Gettin' down with real food.

Adventures in Indy: Day 2

After a morning of learning about motivational interviewing and practicing the technique with a vibrant, open-hearted woman, I walked a mile in crappy flats to a restaurant whose online menu I’d been oogling since I got to Indy. The place is Milktooth. The meal was: a tall glass of housemade cashew-hazelnut milk, a bowl of local popcorn grits topped with poached egg, bacon and scallions and a sourdough chocolate croissant. Swoon. I wanted to order everything. on. the. menu. Dear Milktooth, please open a second location in Milwaukee. Riverwest would love to have you and you’d really fit right in.

Running late after lunch, I rented a bike to get back to the conference more speedily, enjoying the wind in my hair all the way. I finished off the last few bites of my croissant with the complementary (and really not too bad) hotel coffee and listened to more fascinating talks from incredibly accomplished women. 

Then it was dinner time. I headed out with 11 other RDs and RDs-to-be for a meal shared while learning about one another, talking about life and laughing at ourselves. This relaxed atmosphere was much needed after a long day of thinking hard about the future of my career and my role in this wide world of child nutrition. For supper I ate Thai Curry Swai at Tavern on South. The flaky white fish was perfectly cooked, tender and bathed in a creamy red coconut curry broth, topped with sweet, sautéed red pepper slices and a sprig of alfalfa sprouts with a side of grilled yet still crisp bok choy. No bite left behind.

After dinner, I decided to sneak in another ride on a rental bike (I paid for a 24 hour pass) and tooled around the city taking it all in as the sun set between the tall, silent buildings. Downtown Indy has an amazing system of wide, separated bike and walking lanes and user-friendly paths that make getting around the city a breeze and much safer than the in-road bike lanes I’m used to back home. I noticed a lot of bikers (fixies apparently are not yet OVER here in Indy) on my excursion as well as so many folks walking the canal and surrounding trails. The tunnels I passed through on my way in and out of downtown even had motion-sensing lights to shine the way through darker area as I rode. So great! I imagine these kinds of enhancements to a city make it so much more appealing for inhabitants to get out and get moving.

On my ride, I stumbled upon the one bar Brandon and I stopped at during an overnight in Indy we spent a couple years back on our way home from Nashville, TN. A guy walking by saw me taking a picture and asked if I was going inside. I explained the story and he told me the place has gotten a lot of reviews lately as “Indy’s best dive bar” in local media so now there are a lot of “hipsters” hanging around there. Well, I guess that bar is "over." 

To cap off the eve I stopped for a gelato at Café Nonna, whose walls were covered with black and white photos of proud, smiling Italian ladies, from girls to grandmothers in aprons, wedding dresses and Sunday best. I ordered half salted caramel, half pistachio and enjoyed the creamy blend slowly, letting it melt just enough, while sitting at a table outside, channeling my inner Elizabeth Gilbert.

After another bout of cycle-exploring, I turned in for the night, eager to share my experiences here with you.  There are so many more places I want to see and restaurants I want to eat at here in Indianapolis, I hope to come back for a weekend with my travel partner sometime this summer. Have you ever been to Indianapolis? What are your favorite things about the city?

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.