Archive: MA on the Road

MA Road Trip: Seattle At Last

Three thousand, seven hundred and two miles, 13 states and 20 days later, I have landed in Seattle, my destination and home to Casa Appetite PacNW. Whew. It's hard to believe I can really put both feet on the ground. My trip, via magnets. (Kim O'Donnel) As Mister MA and I zigzagged our way through the Cascade mountain pass and into the Emerald City late Sunday afternoon, we were given a "Welcome Home" downpour so there'd be no confusion about where we were. Toto, I don't think I'm in Arlington anymore. The new Casa is charming, but it will take time to figure out where Mister MA has put everything and how to jigsaw the kitchen into a pretty little picture. Ah -- there's the sun! During the course of my journey, several folks I met asked for my thoughts on the dining scene across America and how I planned...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 26, 2008; 11:36 AM ET | Comments (5)

MA Road Trip: Farm Market Weekend

Home is where the farmers market is. That's the phrase I kept repeating in my head over the weekend as I wrapped up my 20-day tour across America. We all have our ways of getting to know an unfamiliar town. Some people go to church, some folks belly up at the neighborhood bar. Me, I head to the farmers market. Huckleberries in all their wild glory, in Missoula. (Kim O'Donnel) Although a lovely birthday supper was had Friday night at Scotty's Table in Missoula, Mont., not until I met a huckleberry picker named Laurie at Clark Fork River Market Saturday morning did I feel like I was getting to know Missoula. Laurie works with Triple H Farm in nearby Florence, which sells all kinds of berry jams, eggs and morels (when in season). Here's a snippet from our conversation: Laurie: That jar of huckleberry jam you're holding -- it...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 25, 2008; 12:08 PM ET | Comments (5)

MA Road Trip: Birthday Cowgirl Tips Wanted

Good morning from Bozeman, Mont.! I've just been treated to a fabulous daybreak light show, and I couldn't ask for a better way to start my birthday. Yep, this cowgirl has another knot in her lasso, and life keeps getting better. Giddyup! It is a chilly 45 degrees here, but the forecast is promising temps in the mid-70s. Mister MA and I arrived late yesterday afternoon and holed up at Lehrkind Mansion B&B, the Victorian-style residence of 19th-century Montana brew king Julius Lehrkind. A registered historic property, the mansion was built in 1897 next door to Mr. Lehrkind's Bozeman Lager Beer brewery, the fa├žade of which remains today. Dusk in Bozeman, Springs, Mont. (Kim O'Donnel) Before we checked in, we checked out Plonk, an uber-chic wine bar right on Main Street. We're headed west this morning to Missoula, but here's where you come in: I'm in search of birthday-worthy spots...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 22, 2008; 09:26 AM ET | Comments (6)

MA Road Trip: Small Town Lovin'

RED LODGE, Mont., Aug. 21 -- It would be too simple to compare this town to Cicely, Alaska, the fictional town on the television series Northern Exposure. But I can't help thinking about Elaine and Maurice, Ed and Holling Vincoeur, as I stroll the wide main drag of Red Lodge, the hard-to-miss mountains setting the scene (if you stop and look, you can even see elk taking a stroll -- or are they moose?). A view of Red Lodge's main drag, Broadway Avenue, with Mt. Maurice in the background. (Kim O'Donnel) This is a place where people say good morning -- and they mean it. I'm filing this report from the Coffee Factory, a local coffee roaster where people actually sit and talk over coffee before heading off to work. I'm sitting behind four guys who are chewing the fat on all kinds of topics, including tomorrow night's concert with...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 21, 2008; 09:04 AM ET | Comments (5)

MA Road Trip: Me and Highway 25

The first thing I need to do is thank Officer J. Hess, of Wyoming Highway Patrol, who stopped me for speeding somewhere just after Cheyenne, Wyo. He and his brown Mustang pulled me over to the side of the road, but he gave me a warning instead of a ticket, and for that I'm extremely grateful. The view from a rest stop about 60 miles south of Casper, Wyo. (Kim O'Donnel) "What brings you to Wyoming?" he asked me through the passenger window. Not a question that you'd think you'd hear from a cop. Then, "it's beautiful country you're going through. Not much in between towns, but some beautiful scenery." And just like that, my heart beating so fast it felt like it was popping out of my chest, he sped off in that brown Mustang and I was free to traverse I-25, the only road I'd take between...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 20, 2008; 09:23 AM ET | Comments (1)

MA Road Trip: Denver's Mile-High Eats

"Really, it never rains here," the Hampton Inn desk receptionist insisted as I stood on the other side of the check-in counter in water-logged shoes. "This is really rare, particularly for August. In fact, it hasn't rained here since May." Not only was it pouring, it was downright cold, a record low maximum of 58 degrees for Aug. 16. Completely unprepared for late fall weather in August, my travel companion Madge and I were compelled to buy fleece pullovers to stay warm. Kim and her sparkling wine flight at Corridor 44 in Denver. (Shannon Henry) The weather was dismal enough to put a damper on our plans for lots of walking and sightseeing, but it failed to dampen our spirits. Saturday morning, we headed to Boulder for breakfast; the rain was coming down in buckets and the visibility was practically nil, but we forged ahead anyway. Our destination was Lucile's,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 19, 2008; 11:06 AM ET | Comments (4)

MA Road Trip: Wonderful (And Sometimes) Weird Surprises

It's Day 14, and I've got just six days (and about 1,300 miles) to go. Many folks have asked how I'm holding up at the wheel; I'm tired but far from tired of being on the road. Every day of this journey has been a completely unique experience unto its own, much like a short story that's part of a collection, with its own storyline, cast of characters and scenery. We were feeling very Mae West with our pink cowgirl hats and candy cigarettes. (M. Detweiler) As physically grueling as long-haul driving can be, the payoff is a new adventure every day filled with the unknown and the unexpected, a new chapter practically writing itself. The only certainty (other than knowing where I'll sleep at night) is the element of surprise, and so far, they've been mostly delightful. Other than leaving behind a brand-new laptop power adapter in a...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 18, 2008; 10:49 AM ET | Comments (3)

MA Road Trip: A Brain Break in Nebraska

Yes, indeed, that is a deep-fried Snickers... (M. Detweiler) Kim is taking a nap off the side of the road in North Platte, Neb., gearing up for her excellent interstate drive to Denver this afternoon. She'll resume her dispatches on Monday, with an eats and drinks lineup from the "Mile High City." Meanwhile, she shared this tantalizing photo taken at the Iowa State Fair earlier this week....

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 15, 2008; 09:32 AM ET | Comments (2)

MA Road Trip: The Kindness of Strangers

The open highway can be an exciting place, filled with the promise of new experiences that teach you about how others live and see the world. But it also can be lonely as you swerve onto an exit lane and bunk for the night at a roadside motel; as you emerge out of the cocoon that is your car with the familiar sound of your iPod play list, you realize you're the new kid in town, without a clue, a friend or a restaurant recommendation. The women of Windsor Presbyterian Church, in Des Moines, Iowa. (Kim O'Donnel) Thank goodness for strangers. It was Jeff from Minnesota and J.C. the bartender who kept me company at the High-Life Lounge in Des Moines as I tore into my chicken pot pie and sipped on a Hamm's, a Minnesota lager. It was Norman from Palla, Iowa, who recently lost his wife and...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 14, 2008; 08:27 AM ET | Comments (5)

Iowa State Fair: Pickles, Pork Chops and Pink Cowboy Boots

So many acres (400), so little time. Simply put, The Iowa State Fair is awesome. Over the past few days, I've been gradually chewing off bits of the biggest state fair on the planet, and I haven't even cleaned my plate. It's immense, it's colorful, it's incredibly varied and it's wackier than your wildest dreams. It's a place where you can meet a 1,200-pound pig named "Freight Train" and then eat pork about six different ways. It's also where you might run into the Boone County Pork Princess and where everything imaginable is deep fried or on a stick. One of the countless pork chop stands. (Kim O'Donnel) A few scenes to give you a taste: Location: Pirtley's General Store, over by the pickle barrel, where extra large dill pickles were for sale for $2. KOD: How's the pickle business doing? Mister Pickle Man: Not bad today. A little...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 13, 2008; 09:59 AM ET | Comments (5)

MA Road Trip: America's Heartland

From the pavement of Madison, I headed west into the Wisconsin countryside, making a very important stop in to Mt. Horeb, a quaint little town that's got a thing for trolls. However, it was mustard not little figurines that brought me and my friend Jo Mt. Horeb, specifically the Mustard Museum, part mustard emporium (something like 800 mustards from 60-some countries), part exhibit hall, part one person's dream. It was weird yet wonderful, and after some time at the tasting bar, we bought a jar of Cuban-style mojo mustard, with plenty of lime and garlic. Yowza. The saloon of the historic Hotel Boscobel in Boscobel, Wis. That's my friend Jo on the left, Val tending bar and Dave Kriers, editor of the Boscobel Dial. (Kim O'Donnel) Fully mustarded out, Jo and I made our way to Wisconsin river country, in the southwestern part of the state; she owns about 40...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 12, 2008; 10:40 AM ET | Comments (8)

MA Road Trip: This Piggy Goes to (Madison) Market

In his 2004 article, the now-deceased New York Times correspondent R.W. "Johnny" Apple described the Dane County Farmers' Market in Madison, Wis., as "a honey of a farmers' market." I disagree. The Dane County Farmers' Market is the Mac Daddy -- no, scratch that thought -- it's the Mac Mama of all farm markets. For years, I have wanted to experience a Saturday morning at the largest producer-only farm market in the country, but I really had no idea my mouth would be hanging open in awe and amazement. I felt like I had died, gone to farm market heaven and met La Terra Madre. I had arrived just before 8 a.m, and the market was already well underway, 200 hundred-some producers and their canopied stands dotting the perimeter of the state capitol building. By 9 a.m., the capitol square (a certifiable square city block) was wall-to-wall people waking up...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 11, 2008; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (3)

MA Road Trip: Blueberry High

National Blueberry Festival may be its name, but there's a definite small town and home-grown look and feel to this three-day event in South Haven, Mich. For its 45th annual ode to the blueberry, North America's native fruit, the townsfolk celebrated with all things blueberry -- brownies, turnovers, muffins, cakes, fudge, lemonade, salsa -- and get this -- blueberry sausages with a slathering of blueberry mustard (not half bad, by the way). Walter Pilditch (pictured left) and Jim Davis pose with their blueberry pies. (Kim O'Donnel) My blueberriest moment, however, revealed itself not in a bite of something blue but instead in a conversation with two local church volunteers. I had the privilege of meeting United Methodist Men's Club members Walter Pilditch and Jim Davis, who helped bake 250 blueberry pies to help raise money for the group's various charity efforts. Pilditch splits his time between Chicago and South Haven,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 11, 2008; 10:24 AM ET | Comments (1)

MA Road Trip: Getting to Know Lake Michigan

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich., Aug. 8 -- "Michigan and sand dunes? I never thought these two words would be in the same sentence," my MA map producer extraordinaire Julia wrote in an e-mail. I was thinking the same thing. Aren't sand dunes the stuff of deserts in exotic locales? The surreal and magnificent dunes of Ludington, Mich. (Kim O'Donnel) Meanwhile, my travel companion Jules, a lifelong Outer Banks beach bunny, was struggling with the notion of fresh (rather than salt) water beaches and the absence of sea shells. Sure enough, just as we turned the bend off the main strip of Ludington, we were quickly shown the errors of our preconceived notions with a front-and-center view of the most majestic and wildly surreal sand dunes and yes indeed, certifiable beaches for strolling, sunbathing and swimming! Before we headed out of town, we did some window shopping along the main drag, and...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 8, 2008; 09:52 AM ET | Comments (6)

MA Road Trip: Hello, Michigan

LUDINGTON, Aug. 7 -- At 66 degrees, it feels like fall in Ludington, Mich.., a small town along the Lake Michigan shore line, on the west coast of the state. But the sun is already high in the sky, beckoning us to check out the beach and sand dunes that make Ludington a popular tourist destination. (The plan is to check them out after breakfast.) A late glorious sunset at the Ludington Municipal Marina. (Kim O'Donnel) Ludington is also home to the SS Badger, an enormous car ferry that cruises across the lake twice daily to Manitowoc, Wis. After an early evening thunderstorm and dinner at the Jamesport Brewing Company (where I had my first-ever blueberry wheat beer -- pretty tasty, by the way), the weather cleared up and we were treated to a glorious sunset that lit the skies over the municipal marina 'til just about 9:30 p.m. From...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 7, 2008; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (5)

MA Road Trip: Holy Toledo

TOLEDO, Aug. 5 -- The first day of the MA road trip began with a few twists and turns -- even before I got behind the wheel. About an hour before my road companion Jules and I were planning to leave, she had a last-minute business emergency that not only changed the MA itinerary but would keep her in Maryland for an additional 24 hours. KOD departs D.C. in fine road-trip fashion. Her future's so bright, she's gotta wear shades. (J. Shepard) As a result, the MA chariot departed without its navigator and I began my journey solo, through western Pennsylvania and into the northern reaches of Ohio. And holy Toledo, I'm typing to you from Toledo, Ohio. (I've always wanted to say that.) Because I got a late start yesterday, I arrived in the "Glass City" just before sunset, which means little opportunity to poke around for eats and...

 

By Christian Pelusi | August 6, 2008; 06:15 PM ET | Comments (4)

MA Road Trip: Headed on the Highway

By the time you read this, I'll be headed west on Interstate 70, stopping off for lunch in Pittsburgh and hopefully arriving in Toledo, Ohio by suppertime. The Mighty Appetite dash board guardians: the broken kitchen timer needed a new gig and Mister Buddha said yes. (Kim O'Donnel) It's Day One of the Mighty Appetite road trip, a coast-to-coast eating blog-stravaganza from Washington (D.C.) to Washington (Seattle). For the next 19 days in this space, I'll be sharing my edible and roadside adventures through text, photos and video. Hang onto your hats because you're in store for a ride! For the first leg, my navigator and traveling companion will be Jules Shepard, a gluten-free baker from Catonsville, Md. whom I profiled last year in the Food section. She's the reason we're headed to Hillman, Mich., a teeny town in the northeast corner of the state, just 20 miles west of...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 4, 2008; 10:26 PM ET | Comments (9)

 

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