Dining Outside the Home: The Sherman in Batesville, Indiana. When a stay-cation makes sense to remain close to home, wander down the road a piece to The Sherman. Nestled in the rolling hills of southern Indiana, step over the threshold of this quaint inn and eatery. You may be taken aback by the lively music and intermittent laughter coming from the Black Forest Bar. Peek around the corner. Rub your eyes and look again. The deep dark interior almost resembles a magical forest where fairy tales come true. Do the walls have eyes? Enter if you dare. Check out that giant pretzel. The couple with their heads huddled together are nibbling on it as though they were Hänsel and Gretel. This is just one of many appetizers for dipping pleasure with gourmet mustards and bier cheese. The crafted cocktails and extensive beer selection complement house-baked specialties with Bavarian leanings. Go early, stay awhile, and above all…share dishes. The German-style food is so spot on, you’ll want to eat your fill…and then some.
Dining Outside the Home: Tour of Italy in Greenfield, Indiana! There’s something charming about an eatery located on the town square a few steps from the county courthouse. Inside the decor is Old World Italy with rustic brick walls dividing spacious seating for a romantic meal for two, weekend entertainment for a crowd, or outdoor dining on the patio. The wait staff is as friendly as family. If you’re lucky, the owner of Tour of Italy may step away from the alcove kitchen to twirl pizza dough into the air. With fresh ingredients, made-from-scratch garlic knots, and authentic Italian cuisine, it’s difficult to choose just one item. Order enough to share and take home the rest. Problem solved.
Dining Outside the Home: Café Portofino in Lihue, Kauai! Do you need a reason to love lasagna? Might it be the oven-baked pasta bathed in layers of zesty spices, fresh herbs, meat sauce, and Italian cheese? Just thinking about it is mouth-watering. Well, you don’t need to travel to Northern Italy from the Pacific Ocean. Café Portofino, a beachfront restaurant on Kauai, serves up a plate of happiness and satisfaction by bringing the Italian deliciousness right to your table. Their classic lasagna combination features the rich meat sauce of cravings as well as a creamy white sauce to die for. This is not your ordinary lasagna. Taste it to believe it.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Refried Beans Restaurant-Style! Copycat recipes are so much fun to share with the family, especially when tweaked to express your own personal taste. If you’ve been to more than one Mexican restaurant, which most of us have, you’ve probably noticed an order of refried beans can be extra-creamy, smooth or chunky, blah or spicy. No worries. If you like the earthy taste, substitute black beans for the pinto beans. The same goes for a slightly smoky taste. That effect comes from bacon drippings instead of olive oil. For authentic results you may even choose to begin from scratch. I was pretty pleased with the results featured here.
REFRIED BEANS RESTAURANT-STYLE
16-ounce can refried beans, traditional
16-ounce can pinto beans, drained
1 tablespoon bacon drippings
1 small onion, chopped
1/8 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2-3 jalapeño peppers, pickled and sliced
Preheat oven to 350°. In a skillet over medium heat, add bacon drippings. Sauté chopped onions until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Stir in cumin powder, garlic powder, and sea salt. Add refried beans. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Fold in pinto beans. Reduce heat. Warm until bubbly, stirring occasionally. Spoon mixture into individual ovenproof bowls. Place bowls. on a baking sheet. Top each with Monterey Jack cheese. Bake 5-8 minutes until cheese is melted and beans are bubbly. Carefully remove baking sheet from oven. Garnish with jalapeño slices.
Dining Outside the Home: Duke’s Kauai in Lihue, Kauai! An open-air view of the deep blue Pacific Ocean may leave you wondering what tasty sea creatures lie beneath the surface. One glance around the dining room may answer that thought. The chefs at Duke’s Kauai respect the Hawaiian tradition of local fishermen. Their catch-of-the-day is determined by the season. It could be Ahi with its steak-like texture seared and crusted in furikake seasoning. Or it may be Ono with its juicy and mild flavor grilled in a spicy sesame-ginger glaze. Other island favorites are always an option. Add vegetables, fruit, and bread selections from their famous salad bar to complete the entree. When it’s all said and done, no one walks away hungry from Duke’s Kauai.
Dining Outside the Home: Paniolo Santa Maria-Style BBQ in Kapaa, Kauai! Everyone loves a barbecue whether it’s the blaze of fire or the smell of the wood. Perhaps it’s the fiery outdoor cooking. Either way, the smoky taste is amazing. The owners and staff of Paniolo understand that attraction for personal enjoyment. Eating at picnic tables adds to the allure. Top it off with live entertainment and you’ve got a reason to gather together. People want to savor and enjoy food. Look no further than Paniolo Santa Maria-Style BBQ. Check out their menu online. Many items are served with homemade chili, fresh garden salad, and grilled garlic bread.
Dining Outside the Home: Oasis on the Beach in Kapaa, Kauai! No, the rooster isn’t the host…he just thinks he is. If he could speak, he would probably recommend the catch-of-the-day and lead you to a table outside where the view is simply mesmerizing. The staff at Oasis on the Beach focuses on quality of ingredients by using local growers and fishermen for diversity in cultures as well as flavor. For example, the Pork Wonton appetizer is complemented by a spicy ginger soy sauce for dipping. Pair it with the Okinawan Sweet Potato Wrap for something new and different. The roasted peppers and charred onions enhance the creamy texture of the Hawaiian sweet potato. You can’t get flavor like this on the mainland. Choose your next meal at a place that stays true to their mission statement of sustainability.
Dining Outside the Home: Hukilau Lanai in Kapaa, Kauai! If you’ve ever wondered how hula dancers keep that slim waistline, perhaps it has something to do with healthy choices. Hukilau Lanai offers farm-to-table fruit and local vegetables as well as fresh fish and seafood. They support local farmers and fishermen who are mindful of the environmental impact. A staff of gourmet chefs continue to be inventive in serving food that is as appealing on the plate as it is on the palate. Garnishes add beauty in addition to aromatic elements. It all adds up to outstanding flavor and top-notch quality.
Dining Outside the Home: Kalapaki Joe’s in Lihue, Kauai! Sometimes you gotta go for bar food cravings and skip dinner in favor of Happy Hour. That translates to dine-in appetizers. At Kalapaki Joe’s, the food and beverage specials have a way of appealing to the palate. Indulge yourself with tasty chicken wings as hot as you like them. No pain, no shame. Put out the fire with a classic salt-rimmed margarita. It goes down cold and easy. Menu items are still available if you want to tag on a salad or another small plate to balance out the flavors. You’ve got time for grazing and conversation before the dinner crowd rushes in. You know what they say, the early bird…has the advantage, or something like that.