What makes something a tradition? Doing it twice or three times? Well, I am about to go to my fourth Masters of Taste with my husband on Sunday, so I would call that a tradition for sure!
I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than to walk around tasting the best food and drinks that a city has to offer with someone you love. We enjoy this every year! Even when it rained, but that is a story for another time. It will be a beautiful day this Sunday at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. That’s where this Food Festival takes place. It’s truly amaze balls. I can’t wait!
It’s going to be a pretty epic date weekend with going to see the much awaited Avengers Engame (No Spoilers Here!) movie on Saturday night and then going to the Masters of Taste on Sunday! Lucky us!
One of the best things about taking a vacation is going to new restaurants and checking out the local fare. On our recentroad trip to the Southwest, I enjoyed some of my all time favorite foods. If you are a foodie and like to read about food adventures, grab a cup of coffee, sit back and relax as I take you on a Culinary Adventure Road Trip!
I wanted to go to a family style diner, somewhere I could relax and stretch out a bit after a very long drive, and a nice server would wait on me. When we pulled off the highway and arrived at the halfway point between Las Vegas, Nevada and Boulder, Colorado we were literally in the middle of nowhere. Green River is a small town in Utah and for some reason it seemed very desolate. I had looked up restaurants in the area online ahead of time and there seemed to be quite a few. It’s the only populated area around and I expected there to be restaurants dotted along the main road. Not so much. Maybe we got off an exit too soon, or too late but we certainly didn’t see any signs of life around.
It was mid day and even though we had an early breakfast and snacks on the road, we had built up an appetite. As we drove down the main street looking for signs of life that hopefully lead us to a full service restaurant, one of the boys spotted a burger joint. A box style, family run, three table, stick in the mud. It was awesome! We had Green Chile Cheese Burgers and Fried Tater Tots. It was the first time we saw green chile burgers on a menu on this trip and the boys and I had been looking forward to having one. I don’t think they used New Mexico Green Chiles, but they were big, juicy and had the tasty tang and spicy heat that we were hoping for. After lunch, the chocolate soft serve ice cream hit the spot! We were ready to take on the long road ahead of us once again.
When we finally arrived at our destination after a grueling day of driving which included an incredible excursion over the Rocky Mountains, we didn’t care where we ate – we just wanted food. The boys went to Denny’s and brought me back a pancake sandwich that I devoured in my hotel room. In the morning, we had just enough time to grab coffee and a continental breakfast provided by the hotel. It was pretty good. We stayed at the Best Western Kiva Inn near Fort Collins, Colorado. It was one of the nicest Best Westerns I had ever stayed at. If you are in the area, I highly recommend it.
For lunch that day we had specific instructions from a friend to try Lark Burger. We were told they had awesome burgers. For some reason, I didn’t expect to find a high-end gourmet eatery in Fort Collins. I was pleasantly surprised by the selection and the quality of the food I tried. It was totally yummy and the prices were good for what you got. It turns out that Lark Burger is a chain, so if you have a chance to try it let me know. I had a Larkburger with Swiss Cheese and Truffle & Parmesan Fries. I loved every bite!
From Fort Collins, we drove to Boulder, Colorado. The first thing we did after checking in at the hotel was go on a factory tour of Celestial Seasonings. Even though we planned on being in town all weekend, it was a holiday so this was our only chance. The kids weren’t too interested and we had just experienced quite a bit of “togetherness” over the last 48 hours, so my hubby and I decided to go it alone. We had a blast! We have both always loved Celestial Seasonings teas. On the way there we reminisced of the past thirty or so years that we have enjoyed the herbal tea, the encouraging words on the packages, the unique artwork and our favorite, the Sleepy Time Bear. Besides the fact that we have both loved the product since childhood, we both love taking factory tours.
I am sorry to say that we did not get to eat at the Celestial Cafe because it closed early for the holiday. But we did enjoy the Tea Room very much and it deserves a stop on the Culinary Adventures Road Trip! When we arrived we were given our “pass” to the factory tour (it was a small package of blueberry herbal tea) and to unlimited hot and cold herbal tea tasting. There is a snack bar and a gift shop where you can buy anything and everything tea related and Celestial Seasonings trademarked. The tour itself was quite impressive. Our favorite was the Mint Room where all the mint is stored exclusively from the rest of the herbs and teas. Everything smelled remarkable and refreshing! We learned a lot about tea and herbs from around the world.
That night, we met my cousin for dinner. She has lived in Boulder for a number of years and qualifies as a local. We discussed in advance where we should eat and since it is a local favorite, this fit the bill. Turley’s serves buffalo meat as part of their very extensive organic and “clean” menu, which was something the boys wanted to try. I had a hard time deciding what to have since I was still full from the burgers over the past few days and all the tea I drank! I ended up having the Chicken Pot Pie. It was a little dry with a pizza dough kind of crust rather than a flaky pie crust. It was pretty good. I never saw the food on the boy’s plates. It vanished before I could take a picture. It must have been good!
Easter Brunch at the Renaissance Boulder Flatiron Hotel was to die for! It was very pricey, but you would expect that at a fine restaurant located in a four star hotel on a holiday weekend. The buffet menu was extensive combining unique chef prepared dishes with hometown favorites and brunch classics. Everything was displayed beautifully, the service was exceptional and the meal was a dream. Especially the bottomless mimosas!
It was very difficult to pick a restaurant in the Pearl Street area. There were plenty of choices and everything looked amazing. The boys are clued into finding the local fare and skipping the chain restaurants and things we normally eat. So, it was hard to resist an eatery called the Boulder Cafe. It is right in the center of Pearl Street Mall. It has inside and patio dining. The place felt authentically local, with a cafe menu, oyster bar, fondues and “Rocky Mountain” cuisine. It looked like a great place to take a date and there was a young clientele. I assumed everyone there to be college students. At this point, still stuffed from the reckless vacation eating I had been doing, I had an Asian Chicken Lettuce Wrap appetizer for my meal. It was such a bountiful helping, I shared it with the boys. They also chose light meals that ended up not being quite enough to fill them. They finished every last bite of my dinner! The best part was just hanging out with my boys. We walked the length of the mall and shopped a little. I got them to go in LUSH with me and they got me to go in Rocket Fizz with them.
In the morning, we rushed to check out of the hotel and get to the college tour at the University of Colorado. We had no time for breakfast, so it was “hotel room” coffee, tea, granola bars and juice on the way. Then we grabbed a bite to eat at the cafeteria at the college before we got back on the road for our next, and final stop on our road trip. Boy, were we famished when we were driving along the dry, dusty road to New Mexico! As we approached each little town, my husband would ask, “Do you want me to stop to find a place to eat here?” We were all thinking the same thing. If we stopped now, we won’t be able to eat when we go through Santa Fe. We would drive the entire distance just to eat real New Mexico chile! So, we held out until 9 PM.
As we rolled into one of my favorite all time places to visit, we started naming restaurants we knew in Santa Fe. We did a Yelp search based on our location and we selected the closest “New Mexican” restaurant we could find. As we walked in to Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen, it seemed vaguely familiar. I may have been there before. I wasn’t sure. I know for sure I felt at home. It may have been the smell of tortillas and sopapillas cooking, the smiles on the faces of the servers, the families eating a late Monday night dinner, and the old adobe that appealed to me. It was familiar. It was wholesome cooking, the food that my family makes. We took a quick look at the menu and we all looked at each other, who would ask first? “Red or green?” We all have our favorites and we like both! One of the boys ordered exactly that – both, referred to as “Christmas.” Red and green sauces made with New Mexico chiles.
Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen served it up fast, large portions of all of our favorites, complete with sopapillas and honey. I had my favorite, Stacked Enchiladas with Chile Adovada and Red Chile with a side of sour cream to cut the heat. The heat of New Mexico chile always gets me at first. Luckily, I had the chance to eat it quite a bit during our visit over the next few days and I was able to adjust! It was an amazing meal. It had been far too long!
Roasted Green Chiles being chopped for NM Green Chile Stew
My Cousin’s Red Chile Sauce
Stacked enchilada dream with New Mexico Red Chile
Everything is a blur after that! We spent a few days with family and ate wonderful food while we enjoyed being together. The boys managed to get out to their favorite local restaurants in New Mexico like Twisters Burritos and Dion’s Pizza. On our way home we stopped at a Cracker Barrell in Flagstaff, Arizona. I don’t have any more food pictures to share from the trip. It turned out to be a fun Culinary Adventure Side Trip that I hope you enjoyed.
Have you been to any of the restaurants listed here? Do you have any suggestions on where to eat in New Mexico, Colorado, or Utah? Let me know! I would love to hear about your foodie adventures!
So, I didn’t mean to leave you hanging! If you are following the entire Six States in Seven Days Road Trip Saga, I left off describing the exciting adventure just as we made it over the Rocky Mountains. Stay tuned for more fun! I would love to share with you what I did to make this trip fun for myself and how our family survived driving the rest of the 1000 miles or so through Boulder, Colorado and Albuquerque, New Mexico and back to our home sweet home in Southern California.
We are lucky to have some good restaurants in Northridge and most of them are near or at the Northridge Fashion Center. This week marks the opening of a wonderful chain restaurant at the mall. It is located where the Cost Plus World Market has been for the past several years. I was saddened by the closing of that store and many others in the “new” section of the mall which is adjacent to the movie theaters. I am now hopeful that having the Yard House there will bring more new stores and restaurants to that part of town.
The Yard House is on the Plummer Street side of the mall and the closest parking is near the movie theaters. Parking is free, but they do provide valet parking.
YARD HOUSE NORTHRIDGE
9301 Tampa Avenue
Northridge, CA 91324
The Yard House has a Facebook Page that has pictures and events posted. It seems like a great place to work and the staff appear to enjoy being part of a community. Their online presence makes you feel like a part of something and I liked that.
The service is very good. I have eaten at the one in Lancaster, CA and I enjoyed it. I went there for a late dinner with my nephew after a photo shoot. We drove out of our way to eat there and I was so hungry. I thought it might be out of my price range that evening and they had a huge menu. I just wanted a quick bite! I was pleasantly surprised that they had a late night happy hour! We ordered and appetizer and sliders. We also did a sampler of their brews. Everything was terrific and very affordable!
This past weekend, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a VIP party at the Yard House in Northridge which preceded a “Soft Opening.” What does all that mean? It means free food and drinks! I had the unique opportunity to try samples of many of the menu items as well as awesome full size cocktails from the bar. I want to thank the Yard House and their marketing team for having this event. I was so pleased to be able to share with my online community by Tweeting and posting pictures to Instagram about the event. This is why bloggers are invited and a friend from my So Cal Lady Bloggers group on Facebook was nice enough to include me.
As soon as I walked in the door, servers were offering me samples of food which were served in bite sized portions on small plates. Here is what I got to try:
FIRECRACKER WINGS boneless chicken, tossed in a spicy sesame garlic plum glaze garnished with green onions, the
BLUE CRAB CAKES with mango papaya chutney, passion fruit beurre blanc and tomato oil
SHIITAKE GARLIC NOODLES tossed with butter, garlic & shiitake mushrooms, topped with parmesan & chives
GINGER CRUSTED NORWEGIAN SALMON wasabi mashed potatoes, snow peas, carrots and spicy peanut vinaigrette topped with fried carrot strings
MINI CREME BRULEE with vanilla bean custard and chocolate topped with caramelized bananas
My son (who was graciously my “plus one”) and I made our way through the very large restaurant and found an open table outside on the spacious patio. It was drizzling but there were large umbrellas over all the tables and powerful heaters so we were very comfortable outside. Our server, Sean, came by and asked if he could bring us anything and took our drink orders. He answered our questions and made us feel right at home. He brought me my first of the two free drinks that were included for the VIP event.
Here are the drinks that I tried from the Specialty Drink Menu:
SOUTHERN BELLE jeremiah weed sweet tea vodka, lemonade, fresh strawberries and pineapple
MOJITO cruzan citrus rum or traditional | mango • pomegranate • strawberry
I give the Yard House in Northridge an A+! Everything was wonderful! I really liked the Margarita. I didn’t finish the Southern Belle because it was too fruity and sweet for me. Sean offered me something else to try and I asked for the Mojito. Also a bit sweet, I added some water and ice and it was perfect.
The music they played was fantastic, I loved it because it was mostly 80’s music and I thought I must fit the demographic for this place perfectly! My teenage son enjoyed the TV screens all around (yes, even on the patio.) When the event was over and we had finished our second serving of the Banana Creme Brulee, Sean told us that we could stay and were welcome to order off the menu if we wanted to pay for a meal or any more drinks. We decided to take a look at the menu.
Confession #1, I ate too much! I tried all of those samples and because they were mini versions I felt like I had eaten a small amount. I realized that I was full just about the time our entrees arrived!
Confession #2, I drank too much! I didn’t drink all three drinks, but they were full size drinks with a lot of alcohol and fruit. Too sweet for me being a Diabetic. My bad! Slap my hand, please! I should have had a glass of wine. The Yard House has a great big menu with lots of choices, an extensive wine list and a beer menu. They also have a FRESH & SKINNY drink menu! The next time I go there, I will be sure to try a cocktail from that menu. The Yard House caters to an eclectic crowd and has specialty menues to serve any taste. In addition to the “skinny” drink choices, there are full menues for the vegan, the gluten sensitive, the health conscious, the gourmet and even kids!
My son and I enjoyed the foods we tried. Here is what we ordered from the menu:
(MAC + CHEESE)2 chicken breast, applewood bacon, wild mushrooms, cheddar, parmesan, campanelle pasta and truffle oil
CHICKEN ENCHILADA STACK pasilla peppers, garlic cream, jack cheese, corn tortillas, pinto beans, tomatillo, red chili sauce and sour cream
Luckily, Dan (our second awesome server, yes we were there for a long time!) brought us a “doggie bag” to take home our left overs!