D is for Dessert
I rarely need an excuse to order dessert, but "Hey, I'm on vacation!" is a great one if I find myself hesitating. Here's the Triple Berry Chocolate Mousse Torte that Travis and I shared at Dixie Quick's (see E below). We were half-way through it before I thought to take a picture. Yeah, it was that good.
E is for Eat Like a Local
The hubs and I watch our fair share of Food Network. Inevitably, that affects the way we think about food-- how we prepare it, how we think and talk about it, and where we eat it. There are a number of shows on FN that feature and promote local establishments, especially Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Seeing how many great restaurants and delectable dishes are out there, Travis and I have developed the practice of seeking out local, independent joints when we travel, rather than routinely settling for the safe and familiar chain restaurants by the highway exit. With FN's recommendations as our guide (and also a few shout-outs from friends), on this trip we set out to eat where the locals eat, and were not disappointed.
A few highlights: In Omaha, NE on the way out we stopped for dinner at Dixie Quicks. This is the kind of place an out of towner would probably never drive by in the first place (since it's on an out of the way street in a not-so-pretty part of town), and even if they did, probably wouldn't notice. If not for the GPS announcing our arrival, we might have missed it the first time too, even though we were looking for it. The restaurant has an unassuming facade on a rather industrial street. Inside, however, the decor is surprisingly colorful, elegant, and eclectic. The menu changes daily, and is printed in chalk on a board at one end of the dining room. The chef's creations are influenced by time spent in various regions of the country, especially the south. I ordered the blackened salmon, which came with mashed potatoes and this delicious tomato butter sauce, and Travis ordered the pan-fried catfish with collard greens. (Please note: In case you're thinking about checking this place out, I noticed on Dixie Quicks' website that they'll be moving to Council Bluffs, IA on the other side of the river Fall 2011.)
The Cherry Cricket, which we'd seen featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate for having the best burger in Denver (in the opinion of Aaron Sanchez, at least). We weren't terribly impressed with the service here, but the burgers were superb, and the fries as well.
On our return trip across the Midwest we stopped for dinner at WheatFields in Omaha, which came highly recommended by Chris & Janelle (again, see F below). This is one of those places where you walk in and find yourself mesmerized by the bounty and variety of baked goods on display, and the once seated, completely overwhelmed (in a good way) by the sheer abundance of menu items. The highlight of our meal here: the cinnamon roll that came with Travis's quiche trio as a sort of "first course," the same way a salad might come before lasagna. Giant frosting-covered cinnamon roll as first course? Indulgent. Delicious. Genius.
F is for FriendsThe lure of Colorado has called several of my friends out west. While I miss having them nearby, the upside is that trips to Colorado are usually peppered with reconnecting with people I love dearly. This trip was no exception. We got to have lunch with my college roommate Cheryl and her husband Joe, stay with Rachel & Eric (who played an integral role in bringing the hubs and I together), and spend a delightful afternoon dining and visiting with TU friends Chris & Janelle and their daughter, Sophie. Here we are with them at the mall:
Stay tuned for Part 3 tomorrow!