With winter persisting well into April in Calgary, it was definitely time for a spring road trip to the U.S. southwest and its warming sun. The destination this time was all the way south to Tucson, Arizona—a trip involving plentiful hiking, eating and drinking.
But as they say, the journey is often as important as the destination. So before I delve more deeply into Tucson eats and drinks over the coming weeks, here’s a pictorial sampling of road life on the three-day route down and on the way back.
There isn’t a strong tradition of ethnic food in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. So, Tracy Truesdell and Josh Sherven decided to spice things up when they opened Soulshine (“Love and Food”), a little, vibrantly coloured joint in the town’s compact, historic downtown. Sampling their burritos, bowls and wraps is like taking a vicarious trip around the world through your taste buds.
Consider the chile verde, featuring Josh’s tomatillo salsa verde recipe from his days in Mexico. I get this flavourful, pungent sauce ladled over whole pinto beans (cooked in house), rice and guacamole. Africa is represented with a banana chutney, Thailand with a peanut-sauce medley and the Middle East with a Marrakesh salad. They’re even considering adding a Swedish pulled-pork dish as an occasional special.
Tracy and Josh are a lively, friendly couple, happy to share their scratch-made global cuisine or give me a sample of a not-so-international dish—rich, house-made ice cream.
As I leave, I stare up at the sign over the door. “But where’s the love?”
“It’s in the food,” exclaims Tracy. And in the people.
6428 Kootenai Street, Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Weekdays 9 am-3 pm. Closed weekends
I’m always a sucker for a good bakery. Especially if it also serves meals featuring fresh-from-the-oven breads and buns.
So I’m happy to discover not one but two Bigwood Bread Bakery locations in the little resort community of Ketchum, Idaho. Besides baking excellent hand-formed, naturally leavened loaves of, say, sourdough or vitagrain, Bigwood also makes breakfast sandwiches, house-made granola and steel-cut oatmeal with gingersnap walnut crumble.
Of course, I have to try something different—a warm croissant cradling a centre of bacon and gooey cheese. Good stuff.
Bigwood Bread Bakery
380 East Avenue and 271 Northwood Way, both in Ketchum, Idaho
Daily 8 am-3 pm, with 2:30 pm closing at Northwood location.
A good resort town like Ketchum/Sun Valley also has to keep the active folks well caffeinated. At Java on Fourth, they add a few twists to the usual coffee offerings. Like Bowl of Soul, a mix of coffee, hot chocolate and whipped cream. Or the Keith Richards: Mexican hot chocolate and four shots of espresso. That’ll kickstart your morning.
Java on Fourth
191 4 Street West, Ketchum, Idaho
Weekdays 6 am-3 pm, weekends 7 am-3 pm
It’s quiet when I enter The Kneadery, in Ketchum, Idaho. Still, I can safely say it’s a bit of a zoo. That’s because I’m greeted by a stuffed, snarling grizzly bear by the front door of this rustic restaurant. It’s merely the start of a menagerie that includes a wall of mounted bison, moose and antelope heads.
With all these critters staring at me glassy eyed, I decide to go meatless at breakfast. It’s a great choice. My half order of French toast is still a plateful of fragrant, organic challah bread (from the nearby Bigwood Bread Bakery), lightly grilled and topped with fresh strawberries and, a lovely touch, warm maple syrup.
The morning meals at The Kneadery are substantial, as diners around me gamely tackle cage-free eggs Benedict and puffy waffles with gusto.
260 Leadville Avenue, Ketchum, Idaho
Daily 8 am-2 pm
I don’t often come across the perfect, middle-of-nowhere town. One that’s charming, historic and revitalized, with fabulous scenery and one main drag.
Too often, such places go in one of two directions: straight downhill—because there’s nothing left to sustain them—or overrun and loved to death. Hitting the sweet spot of overlooked yet vibrant is the rarest of feats.
I might have found the holy grail in Palouse, Washington, a “city” of 1,000 and a stone’s throw from the Idaho border. Perhaps its greatest attribute is the location, along the eastern edge of the other-worldly Palouse Hills and their rich farming soils.