Not too long ago, we began our love affair with Louisiana, not in Louisiana itself, but at home in Seattle at a little food truck called Where Ya at Matt. We spent months on a diet rich in red beans, grits, fried shrimp and beignets, which made us crave it directly from its source. Luckily, a ridiculously cheap rental car deal led Austin and I to pay a visit to Louisiana this past spring. We set out on a week-long tasting adventure across the state, and while the foods that follow are now familiar friends, we imagined you might need a bit of a Cajun crash course.
Bend, Oregon may not be on your radar, but if you're a beer lover, spirit drinker or coffee aficionado it should be. In just a quick 48 hours, I had sipped three local beers, tasted locally made vodka and gin, and learned the art of coffee cupping. For those of us who like to drink, Bend may just as well be called the sipping capital of the world.
New Orleans' culinary tradition is legendary. Spicy, flavorful and slightly intoxicating, just like the city itself. One man who carries on this culinary tradition is Donald Link, who just recently won a James Beard award for his restaurant, Cochon. Blending traditional New Orleanian fare with a modern culinary trends, Link has created new and exciting ways for the uninitiated and initiated, alike, to discover Cajun cuisine. On our recent trip to New Orleans, we headed straight to Cochon, but then turned to corner to discover its little brother, Butcher, tucked just down the street. A relaxed informal lunch spot, Butcher focuses on charcuterie and provided us a peek into what's new in New Orleans cuisine.
Markets are my favorite place to explore when I travel. The sights, the sounds and the smells; it can be intoxicating. On Granville Island on Vancouver, BC, the Public Market is a feast for your senses.
Granville Island, a former industrial island just south of downtown Vancouver, is a bit of an oasis in the middle of the city. You could drive or take the bus over, but we opted to take a long, appetite-building morning walk from our apartment rental and then hopped on the aquabus to get across the water.
"It's 11am and it's raining," said Nate, the brewer, to our group "I know who the real beer drinkers are." It was true, a lot of people probably woke up on this cold, drizzly Saturday morning in June and decided that sleeping in or a second cup of coffee were in order. But no, here we were, in the rain, well before noon with beers in hand and we weren't alone.
In the Pacific Northwest, summer is never a given until after the 4th of July, so while the rest of the country is trying to beat the heat, we're often digging out our fleece and gortex and braving the rain for our summer festivities. Saturday's trip to the Washington Brewers Festival was no exception. We ignored the fog and cold temps and piled into the car and headed up north to St. Edward State Park for the annual festival held on father's day weekend. The night before, I had dreamed up a day of picnics and beer tasting, lounging in the grass between trips to the tasting tents. Instead, mother nature had another fate for us that day. Donning my warmest fleece and a "I don't give a f*ck" attitude, I warmed my spirits with brews from all over the state of Washington.
By 5pm in Hawai'i, I want to have sand stuck between my toes, a good layer of salt water dried to my skin and have exerted enough energy to be hungry for a good meal. I don't want anything fussy or uptight. I want to throw on a sundress, pull my sun-bleached hair on top of my head, bring out the big earrings and settle down for a relaxed meal with front row seats for the sunset. In Kona, you'll be hard-pressed to not find a spot for a cold drink, affordable local chow and a comfy, casual seat to watch the warm, red sun set into the sea.
Imagine a place where you could bask in the colors, the tastes, and smells of tropical summer, all the time. A place where you can enjoy exotic, juicy, fruits for very little money. This place is the Hilo Farmer's Market. The farmer's market can be deceptively unassuming place on a rainy, gray Saturday morning. Clusters of white tents flank the road and keep you from seeing exactly what's going on inside. As I made my way through the entrance, I kept a watchful eye on the ground and the overflowing pile of coconuts at my feet.
For a few bucks, they'll split one open and drop in a straw, but my hand's weren't willing to give up that real estate, just yet, so instead, I look up and beyond.
My line of sight becomes full of papayas and mangos, pineapples and other fruits I don't recognize. Where to begin? I've got $10 in my pocket and a challenge to see how far it might go. I set out to wander and to find a bargain.
On our last day on Kaua'i, we stayed in Poipu on the south side of the island. The tradewinds were nowhere to be seen, it was hot and humid, and we needed a cold treat. Bad. Lucky for us, our hotel was blessed with having a top-notch gelato join across the street, Papalani Gelato. After tasting (and loving) their Lilikoi gelato earlier in the week, we were dying to try in person. Ruin our dinner with a pre-game dessert? Why not?