The day on the Michelson trail was done. I’d ridden the best part of fifty miles uphill, avoided getting caught in a tempestuous downpour and met Jan for a car ride back to the hotel in Custer City. I’d showered, oh glorious hot water, and we caught the Preakness and the triple crown, it was turning out to be a very good day. Little did I expect it would get even better.
Jan picked out a little place, Black Hills Burger and Bun Company, family run only open from 11:00AM-2:00PM and 5:00-7:30. They take no reservations, you just show up and they take your name.
We gave our names and while we waited outside as the mountain sun began to wane Jan tried to convince me that a 900 pound piece of rose quartz in the rock shop next to the restaurant really wasn’t for us. Soon enough, they called our name and we went into the little restaurant.
We started off with a craft beer, Alaskan Amber on tap and then split a Greek salad.
Everything was crisp and fresh, and the dressing was a basalmic that complemented without overpowering the olives, the feta cheese, cucumbers, greens and tomato slices. Everything about the salad showed their commitment to food.
I ordered the “Iowan” burger, with Maytag Farms blue cheese, garlic aioli, carmalized onion and bacon. They bake their own bread for buns and the baked bean side featured a mix of beans and was as fine a baked bean combination as I have had.
As I say, “Hunger is the best sauce,” but this meal stands as both subtle and hearty. A sip of beer, a taste of beans, a bite of the savory burger… life is good.
We could have hurried out, and I was surprised they didn’t hurry us out like happens in the city sometimes but after we finished I went for the coconut custard pie. I was crossed up, expecting a coconut cream pie, but this had almost a rice pudding texture with the coconut and custard complementing each other perfectly. I had calculated with my map-my-ride tool that I had used about 4,000 calories on the ride so ice-cream of course.
Then it was back to the hotel thinking what a fine trip so far. If you head up the Black Hills way you won’t be sorry to stop by this fine food establishment.
I was going to call this post “A hotdog and a movie” … but that might be misconstrued as self referencing…
First the movie: Mr Pip with Hugh Laurie. If you love the great books and Dickens in particular, then this story of a small Island caught between the Soldiers and the rebels in a revolution – and the impact that story can have is brilliantly done. The location is exotic and the flashbacks to Pip’s England with an island flair are magic. The lesson is honorable as well, in that moment of choice – who do we choose to be. I just had to tell someone.
If you drive an hour or so out of Chicagoland into Indiana you can find the Erie Lackawana bike path. It’s a pleasant well maintained rails to trails kind of path. You can link it with the Monon trail which has a more urban feel and loop it in to get a nice 50 or so miles. This sign near the trail seemed to show the perfect business… 24 hour laundromat, milk-shakes and hot-dogs. Maybe Indiana is cycling heaven…
For our lunch, we had a hot dog and a root-beer float ( generic root-beer ) but hunger is the best sauce….
An art opening requires a celebration, and after the opening we had a nice brunch at Parc. On a nice day you can sit outside and gaze across to Ritenhouse Park where college girls in sundresses walk by, or you might see a woman saunter by with black and white poodles, a perfect fashion accessory. The day was perfect, and Parc is a fine place to have a brunch.
While you look at the menu, the pastry basket is a wonderful start…
And then of course the champagne arrives, a rose since it’s warm outside
Next, the pate…. this was called “Chicken Liver Parfait” it came with a grain bread which was heavenly – it gave texture to the pate and the thin layer of rasberry on top of it. This was rich… a bit of pate.. a sip of champagne… a smile at the sun or the passers by…. This choice was a risk, but you know what they say about risk and reward…
And then “Eggs Norwegian” – a twist on Eggs Benedict – replacing the ham with smoked salmon. The fried potatoes were perfect – this meal required no seasoning… every flavor complemented the other
I thought Parc was a small place, but inside it was bustling – I will absolutely dine here once again. And… how can I not like a restaurant with this wallpaper in the men’s room…
Wisconsin has a rolling heart of the country beauty. Living near the city we often forget how wide and bountiful the US is. Although on climbs there is often only one thought in mind, the next pedal stroke, I find cycling a good place to work on poems. It can be a solitary moving meditation, a place to pray.
After three days on the road, a stay at a legendary bad motel “Ikes”, and a thirty mile stretch of rolling hills, a glass of New Glarus Old Milwaukee Belgian Red hits the spot. Hunger may be the best sauce, but this Lambic like brew which tasted of cherries is the single best beer I have known.
If you start in Naperville Illinois at the crack of dawn and head toward the Fox River bike path, you’ll catch the mist rising above the ponds. Then Northward bound along the mighty Fox river the daffodils burst into sight and the frog princes croak their song of undying love to all the frog maidens as you silently pedal by.
Up near the Wisconsin border in Richmond after sixty miles or so along the path you’ll find a small fast-food joint still attended to by pretty teens who’ll take your order and bring you a hot-dog or a rootbeer and a smile. It was a long day riding, about 73 miles total and I hadn’t seen a Dog N Suds since the 1970’s. We pulled our weary seats in and enjoyed a root-beer as celebration of a day well done.
It was 1973 she was sixteen, I was seventeen and her first real job was car-hop and the local Dog N Suds. That year root-beer was the taste and flavor of youthful romance. She brought the root-beer out in a frosted mug ( just like the old days ) and it was lightly carbonated, slightly sweet with just a hint of licorice, just as good as I remembered. I told the story to our server, did we look so young at sixteen too, and she smiled and told me there were only a handful of franchises left in the whole country, a place of distant memories and tastes.
We’re a popcorn family. Popped up in the microwave with a little melted butter and salt added, eaten with chopsticks ( the kids discovered this to keep from getting their fingers greasy and it’s become a family tradition ) popcorn is the perfect movie food for at home while we sprawl across the couch or lounge in the recliner chair.
But can popcorn be gourmet ? Can you get popcorn non GMO grown from a family farm? Will it taste better ? The answer is a resounding yes.
It pops up with a crisp fresh flavor, and the butter and salt burst on your tongue. Alas, it’s chopstickability is the same as regular popcorn, but for those of us without greasy fingers – we just say it lasts longer. We tried butterfly ( which pops with a little hull ) and mushroon ( which doesn’t taste like mushroom, but pops into a bigger, rounder form ) I think either will delight.
You can find this popcorn, grown in the beautiful state of Iowa here: http://www.grubbpopcorn.com/ It’s a special treat to go direct to the family farmer.
Happy popping, maybe next time I can convince my wife to use salt from the Camargue ( Fleur de Sel de Camargue ) we just can’t tell my youngest who happened to visit the salt marshes in France where this salt is harvested. “Dad”, she said – “You know what flamingo’s do in the marshes.”
Everyone has their holiday favorites, but I thought I’d share this list that illustrates why I so love France. In the little village all the restaurants are closed for family is very important, so as the note I received from my beloved sister and brother in-law in France shows… one must make do…
French cooking frenzy,
amuse bouche: cappucino of chestnuts with flakes of foie gras
starter: coquille st jacques “Normande”, (scallops in calvados cream sauce )
salad: field salad with apples and toasted walnuts, vinaigrette of walnut and maple syrup
Terrine of goose Foie gras with truffles
Beef Tournedos with jus, truffled potatoes
Cheese plate (Abundance, Reblochon, Langres, Burgundy double cream with Truffle
Buche de Noel
wines: Sauterne, St Romain (Burgundy white)…Champagne!!!!
We are Christmasing
Tomorrows menu is even better
A vendor took us to lunch, a holiday/goodbye thing.
A memorable end to a feast. May your holidays be a feast of joy and light.
The human body is made to fast – but oh those midnight snacks….
The Gilman trail, just off of the Fox River trail in Aurora Illinois runs just over twelve miles to Sugar Grove. It was a blustery day, gusty and cold. It starts on an old railroad right of way and I was struck with the thought that who doesn’t think engineers are artists has not contemplated bridges.
Crossing rivers, or highways
And if you bike back to the Two Brothers Microbrewery at the old roundhouse at the train station in Aurora you can get a craft beer ( Prairie Path Ale ), and food to keep you pedaling in the cold.
Beer and a mufaletta… a fine lunch for a bike ride and fuel for the last 10 miles home.