Follow:
Topics:
Browsing Category:

Food & Drink

    At Home  --  Food & Drink

    Breweries of Kitsap (Plus One)

    Disclaimer – we did our best to include every brewery we could find in the region we have defined below and using the criteria defined below. We do apologize if we missed any.

    My husband and I are big fans of really good locally brewed beer from small breweries. Not only do we enjoy good, fresh, local beer, but we also enjoy supporting small local businesses. If you read our blog regularly you are likely familiar with how we support local business here on My Fab Fifties Life. So at the beginning of summer 2021 we decided to visit every local brewery in our region. It became a bigger undertaking than we originally imagined! But hey! Somebody has to do it! And so we give you Breweries of Kitsap (Plus One).

    FIRST A LITTLE HISTORY

    In 1985 my husband and I visited the Thomas Kemper Brewery. I was 25 years old…barely legal drinking age! Research says the brewery was on Bainbridge Island but my memory has it more in the Poulsbo area…in a farm like setting. Whichever it was, it is likely that was the first small hand crafted brewery I had ever visited. That was 36 years ago. Thomas Kemper operated in Kitsap until 1992 when it was bought by Hart (later called Pyramid). A few years later we would also visit the Pyramid Brewery in Kalama, Washington…long before Pyramid became the powerhouse of Northwest micro brews.

    Thomas Kemper wasn’t the first brewery on the Kitsap Peninsula however. In 1933 just after the repeal of prohibition the Kitsap Brewing Company was opened. Later called the Silver Spring Brewing Company of Port Orchard, the brewery operated on East Bayside Road in Port Orchard until 1950 when they moved to Tacoma.

    Hundreds of microbreweries would grow out of these humble pioneer beginnings through out the Pacific Northwest. Including breweries like Silver City in Silverdale/Bremerton, and Hood Canal Brewery in Kingston, both early local trailblazers still operating successfully since 1996.

    Using the following criteria, we turned up twenty-four – yep – TWENTY-FOUR breweries. Then we set out to visit them all.

    CRITERIA

    1. Must brew their own beer, although we can taste the beer either at the brewery or at their tasting room or a restaurant location.
    2. Must brew or have a taproom within the geographical region we call Kitsap Plus One which we defined as the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to the Hood Canal Bridge (the Kitsap Peninsula), as well as Fox Island, Bainbridge Island and including Belfair (the plus one).

    So that’s our criteria…pretty simple really. Based on this we set out to visit all twenty-four breweries. Below we share what we learned. We aren’t ranking our favorites here, but we will make observations that might help you when considering your own Breweries of Kitsap (Plus One) brewery tour. Let’s work our way from the South end of the Kitsap Peninsula northward.

    Gig Harbor/Purdy/Fox Island

    GIG HARBOR BREWING

    Gig Harbor Brewing Co

    Founded in 2015, Gig Harbor Brewing started in Tacoma and continues to brew there with a taproom. In 2017 they opened their Gig Harbor taproom in the heart of waterfront Gig Harbor. Excellent selection of seasonal and tried and true beers.

    Gig Harbor Brewing Gig Harbor taproom 3155 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor WA 98335

    7 SEAS BREWING

    7 Seas

    Gig Harbor’s first brewery opened in the early 2000’s, and despite bouncing around to multiple locations, 7 Seas has consistently brewed an excellent product as it has expanded. 7 Seas was the first Washington brewery to can its beer…now everybody’s doing it! 7 Seas now brews in Tacoma in the old Heidelberg brewery, where they also have a taproom, and have recently moved their Gig Harbor taproom to a beautiful waterfront location.

    7 Seas Gig Harbor taproom 2905 Harborview Drive Gig Harbor WA 98335

    WET COAST BREWING

    Wet Coast

    Wet Coast brews and has its taproom in Gig Harbor, currently the only brewer doing so. Opened in 2015, Wet Coast expanded its brewing operation and taproom recently. You can find Wet Coast right off of Highway 16 at the Wollochet City Center exit.

    Wet Coast Gig Harbor taproom 6820 Kimball Drive Suite C, Gig Harbor WA 98335

    CROSSED ARROW BREWING

    Crossed Arrow

    Crossed Arrow has been brewing for awhile, but their taproom is not yet open…really it should be any day! Their new taproom will be located in the building of the former Key Bank in Purdy right off of Hwy 16. Watch their website for opening info. In the meantime their beer is available at several locations including The Hub at the Tacoma Narrows Airport.

    Crossed Arrow taproom opening soon at 14004 Purdy Drive, Gig Harbor WA 98335

    FOX ISLAND BREWING

    Fox Island Brewing

    Fox Island Brewing almost didn’t make this blog post because it did not show up in any of our research. We learned about FIB while attending the annual Gig Harbor Beer Festival just last weekend. Currently brewing on Fox Island but without a taproom, Fox Island Brewing beers are available at regional restaurants. They told me they hope to move their brewing operation into Gig Harbor or the Crescent Valley area soon.

    Olalla/Burley

    YOKED FARMHOUSE BREWERY

    Yoked Farmhouse and Brewery

    Opened in 2019 this small brewery packs a big punch with excellent beer in a beautiful farm setting. The folks at Yoked offer fun events weekly, including hot dogs and barbecues, beer and bouquets, fun events for kids and more. The location is a working farm with goats and flowers and vegetables. Oh and the beer is great too.

    Yoked Farmhouse tasting room 525 SW Pine Road, Port Orchard WA 98366

    EAST 2 WEST BREWING

    East2West

    This tiny craft brewery is hard to find and only is open on weekends. But make the drive to their production facility and owner Steve will give you a taste of what they are currently brewing. They are still waiting for their permits to open a taproom, so you can visit and learn about brewing while enjoying a tiny taste. Meanwhile Steve continues jumping through the hoops to get a taproom, and to get his delicious beer distributed in the region. (PS they were voted best beer at last weekend’s Gig Harbor Beer Festival)

    East2West Production Facility 12913 Shady Glen Ave SE Olalla WA 98359

    Belfair/Gorst

    BENT BINE BREW CO

    Bent Bine

    Opened in 2017 just south of Belfair on Hwy 3, Bent Bine (‘bine’ is another word for a climbing vine like hops), is a popular location for gathering and drinking some really good beer in Belfair. Tasting room has both indoor and outdoor seating, families welcome.

    Bent Bine tasting room 23297 WA 3, Belfair WA 98528

    DEEP DRAFT BREWING

    Deep Draft

    For my money, Deep Draft Brewing has one of the best stories as far as how this brewery came to be in 2015. The story is of determination, love and loss, and if you click on the link you can read it for yourself. Really amazing. Meanwhile, Deep Draft also has exceptional beer served both in their taproom and at the restored old WigWam Tavern, an excellent place to drink beer, eat BBQ and look at the eclectic collection of Naval memorabilia.

    Deep Draft taproom 3536 W. Belfair Valley Road, Bremerton WA 98312

    Port Orchard

    SLAUGHTER COUNTY BREWERY

    Slaughter County Brewery

    Slaughter County Brewery, located on Sinclair Inlet in old Port Orchard has one of the funkiest yet most comfortable tasting rooms that we experienced…and a whole lotta good beer too. The name Slaughter County comes from the original name of Kitsap County…a throwback to the old days. Slaughter County is proud to be the first brewery in South Kitsap in 70 years. Excellent selection of microbrews to try.

    Slaughter County taproom 1307 Bay Street, Port Orchard WA 98366

    Bremerton

    DOG DAYS BREWING

    Dog Days

    Well, I really don’t have any favorites, but I will say the Dog Days tasting room, which is doggy friendly, is really a fun place. You’ll find a friendly bunch here, dog lovers, comedy too and trivia nights. The beer is excellent. The first time we visited they were serving food and the menu looked amazing but we had other dinner plans. So next time we went intending to eat, but there was no food. So, not sure what is up with the food sitch…but the beer is very good.

    Dog Days tasting room 260 4th Street Bremerton WA 98310

    CRANE’S CASTLE BREWING

    Crane’s Castle

    After years of home-brewing in three different home locations, brewer Dan and family made the leap to making the beer brewing dream a reality in 2017. Today Crane’s Castle has a beautiful tasting room in East Bremerton they call the Beer Hall…definitely big enough for parties and more. The beer is also very good with a wide selections of changing taps to tempt you. Outdoor seating too and food truck sometimes.

    Crane’s Castle Beer Hall 1550 NE Riddell Road Bremerton WA 98311

    SILVER CITY BREWERY

    Truly one of the pioneer microbreweries in Washington State, Silver City has been brewing exceptional beer in Kitsap County since 1996. Its flagship location restaurant (formerly the brewing location as well) is one of Silverdale’s most popular dining spots. Today the production facility is located in Bremerton where they also have a taproom. So two Kitsap choices for you to enjoy one of the mother’s of Washington brewing, Kitsap’s own Silver City.

    Silver City Flagship and Restaurant 2799 NW Myhre Road Silverdale WA

    Silver City Production Facility and taproom 206 Katy Penman Ave Bremerton WA 98312

    CHAOS BAY BREWING

    Formerly known as Der Blokken and located in Bremerton’s Manette neighborhood, Chaos Bay is undergoing a transformation. Because their new tasting room is under construction, we were not able to visit. Keep your eye on their website (link above) for their new opening announcement.

    Chaos Bay Brewing tasting room opening soon at 2901 Perry Avenue Suite 13 Bremerton WA

    LOVECRAFT BREWERY

    We have to say we were a little confused by our visit to Lovecraft. They were only offering their brewed hard teas as well as a few craft beers by other brewers. It’s unclear if they will be offering their own brewed beers again in the future. So that said…we didn’t taste their beers.

    Lovecraft Brewery taproom 275 5th Street Bremerton WA

    Silverdale

    BREAKING WAVES BREWING

    A great location in Old Town Silverdale, Breaking Waves is located in the former location of Cash Brewing. Today the operation is as much a restaurant as a brewery, pumping out exceptionally good burgers, salads and pasta, and on Tuesdays delicious tacos. But the beer is just as good…a wide range of brewed-on-site beers as well as a selection of guest brews and ciders. We will definitely be back for both the beer and the tacos.

    Breaking Waves Brewing restaurant and taproom 3388 Northwest Byron Street Silverdale WA

    Poulsbo

    SLIPPERY PIG

    Slippery Pig

    Poulsbo is the leader in Kitsap communities for the number of microbreweries, and Slippery Pig was one of the first. They begin brewing in 2010 and opened their current old Poulsbo location in 2014. Slippery Pig promotes local ingredients and family operation (Brewer Dave a 5th generation Poulsbo native) and the result is a consistent and delicious product, with a wide variety of flavors and styles.

    Slippery Pig tasting room 18801 Front Street NE, Poulsbo, WA

    WESTERN RED

    Western Red

    Opened in 2018, Western Red has an ambitious mission statement “To brew and serve the best craft beers ever made in the Pacific Northwest”. I love entrepreneurs who think big! My visit to Western Red was eye opening. The beer was fabulous and their tasting room just a block from Poulsbo’s main street is perfect, with a fun assortment of old logging implements.

    Western Red tasting room 19168 Jensen Way NE Poulsbo WA

    RAINY DAZE BREWING

    Rainy Daze

    Rainy Daze likes to think of themselves as a cult following, and it’s easy to see why. Their beer has a magical mixology quality, delicious no matter which style you grab. Maybe it’s because their brewery and tasting room are in a more humble facility…so they focus more on the beer and less on the hype. I don’t know…but I do know they make a darn good beer.

    Rainy Daze Brewing tasting room 650 NW Bovela Ln Ste #2 & 3 Poulsbo WA

    VALHOLL BREWING

    Valholl

    Also started in 2010, Valholl touts it’s Poulsbo/Little Norway roots with a strong Viking presence in their logo and tasting room. Valholl’s award winning brews are available in the tasting room and to go as well as on tap at many local locations. Valholl is family friendly, with both indoor and outdoor seating just a block from Poulsbo’s main street. Skal!

    Valholl Brewing tasting room 18970 3rd Ave NE, Poulsbo WA

    ECHOES BREWING COMPANY

    We did not visit Echoes because at the moment they are to go only in cans and kegs. They are planning to open a tasting room and we hope to visit them soon.

    Echoes To Go Location 19479 Viking Ave NW Poulsbo, WA 

    Kingston

    DOWNPOUR BREWERY

    Downpour Brewing

    Coincidentally, the day we visited Downpour it was…you guessed it…pouring down. Their small but cozy tasting room included little propane heaters at the table…a great idea in the notoriously wet PNW. We enjoyed their beer a great deal, located on the main drag in Kingston not far from the ferry terminal.

    Downpour Brewing tasting room 10991 NE State Hwy 104 Kingston WA

    HOOD CANAL BREWING

    Hood Canal Brewery

    Kitsap County’s first microbrewery, Hood Canal Brewing has been operating since 1996 when brewer Don Wyatt (formerly of Thomas Kemper) opened the brewery. The tasting room was opened in 2003 and today still operates in a warehouse-style facility with an added rough addition to accommodate the growing clientele (and need for outdoor seating during Covid.). A true pioneer in the craftbrew craze.

    Hood Canal Brewing taproom 26499 Bond Rd NE, Kingston, WA

    Bainbridge Island

    BAINBRIDGE BREWING

    Bainbridge Brewing

    In 2012 father and son duo Chuck and Russel Everett and partner Rob Frease opened Bainbridge Brewing. From the beginning Bainbridge was about perfecting the classics while embracing new styles and flavors. They must be doing something right because they now have two locations on the island; their Alehouse in downtown Winslow and the brewery and taproom located in Coppertop Park. Brewmaster Russel is a born and raised Bainbridge Island native, proud to be brewing and serving his community.

    Bainbridge Brewing production facility and taproom 9415 Coppertop Loop Bainbridge Island WA

    Bainbridge Brewing Alehouse 500 Winslow Way East Bainbridge Island WA

    Breweries of Kitsap (Plus One)

    As we conclude we might mention that there are some great places to drink beer throughout this region that don’t brew their own beer. Zog’s on Fox Island and HopPharm in Gig Harbor both come to mind. But our criteria was to explore places brewing their own label so that is what we did.

    Slaughter County Brewing

    It took us a couple months to get through all of these….and I think we would return to pretty much all of them if we were in the neighborhood. We look forward to seeing more from some of those who are just getting started, and salute the commitment and efforts that are involved in creating a fine crafted beer. We are lucky to live in a place with such a wide selection of quality, hand-crafted brews by some of the finest brew masters in the nation. Breweries of Kitsap (Plus One). Time to have a pint. Salute.

    Help spread the word about these local businesses by sharing this blog post all over the world!

    Let us know in the comments if you know of a brewery in our criteria area that we missed.

    Europe Travel  --  Food & Drink

    Icelandic Cuisine Surprising & Delicious

    Location: Iceland

    We spent two weeks in Iceland recently, our first international trip in 14 months. After no travel for more than a year, we were so excited to get back out on the international travel scene and Iceland was a perfect place to start. I’ve already written two blogs about our visit, Iceland by the Ring Road and Reykjavik on Foot. But today I want to tell you about the Icelandic Cuisine Surprising & Delicious.

    Nuts and olives and greens in a delicious salad

    OUR DISCOVERIES

    Since we were on a pretty strict budget in a pretty expensive country, we actually didn’t eat out too many times. In our campervan we cooked seven of the nine nights. While in Reykjavik we had two excellent meals out and did a really fun and interesting food tour with Your Friends in Reykjavik.

    Arctic Char on dense black bread

    These meals all provided us some surprising and delicious discoveries of the Icelandic cuisine both old and new.

    HOW TO LEARN ABOUT ICELANDIC CUISINE

    If you follow our blog regularly you know that I love how cuisine and culture go hand in hand in countries we visit. When I can, I take a cooking class where we travel, and we also often do food tours. In both classes and tours, you can learn from locals about what makes certain foods important to their culture, how certain foods became part of the local cuisine, and how ‘nouveau’ cuisine incorporates both the old and the new. I love learning all of this stuff. Fascinating.

    Pickled Herring with Yogurt Hard Boiled Eggs on Black Bread

    HISTORY

    Like in all countries, certain foods grew from humble beginnings. In Iceland, fish of course played an important role, but due to the difficult growing seasons and soil, few vegetables were included. Sheep have always been a big part of the diet, and Icelanders learned to use every part of the animal. Later, potatoes and hardy colder weather plants like fennel became important.

    Although some of the age-old items may sound unappetizing to us today, try to think about the Icelandic people of long ago and their struggle to make it through the winter. It is this struggle that developed some of the foods that are still considered comfort foods today.

    Cured Reindeer with Blue Cheese at Rok

    Traditional Foods of Old

    Dried Cod – When barley was scarce but cod was abundant, Icelanders saved the barley for beer and used dried cod spread with butter like bread.

    Dried Cod and butter
    Svidastata

    Svidastata – what you might know as head cheese, a concoction of all the left over parts of the sheep (or other livestock) set in aspic. Today still served with crackers or bread.

    Fiskibollur – fish balls made from cod. There are so many cod dishes and this old dish was one the fishwife could make with all the left over bits.

    Fiskibollur Fish Balls
    Pickled Herring

    Pickled Herring – as in many Scandinavian and Eastern European countries, pickled herring is and was a staple in Iceland. Today you can buy it in numerous flavors at the grocery store and it is often served for breakfast, but at other times of the day as well.

    Reindeer – not native to Iceland, they were brought from Norway and attempted to develop commercially long ago. But that endeavor failed. Yet reindeer can be found in use occasionally on menus. We had it twice.

    Fermented Shark
    Smoked Reindeer

    Fermented Shark – my least favorite thing from the Icelandic cuisine. It is definitely an old-school survival dish, fermented to last long and through the winter – it tastes like ammonia.

    Plokkfiskur Cod and Potato Mash – I enjoyed this dish very much. It’s basically mashed potatoes with butter and mixed with cooked cod. Definitely a comfort food in Iceland.

    Plokkfiskur Potato and Cod Mash

    Kartufulsalat (Potato Salad) – since potatoes are easy to store through the winter they became a staple in Iceland. Potatoes are not native but are easy to grow and represent another comfort food. The Iceland Potato Salad is very unique, using apples! Here is our Tasty Tuesday all about Icelandic Potato Salad.

    Salt – surrounded by water Iceland has always had an abundant source of salt, and it was used for preservation. Today you can find dozens of flavored salts.

    Salt
    Lemon Cured Salmon with pickles and goat cheese

    Smoked or Cured Salmon – another way to preserve fish of course is by smoking and smoked salmon continues to be a popular dish in Iceland today.

    Fennel and Anise – like potatoes, fennel and anise grow well in a cool climate. Anise is the reason Icelanders love licorice treats, and you will find licorice used in many things. We also had fennel flavored butter which was delicious.

    Fennel butter
    Licorice

    TODAY’S CUISINE

    New Foods – The Nouveau Cuisine

    Don’t assume that Icelandic food is bland or boring. In fact, Iceland like many places, is undergoing a food revolution. Innovative chefs are introducing nouveau Icelandic cuisine and it is surprising & delicious. Taking parts of the old, and adding new flavors and ingredients.

    On both our food tour and at the handful of restaurants we ate at (most in Reykjavik) we were delighted to find delicious dishes made from local and fresh produce, meat and seafood. When in Reykjavik don’t miss these favorites:

    Rok

    One of the best meals we had during our two weeks in Iceland was at Rok. This beautiful restaurant is housed in a small historic building right near the Hallgrimskirkja church. Make a reservation if you can, it is very popular. We enjoyed a variety of small shared plates, with our favorites being the lobster bisque, the arctic char and the smoked salmon bruschetta. Absolutely delicious all. A fabulous mix of traditional and new ingredients prepared in innovative and delicious ways.

    Lobster Bisque
    Arctic Char on Couscous

    Skall

    On our very first night we got super lucky to stumble (literally we were so jet lagged) into Skall. Skall is located in the Hlemmur Food Market, a foodie heaven inside a former bus depot! We read about Hlemmur in our Rick Steves guide so we headed there, not knowing what we would find. We pulled up a chair at the bar and the rest is culinary history. We enjoyed spectacular baked cod with fennel mash, deep fried cauliflower, lumpfish roe and the best tomatoes I ever had.

    Baked Cod on Fennel Mash with Greens
    Fabulous selection at Skal

    Islenski Barinn

    As part of our food tour with Your Friends in Reykjavik we had two courses at the Islenski Barinn, a popular restaurant with locals in a historic building in the center of town. Here we enjoyed smoked reindeer with cheese and Iceland’s favorite comfort food of Lamb Stew. Thinner than what we usually call stew in the USA, but very flavorful broth with lamb and vegetables.

    Lamb Stew

    Kopar

    Also on our food tour we enjoyed Icelandic Fish Stew at Kopar, a popular seafood restaurant portside. The fish stew is made from cod but traditionally all the left over fish bits, fabulous broth and includes potatoes and celery. At Kopar we also had the most amazing fennel butter with warm bread. Divine.

    Seafood Stew

    On the Ring Road tour don’t miss;

    Sker in Snaefellsbaer

    In the far north on the Ring Road we stopped for lunch one day at Sker in the small town of Snaefellsbaer. We both ordered the Fish and Chips and it was one of the best I have ever had. Cod was incredible. Cod is everywhere here, but also so versatile.

    Cod and Chips

    North West Hotel and Restaurant in Hvammstangi

    After a really long driving day we stopped at this road side hole in the wall that was recommended in our Rick Steves book and were astounded at the quality of the Lamb Chops. Perfectly prepared and served with red cabbage coleslaw and potato salad. We went away very happy.

    Lamb Chops

    Kaffi Lara El Grillo Bar

    We took a wee bit of a side tour from the Ring Road in the East Fjords to the tiny village of Seydisfjordur. It was fun to see how the locals live in a small village. We stepped into this restaurant with a bizarre name and enjoyed a fabulous lunch of foil baked cod and possibly the best baked potato I have ever eaten. We complimented the waitress on the baked potato she told us there was a special ingredient…love.

    Foil baked cod and baked potato

    On the Snaefellnes Peninsula be sure and visit;

    Fjoruhusid

    We did a short 4 mile roundtrip hike from Hellnar to Arnarstapi – along the fascinatingly beautiful oceanside basalt cliffs. If you start in Arnarstapi you can take a break at the tiny historic seaside cottage turned small cafe called Fjoruhusid at the halfway point in Hellnar. Enjoy a pastry with coffee of tea, or order the authentic and delicious Iceland Fish Soup (which is what we did). With fantastic bread too. We splurged on the “cheesecake” made from skyr, a popular yogurt/sour cream-like favorite of the Iceland people.

    Traditional Fish Stew

    FOOD FOR THOUGHT

    There were many more restaurants we would have liked to try during our time in Iceland. Well I guess we will need to go back! We equally enjoyed the traditional and the nouveau. As gifts we brought home lots of licorice, salt, and pickled herring. All delicious and well received. I am trying my hand in my kitchen with many new things including Fish Balls, Lamb Stew and Lobster Bisque. Keep an eye on our Tasty Tuesday YouTube channel for those upcoming Icelandic specialties.

    Skyr Cheesecake

    Icelandic Cuisine Surprising & Delicious. Just one of many reasons to book a trip to beautiful Iceland. Such a breath of fresh air.

    See last week’s post Reykjavik on Foot and our previous post Iceland by the Ring Road.

    We love it when you pin and share our blog posts. Thank you so much.

    Food & Drink  --  North America Travel

    Tasty Tucson – Our Favorite Dining Spots

    As we travel during the PanDamit we eat out only sparingly…keeping our distance and always dining outdoors. We also often prefer to cook in our Airbnb, to stay on budget and feel relaxed. All that said, dining out is a big part of travel, and during our visit to Tucson we discovered some delicious local options. So here is our recommendations… Tasty Tucson – Our Favorite Dining Spots.

    El Charro

    El Charro
    El Charro

    If you come to Tucson this is a must. The ninety-nine year old restaurant is a Tucson institution and the place to experience authentic southwest cuisine from tamales to tacos to chili relleno. We enjoyed the back patio and our food was delicious, despite the fact our waiter didn’t seem to know how to properly wear his mask. El Charro

    Cup Cafe

    Cup Cafe
    Cup Cafe

    We heard so much about this place we had to check it out, if not for the food for the history of the place. The Cup Cafe is a popular restaurant and bar (serving breakfast all day) at the historic Congress Hotel right in downtown Tucson…close to everything. Make reservations if you can, we did and had a no wait table on the patio where we enjoyed great food, excellent service and live music. Order the ribs with green chili macaroni and cheese. Yum. Cup Cafe

    Barrio Brew Pub

    Barrio Brewing
    Barrio Brewing

    The beer was great, and we also enjoyed a lovely salad and tortilla soup, opting for a light lunch in this restaurant/brewery located in an old warehouse. Though we didn’t eat the burgers or sandwiches, everything we saw coming out of the kitchen looked incredible. Barrio Brewing Co

    Wildflower

    On our last night in Tucson we drove to the far end of town from where we were staying because we had heard so much about this place. And it is totally worth it. We made a reservation so we could sit outside and the outdoor area was lovely and guests were spread apart. Wildflower does not have a huge menu, but I actually prefer that. The menu is seasonal and well thought out.

    Wildflower

    We started with a beautiful hamachi appetizer. Followed by a delicious Kale Salad. For our entries I had an outstanding roasted chicken and mashed potatoes and Arne loved his slow braised short ribs with arugula. A bonus was we happened to be there on half price bottle of wine night (Tuesday) so of course we drank wine.

    Best meal we had in Tucson and the service was exceptional. Don’t miss it. Wildflower.

    Sonoran Hot Dogs

    Well, even though I am not a hot dog eater usually, we couldn’t come to Tucson and not experience this local favorite. So we set out to test several different Sonoran Hot Dogs and here is what we found.

    Quench Your Thirst

    Moto Sonora
    Borderlands Brewing

    In addition to the Barrio Brewing Co above we enjoyed the beer at Borderlands Brewing right in downtown Tucson and another beer on the sunny outdoor patio at MotoSonora. We wanted to visit the Owls Club, a funky old bar in a former mortuary in downtown Tucson. It’s a favorite of locals and visitors a like but it wasn’t open when we arrived…next time.

    Tasty Tucson

    Tasty Tucson – our favorite dining spots. Come to Tucson hungry. Come to Tucson thirsty. Come to Tucson. We are so glad we did.

    See last week’s post Nine Things to do in Tucson Arizona.

    We love it when you pin and share our blog posts.

    Food & Drink  --  North America Travel

    Favorite Dining Discoveries Around Palm Springs

    Location: Palm Springs California

    We spent seven weeks in the greater Palm Springs area, enjoying the weather, hiking, golf and much more. We didn’t eat out a lot, both due to Covid and to stay on budget. But when we did eat out we tried to visit some of the best of the valley, as well as some lesser known places. There are literally thousands of restaurants to chose from. Everything from Mexican or burgers to seafood and steak. Every cuisine of the world is available somewhere in the area. And we made some favorite dining discoveries around Palm Springs.

    Sherman’s Deli

    We tried to explore and through our exploration we offer a list of some favorites we found. Next time you are in the greater Palm Springs California area, you might consider some of these restaurants. And by the way, wherever you are, please support local restaurants and shops to help keep them alive and well during the pandamit…oops I mean pandemic.

    Eat Here

    Sherman’s Deli – an institution in the valley, Sherman’s is a true New York style deli and bakery. We ate here twice, once for lunch and once for dinner. In true NY fashion they served Matzo Ball soup, Corned Beef on Rye, Chopped Liver, Hot Pastrami and much much more. https://shermansdeli.com/menus/

    Sherman’s Deli

    Tyler’s Burgers – Many people recommended Tyler’s to us as the best burger in the valley, so yep had to try it. We both had the bacon cheeseburger and it was real good…but even better was the amazing potato salad, just like my mom used to make. http://tylersburgers.com

    Potato Salad at Tyler’s

    Grind Burger – my husband Arne thinks this was the best burger in the valley. A tiny little eat in or take-away joint in Palm Desert. https://www.gastrogrindburgers.com

    Armando’s Mexican – on El Paseo in Palm Desert you’ll find dozens of restaurants, but we happened upon Armando’s (no website) for just an appetizer and drink one afternoon. Outdoor seating was excellent, service was great and so was the food.

    Paul Bar – located in a sad little strip mall, Paul Bar was a huge surprise. Despite currently only being take-out, we loved our food we got there, especially the Bacon Balsamic Brussels Sprouts. https://www.thepaulbarps.com

    Take out from Paul Bar

    Pieros – one of the best meals I had anywhere in the valley. Pieros is known for it’s pizza but I had the Short Ribs and Arne ordered Lasagna. We also enjoyed the Tuscan Wedge Salad. This is definitely one of my favorite dining discoveries around Palm Springs. https://www.pizzavinotogo.com

    Lasagna at Pieros

    Chef Georges Picasso – hidden in a little shopping center in the tiny community of Bermuda Dunes near La Quinta, this place has a giant menu of many European specialties and a particular focus on Hungarian food. Great service, huge portions. http://chefgeorgespicasso.com

    Hungarian Goulash

    Lavender Bistro- definitely the loveliest meal we had both for ambiance and food. This was a bit of a splurge for us but worth it for sure. A gorgeous lighted patio, well protected from the wind and top-notch service in every way. My filet mignon and Caesar salad were perfect. https://www.lavenderbistro.com

    Filet Mignon at Lavender

    John Henry’s – we learned about this restaurant from a local couple we golfed with. They said we had to try it, even though few visitors ever go there. I’m really glad we did. The outdoor patio was beautiful and everyone in our group enjoyed their food from steak to sea Bass. I had Osso Buco and it was delicious. Reservations a must. https://www.johnhenryscafe.com

    Lemon Cake at John Henry’s

    The Daily Grill – located on El Paseo in Palm Desert this is a great place to sit on the outdoor patio and watch the ridiculously expensive cars drive by: Bentley…Maserati..Jaguar.. Ferrari. Excellent and inexpensive for breakfast lunch or dinner. https://www.dailygrill.com

    The Daily Grill

    Farm – we only went to breakfast once during our visit and I am so glad we chose to eat at Farm. Tucked into the cutest little space right in old Palm Spring, the outdoor patio is bursting with flowers.

    Eggs Benedict at Farm

    Also For Your Consideration

    Outside of the valley we also really enjoyed Cafe Aroma in Idyllwild, Pie at Julian Pie Company as well as La Cucina Mexican in Anza ( no website). All worth a visit if you are in the area.

    Cafe Aroma

    Finally, a shout out to two local microbreweries. If you like to visit brewpubs when traveling don’t miss La Quinta Brewing and Desert Beer Company.

    La Quinta Brewing

    Covid in California

    As of this writing, only outdoor dining is open in California. But the nice weather in the valley makes outdoor dining easy. Most restaurants have expanded their outdoor seating and diners are enjoying the new spaces. Masks are still required. Remember the temperatures drop in the desert so bring an extra layer for evening dining. Also, because of reduced capacity, make a reservation no matter where you want to eat.

    Street Tacos at La Cucina Mexican, Anza

    Read last week’s blog about the Flora of the Desert here.

    See this week’s top performing pin here Book Review Ordinary Grace.

    We love it when you pin and share our blog.

    Food & Drink  --  Inspire

    My Favorite Coffee Around the World

    Coffee Drinkers of the World!

    Location: Around the World

    This is one of our favorite blog posts from 2020. Enjoy it again or for the very first time.

    Lucky am I that I have tasted coffee all over the world, in fact, in 110 countries. Wow that is a lot of countries and a lot of coffee. I’ve been able to narrow down my favorite coffee around the world. I do love coffee and although there has been many countries where the coffee was downright lousy or non-existent, luckily there have been many countries where it was delicious and abundant.

    Enjoying Cyprus coffee

    Cyprus

    We are currently hunkered down on the island of Cyprus, where coffee rules. Cypriot coffee is much like the coffee of Turkey or Greece, and is usually made in a Cezva, a metal cooker with a long handle and a pouring lip. The coffee in Cyprus is arabica coffee and is ground so fine it is almost like a powder. Traditionally cooked in sand over an open fire, many traditional houses will still make the coffee in a machine that uses sand very hot, then place the Cezva into the sand and bring the coffee to boil twice.

    I had never seen coffee made in this manner and it was something fun and new to see.

    Brewing over the hot sand

    Cyprus is another of a long list of countries who know how to make good coffee, even though they don’t grow their own beans. Many countries with the best coffee don’t grow beans. It’s all in the way it’s prepared.

    So I thought today I would share with you all my favorite coffee around the world, in addition to Cyprus. Some of the worlds best and most delicious. Whatever you call it; java, joe, mud, cuppa, brew, cafe, octane, rocket fuel or juice – here is my favorite coffee around the world.

    Coffee in France
    Espresso in France 2007

    France

    I visited France in 2007 and despite the Starbucks phenom in the USA, France was the place I had my first and most memorable cup of real good espresso. And I didn’t have just one. I drank so many cups of espresso during my ten day visit to Paris and northern France. I learned how much I love a deep, dark rich cup and I have loved it ever since.

    Italian coffee
    My husband enjoying coffee in Italy

    Italy

    Most people think of espresso as Italian, and certainly they are credited with the invention of the espresso machine. I loved this amazing coffee here as well, and was a bit confused by the social etiquette surrounding your morning coffee. Most baristas were kind and assisted this silly American.

    Ethiopian coffee
    Ethiopian woman preparing the coffee

    Ethiopia

    My 2008 trip to Ethiopia remains one of the highlights of my travel life, and learning the complicated process the Ethiopia Coffee ceremony encompasses is one of the most interesting things I have ever seen. Ethiopians strongly claim their country as the birthplace of coffee, and they take the ceremony of coffee very seriously. You can’t be in a hurry for your morning cuppa here…but it is very much worth the wait.

    Zanzibar Coffee

    Zanzibar

    The beautiful island country of Zanzibar (actually a self-governing island of Tanzania) has many coffee plantations as well as beautiful and interesting spice plantations. On a tour of one of these plantations we learned a lot about the coffee culture of Zanzibar and enjoyed drinking the rich dark brew at Zanzibar Coffee next to our hotel.

    Moroccan Coffee
    Coffee at Rick’s Cafe in Casablanca

    Morocco

    There are so many things I love about Morocco, including the food, and the coffee is high up on that list of favorite things. We drank it in all parts of the country and it was rich and delicious no matter where we were. Moroccans could be found drinking it morning and night, but for me I had to stick to the morning, or I would have been awake all night long.

    Greek Coffee
    Coffee in Greece

    Greece

    Another country that really knows how to do coffee is Greece. Like other European countries coffee often comes with a “biscuit” for dipping, and a cup of beautiful dark coffee in the afternoon was my favorite mid-day treat.

    Breakfast in Qatar

    Qatar

    This photo does not do justice to the coffee we had in Qatar. We transited through Qatar and spent only one night, and enjoyed on the morning of our departure what I can say is hands down the best breakfast I have ever eaten…including a pot of delicious brewed dark coffee.

    Vietnam Coffee
    Almost always served in a glass cup in Vietnam

    Vietnam

    We spent a month in Vietnam and really grew to love the coffee there. Often served with sweet milk, but you could order it without, the local coffee was almost always served in a clear glass cup without a handle.

    Guatemalan Coffee
    Coffee in Guatemala

    Guatemala

    When we returned home after our month in Guatemala we brought with us six pounds of coffee…now one of my favorite coffee around the world. The production of coffee is big in many Central American countries, but of all the countries we visited we liked Guatemalan coffee the best.

    Vietnam Coffee
    A special latte made to look like me in Vietnam

    So there you have it, my favorite coffee around the world. I can’t wait to continue my coffee culture research when we can start traveling again and continue our ’round the world travel. Coffee makes me happy!

    Please pin or share our blog!

    Check out My Favorite Cooking Classes Around the World here.

    Europe Travel  --  Food & Drink

    The Cyprus Test Kitchen

    Cooking the Local Cuisine

    Location: Cyprus

    This is a repost of one of our favorite blogs from 2020. Enjoy again or for the first time.

    We spent seven weeks on the island of Cyprus – 37 days longer than we thought we would be here. During that time we were basically under house arrest so there was very little sight-seeing. Fortunately we are allowed to go out to the grocery store (with advanced permission) and the stores were bursting with wonderful fresh produce; avocados, citrus of every kind, carrots, eggplant, zucchini, pomegranates, lots of greens and potatoes and cucumbers. Just about anything you can think of to use in my Cyprus test kitchen.

    Fresh produce in Cyprus
    Beautiful and abundant produce

    Introduction

    I’m very grateful that one of the first things we did on arriving in Cyprus in early March, (before all hell broke loose and quarantines and lock downs became the norm), was take a cooking class. By doing so during our first few days, I was introduced to the incredible cuisine of Cyprus; a little Greek, a little Turkish and a bit reminiscent of Eastern Europe. The cuisine is hearty with pork, beef, lamb as well as middle eastern spices and lots of beans, rice and local produce. There is also seafood, although we unfortunately did not experience it.

    Cyprus coffee
    Delicious Cypriot Coffee cooked in Sand

    Since the island was on lockdown during our visit, we were unable to go out and taste the cuisine at the hundreds of restaurants and tavernas dotting the island landscape. So I decided to use all that time I had on my hands to bring the cuisine to us, creating a personal Cyprus test kitchen. I did a similar thing when we spent three weeks on the island of Antiparos a few years ago. We were there in the off-season and almost everything was closed. So I taught myself to cook Greek (see it here). And that was my attitude and goal here in Cyprus. It’s been one of my favorite boredom-buster-in-lockdown activities.

    Taste of Cyprus

    Before the lockdown began, during our first few days on the island, we signed up for a full-day tour with Cyprus Taste Tours, a local tour company and we were so blessed to meet Liza (Lee-zah) a Cypriot who loves food and loves introducing it to visitors. Our day included a beautiful drive through the Troodos Mountains of Cyprus, a visit to the Vouni Panayia Winery and a visit to the Loukoumia Geroskipou candy making factory. We also made a brief stop at the Chrysoroyiatissa Monastery to learn a bit about the ancient ways of making wine.

    Cypriot Cooking
    Beautiful fresh bread right out of the outdoor oven

    But the best part of the day was the four hours we spent at Mrs. Sofia’s Traditional House learning and eating several of Cyprus’ most traditional foods. She has a perfect Cyprus test kitchen and I was infatuated.

    Cooking with Mrs. Sofia

    As you know, I love taking cooking classes in every country we visit, and it’s always my favorite when I am cooking in a local home with a local family. That’s what happened at Sofia’s Traditional House.

    We were at the family home of Sofia and Andreas, the home Sofia grew up in. The original part of the home has been preserved in a way that guests can see how a traditional Cypriot home was in the past. Sofia and Andreas have added a cooking kitchen on to create a space for classes (only through Cyprus Taste Tours) as well as serving meals to tour groups that come through.

    Our Cyprus Feast
    Spectacular

    We learned so many things during our time with Sofia. First she pulled fresh bread out of the outdoor oven and fresh halloumi out of the outdoor cheese maker. Wow. Delicious.

    Next we watched the interesting process of making traditional Cypriot Coffee in a special machine where the coffee cooks in hot sand. Amazing.

    Then we began to prepare the ingredients for our feast.

    Six Famous Cypriot Dishes

    During our time with Mrs. Sofia we learned to make the following dishes;

    Halloumi Cheese – famous cheese of Cyprus is fantastic eat fresh, boiled or grilled. Squeaky texture with a very high melting point give it an unusual variety of cooking and eating options.

    Cyprus Food
    Koupepia

    Koupepia – stuffed grape leaves, very similar to Greek Dolmades, the Cypriot version is filled with rice, pork, tomato and parsley and simmered in a tomato broth.

    Cyprus Cuisine
    Preparing the meatballs with Mrs. Sofia

    Keftedes – a word that means meatballs and can refer to many kinds but the most popular are a minced pork, grated potato, onion and parsley with a hint of cinnamon.

    Pligouri – which is a pilaf of bulgur wheat. Bulgur wheat is what you might know in tabouleh. Pligouri is considered a poor man’s food, but is delicious, quick and easy to make.

    Cyprus Food
    Anari Cheese with Spoon Sweets

    Spoon Sweets and Anari Cheese – Anari Cheese is the fluffy white byproduct of halloumi cheese made by adding fresh raw milk to the whey after the halloumi curds have been separated. Spoon Sweets are spoon size bites of usually fruit but sometimes vegetables, usually the rind preserved in a sweet syrup.

    Things I Tackled at Home

    After going in to quarantine then followed by lockdown, I realized I wasn’t going to be eating in any local restaurants. So I set out to teach myself in my own Cyprus test kitchen, how to make several more of Cyprus’ most famous dishes. Here is everything I tackled during our weeks of solitude with recipe links when possible;

    Cyprus Cuisine
    Sheftalia

    Sheftalia – a type of sausage without skin its held together with caul fat. Very popular taverna meze. I was able to buy the Sheftalia already prepared at the butcher and grilled it up at home.

    Kolokouthkia me ta afka – is a traditional scrambled egg and zuchinni dish often eaten as a mezzo.

    Cyprus Food
    Kolokouthkia (scrambled eggs and zucchini) and fried Halloumi

    Fried Halloumi – this cheese is really amazing, with a very high melting point so it’s perfect for frying…but I also love it’s dense saltiness just to pop in my mouth.

    Macaronia Tou Fournou (similar to Greek Pastitsio ) this deep dish casserole was delicious and I plan to make it again. Layers of macaroni pasta, Bolognese sauce, bechamel sauce and grated halloumi it was comfort food at its finest.

    Cyprus Cuisine
    Macaronia Tou Fournou

    Melitzanosalata – smashed eggplant cooked and mixed with garlic, lemon and parsley and usually served as a mezzob.

    Avgolemoni Soup – Lemon and Egg Soup. Simple and absolutely delicious. What a refreshing surprise this treat was. I will certainly make it again.

    Cyprus Cuisine
    Avgolemoni Soup

    Lamb Chops – for our first Easter dinner we had lamb chops fresh from the butcher, marinated simply in olive oil, lemon and rosemary.

    Kleftiko – Lamb Shank. This is the most famous dish on this island, and I wasn’t sure about tackling it. Usually cooked in a traditional outdoor oven for hours and hours, I took my chances cooking it in the oven in my kitchen. This was our Easter dinner on the Cypriot Easter Sunday and it was amazing.

    Cyprus Food
    Kleftiko

    Souvlaki – I’ve eaten souvlaki in Greece and the USA and I love it but I wasn’t sure about making it myself. But on one of our final days in Cyprus I went to the butcher and bought beautiful piece of pork tenderloin and made the most mouth-watering meal! We had a lot of meat left and we enjoyed it again on day two.

    Souvlaki
    Souvlaki in Pita

    Fresh Lemonade – we were up to our ears in both lemons and oranges and we loved having fresh squeezed OJ each morning. We put our fresh lemonade skills to the test and what a refreshing afternoon pick me up.

    Cyprus Lemonade
    Fresh Lemonade using the lemons in our yard

    In addition we learned to make Cypriot coffee in our Cyprus test kitchen, just like Turkish coffee, dark and strong.

    Things We Ate Elsewhere

    Our lovely Airbnb host kept us in delicious baked goods, including one of Cyprus’ most famous desert flat breads called kattimerka, very much like lefse. She brought us a local molded pudding (cake) made from semolina flour called Halva as well as orange cake. And she also made us our favorite, the traditional Easter bread called Flaounes.

    Cyprus foods
    Easter bread known as Flaounes

    We bought Galaktoboureko at the local bakery, a very dense custard, phyllo, and honey pie.

    Cyprus sweets
    Galaktoboureko

    From the grocery store we enjoyed excellent local olives and olive oil as well as wonderful wines from Cyprus including Commanderia, the Cypriot favorite. As well as Tahini, Hummus and Tzatziki.

    Cyprus food
    Halva Pudding

    At the local butcher we sampled the traditional Tsamarella, a sausage made from lamb or goat and served like an appetizer with cheese and bread.

    Things I Didn’t Have

    We missed out on one famous Cypriot specialty, a slow clay pot cooked meal called Ttavas. We also didn’t get to experience the cultural tradition of mezzo meals, either a meat mezzo or seafood mezzo at a traditional taverna. This is the most popular way to eat in company, sampling dozens of small dishes while drinking and enjoying each other’s company. So sorry we never got to do that.

    Cyprus will always hold a special place in my heart…what a remarkable place to be in lockdown. Even though we missed so much, I still feel a great emotion to the people and the place…perhaps we can return when times are better.

    I am so grateful to this country for the love they showed us. EUCARISTW POLU. Thank you very much. You will never know how much it has meant to us.

    Adio is. Farewell.

    Check out this week’s top performing pin here – 2020 World Travel Awards.

    Cyprus Test Kitchen
    Cyprus Test Kitchen
    Food & Drink  --  Island Life

    Cooking Hawaiian at Home – Mahi Mahi

    Fresh, Local, Delicious

    Location: Maui Hawaii

    While spending more than two months in Maui we were blessed with the freshest most wonderful local seafood. When back in Washington State we get a monthly fish delivery from Alaska. That fish is incredible. And luckily in Maui we came upon a fish delivery service that sends the catch of the day right to our door – making it simple to cook Hawaiian at home.

    Fresh Fish Maui is an awesome little business with a superb product. You can also buy frozen fish and even fish that has been partially prepared such as coconut crusted or teriyaki. But we stuck to the fresh catch of the day. Each day I received a text telling me what the boats were heading in with. What could be more fresh than that? During our time on Maui we enjoyed fresh onaga, mahi mahi, ono, mong chong and ahi. It was all amazing.

    So today I am sharing two Mahi Mahi preparations here, a video I did for my weekly Tasty Tuesday series on YouTube. Both of these turned out so delicious and both recipes are unique and easy. As good as the local restaurants if I may say so myself!

    Mahi Mahi

    Check this out – Mahi Mahi two ways;

    Steamed Mahi Mahi

    Two 6 oz mahi mahi – steam on stove top for five minutes

    Lightly saute 1 T chopped garlic, 4-5 shiitake mushrooms and one chopped leek. Put on top of steamed fish. Finish cooking vegetables by pouring 2 T hot sesame oil over each piece of fish.

    Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi

    Soak two 6-7 oz pieces of mahi mahi for 20 minutes in 1/3 cup coconut milk. In food processor combine one cup panko with 1/3 cup macadamia nuts and a little salt and pepper. Dip wet pieces of fish in the crust. Fry on stove top, medium heat about five minutes each side. Top fish with toasted coconut for last minute of cooking.

    Side Dishes

    To round out your Hawaiian fish dinner consider this salad that I have made so many times while here in Maui. I found this recipe in a forty-year old Hawaiian cookbook in our condo. I had to modify it but boy is it ono (delicious)!;

    Papaya and Greens Salad with Cantonese Vinaigrette

    Greens and Papaya Salad with Cantonese Vinegarette

    1 head leaf lettuce, half papaya chopped, 1/4 cup walnuts or almonds, 1/4 cup toasted coconut.

    Mix above ingredients just before serving. Toss with vinaigrette.

    Vinaigrette

    2 T Sesame Oil, 1 T Olive Oil, 1 T soy sauce, 1 T brown sugar, 1 T rice wine vinegar, 1 T Stone ground mustard, 2 t minced ginger and 2 minced garlic cloves. Make an hour ahead and refrigerate.

    And here is another delicious side dish for cooking Hawaiian at home;

    Okinawan Sweet Potatoes (often called Hawaiian Purple Potatoes)

    Mahi with Okinawan Sweet Potatoes

    I made this dish with both purple and orange sweet potatoes for our Thanksgiving Hawaiian feast. So good;

    2-3 sweet potatoes, 1/3 cup coconut milk, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1/3 t sea salt, pepper to taste.

    Peel potatoes and boil about 45 min (they will take longer than regular potatoes to get soft).

    Drain and return to pan. Add coconut milk and mash to desired consistency. Stir in garlic, salt and pepper.

    Cooking Hawaiian at Home

    Although there are so many wonderful restaurants here on the island of Maui, we cooked and ate most of our meals at home during our nine weeks on the island. Partly to stay on budget, partly to social distance but mostly because this is the way we travel, making each destination feel like home.

    Steamed Mahi Mahi with Veg in Sesame Oil

    Delicious Maui. Delicious, fresh and local. Mahi Mahi – Cooking Hawaiian at Home. Ono.

    Read our Maui Top Five Things to Do here

    Read Going to Hana Backwards here.

    See this week’s top performing pin here.

    Follow us on YouTube.

    We love it when you pin and share our blog posts.