|Clockwise: One of many pieces of Mexican Day of the Dead folk art in the house;|
Mary Ann, tasting her creations;
A party guest, showing her daughter how to roll a tamale.
|Rolling and steaming the tamales|
|Jean's Sweet Plantains|
|Enchiladas, Rice and Beans|
|Denver skyline, from a bike.|
|A sampler at Odell Brewing Company, in Fort Collins Colorado.|
My friend Emily works in the tap room.
|Crab stuffed, fried avocado at Colorado's Austin's American Grill.|
|Sugar crusted cornbread at Austin's.|
|My friend's husband Dennis made the most amazing grilled|
pizza with a crispy crust, kale, tomatoes and goat cheese. Amazing.
|Welcome to Wyoming. My friend Stacey Doyle and I at the |
Colorado, Wyoming border.
|I fell in love with several canine friends during my trip. Among my favorites were|
Cookie and Daisy, these two loves from Wyoming.
|Wyoming is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.|
|We took the long way out of Wyoming. Along the road, we stopped|
at The Bar at the Forks for a beer. With country music in the background and a
bartender who was more akin to someone's mom, this saloon was in the
proverbial "one horse town." This was no Budweiser thought. The Forks served up
an icy cold Odell IPA.
|Larkburger. While chains are typically not my thing, good food is.|
This Colorado burger chain specializes in all natural ingredients, biodegradable
packaging and the juiciest, most flavorful burger I've ever had.
Oh, and those Parmesan truffle fries? Decidedly un-chain-like.
|A picnic along the Poudre River allowed time for both |
contemplation and lady giggles.
|Our chosen trucks, in all their glory.|
|Clockwise: Flour Girls' apple cider donut; Fancheezical Old Skool |
and Radish's empanada
|Fancheezical's cucumber lime soda; Rocket's dog;|
Flour Girls' cookies and Radish's arrancini
Last night was one of those great nights out with good friends that I’ll look back on fondly for a long time. As we sat at a lovely outdoor table at a downtown restaurant, I mentioned that this may be, at least I hope, my last child-free summer.
It’s that time. My 35th birthday is just weeks away. In March, I married my best friend of 20 years. And every time I see, hear, or worst of all, smell a baby, I’m reminded of how badly I want one. John and I agreed to give ourselves until the fall before we started trying, so it wasn’t the first time the thought had crossed my mind that this summer is something of a last hurrah. But it wasn’t until I said it out loud that the enormity of that statement hit me. I know what you’re going to say – having a child is not the death of fun. I know that. But I am certainly unfettered right now in a way that I will never be again once a child hits the equation.
I told my friends that I wanted to make sure that this summer is extra fun. And that I wanted to make the most of the time I have, even if that means going out “on a school night.” Never one to shy away from a list or a project, my friend Courtney ran inside the restaurant to procure a long strip of receipt paper and a pen. It was then that the Baby Bucket List was... ahem... born.
We started off writing down silly things. Fun things. Check out the Connecticut Wine Trail. Sky diving. Ride some roller coasters. Eat a cronut. But quickly, and fueled by much white wine, the list began to evolve into a manifesto for other areas of my life, aside from the fun.
Reach my goal of a 30 minute 5k.
Experience working in a restaurant kitchen.
Save money for a big transition.
Then we started asking others what would be on their lists. Our server suggested “Teaching something you’re passionate about to someone else.” A bartender suggested “Running away for a few days, no agenda, by yourself, just you and your car and some good tunes.” These were added to the list and circled and underlined.
I won’t share my whole list, but I’ll keep you posted as I check some things off. And hopefully, by the time I find out I’m about to start that new chapter of my life, I’ll feel like I’ve missed no part of the old chapter.
Have you ever made a list like this? What’s on it? Are you doing the things, or is the list relegated to your refrigerator door or cork board? I’d love to hear your stories!
Last night, a friend and I had a beautiful dinner at Farmstead in Providence. As always, the food and the service at Farmstead were perfection. We shared a selection of 3 artisan cheeses, Prince Edward Island muscles in rich broth and a to-die-for burger with gorgonzola cheese and fat polenta fries. Our server was warm and friendly and allowed us to draw her into ourcackly conversation with good humor. As I ate, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky we are to have such a wealth of amazing food and restaurants in our small city. From food trucksto fine dining, we Providonians, in particular and Rhode Islanders, in general, are fortunate enough to have access to amélange of mind-blowing culinary experiences… if we choose to.
That’s where my itty, bitty, tiny rant for the day comes in. There seems to be a strong contingent of folks who are happy to avoid the amazing, independently owned establishments and instead veer toward the safe, the bland… the chain. I know Rhode Islanders who hate to come “into the city.” There are one way streets! They might have to parallel park! The horror!
But it’s not even just those who don’t want to come to Providence, because I know there are tons of great restaurants in the other 38 cities and towns. I know Rhode Islanders who fear trying something other than their usual dish because they might not like it. Or fear a particular ethnic cuisine because it’s unfamiliar to them. Or fear trying that new place because “it looks sketchy.” Or fear the food truck because where will they sit?
And it’s not just Rhode Islanders. On a recent visit to my parents’ place in the South, they took me to a VPN certified, Neapolitan-style pizza place. It was incredible. Thin, crispy crust, hand-made mozzarella, delicate sauce, fresh basil. But the place was struggling because the neighborhood is used to Domino’s. I think my parents are eating copious amounts of Neapolitan pizza, single-handedly working to keep this place in business. Then there was a former co-worker of my husband, who told me that when he travels, he only eats in chains “because he knows they’ll be clean.” Sad… and also false.
I know I sound harsh here. I get it - for some people, food just isn’t that important and there’s no real reason for them to venture outside of Chili’s or Applebee’s or… Shenanigans? Is that one or am I thinking of a fictional movie restaurant? I just wish that some of those “meat and potatoes” folks would every once and a while step outside of their comfort zone. Just for a bite or two. When I was growing up, my parents made me try everything. And while their tastes were not necessarily exotic, it showed me that there was a wide world out there and you can only benefit from venturing a nibble. Even if you hate it, you can at least check it off the list. (I'm proud to note here, that in my 35 years, I've found only one food I don't like - okra - shudder.)
You may find me preachy. You may roll your eyes all the way to the back of your head. But do yourself a favor - leave the chain gang behind.
I hope to see you out there.
|The flower section at The Fresh Market transports you to a |
far-away tropical locale.
|Willy Wonka was here...|
|...but Willy Wonka's packaging was never this good.|
|The fish monger was happy to let me try the cold smoked and the|
roasted salmon. The roasted was the winner.
|Greek, sure. Icelandic, sure. But I'd never seen New Zealand yogurt before.|