Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Camping in Idyllwild

Happy Fourth of July!!
There have been many foody delights since I last wrote, but I'll focus on this one: last weekend we took off to go camping in Idyllwild, a small, rustic, artsy town in the San Jacinto Mountains close to Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. It's not one of those MANY places that everyone and their mother heads out to from L.A. The people are down-home and regular and the scenery is beautiful. We even thought we heard a mountain lion growl at us, but we were running too fast after that to know for sure.

Camping can be a pain in the butt if you let it, but with the right preparations, things go quite smoothly. The easiest and tastiest thing to make is steak. No buns, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, etc required! We bought the best steak we could get: fillet mignon. You really can't beat $15 for two huge, soft steaks compared to $60 for the same thing in a restaurant.

Just take the steaks out of the cooler and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Throw them on a hot grill with corn on the cob (still in the husks). It doesn't get easier than that. Then, leave everything alone for a while! Only turn the steaks once. When the corn husks turn brownish and the steaks are the way you like them, serve with your favorite single-serving salad from Trader Joe's (I like Country Italian) which are the perfect size for a side salad for two. Add some potato salad to the mix if you like, and VOILA!

Idyllwild also has some fun little galleries and shops. We found this very sweet place called the Idyllwild Soda Pop and Sweet Shop. The woman who owns this place has every kind of vintage soda you can think of in the original glass bottles. Pick any kind and she'll give it to you chilled or you can bring home some warm 6 packs. She also has candy that totally takes you back in time. Picture every flavor of pop-rocks ever made and you get the picture. Oh, and you can make a float out of any soda with a little vanilla ice cream float kit. I had an orange cream float and a double vanilla moon pie! She gets her glass bottles of Pepsi and Coke from Mexico where they use recycled bottles (each one is a little different and the glass is twice as thick as our bottles). They also use real cane sugar which makes it taste better.

Finally, in the morning, we opted out of firing up the grill again. See, there were signs all over town that there would be a pancake breakfast to raise money for the Idyllwild Mountain Community Patrol over at the town hall. So, we hit that up. It was nice to sit and eat with some regular folk : ))

So, there you have it: tasty treats, chill while you grill, breakfast with the locals. What more could you ask for?