A Few of my Favorite (Foodie) Things

While out with friends recently, I made a few suggestions on things they HAD to experience at a particular restaurant. It reminded me of a few texts exchanges I’ve had where friends ask, ‘Where should I go for a great dessert?’ or, ‘What was that one dish you said I should try here?’. So, in the spirit of the year-end round-up I’ll share a few of my favorite foodie things.

As you’ll quickly discover, I love gluten…and dairy…and meat. So this is by no means a list for those starting off on a health kick in 2014 :)



Croissant @ Janjou Patisserie (aka best damn croissant you’ll ever have)

Oatmeal Souffle @ Red Feather (will make you rethink your relationship with oatmeal)

Vanilla Latte @ Flying M (a personal obsession from a latte addict)

Main Auction Cafe @ Main St. Auction, Steak Ranchero @ Los Betos (aka best hangover or diner fix breakfast)

photo_33-scaled1000CHEESY GOODNESS

(Any) Grilled Cheese Sandwich @ Bleubird (aka nirvana for cheese freaks)

Sage Grilled Cheese @ The Dish (Sage + prosciutto + cheese? Um, yes please!)

Mac n’ Cheese or Gnocchi @ The Modern Bar (it’s totally mood-dependent)


Carne Asada @ Campos Market

Gyro @ Bosnia Market

Empanadas @ Tango’s

Any fresh fish @ Reel Foods Fish Market (yes, I know it may not be technically ‘meat’, but Proteiny Protein sounded weird. Love the vibe, offerings and insights of my local fish monger!)


Patio Paella @ The Basque Market (every Wednesday/Friday @ Noon & Thursday nights)

Ramen @ Yoi Tomo (not on the menu, but there for the ordering)

Poutine @ Bittercreek (thanks Canada for this gluttonous insanity)

Croquetas @ Bar Gernika (must experience with Tiger Sauce)

Lasagna @ Cucina di Paolo (they will make it right into your own dish if you like, so you can totally claim credit for the deliciousness :))

Garganelli or Pappardelle @ Alavita (meat + homemade pasta = my happy place)


The Layover @ The Modern Bar  (not on the menu, but there for the ordering. Only around in the winter!)

Kalimoxos @ Bar Gernika (coke + red wine. I know it’s blasphemous to oenophiles, but it’s so delicious!)

Wine @ Bodovino (perfect for the indecisive and adventurous)


Butter Cake @ Fork (I’m not a cake fan, but I will fight you for that last bite of Butter Cake)

Beignets @ Red Feather (I never find them on the menu, but have had luck ordering at weekend brunches & dinner)

Vanilla Budino @ Alavita (custard & caramel lusciousness)

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake @ Fresh Off the Hook (don’t be turned off by the chopped dates description. It is gooey amazing)

photo_1-scaled1000FOODIE EXPERIENCES:

Fuel for the Soul: A true foodie experience in the home kitchen of Chef Tizi & her husband Joel. Classes in Italian and Thai are offered for small groups. Here’s a post about one of my experiences.)

The Basque Market: From paella to tapas classes, pairings and tastings galore – The Basque Market offers a wide variety of experiences for the foodie interested in all things delicious from the Iberian Peninsula. If you haven’t yet, sign up for one of the monthly Sheepherder’s Breakfasts!)

The House of Wine: Curated and taught by wine educator Kat House, the classes offer deep – but approachable – dives into all things wine. And all things that go with wine (like cheese!) A fun evening experience in an urban chic winery setting just outside of Downtown Boise.

So, which one of your favorites did I miss?



Favorite Mangia Moments: Idaho Foodie in Argentina

Two weeks back from a 6-week trip of a lifetime in Argentina, and my stomach is still in recovery. From eating two large meals a day, from spending a minimum of two hours at lunch and three at dinner, from courses that were meals in themselves, from meat and cheese and pasta…oh my!

I have a slew of foodie photos and memories in my tummy and soul – here is a somewhat random collection of favorite plates and mangia  moments and mangia.

First course: First things first, the lovely tradition of pre-eating as I fondly referred to it – the antipasto platters that rivaled what my NYC Italian relatives served. Cured and raw and smoked meats of every shape and size – from both carne & cerdo (favorites included chorizo, chorizo colorado, morcilla and cheese of course




Empanadas: And the half-moon morsels of awesomeness (aka empanadas) So common in every part of Argentina where we visited, but so memorable. Until I return to Argentina, I’ll have to get my fill at Tango’s Empanadas in Boise


Pasta: What many people who haven’t been to Argentina may find surprising is the large Italian influence on the culture – particularly the food. It was my favorite surprise of the trip as I indulged (ahem, binged) on every piece of pasta put before me. The majority of it fresh. And there is nothing like fresh pasta. I had the wonderful opportunity to visit one of the Fabrica de Pastas that are prevalent in every town. A simple, but spectacular, plate of homemade spaghetti at the lovely Gringo Viejo was my favorite pasta moment. Other favorites were raviolis, their bigger cousins sorrentinos, cannelonis and of course – gnocchis. Heck, there is even a Gnocchi day EVERY MONTH in Argentina -  Dia de Ñoquis . << cue sigh of happiness>>





Carrots: Have to admit, we didn’t consume a lot of vegetables while in Argentina. Though by far the most popular vegetables we were served were Argula salad and carrots – shredded carrots to be specific ( Ensalada de Zanahoria) with hard-boiled eggs, with vinegar, with beets, or just plain. I’m now a fan.



Milanesa: Definitely my new obsession. Argentina kick’s America’s butt in the breaded steak category. These baked breadedcuts of meat (veal & otherwise) are the Italianized version of our chicken fried steak. But oh so much more delicious. Most homes we stayed in served it up at lunch at least once, then leftovers in sandwiches were equally mouthwatering. Slathered in cheese, with jamon and tomatoes. Delish





Dulce: The sweets, oh my the sweets. While ‘dulce de leche’ is the official mascot of Argentina – my heart belongs to their helado. Best. Damn. Ice Cream. In. The. World. Creamy and full of flavor, and offering of course 15 different types of dulce-flavored goodness. Every town had helado shops on nearly every block. AND you could get kilos delivered to your house by moto. Heaven. Of course, pastries filled with membrillo (quince paste) and alfajores were amazing as well. Dulce addictions galore.




Two more for the ‘must mangia’ list….

Quick weekend trip to McCall resulted in two more additions to my ‘must mangia’ list….

‘Sugar Bacon’ at the Shore Lodge bar -as the menu says “need we say more?

And this delicious monstrosity from The Sushi Bar – Honey Toast. A loaf of bread from the awesome local Evening Rise Bakery soaked in butter and honey and filled with vanilla ice cream


Probably two of the most simple menu listings but deceivingly delish! DoubleNom

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Boise Fry Co foodgasm

On the left – yam fries with cinnamon ginger salt and warm marshmallow sauce.

On the right – The Bourgeoise – hand cut Russets flash fried in duck fat and dressed with black truffle oil. (Best. Fries. Ever.)

And on the far right – as a side of course – the delicious (but pretty much unneccessary) bison burger :-)


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“I Must Increase My Crust” – Pie Fries!

Another reason – among many others – to head to Seattle…

I’ve never met Seattle piemaker Dani Cone of High 5 Pie, but I already know he is a genius for coming up with this concept for pie scraps.

“The concept is simple behind these pie fries: simply put your pie scraps on a baking sheet, slice them into fry-sized pieces, brush with butter, cinnamon and sugar, and bake until crispy. Want extra cute points? Put ‘em in pillow boxes (available at most craft supply stores) or paper cones and serve with jam for dipping.”

Um, heck yeah! Nom Nom Nom!

I also am now in love with Seattle-based writer Jessie Oleson, self-professed cake anthropologist and the brains behind award-winning dessert website Cakespy and the harbinger of the Pie Fries. First off – love that title. And secondly, of all the things to be ‘award-winning’ at having the honor come for your dessert website just plain rocks.


My Enduring Queso Obsession

I recently journeyed back to the Hill Country of Texas for work, and satisfied my 12+year craving for that cheesy-deliciousness known as queso with a foodie pilgrimage to one of my all-time favorite 24-hour pit stops – Austin’s Magnolia Cafe.


And then I proceeded to shun all table manners by inhaling my first Mag Mud queso since I had the awesome ‘Jennifer Friend’s haircut’ in the late 90′s.


While the successful foodie pilgrimage satisfied me for about – oh, 3 hours – the new online search began for a way to satisfy my ongoing queso urge back here in Boise. Despite my searching & craving, I haven’t been able to find any good queso in Idaho. And heck, it’s football season! Football + Fall = Queso.

And Velveeta will not cut it.

Found some hope and inspiration courtesy HomesickTexan Lisa with her post A More Natural Chile con Queso Of course – roux is the answer to anything! (and also is the base to my family’s mac n’ cheese). So that’s on the list for Sunday game day.

And I have hope for the work & hunger leading up to this year’s Thanksgiving meal, thanks to Melissa Clark’s Good Appetite post ‘Dips to Sustain the Holiday Cook till Thanksgiving Dinner.’ It even has a bit of an Idaho angle – with inclusion of delicious chorizo as a key ingredient to this soon-to-be holiday staple Queso Fundido with chorizo, jalapeno & cilantro.


Best mac n cheese in the West

I am going to share a little secret.

Like some anglers who share the location of their favorite fishing holes or dippers who share their secret hot springs spots – when I make an awesome foodie find I like to share the love.

Best mac n cheese in the Western US in my esteemed opinion :-) is at Como’s Corner Bistro on SE 1st and SE Court in downtown Pendleton, Oregon.


Como’s Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese: Cavatappi pasta baked with mozzarella , feta, gorgonzola, and parmesan cheeses, spinach, onions and artichokes. Must be the combo of cheeses or the spiral pasta or the added herbs but this stuff is one of the few meals I dream about days ahead of time.

Now, I eat a LOT of mac n cheese – it’s my thing, so to speak. If restaurants put it on the menu – let alone call it gourmet – I feel it’s my duty to give it a try.

We first stumbled on Como’s 7 years ago en route from Boise to Portland or Seattle or Spokane. In other words – Pendleton is on the way to quite a few places. I also had an Italian great uncle named Como back in Queens so it had the family thing going.

It’s now become a stop for us on every roadtrip we take West of Boise. Besides the fantastical cheesy goodness that is their M&C, the tiny bistro also has some seriously good Italian dishes made from scratch – EVERYTHING is delicious. I only know because Kevin tries out the other entrees like spinach ravioli in cream sauce with spicy Italian sausage, while I enhale M&C.

Make it a stop on your next journey West on I84!

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manchego + membrillo = delicious

I have been serving manchego and membrillo ever since I moved to Boise and could get a steady supply of the stuff (thanks, Boise Co-Op and the Basque Market!)

What? You’ve never heard of membrillo? You poor kid. You’re missing out.

The full name is dulce de membrillo, but all you have to know is that membrillo is quince fruit, water and sugar (and lemon and/or cinnamon, depending on what you buy) that has been slow cooked into a sugary, quivery mass of orangish-pinkish-reddish deliciousness. It is traditionally (and rightly) paired with manchego cheese from Spain. You can even make a little manchego-and-membrillo sandwich. Or four. It’s great for parties — put out a hunk of sweet membrillo, a chunk of nutty manchego, salty olives and good bread and you practically have a meal.

By the way — membrillo often isn’t super cheap, but a little goes a long way. And it lasts for a very long time when stored in the refrigerator.

- Julie