Monday, June 30, 2008
When we raved about the biscuits and gravy at Binford Cafe awhile back, Phil asked us how they compared to the ones at Zest Exciting Food Creations so we recently headed to Zest (1134 E. 54th St.) to find out.
Zest is a neat little cafe, with bright colors and a cheery staff. The coffee came quickly to the table; it was dark, black and strong. Starbucks quality, without having to sell your soul to the corporate chain. But we went for the biscuits and gravy. We sat at the outdoor tables sipping the hearty coffee for only a few minutes before the plate of heaven came out. At first, we were surprised by the vibrant orange color of the gravy, until we tasted it. Compared to the B's and G's at Binford Cafe, the Zest creation is just slightly higher on the heat index. But the real difference was the cheesy, creamy consistency of the gravy. The meaty, orange sauce was ladled over three good sized biscuits. When the waitress (who seemed entirely too happy to be at work) asked how we were doing, we asked " is there cheese in the gravy?" hoping to recreate the dish at home. She won't tell, secret recipe, sworn to secrecy,etc. Apparently ,the work of some sort of culinary Illuminati, keeping all of the tasty secrets hidden away.
Zest was extremely satisfying, the breakfast was sublime, although a little too much for early in the a.m. ( we would have appreciated a 1/2 order option). It is hard to compare this dish to other biscuits and gravy. Since the Zest version is so unique, it nearly falls into a different category. We will definitely be back for more.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Things are poppin at the farmers' markets. We haven't had a chance to check one out since we went to the Binford one early in the season when the only produce was pretty much just asparagus. We went to the one in the North United Methodist Church parking lot for the first time this past week and picked up some goodies. We love greens and happily picked up a pound of kale which is very good. We also found a few tomatoes and, while they weren't the most flavorful ones ever, we were happy to see them nonetheless. This is a nice little market in case you can't get downtown on Wednesdays or to any of the many on Saturdays.
Friday, June 27, 2008
You've got to love the Indianapolis Museum of Art. We went there last night to hear the On the Road opening night concert with David Amram. Admission to the museum was, as always, free as was the concert, the On the Road exhibit, the Paris Posters exhibit, and the Simply Halston exhibit. Occasionally, there are special exhibits that have an admission fee but none of these that we checked out last night did. Be sure to donate in the boxes at the main entrance though to show this great museum some love. The Paris posters were beautiful and they are in the one of the European Art galleries on your immediate left as you enter the Pulliam Great Hall. The Halston dresses were gorgeous and take you back to a time when you needed "the perfect disco dress". The On the Road exhibit was fascinating and inspiring. As much as you hear about this scroll that Kerouac wrote on, nothing quite prepares you for the enormity of the thing. And it's only the first 84 feet of the 120 foot long scroll. Halfway through the exhibition, the rest of the text will be rolled out. All of the hard work for him to write it, and for everyone else thereafter to take care of it, is a bit breathtaking. Robert Frank's black and white photos hang around the scroll and they are fascinating. Something about old, candid photographs (a la Walker Evans) just pulls us in as we strive to see every detail that would have seemed mundane then, like what was on a diner menu or how much buttermilk cost. You can even try your hand at typing on an old typewriter that is set up in room off of the main exhibit room. It takes a lot of power to punch a key. Don't miss the TV set up just behind the partition by the typewriter. There are several choices of related programs that you can watch, such as Jack on the Steve Allen Show. The only problem is, if someone is banging away at the typewriter, it can be hard to hear.
Last night, David Amram played some amazing music and gave us some history of the time so hopefully you were there for that. It's not everyday that you get to hear Thelonious Monk at an art museum. There were readings of passages from On the Road and one of them was by Jim Walker, the executive director of Big Car Gallery. We just have to say that we think Jim should record an audiobook of On the Road- what a great voice!
Nuvo has a comprehensive article about all aspects of this exhibit including a list of upcoming related programs such as a screening of Pull My Daisy and the Midwest premiere of On the Road Now: Artists and Writers Respond to Kerouac in the 21st Century.
Thanks IMA, you are a treasure and we encourage everyone to support you. Thanks Mr. Irsay for not plopping this scroll in a vault for 20 years just to watch it increase in value. Speaking as members of the masses, we really appreciate being able to see it. Thank you Mr. Amram (pictured above) for a great concert last night. And thanks Jack Kerouac. Maybe when it took more power to punch a key, writers realized the power of the word more.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
It seems like it has been a long wait for the On the Road scroll to go on display here (especially considering that it is owned by Jim Irsay) but, it is here and the Indianapolis Museum of Art is doing it up right. It is on display starting today through September 21st, 2008 with accompanying pictures by Robert Frank. Tonight, to kick the exhibit off, David Amram will be playing some music that the beats could groove to- which he would know since he collaborated with Jack Kerouac. It's free in the Pulliam Great Hall from 7PM-9PM. Sounds too cool, we are warming up our fingers for snapping.
(the above picture was taken in San Francisco last year- Mrs. WYA! has a soft spot for the Beats)
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
We heard an interview with Patricia Wells and she raved about a smoker that she used on the stove top so we decided to get one. If you love big flavor in your food, but don't have the storage space of a professional chef, give this a try. We chose the Gourmet Edition Mini Smoker, from Camerons Products, and we have been amazed. In just a short time, we can smoke meat, seafood, even cheese (although we haven't tried the cheese yet). This compact little gadget comes with two containers of flavored wood chips (nine are available on their website), and is a breeze to use. Just put some wood chips in the bottom (we use aluminum foil on the bottom for easier cleanup), put down the drip pan, then the grate. You then simply put your food on the grate, put it on the stove top, wait for the first wisp of smoke, then close it up and wait.
We made some chicken breasts yesterday with the hickory chips and the meat came out so tender that we could cut it with a fork. Somehow, the smoker manages to smoke the food without making the kitchen smell smoky but you get that great smoky quality in your food. If you spray the components with a non-stick spray beforehand, cleanup is a breeze.
Well, we're off to smoke some tofu.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
When we started our old fashioned ice cream shoppe series, Kevin told us about Ivanhoe's in Upland, IN. How many thousands (literally, THOUSANDS) of times have we passed Exit 59 on I-69 and had no idea that this place was just a little bit off of the Interstate? Thanks to our informed reader, we knew enough to make the stop on a recent weekend. We spotted their cute sign (while it says "drive in" you park and go inside) and the incredibly packed parking lot. It seemed that if you are a resident of Grant County you either work at Ivanhoe's or you were there. There isn't a wait staff so you either head to the ice cream line or the meal line. We started in the meal line and ordered the "full" sized Chef Salad and the Breaded Tenderloin. We then luckily found a table and waited for our name to be called so we could pick up our order. The tenderloin was tasty and everything that it should be and the full sized salad was very filling and had a generous amount of ham. Once we had the meal out of the way, we were able to focus on the real star- dessert! We headed to the ice cream line and made the difficult decision of which sundae to have. Ivanhoe's has 100 different sundae combinations and 100 shake combinations. It can be quite overwhelming. We decided to share #49- the IWU Wildcat One sundae. What evil genius thought of this? It is hand dipped chocolate ice cream, chopped Kit Kat, pretzels, hot fudge & peanut butter. What more is there to say? If you are a fan of the peanut butter/chocolate combo and the salty/sweet combo, this is for you. It was ridiculously good. We found that the regular size was plenty enough for both of us to share too. Of course, you might not want to share.
One last note about Ivanhoe's. We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that they have a Blogger page. If you know an independent restauranteur, tell them that this is a great option for having a web presence if they don't want to pay for and maintain a website. We like having somewhere on the Internet to go to get the facts about a restaurant before we go there. We like to know their hours and, ideally, we like to see the menu beforehand so we can get excited about what we will order. Plus, with hundreds of sundae and shake options, you need time to look at the menu beforehand.
Monday, June 23, 2008
There is actually a lot of outdoor yoga offered, frequently for free, at New York City parks. Indy should take a cue from them. Come to think of it, why can't one, or several, of the Indy yoga studios organize a yoga-thon on Monument Circle during the summer? It will get media coverage and I know it was the New York Times article about the Times Square yoga that got us to spend our tourist dollars in New York. Pass this idea on to any yoga studio owners that you know. How cool would it be to lie in shavasana around the monument?
The main reason for our New York trip this past weekend was the Summer Solstice Celebration in Times Square on Saturday. Mrs. WYA! saw pictures of people doing yoga in the middle of Times Square last year and knew that she had to be a part of that. If you love New York City and/or yoga, this event is incredible. We were on a little triangular strip between Broadway and 7th Avenue with busy traffic and double decker buses with tourists taking pictures of us. During class, we got cues like "lift your sitting bones up towards the Jumbotron" and "turn your toes towards MTV". We would take our gaze to the sky with skyscrapers framing the way. It was indescribably cool and we would recommend it for anyone. There are different classes throughout the day of June 21st every year and they are at all different levels of difficulty. To top it all off, it is free. Just a little event to keep in mind if you've been meaning to schedule a New York City vacation.
If you do go to New York for any reason, make time for a tour with foodsofny.com. We went on the 3 hour Greenwich Village/SoHo food tasting and cultural walking tour with our wonderful guide Raheem and we enjoyed it immensely. You get some history, recommendations on truly quality restaurants, and very generous samples from a wide variety of places. We tasted everything from the lightest gnocchi that we've ever had to halva which is an amazing tahini paste treat that we are going to have to find a recipe for as soon as possible. There are many other tours listed on their website too. Do this at the beginning of your trip so that you can go back and have full meals at the suggested restaurants. Please don't go to New York City and eat at Olive Garden.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
We don't take many cabs when we are in New York (gotta love those subways) but, if we did, we would just love to hop into the Cash Cab. This is the best game show ever. While during other game shows, like Deal or No Deal, we find ourselves rooting against the contestant once they cross over a totally greedy line, we are so happy for the Cash Cab players because they are so happy over $25 or $50! When they go for the double or nothing offer we can barely breathe because we are so worried for them. Be sure to check this show out on Discovery Channel.
One of our must stop stores when we are in New York is Pearl River in Soho. The store is big by any standards but by New York City standards, it is GIGANTIC. There are 3 levels of merchandise ranging from beautiful brocade fabrics by the yard, slippers, and paper lanterns to musical instruments and dolls. Luckily, you don't have to be in Manhattan to check it all out- just go to their website.
Friday, June 20, 2008
You very well might be familiar with the iconic "Happy to Serve You" Grecian coffee cup; if not from visiting the city itself, from watching TV and movie characters hold them. With the proliferation of Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts cups, the classic is getting harder to come by so you might want to pick up your own sleeve of them or, better yet, a ceramic version. This site is also a great place to take care of New York food cravings such as Papaya King hot dogs, H & H Bagels, Katz's corned beef, or a knish from Yonah's that will ship directly to you.
By the way, if you just want to buy 1 ceramic mug, MoMA sells them by the each.
If we were in town this weekend, we'd be at the 7th Annual Lavender Festival at Willowfield on Saturday, June 21st. Since we are still in Manhattan, the best that we can do is to encourage you to go. We checked it out last year for the first time and it was just as lovely as it sounds. We packed a picnic basket, took the drive to Mooresville, bought some of their dreamy lavender shortbread cookies and lavender mint iced tea, and plopped ourselves under a tree. Afterwards, we roamed through the lavender fields and imagined that this must be a pretty sublime place to live. This year, Ann McWilliams (one of our favorites) will perform with Luke Austin Daugherty from 2PM-5PM. Once you fall in love with the tea, you can buy some to take home at their gift shop, along with bath and body products, sachets, art and all kinds of goodies. This is a lovely way to spend a Saturday.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
So, we had never heard of Stew or The Negro Problem until all the acclaim started pouring in for the Broadway show Passing Strange in which Stew wrote the book, lyrics, co-composes, co-orchestrates, and narrates. We love discovering artists who have been around for awhile but who we just haven't been exposed to for whatever reason. They have a CD from 1997 called Post Minstrel Syndrome that still sounds fabulous over a decade later, especially the MacArthur Park cover.
We are flying to New York City today for a long weekend so the next couple of days will have a New York connection because, to quote Billy Joel, we are "in a New York state of mind". Fairway is a beloved New York area market and they have a pretty cool deal where you can help cheer up a soldier. They have put together USO Care Packages and you can just go to their website, choose a care package ranging from $20-$69 and have it delivered to a specific soldier or to an anonymous soldier. This is a really easy, thoughtful way to show you care.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
As you head to the farmer's market at City Market today, or whenever you are near City Market, make sure to visit the Herb & Tea store inside. We used to visit this place in Broad Ripple and had such fun sniffing our way through the little black tins of tea leaf goodness. So, you're a hardcore coffee drinker and you think tea is too wimpy for you? Try some of the smoky variations. They will, as Mrs. WYA's father says, put hair on your chest.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
We fly out to New York City on Thursday for a long weekend. Any tips from those who have been there? This is our 4th trip in 3 years so we have some favorite places but will take suggestions. Nothing thrills us like a bargain so, understand that if you recommend Per Se or Le Bernardin, we probably won't go. However, if you have a favorite diner or street vendor...
Binford Cafe, a breakfast and lunch only place on the northeast side of Indy, is a little gathering spot for regulars. But that doesn't mean you aren't welcome too.
They have the usual breakfast and lunch fare, including lunch and soup specials that change daily, but what got us there and kept us there, was the biscuits and gravy.
A few years ago, we found ourselves in New Orleans and decided to grab some breakfast at a restaurant adjoining the hotel. We got the quickest, cheapest thing they had; the biscuits and gravy. The heat and flavors opened our eyes. Being Hoosier natives, we thought that the gravy just had to be a tasteless mixture of flour and milk, with some meat tossed in.
Binford Cafe is the closest we have found in Indiana to that dish. The biscuits and gravy (also available in 1/2 orders for those not willing to go too far off the diet) are served steaming on the plate. You can see the large chunks of freshly crushed black peppercorn. The gravy has that "cajun heat", but not enough heat that will put off the average diner. On their dessert cooler, there is a foreboding gargoyle that sits among a huge variety of hot sauces, in case you want to add more heat. However, we always felt it was perfect as is.
Binford Cafe 6404 Rucker Rd (near Binford and 64th) Indianapolis, IN
Monday, June 16, 2008
Just because Kevin over at Urban Indy is such a faithful reader and frequently leaves us good comments, we went a little out of our way during our Father's Day trip to Fort Wayne to snap these pics of Roanoke, IN just for him. They have a short downtown Main St. but it is adorable. It is impeccably decorated with flowers and the highlight is Joseph Decuis restaurant. You might have seen Joseph Decuis listed in Indianapolis Monthly. That is because it is so wonderful that they know it is worth it for Central Indiana residents to drive there for a great meal in an elegant setting. They have several dining rooms, all of which are beautiful, that you must take a gander at on their website. Also pictured is that rarest of all Northeastern Indiana sightings- a hill! There is fun bike riding around this area just west of Ft. Wayne.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
We just stumbled into an aisle at the 96th St. Meijer near the pharmacy that we didn't realize was even there and it has a lot of natural beauty products. Who knew that we could get Kiss My Face and Alba products here? We just recently tried Alba's Sea Salt Body Scrub and loved it because what is the point of slathering fancy body lotion on a layer of dead skin and wondering why it isn't doing any good? Just a little tip in case you thought that you had to shop at Whole Foods for these look good-feel good products.
Friday, June 13, 2008
The Summer Nights Film Series is in full swing and tonight, in our classic movie opinion, is the best film that they are showing this summer. Gilda is going to be on the big screen at dusk and we can't think of a better way to spend the evening. If you've never been to one of these movies at the IMA, here's the deal. First you pack a fabulous picnic and maybe put a deck of cards in the picnic basket too so you have something to do after you eat but before the movie starts. A citronella candle wouldn't be a bad idea either (as long as it is shorter than 12"). Also, bring a blanket or chairs. Get there early to get a good spot on the big, grassy steps of the amphitheater. Then, eat, chat, and play cards until the show starts. Gilda is Rita Hayworth's quintessential role. It shot her into the stratosphere of Hollywood stardom, made her the pin-up queen of the soldiers, and cemented her place in Hollywood history as one of the all time great sex symbols. It's not a musical but, you'll never forget her rendition of "Put the Blame On Mame" in her Jean Louis strapless black gown.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Ah, there's nothing Mrs. WYA! loves more than an intense 2 hour yoga class that works every muscle and wrings everything out. Now, in addition to the AMAZING 2 hour class that Gina has every Saturday at Invoke, on July 1st, Chuck is starting a 2 hour class on Tuesdays from 5:30PM- 7:30PM. Not for beginners, but if you've been practicing for awhile and want to advance your practice, this should be good.
And, yoga can make you rich?
And, yoga can make you rich?
As the Fuse Channel's website says, "if you're dying to go to Bonnaroo but have warants out in Tennessee" (or maybe just don't have the time or money), you are in luck because, for the first time, parts of the music festival are being nationally televised. On our Comcast cable it is channel 148 but you can check Fuse's website to see where it is with your carrier. We can only hope that they air some of Pearl Jam's performance and we wouldn't mind Death Cab for Cutie too (or Robert Randolph, or Cat Power, etc, etc.). That airs this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
OK, we kind of like this idea. We think that everyone needs to relax and enjoy life more and here's a beverage to help you do it. Drank seems to be the antithesis of the very popular, highly caffeinated, energy drinks. It's made with melatonin, valerian root, and rose hips which are some of our favorite things used in tea.
This studio is combining 2 of our favorite things: yoga and freebies. On the second Saturday of every month, All People Yoga Center offers a free introductory yoga class from 12:30-2Pm. You'll want to call to reserve your space and check out their website at www.allpeopleyoga.com to see what class is being offered. This Saturday, it is introduction to Hot Yoga.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Oh, and while you are at Heartstrings, make the quick jaunt over to Heyerley's in nearby Ossian for some sweet treats (try the brownies). It is legendary. After all, they've been at it since 1931!
107 N. Jefferson Ossian, IN 46777
Without question, our favorite place to shop for indulgent bath and body products is Heartstrings in Markle, IN. Why? We get to give our business to an Indiana businesswoman for one. Secondly, the products are flat out fabulous. Jeannie Bayless makes most of what you will find at her shop. However, you will also find some gorgeous home decor pieces and products by companies such as Cucina and our beloved Trapp candles. Jeannie doesn't have online ordering on her website but she'll ship you goodies if you send her an email wish list. Ideally, you'll find yourself in the Markle area sometime and drop by her shop. Think a soap and lotion shop in a barn in the middle of farmland sounds too folksy and not chi-chi enough for you? Think again. The above pictures show just one of the 3 gorgeous rooms that make up the shop. Plus, the products are nothing short of luxurious. The Body Butter would be a nice introduction to her products. If you are feeling adventurous, place an email order and try one- White Tea & Ginger is a nice clean scent. Another favorite is the Moisturizing Scrub in sugar with vanilla bean. This stuff amazingly exfoliates and moisturizes at the same time. Also, she has a huge selection of candles in little tin containers. We've enjoyed the White Tea one before but this time we picked up the sublime Bonsai scent. And, of course, we can't leave out her homemade soaps. No harsh chemicals, adorable packaging, and amazing scents. This past weekend, we picked up bars of Fresh Springs and Burberry, both enriched with good things like shea butter and hemp oils.
We could literally go on and on about how much we love this place. We are telling you months in advance of Christmas so that, the next time you are in northeastern Indiana, you can make sure to stop by and buy gifts that will truly be appreciated (not to mention some goodies for yourself). Or, if you never pass by this way, email Jeannie and ask for recommendations and have her ship you something to try. The prices are extremely reasonable (we got 2 bars of soap, a Trapp votive, the Moisturizing scrub, a large tub of Body Butter and the Bonsai spa candle for $35) and we love supporting "made in Indiana" products.
Monday, June 9, 2008
So the second in our series of old fashioned ice cream stands came to our attention by an anonymous recommendation left under comments in our first installment about Jimmie's. We hauled ourselves all the way up to Garrett, IN to visit Blue Moon (4504 St. Rd. 327). It is a tiny little place- no dining in, just driving through on either side of the building. There is a big menu (pictured- click for bigger image) before the order window so you can make up your mind. We tried the tin roof sundae, a small hot fudge sundae, and a root beer. The tin roof sundae was yummy with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, and peanuts. We were surprised at the generous size of the small hot fudge sundae (it comes in a cup which is handy for the driving patrons) and delighted with its fudgy, whipped creamy, even-with-a-cherry-on-top goodness. The small root beer was also larger than expected and beyond refreshing on the hot day. We were charmed by the joint and, if you ever get near Garrett, Indiana, we think you will be too.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
In case you don't have the opportunity to drive through Fortville, IN, we thought that we'd bring you some architectural highlights. The martini wielding pink elephant at the liquor store is a big favorite. We also like the quaint IGA (who knew there were still IGA's?) and the folksy Huck's. Huck's might be a chain gas station but this is the only one that we have ever seen. We like Fortville's individuality.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Ready to try some yoga classes with a minimum investment? New students to Invoke can pay a mere $30 bucks for 2 weeks of unlimited yoga and pilates classes. Just begin your 2 weeks any time between June 1st and July 1st. That is a great deal considering 1 class generally costs $15 at the drop in rate.
Doesn't it seem like so many fun events get piled on the same weekend in June? There are a couple of events that we have greatly enjoyed in past years happening this weekend.
First, there is the 54th & Monon Art Fair (and we bet that you can guess where that takes place) on June 7th and 8th from 10AM-4PM. It's smaller that some of the biggies like the Broad Ripple Art Fair but that is part of its appeal. Plus, it doesn't hurt that they give away free hot dogs and lemonade!
Secondly, there is the Brown County Log Cabin Tour also on both June 7th and 8th. We really envied these homes and the gorgeous surrounding area the year that we went. You pick up your tickets and a map at the tour HQ at the Gazebo on the Village Green and then drive around their well marked roads to the homes.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
So, we continue to spread the word for WITT 91.9 FM because we like to support local coolness. They are having a Grand Opening on June 21st with a bike ride on the Monon starting at the Bike Line and ending at the WITT studio space on Mass Ave. Or, if you aren't into bike riding, just head directly to the studio space for local bands, food, and art exhibits. Sounds like a fun way to support this local endeavor.
We are all for encouraging kids to read and Flip N Flops are an ingenious way to do it in the summer. If you want to make sure the little ones' brains don't turn to mush during the summer months, get them these wearable flip flops with little books stored in the heels. On top of that, the stories are about teaching compassion and empathy. Clever, functional, and good-hearted; you can't hardly ask for more than that in a summer shoe.