Thursday, July 29, 2010

summer cocktail extraordinaire...

We found it! THE perfect summer cocktail. This watermelon margarita recipe came from a recent Everyday Foods (by none other than Martha, goddess of entertaining) and we served it at a recent soiree with much success.

When picking a cocktail du jour for your next party, you want something that can be made ahead of time in batches. That way you aren't slaving away at the bar, one high ball at a time, when a guest wants another cocktail. This watermelon margarita can be blended early in the day and kept cool in the fridge in a pitcher until serving time. Go on and make a double batch- you'll use it!

We served it with some grilled shrimp,  Mexican style corn rolled in spices and cotija cheese, and a fresh salad with hearts of palm and avocado. I love summertime.

Watermelon Margaritas
In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, and 3 wide strips of orange peel to a boil over high. Reduce to a simmer and cook until sugar dissolves, 3 minutes. Let syrup cool. In a blender, puree 12 ounces of watermelon cubes (about 2 cups) until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on solids, into a pitcher (you should have about 1 cup juice). Stir in cooled syrup, 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes), and 3/4 cup white or silver tequila (we used golden tequila in a pinch). Fill salt rimmed glasses with ice and pour over margarita mixture. Garnish with lime wedge.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

montana & wyoming roundup...

Montana and Wyoming proved spectacular this summer, as we knew it would be. Trade the blistering summer heat for cool days and jaw-dropping panoramas. In the end we hardly tried a single restaurant, but a sandwich eaten creekside in the woods or a burger cooked on the grill after a long day of rock climbing beats any gourmet meal. We visited with old friends and made lots of new ones- the people out there, whether born and raised locals or seasonal residents- seem to have an openness that is refreshing and a genuine interest in meeting new people. Each one made our adventure great.

Now to the nuts and bolts of the trip: 1000 miles of driving through canyons, over mountain tops, and across the continental divide. Rock climbing, horse back riding through the Teton Pass (love you, Oreo), fly fishing, a little shopping of course, some hiking here and there, and lots of good times with friends. Made a drive through Yellowstone, but my suggestion is to avoid the place when schools are out if at all possible! I will be thrilled if I never see another RV again, or a person who prefers to the see nature from behind a glass window. But the views and natural features were breathtaking, especially once you made it to the northern park of the park, up above tree line, where few tourist seem to venture.

Grand Tetons come into view
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
First time flyfisher- Montana

It only skims the surface to recommended a few of the amazing restaurants, shops, or sights, but here are some that come to mind anyway:

Best Scenic Drive: Bear Tooth Pass
Exit Yellowstone through the Northeast entrance of the park and follow the road into Red Lodge Montana. The switchbacks continuously wind up and over the mountains, and each turn reveals another inspiring view. Dont worry, around the next turn will be a view to top the last, and so on. Bring a picnic lunch and plan to enjoy the ride.

On top of the world at the Bear Tooth Pass

Best Burger: Billy's Burgers, Jackson, WY
Being in the great outdoors inspires you to eat healthy, natural meals, but every once in a while, a  greasy burger and onion rings, finished off with the perfect milk shake are in order. Billy's diner counter serves them up perfectly.

Best Candy Shop: Montana Candy Emporium, Red Lodge, MT
This old west store front is chock-full of candy of all sorts. Homemade fudge, saltwater taffy in countless flavors, imported deliciousness, gag gifts and sweet stuff of all kinds. Come hungry and ready to chit chat with the manager- he's a talker. But he did open the store for us after hours, so I'm not complaining.

Best Bagel and Coffee: Pearl Street Bagels, Jackson, WY
Freshly made bagels are hard to come by outside New York City, so make sure to stop here.

Best Margarita: Pica's, Wilson, WY
Pica's, the Tex-Mex joint inside the Old Stagecoach, serves up mean comida and a fabulous Margarita. Enjoy the late afternoon on their deck and meet some locals and some seasonal folks, too.

Best Rodeo: Cody, WY
Every western town places their bets on their own town's rodeo, but i have it on good authority from people who know that Cody is the real deal. While they take place every night (every night!), go on weekends for the biggest show and best crowds. Yeehaw.