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An Insider’s Guide to Summertime In Boulder, Colorado

Hiking in Boulder Colorado

From the first significant snowfall, folks begin arriving, from far and near, to enjoy the world-class ski slopes high in the Rocky Mountains. The stunning beauty of the snowy mountains along with the variety of winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice climbing, compels several people to choose Colorado their winter vacation destination.
Colorado can be gorgeous in the summertime also. The little city of Boulder, Colorado—nestled along the eastern “front range” of the Rocky Mountains, at a modest altitude of 5,300 feet—is an absolutely glorious place to be from late-May through September.

Iconic Boulder Summertime Destinations

Walk the Pearl Street Mall

This four-block brick pedestrian mall will delight you with its fountains, street performers, and abundance of gorgeous flowers (tulips of every imaginable color; and other varieties later in the summer). Not to mention all the charming restaurants and small businesses that line it: a discerning shopper’s heaven! But really, simply strolling down the mall on a sunny summer afternoon has persuaded more than a few visitors to become permanent Boulder residents.

Take in a Bands On The Bricks performance

Every Wednesday evening from 7:00-9:00 pm, June through August, you can enjoy a couple hours of free music and dancing, beneath the Colorado sky. Bring a blanket to spread on the courthouse lawn, purchase a microbrew or margarita in the beer garden, and put on your dancing shoes. If you’re not in the mood to dance yourself, you can watch local street dancers do their thing.

Walk or bike the Boulder Creek path

This sweet 5.5-mile paved path is peacefully shared by walkers, bikers, joggers, and skaters. As its name implies, it runs parallel to the Boulder Creek. You can get onto it right downtown (e.g. near the Dushanbe Teahouse) and then travel west toward the mountains (and a bit beyond the Boulder city limit), or to the eastern parts of town. Both directions are beautiful. Additionally, you can raft the river itself—a great option, in particular, for super-hot days.

Enjoy Boulder Open-Space hiking

Much of the western edge of Boulder, Colorado is designated “Open-Space” that are intentionally kept free from commercial development. There are many great hiking trails around these designated areas, just a stone’s throw from central Boulder. Some of the best ones are:

  1. The trails emanating from centrally-located Chautauqua Park (onto Green Mountain or the Flatirons)
  2.  The more northern Mount Sanitas
  3.  The magical Shanahan Ridge trailhead—at the far southern end of the city—which links up with the spectacular Fern Gulch trail, which will take you to the summit of Bear Peak.

Visit the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

This might be the most beautiful teahouse you’ll ever see and it has a fun and inspiring history as well. It came in the mail, piece by piece, as a gift from Boulder’s sister city, Dushanbe (the capital and largest city of Tajikistan). The hand-carved and hand-painted ceiling, tables, stools, columns, and exterior ceramic panels were all lovingly crafted by Tajikistan artisans. There’s a fountain in the middle of the teahouse, tables inside and out (with the Boulder Creek running nearby), and a bar counter from which you can order a cup of award-winning homemade chai. Whether you come just for tea, or to share a lunch or dinner with friends, the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse is a place you cannot miss!

Boulder Restaurants & Colorado Cuisine

Sherpa’s Restaurant

With authentic Nepalese, Indian, and Tibetan cuisine, Great momos (Tibetan stuffed dumplings) among other things, and delightful decor, Sherpa’s Restaurant is a must see. It is located just west and a block south of the Pearl Street Mall.

Sushi Zanmai

Visitors can find excellent Japanese food at Sushi Zanmai, with great happy hour prices for lunch (11:30 am – 2:00 pm) and dinner (5:00 pm – 6:30 pm). Right downtown, a block north of the Pearl Street Mall.

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant

This is the place in Boulder for awesome, elegant vegan and vegetarian fare, just a half-mile or so east of the Pearl Street Mall.

Boulder Farmer’s Market

For a sampling of authentic Colorado cuisine, check out the farmer’s market on Saturday morning or Wednesday afternoon. It sits in front of the Dushanbe Teahouse and some of the native favorites that you’ll find there include:

  • Palisade peaches, and a variety of melons– The climate is perfect for producing luscious peaches and melons—not to be missed!
  • Trout or striped bass–caught fresh from one of Colorado’s many rivers
  • Roasted green chilis, and various hot sauces–The scent of roasting chilies is something you’ll encounter frequently in summertime Boulder. Elk, venison, bison or wild boar, in the form of steaks, sausage, or burgers. Wild game roam freely in the mountains and plains, and their meat is a Colorado delicacy.
  • Rack of lamb–Colorado is one of the nation’s leading producers of lamb, and it is known to be especially delicious.
  • High-end granola–Boulder is a mecca for endurance athletes as well as outdoor enthusiasts (campers, climbers, hikers, etc.). The high demand for high-quality granola means we have a vast variety to choose from. Yum!

Charming Boulder Bookstores

The Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe

The Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe is great for poetry-lovers and literature buffs. This sweet bookstore is “on the hill” in the middle of the University of Colorado campus. It is a great place to have a cup of tea or coffee while reading some new or old favorite poems.

Lighthouse Bookstore

A staircase takes you from the busy Pearl Street Mall down into this basement hideaway, that features a great array of metaphysical and spiritual titles, along with an in-house psychic and tarot readings. Classic Boulder.

What To Do On A Rainy Day In Boulder

Take in a show at the Sommers-Bausch Observatory
If there happens to be a special multimedia show–in the observatory’s circular auditorium–you’re in for a real treat.
Enjoy a performance or art show at The Dairy Arts Center
The movie theater, array of galleries, and performance spaces provide inspiring options for art, dance, and theater lovers.
Music compliments of the Chautauqua Concert Series
Get tickets for a concert at the Chautauqua Auditorium or Community House: beautiful venues nestled at the base of the Flatirons.

Awesome Day Trips From Boulder

Brainard Lake Recreation Area
A 30-40 minute drive from Boulder, this recreation area features jaw-dropping gorgeous alpine lakes and high-mountain forested trails. The Brainard Lake Recreation Area is open to hikers only during the summer months and is well worth the drive.
Nederland’s Carousel of Happiness
A half an hour drive through the stunningly-beautiful Boulder Canyon will place you in the quirky yet charming Nederland, which can easily be explored on foot. The Carousel of Happiness–with its beautiful hand-carved animals–is definitely worth a ride, or two.
Whether you’re just passing through, or enjoying a more extended visit, Boulder, Colorado in the summertime is sure to delight you!

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Tasting Your Way Through Philadelphia Neighborhoods

The City of Brotherly Love is one of the most exciting places to visit in all of the United States. This historical city is divided into distinct neighborhoods, and it seems that each one is known for something delicious. In addition to being the birthplace of our nation, Philadelphia is the premier destination for succulent foods. Below, we will provide a guide to tasting your way through one of the biggest cities in the country. When you visit Philadelphia, be prepared for one of the most mouthwatering experiences you have ever had!

South Philadelphia

South Philadelphia is a large, mostly residential neighborhood. In areas such as Queen Village, Bella Vista, Graduate Hospital, and Passyunk Square, there is no shortage of Italian restaurants serving home-cooked pasta, meats, and seafood.
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Diners are prominent in South Philadelphia, so start your day by having a cheese omelet at the Melrose Diner, or perhaps French toast at the Penrose Diner. Classic breakfast selections are only the beginning. Diners in Philadelphia are famous for
their bakery sections, so save room for some of the best muffins, danishes, cookies, cakes, and pies you’ve ever had.
Later in the day, try places such as Ralphs, The South Philly Bar & Grill, or Marra’s for lunch or dinner and prepare to be delighted. The South 9th Street Italian Market is the center of it all, consisting of ten blocks of bakeries, butcher shops, and specialty food stores. It is at the Italian Market that you’ll find two of the restaurants that serve the sandwich that Philadelphia is famous for, the cheesesteak. Pat’s King of Steaks has been known as the “Inventor of the Cheesesteak” for almost a century. Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, this walk-up window with outdoor seating proves that there is no wrong time to enjoy what the locals call a “Steak Sandwich.” Located across the street is Geno’s Steaks, also open around the clock. They pride themselves on the “Best Cheesesteak in Town,” so stop by and decide for yourself.
After your meal, remember that no trip to South Philly is complete without dessert from one of the Italian bakeries that the
city is known for. Stop by Termini Brothers for Italian Rum Cake that will melt in your mouth, or Isgro’s Bakery for the best cannoli in the city.
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Center City

Center City is where most of the action takes place, and that starts with an excellent meal. There are so many sights to see in this city, but it is important to visit the hottest restaurants first. Center City, which is compromised of several neighborhoods, including Washington Square West, Rittenhouse Square, Old City, and the Midtown Village, is the premier location of many great eateries.
Let’s start with the Midtown III Restaurant, right in the heart of Center City. With an old-school ambiance that visitors can’t resist, this classic restaurant is just as popular for pancakes as it is for late night cocktails, so stop by at any hour of the day. If you come in the morning, ordering scrapple with your meal is a must. Enjoy your breakfast and gear up for the rest of the day with more great food to come.
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In the afternoon or evening, head to Serpico, which features an open kitchen and an industrial feel, not to mention some of the best food in Philadelphia. Located on South Street, one of the most iconic streets in the city, this restaurant does not disappoint. Try the grilled short ribs, halibut, or fried duck legs and see why city tourists come here every time they visit Philadelphia.
When you are in Philly, you must save room for water ice. Head over to John’s Water Ice for this Philadelphia staple in flavors that include chocolate, vanilla, cherry, pineapple, and much more. Customize your treat any way you like. Try mixing flavors, or make it a gelato by adding a scoop of ice cream. A true Philadelphia tradition, you’ll want to try a different flavor every day.

Chinatown

No one wants to leave Philadelphia without a visit to Chinatown. There are so many restaurants packed into this neighborhood, and you’ll want to try them all. Whether you are in the mood for dim sum, Cantonese cuisine, or Sichuan cooking, Chinatown is where you will find it.
Stop at Red King’s 2 Restaurant for some of the best Dan Dan noodles you’ll ever taste. Perhaps you are in the mood for seafood, in which case Tai Lake Restaurant is the place you need to be. Or, it could be that you are looking for Sweet & Sour Chicken and Pork Fried Rice. If so, you are in luck, because there are plenty of places that serve your tried and true favorites. Come to Chinatown when you are good and hungry, and you are sure to have the experience of a lifetime.

West Philadelphia

This area of the city is known for casual cuisine with plenty of diversity. Here, you’ll find not only burgers and hot dogs, but plenty of Ethiopian, Thai, halal Senegalese dishes, and much more.
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You do not want to miss out on the Walnut Street Cafe, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as brunch on the weekends. Try dishes such as Hanger Steak, Pan-Seared Potato Gnocchi, or maybe a selection from the pastry counter. With cinnamon rolls, pistachio-cherry croissants, and raspberry jam scones, you’ll want to savor every bite and then come back for more.
Visitors of the city should definitely try Local 44, a Philadelphia brewpub that is known for favorites including Korean Fried Chicken, Loaded Mac & Cheese, and a Pastrami Spiced Ruben.
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Every foodie knows that they must try the soft pretzels when visiting Philadelphia. Stop by the Philadelphia Pretzel Factory for a treat that you’ll love indulging in. Here, you will find freshly baked, handmade and hand-twisted pretzels that are delicious from the first bite to the last. Specialty items include Pretzel Dogs, Pretzel Sausages, and Pepperoni Pretzel Melts. Enhance your pretzel with a dip such as honey mustard, cheese dip, or cinnamon dip. No matter what you choose, a soft pretzel is a true Philadelphia experience. One thing is for sure, everyone will have a great time eating their way through West Philadelphia.
Philadelphia is a place known for its many wonderful restaurants, which serve up plenty of must-try foods, making the city a culinary delight.
 
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Southern Hospitality Rediscovered: Barbecue, Breakdowns, and the Unexpected

Southern Restaurant "Peace-N-Hominy"

Travelers well know the charms of iconic southern spots like Savannah, Charleston, and New Orleans. Beyond the pages of the well photographed plantation homes and the gentile invitation of historic coastal row houses, I rediscover southern hospitality on a recent weekend getaway. In the process I realize that the south has many surprises to offer in unexpected places. Fear not, the south is living up to that famous saying, and then some.

A new baby nephew sparks the family to pile into the car and head from Atlanta to Charlotte, NC. Save a few glimpses of beautiful Lake Hartwell just across the Georgia-South Carolina border and numerous billboards promoting a burgeoning moonshine industry – yes, this is the south – the drive between Atlanta and Charlotte is largely unremarkable. The first sign that we are getting close was the Peachoid, a gigantic water tower that is both shaped and painted to look like an over-ripened peach.
We plug on, and eventually arrive to the outskirts of Charlotte where we are greeted by our family at their new home and set in to spend time with their new baby boy.
Babies are cute, and as the father of three girls I am fascinated to play with my three year old nephew (and his toys – sadly my girls aren’t into Iron Man) while my wife held the new little guy. With the new baby and all, we decide to order in. “Barbecue? I’m asked by my sister-in-law. Um, Yes, please! It isn’t a grand to do, nor a special search for the best barbecue in North Carolina. We just seek out the nearest local barbecue joint – and those are just the kind where you can discover something unexpected.

Peace N’ Hominy

My brother-in-law and I head to pick up the order from Peace N’ Hominy, where they describe their love of barbecue as “the peaceful coexistence of all bbq and corn, be it hominy, maize or grits,” a clear tout to their corn bread, creamed corn and cheesy grits. Here I discover the first great surprise of the overnight trip. Barbecue, generally speaking, is a culinary conundrum. Styles and variations pervade this great country from east to west and each has their own signatures that should not only be appreciated, but outright honored. North Carolina’s take on southern barbecue, has two predominant styles: Eastern style and Lexington style. True to their name, Peace N’ Hominy throws the rule book in the smoker, and pursues fantastic flavor, the rules be damned.
In the world of southern barbecue, preparation, cooking style, and serving are each, on their own, relatively straight-forward (although not easy to execute). Taken together though, they present a challenge that can only be conquered by someone who’s earned the pitmaster title through years of blood, sweat and smoke. The quality of the ingredients used is paramount to good southern barbecue and their absence can be detected, even by a novice, more so than almost any other style of cooking. Fortunately, Peace N’ Hominy has us covered.
We arrive to Peace N’ Hominy, an unassuming little building with patrons buzzing about (a good sign to be sure). We walk in the rear entrance, a little back porch offering a spot in the shade with a few small tables. Maybe on my next visit during the fall, I think. Making our way inside, the small interior is full and we saunter up to the counter to secure our order. After the usual pleasantries, payment, and a brief exchange inquiring about an extra side of hot barbecue sauce, we thank them and are stopped by a young man as we turn for the car.
Nevermind that we’re two capable, grown men, he informs us that he will carry our takeout box to the car, no, he insists. While walking to the car we explain that we really can carry the box, that it is an unnecessary jesture. We are quickly informed that their policy is both clear and strict – customers with large take out orders are to be helped to car. There is no room for interpretation. We thank him again and I can’t help but wonder if this would happen back home in Atlanta. Sure, Atlanta is still most certainly the south, but it is increasingly an international city (mostly for the good). While there are pockets of old southern charm, it isn’t something you encounter everywhere you go. This experience at Peace N’ Hominy is the south – and I like it.
We make the quick drive home, the smell from the backseat taunts us to press the pedal a little faster. Into the house and a quick impromptu buffet setup later, it is time. The amazing spread is anchored by pulled pork and carved brisket (that’s beef for those of you in Bar Harbor), smoked in a blend of apple and hickory wood. The mains are surrounded by a heart-stopping assortment of side dishes: creamed corn, 6 cheese mac & cheese (um, for the kids, just for the kids), an additional style of chili-mac, because in the south one mac & cheese just won’t do, bourbon beans, and crowned with a pan of corn bread and rolls.

The Peace

The pulled pork is well prepared and very good. Though, in a head-to-head battle, the carved brisket delivers a knock out and takes home the title. The flavor of the bourbon beans oozes with brown sugar molasses and pork. The contents of my plate begin to intermingle as the meal moves on and the brisket, beans and the sauce unite in an exceptional song of southern barbecue goodness.

The Hominy

I like corn bread, sure. It isn’t a food that I would normally write about though. This cornbread, however, makes we wonder if Aunt Bea from Mayberry might have been squirreled away in that kitchen (interesting note: the real town of “Mayberry” made famous by the Andy Griffith Show is located a little more than an hour up the road in nearby Mount Airy, NC). Sweet, not overly dense, and full of real corn flavor, it is a great execution of an old favorite. So skip the rolls and go straight for the corn bread.

The Southern Barbecue Surprise

The big surprise of the meal is the chili mac & cheese. My brother-in-law insists we try it and I oblige. I’ve had chili mac before mind you, and it has never been my cup of tea. Like Jack Nicholson’s show-stealing performance over lead actor Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men, this side dish, turn superstar, takes the spotlight. No kidney beans or thick tomato sauce here, this is more aptly titled Beef Mac. The ground beef is beautifully minced with a wonderful blend of spices, and just a hint of heat, then chunks are slightly layered into the mac & cheese. Enough to get a good bite of the beef, but not enough to overpower the penne-style noodle. It is simply fantastic.
To a purist, the spread from Peace N’Hominy isn’t traditional carolina southern barbecue, but I am never one to get caught up in rules and formality, and besides, this sure is darn good barbecue.
One evening in, a few great southern barbecue surprises, delightful southern hospitality, and a sleeping baby. This is shaping up to be a great weekend.

The Peachoid

We wake to a nice breakfast of homemade cinnamon rolls, bacon and Davis Special (a simple traditional family recipe from my wife’s side of the family consisting of pan-friend sausage and scrambled eggs that undoubtedly goes by a thousand different names in a thousand different families, but is nevertheless tasty). We spend the morning with the kids at the pool, sit and talk some more, then pack into the ol’ family truckster around noon to head back to Atlanta for work on Monday.
Remember the big Peach-looking water tower?
Apparently the kids didn’t get enough to eat at breakfast, and okay, I am hungry again too, so we stop about an hour into our drive back for lunch at a chain restaurant that sat underneath the Peachoid. We put the car into park, and well, it doesn’t park. The car is stuck in gear and the gear shifter just flops around (if this is happening to you right now, it is a broken shifter cable, yes, that’s a thing). Making this doubly frustrating, we had this exact problem repaired in Atlanta just three days earlier. On the verge of a hangry group, we decide to put the parking break on, turn off  the engine and head in for lunch. We’ll sort it out while we grab a bite.

Gaffney, SC

The small town of Gaffney, SC sits about half way between Charlotte, NC and Greenville, SC. Not to be the condescending city folk type, but there isn’t a lot going on in Gaffney, especially on Sunday. We walk into the restaurant with limited expectations, just glad to be in the air conditioning, and inform them of our car trouble. The manager greets us genuinely, and warmly, assuring us it is no problem, that we should come on in and sit down. Our minds race with worries of rescheduled appointments, canceled kids’ activities, and figuring out how to get our car fixed and it and us both back home. The manager’s gentleness helps to diffuse the stress of the situation.
We sit down and our server picks up where the manager left off, bringing us some cool drinks with a warm smile. We order and begin to make phone calls. First, the repair shop in Atlanta explains that they can’t do anything about their shoddy work unless we get the car back to them. Unfortunately, that is 180 miles away. We quickly discover that in Gaffney, SC very little is open on Sunday.

Meet Warren, Southern Hospitality Personified

My wife connects with the owner of a local repair shop, Warren, who can’t help us at the moment (because it is Sunday, and they are closed, and he is about to into a movie with his family – and we remember why all businesses used to be closed on Sunday). Warren gives us the name of a towing service that can take the vehicle to his shop and promises to check back in with us in a few hours to make sure everything is worked out. We aren’t interested in a local tow, we need to get the car to Atlanta (so the local mechanic can fix his errors). We call the towing service, who again, is very kind, but unable to tow it that far. They give us another name and we call. They’re open, but it sounds pretty clear that they don’t have full staff on Sunday. A 180 mile tow job would be a stretch. They kindly ask if they can check with their staff to find a driver and call us back. Pinned down like Davy Crockett at the Alamo, but resigned to get home, we have little choice but to agree and hope that we fare better than Davy.

Edward To The Rescue

A short while later we receive a call back. Edward, the owner of the tow service would make the trip and get us home, personally. Relief, we’d be late, but we’d get home tonight, much to the childrens’ disappointment who thought that a night in a hotel sounded like a great adventure. Note: To be fair, my 13 year old daughter wanted absolutely nothing to do with us or another night away from home and her laptop.
We enjoy our lunch and the great service and conclude just as Edward pulls into the lot with his honking big F-450 flat bed tow truck. The rescue is here. Introductions complete, Edward positions the truck as we explain that the car is stuck in gear. After a few head scratches he simply says “well… they didn’t tell me that.” Uh oh. Long story short, this throwback to a time when men were men puts his body on the line to manually disengage the gear under the car while I stand on the brakes. He states without emotion, “the worst that will happen is that it will roll over my arm.” This is insanity. My wife is near panicked at the thought of him being crushed. We all pray the car doesn’t roll down the slope of the parking lot, crushing Edward, once the gear is released.
The breaks hold. Once he is free from the undercarriage, I slowly guide the car, rolling backwards to line it up with the tow truck bed.

We all cram into Edward’s hulk of a truck and say goodbye to the Peachoid, the odd peach water tower landmark that many have passed, but few have actually sat underneath (for several hours). Wanting a bit more space for the family to make the drive home, we plan to stop at the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport about 35 miles down the road where a rental car is hopefully waiting for us (again, nothing open on Sunday in Gaffney). Barreling down I-85 in Edward’s black beast, the smell of Marlboro 100’s is thickly fused into the upholstery. While brave, and courteous, Edward wasn’t much for conversation, simply responding to my wife’s curiosities with a polite Yes, Ma’am or No, Ma’am.

The Wizarding World of Car Rentals?

Normally, the prospect of going to the airport to pick up a rental car ranks somewhere between a root canal and watching your wife try on clothes. You have to do it, but you aren’t going to like it. I’m sure this will be an hour long exercise in frustration. Yet another surprise – this airport isn’t a nightmare – at all. A lovely tree-lined drive that easily, and without fanfare, brings you to the terminal building marks the approach to Greenville-Spartanburg Airport. We approach the terminal and I jump down (literally) from the massive truck and head into the parking garage to find the rental car counters while my wife settles up some payment details with Edward. The distance from where I launch myself from Edward’s truck to the rental car counter is about a 40 second walk. Wow, that was easy.
I approach the Enterprise Car Rental counter and Drew, the Manager, offers a friendly welcome.  Drew pulls up my reservation as I share some of our misfortunes, thankful a vehicle is available on such short notice. As if a graduate from a some mysterious school of wizardry and manners, Drew couldn’t be nicer or more engaging. Sometimes, plain old friendliness, is the hallmark of southern hospitality. He lists a few vehicle choices that he can make available to me for the same rate, and one sparks my interest. Yet another surprise. He happily and efficiently completes the rental and directs us to our vehicle – a Ford F-150. Awesome, I’ve always wanted a pick up truck, but have never bought one. The day is finally looking up. Our car is being towed home and I’m sitting in big, bad, slightly jacked up pick-up!

Southern Hospitality In Action

We cruise down I-85 in our sweet pickup (that is surprisingly smooth) and meander through town towards home. The phone rings, uh oh. Phew, it’s one of my daughter’s friends asking if our car is on a tow truck. Good, Edward still has it! Just as we turn onto our street the phone rings again and my stomach sinks a touch. My wife answers and it is Warren, his trip to the movies with his family no finished. He wants to check back in to make sure everything is under control. We thank him for the follow-up and assure him all is now well.
We make it. The family piles out of the Ford and into the house, the welcoming sound of barking dogs signal the road trip is complete. Just as we begin to settle in, Edward pulls up to the house. As he lowers the car into the drive, we offer thanks for the bad day that turned into one full of good surprises .
Southern barbecue, southern hospitality and two kick-butt trucks. I do love the south. If you are ever rolling down I-85 between Charlotte and Atlanta, I recommend a visit to Gaffney, SC, even for a quick bite, to enjoy what southern hospitality looks like in the real world.