A Taste of Old Florida

Bean Depot Cafe Menu

A visit to the Sunshine State in the early months of each year, does a few beneficial things for my soul: the warm weather and sun rays brighten you both physically and emotionally. You get a change from the normal rat-race routine, and you get to go out to eat often–okay, very often. Thanks to a wonderful friend (who is also my cousin), I get to do these things each winter.

In the 5 years that I have been visiting, the Southwest Florida region gets more crowded each year. More snowbirds, more tourists and many more people who came down as snowbirds or tourists, are now there permanently. My cousin’s neighbor joked that Florida was going to start sinking into the Ocean.

Deep Fried Jalapeno Poppers

Deep Fried Jalapeno Poppers

Along with that development from all the money moving in to the state, comes high-rise condos, elegant homes, expensive restaurants, shiny yachts and well-manicured golf courses. So my ears perked up when my cousin’s friend suggested a restaurant just over the bridge. “It’s an old Florida place,” he said. I replied, “what is Old Florida?” He indicated that I will know as soon as we get there. Was he ever right.

We drove down the two-lane highway, past the yacht clubs and nice condos–what we know as the vacation vision of Florida. We turned left off of the highway onto a small road where my cousin said, “here it is.” The sun was going down but what you could see was an old wood porch connected to a dilapidated building. Plastic tables and mismatched chairs were outside on the ground in front of a small stage. There were  dogs, beer signs, and a backyard-grill /deep-fried aroma. Some dim out-of-season Christmas lights helped you see your way around. Once inside, dollar bills autographed by proud patrons were stapled to the walls.

Low key but fun interior designing

Low key but fun interior designing

We sat down at a table with chairs that would make an estate sale proud. The menus were already on the table–stuffed between the paper towel roll and the ketchup. This was the Bean Depot Café. One thing was apparent here–they like their meat dead and they like it deep fried; they liked everything deep fried. We got jalapeno poppers as an appetizer. They were crisp, they were filled with cream cheese, they were deep fried and they were delicious.

You had your choice of an assortment of burgers or fish with fries, onion rings, macaroni & potato salad as sides. I had a grilled filet of some fish whose name I had never heard and may never hear again. My sides were homemade macaroni and potato salad. I actually liked the fish and the sides were doable.

Deep Fried Filet of Fish of Some Name. It was awesome

Deep Fried Filet of Fish of Some Name. It was awesome

What I did like was the atmosphere. It was apparent that this was the place where the tourist do not come. There was nothing to draw them in and I’m sure the cooks and wait staff could care less whether they ate here or not. Our waitress knew a few people by name and went on conversing with them about their lives.

A lone singer belted out some music on the outdoor stage. A few people were gathering out there, drinking beers, holding their dog’s leash and waiting for more music.

A couple of rough looking locals who invited me to sit with them

A couple of rough looking locals who invited me to sit with them

Bean Depot Café is tucked right against the water and not many yards from a newer condo complex. The atmosphere is down home and relaxing. Even though I was a tourist, it’s easy to feel like a local. These are places like these that hang on and stay around. They hang on to what they love, the hang on for the regulars. And most importantly, they hang on for the sheer desire of just hanging on. Just like the greatest time of your life–you know it will end eventually but that makes the moment that much better.

what you see when you drive up. It not bad picture taking at night, it really is that dim.

what you see when you drive up. It not bad picture taking at night, it really is that dim.

Happy Eating!

Up Next: Dancing with Hippies, Searching for Alligators.

Unplugged

Camping

For years now, when my wife has inquired about going camping, I told her that we didn’t develop and progress in society so that we could return to living like cavemen. We all grow up and mature however and now that I am 36, I hope she has forgiven me and that a recent camping trip renewed her faith in me.

In April we went on a trip to Southern California; this was the first trip with 2 kids. The planning, packing, organizing, getting to the airport, getting through security, getting on the plane, finding the rental car, driving to the condo, unpacking, shopping, trying to relax and turning around and doing it all again 6 days later was exhausting. My wife even said, “now I know why my Parents hated vacations.” Still fielding calls and e-mails during the trip made us feel like we weren’t even away.

Still wanting to travel more but not exactly knowing what to do, our prayers were answered when my brother-in-law and his family asked us if we wanted to go camping in late June. We were excited, and relied on them heavily. They are expert campers and without their equipment, we could not have done it. There was still packing and organizing to do but overall, much less details to handle.

From our home in Salt Lake City to the campsite it was only 55 miles. The last 11 miles was dirt road. While driving on that dirt road I illegally checked my cell phone (new law) and saw something that I had not seen in years. In the top left hand corner of the screen it read, “NO SERVICE.” What? how will I manage my life? We always recognize what we cling to as comfort when it is no longer there.

It was an enjoyable 3 days of small hikes, food, kayaking and overall relaxing. The cool summer air was refreshing. Not checking my phone every few minutes also became refreshing. There was nothing to do but let go; so I did just that.

When I was back in cell phone range on Monday, a bunch of texts appeared, a few voicemails, lots of e-mails-most of them junk and my calendar of appointments. But you know what was weird? The world was still turning; it did not end. Somehow I was still me; and I was HAPPY, actually rejuvenated. I haven’t felt that in a long time.

A friend of mine runs an insulation company. One day he inadvertently disabled his e-mail on his smartphone around 10:00am. He didn’t realize the problem until 3:00pm. When he was able to reconnect, he found out that there was a crisis, and that someone else had taken care of it.

We, or I should say I, have an addiction to being overstimulated. I feel like something is wrong if I don’t have 6 things screaming at me at once. We get smartphones to be more connected and then we become our own monsters when we condition everyone that we will be accessible 24/7. Why can’t people leave me alone? Because I taught them that I am always there.

On any other vacation, works just rolls right into it. Every few minutes, I would still check my phone. This camping trip taught me that we need boundaries. You can be accessible all the time but should you be? When we do 6 things at once, we fail at all of them. It took me living like a caveman to come to peace with myself, and only a few minutes back in cell service to let the insanity return.

Here’s to Unplugging often.

Happy Living

A Tale of the Twin Cities: The Sequel. My visit to Minnesota

Minnesota Target Field Exterior

Well just how do you top a day of wandering, Hell’s Kitchen and Baseball? You start by going to Hell’s Kitchen again-for breakfast as reviewed in the first post. And then time for more wandering. We went down to the mighty Mississippi River. Since the river starts in upper Minnesota, it really isn’t too mighty through the Twin Cities, but big nonetheless. Bigger than most rivers in the Salt Lake City area anyway.

Minnesota Skyline with River

Hell's Kitchen Corned Beef Hash

Hell’s Kitchen Corned Beef Hash

It is so beautiful down by the river. So green and serene. We crossed the old arch stone bridge into an older area of town. What once was factories and warehouses is now being converted into high end condos and office space. It’s the old adage of “how do we keep the old but move on to the new?”

After a nap at the hotel it was time to find some lunch. I had read from another Minneapolis based Food Writer about a Tapas restaurant on Nicollet Mall. It was called Barrio and seemed like a fantastic way to spend a Friday afternoon. As we walked up, the place was nearly full. They also have patio seating and that was also full. Nearly full restaurant at 2:30pm on a weekday? Now these are my kind of people.

Barrio

Barrio

I wasn’t sure if it was Fiesta or Siesta time at Barrio. It seemed to be a little of both and that was just fine as we had no where to be. We sat inside by the open windows. That way we could straddle the outside, loud music, party atmosphere with the quiet diners on the inside.

The first thing we got was Barrio’s Made to order Guacamole with fresh corn tortilla chips. It was chunky and had a distinct citrus taste which made it delicious. The chips were thick with that perfect ‘snap’ to them. Be careful of their salsa. It is good but incredibly spicy. Keep your ice water nearby.

Barrio Adobo Grilled Chicken Taco

Barrio Adobo Grilled Chicken Taco

I then ordered an Adobo Grilled Chicken Taco: guajillo, ancho and chipotle marinated chicken with roasted pineapple-serrano salsa. This was like a boxing match where you first get lulled to sleep by the flat, gritty taste of the marinated chicken; then the sweetness of the pineapple wakes you up and gets you excited; and then TKO-you are knocked out by combined powers of the guajillo, ancho, chipotle and serrano. It reminded me of my charming personality-changing directions (or moods) 3 times in one minute.

They had many more delicious looking tacos but I was craving something smooth and lite to finish out the meal. For this I went with their Fresh Corn Chowder. It’s served with roasted corn, poblano peppers and garnished with queso fresco and cilantro, drizzled with some finishing oil. Wow-this was farmer’s market fresh corn cooked perfectly with delicious peppers giving it a slight kick. The queso fresco and cream gave it that smooth component.

What a great meal. Minneapolis was proving itself to be a food Mecca. I love that there is so much good food here but you don’t feel like you have to dress up and eat at white table cloth restaurants. You can get so much in a casual atmosphere-so much high-end, fresh food cooked by culinary magicians. Barrio for all!

Would you pay $55 for seats on the 6th Row? I would do it again tomorrow

Would you pay $55 for seats on the 6th Row? I would do it again tomorrow

After that delicious meal, it was time for wandering and a nap prior to baseball. I was excited for tonight’s game as we had 6th row tickets, just past third base. It was a little surreal being that close to the field. We sat down, got comfortable, then got up to search for food after the 2nd inning. My dad went straight for Kramaczuk’s. It sounded great but I was looking for the intangibles-I didn’t know what food I was looking for but I would know it when I found it.

Minnesota Wild Rice Soup

Minnesota Wild Rice Soup

During the game the night before, I had noticed Wild Rice Soup on the menu at some of the concessions. While visiting Minnesota, a few times I heard about Northern Wild Rice. It’s popular and grown in the swamps and bogs in the land of lakes, despite the 3 month growing season of the upper midwest.

The soup was thick, creamy, reminded me of this Cream of Mushroom Soup recipe and served in a large portion. I joke that there is nothing like going to a baseball game to get your $8 hotdog and $6 soda. Consider it a novelty. The Wild Rice Soup wasn’t much cheaper but it was nice to not have a hotdog. It was missing a little pizzazz-some Thyme would have made it all the more succulent.

The soup, a bag of peanuts, bottle of water, 6th row at Target Field; now this is how to relax. One thing to add here is that this is beer country. I don’t drink myself but if you do, this is the place to go. I saw a lot of money changing hands when the beer salesman would walk up & down the aisles. During the 7th inning, when the beer vendors yell “last call,” it’s a license to print money. Here is your summer job that can pay for college.

Wandering brought us to the original Kramarczuk's Deli

Wandering brought us to the original Kramarczuk’s Deli

On Saturday morning, it was time to wander. Whether on vacation or at home, wandering seems like a daily activity. It is done with a purpose however. We wandered down across the Mississippi River into old Minneapolis. We found ourselves in a quiet residential neighborhood with a lot of historic homes & churches. It was the quintessential Americana. No breakfast places were on our path so we continued our walk.

Eventually we found Wilde Roast Cafe on St. Anthony Main just in front of the mighty Mississippi. The place looked like a high-end wine bar but the smell was captivating and the environment relaxing. I went with the Classic Benedict almost entirely for one reason: roasted breakfast potatoes or smoked Gouda hash browns. Okay, I have never eaten smoked Gouda, but sometimes the name tells you all that you need to know. In this case, it was telling me to try them and try them fast.

Benedict with Smoked Gouda Hash Browns

Benedict with Smoked Gouda Hash Browns

After “The Best Shisha in Town”-I’m not really sure what this is but it seemed to fit right into a neighborhood located next to a large college campus, we wandered back, got some rest and it was time for 3 games in 3 nights.

Strong customer base with the University nearby

Strong customer base with the University nearby

Tonight at Target Field it was Loon Chili and Garlic Fries on the menu. I’m not sure if I wanted the fries more because the aroma drew me in or because they are served in a souvenir baseball helmet. Either way, it was worth it. I’m not sure the person sitting next to me on the plane the next morning appreciated my culinary indulgence, but I sure did.

The Twins lost that night – a pretty common occurrence for them. Despite the loss, the chili packed a spicy yet delicious punch, the fries were addicting -aromatically and to the taste, the people wonderful, the wandering superb and the best of all: quality time spent with my Dad. That wasn’t just for the game Saturday but a great wrap up to the trip. My Real Estate calls were being taken care of and blog posts prepared beforehand.

Garlic Fries at Target Field

Garlic Fries at Target Field

People close to me had asked before I left on this trip: “What are you going to do” or “what is there to do in Minnesota?” What they are really saying is “how can I go on a trip when every moment is not planned out?” It is human nature to plan a head. Yet the best experiences in life are those raw moments when you let the day unfold as it was meant to be. Allow yourself to take that breath – a time where you find out who you really are and what you really like. Let the feelings of “busyness” subside and enjoy the blessings of Wandering.

This is to remind my siblings that they will have to fight over 2nd place

This is to remind my siblings that they will have to fight over 2nd place

This is my Tale of the Twin Cities. Now what is your Tale and where?

Happy Travels

 

Twin Cities: Wandering, Hell’s Kitchen and Baseball

Minnesota Target Field Dad & I

Early this summer, I knew that it was time to plan a trip. There is nothing better than a vacation with very few commitments. I have traveled with people who need to plan every minute; It sickens me to my core. I love to wander but remember, not all who wander are aimless. There is a purpose.

There were 3 criteria that I set for this vacation: there must be great food, there must be baseball, and it must be a location where there is a direct flight from Salt Lake City. Since I have been watching the MLB Network this summer, I have closely followed the Minnesota Twins. I also know a few people from the Twin Cities and they highly recommended a visit. I called my Dad and he was in without so much as a second thought. It was booked! Now all I had to do was wait, and research food establishments.

As one good friend put it, “St. Paul is a sleepy little town and Minneapolis is full of energy.” There is a rivalry between the two cities so much so that my friend mentioned growing up in St. Paul but having been to Canada more times than she crossed the river into Minneapolis. Regardless of where we went, it all sounded like an adventure.

Spicy Beef Noodle Soup at Ruby Thai-Mall of America

Spicy Beef Noodle Soup at Ruby Thai-Mall of America

Target Field has been the home of the Minnesota Twins since 2010. It’s a beautiful open-air stadium tucked into downtown Minneapolis. My Dad and I booked tickets for 2 games during our visit. We also reserved a hotel that was in walking distance to the stadium. In my research I also found out that it was in close proximity to many restaurants and that the stadium also had some great food choices.

We arrived late on a Wednesday evening and stayed at an airport hotel. Nothing fancy but a comfortable bed and a shower is all you need after a flight. It was a short hotel shuttle ride to the Mall of America which is where we went the next morning. The sheer size of this place was difficult to grasp; and they are expanding it further. There is an amusement park, water park, movie theaters, lego land and hundreds of stores. We were only in about a quarter of the mall. The best part: The Spicy Beef Noodle Soup at Ruby Thai Kitchen. Medium spice to them is a volcano’s fire to me.

My Dad found a Date at the Mall of America Lego Land

My Dad found a Date at the Mall of America Lego Land

90 minutes at a mall and it was time to go. The Twin Cities’ light rail has a station right at Mall of America. After a 25 minute ride, we were in beautiful downtown Minneapolis. It’s a clean downtown with a lot of skyscrapers, stores, restaurants and a Farmer’s Market. What, a Farmer’s Market on a Thursday? They do this every Thursday during the summer on Nicollet Mall-the main commerce hub in Minneapolis. There were potatoes, onions, tomatoes, chili peppers, salsas, honey, berries and many other things. It was beautiful and went on for blocks.

Seeing how it was lunch time, food was on our mind. I had read about Hell’s Kitchen from a Minnesota based Food Writer. You may first think of the show with Chef Ramsey but that was not it. This is a place where you enter the building, go down some stairs, and walk into what feels like a gothic auditorium. This is their self-proclaimed “underground lair.” You are sure if you are going to be shown to a table or to your seats for the show. Atmosphere: check; now how would the food be?

Hell's Kitchen

Hell’s Kitchen

Nearly everything at Hell’s Kitchen is homemade, including ketchup, mustard, tomato juice and hot cocoa. I ordered the Walleye BLT: Toasted Sourdough Bread with homemade lemon-scallion tarter sauce, two slices of thick-cut applewood cured bacon, crisp lettuce, slabs of vine-ripened tomatoes and a Parmesan-crusted coldwater walleye filet. Walleye is a freshwater fish that is the pride of the upper midwest and Canada.

While we were waiting for our food, they brought us out some peanut butter. This is also homemade and highly raved about. It’s chunky, mixed with honey and could be a dessert. We gobbled that up with some of their bread.

Walleye BLT

Walleye BLT

Alas, the Walleye BLT arrived. It’s a ubiquitous white fish so not a lot of inherent flavor. That Parmesan crust however sure made it delicious when mixed with the bacon, sourdough bread and especially the lemon-scallion tarter sauce. That sauce was a mouth-watering delight.

Even though there were hundreds of restaurants in the area, the next morning, my dad said that if I didn’t have any objections, he would love to try the breakfast at Hell’s Kitchen. Oh yeah, I was in.

The Corned Beef Hash includes House-cured, hand-pulled corned beef brisket with sautéed banana fingerling potatoes, sweet onions and crisp celery. It’s served with two organic eggs and toast. Wow! If taste was a category in the SmithsonianMuseum, the corned beef brisket would be on display. It was perfectly moist, seasoned and incredibly addictive. I could not get enough. The potatoes were crisp and delicious. The only thing that I could go without in that meal was large pieces of celery. I think that celery is great for a flavor base (i.e. hiding it). They sure know food at Hell’s Kitchen. Hat’s off to Chefs Mitch Omer and Steve Meyer.

Even though Target Field was a 10 minute walk from our hotel, we got there early to look around and find some great food. Baseball Stadiums are beautiful edifices (except for O.co coliseum in Oakland). No matter how beautiful and amenity loaded, food is the best part of any game. We walked both decks scouting out the food. I am a Teetotaler but if you like beer, this place was a Mecca.

Kramaczuk's Sausage-Target Field

Kramaczuk’s Sausage-Target Field

Ultimately my Dad & I both decided on Kramarczuk’s Sausage stand. They haven’t been there for all 4 years of the Stadium’s existence but I have heard great things. Wasyl and Anna Kramarczuk were originally from Ukraine, immigrating to the United States in the late 1940’s. They were a little bitter and rustic but delicious. I loved it with some grilled sweet onions. Their philosophy is: “Every sausage, every loaf of bread, every piroshky is still made by hand from scratch, with the finest and freshest ingredients.” They might not actually be made at Target Field, but they are made locally and have become a Minneapolis landmark.

Time with my Dad, delicious sausage, temperature in the low 70’s and a walk-off hit in the bottom of the 9th inning made for a special evening.

Next Up: Barrio, Wild Rice Soup and the Mighty Mississippi

 

 

My Interview with Stan Robinson: “Midday with Stan.”

Innovate Photo

Back in March, I went to a conference in the rolling hills south of Nashville, Tennessee. While there, I met some ladies who said that their dad hosts a daily radio show, “Midday with Stan,” from the studios of WFCO FM in beautiful downtown Lancaster, Ohio.

Stan is a lifelong broadcaster and it was a pleasure to speak with him. You can listen to the interview here:

Midday with Stan: Jeff David

Should the link have expired, please let me know and I will re-load.

Happy Eating

Will Vacation Food Kill Me?

Hometown slop was on the road this past week. Nothing is more fun than watching your good eating habits diminish and your exercise routine vanish. Fun until you return home and attempt to get back in shape.

Road food is wonderful even if it can be unhealthy. Here are some of the culinary delights we enjoyed:



Old Timey Burger at Slater’s 50/50. Yes, the meat is 50% beef, 50% bacon on a Brioche Bun. Very Delicious!





Bacon Mac & Cheese Hot Dog at Disneyland



Appetizer Platter at Slater’s 50/50: Sweet Potato Fries, Beer-Battered Onion Rings and Deep Fried Mac & Cheese Balls



Hearty Chili in a Sourdough Bread Bowl at Disneyland

Complimenting the Chef who made some of these dishes possible.



Happy Eating, whether at home or on the road.

Louisiana: New Orleans or Cajun Country?

A roommate from college called me in early December to let me know that he was back living in Salt Lake after 3 years in Shanghai, China. He asked if we could meet for lunch that next week; not an invitation that I would normally turn down. However, I was scheduled to be out of town. He asked where I was going. I replied “Louisiana.” Of course the next question was, “why are you going there?” My answer: “because I have never been to that state.” He really didn’t say anything other than, “oh, okay then.”

Yes, I have a goal to visit every state in the nation. Yes, this might sound odd to some but I have learned to embrace what I love; weird or not. I also love to plan travel around locales where I can experience the cuisine. Often, I book the airfare, usually a place to stay and nothing else. Let the day unwind as it was meant to be. Having traveled with my Dad & brothers to Tennessee & Mississippi in 2011, I thought it would be fun to invite them. I called my Dad and he called me back within 10 minutes telling me that he & my mom were coming. They had booked their airfare, a rental car and a hotel in New Orleans for a couple nights. Okay, I thought; “pick me up at the airport” I said since they were going a few days earlier than myself.

I had a little anxiety figuring out what to do since I would only be there for 3 days. Spend all the time in New Orleans or venture out into Cajun Country? I wanted to do both but over scheduling a vacation is worse than not going at all. Ever been on a trip with someone who schedules every minute? You quickly start to wonder if their sudden disappearance could be traced back to you.

Flying into New Orleans late on a Wednesday evening, I got a cab and made my way to the hotel on St. Charles Avenue. This is one of the avenues in the Big Easy with the historic cable cars. I was excited and a little nervous. The nerves came from wondering how many restaurants I could hit the next day.

Usually I have a hard time getting to sleep my first night in a new place. Some NyQuil in my hygiene bag that had expired 5 1/2 years ago did the trick. So much so that the whole next day I was a little groggy. Being able to walk around in shorts in early December definitely helped my mood.

Thursday morning we made our way to the French Quarter. We stopped to take a picture of a quaint little cafe on Royal St. and ultimately decided to eat there for breakfast. Louisiana is famous for their beignets as it’s the official state donut. Ironically this place was called Cafe Beignet. It had such a relaxed feel to it; actually much of Louisiana has a relaxed, laid-back vibe. I ate Cajun Hashbrowns and a Beignet. This place must be famous for their coffee because the food wasn’t very good. Here I had flown all this way for great food and the bar was being set low. Maybe I should have sprinkled the food with the “Slap Yo Mama’s Cajun Seasoning.”

Would the rest of trip disappoint also?

A not-unusal store in New Orleans. They didn’t have anything in my size however.

Happy Eating

Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound: A Foodie Adventure!

Some vacations are simply getaways are others are soul soothers. Our vacation last week to Whidbey Island was truly a soul soother. Nothing like a cottage on the water, collecting sea shells, riding the ferry boats, hiking in the woods, eating great food, reading a book and gazing into the moonlight.

We had some great food experiences while on the island. Whidbey has towns & hamlets with quaint buildings and fabulous restaurants. Here are a few of those exceptional eateries:

Tomato Bisque at Mosquito Fleet Chili

Mosquito Fleet Chili: This family run restaurant is located right on the water in Coupeville, a small hamlet on Penn Cove. My Cousin was naming a few of the restaurants in town. As soon as she said “Mosquito Fleet Chili” I knew that this was the place. You are not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover but can you be impressed with a restaurant by just it’s name? Peruvian Shrimp and Corn Chowder was the special of the day. Again, I was impressed with the name. It was an absolute delicious dish cooked in a perfect seafood broth with cabbage, corn and peas. They could have even left out the shrimp and it still would have been wonderful.

Peruvian Shrimp and Corn Chowder

If you are ever on Whidbey Island, do not pass this place up. Eat out on the patio and enjoy the boats and birds. Everything they make is homemade; even the bread. I could plan to have my ashes spread here.

Crab Cake Benedict at Seabolt’s

Seabolts Smokehouse: This is a family owned business located in Oak Harbor, in operation since 1978. Part of the building is actually a processing plant for their catch. I believe that they even own their own boats. They restaurant was eventually added to further vertically integrate the business. I ordered the Crab Cake Benedict with Home Fries. My hopes were high having eaten at Mosquito Fleet Chili a day prior. The food was okay. The crab cake had copious amounts of breading which absorbed a lot of oil. It was tough to taste the crab. The hollandaise sauce was fabulous. Not the best food but they have so many options that I would be happy to return.

Red Potato Salad at Pickle’s Deli

Pickle’s Deli: Now this place is a treat. Located in Clinton on Whidbey Island, it’s run by people who are truly passionate about good food. They are very friendly and are constantly talking about their hiking and paddle boarding adventures. They love life and love what they do. The food is certainly indicative of this.

Pickle’s Deli Roast Beef and Havarti Sandwich

I ordered the Roast Beef and Havarti: Rosemary Diamante bread spread with mayo and Dijon topped with lots of thinly sliced Italian roast beef, creamy Havarti cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, cucumber slices and alfalfa sprouts. I am always on a quest to find a delicious sandwich and have found such at Gandolfo’s and Caputo’s. This was just as equal, if not better. All of their ingredients are fresh and organic. Every bite was an explosion of flavor. If only I could eat here everyday. I would be happy, but tight on cash.

There you have it! These are all the reasons you need to travel to the Puget Sound. There are plenty of other activities but this is a food blog, so I will stick with that.

Happy Eating and Traveling

Kansas City Barbeque Society

Since I began my love affair with cooking, grilling and BBQ have become two of my favorite things. This past summer, I received a Traeger Smoker as a birthday present from Rachel. It was a fabulous day. Shortly thereafter I smoked some ribs, a turkey, chickens and some skewers. The whole world is opening up to me.

During this time I was introduced to KCBS (Kansas City Barbeque Society). Despite the name, it is not exclusive to Kansas City in events or style of BBQ. They actually sanction over 450 events every year throughout the country. For all of these BBQ events and competitions they need Judges. At first I was hesitant to sign up for the Judging class feeling like I was a novice myself. I did it anyway and learned so much about ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork and chicken.

The class was held in conjunction with the “Smokin in Mesquite” BBQ competition at the Casablanca Resort in Mesquite Nevada. What a pleasure it was to be there. Not only did we learn a lot about the types of meats, cooking styles and presentation, but we went over all the rules for judging. That was a lot of information. It got me really excited to not only be involved with more competitions but to cook a lot more on my smoker. Seeing the custom built smokers from many of the cooking teams was a majestic sight.

A few weeks after the event, I received all my KCBS membership information in the mail; including my name badge. In big red letters on the name badge it says, “Certified Barbeque Judge.” I can’t wait to wear it to the next family, friend or neighborhood barbeque. When someone says that their dish is pretty good, I will have formal authority to respond with “I’ll be the judge of that.” Blatent arrogance or unconditional support?

Happy Eating

Foodie Tour Anyone?

It’s that time of year to yes, watch a lot of college basketball, but also to plan vacations for the year. And for me, vacations are planned to experience the most in the area’s cuisine. Suggestions anyone?

Should I head on down to Louisiana for some Cajun / Creole Food?

Gumbo in New Orleans

Atchafalaya Basin Swamp

Make a return visit to Scottsdale? It’s a Foodies Paradise.


Cafe turkey meatballs with organic whole wheat spaghetti at Cafe Forte, Old Town Scottsdale
Pasta with chanterelles, bacon, tarragon, asiago, and creme fraiche at FnB Restaurant, Old Town Scottsdale

Or should we head to Wisconsin, as was highly recommended by a Co-worker of Rachel. I guess that we could eat a lot of cheese.

Wisconsin Dairy Farm

Suggestions Anyone?

Happy Eating

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