Lots of Good Food, but not from My Kitchen

This past week was a travel time. With two work holidays this week, with one being this past Tuesday, I decided to visit my very good friend Lisa in Iowa if she was available. Thankfully, she was going to be in town, so off to Iowa this past Saturday I went.

After a quick nap upon arrival, we headed off to the local independent bookstore. Other than the obvious, Dragonfly Books was the one place I wanted to visit while in town. I walked out with a full bag of books for myself and for my grandson, plus a book I’d been wondering about, a book on this region of Iowa called the driftless area. It’s called this because for some reason, the glaciers decided to leave the area alone, allowing for rolling hills in an area that is pretty flat.

Being a little chilly, a little windy, and a little rainy, we only made two additional stops. Our goal was to go have some hot chocolate and catch-up on our lives. On the way to a new “little” big coffee house, Impact Coffee, an art store, Agora Arts, that had recently moved into a newer space, called to us along the way. The store enrolled me in helping the local economy a little more as it carries two artists, one a poet, one an illustrator, I just adore, Gabriel Andreas and Matthew Andreas, respectively. Together they make storypeople. I bought one of their pieces during my last visit a couple of years ago—this time it was two pieces.

A couple of hours later, we decided maybe it was time to leave the comfortable couch and delicious hot chocolate, to go back to Lisa’s house for dinner. She had made what I’m calling a chicken vegetable chowder (it may officially be called something different). It was absolutely scrumptious and hit the right spot. In fact, I had two servings. There was a side salad and warm bread to go with it. All was a perfect fit for the weather of the day.

The next day, after attending a thought provoking talk by a guest speaker at Lisa’s church, we talked more. She had purchased tickets for us to go see a matinee, and closing performance of Good People at the Commonweal Theatre in the very quaint little town of Lanesboro, Minnesota. Although the play was written in 2011, the subject matter of racism and classism, is still pertinent in 2022. I highly recommend visiting both Lanesboro and attending a performance at the Commonweal.

Returning to Decorah, after seeing four wild turkeys (boy are they big) on the drive back, we had to decide where to go for an early dinner. Our first choice was a Decorah mainstay, Family Table, but it was closed. After a choice of sushi or Mexican, we settled on Mexican at the Don Jose Family Mexican Restaurant. Coming from New Mexico, it is really hard to find a Mexican place in the Midwest that comes close to what I’m used to having and loving. My choice was the chicken endiablado, and although still not what I’m used to having, was very good and carried some good heat. I ate all of it if that is any indication of its taste.

Monday’s dinner, back at home was vegetable soup made by the hubby. He had made it on Sunday, so the flavors had been able to marinate for an extra 24-hours. One of his specialties is soups. Even I can’t out soup him with his chili and vegetable soups! It was more comfort food while catching up on our separate weekend adventures.

After a long day of work, and not having had a date night in a while, Wednesday night was an evening out. Rather than one of our tried and true’s, we opted for Mexican. We decided to go to Los Rancheros, one we hadn’t sampled yet, but recommended by a couple that sat at our Gala table last Friday. Although I can’t find carne adovada anywhere outside NM, the quesadilla de la diablo was another hit for Midwest Mexican. We decided to definitely return another time.

My final stop of food for this week was for lunch. My colleagues and I had a monitoring visit, which meant we got to have a lunch out away from the work cafeteria. A former team member recommended we go to The Garage. Now I thought The Garage was a restaurant at Bottle Works. It turns out, The Garage Food Hall is a large space with many different eateries, almost vendor like at a farmer’s market or food truck gathering. With all the choices, I landed at the first place I spotted, Palavana Cubano. I love me a good cubano, and I can’t tell a lie, it was pretty good. Not as good as the ones I’ve had in Washington, D.C., but it turned out to be a very close second.

That was my culinary journey for this past week. Now it is back to me being in the kitchen making some good meals. Knowing the travels would be ending, I actually started looking at some recipes to give a try. So, the papa’s and the hubby will get to be my tasters on yet another meal of new recipes soon. They are always great sports, and they also don’t hold back. Hopefully the feedback will be all positive.

Now go try something new, either out or in, but something new!

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