Stone County General Store

Anamosa, IA

Ok, let me lay this out for everyone–I want everyone to have the image of this place in their head so they can understand just how rad it is…
Picture an old three story building, like old. Country, not in the gross way, but in the antiquey-vintage way, three levels of outdoor decks looking onto an amazing river…out in the middle of nowhere. Umm, bliss? Yes. Let me keep going…it has insane live music by locals–think Beatles meet folk, legit cocktails, amazing food and the best part..dirt cheap. Everyone, meet Stone County General Store.

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Breaded Pork Tenderloin. Wapsi Fries.

In a previous post, I told you I was on a hunt for the best pork tenderloin in Iowa (Iowa staple, people go bat shiz crazy for these). Although, I have only had two so far, this one is número uno!

Even though this place is off the beaten path, it’s worth the drive completely. I will be coming back, over and over again.

Bon Appetit,
Fork N’ Around

DIY Hungry Caterpillar Cake

Cedar Rapids, IA

Throwing parties is one of my main thrills in life. I love, love, love them. Whenever someone announces they are pregnant, engaged, whatever, I am the first to throw my hand up and offer to throw the big bash.

For my lovely cousin’s baby shower my girlfriend and I decided to go with The Hungry Caterpillar theme. Yes, you always need a theme. The reason we opted for this, was A. It’s adorbs B. We thought it would be fun to have each guest bring a children’s book versus a boring card. C. Did I say it was adorbs?

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Red Velvet Cupcakes w/ Cream Cheese Frosting and Vanilla Cupcakes with Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting.

So one of my problems with parties is the cake sitch. There will be this insanely elaborate cake, it will look all Cake Wars, but it will be like chocolate on chocolate. Discrimination if you ask me! What about those red velv lovers or vanilla peeps out there? That is why I wanted cupcakes, but in the shape of a cake. Two kinds of cupcakes, looks like a cake, best of both worlds. No discrimination here.

I think that is one of the biggest challenges in throwing a party. Having variety and the right quantity while not completely breaking your bank. I highly recommend having cupcakes for your next gathering, get creative, toss them together in a shape and it will not only look way cooler than a cake, but it will please all your guests.

Bon Appetit,
Fork N’ Around

In N Out

Los Angeles, CA

Whooooooey, what a trip. It was so great to be back visiting friends, eating amazing food and basking in that amazing CA sunshine.

If some of you have been thinking I have been a horrible blogger the past week, well, I have. I put the phone/laptop/everything away. It was therapeutic and necessary. Anyway, i am back and revived and ready to go…well at least I was till I was reminded of my farewell meal below. It is enough to put me in a food coma.

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Animal Style French Fries

I will be a better blogger this week. Hope you all have been eating well.

Bon Appetit,
Fork N’ Around

Cooks Tortas Part II

Monterey Park, CA

In a precious post I introduced you to one of my top five favorite sandwich spots, Cooks Tortas. Check any top LA sandwich list and you will find it listed.

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The Bombero (my favorite) and sweet potato fries.

The most extreme flavors and the best homemade bread. Ahh, I love it. Please go. I am sure my first post sold you, but in case you were too ‘busy,’ to go yet this is your final warning. Go!!!!

Bon Appetit,
Fork N’ Around

Enterprise Fish Co.

Santa Monica, CA

One of the best happy hours in Santa Monica is without a doubt, Enterprise Fish Co. With an insane cocktail menu and delicious fresh seafood it is the perfect place to go for a reasonable price.

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Shrimp and Crab Louie Salad

Just look at that whopping pile of fresh seafood on my salad, no imitation nastiness here. My beau and I ate dinner here, and even for dinner the price was completely right. What I love is that it’s a fine dining experience yet casual enough where there isn’t that unnecessary stuffiness. It’s a hit.

Afterwards take a walk with your date on the strand or window shop on Main Street. It’s a perfect location to keep the great date vibes rolling.

Bon Appetit,
Fork N’ Around

Uncle Bill’s

Manhattan Beach, CA

Cozy little pancake house with gorgeous ocean views. This spot serves up a wicked breakfast and is the perfect place to kick back, relax and feel like you are in the confines of someone else’s home where they are serving you up some great eats.

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Corned Beef and Hash with side of eggs and pancakes.

It’s basic breakfast food but it’s perfectly quaint and honestly feels like you are in Grandmas house getting served homemade food. Take all that and add its ocean views.

If you are in MB it’s a perfect pit stop.

Bon Appetit,
Fork N’ Around

The Rockefeller

Hermosa Beach, CA

It feels so great to be back! I must admit I have never ate at Rockefeller–not even when I lived here, but hey, better late then never. I was def. pleased.

Airy, bright, industrial-hipster vibe. The food was great. I opted for the Tomato Heirloom Salad. It was light, fresh and extremely flavorful. The saltiness of the prosciutto paired with the acidity of the vinegar over the tomatoes–it was great.

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I’ll admit I had a pretty aggressive day of drinking in Hermosa and typically I would gorge myself in greasy grub and this is the first time I ate something healthy, light and fresh. Crazy thing dudes and dudettes, I felt insanely amazing after!!! No hangover the next day, no food coma, just this crazy energetic–I can conquer the world sensation. Why did this take me 7 years I figure out?

Try it.

Bon Appetit,
Fork N’ Around

Airport Travel

Cedar Rapids, IA

Has anyone ever had their flight delayed and found themselves sprinting to their next gate once their flight landed? Originally thinking you would have plenty of time in between flights to grab a drink and a bite to eat but alas you are instead running for your life?

I don’t know why but this has happened to me far too many times. I have always made my next flight (knock on wood) but let me tell you, flying ‘Hangry’ is not fun. Long gone are the days of full meals being served on flights, now you gotta fend for yourself and when your first flight is delayed, it is not easy.

My advice. Pack those snacks. You would never get on a flight without your IPOD, phone, laptop or a book, you just wouldn’t. I mean, goodness, if I forgot my headphones and book on a flight I would probably just sky dive off. I would go nuts. Well people, same goes for your snacks. Trust me, once you get on a flight and have those hunger panes you will thank me. My recommendation is Larabars. I swear by these little monsters and will definitely do a future post on my infatuation with them.

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You don’t need to pack a picnic, this isn’t a park. Keep it simple and grab a bar, make sure its one that isn’t caked with sugar and carbs (you are already going to be bloated on a flight, don’t add to it) I recommend one that is all natural, with protein that will sustain you. Seriously, one Larabar and you are good to go for a domestic flight. Just my advice, whatever you pack is cool, just don’t forget your snacks!

LA I am almost there! Hallelujah!

Bon Appetit,

Fork N’ Around

White Star Ale House

Cedar Rapids, IA

No need to make a mess and cook tonight–tomorrow I return to LA!!!! Anyway, more on the trip later…

I have been anxiously waiting to try White Star Ale House. The locals here in Cedar Rapids have been ranting and raving about it and now I totally get why. It has the Cheesecake Factory vibe, just picture the interior, but take away the whole awful chain thing. This is far from chain style. We’re talking tons of craft beers and legit food.

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Ahi tuna with a side of party potatoes.

I would never think to pair party potatoes with seared ahi tuna. I’m not complaining, trust, I absolutely dig this combo as both were delicious.

Every person at my table was obsessed with their meal. Great service and experience. If anyone is ever in this area ( I know, unlikely) I would consider stopping here. It’s in my top five and the best option as it has such a diverse menu.

Ok, enough jibber jabber I got to get my zzzz. Tomorrow, LA. 🙂

Bon Appetit,
Fork N’Around

Takanami

Iowa City, IA

I pride myself in my ability (<<yeah I said ability, let me have it ;)) to find legit spots to eat. I do my research, I ask the locals and normally I find myself leaving the restaurant saying, “I’m obsessed.” “I want to be a regular here.” “We have to come back.”

For some reason I am on this gnarley stretch of having awful food. I swear someone is out there punking me because back to back awfuls, come on!

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Takanami for sushi.

Man, I hate to rag on a spot but seriously it just didn’t cut it. The sushi itself didn’t taste very fresh and the worst part is that the rolls were smothered with like a mayonaisey sauce that was bland and just kind of gross. Not the delicious thousand island, whatever that will accompany sushi. This was really nasty. The vibe just wasn’t up my alley either, felt like cheap interior and not a lot of ‘life’ to it. Ok, negative Nancy is done.

The miso soup was awesome! I would love to take a gallon of it home with me. The beer was great and the location was convenient. So there were some positives. Just why did you have to drown my sushi in mayo??

Oh well, you can’t hit a homerun every-time. Hopefully I break this bad streak and redeem myself.

Bon Appetit,
Fork N’ Around