I’ll be honest with you, when I decided to finally book my trip to Boise, Idaho…I didn’t know what the hell to expect and part of me was afraid to go. Yessss….I was afraid to go to I-D-A-H-O!!! I don’t think you’re going to ask me why because we know the “why” factor. Look at my complexion! Enough said!
If it wasn’t for me looking to accomplish one of my travel goals by next year, which is to visit all 50 states, I just don’t think Idaho would have made the cut! Lol! For many years I had heard how Idaho was racist specifically in the North and there were Skinheads who made themselves known that they did not care for minorities through racial slurs and violence. So, in the back of my mind as I was planning my trip there, I kept asking myself this question almost every other day…”Nicky, why are you still going??” I even asked my husband if he wanted to tag along and although I knew his response would be a simple “No”, I thought I would amuse myself anyway by asking him. *I could have saved my breath asking him though* Lol.
But, being the Leo lioness I am, naturally I like to take on a challenge and I rarely fear anything (except for spiders!)…ewww! Anyhoo, I knew if I wanted to pat myself on the back for visiting all 50 states, that I needed to suck it up and just visit. Plus, I was curious as I just knew there was more to Idaho than potatoes! I must share, I didn’t expect the outcome I received and I’m so glad I decided to visit Boise.
My solo adventure started shortly after I hopped off the plane. I had scheduled a meeting with the first and only Black female State Senator of Idaho, Cherie Buckner-Webb. In addition; I had a food tour scheduled shortly after. I am constantly asking myself why do I schedule things so closely at times knowing I may have an overlap? Smh… Nonetheless, the State Senator was running a bit behind as I arrived at the Idaho Black History Museum. I was greeted by the Senator’s son who was hospitable and knowledgeable as we discussed the setup of the museum. I took in the treasure of black history shared, cultural exhibits and special displays. The museum had a feel of a small Southern church from the 1950’s in the South. There were wooden floors and it was small yet I felt at peace while walking around taking in information about Blacks and African immigrants settling in Idaho.
First Stop – BACON Restaurant – INDULGE BOISE FOOD TOURS
After I left the Idaho Black History Museum, I scurried to meet up with a Black-owned food tour operator, Angela Taylor of Indulge Boise Tours. I was so excited to go on the food tour as I’m a foodie at heart. First stop was BACON restaurant and they served just what you’re thinking…BACON!!! Lol!! BACON features 5 different kinds of bacon, serves a mean bacon bloody mary, and can you say brunch is available all day as well? As soon as we arrived, they were waiting for us and we were greeted with a smile. I had “The MAC” dish which consisted of bacon, mushroom, tomato, and cheese baked into a small dish. The dish was melted well together especially with the gooey cheese. The next signature item that came my way was the infamous five types of bacon: BerryHill (Chile-Sugar), Spicy Hot (Big Chile Heat), Kurobuta (Black Berkshire Pig with thyme, rosemary, sage, and lavendar)…one of MY FAVS!!!, Maple Rosemary, and Candied (Smoky Syrupy Sweetness). Last but not least, I washed down this comfort meal with their infamous BACON Bloody Mary. I’ve had a Bloody Mary before but never thought to put a piece of bacon in it. Interesting contrast flavor which intensified the drink. Chef and Owner, John BerryHill came out and greeted me with his presence. It was such a pleasure to meet him, his crew, and learn about his vision of BACON restaurant.
Second Stop – Wild Root Cafe & Market
Have you ever been to a restaurant before in which the food looked sooo pretty that you just didn’t want to touch it? Well, the food at Wild Root Cafe & Market was absolutely beautiful looking! What a trendy place this is with its bright and vibrant ambiance. This place is managed by an Italian chef, Michael Trebbi in which he and his wife use to live in Chicago. We got off to a great start just by having our place of origin in common. He and his wife, Anne-Marie were so accommodating and hospitable throughout the food tour. Wild Root Cafe & Market is known for unique and creative flavor-infused healthy, and colorful organic dishes with bold flavors! I wanted to layout my food-tasting menu for ya…here’s what I sampled!
Smoked & candied local rainbow trout, greens, cecina (Tuscan chickpea flatbread), grapefruit, radishes, artichoke, soft cooked egg, pistachios, lemon vinaigrette
Open-faced marinated grilled flank, caramelized sweet onions, tomatoes, mustard-parmesan vinaigrette, arugula, strawberries, and ruby-red grapefruit
AVOCADO BANH MI
Sprouts, kimchi, cucumber, scallions, thai basil, vegan mint-chili mayo, baguette
MINT MERINGUE DESSERT
Green mints, meringue, caramel, shaved coconut, and pistachio nuts sprinkled on top
THIRD STOP: THE CHOCOLAT BAR
My next stop on the food tour was a quick stop at The Chocolat Bar. I had handmade toffee smothered in a rich dark chocolate and topped with roasted almonds. The toffee melted right in my mouth and this was my top favorite treat! Also, the silky white chocolate with refreshing lemon oil, lavender flowers and toasted organic almonds was absolutely delicious. Last but not least, if you’re looking for a unique taste, with a different contrast of taste that has a red chili kick…then the Red chili and pistachios smothered in a rich dark chocolate may satisfy your sweet tooth.
FOURTH STOP: OLIVIN OIL & VINEGAR TAPROOM
I’ve never been on a food tour that included an olive oil place but I’m not surprised that it would be included in one. So, when we stopped at Olivin Oil & Vinegar Taproom, I was delighted to learn about oils and vinegar that complimented one other. We cook so many foods using different types of olive oils…so why not? I sampled various infused olive oils with non-infused balsamic vinegars. The host of the store was lovely and did a great job explaining the balance of the right oils and vinegars going together for the best food palette experience. Here’s what I sampled that is in congruent with the pictures displayed below.
Blood Orange Olive Oil & Tangerine Balsamic Vinegar (A hint of sweetness which can be drizzled over salads, grilled salmon and more!!)
Basil Olive Oil & Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar (Definitely good on a salad with fresh strawberries, raisins, or any sweet dried fruit)
Tuscan Herb Olive Oil & Lemon Water Balsamic Vinegar (I believe this was my favorite just by the mere fact I love to add lemon and herbs to my poultry and fish)
LAST STOP OF INDULGE FOOD TOUR: THE BASQUE MARKET
So, have you heard of The Basque Market? How about The Basque People? Neither did I until I visited Boise. Lol! Okay, so I really don’t want to assume that no one has ever heard of it but if you have heard of The Basque Community…I’m impressed! I say this because stereotypically, Basques are known as a somewhat secretive culture.
Idaho is home to one of the largest populations of Basques outside of Spain. The Basque population is estimated around 30,000 in southern Idaho and eastern Oregon. They have been in Idaho about as long as western settlers have inhabited the region-since the mid to late 1800s-first coming for mining, then as shepherds. The Basque People are friendly and helpful to strangers and outsiders, hard working and industrious, but content to keep to themselves.
“Indulge Boise Tours” took me on my last and final stop to The Basque Market. The inside of the market reminded me of a deli shop that served wine, cheese, meats, and other tasty vittles surrounded by a European style store with bricks built as the interior adorned with important culinary elements that compliment the store. I sampled their Gilda Pintxos, Croquetas with Piquillo Pepper (AMAZING!!!!) & Green Olive with Manchego cheese. Also, their lively Frozen White Wine Sangria was one of THEE best frozen sangrias I’ve ever had!!! They’re also known for making an amazing and colorful big BIG pan of paella to which they take to the streets on certain days of the week! I took a picture with one of the large paella pans used on a weekly basis. You can check out The Basque Market to learn more about the delicious foods they offer and special events to include the whole family.
SO, WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO IN BOISE, IDAHO…BESIDES EATING FOOD, YOU MIGHT ASK?
Well unfortunately; I couldn’t write every little thing I experienced in Boise but here’s a handful of highlights I’d like to share with you just in case you’re looking to visit and want to add some “extras” onto your list:
1. GETTING IN A SAVORY BREAKFAST FROM MERRITT’S ORIGINAL SCONES & GOLDY’S RESTAURANT (LAST FOODIE SPOTS MENTIONED! LOL!)
I had an opportunity to stop at both of these delicious foodie spots with a friend or two and when I tell you I encountered nothing but some delicious comfort food in the Pacific Northwest, that is exactly what I did! At Merritt’s Original Scones, a friend and I met up in a suburb outside of Boise and I can tell you what I wasn’t expecting was to taste a deep-fried yet light and fluffy scone filled with smoked bacon, diced up grilled onions and bell peppers with cheese sauce. I’m use to tasting sweet scones with powdered sugar sprinkled on them…lol! I also had a side of hashbrowns with grilled diced onion and bell peppers as well. The next day on my way out of Boise going back home, I ate at Goldy’s Restaurant. This place is pretty popular as well and is located downtown Boise. It appears to be popular not only to tourists by regular locals including business professionals. I set up some time to interview the first and only black female State Senator of Idaho, Cherie Buckner-Webb (The interview is located at the bottom of this blog post.) and this is where we dined for breakfast.
2. RENT A BIKE AND RIDE AROUND THE BOISE RIVER GREENBELT
So, I thought I would get in a little outdoor nature during my trip by renting a bike to take in the scenery while doing so. I decided to visit the Boise River Greenbelt which expands out 25 miles throughout the city of Boise and is known to be one of the most beloved parks here. It’s surrounded by a small walking bridge, bike paths, walking trails, tennis courts, a park, and plenty of trees. I rented a bike from SoBi (Social Bicycles) as there’s a rack of them available across from the public restroom at The Julia Davis Park. It’s the perfect way to get around the municipal park and see hidden gems within the city of Boise.
3. STOP BY AND SIT DOWN WITH ABRAHAM LINCOLN AT THE JULIA DAVIS PARK
There’s a gigantic statue of Abraham Lincoln situated near the Idaho Black History Museum at the Julia Davis Park. It’s a well known landmark and I thought it would be cute to get in a photo-op showing off my feet dangling off the ground. 🙂
4. HIKE UP TABLE ROCK
Table rock is a rock surface with multiple caves and ledges that overlooks the treasure valley area of Boise. The peak is surrounded by crosses planted into the ground and you can drive up to a certain point of Table Rock before you will actually have to hike up to the top. The hike is about 10 minutes to the top from the parking lot (not the base of the mountain..lol). Although I’m offering this information, I myself only stopped to the point of where you can drive up towards Table Rock. I think I got enough exercise in from bike riding around the Boise River Greenbelt. Lol! Here’s my view of the green valley from where I parked.
5. CHECK OUT THE IDAHO STATE CAPITOL BUILDING
The Idaho State Capitol Building is home of the government of the state of Idaho. It was built in 1905 and took seven years to complete construction (1912). It is situated downtown Boise and as you’re driving into the city, it adds to the beautiful landscape of the town.
So, there you have it! I traveled to Boise, Idaho while being black and what I experienced was far beyond what I could have ever imagined. I didn’t have any set expectations during my trip either. I didn’t encounter any racism…or I should at least say any overt racism. No one was staring at me like I was like a novelty or being disrespectful. People were rather pleasant and greeted me on the streets with smiles and warmth. This was my personal reality and I know this may not be the case for everyone.
It’s amazing how liberating a person can feel when they decide to travel somewhere they would least expect to visit. In my case, I feel like I can continuously conquer the world! This was my solo weekend trip and I was able to accomplish so much by seeing and doing some of the top items on my list. As mentioned earlier, I can’t document everything that I did but you may see some new sightings in my travel compilation video I’m working on. Stay tuned and be on the lookout for it as it’s coming your way soon…:)
So…have you been to Boise, Idaho before? If not; is it now on your list to visit? Did my blog post sway you in making up your mind to visit? 🙂 Please let me know…
Thanks for reading!