All Things Huckleberry

Huckleberry oatmeal, huckleberry milkshake, huckleberry BBQ chicken – the menu highlights all things Huckleberry at the Huckleberry (What else?) Patch Huckleberry LemonadeRestaurant in the St. Regis Travel Center. A family tradition has been established; we have to stop at exit 33 when traveling on I90 between Missoula, Montana and Spokane, Washington. At the very least we need a huckleberry lemonade to go.

Our recent visit was well timed for a lunch break starting with a tall glass of the special lemonade. The chilly, rainy day called for hot soup, a rich beef, mushroom, barley. We chose to split a buffalo cheeseburger in an effort to save room for dessert – a crock bubbling over with warm huckleberry rhubarb crisp topped with scoops of vanilla ice cream. YUM! Not a bite was left.

Huckelberry Patch Dessert The menu tells us, “Sweet, tart wild huckleberries grow only in moist mountain areas and cannot be commercially grown. Wild berries are not sprayed with chemicals or fertilizers.” Regional residents tell me natives are very secretive about huckleberry patch locations; they tend to be as territorial as the local bears. Residents, visitors and bears consider the berries a delicacy.

At the Huckleberry Patch, breakfast choices (served all day) include huckleberry flapjacks and huckleberry cream cheese french toast topped with huckleberry syrup, of course. Opt for a huckleberry muffin or bowl of huckleberry oatmeal accompanied by hot huckleberry tea or a huckleberry latte.

At lunch one can enjoy a crisp garden salad with huckleberry vinaigrette dressing and a huckleberry BBQ burger. Dessert selections include pie, ice cream, sundaes, cheesecake, rhubarb and apple crisp – all with huckleberries.

Huckleberry Patch Merchandise If you need something huckleberry for the road Dolly V’s in the gift shop makes homemade huckleberry fudge. One can also purchase huckleberry oatmeal, muffin, cookie and flapjack mixes. Huckleberry candies come in the form of Jelly Bellies, cordials, twists and taffy. For liquid refreshment take along a case of Jackson Hole High Mountain Huckleberry soda.

Looking for gift items? There’s huckleberry lotion, lip balm, bath tea and body spray, probably guaranteed to attract members of the bear family. The extensive gift shop offers a wide selection, especially of Montana souvenirs. How about a Huckleberry Patch mug?

The travel center also houses a convenience store, gas station and Montana-style casino. Make a stop in St. Regis for a huckleberry good time.

St. Regis Travel Center - Huckleberry Patch Restaurant, Montana
St. Regis Travel Center – Huckleberry Patch Restaurant, Montana

Helena, Montana – Spokane, Washington

  • Wet and cold – morning in Helena  was chilly and rainy, Bob said he observed occasional snowflakes in the air. Wanting to deny the possibility I called them white raindrops. Climbing MacDonald Pass those white drops accumulated on the windshield but fortunately not on the highway. The rest of the way across Montana and most of the Idaho panhandle we saw rain from light mist to Huckleberry Patch Merchandiseheavy downpours. West of Coeur ‘d Alene we finally began to see patches of blue sky – the first in a couple of days.
  • The Huckleberry Patch in the St. Regis Travel Center at I90 – exit 33 – has become a family tradition. It’s a must stop for Yackels. Everything huckleberry one can image is on the menu and gift shelves. Watch for a posting on the Huckleberry Patch soon.
  • Smiles and hugs greeted our safe arrival in Spokane.

Travel Destination – Campus Bound

I’ve long been an advocate of university and college campuses as rich resources for travelers. Some of the best art, historic and earth science collections are held by higher education institutes. The University of Arizona in Tucson perfectly illustrates my hypothesis.

University of Arizona Campus Highlights

  • arizona-t-shirt-logoUA Visitor Center- Campus information center, weekly guided tours, ticket sales for UApresents, parking. Open Monday – Friday 9am-5pm.
  • Arizona State Museum - Oldest and largest anthropology museum in the Southwest, Smithsonian Institution affiliate, world’s largest collection of Southwest Indian pottery, permanent and temporary exhibits, gift shop. The Paths of Life permanent exhibition showcases the origins, history and culture of American Indians of the Southwest with artifacts, historic items, artwork, videos and dioramas. Open Monday – Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday noon-5pm. Closed state and national holidays. Suggested donation $3.
  • Center for Creative Photography – Museum, research center and photo archives, rotating exhibits. Established by Ansel Adams and UA, holds more archives and individual works by 20-th century North American photographers than in any other museum in the US. Gallery Store offers a large selection of photography related titles. Open Monday – Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday & Sunday 1-4pm, closed major holidays. Free admission, suggested donation.
  • Flandrau: The UA Science Center- Hands-on exhibits, planetarium and observatory for public viewing of night skies. Check website for hours and programs, admission fee, night telescope viewing free.
  • The Jim Click Hall of Champions - The heritage and traditions of athletics at the university showcasing student athletes and coaches. Hours vary, free admission.
  • The University of Arizona Museum of Art - Wide-ranging collections of European and American fine art from the Renaissance to contemporary. Changing exhibits and highlights from the permanent collections. Open Tuesday – Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday & Sunday 1-4pm, closed university holidays. Adult admission $5.

 UA Unique

  • SOML – Stewart Observatory Mirror Lab – Tours give a behind the scenes look at cutting-edge optical technology and spin-casting processes used in making giant telescope mirrors. Tours on Tuesday and Friday, reservations required, cost $15/person.

More on UA Campus

  • Campus Arboretum - Pick up a map and enjoy a campus walk among the unique collection of trees, shrubs and plants from arid and semi-arid climates. Free.
  • Performing Arts - Theatre, dance and music performances and film screenings staged throughout the year. Admission fees required.
  • Sonett Visitor Center- Self-guided tour at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory – HiRISE Mars camera, the Phoenix Mars Lander and the Cassini mission to Saturn. Free, 520-626-7432.
  • UA Bookstore- I once heard someone espouse if you want your child to go to a particular university, as a pre-teen take them to the campus and buy them a sweatshirt. All sorts of insignia apparel and gifts are available at the official bookstore in the Student Union Memorial Center. 
  • UA Library Special Collections – Collections of rare books and archival materials in many subject areas including Arizona and the Southwest, changing exhibits.
  • UA Mineral Museum- Fabulous collection of minerals, gemstones and meteorites from around the world – over 2,000 on display. Located on the lower level of Flandrau: The UA Science Center. Check website for fees and hours.
  • UApresents - Professional performing arts – classical, jazz, blues and world music events plus dance performances. Admission fees.

UA off Campus

  • Biosphere 2- Management of the living laboratory of global scientific issues is now under management of the University of Arizona. Tours at the complex 20 minutes north of Tucson. Fee.

  • Boyce Thompson Arboretum - Plants from the earth’s varied deserts alongside unspoiled examples of Sonoran Desert vegetation. The Southwest’s oldest arboretum and botanical garden is located near Superior, 90 minutes from Tucson. Fee.

  • UA SkyCenter- Observatories atop Mt. Lemmon, SkyNights, DiscoveryDays and SkyCamps open to the public by reservation. Located 90 minutes north of Tucson. Fee.

Adjacent to Campus

  •  Arizona History Museum- Focus on southern Arizona history – Spanish colonial through territorial eras. Mining and transportation featured exhibits. Not part of the University but worth visiting while in the campus neighborhood. Check website for current hours and fees.

This list doesn’t begin to include all the possibilities, pick up a University of Arizona Visitor Guide and follow your interest from cutting-edge science to sport competitions. Be campus bound in Tucson.

Spice It Up

santa-cruz-signI’ve read about the quality chili and spices from Santa Cruz Chili & Spice Company for years but had never had the opportunity to stop and shop. Today we made it; and, we weren’t the only ones. A constant flow of shoppers arrived and departed with sacks of  chili pastes, salsas, herbs and spices from around the world.

In business for 60 years, Santa Cruz is famous for the distinctive flavors of red chili peppers grown in the region made into a handy, easy-to-use chili paste.  A round table in the ranch museum room is set up with chips and a dozen of the Santa Cruz products are available for tasting – paste to jam. Try them, you may find something new. Bob did – jalapeno orange marmalade.

santa-cruz-tastingWant a fajita spice mix, taco meat seasoning, habenero powder? You’ll find them and dozens more. In the market for paprika? There’s Peruvian, Hungarian, Hungarian half-hot, smoked, sweet, and Spanish. Who knew? Sample jars let you sprinkle a taste in your hand to try before you buy. Chili powders are rated for degree of hotness.

In addition to their own products there’s an extensive collection of regional flavors from other companies – hot sauces, salsas, jellies, syrups, mustards, etc.

santa-cruz-shoppersNot sure how best to use some of the spices? Purchase a copy of the Santa Cruz Chili & Spice Co. Cookbook, a collection of favorite recipes from traditional Mexican dishes to new and healthy ways to cook with their products. The book is spiced with family stories of life in the Southwest and history of the company. This is a perfect place for souvenir shopping for cooks on your list; a bonus is the extremely fair and affordable prices. Gourmets will have a real spicy spree.

When You Go: Santa Cruz Chili & Spice Company is located on the I-19 frontage road, exit 29, just south of the Tumacacori National Monument. Three miles south of  Tubac. Open Monday – Saturday 8am – 5pm, closed Sundays.

Chocolate Shop Breakfast

chocolatesWhat’s not to love about breakfast in a chocolate shop? Joined by friend Dianne, Dietrich’s Chocolates & Espresso was today’s breakfast destination. Dianne introduced me to Dietrich’s because it reminds her of the chocolate shop in her neighborhood when she lived in Belgium. After breakfast here I always wonder why we don’t go more often. The unassuming shop almost gets lost in the row of businesses with gaudy signage on East Evans near the University of Denver. Dietrich’s shouldn’t be overlooked.

Erich Dietrich apprenticed for 3 1/2 years under a master chocolatier in his native Germany.  In 1978 he opened his business in Denver, keeping chocoholics swooning over his smooth, rich creations.

Among the cases and racks of handmade candies, six tables await fortunate foodies arriving for breakfast. The menu is simple but when everything is perfectly prepared simple is all we need. I always order the American Breakfast of  two eggs (any style), potatoes, fruit, croissant, preserves and butter. Cost is just $6.25. and, every breakfast comes with a Dietrich chocolate. The large croissants are fresh from Trompeau Bakery right across the street. Don’t want a full breakfast? How about a totally decadent croissant with melted dark chocolate and cappusino!

With so few tables one sometimes has to wait anxiously for a table. I suggest going on a snowy Sunday when slugs are tempted to stay home. It’s hard to leave without picking out a treat to take home or to the office.

When You Go: Dietrich’s Chocolates & Espresso, 1734 E. Evans Avenue, Denver, 303-777-3358. Open Tuesday – Friday 8am – 6pm, Saturdays 8am  – 4pm and Sundays 8am – 2pm, closed Mondays. Breakfast is served until 1pm on weekdays, 2pm on weekends. A lunch menu of brats and a few sandwiches is available all day.

candy-canesSweet Treat

Hammonds Candies promises a sweet addition to your holiday shopping or stockings. A Denver tradition since 1920 Hammonds is best known for their handmade candy canes. There’s a flavor for every taste – holiday favorites like cinnamon, cherry, peppermint, cranberry and sugar plum. Fruit flavors range from apple to very berry and for the unusual try bubble gum, cotton candy or key lime. And, for a real treat select one of the filled candy canes – chocolate filled cherry, raspberry or peppermint and vanilla filled cinnamon. YUM!

tree

Hammond’s retail store brims with buckets of candy canes,  baskets of old-fashioned ribbon candy, bags of peppermint pillows and rows and rows of lollipops.   Swirls of the hand-twisted confections come in 1-ounce, 4-ounce and giant 1-pound sizes.

Note: Come Valentine’s Day some of the lollipops take on a heart  shaped twist.

   suckers2

The friendly staff  leads tours of the candy kitchen. Visitors watch through large windows as sugary syrups cook in huge copper pots, poured onto large cooling tables, coloring and flavoring added before being kneaded, stretched and formed. The mixture must be  just the right temperature to cut into individual lengths. When each batch is ready candymakers deftly and quickly crook each candy cane or swirl lollipops.

inside

Not surprisingly tours end in the candy store.

Tours are available every half hour year round, Monday-Friday 9am-3 pm, Saturday 10am-3pm. The store and factory are closed on Sunday. Tours are FREE.

Families and individuals are welcome to tour without reservations. Groups should call ahead to schedule a time. Behind the scenes tours can be scheduled.peppermint-pillows1

 

 

 Hammond’s is located at 5735 N. Washington Street, Denver, Colorado. Candy store open Monday-Friday 9am-4:30pm and Saturday 10am4pm. Directions and online shopping available on their website.   

  

Candy Cane Festival ‘09

Each December Hammond’s hosts the Candy Cane Festival – Dec. 12, 2009, 9am-5pm. Take a tour, finish off your Christmas shopping, whisper your list to Santa, feed his reindeer or enjoy the variety of activities. Caroling, storytelling, gingerbread cookie decorating, carnival games, face painting and trolley rides keep everyone entertained.   nancy-shopping1

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The delight of a child- toddler to teen – Santa’s lap is sure to boost your holiday spirits.                      

why-wait                                                                       

After your visit to Hammond’s I bet you won’t be able to wait till Christmas for your first sweet treat.

Yum!

Hammond’s is located at 5735 N. Washington Street, Denver, Colorado. Candy store open Monday-Friday 9am-4:30pm and Saturday 10am4pm. Directions and online shopping available on their website.   

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