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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Culinary Ride Experience

So this past weekend I had the opportunity to participate in the Second Annual Culinary Ride around Johnson County.  I found out about this event about a month ago through a friend who was planning on participating.

As you know, about a month and a half ago, I rode in RAGBRAI, which was an amazing experience.  I knew I would have to find and try more events like these to hop into.  I hadn't really expected finding one so soon, and had been busy traveling and shooting weddings and the like, and hadn't trained as much as I would have liked since then to stay in the tip top shape I was in before this ride.  I still was able to complete the ride, without any real problems, except for this one stupid hill that no one in our group could make it up.  Coming back down that hill was fun though... :)

So here's the experience for you, in a ton of pictures and a few words of my own:

Our day started bright and early at 7:00 am.  It was cold... so cold I was wearing a scarf when everyone showed up.  Lucky for me, the lovely people at the Culinary Ride had sent me an email warning me of this eventuality, and I had layered in thin but warm clothes that I could peel off and pack in my bag along the way.  Believe me, I was glad for that jacket on the 6.6 mile ride to the starting point.

We checked in, then promptly made our way to the coffee, and then found someone to take our picture. :)


And then we ate... and it was delicious!  We were served by Griddle Me This!, which is a local breakfast stand at the Iowa City Farmer's Market.  They came to serve us on this chilly morning and it was wonderful!


They served us "Hash browns" made of squash, with baby portabellas, leeks, kale, rosemary, eggs, cheddar cheese, and topped with cherry tomatoes and sunflower sprouts.  I was barely able to resist the temptation long enough to take this picture before scarfing it down. :)


 We snapped some pictures around the prairie restoration at Waterworks Prairie Park in Iowa City, because it was so beautiful there!



Then, we headed onto the open road.  The first 10 miles of the ride were a piece of cake.  Then we started heading out of town.  Doing things like this make me realize all of the things that I overlook on a day to day basis.  I live so close to these farms, this land, and yet I've never really seen it.  (I guess this is why that is the type of photography I like to capture best...)

So we're biking along and then out of nowhere, a small plane takes off not more than 30 ft in front of me, while I'm biking.  I nearly wrecked from surprise! When I rode up I saw this tiny little strip in between corn fields.  It's on Green Castle farm, home of their Aero Club.  I didn't even know this was out here!


This was just a quick stop, for water and any tune ups, so we took a quick look around and snagged someone to take our picture in front of one of the planes that they had out.

Then it was on to another part of the Green Castle farm, just a few more miles down the road.  Here we were served by Devotay, Trumpet Blossom Cafe and Bread Garden Market.  I loved the fresh Soybeans (Edamame) from the farm, and the Ratatouille from Bread Garden just couldn't be beat!






After a bit of time with some fresh fruit, and wandering the grounds, we headed out once more, this time to Northern Ridge Berry Farm.  I had never been there, but had such a fun time that I know I'm going to have to take my children!   There, we were served vegetable soup, marinated tomatoes and beets from Bluebird Cafe.



We couldn't resist the pie, we all chipped in and bought one of each to split with the group.  They were all amazing.  That banana creme in the background was my favorite!


This is where the short route, or the Cherry Tomato route, as it were called, was slated to end.  One of our group was set to do the long route (Beet it up!), but as there was 15 miles of gravel on this route, us girls wanted to pansy out of it.  Well, we were curious and decided to start the ride to the next stop with our friend to see where the gravel started.  Well, we made it all the way to the next stop with no gravel, so we enjoyed one more meal, this time at Augusta Restaurant in Oxford, IA.

From there, we split, and the three non-gravel riding pansies headed back on the route to the final destination, Red's Alehouse in North Liberty.  It was a lovely ride, and we stopped a few times along the road for a few pictures.







And then finally, Red's Alehouse, where we finished off our day with Sutliff Hard Cider, and it was delicious.  It's a beer, but it tastes like juice- I could be very dangerous with this stuff!



Overall, the ride was a great experience.  We biked 39 miles, including the ride to the starting point and the extra mileage to get to the Augusta Restaurant.  The most frustrating stop we had was Augusta, where some of the food wasn't ready for us.  I think we were moving faster than anyone had planned for.  As for the food, it was amazing- I think my favorite things all day were the breakfast, put on by Griddle Me This, and The Ratatouille that was at the Breadgarden table at Green Castle Organics.  That was amazing Ratatouille.
My only complaint about the food?  We all know that the food was a donation and gracious and most of all delicious, but my group were all saying, Where's the meat?  It would have been nice to see more than just one shrimp at Augusta or the pork lasagna that I heard was at Chef Gaby's Clandestine Campsite (but that I didn't have the guts to go to- 15 miles of gravel scared the pants off of me).
Will I go back?  Yes!  Probably time and time again, for as long as I can drag people along with me.  





{and if you like my shirt... it's custom made, by... me!  I will be featuring a similar product in my shop with it's debut!  Look for it coming soon!}

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