June 24 – July 26, 2021
After that first cold beer which tasted pretty good after our long day, we unloaded the car, got settled in, enjoyed another brew, and then walked across the street to Highlands Hollow Brew Pub for dinner. Originally opened as the Brass Lamp (“Mother Lamp #2”) by Rod “Toad’ Davidson, & Chas Allan, in 1968, it came full circle three decades later when the building was purchased by Toad from Nat Adams, the original builder, in 1999.
A Friday night, the place was busy and as we’d come over early in the evening, we were able to secure a booth without having to wait too long. I started with the British inspired Thunder Monkey bitter while Joanna enjoyed the Daybreak Grapefruit IPA. For eats, Joanna ordered the Soba Salad with cubes of fried tofu, and I had the Halibut and Chips.
Mine was good but, in the end, I have concluded that fish and chips is probably best served with cod, or some other local white fish as it represents the original intention of the dish one would find throughout the British Isles. As much as I like Halibut, it is kind of overkill for this dish. For our one last beer we split the Bonnie St. Nan Cherry Smoked Porter, a delightful take on that genre. We settled up, walked back across the street, and spent the remainder of the evening watching that day’s stage of the Tour de France.
The next morning, we bade Cathy and Tony farewell as they took off for their own two-month adventure, and in the early afternoon, drove a few miles into downtown Boise to take a look around, starting with the Basque Block. Boise has the largest population of Basques outside of Spain with 16,000 in its population of close to 240,000. The Boise metropolitan area, also known as the Treasure Valley, includes five counties with a combined population of 749,202, the most populous metropolitan area in Idaho. It contains the state’s three largest cities: Boise, Nampa, and Meridian.
We parked a couple of blocks away and walked to our first stop, the Basque Market which would be closing soon for the day. We entered this combination market and wine bar and after chatting with what may have been one of the proprietors, ordered a couple of glasses of a delightful white wine, some croquettes, and a plate of mixed tapas (Pintxos).
Seated outside on a small patio, we plowed through the delicious food and then settled an amazingly low tab of $16.72 for our two glasses of wine and the tapas, making us regret that we hadn’t ordered more of all of it. We walked across the street to glance at the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, located in the 1910 Jacobs house which functioned as a boarding house until 1969 and decided not to take it in this go around, instead, ambling down the block to enter Bardenay Restaurant and Distillery.
This location (they have a number) was established in 1999 when the Federal Government (the BATF) issued Bardenay the first distillery permit ever given to a distiller to operate in a public space. Further Idaho history was made on April 25th, 2000, when they served the first cocktail made with spirits crafted on the premises.
Seated, we ordered a Gin based Basil Instinct for Joanna (Bardenay gin, Patron Citrange, fresh basil, pressed margarita, and sweet and sour mixes, served on the rocks with a sprig of fragrant basil) and a regular Gin and Tonic for me along with the Bruschetta Pomodoro (Grilled sourdough French bread, roasted garlic, aged dry jack cheese and finished with marinated roma tomatoes, sweet basil, and balsamic reduction). The bruschetta was an unexpected surprise, cheesy with strong basil cut by the balsamic. We demolished it. And quickly dispatched the drinks as well settling our tab of $24 (not including tip) again another reasonably priced encounter. It was the perfect amount of food to complement our earlier sampling of Tapas and left us full enough to not have to worry about eating the rest of the day, except for dessert of course.
Leaving Bardenay, we walked around the downtown area, viewing the state capital building (which we would end up not touring), some historic buildings and its noted Freak Alley. Created by accident in 2002, when Colby Akers was painting some art above a doorway to Moon’s kitchen when other businesses began to notice and requested he keep painting. As the years have gone, more and more art has been added resulting in a collection of over 300 artists coming together to create this unique gallery.
We then left for the condo, stopping on the way at the Boise Wine Coop to see if we could get a bottle of the Spanish wine we’d enjoyed at the Basque Market. We struck out but did find some other highly drinkable offerings and after returning, enjoyed another evening of watching the Tour de France.
The next day would be a full one, starting with a bike ride from the condo that took us downtown to the Boise River Greenbelt, a 25-mile paved path along the river. We joined it at about its midpoint and proceeded to ride to one end, then turned around and rode to the other end and beyond the outskirts of town, before returning to downtown to get a snack.
Along the way we marveled at the Boise White Water Park, a spillway that creates a wake that locals used for surfing, much like the one we had witnessed in Munich in 2014. While there we fell into a conversation with another couple out for a ride and chatted about the beltway and riding conditions in Boise, a pleasant exchange on a sunny day.
Downtown, we stopped in at Goldy’s, a local café for coffee and possibly the largest pecan pastry we’ve ever encountered, so big we had to push hard to finish it. But clean the plate we did and stuffed, waddled out to the bikes, mounted up and made our way back to the condo, riding up 13th street to explore an area we would return to at a later time.
With the afternoon open, we decided to head over to the former Idaho State Penitentiary for the rest of the day, an activity that would indeed take up the rest of the day. We’ll cover that and more in the next post.
Highlands Hollow Brew Pub: https://www.highlandshollow.com/
Basque Block: https://www.thebasqueblock.com/
Basque Market: https://www.thebasquemarket.com/
Freak Alley: https://northend.org/freak-alley/
Boise River Greenbelt: https://www.cityofboise.org/departments/parks-and-recreation/parks/boise-greenbelt/
Boise White Water Park: https://www.boisewhitewaterpark.com/welcome