New Orleans for the first time, I wanted to watch Hal do his favorite kind of work, and, of course, I wanted to eat.
As much as I was looking forward to this trip as a total food fest, I also knew it would be somewhat limited in scope. We had a lot of Tales related stuff on the agenda, and I didn’t anticipate traveling too far from the French Quarter. Or even from our hotel, for that matter–I wanted to be easily able to see all of the sites Hal wanted me to see, and to snatch the downtime so necessary to my introverted self in such a hustle bustle. So I considered this visit sort of a first taste, sticking mostly to one neighborhood and doing recon for the return trip I’m already fantasizing about taking with Laura and Ed. We had some great brunches and lunches steps from the hotel, carved out time for two special dinners, and made one very necessary treat stop.
We thought it would be fun to do a round-up of the places we frequent when we’re back home in Loudoun County, Virginia. These are the spots we start craving as we pack a bag to visit our parents and the places we’re eager to bring out-of-town guests. Our hometown favorites are a mix of genuinely good food, kitsch, and comfort. Thankfully, we’ve both already had two trips to Virginia this summer, or else writing this post would’ve had us dropping everything and making a beeline for California burritos and blueberry pancakes.