Monday, August 9, 2010

Local Weekend in Indianapolis

Last weekend, I went to Indianapolis to visit an old friend. I love to explore new cities!

On Friday evening, we ventured downtown to Massachusetts Avenue. We walked up and down Mass Ave, chatting and catching up on life. For dinner, my friend suggested Bazbeaux, a local restaurant serving creative pizzas and a nice selection of beer.

We spotted this Tesla Roadster at the pub across the street. (Last summer when I visited Indy, I got to ride in one of these!)

While waited for a seat on the patio, I had local beer, Upland Brewery's Dragonfly IPA. I enjoyed it! It was nice and crisp and hoppy, but also tasted light enough for a hot summer evening.

For dinner, we decided to share a couple of Bazbeaux specialty pizzas.

My friend ordered the Tchoupitoulas, with spicy shrimp, andouille sausage, red and green pepper, and tomato. I decided on the BBQ--with homemade barbecue sauce, chicken, red onion, and cheddar cheese.

After dinner and a little more walking, we stopped in at The Rathskeller, a German restaurant and beer hall. The Rathskeller had an impressive beer list featuring numerous craft beers from Europe and the United States. I chose a Delerium Tremens. Here's how the menu described it:
Starts with a creamy head with a sweet and spicy nose. The palate brings white grapes mixed with wheat. Finishes with orange zest and clover.
Here's how I describe it:  

Pretty, with a nice creamy head and a nice mouthfeel. I could definitely taste citrus, but it wasn't overwhelming or bitter. And there were just enough hops to keep me happy! (And the cutest beer bottle ever, right? Can you see the dancing elephants?)

While enjoying our beer, we also enjoyed some live music from Red Wanting Blue, a Columbus, Ohio-based band. I'd never heard of them, but they were a lot of fun--eclectic, with catchy beats and lyrics.

On Saturday morning, I started out with a short little run around my friend's neighborhood. For the past couple of years, running has been one of my favorite ways to explore a new place (besides eating, of course!). Not only does it help me stay active so I can enjoy a few treats, it provides a little slice of "me time" where I can process things I've seen and done, decompress, or just relax. My friend lives in a particularly beautiful area of town, so I had a blast oogling all of the big, gorgeous homes.

For brunch, we hit up Cafe Patachou. No pictures, but a fun little place. Self-serve coffee bar, freshly-baked breads, awesome granola, and great menu. I love little cafes like this one, and brunch is my favorite meal to eat out! I couldn't order everything I wanted to try, but my must-try-this-at-home list is growing.

Our first stop after brunch was Fountain Square, which is an artsy, developing area of downtown Indianapolis. There was an eclectic assortment of independent galleries, secondhand shops, restaurants, and wine bars, lending an edgy, exciting vibe to the area. 

We visited the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art to check out the PostSecret exhibit.

Stunning, moving, amazing.

Yes, you.
He checked out a vintage hardware store while I shopped at a second-hand clothing store. I spotted this inspirational message on the side of one of the buildings.

 Then, we moved on to Monument Circle.

And the Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis campus.

After all of that walking, we stopped for a late lunch at TaTa Cuban Cafe. I've never had authentic Cuban food, so I was pretty excited! We shared the black beans, and each ate a piece of this massive Cuban sandwich.

The soup was simple, but tasty. Beans cooked from scratch. Onion, salt, cumin, lots of fresh cilantro. It didn't blow my socks off, but I did really like the cilantro addition. Next time I cook black beans at home, plenty of fresh cilantro will definitely be involved!

The sandwich, however, was fabulous! Buttery bread pressed crisp, succulent roast pork, thin-sliced ham, melting Swiss cheese, thick sweet pickles, and mustard combined to make a helluva sandwich.

After lunch, we walked over to the Indianapolis Convention Center for some people-watching. Gen Con, a huge gaming convention, was happening in Indy last weekend. It was majorly entertaining to watch everyone leaving the convention center, many dressed to the hilt in various costumes. The highlights included many, many cool tattoos, a spectacular version of Lara Croft (I was duly jealous, I assure you), as well as a couple of fine specimens of the Indiana Jones ilk.

Later on, we decided to do a little wine tasting and a late dinner before I hit the road for Cincinnati. At my suggestion, we returned to Fountain Square to visit a wine bar we had seen earlier, only to find that it wasn't even open yet!

We spotted this cool Citroen, though!

Not to worry--we simply crossed the street and found ourselves at the New Day Meadery's newly opened tasting room. We decided to stay.

This proved to be a very good decision. It was National Mead Day, after all.

For $5, we got to sample a hard cider and 6 different kinds of mead, all brewed using local, artisanal honey. A few of the varieties we tried were also brewed with locally grown fruit.

While we sampled, we got to chat up the owners, husband and wife team of Brett Canaday and Tia Agnew. They were both awesome--so personable and passionate about their work! They explained a little about their brewing process as we sipped.

 Before walking into New Day, I didn't really know what mead was. It turns out that it's wine, only it's brewed with honey instead of grapes! How does that work?

From what I understand, yeast is added to a mixture of honey and water. The yeast consumes the sugar from the honey, leaving alcohol behind in its place (just like with wine brewed from grapes).

We started with the Dry Hard Cider. Then, we sampled two more dry meads: the Dry Peach Honey Wine and the Dry Blueberry Honey Wine. Finally, we tried four semi-dry (sweeter) meads: Dry Red Rasberry Honey Wine, Semi-Dry Mead, Semi-Sweet Plum Honey Wine, and the Semi-Sweet Black Raspberry Honey wine.

Overall, I preferred the drier meads. My favorite was the Dry Peach Honey Wine, which tasted nectar-y without being sweet. The Semi-Dry Mead was really interesting. It was complex like honey, only more open, sort of like when you drink Scotch with a few drops of water.

Unfortunately, they were out of their Dry Mead, which I would've loved to try. Fortunately, now I have a good excuse to go back the next time I'm in Indianapolis!

For dinner, my friend suggested Napolese, an artisanal pizzeria by the owners of Cafe Patachou. More pizza? But my friend insisted that Napolese was someplace special.


When our waitress set these down, I knew this was my kind of place. Gotta love a place that serves complimentary olives instead of bread and olive oil!

We shared a salad. Spinach, summer squash, roasted tomatoes, fennel, Parmesan, and lemon-basil vinaigrette.

We each chose a pizza to share. We knew we wanted to go home with plenty of leftovers!

Mine: Buffalo mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, basil.

His: Homemade sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, aged provolone.

Pepperoni? Where?

When my friend politely mentioned that the pepperoni was missing from his pizza, the waitress brought this! Seriously?!

I tried a piece--it was seriously good pepperoni.

OK, I love pizza, and I've eaten a lot of really good pizza (much of it in Italy). This was the best pizza I've had outside of Italy. Chewy, doughy crust and the freshest, most delicious ingredients you could possibly imagine, all blistered in the brick oven. Delicious!

It was a wonderful little vacation, full of good company, good food, and good beer!

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