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Tasty Travels

Tasty Travels | West Coast Edition

After living in Indiana for two years, I’ve started a habit of making excessively long trips home where I cram in as many reunions as possible. I haven’t yet decided if that is the healthiest option but it is certainly the most time and cost efficient. Back in August I had a work conference that led up to Labor Day weekend. Which fell right when my mom was getting surgery. All that plus a couple other trips tacked on, I embarked on a 19 day trip to the West Coast. The itinerary? Indianapolis – Denver – Reno – San Jose – (unplanned Dallas) – Indianapolis.

DENVER

This is one of my favorite food cities in all of America. I know I can always count on a great meal and a new adventure. The weekend I visited happened to coincide with the weekend my friend was moving into her new house. Like all sane/normal people, I was excited to help with a moving day for a friend (I’m a glutton for helping). Free workout by lifting heavy things and there is something exciting about being a part of someone else embarking on their future. In return for helping her move, all I asked was that I would get to eat at some tasty places. Denver has turned into my go to place to get as many different varieties of meals in one weekend. This time I tried seriously great Chinese food at East Dynasty, Alabama BBQ (while rocking my Roll Tide shirt), Felfel Mediterranean food, curry bowls from Biju’s Curry Shop, and just good ‘ole classic diner food at Sam’s. I’m full all over again after reminiscing.

1. Alabama BBQ 2. East Dynasty 3. Felfel 4. Biju’s Curry Shop 5. Breakfast at home.

 

For my work conference, we had a great mixture of new cuisines and fun catering. The final night of the conference was a “Taste of Denver” experience. All the food was sourced locally and created by local chefs. It was a unique experience and we got to try a ton of different dishes. The most memorable was their “watermelon poke” where they vacuum sealed watermelon with vinegar and the end result looked identical to tuna poke. The second best was their fried avocados on top of a steak salad. Mmmm.

Earl’s for dinner, Fried avocado and steak salad, 5280 mini burgers and “watermelon poke”

 

RENO/TAHOE

This is where I was born, where I spent the first few years of my life, and where I have some my fondest family memories. Growing up, when I lived in Henderson (Southern Nevada) we visited Reno (Northern Nevada – about 9 hours away) at least once a month, if not more. So even though I only lived there for a short while, the town has a ton of memories. Same goes for Lake Tahoe. My aunt and uncle restored a beautiful cabin at the lake and we spend each Labor Day with family. It is one big weekend of celebrations (lots of September birthdays, including my own), great food, adventures, and card games. All the extended family on my dad’s side comes and it is always a blast. We are a family full of great cooks so everyone is responsible for cooking at least one meal. It is so great to spend a weekend with family with no TV, little to no service, and just being out in nature. It has become my yearly reset to disconnect and recenter.

Birthday cake from Flour Girl Cakes in Lake Tahoe

Time with the family.

 

 

Morning hike – new birthday tradition!

 

SAN JOSE

While I’ve never lived in San Jose, it is one of my “homes” because it is where my mom lives. She grew up in San Jose and we visited often growing up. Getting to spend time with her feels like home, so it counts. Since I was just a few hours from her while in Tahoe, I extended my trip so I could take care of her for a little bit. She was, and is, recovering from shoulder surgery. While the procedure itself isn’t invasive – just imagine losing the ability to use your arm for a couple months. Certainly makes cooking, cleaning, and anything else difficult. Her sister, my aunt, was kind enough to send us a couple different free boxes from Hello Chef and Blue Apron. This was such a treat to not have to grocery shop and I loved having different meals to try out with her. I also got to see my grandparents who live a few hours away from my mom. We met at Casa de Fruta which is this incredible market and restaurant filled with every possible fruit, chocolate, dip, pickle you could ever imagine. I can always count on San Jose for some wonderful fruits and vegetables, especially in the heart of summer.

Time with the grandparents at Casa de Fruta in California

 

DALLAS

This was an accidental layover that allowed me to see my brother for a couple hours. As many of you know, my family works for Southwest Airlines and one of the perks of that is free flights (that come with a catch). While the flight is free, you only get on the plane if there is space available. So it is free in cost but you pay for it in stress of not knowing exactly what flight will get you home. As the days got closer to my time to depart, flights were filling up and I needed to get creative. So I flew from San Jose to Dallas and then Dallas to Indy. It worked out perfectly and I got to spend a little more time with my brother. We also go to go to one of my favorite restaurants in Dallas, Halal Guys. Win-win!

INDIANAPOLIS

At the end of my incredibly long trip, I was happy to be home in my own bed and my first stop to eat was – you guessed it – Cafe Patachou. One month without that restaurant was less than pleasant. Probably more for the people around me dealing with my withdrawals and complaints than my actual discomfort. Pretty sure I can never move away from this town in large part because I can’t survive without their brunch and hospitality.

When you live two thirds across the country from your home, friends, and family it means you don’t get to see them as often as you like. Then add in being an efficiency junkie and you have discovered the reason for my really long trips. I am beyond grateful for the chance to travel for work and for fun, the chance to take care of my mom, and the chance to eat my way through all of these experiences. Food is how I capture my memories and this blog is how I share it with you!

Not sure where I am headed next, but I know it will be delicious.

 

In the midst of memories,
Samantha

Tasty Travels

Tasty Travels | Birmingham, AL

Back in June, I needed to head to Alabama for work. Luckily, the purpose of the visit included food and working with a fellow foodie. That meant every meal of the trip was superb. Get yourself a foodie friend wherever you go – trust me.

First stop of the trip wasn’t specifically for food, but it was related to food. We got to take a tour of Time Inc. Food Studios  – whaaaaat. If you’ve ever seen those awesome food/recipe videos on your Facebook or Instagram feed – chances are this is where they are made. We got to walk through the filming studios, the supply rooms full of every shape/color/size plate you could ever imagine, and more. I was in heaven.

Time Inc. Food Studios

 

First meal stop of the trip in Birmingham was The Grill at Iron City. I needed about fifteen minutes to look at the menu so I could narrow down what I wanted. I decided on their ramen and now I have a new standard for ramen that I hope can be met back at home. All the flavors, toppings, everything was superb. The broth was wonderful on its own but the extra ingredients made it even better.

The Grill at Iron City – Ramen

 

We went to Steel City Pops for dessert and I had their Peaches ‘N Cream popsicle – so yummy. You could tell this wasn’t peach puree from a can, but instead it was freshly picked peaches diced up in a creamy concoction. YUM.

The next morning we got to go to Pepper Place Market which is their farmers market – which put my hometown farmers market to shame. It was massive, it took up multiple parking lots. It had a good amount of prepared food options, fresh veggies, and even some fun decor and clothing merchants. For breakfast I had cold brew coffee and a delicious breakfast burrito from Homewood Gourmet. I could have easily spent all day walking around looking at all of the vendors. Farmers markets are my happy place.

Icebox cold brew coffee and breakfast burrito

 

For dinner that night I got to try Saw’s BBQ and I’m not sure I’ll ever look at a chicken sandwich the same way. I got the Colonel which was practically a heart attack in a to-go box. Sweet tea brined chicken which is fried and then topped with pimiento cheese, white BBQ sauce, and tomatoes. With a side of fried green tomatoes and a small dessert of homemade banana pudding – because why not? It was probably the messiest thing I have ever eaten, but also the tastiest.

All the fried goodness.

 

Our last meal before heading to Atlanta to go home was at Urban Cookhouse. I have been there before and was glad to go back for a little lighter meal, especially after the weekend of indulgence. I feel like if I lived in Birmingham I would eat here all the time. Simple, good, fresh food.

Wrap, veggies and cheesy pasta (aka mac ‘n cheese)

 

This trip definitely made me fall in love with Birmingham. You can tell there is a lot of growth there and it is a city on its way to having a younger, bigger city vibe. I wouldn’t hate living here one day – but then I remember that I would have to live without Cafe Patachou and then I change my mind. But this is gladly a town I would visit over and over again!

 

In the midst of reminiscing,

Samantha

Tasty Travels

The Loft @ Traders Point Creamery

Traders Point Creamery. If you live in Indy, you’ve probably seen their fancy glass bottles of milk, yogurt, and cheese in the dairy section of the grocery store. You’ve thought about purchasing them from time to time as a treat, but you probably thought that was all they did. But you are wrong – and luckily being wrong means you have a wonderful restaurant to discover for yourself!

Since I went with a group of fellow foodies/photographers/food bloggers we coordinated the visit ahead of time and were able to get a tour of the grounds. This elevated the entire experience and really gave meaning to “farm-to-table” unlike any other meal has for me.

Most peaceful spot in Indy.

Baby chicks

The farm

Piggy posing for the camera

 

To start off we had a cheese plate and a cottage cheese dish. I was a little leary about the cottage cheese, it is just something I have never gravitated towards. I figured if it was going to be made here where the milk is superior then I should give it a try. I am so glad I did! It was creamy, fatty, and delicious. I might need to give cottage cheese another chance.

Ricotta Dish

 

For dinner, I knew I was going to get a burger from the second I showed up. Mostly because I read the menu beforehand, but after seeing their farm and how they raised the cattle, pigs, and chickens I wanted to try something that involved all of those things. That may sound morbid to eat the animal you just saw roaming around outside, but for me knowing that it was grown humanely and treated well made me feel better about eating it compared to eating meat that was questionably raised. I hope that makes sense, and I hope that PETA doesn’t come after me for this post.

The other dishes around the table were great. Pork shoulder, pasta, and a few other things. But the burger was the most ordered for a reason. They grind bacon into the meat (yum) and we all put an egg on top to make it extra indulgent. The lighting was rough and the burger didn’t look nearly as pretty as these other dishes, but believe me it tasted amazing! I would get it again, but maybe this time split it with someone.

Egg and pasta dish

Delicious dishes and setup

 

Even though my stomach was beyond full, I HAD to get some sort of dessert. They’re a creamery so I knew I had to try some of their ice cream. Just about everyone at the table got a sundae or milkshake but Megan and I split some pie and a scoop of vanilla. It was perfect.

The Dairy Bar – lot of options!

 

If you would have told me that Traders Point Creamery was two hours outside of Indianapolis on a remote farm, I would have believed you. The grounds were quiet and peaceful and felt like I was far, far away from the city. Like I had escaped the busy-ness of the city and gotten away for a few hours. Luckily, this gem of a restaurant/farm/event space is right of 86th and 465. If you ever need to get away for a night and feel connected to nature, I suggest eating here!

 

In the Midst of farm land,

Samantha

Read Samantha A.‘s review of Traders Point Creamery on Yelp

Tasty Travels

Hometown Food

I went back home to Las Vegas this spring and I was excited for two things: Time with friends/family and FOOD. Yep, that about sums up my life. Give me a cookie and time to catch up with friends and I am a happy camper. Since I document most of my life from the food I eat, this trip was no different. So here is my trip home according to pictures of my food:

Giada – this was a real treat! For any Food Network fans – Giada De Laurentiis has a restaurant on Las Vegas Boulevard. We have a great family friend who works at her restaurant and so we wanted to visit him while we were in town. We had a big group and decided to get a few entrees and appetizers and split it among everyone. That was a wonderful decision. The food is impeccable and so is the ambiance. It was nice enough outside that they opened up the huge windows that look out onto Las Vegas Blvd. As if all of that isn’t perfect, the chairs are the perfect amount of comfy. This is worth the splurge if you are in town.

 

Massive assortment of all kinds of delicious things – pizza, pasta, stuffed peppers, meatballs, and more.

 

But wait, there was more – dessert! I’m usually a chocolate person but all of the lemon desserts were extra superb. I still dream of the fluffy soufflé that was rich, creamy, and yet light all at the same time.

Lemon souffle with lemon curd and gelato to go inside. DIVINE.

 

Chocolate cake and lemon ricotta cookies with raspberry sorbet in the middle. Mmm…

 

Next favorite of the trip: Cafe Rio. This place originally opened up in Utah and found its way to the suburbs when I was in high school. I would say I had this at least twice a month throughout high school and college. Their most popular (and my favorite) dish is anything with the sweet barbacoa pork. It is unlike any other flavor. Sweet, luscious, wonderful. That mixed with their cilantro vinaigrette gives a sweet and tangy combo unlike anything else. They’ve grown to be all over the country in the last few years, sadly not yet anywhere near me (one day).

Sweet Pork Barbacoa Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

 

But you know what is the best meal in Las Vegas? Any meal that I get to share with friends that I love. Two to mention are coffee with childhood friends and a homemade meal in a house I practically grew up in. Sure, these weren’t restaurants I dreamed about eating at but they are the memories I will cherish.

When your childhood friend brings homemade scones to your coffee date – YUM.

Dinner and dessert at home, just what the soul needed.

 

Living in the Midwest for the last two years has been a glorious experience. The people are so kind and the food is SO GOOD. I am so happy to be in Indy, but whenever I go home I get very excited for all the delightful foods I get to eat when catching up with friends in town. At any given moment I could easily list of 3-5 foods I am missing from home. Currently: In-N-Out, Cafe Rio, Crepe Shack, and West Coast Mexican food of any kind. But these foods would be nothing if they didn’t have company to accompany them.

Time with my brother – Giada’s Photobooth

Brunching with college sorority sisters!

Family time with our forever favorite landlord/friend/almost-in-law, Rhonda!

 

So for that I am grateful for not only great food but even better friends to enjoy the meals with me. I may not get to go home often, but when I do I can always count on my friends to meet me for a great meal and pick up right where we left.

Home isn’t a place, but it’s a sense of belonging. I feel at home at the table surrounded with those I love.

In the Midst of Reminiscing,

Samantha

 

Tasty Travels

Tasty Travels | Borel’s Cajun & Creole Cookery

I have my usuals that I love in Indy, but I am always looking to try new spots and new cuisines. A friend of mine posted about a Creole and Cajun spot that was right down the street from my work. I have a coworker who is from Louisiana so I knew the next time we had a work outing, this is where we would go! We were not disappointed. Amazing hospitality and such a cool variety of food. I can’t say I’ll ever desire trying blood sausage again, but I would definitely go back for just about everything else.

 

Check out my Yelp review below for more details and to see other reviewers’ thoughts on the place!

Read Samantha A.‘s review of Borel’s Cajun & Creole Cookery on Yelp

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Tasty Travels

Tasty Travels | Denver Biscuit Company

One of my favorite spots to go when I am in Denver!

LOCATION: Denver, CO
RESTAURANT: Denver Biscuit Company
MUST GET MEAL: The Franklin

This was a “must go to” spot when I had a reunion with friends in December. I went this restaurant the year before and I had been craving it ever since. Massive biscuits with unique flavors, that is my kind of breakfast. This restaurant has a story to tell. It is three things in one: a breakfast spot, a pizza joint, and a bar. What you get depends upon the time of day.

My recommendation is to go with someone so you can order two things and split. I am all about having a sweet and salty option, so splitting is the way I can guarantee that. The picture above is of their Dahlia biscuit which is a sweet and savory in one. But we also ordered The Franklin which included fried chicken and gravy. So delicious.

Another one of my favorite things about this place is the atmosphere and decor. I love when restaurants have a modge podge of coffee mugs, and I love it even more when there is a mug with my name on it! To add another level of fun, their water pitchers had humorous sayings on them, and I appreciate that small touch.

If you want to learn more about Denver Biscuit Company, check out their site here. Check them out the next time you are in Denver, it won’t disappoint!

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Tasty Travels

Tasty Travels | Mod Market

LOCATION: Denver International Airport (DEN)
RESTAURANT: Mod Market (Next to C29)
MUST GET MEAL: Flat Iron Steak Salad (Half is only $8!)

Iced Tea from Denver Airport’s Mod Market

I will run across the airport for this meal. Luckily, the last two times I have flown through Denver, my Southwest flight conveniently has been right next to Mod Market. I came across this tasty place by accident, and now it is my go to recommendation for anyone that has a layover in Denver. Everything on the menu looks phenomenal, but I stick to ordering the Flatiron Salad.

They also print the nutrition facts right on the receipt, which I find fun. Others may not agree.

Check them out next time your are in the Denver airport! Click here to take a look at their menu.

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