Thursday, December 13, 2012

Saint Lawrence Gridiron: Well Done.

I usually know when someone's pulling my leg.

"---and then he told him, 'Turn me over, I'm done," said Chef Brian Garrett, as he leaned over the high, high window of the Saint Lawrence Gridiron's food truck. He was giving us an explanation of his business's name.

"---and that's why he's the patron saint of cooks and chefs," the rolling restaurant owner concluded.

I looked over at my foodie friend, Sarah, who'd randomly agreed to join me for lunch. She wasn't grinning. I looked back at Chef Brian, but his face gave nothing away. On the tip of my tongue was a big, 'Yeah, right,' but I didn't say anything.

We were at the corner of 11th and State street in Boise for lunch, the Gridiron's location of the day. The flow of customers leading up to the window never ceased; a very good indication of the food quality.

We assessed the menu board. What was that? Could it be?

'Poutine' jumped out at me. My Canadian friend Vaun had been talking about it for years. Fries, a special gravy, cheese...what's not to like?

Sarah, who'd never tried poutine either, said she'd split an order with me, as long as we both ordered a sandwich so that we could sample not just one, but three menu items in one shot. We're frequently strategic like that.

I got the Boise Cheese Steak, and Sarah ordered the Smoky Loaf Sandwich to go with our gravy-covered fries.

Intending to sit at the cafe table out in front of the Gridiron, to soak in the whole experience, we found that we failed miserably at it. We made a beeline for the shelter of my car.

"I enjoy food much more when my teeth aren't chattering," said Sarah. I heartily agreed. Now, for the task at hand. Crispy fries, 'Chinden Sauce', drunken cheese sauce, brisket and Gorgonzola cheese sat between us on the console. Civilized dining was tossed to the brisk Idaho wind as fingers were used on this dish.

"What is that darker sauce?" I asked, between bites, "It's got so much depth, it's hard to tell. Drippings? A condensed au jus? I just don't know."

"...It tastes almost like it's got balsamic vinegar in it," said Sarah.

So different, so difficult to pin down.

My Boise Cheese Steak sandwich had a spice-rubbed brisket, drunken cheese sauce and pickled vegetables. The meat was tender, and the spices had a kick I appreciated. I thought I detected some chili powder in that rub.

Sarah's Smoky Loaf Sandwich was a hearty slice of moist meat loaf on a bun with Gorgonzola, aioli and also pickled veggies. We both agreed it was the texture that sold us, paired with the flavor. Had it been any juicier, it would've been too mushy. Had it been any drier, we discussed, it would've been...

"...Too dry," we both said at the same time. Egads, we're almost acting like food critics now.

There were no leftovers, it was all happily devoured. A meal like that on a chilly Idaho afternoon is just the thing for culinary appreciatives.

We snapped a few photos of the food truck, then picked Chef Brian's brain.

"I wasn't sure about the name," he told us, "but when I heard the 'turn me over, I'm done' story, I was sold,"

I once again had the uncomfortable feeling we were being had.

"What was the darker sauce on the poutine?" I asked, wanting to change the subject.

"It's got a fermented bean paste base," Chef Brian told us. I looked at Sarah, who'd been on sort of the right track when she'd mentioned balsamic vinegar.

"I borrowed that from Asian cooking," he added.

How clever to cross lines of culture in culinary creativity. I love it when chefs do that. And it was tasty. Who knew I'd be eating fermented bean paste on this day...and like it?

Chef Brian confirmed that the brisket had ground chili powder in the rub, but offered us no further clues as to the other ingredients. He just leaned over the high, high window with a knowing grin on his face, not divulging.

We took a few more pictures and parted with a friendly wave.

Later, I asked Sarah, who'd studied religion extensively, what she thought of the barbequed saint story.

"It sounded like a typical saint story/myth. But I'd definitely want to check it out," she replied.

Hours later, I was looking up 'Story of Saint Lawrence'. There appeared links upon links of 'St. Lawrence Martyr', 'St. Lawrence Cathedral', 'St. Lawrence University', etc. This Saint Lawrence guy was certainly well-known. Had I been Catholic, I'd have been a lot more clued into that.

Then, I saw it. The story of Saint Lawrence, martyr. 

It seems that the Prefect, having a fit of anger sometime during the year 258, sentenced Saint Lawrence to a torturous death by gradual, sure burning. Saint Lawrence was tied atop a grill of iron and slow-roasted. The story has it, however, that through his love of God, he was protected and didn't feel the pain. He was comfortable enough to have said to the nearby judge, "Turn me over, I'm done on this side!"

Chef Brian hadn't been making it up, it was all true.

And now, like me, I'll just bet you'll never forget the name of Saint Lawrence for as long as you live.

Which is good, because for some of the most incredible food on four wheels you've ever had, St. Lawrence is a name you're going to want to remember.

*Follow the Culinary Club on Twitter @Amy_Larson, @IdahoFoodie and @EatingIdaho.

 *For more adventures in Idaho, (with recipes between the stories!) get the "Appetite for Idaho" book here.

And visit the Appetite for Idaho Facebook page, with new stuff to do posted every weekday!

Monday, December 10, 2012



In the event of a snowball war, that's a sound we absolutely love to hear.

Unless, of course, we're the recipient of the frosty missile.
In that case, the name of the game is revenge, and how sweet it is when we get it. There's nothing like the sight of seeing a former assailant wearing an unintentional snow collar to make a winter's day.

Wikipedia defines the snow war like this:

 "A snowball fight is a physical game in which balls of snow are thrown with the intention of hitting somebody else."

---I know, I'm smirking too.

Years ago when the snow flew out at the former country home, we'd get out the four-wheelers and drag brave inner-tubers around the pasture, often flinging riders into the soft drifts amongst shrieking laughter. First-timers were the best to mess with, they had no idea what they were getting into. Hot chocolate and some serious snacking followed, as per tradition, and we'd get a roaring fire going in the fireplace to help us thaw out.

Snow can be illusive in the Treasure Valley these days. No matter how many creative snow dances we do, we're still left hoping for flake-laden storms. When it gets to be December several of us begin to get a little desperate. The other day the neighbor kids got up first thing in the morning to attempt sledding down what was barely a slope on a skiff of what might have been snow, but what more likely was just a thick frost. Many residents take matters into their own hands by loading up vehicles with tubes, ski pants, toasty beverages, snacks and a shovel (if they're wise) and heading to Idaho City. There's usually snow there this time of year. Even if it's a week old and covered in a layer of gray road dirt, if we can sled on it, we'll take it.

 *For more adventures in Idaho, (with recipes between the stories!) get the "Appetite for Idaho" book here.

And visit the Appetite for Idaho Facebook page, with new stuff to do posted every weekday!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Idaho Potato Faux Pas

When the parental units told my siblings and I that we were moving to Idaho, I was only ten, and got Idaho confused with Iowa. Since that wasn't too far away from Pennsylvania where we lived, I told the friends I was leaving that we'd see them every now and then.

Just about the time we hit Illinois by car, it began to dawn on me that Idaho was a ways away.

Lots of things about the state I didn't have a heads up on. I envisioned everyone with horses in their back forties, living on ranch/farms. I found that it wasn't as rural as I'd expected, although our next-door-neighbors who lived in town did have a dry farm for potatoes up in the hills.

What I really would've appreciated a heads-up on was the fact that potatoes were really BIG in Idaho. People grew them, they ate them, they had them on their license plates. I was only ten and unaware, and no one sat me down for the Potato Talk.

Which is why the major social faux pas occurred.

Our new Idahoan neighbors invited us to dinner at their home. I had no idea what was cooking in the kitchen when we walked through the door, but it smelled delicious. While the woman of the home was bustling over last minute preparations for our meal, the man of the house made conversation with us in the living room. He asked each one of us a question. The one he sent my way was, "So, do you like potatoes?"

At ten, I was no less painfully honest than I am now. I thought about it for a half second, recalling my experience with potatoes in the past. My mother, who, bless her heart, was an uncreative cook, had often boiled potatoes until they were a colorless gray and covered them with a bland, saltless gravy. The texture all-round was actually pretty gross.

"No," I answered, "Not very much."

Insert here an image of the clock on the wall stopping, and several adult mouths falling open. In one fell swoop, I'd not only just insulted the cook (who had made us baked potatoes with an array of toppings to choose from, expecting to delight us with our very first introduction to Idaho potatoes), the man of the house (a potato farmer), and virtually the entire state, who took tremendous pride in their product.


Decades later, negative memories of watery gray blobs with flavorless gravy are long gone. Nowadays, I do like potatoes. Famous Idaho potatoes (refer to some of our vintage license plates), I've learned, are best baked, broiled or fried (my preference). The perfect potato is all in the preparation.

 *For more adventures in Idaho, (with recipes between the stories!) get the "Appetite for Idaho" book here.

And visit the Appetite for Idaho Facebook page, with new stuff to do posted every weekday!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Wilson Ponds Walk

Wilson Ponds in Nampa holds the curiosity that can only belong to wilderness that's been planted right in the middle of suburbia.

On a windless morning or evening, you can hear Skyview High School's marching band practicing out in their parking lot, less than a mile away, while at the same time viewing native grasses,  and marshy areas with a plethora of cattails. A strange contrast among   nesting birds and burrowing critters who find their homes at the Ponds, but the animals are no doubt used to the music by now.

Although this morning had a crisp autumn bite to it, when blogger Erica Diamond suggested a sunrise walk via Twitter, the idea was planted with no turning back.

I've walked at Wilson a time or two, and have begun to notice some regulars. A man with the name HENRY solidly announced on his ball cap. (Is this a brand, or is this his actual name? I haven't been bold enough to inquire.) This morning I saw an older gentleman with a woolen cap, side braids and pom-pom moving with him as he took each determined step.

"Are you wearing enough clothes?" he asked me, a rather personal question, but I was game to answer.

"You warm up once you get moving fast enough," I told him.

"Bah!" he said, swatting his hand into the air and walking away.

Henry was next on the paved pathway, smiling and nodding like the last time, but not speaking, also like last time. I passed the Duck Tree where I once noticed a dozen ducks perched. I have questions about this, not knowing ducks liked to hang out in trees or hold onto branches with their webbed feet.

I encountered the man with the pom-pom hat again on the return.

"Warming up yet?" he asked. Then he said, "You should talk to that guy over there," and he vaguely gestured with his hands over 'that-a-way', "He's ninety!"

He paused, then shared, "I'm eighty and he's got ten years on me."

Safe to assume he was saying that the ninety-year old was out walking, too.

"I plan to live until I'm at least ninety-five," I told the Pom-Pom Man.

"Keep walkin'!" he told me with a smile and nod of his woolen-covered head as he walked away, calling, 'Have a good mornin'!' over his shoulder.

 *For more adventures in Idaho, (with recipes between the stories!) get the "Appetite for Idaho" book here.

And visit the Appetite for Idaho Facebook page, with new stuff to do posted every weekday!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sun Valley: Music in the Mountains

I'd heard of this jazzjamboreefest thing for years from my friend, Janet.

Her family had made a tradition of it, attending each and every year.

"The baseball is always on, he always liked to watch baseball," said Janet's mom with her cute New England accent, "That's just how we do the jazz festival."

She clicked on the large screen tv and rested herself on the plush sofa behind a newspaper as the game blared happily in the background. I knew she was referring to her late husband, who'd passed a few years back. They'd both loved this time of year in Sun Valley.

Comfortably seated in the elegant living room of our condo, what I thought would be a simple setup turned out to be the Sun Valley Inn's finest, on a corner with our own private entryway. We each had our own bedrooms, and the floors and walls in the bathrooms were marble. Everywhere we looked was old school and upscale.

"You'll need this to keep your strength up," said Janet's mom, presenting my friend and I with a tray of Havarti and herbed crackers with a dainty knife. Since we were hungry after our journey to the valley of the sun, we didn't eat daintily.

After partaking, we left the suite and walked out into the fresh air. Fall in that area is a sight to behold, and it smells like you're atop a mountain peak. We crunched through the leaves to the opera house, where I got my first taste of live, world-class jazz. I found that I'm an involved listener that can't sit without tapping something. A toe, a couple of fingers. Something had to be moving whilst this rhythm was about. We stayed for almost an hour, then took a break.

If you've ever been in Sun Valley, you'll see multiple evidences of Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway was their guy. Photos of him line the walls of the Sun Valley Lodge (a sister establishment of the SV Inn), and it's obvious that he's revered here. I had never read much of his work, and was intrigued by the mystique of the late writer. I asked Janet and her mother what they knew.

"I started to read his book once," Janet's mom told me as we dined at Gretchen's.
"And?" I asked.
"--And I don't remember if I ever finished it," she told me, matter-of-factly, as is her style.

"I've read several of them," said Janet, "They were good," she added, not elaborating.

I decided to research the author myself. One thing I did know was that he was fond of talking with the common person, people who wouldn't ordinarily get noticed. This is a passion of mine, believing that no person is uninteresting or unimportant. Because people have blessed me with sharing their inner secrets and dreams, I've been privy to the most sacred of tales. I knew this was a commonality.

That night, we entered the Limelight Room and found the place to be hopping. There was a larger crowd here than in any other venue so far. I didn't yet get the attraction. Just minutes into the performance, I got it. The band, High Street, was extremely interactive. The lead singer had a way of engaging the audience that few groups came even close to. Now High Street, I thought, where have I heard that name before?

It wasn't until the lead singer introduced the trombone player as 'The Mayor of Nampa' that it dawned on me. These guys were Canyon County people! That was our mayor! And High Street....weren't they the band the Civic Center had hired for the New Years Eve Party, the one that was said to get everyone out of their seats?

I looked around. People of all ages were hitting the dance floor, and even the seniors were moving in ways I'd bet money on they hadn't moved all year. People were throwing their heads back, laughing and gleeful. It was a beautiful sight to behold.

Both nights we stayed up too late, ate too much, and we were hoarse from talking over the music. Loved every minute of it. We sat in the lobby by the fireplace, strolled through the gift shoppes, hiked around the hills.

On Sunday, our golden-rust colors outdoors changed to more of a pristine white. It began to snow, with big, fat flakes that fell without apology. The combination of the autumn colors, mixed with a pure white blanket on the ground created a stunning effect. We almost reverently walked down the quiet, richly carpeted hallways of the Inn to where a Sunday Jazz service was offered. Being from a rather conservative religious background, a Sunday Jazz service raised an inquisitive eyebrow with me. I wasn't expecting a spiritual experience, but I was wrong. That is exactly what I got.

If you've never heard world-class jazz musicians play and sing the hymn 'Come Thou Fount', or 'How Great Thou Art', your life is not complete. I shed tears, I did. I realized that this magical week was coming to a close, and I didn't like the thought of that. After seeing the performers giving their all for hours on end, interacting with the other jazz enthusiasts for days, and making so many new friends, it was a melancholy thing.

I noticed that the woman sitting in the chair beside had been singing, and that she had a pretty voice. After the service's benediction, I commented on her beautiful singing, asking her if she'd done that in a group or professionally. She laughed and said no, that it was her husband, Harland Belisle, that was the musician. She told me he'd passed away some years back. Then she blew my mind by telling me she remembered sitting with her husband in the Jamboree organizer's living room in the late eighties, helping to create this venue. I just blinked. Really?

I couldn't help but ask her what it felt like, over two decades later, to see so many people coming from all over the world to attend an event she helped to organize. She remembered helping people to park, taking tickets, and so many other things. This woman now lived out of town, but had the opportunity this year to attend with friends. And there she was, sitting right next to me. I felt as though I'd just met royalty.

The Jamboree was over, we were settled back into our comfortable suite.

"Amy," Janet's mom said, "I grabbed this paper before I left Boise. They have an article in here about Hemingway, and since you've been curious about him, I thought you might like to read it." She slid me Saturday's paper. Front page and back were devoted to none other than Ernest Hemingway. I devoured the information, then jerked my head back with a start.

"He wrote 200-plus pages of 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' at the Sun Valley Lodge!" I exclaimed. "In room 206!"

I read that many fans had made pilgrimages to that room...and it was literally steps away from mine. Since Janet's mom had to leave town early, we said goodbye and then did the Hemingway tour. Janet took a picture of me with my hand on the knob of door 206. We drove off in search of the little museum I remembered from seven years ago that contained Hemingway memorabilia. I had no clue where it was located. Almost by accident, I noticed a 'Ski Museum' sign on the side of a cluster of white cottages. Memory awakened and I knew this was it.

Janet hopped out to see if they were open.

"It's closed," she told me, shaking her head. She'd tried the door and no luck.

Something made me exit the car and tromp through the snow towards the front door of the main cabin, anyway. I tried the handle and found it to be unlocked. I entered, with Janet following behind. There were three women in there, reorganizing the building. That day was their first day of slack time. I told them I'd remembered a Hemingway display from years ago, and asked if it was still around. They said yes, but that they were now closed for slack time, and wouldn't reopen until December. Upon seeing my disappointment, one woman told me that she'd unlock the Hemingway building just for us, and that we could take all the time we wanted. I'm sure I beamed like a little kid.

Once in the building, the woman turned the lights on. She told us she'd just finished attending a Hemingway Symposium last weekend, with all the Hemingway-Heads and groupies. I had no idea people got this nutty about one person, but then again look at what I'd done that morning. I asked what her opinion was. She gave me the summation.

"Some people loved him, some couldn't stand the guy. A lot of people thought he was the greatest thing ever, many people thought he was a jerk. It just depends on who you are, and how you want to look at him."

Just then I turned, and was startled to see HIM looking at ME. A life-sized photo of Ernest's face was aligned with mine, and was staring straight at me, and with such a poignant look! What does it mean, I asked myself, what do you want of me, Mr. Hemingway? Do you know I'm a writer? Do you know that I like to interview everyone and anyone? Do you know how ingrained that writer's blood is for me? Why did you call me here?

The woman left us to look, read, and ponder.

The guy had four wives, a depression problem, and he ended up shooting himself. How am I supposed to get a role model out of that?

But, on the flipside, he was an artist, a lover of the word.
This I could relate to.

I stared at his photo, the one of him as an older man with white hair and a sad look in his eyes, not the other robust movie-star like photos of him that surrounded it. He loved to write in the mornings, mornings were for writing. He loved the Fall, same here. He treated children, the elderly, the underprivileged like they mattered, something I've always tried to do. Huh.

When we returned to the main cabin to thank the museum women, Janet told them, "She's a writer!"

They said, "We really need writers to promote us after slack time. This year we're going to expand our Hemingway section, and we need people to create blogs and articles about that, would you be willing to do that for us? Come back and see us, take some pictures, and whatnot?"

I said that I would, making a mental note and promise to myself not to become a Hem-Head groupie. We'll see how that goes.

Thank you, Jazz Jamboree organizers, thank you Sun Valley, and thank you Hemingway.

For a Fest-full of photos, click here.

We had a very memorable visit. I'll be back to write about your guy, your mountains, and your music.

 *For more adventures in Idaho, (with recipes between the stories!) get the "Appetite for Idaho" book here.

And visit the Appetite for Idaho Facebook page, with new stuff to do posted every weekday!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Patriot Night at the Stampede 2012

Their faces are taut, concentrated, and often a little pale.

No, not the little old ladies on the pew at church, clutching their purses for dear life. I’m talking about the bronc and bull riders at the Snake River Stampede.

Our announcer-on-horseback, Boyd Polhamus, occasionally interviews the riders right after their eight seconds or less. The great part about that is that although breathless, you can hear the adrenaline rush in the cowboys’ voices.

Watch a bronc jump straight up in the air like Tigger the Tiger-but with a lot more attitude-and you’ll think breathless. On patriot night clear from the other side of the arena we could see the gates rattling with an antsy, agitated bronc that was just busting to be set loose. Steven Dent was declared at one point as ‘the new sherrif in town’, with a ride scoring an 82. From the stands, the ride looked unbelievably intense, with the cowboy’s legs looking like wet noodles flopping around.

As bullfighting clown Justin Rumford did a run past the seats by the dirt, he high-fived everyone. A grandfather picks up his young grandson, holding him just high enough over the fence to get a high-five, too, putting his little one before himself, as grandparents are prone to do.

Looking around at the audience that evening, I kept hearing the phrase, “I see tough people,” in my head. It was military night, and tough doesn’t even begin to cover what they or their families do. Like the cowboy mentality, our military gets the job done, no matter what, and they don’t let anybody or anything stand in their way. They’re our human barrier and buffers, maintaining our freedoms, and we’d do well to never forget that. The writer in me knew that I was sitting amongst a sea of heroic stories of how individuals and families ‘cowboy up’, for our benefit. I wished I known them all. Our announcer reminded us at the beginning of the program (which always includes the presentation of the flag, and the singing of the National Anthem, and a prayer) that our freedom to pray openly and wherever we choose is initiated by the Constitution, and preserved by our military.

Because of the kind of country we lived in, we got to enjoy a rodeo where the only harm we were worried about at the present was what might come to a cowboy or cowgirl during an event. With bull’s names like Insaniac, Dirty Deeds, Pure Poison, Squeeze Play and Forensic Files, we had reason for concern. When one cowboy limped off after a bull ride, it was pretty clear that a limb or two was going to need some ice.

How can you give a kid a name like ‘Rusty’ and not expect him to rodeo? I got a kick out of going down the program each night, searching out great cowboy names. I found D.J., Guy, J.W., Sunshine, Guytin, Dalton, Wace, Mac, Chase, Cody, R.C., Zack, Cooper, Gabe, Kollin, Jhett, Tate, K.C., Jacobs, Cade, Tyrel, Cort, Merritt, Sterling, Tyrell, Spud, Clayton, Riley, Dallee, and one of my all-time favorite cowboy names, ‘Buster Barton’.

We continued to get mini-bios on the riders, whenever there was a second or two to squeeze it in.

‘Heath Ford writes gospel music songs,’ we were told.

A clever steer went running out of the chute and stopped short, letting the steer wrestler on his horse run right on past. Tricky little devil.

Justin Rumford was and Boyd Polhamus were at it again.

“How many people here are teenagers?” Justin called out cheerfully. A big cheer came from the stands.

“Pull yer pants up, for Heaven’s sake!” said Boyd Polhamus, as the older set laughed in agreement.

Polhamus’ chaps were a sight to behold. I remembered last year I’d blurted out, “Those are colorful pants,” to past rodeo queen Courtney Crowe, who laughed, “Those are chaps.” I’m learning. This year, the announcers ‘chaps’ were fringed with shimmering silver. Fancy Chaps…vs. Fancy Pants.

When a saddle bronc dropped to the ground in an effort to throw its rider, even though a very intentional, calculated movement on the bronc’s part, it still meant a re-ride opportunity for the cowboy. This was reminiscent of a two year old taking issue with something.

“He threw a fit!” Polhamus said, summing it up perfectly.

Halfway through the rodeo, I left my seat near the front and joined a friend and her family that were seated in the upper level.

“Where are you?” I texted to her on my phone, “At the Boise Office Equipment sign, under the horse’s backside,” she answered. Where else but at a rodeo might we be able to have such an exchange?

Since my friend was originally from out of the country, she had a few questions about the rodeo. Flashback to 2010, when I knew next to nothing. Back then, I was doing all of the asking, and my new-found rodeo friends were doing a lot of the educating. (Luckily they were patient with me). There I sat, explaining that to be born a rodeo animal was a good deal, they only really ‘worked’ for minutes per week, and were very well-treated. I told her about how it’s their nature to buck and kick, what they liked to do, and related that to any free-spirited child. (We all know one… and I am one!)

I hadn’t realized just how much I’d learned over the past couple of years from others, a bit of reading, and from a lot of observation. What an opportunity for a mind-opening experience, and I’m so glad I took the Stampede up on the blogging position they offered in the Press Tribune once upon a time. I have a lot of rodeo heroes, a favorite bucking horse (Bottle Rocket, because he’s simply an incredible animal), an event I love to watch the most (steer wrestling), and event that makes my heart stop and turns me into my worrisome German mother (bull riding), and good rodeo friends to continue to glean information from. The rodeo friends were the link between my city world and their country world, being willing to stand between both and provide a buffer where it was safe to learn and explore.

We were surrounded by people who provided a buffer on Patriot night at the Stampede, keeping us safe, protected, and allowing us to become whoever we want to be without boundaries or restrictions. We should all thank God for our Military.

I hope they and their families had a wonderful night out at the rodeo.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Stampede for the Cure: Real Cowboys and Cowgirls Never Give Up

What’s a good way to start out the Stampede for the Cure night?

With pink cotton candy. Pink cotton candy equals happiness. Seeing those kids outside the Idaho Center selling their hearts out made me say, “Oh, why not!” and purchase a bag. I gave them the raised eyebrow when they asked, ‘What color, pink or blue?’ On this night, they should know which would be the most popular, and I hoped for their sakes they’d stocked up on one particular color more than the other.

There was a lot of pink to be seen, everywhere I looked. The security guards, the volunteers, the Stampeders wore pink shirts after their performance (with some majorly bling-bling belts). The Cervi stock guys wore pink from head to toe. I thought I was seeing things, but nope. Those were pink jeans those boys were wearing.

Some kind of weird, pink-focused dream?

Nuh-huh. This was real life, and as good as it gets. We were all wearing pink to fight breast cancer, something far too many of us have been affected by. We could all tell stories of loss connected with those two words, ‘breast cancer’. The disease is detestable.

What can we do? We can raise awareness, money, and we can wear pink.

“I only wear this shirt once a year,” said one of the male Stampede volunteers.

Good enough.

The evening started off with a triumphant ride, totally busting the mutton with a score of 94.

When the main program got started, it was apparent that this was going to be a different kind of night. Ladies all decked out in every shade of pink possible were here with their daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, and best girlfriends, and they were letting their hair down. There were people dancing in their seats, waving their arms to the music, living life out loud. It made for a rowdier audience. We girls know how to have fun!

The other difference was that whenever someone fell off or was in harm’s way of a kicking, bucking animal, the sounds of sympathy or concern were more audible than they’d been on opening night. We women tend to be caretakers and nurturers to the core, even at a rodeo.

Announcer Boyd Polhamus, was literally ‘back in the saddle again’. It’s hard enough to announce for 2 ½ hours, harder still to do that with a mike in hand, program schedule, working the reins and on horseback. He did a great job of building the excitement and suspense by giving us a run down of all of the world champions that were present, ready to compete, while dramatic music played in the background. He knows how to put an exclamation point on an event. He introduced Dan Tiller, Snake River Stampede’s president, and then Nampa Mayor Tom Dale and another man who’s name I didn’t catch (feel free to comment), who sang an impressive rendition of our National Anthem, all as a girl held our flag on horseback. Knowing that virtually everyone had their hands on their hearts at that moment (or should have), gave me a feeling of connection to everyone in the arena. One nation under God. Speaking of God, it’s a big thing at the rodeo. I don’t think there are too many bull riders that don’t believe in a God of some sort. I could be wrong on that one, but I saw plenty of them take a knee in the dirt after a ride last night.

Featured on this night was the pink bull that they called ‘Victoria’s Secret’. According to Boyd Polhamus, it had only been ridden twice for the duration of eight seconds in the last ten years. Polhamus gives us background on just about everything, if he has time to. Scheduling-wise, they run a pretty tight ship. Conversely, he’s great about filling up the time with interesting talk, too, a definite skill when there’s a delay with an animal, cowboy or something going on in the chute. Polhamus told us about Tilden Hooper, bareback bronc rider.

“Someone you hope your daughter never brings home, because he’s someone you’re gonna like.” Not too many moms dream of their daughter marrying off to a traveling rodeo cowboy.

He commented on the animals, too.

“Love those undomesticated farm animals! They won’t come when you call ‘em, and they won’t sit around beggin’ for doggie treats.”

During steer wrestling, more than a few cowboys struggled to get those horns down, but wrestled them till they could, even if their time was toast by then. Tenacity and showmanship can be thanked for this. The people came to see a steer wrestled, and they were going to see it.

A person could learn a lot from a rodeo, there’s object lessons a-plenty if you’re really looking. Cowboys and cowgirls don’t give up, a good thing to remember in a sea of pink for the fight agains breast cancer. You never, ever give up.

“Cowboy up!” said one parent to a child in the stands last night in a good-natured way.

We have, we are, and we will.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Opening Night 2012: Watch and See

“What do you like to do?” said Boyd Polhamus, while saddled on a horse in the arena.

“Cowboy stuff,” the mutton-busting boy told him.

The muttons were jumping, great lambs-a-leapin’, all around that famous Idaho Stampede dirt, making it pretty technical to hold on, but some did.

Stampede Board member Roger Todd was making sure honored guests were comfortable in the sponsor boxes, seats only a metal gate away from where the action is. Two ladies in the box loudly clapped and whooped, decked out in straw cowgirl hats with hot pink bandanas tied around them. The two were having the time of their lives, and the main events hadn’t even started yet. They were the epitome of ‘If you’re going to the rodeo, go all the way.”

I’d be willing to bet that those two could have given other rodeo-goers a few pointers. Pointers like, wear your most comfortable jeans. Purchase a large soda or cold water from the concessions stand; you’re going to be here a while. If you’ve got some comfortable, kicked around boots, it’s okay to wear ‘em. (Disclaimer: If you normally wear flip-flops, don’t try to pull off the boot thing. It might not work.)

When the girls carrying the flags flew around the arena on their gorgeous horses, dirt clods got flipped clear up into the twelfth row, which added to the experience.

The announcer, broadcasting to us via horseback for the first time in nearly a decade, created an even more involved vibe. When the saddle bronc riders burst out of the chute, he said over the cheering, “This one’s jerking this guy to pieces…He’ll have to buy shirts with one sleeve longer than the other one.”

I looked around and realized that a lot of people were, quite literally, on the edges of their seats. When Matt Reeves got done steer wrestling, the announcer guessed that he’d just broken an arena record, but it was not to be. He timed out at a 3.5, not the supposed 3.0. Still, exciting stuff.

Mounted cowboy shooting was added this year. Talk about coordination and timing. Caps shot from a gun pop balloons as the riders sped by. Precision maneuvering.

Intermission and the calf scramble. Initiator for the scramble years ago is Rodney Moore, who was given a respectful ride on the famous Stampede wagon around the arena. The kids in the scramble worked hard to get themselves a calf this year; several walked away holding their noses and/or slightly limping. The calves have a little weight to them, and they can run. When they're caught the don't take a tie-down lightly, either. During the scramble, the announcer said, “It’s not like non-competitive soccer, where at the end everyone gets a trophy.”

I was reminded again of cowboy and rodeo culture: You get what you earn.

All too soon, the Stampede’s opening night was over and slack was beginning. The seats emptied, all but a few, where families of riders sat patiently waiting…also a part of the culture. I remembered the lady that told me she read a whole book and three magazines one weekend while waiting for her roper to get done riding.

Those following the Stampede this week will play the waiting game, too. We’re going to have to wait clear up until Saturday to see who gets to bring home the prize. With the first day under our belts, we’ll just have to watch and see.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pet The Bull

"Pet him," my friend told me.

No way, I thought, remembering the sort of scenes I'd witnessed last year and the year before when it came to a full-grown rodeo bull.

"Chicken," she chided.

Absolutely accurate, and I didn't care.

"Here's my reasoning," I told her, turning my back on the massive beasts inside their pen while I was standing outside of the pen, "I saw these guys crush ribs last year. Doesn't it make sense that if I stuck my hand inside and patted his head, that he could bash it up against this rail here? I'm thinking he could easily break my wrist and smash my fingers."

"Yeah, he could," she agreed with a grin that was hard to read. Somewhere in there the word 'greenhorn city girl' was swimming around, I thought.

"Look at these bars," I explained, trying to further prove that my fear was more from simple common sense than from being naive, "They're flimsy. Even I can move them around. That doesn't seem secure to me."

My friend's mom, sitting nearby with the driver's side car door open, laughed and said, "Oh, Amy, you're precious."

I wasn't so sure I wanted to be precious, either, although I was their free entertainment of the evening. That was okay, the trade was an invitation to dinner. My friend and I walked around to the other pen, where the even bigger and more beastly bulls were.

"Aren't they pretty," she told me. That was not the word I would have chosen.

"Look at them when they're sleeping," my friend went on,"Their eyes are so cute, they look like they're smiling..."

I had to admit, yes, the eyes were sort of cute, in an 'I don't trust 'em, monster-ish' sort of way. They didn't look so cute while they were bucking, I can tell you that.

When we returned to the car, my friend's mother had a story to tell. It seemed that a couple of the bulls had gotten into a skirmish while we were away.

"Look," she said, pointing, "They bowed out that part of the pen."

Just about where I'd been standing earlier, a part of the metal was bent into the shape of an 'S'. I was sort of glad I'd chosen to step away before the scuffle occurred. I wouldn't be petting any bulls any time soon.

You can see my 'cute' friends at the Snake River Stampede this week, with some brave riders atop them, hoping to bring home the bacon.

 *For more adventures in Idaho, (with recipes between the stories!) get the "Appetite for Idaho" book here.

And visit the Appetite for Idaho Facebook page, with new stuff to do posted every weekday!

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Taste of Victory: Lions State Chili Cook Off 2012

For Dan Lea, judging the Lions State Chili Cook Off is just part of the job. He’s the Arts and Entertainment Editor for the Idaho Press Tribune.

“They were looking for celebrity judges, I don’t know if I qualify to that degree, but my publisher asked me if I’d be available and willing to do that. I’ve actually judged some county fair chili cook offs in Michigan, where I’m originally from. I enjoy food in general and experiencing new things. In that sense, I think I was a pretty good pick.”

Dan himself makes a mean chili. Personally, he likes to use celery salt or sea salt, three different beans (garbanzo, black, and red kidney), and consistency-wise, his preference runs on the soup (vs. the stew) side. His base flavor falls under the tomato and tomato juice category. Green chilies are what Dan uses to provide the snap, and his meat of choice? Ground turkey.

“My compromise for good health,” he adds.

Heaven only knows what ingredients he’ll see tomorrow. The kick could be provided by green chilies from New Mexico or even ghost chilies, like in the concoction last year that I had to sign an actual waiver for before I could try. Style will differ. Tomato based? Green with chicken? More of a beefy dish? Protein-wise, Dan suspects he could be seeing shredded beef, chicken, turkey, buffalo or elk.

Secret ingredients are anyone’s guess. Dan’s heard of people using ketchup before.

“---Which makes sense, because it’s sugar-based. It obviously sweetens. People are also going to have a variety of onions, beans…I’ll be taking notes. I’m actually going to go a couple of hours early to see those ingredients and how they’re used.”

There are a lot of off-handed jokes to be made about a chili cook off contest, but Dan gives a gentle warning:

“These people are pretty serious about their craft. They’re pretty intense and take great pride. There are secret recipes and ingredients that might be unique to them. Conversely, sometimes they love to share, there’s a lot of pride in what makes their chili special.”

Judge Dan Lea gives the rest of us, acting as unofficial judges, these chili cook off tasting tips:

-Make sure to give yourself a chance to sample everything, don’t think you might have found the perfect chili on the first try.

-Keep moving along, make sure you savor the vast variety that will be available.

-If you’re seriously trying to cleanse your palate, use saltine crackers. Water alone won’t do it.

“It’s very much like what you’d do if you were wine tasting,” shares the experienced judge.

Tomorrow afternoon will contain the moment of truth as contestants from all over the state cook up a storm, all with the firm knowledge that (for that one day, anyway) the bucks are in the beans.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Fabulous Fourteenth!

I think we should name Saturday the Fabulous Fourteenth. Here's a revised list of events going on in our area. Talk about rocking it, Idaho! I've probably missed like, six or seven more. If you know 'em, add 'em!

Community Festival (pretty much all day long) Idaho Center, Nampa
Snake River Stampede Parade 11am, Nampa
Lakeside Lavender Festival, Nampa
Main Street Cruise-Northwest Motorfest/ Meridian
Rocky Mountain Oyster Feed/ Eagle
Summer Arts Festival/ Meridian
Rope and Run Competition/ Nampa
Truck Show n’ Shine/ Idaho Center, Nampa
Tater Cup Racing/ Sand Hollow
2nd Annual Brewer’s Festival/ Nampa
Boise Food Truck Rally
Jazz on the Canyon Rim/ Twin Falls
Rally in the Valley/ Murtaugh Lake
Exergy Downtown Boise Criterium
Fit For Life 5k, 10k and Half Marathon/ Boise
3rd Annual Chicken Play Day/ Jackie’s Livestock & Pet Emporium, Middleton
Lions Club Annual State Chili Cook Off/ Idaho Center, Nampa 9-4

Friday, June 15, 2012

Red Feather: Worth A Return

Here's the deal.

I love food, I really do. Maybe it seems gluttonous to write that I think about food nearly non-stop.

When it comes to dining, however, there are layers involved.

In order to fully enjoy any dining I'm doing, the necessary elements need to be in place. Not just sights, sounds, or the aroma. For me, it goes much deeper than that.

#1. I need to feel at ease with my fellow diners.
Foodies Deb McGrath, Sarah Nash and I were accidental friends. I wanted a foodie handle on Twitter that was relatively clever and descriptive. I chose @EatingIdaho, then later discovered that was Deb's Twittername. I tweeted to her to apologize for the accidental imitation, and told her I was changing mine out. On a whim, I tweeted that since we were both food lovers, we should perhaps have lunch and write our own reviews.  @IdahoFoodie Sarah Nash spotted this correspondence and amiably asked if she could join us. The Culinary Club was born. What I thought would be a one-time lunch thing has now turned into regular food reviews and friendship, going strong now for about a year. Not only am I at my total ease with these interesting and at times comedic two, I look forward to our gatherings for weeks, and ponder on the food and conversation for weeks afterward.

#2. Any history involved will kick it up several notches.
Sarah is our group's historian and trivia maven, and is the owner of Nash Historical Research. From our first meeting, she told us of Red Feather's oatmeal souffle (which we're planning to try during an upcoming brunch), and of their unique cellar. Having frequented Eighth Street often in the past, returning to the village-y area is always a treat for me. Knowing that the building we were dining in was around 100 years old got the senses on high history the alert. I adore the smell of old wood and the detailed craftsmanship of yesteryear.

#3. I have to put my brain into 'relax' mode.
I'm slightly OCD. I'm German. I have three kids and a type A husband. My 'chill' button is often nowhere to be found, so for me this is a very conscious effort, this relaxation thing. I have to force my shoulders to come back down off my ears (ask my chiropractor, he'll tell you). Deep breaths and some inner self-talk help. Once I'm there, I'm good, but backsliding is always a danger. The full effect happens by the time I'm seated at the table with the other two Foodies. One more deep breath, and I'm ready for a couple of hours of food and fantastic-ness.

Kitty-corner and down the street from Fork, the Club's first meeting place (I think we all like Eighth Street, but who doesn't?) sits the Bittercreek Alehouse and Red Feather. Those who'd entered the busy Red Feather behind me all had the same anticipatory looks, as if they knew they were in for a special treat and knew they deserved it and were going to get it, too.

After being seated, I realized that another factor this time was going to be that Sarah loved the Red Feather. My own enjoyment is doubled when a friend is in their element. When she told us unabashedly that this was 'her place', a happy grin crept onto my visage and stayed there for the rest of the evening. There's a light that comes on in people when they love their location.

Being in the two-story loft overlooking the happy diners below (both inside and out on the patio), combined with soft, dimmed lights provided a contented energy. Looking upward at exposed antique wooden beams got me musing about the yesteryears. I tried to describe what I felt to the Foodies.

"An old building has a different energy. Like when someone's been shouting or music's been playing and then all suddenly's that echo or faint ring that you can still hear. You can almost feel the memories."

Which of course led to an entire discussion about ghosts, spirits, and history. There couldn't  have been a better setting.

History was the theme of the night, as I shared with my Foodie friends that I'd just learned my grandfather had owned a Bavarian Deli in New York in the 1950s, and that he'd been a cheese-maker. I've always loved cheese, but knowing it was in my blood increased my curiosity of the curd. While Deb ordered the Halloumi appetizer tray (I pretended to know what that was, for fear of appearing naive), I ordered a sampler cheese tray also. If we were going to talk about my German grandfather in this historic, old-vibe-y building, it would have been wrong not to.

A smokey, strong white cheddar lit up taste buds like the fourth of July, and in a good way. I couldn't get enough, watching the tray like a hawk yet lacking the boldness to say, "Does anyone else want the rest?" I politely waited a few seconds, then selfishly put my fork into the remaining slice to rest it safely upon my plate. "Mine."

The last three times the CClub has dined together, I've surprised myself by getting the fish. Tonight, good as that looked, I would force myself to get something different. That wasn't hard. Even though I've- strangely enough- ordered fish consistently, my first true love is beef. I even have an 'I Love Beef' t-shirt that I've worn around the house, courtesy of the Idaho Beef Council. My least favorite meat is chicken, due to the fact that my husband could eat a chicken breast each and every day of his life. We've owned entire freezer-fulls of them. I used to be okay with it, but I think I've reached my lifetime quota early. I'll seldom order the chicken, but my heart leaps at the sight of good beef on the menu. Homestead Natural beef, in fact.

My order was practically smiling up at me from its plate, like an old friend. Iron, protein, packed with flavor, and the ideal texture. Soulmates. I shared a portion of my medium rare steak with the other two, who generously shared portions of their dishes. This is tradition. We get to try three or more dishes each time, a definite plus. While Deb's Idaho sturgeon and Sarah's herb-roasted pork were delicious. I personally felt I'd gotten the best pick, but that could've just been my beef-love talking.

Downtown Boise restaurants have recently converted me over to two things, one of them (shockingly) being wilted kale. Smoky, buttery, and with a deep, rich flavor (do they marinate it?) I'm hooked. Another unexpected was the golden triangle that patiently waited for me to finish everything else on my plate before addressing it. Polenta, where have you been all my life? I'd tried  you before, but not when you were perfectly crunchy, seasoned and full of inner joy. If I'd been relaxed at 80%, polenta sent me to the 100%. It made me envision being in my most comfortable flannel jammies on the couch with a roaring fire before me. Polenta was like coming home. I believe I might need an 'I Love Polenta' tee to go with my beef one.

The Red Feather was filled with customers, but with the way walls and booths were situated, we had no trouble hearing or conversing. The walking flow in both entering and exiting the building were not technical, even on a busy Friday night. How the Red Feather pulled this off, I have no idea, but I believe there was some detailed thought involved with their layout.

Overall I was impressed, and would return. I'm anxious to try the long-discussed oatmeal souffle and to see how the building's deep vibes affect me during daylight hours.

The Red Feather is worth a return.

 *For more adventures in Idaho, (with recipes between the stories!) get the "Appetite for Idaho" book here.

And visit the Appetite for Idaho Facebook page, with new stuff to do posted every weekday!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Epi's: Epic.

I was in downtown Boise, spending a little quality time with my daughter. We stopped for a rather filling slice of pizza, then planned to take a walk along the river on the Greenbelt.

We eased the car out of the parking slot and drove through the busy city streets. As we did, we passed the restaurant Fork on our left.

"That's where the Foodies and I went the first time we met, the food was so..." and then I'm sure I did something that looked like a violent spasm.

"Arrrggghh!" I emitted. Memory loss is now a very real possibility, probably PTSD from having to work for a living, my childhood, you name it.

"I can't believe I FORGOT," I moaned, and then: "Do you want to go to Meridian for...dinner?"

We had just had our dinner, but we were about to have another one. The three members of the Culinary Club had been planning to review Epi's Basque Restaurant for at least six weeks. I couldn't not show.

By 5:15 pm, my daughter and I approached Epi's, the house-turned-restaurant on Meridian's main road, right across from the post office. We had reservations, but I had a few of my own...I was just a tiny person, and one trying to watch her waistline at that. How was I ever going to pull off two meals? Usually when I dined with the CC, I ate lightly all day in preparation. I prayed there'd be room for at least some decent sampling, but I had my doubts. I was not hungry in the least.

Epi's front porch had been cleverly made into a private dining area, with a curtain closing off its long, banquet-style table. I liked that, and made a note in my mind or more of a goal, really, to get a large group together and eat out there one of these days.

For a person with zero appetite, I had to admit that the wafting aromas were pleasant, if not even a little tempting.

Immediately we were met by our server, who had a friendly yet non-intrusive way about him. That I appreciated. Owner Chris, on the other hand, didn't bother with being subtle. She beamed her bright personality down upon our little table, to everyone's delight, making us feel as if we were at a very special event and she was our hostess. She chatted with us about her family, about Basque food, and was keenly interested in what we were planning on ordering.

I had double trouble. Not only was I not hungry, but it shocked me once more to realize that for the third time in a row, I was leaning towards the fish. My other alternative was lamb. I hadn't had lamb for quite some time.

Upon hearing that I was wavering between the two, Chris told us that fish was the more authentic food in the Old Country. This lamb thing, she said, had only sprung up since they'd come to America, having been sheepherders. This was something I never had supposed.

"Fish is way more authentic Basque," she told us. That settled it for me. I was going for the fish once more. Halibut, to be exact.

Once more, the conversation between Foodies was more than fun. My daughter, who was greeted warmly, ("The more the merrier," Sarah had said), commented later, "You're all so different!"

That's an accurate assessment. A Mompreneur, an educator, and a recent graduate. The chances of us gravitating towards each other in real life were average; I think we'd have found each other's intellect intriguing. However, we have Twitter to thank for our friendship. Had I not 'stolen' Deb's EatingIdaho username, we might never have met. I apologized to her once more for that, having quickly changed my username to 'Appetite4Idaho', once I realized my error. She just laughed, the same as she'd done the other two times before when I'd asked forgiveness. Sarah, meanwhile, kept us mentally stimulated with her vast knowledge of history and trivia. "She's like a walking encyclopedia," my daughter observed. To keep a sixteen year old interested for as long as Sarah did suggests a knack for conversation, which Sarah clearly has.

Bearing in mind that not only did I have no appetite, but that the thought of more food nearly sent my head say that the fish looked good, smelled great, and tasted superb is really saying something.

My encrusted Halibut with the creamy white sauce was to die for...and at that point, I was deciding that death by overeating was actually worth the risk. It was that good. In a mild state of shock, I was becoming aware of the fact that I could hardly keep from repeating the fork-to-mouth process. If I stopped momentarily, I would crave the flavor, the texture of both fish and the light crust...and need more.

I wondered what it would have been like, had I arrived with a hearty need for food. I wondered if, had I not eaten previously, there would have been any semblance of self-control. Of this I am unsure.

My figurative hat goes off to Epi's, who even got someone who had no compulsion to eat that eat compulsively.


Sarah's review can be found at:

Deb's will be posted as soon as I get it.

 *For more adventures in Idaho, (with recipes between the stories!) get the "Appetite for Idaho" book here.

And visit the Appetite for Idaho Facebook page, with new stuff to do posted every weekday!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Brick 29 Bistro: Intense.

I'd been to the Brick 29 Bistro a few times before, but only for lunch.

They had it in the bag for this wannabe food critic; this wasn't exactly going to be a tough sell. Not only do I love Brick 29's culinary style, location and moody decor, but I've also tried their B29 Streatery's fare once and have been dreaming of it ever since. I've never seen anyone put together what they called a simple 'grilled cheese' sandwich with marinated pulled pork, specialty bread and jalapeno aoli. And I might have been mistaken, but that was no ordinary cheese they were was exquisite.

For someone like me who loves a powerful punch of flavor, I don't think you can go wrong closing your eyes and pointing at just about anything on the menu. You'll get your flavor and then some.

I chose the Hagerman Trout this time. (That's twice while dining with the Foodies that I've surprised myself and selected seafood. One might think I'm a big fish person, although I've never considered myself as such). In a word....YUM.

Diced butternut-apple hash and mashed red potatoes were tucked underneath a seriously grande piece of gorgeous-colored trout. There was no hesitation of the fork; I dove right in. What I got was sweet, salty...and...could this be....spicy? That last part kicked me over the happiness edge; I was in my own private heaven, being a pepper-a-holic. I suspected it was cayenne but would have to check in with the chef to be sure.

The cool thing about dining with Foodie friends is that they're open to sharing whatever they order. I shared my calamari (on which I swear the crunchy, slightly salty crust also had some cinnamon or nutmeg in it, which I found curious and satisfying both at the same time), while Deb shared her Niman Ranch skirt steak and Sarah dished up a rather large pumpkin ravioli square on a side plate for me. None of it disappointed.

Since I tend to be a somewhat dramatic, colorful person, I like my food the same way. Nothing was too over-the-top for this gal, but in discussing it with the other Foodies, we talked about there being merit in the subtle, too. How does a chef know when to punch it up, or when to put on the brakes and allow a sub-layer flavor to do the talking? That's not for me to know, but certainly something for me to think about. Because of my nature, Brick 29's food appealed to me in a big way. To me, it was reminiscent of my trip to Donelly and the Buffalo Gal restaurant. I think to say they're in the same quality and style bracket wouldn't be too much of a stretch...both being excellent eateries.

I'm sorry to say that I was a little disappointed with the creme brulee. I'd had it once before for lunch and unless my memory isn't serving me well, at that time it was infused with some grated orange peel with several deep red raspberries riding on the burnt sugar's crusty surface. The heavy cream, back in that day, could easily be discerned, not to mention a quality vanilla bean extract or even shavings of the actual bean itself. Not so this time. It was good; just not what I'd been craving ever since I got my fork on the first one.

It's been repeatedly said that people from the far East of Boise (Columbia Village and beyond)are happy to drive to downtown Nampa for this carnival of culinary delight. Intensity would be the word for the flavor, atmosphere, and vibe at this flavorfest.

If you like it intense, you'll like the Brick 29 Bistro, but make sure your wallet is feeling just as healthy. Including the tip, I spent around $43 for the calamari appetizer, a cup of (divine) lobster bisque, a couple of sodas and my entree.

 *For more adventures in Idaho, (with recipes between the stories!) get the "Appetite for Idaho" book here.

And visit the Appetite for Idaho Facebook page, with new stuff to do posted every weekday!