Posts filed under 'Sight Seeing'

What do cheesemakers do when they’re not making cheese?

ParaisoOne of the Mozzarella Company’s head cheesemakers, Octavia, has recently opened a restaurant in West Dallas where she is serving up fresh, authentic Mexican food in a cozy, converted old diner. Paula took us to eat at Paraiso Restaurant Taqueria tonight. It was such a treat to see Octavia there- normally her daughter runs the show at the restaurant- but the highlight was definitely the food. Still in its early stages, the restaurant opened about six weeks ago and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Paraiso is located in Cockrell Hill section of West Dallas on West Jefferson.

We went with a troop of friends and colleagues from the cheese factory and based on Paula’s recommendation we started with a round of Gorditas for the table. Soft corn tortillas made on premisis (see below) filled with various meats or vegetables, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and topped with some crumbles of queso fresco. They were accompanied by a hot chili sauce- I could put about a pinprick’s worth on mine before my tongue was on fire. Tasty.

Chef and the gorditas Gorditas in their glory

Our plates lined up to go outYou can see from the lineup of our main entrees that our eyes were bigger than our stomachs but also that we got a variety of dishes. Some of us had grilled chicken with various sauces like mole, our vegetarian representative had flautas- divine, many had tacos, and Paula swung out to try something called a Sopas. Sopas are like individual tarts made from corn tortilla dough and filled with meat, pico de gallo, sour cream and toppped with queso fresco. I realized that none of this is particularly revolutionary food but this is exactly what is refreshing about it- it is just the simple, authentic mexican dishes done very well. A satisfying meal for both your belly and your pocketbook. Just make sure you bring beer if you need to have it as they aren’t selling it in house yet.I watched this woman make tortillas until our food came. I’d never seen a press like the one she was using.

Tortillas step 1 Tortillas step 2 Tortillas step 3 Tortillas step 4

Add comment December 10th, 2006

Sufjan Stevens should make a song about The Avon…

AvonThe Avon Theater is back! And it is better than ever…. As a kid the Avon Theater was the place I saw movies. Muppets. ET. Orca (my older sister took me and I ended up turning around in my seat during the scary parts). It’s in downtown Decatur, IL (which was “town” for us country kids out in Niantic) and once the mall opened, the Avon dried up along with the rest of downtown.

Well, the Avon reopened. Just as I remember: old theater stage, orchestra pit, balcony seating. Not only do they have $4.50 matinee shows but cartoons before the show (I know?! it’s like the ‘50 in there), no ads (what a concept) and the owner calls out over the loudspeaker about coming attractions and concessions. After a preview for a movie he yelled, “That looks great… I’m going to be the first in line for that!”

If you happen to be stranded in Decatur, IL - we highly recommend a stop at the Avon…

Add comment September 26th, 2006

The tables are turned…

So while we were in Portland we were interviewed for Cooking up a Story by Rebecca Gerendasy. Cooking up a Story is an online, short documentary site about food and the people obsessed by it….

The Cooking up a team followed us around the Portland farmer’s market while we met cheesemakers from the local community. It was good for us to be interviewed… to know what it is like to have people ask us about what we do… Being interviewed is stressful. It makes you very conscious of your words… and your voice. Holy crap is my voice really that nasally!?! Why didn’t anyone tell me!? You all suck.

So take a look - and check out Rebecca’s other segments - she does really beautiful pieces on a variety of food-related topics.

3 comments August 20th, 2006


Big FritterNot to distract from the Mt. Townsend post that went up this morning (see below) but we couldn’t help ourselves on this one. We had a BIG welcome to Wisconsin in the form of an extraordinary Apple Fritter that we got from a Chowhound recommended spot called Mr. D’s. The thing is that it wouldn’t matter if the fritter was good or not, really- because of its size and yet it IS good. In fact it is excellent.

The fritter was photographed on a regular sized paper dinner plate that one might use at a picnic and note that we’d already eaten some before we took the photograph. Also note my glasses to the right… showing that, indeed, this fritter is the size of my head.

This could feed our entire building of hipsters in the East Village in NY. Bless the Midwest. Looking forward to some deep fried cheese curds next…

1 comment August 17th, 2006

Bike Week


So we knew this day was coming… we saw our schedule and the dates for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and knew the two would meet. We also knew it would mean that there would not be a bed to sleep in for miles! So being considerate, we changed our schedule some so as to not to stay there… I mean Cheese by Hand AND Sturgis?! Too many people would flood this poor town!

For those new to this yearly motorcycle rally - Sturgis is the king! Over 500,000 people come for the week long, all-things-motorcyle gathering. And I have to say it is quite a sight! So much leather. So many Harleys. Eagles and American flags EVERWHERE!

It took almost an hour to drive through the town of Sturgis (it is not that big of a town) and we got to see some pretty amazing bikes….

Grease Monkey

And other sights…

Jesus is watching


Add comment August 14th, 2006

Driving out West

Rough BreakThe day has come… we knew it was there, looming… but we now have the 1,000 mile drive between western Montana and our next farm in Minnesota. As I write this we are driving in Eastern Montana, what They call Big Sky Country.

Sasha is working up a storm to get up farm profiles. When you are visiting farms, driving, and camping it is hard to find the time to write a post then hunt down a connection to post it! But stay tuned… more farms will be coming!

Anyway, we had a few days to explore the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. Wow. For those that haven’t been… um, you should go. Really. It’s a pain in the ass to get to - and the crowds suck - but man is it crazy, weird good. We got to see many animals doing their thing: elk, deer, moose, coyote, pronghorn, marmot, wolf, bison.

Also had a great Overheard… Overheard in Bozeman, MT:
[employee explaining the other line of work of the owner of Lube Alley where we were getting our oil changed]
“He’s also a freelance beaver assassin.”
[inaudible response]
“It’s a dying art form”

Sunrise on the Tetons

Great Fountain Geyser

Hot Spring


Add comment August 12th, 2006

Camping in Utah

So we just finished our week long camping tour of Southern Utah. In all we camped in Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce & Zion. Each are quite beautiful and awe inspiring. We did come prepared to camp in the sense that we had a tent, sleeping bags, and a cooler but for anyone who has camped before that is not really the most complete supply list. After two nights without any kind of padding to sleep on we caved and expanded our camping gear to include thermarests; however we never caved on food- we just continued to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I counted 24 total in 6 days. We did supplement with some fruits and tortilla chips and of course any reasonable cheese we could find. Sonoma Jack was a cause for celebration in the Moab supermarket. Ok ok we also snuck in a few beers and a bottle of Idaho Chardonnay (you didn’t see that coming did you?). Here is a very small selection of the photos we took during our exploration.



Arches bunny




Bryce windows

Hoo doos

sunrise bryce


zion river walk

zion narrows

Now back to the cheese tour! next stop Fiscalini…

Add comment June 23rd, 2006

Driving through Colorado

So we are taking a little break. To be completely honest we have already started said break but are just now getting around to posting about it! The next few days we will be heading into the national parks (Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce & Zion). But to get to them we have to go to through the lovely state of Colorado. And here are a couple-three from our day with our good friend Michael Israel and his wife, Patsy. (Couple-three is a phrase I learned growing up in central Illinois and it never ceases to amuse Sasha) They live outside Denver and took us for a lovely drive to Mt. Evans (14,100 feet).

Mount Evans

And it wouldn’t be a Cheese by Hand stop without a milking animal… so I give you the mountain goat:

Goats at the top of Mt Evans

Then we made it across the continental divide and monkey had to check out the views…

The Continental Divide

Utah is next - we will try to post some photos from our time camping in the parks. So far we have been completely stunned with how beautiful this country is… really!

2 comments June 15th, 2006

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