Since I’ve got a little bit more sharing to do about my trip last week, I figured I’d share little snippets of the great food I ate, the books I read, the activities I did, and the wonderful people I shared it all with!
- Reading: GRE workbook. I saw this book quite a bit this trip. I used it to keep me occupied during my 12 hour journey to Montana, and then worked at it in various coffee shops during the week. Accompanied by a hot cup of joe or a rootbeer from the cozy spaces downtown, the workbook seemed bearable. On my way home on the plane? GRE was completely neglected.
- Food: Caffe Dolce. Where do I even start on this one? If I could, I’d classify my relationship with this cafe as a long-distance love affair. Have you ever been to a restaurant where you can get gelato, pumpkin bread, a grilled-pb&j sandwich, a glass of wine from Germany or France, a milk and white chocolate-streaked biscotti, and a plate of butternut squash ravioli? I didn’t think so. Best part about this list is that I only named a few items off of the menu. While seated under a beautifully painted ceiling, it’s possible to gaze at the chalkboard menu for minutes on end, admiring the use of fresh, local ingredients and unique pairings. The food tastes wholesome and on the end of fine-dining, but is offered at a reasonable price, elegantly presented, and served with genuine kindness. Along with funky pairings like fried sage and hazelnut browned butter, the fine dining-feel of the cafe is complemented by serve-yourself water out of beautiful vases, and an atmosphere that students feel comfortable studying in and foodies savor. It’s a place for people who want good food or a beautifully presented cup of coffee. And, as I said before, I’m in love.
- Rock Climbing: At my brother’s gym, there’s a huge rock climbing wall so I decided to test out my arm and leg muscles that have been abandoned for three months and try to climb. Entering a climbing wall swarming with people who made climbing look like Spiderman does was daunting. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that many of them were bouldering and could easily swing their bodies from side to side and pull themselves up with the strength of their fingertips. Nevertheless, my brother taught me how to belay properly and then I was on my way, climbing to the tops of each of the walls and following the “rainbow routes” since there was no way I could manage keeping track of whether or not my fingers and toes were on the green tape or white tape. I had a ton of fun and it felt great to get out and be active again. The ultimate highlight of rock climbing? The fact that later that night I found it almost impossible to eat popcorn in my hotel room because my forearms were so sore.
- Book: I read Kevin Canty’s collection of short stories Where the Money Went while on a stationary bike for the first time in three months (yeah, my muscles were in pain). I don’t know whether it was the endorphins from the bike ride, or the fact that I was intrigued by the male perspective on life and love present throughout Canty’s work, but I managed to bike and read for an hour.
- Food: Some of my favorite meals last week came from….drumroll please….the cafeteria! The name of the cafeteria is “The Food Zoo” and most kids groan about walking in there to eat, which I completely understand. Even good things become mundane and less desirable after you’ve had them for months on end. Since I was new, I raved over the extensive salad bar and piled my plate full of greens, beets, baby corn, carrots, hummus, and OLIVES! Taking me to a salad bar where endless amounts of whole black olives and green olives with the little red pits are available is one dangerous combination. Over the course of two dinners, I managed to sample vegan jambalaya, grilled chicken, shrimp pad thai, and roasted zuchinni and radishes (a combination I ate nearly two platefuls of..I’m sensing I’ll have to re-create the magic in my own kitchen soon). I thoroughly enjoyed both my dinners, not only because I was able to choose food from over six different food lines, but because I got to meet a lot of my brother’s friends which was really nice.
- Hiking: We got to go on a couple nice walks around campus along the river and halfway up the “M” trail. Our nicest hike outing though was when we drove to Lolo to hike a little bit on the mountain trails. There were SO many trails to choose from and we ended up hiking through a beautiful series of gigantic rocks, pausing to tan (yes, TAN) on a boulder, and then to let my brother climb around a bit on some of the rocks. We experienced snow, sleet, rain, and sunshine. It was a great day full of walking and spending time with my family.
- Books: Expect a review of Breaking Night by Liz Murray coming soon on digintobooks. An intense and humbling story about a girl who made it from being a homeless teenager to graduating from Harvard. Murray writes honestly and beautifully about her drug addicted parents and the toll that their decisions made on her and her family. It was a book I literally couldn’t put down – I started it on the plane ride home and finished it later that night. Incredible.
- Food: The Catalyst. A trendy, modern-feeling cafe and eatery in downtown Missoula offers breakfast all-day (when can you turn a deal like that down)? My mom and I bopped in there after I studied for a few hours and I was in need of some brain fuel. A local beet salad topped with arugula and hazelnuts served next to a tomato lime tortilla soup was the perfect remedy to my studying exhaustion. The restaurant features upper-floor balcony and main floor seating, a small coffee bar area with stools, and tall-paned windows that make the most of the slender space that the building occupies. Giant portions, wholesome food, and friendly staff can all be found at The Catalyst. A bonus: a good chunk of the menu at The Catalyst is vegetarian and vegan friendly!
- Coffee: Both Liquid Planet and Break Espresso served as my studying spaces while in Missoula. I love the variety of beverages available at Liquid Planet. They offer not only an extensive selection of coffee based drinks, but also teas, pops, beers, wine, and a few little snacks to accompany anything you might choose to drink. At Break Espresso, I was amazed at the $1.25 drip coffee that featured 25 cent refills. The staff was so accommodating that they let me add soy milk to each of the cups of coffee that I had. A full array of coffees and teas as well as fresh juices (my mom had a DELICIOUS lemon-ginger juice) and a plethora of baked goods (we split an irresistible ginger cookie) make Break Espresso the place to be when studying, working, or on a coffee date. Rich wood floors and textured brick walls made the place feel homey.
Overall, my trip was full of great food and reads. But best of all were the moments spent with my family, especially when in the great outdoors! I loved getting the chance to stretch my sleepy muscles a little bit and enjoy time in the sun and snow (!) with the people I love most. Look for some book reviews and recipes coming up in the next few days! I am really itching to re-create those roasted zucchini and radishes!