Welcome to Jacksonville!
Last week I travelled to Jacksonville, Florida to visit two of my college friends. I would’ve much preferred to have arrived in this city upon my rearing steed like good ol’ Andrew Jackson here, but I chose to fly instead: a less majestic, but admittedly quicker means of transportation.
What’s Jacksonville like, you ask? Well…
The skyline is nothing to write home about. But, like much (all?) of coastal Florida, it does have beaches!
Miles and miles of free-to-the-public beaches. Unfortunately, the water was still too cold to go swimming in while I was there. We were, however, able to rent bikes to ride along the beach:
That’s me with my friend (who is also named) Caitlin (whom I shall refer to as ‘(Jacksonville) Caitlin’ to avoid any future confusion). And here’s our whole biker gang:
The girl on the right is my friend Ellie, who came down to Jacksonville from D.C. to join in on our shenanigans. It was great to see both of them again!
But on to the food. If there was one thing this trip saw a lot of, it was eating and cooking. Our first night there, (Jacksonville) Caitlin took us to local hot spot Moon River Pizza: as she described it (and I paraphrase), “the only actually good place to eat out in Jacksonville.” When we went we shared a big pizza pie:
Our toppings included tomato slices, onions, and green peppers; here’s the close-up of my first slice:
Admittedly, I think I liked the decor and atmosphere of this place more than pizza, but that’s because: (a) the decor and atmosphere of this place was really good—classic rock tunes of the 60′s and 70′s playing on the stereo all night, pictures and drawings of classic rock singers of the 60′s and 70′s adorning the walls, and their kitchen and oven right in the center of the restaurant for all curious eyes to watch; and (b) I generally prefer my pizza a little different from their style (I like thiner, cripsier crusts and less sauce), which says more about my personal tastes than their style of pizza. Anyway, it was still a great way to start off the visit!
After this, most of the meals we ate were made in house (or, rather, in apartment). Since I was cooking for friends, I decided to return to some of my favorite, tried and true recipes of the past. Thus, for our second night in Jacksonville, Ellie and I whipped up a batch of my “Laurel Wreath” Quinoa Pesto with some collard green vegetable wraps:
This was delicious, as it always is.
Later, I made super salads for everyone, featuring kale, carrots, golden beets, pumpkin seeds and nutritional yeast:
This was also delicious, as super salads always are. And what made it even more delicious was the local Jacksonville bread I picked up at the local farmers’ market to go along with it:
The loaf on the right is rosemary garlic bread, and the one on the left was what they called some sort of “Hippie” bread: basically, lots of nuts, raisins, and a little bit of chocolate mixed together to form one tasty loaf.
Perhaps the cooking highlight of the entire trip though was Saturday night, when Ellie and I combined forces to make some homemade pizza. Actually, most of this was Ellie’s handiwork: she made the crusts from scratch (!) and designed most of the pizzas. Ellie is a pizza pro (as I know full well from living with her for a year), and I was happy to let her lead in the kitchen.
Our first pizza was a hodgepodge of sorts, a somewhat traditional cheese-and-sauce pie that aimed to please everyone in the room. So we had sections with cheese and without cheese, with jalapenos and without jalapenos, and with and without spinach and mushrooms. I only tried the spinach and mushrooms section, but it was fantastic! Oh, and there was crumbled feta on top too!
Our other pie was a hummus pizza, garnished with loads of bell peppers and crumbled feta. I had a bigger hand in crafting this pie, as I was the one who made the hummus “sauce” (using Dreena Burton’s fantabulous Peanut Sesame Hummus recipe). This was good, but I definitely preferred the first pizza to this one.
A few days later, (Jacksonville) Caitlin made me dinner:
This was a tasty plate of steamed asparagus, couscous, and baked tofu. The baked tofu was definitely the highlight of the meal, as it was tossed with a delicious Vermont spice mix (from Vermont, (Jacksonville) Caitlin’s home). I don’t remember what made up this Vermont spice mix, but it definitely made for a delicious tofu coating, that in addition worked very well with the other sides on the plate.
Last but not least, we have the final dish I made while in Jacksonville: burritos!
As readers of this blog will already know, I’ve been on a sort of burrito kick lately, and I was excited to try some new things out. This time around, I decided to go more traditional and make use of some of Closet Cooking’s helpful and delicious burrito recipes, making Cilantro and Lime Rice and Pico de Gallo salsa to go along with the main filling of black beans and onions. This all came together nicely (the salsa was particularly good), but I think for now I still prefer my wacky Korean burritos.
And that’s all I’m going to share for today, but be sure to check back soon, as I’m going to dedicate my entire next post to the delicious desserts I enjoyed during my Jacksonville trip!
Until we eat again,