Gettin' down with real food.

Adventures in Indy: Day 1

Hi friends! I come to you this evening sipping white wine beneath crisp white sheets propped up by a pile of fluffy feather pillows on the seventh floor of the Hyatt in Indianapolis, IN. (Photos below if you wanna skip the wordy stuff.) I'm sunk into my very first solo travel adventure here in Indy for a two-and-a-half-day conference on child and adolescent weight management. After day one, my mind is already buzzing with ideas, dreams, goals, frustrations and inspirations from the speakers who’ve shared their passion and struggles in practice with 133 of us dietitians and RDs-to-be. I’m eager to put into practice what I learn at this conference, to use this knowledge to better myself as a dietitian and to serve families and kids who carry extra weight and are fighting for healthier futures.

 When I finish the conference, I’ll have plenty of time to reflect and synthesize my learning on the 4 ½ hour Greyhound bus ride home, so for now I’ll share what I’ve seen so far in my free time, exploring this friendly, welcoming city on foot. After the presentations wrapped up today, I went straight to my room, threw on my running shoes and headed out.  I discovered a feast of paths and trails along a canal, and despite whipping winds, I didn’t want to turn back, but to keep hungrily taking in the scenery, people and fresh air.  I finally called it quits after seven miles but can’t wait to head back out tomorrow for more discovering.

I’ve eaten pretty well here in Indy so far. Lunch today was a homey mélange of cornmeal crusted tofu and hearty avocado slices on a bed of crisp mixed greens accompanied by blue corn chips and zesty salsa from a vegetarian food stand called Three Carrots located inside the City Market, a more quaint and affordable cousin to Milwaukee’s Public Market. This was the perfect amount of fuel to get me through the second half of the conference without weighing me down or leading to a carb-crash. After the evening jog, I showered with luxurious and complementary bath products (I heart hotels) and enjoyed a handful of trail mix before heading out into the tepid city air in search of dinner.

...Okay I make it sound like I was being all spontaneous, ready to discover any hole-in-the-wall joint I stumbled upon, but in reality I researched walkable eateries for a half hour before venturing out.  I had my eye on a few spots and landed at Palomino, whose self-described “Urban-Italian/Rustic European” cuisine drew me in with buzzwords like “charred kale salad” and “caramelized cauliflower with herbed mascarpone.” I sidled up to the bar and sipped on a glass of Malbec, settled on a hot and cold combo: an appetizer of Sicilian meatballs in a smoky, tangy tomato sauce topped with citrus zest, parmesan cheese and chopped pistachios and a salad of chopped romaine, roma tomatoes, crisp bacon and a disappointingly excessive douse of creamy dressing.  It wasn’t until I discovered the perfectly toasted hazelnuts nestled within the greens that I allowed this dish some redemption and stopped scolding myself for ordering poorly. The back and forth bites between spicy, tender meatballs and cool crisp salad worked really well together, offsetting one another’s flavors amidst sips of wine and lines from the novel I’ve been trying to finish for the last two months. Dining alone isn't half bad. (But I do miss my hubby and travel-partner extraordinaire.)

I stepped out of Palomino at dusk and couldn’t possibly turn in before another jaunt around Monument Circle, where I marveled at not only the sculptures, but also the hominess of it all: couples hand in hand, young families discussing architecture, a smiling man with oversized headphones, a shabbily dressed woman knitting curbside telling me to “have a blessed day.”  I got the message: I’m still in the Midwest, and there’s no place like home.