The Road Trip Home - Hello Snow...

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Reminds me how much I loathe snow...and cold for that matter.

That said, it was the perfect road trip.  Me 'n Lis loaded up the Disco, made a mega cozy bed for Minka, and hit the road straight up outta LA.  

Yep - we got caught in every snowstorm all cause I was on the hunt for tiny towns and better than average food.  Plus, when you have to take dog friendly hotels into consideration...and I'm not super keen on staying at chain hotels...well, let's just say a 3 day road trip turned into 8 days! But, full of such amazing food and charming towns.

Probably one of the best dog friendly hotels EVER is La Posada in Winslow, AZ (you know the name from the Eagles song).  First of all - this historic monster has an amazing restaurant, The Turquoise Room,  and literally the best honey butter doused cornbread ever to be made (like, each piece was so soaked in it, it had to be picked up with a tong).  

2nd of all, the whole joint (save for the restaurant) is dog friendly...and has tons of game tables, a big ole fireplace, a massive yard and best of all a full blown HAY STACK MAZE.  Omg, Minka played forever in this enormous gift from the doggie heavens, especially after being trapped in the truck on horrific roads - though she adored the snow and played HAWD in an Arizona dog park with a puppy doberman.

Anyhow - La Posada  also had this soup rockin' that was insane.  1/2 black bean and 1/2 creamed sweet corn.  Sounds a bit off, but was once again, something out of the history books for taste sensations.  Lamb posole was also on the make (and we all know from my Isla Mujeres days that I'm a posole nut)...also with juicy red wines on tap.  

I will def be stoppin' there on the way back through.  In fact, I'm pretty much basing the whole trip back to LA around that maze.

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Best Words Ever - Appalachian Bistro


2nd Best Words - Tableside Hot Toddy

Of course, you know the first thing I do when I get home to TN is look up the best farm to table food happening 'round the way.  A little gem called Terra Mae pulled up and I was off like lightening.  Dont'cha know I learned 2 really great things over lunch.

#1 - I love, love, love hot toddy type drinks, especially when they are made tableside.  Good lord, what a contraption.  Took about 5 minutes for it to infuse and boil up into the top vessel, then it spit itself back into the bottom jug and our waiter reappeared outta nowhere to pour us a couple of warm delights into Moscow Mule style mugs.  YUMMMMM.

#2 - Pimento cheese is a force to be reckoned with.  I've been a mega fan since it was on tap at my grandparents house as a kid, but then my bud Lis started making it out in LA and it was like a drug...the very best cheesy, mayo coated kind.  Now, I can add to my life list - BEST PIMENTO CHEESE EVER FOUND.  This was a buttermilk blue pimento that was solid snow white and tasted nothing like blue cheese.  Instead it tasted like the best thing you will ever eat.  I bought a giant vat to haul home to my parents and they too were stunned.  This is a recipe from the heavens...I'm def gonna have to play with it til it comes up winning.

This little restaurant downtown was adorable and a few pals met up with us.  We kept picking the cheese of Mark's burger (I'm back on no meat) and it too was some kind of freaky good.  Now, ya'll know I chow on great food, but man...this was some kinda southern twist I wasn't expecting.  Pickled shrimp; some redic corn risotto; a duck reuben of sorts that Lis loved; sweet potato/rosemary biscuits with apple compote; candied bacon (oh - I guess I do taste test the meat now and again when it comes to treasures like that); perfect deviled eggs.  It was all just spot on.  And, I had forgotten how damn good Amaretto Sours were.  Make that 2!

I just love the South.  













Next to Veracruzian Oysters, These Are Tops


South Edison and their amazing food...

The whole time I've been in Jersey, I've been dying to make it to the small coastal fishing village of Montauk for some seafood.  Just a simple batch of oysters and something wildly spirited to wash it down with.  Of course, the search began online for where to chow and the #1 place that had the exact type of meal that I love (proper local ingredients peppered throughout, good names for dishes, mixology style drinks) was South Edison. 

My tale of the meal I had there will be a post unto itself, but until I get a minute, let me just tease with an oyster.  They were so plump, so meaty, so fresh and spectacular, I had to order more, more, more.  I've not had anything even remotely this good in the oyster fam since my backroad Mexico days a few years back. 

It's a trip worth taking, even if just for this one bite.  But, trust me, at this restaurant, the whole menu must be devoured to do it up right.


Belly Up in Boystown...{From The Raving Dish}

Img_1991When I was naïve and 21 years old, I set up house in West Hollywood. I figured, for some reason, that frequenting the neighborhood's gay bars would help me make my mark on L.A. Blame it on the friendly vibe of the always happy and cutie-pie gay folk that I found myself traipsing from bar to bar (cocktail always in hand) every other night.

When I relocated to Chicago years later, I tapped into a similar environment for a short time, but soon forgot it even existed. Cut to last week; it was midday on a weekday, and my pal Brad and I decided that a trip to Boystown was in order.


Continue reading "Belly Up in Boystown...{From The Raving Dish}" »

Simple Salads~~Easy/Peasy

Dscf1314I have been making the most fantastic lunches as of late.  All these little bean and veggie based salads that are the most delicious things ever.  One of the best is a quick concoction of chickpeas, roasted tomatoes and yellow peppers (which are very sweet), a ton of olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, some oregano, some fresh basil and a few hard boiled eggs.  By the time lunch rolls around and the rest of the crew is slamming cheeseburgers and french fries, I am so happy to whip out my Tupperware dish full of marinated goodness.  I keep trying to out do myself everyday and cooking has once again become very easy.  It's nice to be stable for a few months and take advantage of the awesome Chicago summertime. 
**Though I will say that Chezne and I have gotten ourselves a BAD/MAD energy drink addiction--we're pounding about three a day---all before 9 am. on the way to work. Wow.

The Best Little Coffeehouse in Town~

Dscf0804_1Though I am EXTREMELY hesitant to give this tip away, I have a new favorite cafe.  It's a super-charming, brick-walled coffee shop attached to a nifty mini-market smack in the middle of Humboldt Park.  They serve delicious sandwiches and little pizzas, creamy lattes and my top choice--big bowls of vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberries and whipped cream ($2).  Except for the lunch rush, the place is deserted and it's such a calm oasis for those that like peace and quiet when they work on their laptops (ummm, me).  The Wi-Fi is free and very fast and you can literally sit all day long without ever feeling like you've overstayed your welcome.  The name? I said, I'm terrified to tell you, lest you populate it with crowds every day.  Well, all right---I'm only givin' it up because I never want them to close (they've been open less than a year).  It's called New Life Cafe.  Now, good luck finding the address!!!  Oh, the manager also whips up a mean batch of pies;  I'm dying to try the coconut cream...