I swear, I'm not overweight. But dear God, do I love to eat. That is, I love to eat on my terms.
What I mean is, I'm not the kinda gal you'd find mowing down a plate of meat and potatoes, asking for seconds or pointing to my sides saying, "I think I saved some room over here for dessert!" I'm picky. I can't stand watching people talk with their mouths full or people who get chunks of food stuck to their lips. Loud chewers make me visibly ill. I hate tuna fish, butter, chocolate, watermelon, deviled eggs, pastries, marshmallows, shellfish, most salad dressings and any food that is white and has a creamy consistency. I don't like to be touched when I eat. I will eat past eight o'clock in the evening, but I will be irritable and angry afterward.
Cats are perhaps the only eaters that are as finicky as me.
But during summertime, I tone my picky foodie snobbishness down - scarfing down burgers around a barbecue well past the eight o'clock hour, slathering my tongue with near-melting vanilla ice cream and even sampling a slice of watermelon here and there.
Summer is the time to experiment - and it's the only way that you can earn your official Inlander Food & amp; Drink badge. There are two ways to get this badge - the hard way (experimenting) or the easy way (old faithful). Happy campers: get ready to hork, scarf and gobble your way through the season either way if you want this badge.
Mission One: Ice Cream
The Experiment: Just because it's summer, don't digress to eating freezer-burned dreamsicles or cardboard-box ice cream. There's no excuse, especially when Spokane has so many local scoopateers ready to serve you a childlike experience in a cone.
And since we know you're all about experimenting this summer, why not dive into a cup of gelato? What's that? Why, it's ice cream's classy cousin, the one that went abroad for year and came back all sophisticated and delicious.
Ferrante's, a pizza, calzone and all-things-Italian eatery, is the only gelato pusher that we know of in town. The newly opened joint, located at 4516 S. Regal St., offers a dozen or so flavors, including the traditional stracciatella and tiramisu.
Old Faithful: Looking for a more traditional, vanilla experience? I'm not talking Baskin-Robbins here - I mean the good stuff, the homemade, local ice cream that's chock full of fat. Like the ice cream of Mary Lou's Milk Bottle on Garland Avenue or from Mary Lou's shop in the Valley. There's nothing like licking a cone or sipping a shake inside the oversized white bottle during the summer months. Once you're grown up, oversized buildings like the Milk Bottle are the only things that can still make you feel small.
Or check out the newest handiwork of the owners of the Shop, Black Coffee Recording and Anvil Coffee Company at The Scoop at 924 S. Perry St. Word on the street is they use real cream and spit out buckets of their own custom-made flavors. We've heard the best comes right from Anvil: a coffee-flavored cream that'll have you screaming.
And if you want to get really nostalgic, try making your own icy treats at home. Pour juice into ice cube trays or popsicle molds, add marshmallows, fresh fruit, candy or anything else that makes your sweet tooth sing. Stick 'em in the freezer and sell 'em on the corner for a nostalgic price like 10 cents.
Mission Two: Da Earf
The Experiment: If you're anything like me, sometimes a cookbook is nothing more than a bunch of pretty pictures and ingredients you can't find in Spokane. But it's hard to find ingredients as fresh and pretty as the ones in the glossy pictures. That is, until summer. If there's any season to get into cooking, it's now - when the ground is bursting with stuff that's ready to be eaten.
This summer, immerse yourself in the beauty of cooking and the process of cultivating food during the Quillisascut Farm School's Farm Culinary 101 Program. Spend six days at the Rice, Wash. farm (near Colville) working on the Quillisascut Farm, and reaping the benefits of your work during nighttime feasts. You'll milk goats, make cheese and harvest produce all day, and spend the evenings working with professional chefs using the ingredients from the farm. Check it out at www.quillisascutcheese.com. Mary Jane Butters - the brains behind the MaryJane's Farm magazine - offers a similar program called the Pay Dirt Farm School where students can learn the ropes of organic farming and harvesting. Get the details at maryjanesfarm.org.
Old Faithful: The best part about summer eating is all of the great grub that's in season. But if you are a downtowner or don't have access to your own plot of land, growing that fresh food yourself isn't all that convenient. Don't fret - you can still get your paws on seasonal food at the Moscow Farmers' Market, located in Friendship Square in downtown Moscow. We challenge you to drive southward and make a meal entirely from the vendors' goods. How about picking up a little emu and trying your hand at some Emu Sukiyaki or some shish kebabs from the fresh veggies there? Or buy some meat from the guy with the enormous grill, and bring it home to your salivating guests (and tell them you made it). Think long-term and pick up some seeds from the herb guy there to plant in your garden or indoor pots. Get all of your fresh produce there for a salad and grab some bread at Zume on your way out of town. Be sure to stop by Ferdinand's in Pullman for some fresh ice cream and Cougar Gold cheese.
For a more local jaunt, check out the goods of Tolstoy Farms and other vendors at the Spokane Farmers' Market, located downtown on Second Avenue between Division and Browne. With just-picked strawberries, asparagus, onions, huckleberries, tomatoes, seafood and bread for sale, the thrifty Inlander Happy Camper should have no problem eating fresh all season long.
Mission 3: Drink
The Experiment: The experiment here is actually traveling to get drunk. By that I mean, actually leaving the confines of your dining room or favorite water hole to get liquored up. (Of course, please avoid traveling after you get drunk -- unless, of course, you have a designated driver.)
The Spokane area is home to many, many wineries, including the picturesque Arbor Crest Wine Cellars. Arbor Crest makes it easy to drive-to-drink, offering a series of Sunday Sunset Concerts (beginning this Sunday) featuring the music talents of everyone from the Doghouse Boyz, Annie O'Neill, Janie Cribbs and 2 for 2. The Arbor Crest winos pair up with KPBX each year for the An Evening Under the Stars, a night of music, dancing and a silent auction -- this year, on July 21.
Or if you're really itching for something original, pack up the car and head out to the beautiful shores of Priest Lake, Idaho for a Huckleberry Margarita at Hill's Resort. While you're at it, scarf down some of their signature Huckleberry Pie or Cheesecake before dipping your toes in the icy cold lake.
Old Faithful: If you're not brave enough to scale the windy roads up to Arbor Crest or Priest Lake, head straight up Grand Boulevard to the Rocket Market (at 726 E. 43rd Ave.) for the Friday Night Wine and Cheese classes. Wine counselor Carl and cheese lady Shanda show you great wines and tasty cheeses each week for $18-$20. Call ahead and make reservations. The Market has a wide selection of wines on hand all the time, so stop by, pick up a bottle or have a glass there while listening to live music throughout the summer on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Or, if you're feeling even lazier, try making some of your own booze. Try your hand at making your own Sangria, limoncello or pomegranate liqueur. Add fruit and juice to your booze, blend it up and toast yourself for completing the Inlander Food & amp; Drink badge.