Tag Archives: Boise

A Willy Wonka of Idaho

willy-wonka-and-the-chocolate-factory-gene-wilder-image-600x337When Jackson McKenzie was in the sixth grade, he felt like his life was pretty boring. So, at a school show-and-tell he decided to beef things up a bit. “I made up that I liked to beat world records,” he says. Fueled by a lifelong love of reading Guinness World Records – “I’ve read every one since 2000” – McKenzie had stuck his foot firmly in his mouth. But then, something magical happened. After contacting the Guinness people and finding out that the easiest record to beat was creating the world’s largest M&M mosaic, he actually made his show-and-tell proclamation come true.

“I did it,” he says. His mosaic was a picture of a tree, a monkey and a sun. He glued the M&Ms onto a plastic grid and created the whole thing in his room. “But, it wasn’t official.”

Now, McKenzie wants to do it again, only this time, he wants to make it really matter. He has contacted the Guinness folks, and knows what “evidence” is required. He has designed his creation – a 124-square-foot mosaic that includes the state of Idaho and a snippet of our state song, “Here We Have Idaho.” (The current record is: 74.92 square feet.) McKenzie estimates it will take close to 30,000 M&Ms.

Jackson McKenzie, 17, and his M&M mosaic plans. Photo by Jeanne Huff

Jackson McKenzie, 17, and his M&M mosaic plans. Photo by Jeanne Huff

With the help of his dad (Idaho State Sen. Curtis McKenzie), he reserved the rotunda at the Idaho State Capitol for two weeks to allow he and his team to assemble the mosaic. “We will be working from July 27 to August 9 and the record breaking mosaic will be in display the following week,” McKenzie says.

Originally, he posted his project at $6,000 on Kickstarter, but he says he overestimated the costs. His new goal is $3,500 and he has a website set up for fundraising at http://jacksonmckenzie.com/.

Anything he receives over the amount needed for materials – M&Ms, Elmer’s Glue, a plastic grid, and paper and wood for support – McKenzie plans on giving to Go On Idaho, http://www.go-on-idaho.org/, a nonprofit dedicated to helping Idahoans continue education past high school.

So, if you want to help McKenzie actually make his sixth grade declaration a reality, send him some M&M money. In addition to his website, you can contact him by phone – 899-0753 – or email: mckenziexjackson@gmail.com. He says all project finances, including every donation and expenditure, will be tracked and publicly accessible on his website.

Whadya say, a little help to help jazz up McKenzie’s summer – and to give summer tourists something extra to see at the capitol?

Let’s do it!

Go, Jackson McKenzie!

Go M&Ms!

Go, Idaho!

Or, in the words of Willy Wonka: “Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination…”

For real.

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On the Fly is SO fly

L-R: Brick 29 and On the Fly owner and chef Dustan Bristol and manager Doug Stinson cranking out sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts for the lunch hour crowd. Photo by Jeanne Huff

L-R: Brick 29 and On the Fly owner and chef Dustan Bristol and manager Doug Stinson cranking out sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts for the lunch hour crowd. Photo by Jeanne Huff

I have a new favorite sandwich joint. It hasn’t been open long — officially, just a few weeks — but I have been there about 10 times already and have tried just about every sandwich and soup of the day. Everything is delicious. At least for this comfort food loving girl from Kansas, it is truly comfort food kicked up a notch. Well, actually, quite a few notches.

And that’s exactly what On the Fly’s chef and owner Dustan Bristol intended when he came up with the idea. It’s what he had in mind when he added bacon jam to his egg salad sandwich. When he decided to take on that mother of all comfort food sandwiches – bologna. He remembered his favorite bologna sandwich from his childhood. “My grandparents had that bologna with the olives in it,” he says. And, of course, they served it on Wonder bread with mayo. So, his take on the classic bologna sandwich includes green olive tapenade, aioli, organic arugula, sliced tomato and house-made bologna — “that way I know what’s in it,” he says — on white bread custom made for Bristol by Mathieu Choux of Gaston’s Bakery. “It’s like Wonder bread on crack,” he says with a smile.

I don’t doubt it for a minute. I am one of the addicts that start lining up around 11 a.m. hoping to grab one of the sandwiches at the ready — the egg salad and the bologna regularly sell out early. Or, if I’m feeling extravagant, I might sidle up to the counter and order a fresh, made-to-order hot sandwich. The regulars include grilled cheese Panini (sharp white cheddar, Monterey jack, shaved red onion and pear), a Reuben panini (with house Louie dressing and Swiss cheese fondue and roasted cabbage tossed in vinaigrette in lieu of sauerkraut) and a daily special.

My friend Jason says On the Fly’s roast beef sandwich (with Manchego cheese and house made Bearnaise aioli on a baguette) is the best he’s ever had.

All the usual suspects are there so whatever your go-to comfort sandwich is, you won’t be disappointed; rather, you and your taste buds will be delighted: turkey (house brined and rotisserie-cooked with roasted red and green peppers, smoked gouda cheese, aioli and dried chili pesto on baguette), chicken salad (again, house brined and rotisserie-cooked chicken tossed with vinaigrette, fennel, red onion, raisins, blue cheese crumbles, fresh basil, toasted walnuts with aioli, organic arugula and sliced tomato) and how about this: cashew butter and jelly (house-made cashew butter, boysenberry conserve and fresh banana on that better-than-Wonder-bread bread).

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t a lot of other sandwich places downtown, many of which are pretty good to great: there’s the Bleubird (my second fave), Subway and of course Jimmy John’s, to name a few. And there are restaurants aplenty where you can get sandwich specials of the day as well. You can get a sandwich that will satisfy your lunchtime hunger in any of those establishments (the Bleubird will tickle your taste buds with panache, but you have to wait on line, and some of the fare is a little more spendy). At On the Fly, most sandwiches are grab-and-go, and cost about five bucks, a few a bit more, some less. And that’s a pretty great price point for deliciousness. The place also has ramped-up soups, salads and desserts. I dare you to sink your teeth into the Rice Whiskey Treat (think of  your childhood’s rice krispie treat on steroids — comes with salted caramel sauce for dipping) and not flutter your eyes in OMG ecstasy. And if you like breakfast sandwiches, I highly recommend the Croque Madame (fried egg, house ham and Swiss fondue). The only downside I could find on my trips there was that if you want one of the hot sandwiches that are made to order, you do have to wait a few minutes while they make it. But in my experience, the end result was worth the wait.

Bristol, also owner and chef of Brick 29 in Nampa, says he modeled the sustainable, local, whole food, real food, grab and go concept on the trendy and wildly popular Pret a Manger, that started in the U.K. and now has locations in Hong Kong and New York. And, he already has plans to take the entire On the Fly enterprise up a notch or two: he envisions online ordering and bike delivery service in the near future that will rival that of the competition’s. “I would love to have a concept I could standardize and duplicate. We want to be aggressive. I think we offer a better value than Jimmy John’s.”

He wants to be the sandwich king.

One bite is all it will take to know that if anybody can take on Jimmy John’s, Bristol can.

 

IF YOU GO:

On the Fly, 800 W. Main, Suite 200. 344-6833. http://ontheflydeli.com.

On Facebook: On the Fly Rotisserie Deli.

It is in the new Eighth and Main building in downtown Boise. Just hang a right at the top of the escalator.

Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Sandwiches, soups, salads, desserts. Also grab and go entrees.

Today’s word is: responsible

photo 1It all comes down to being responsible, people.

Yes, I’m talking to you, dog owners who don’t bag up your dog’s poo.

And, yeah, I’m talking to you, too, dog owners who bring your furry not-socialized friends along for the hike.

You, too, trail bike riders, with no regard to “hiker’s only” signs — or to hikers.

And, most emphatically, I’m talking to you, dog owners who have no business owning a dog.

Here’s why I’m talking: I’ve been doing a lot more hiking lately. Trying to get in shape because the old middle-age spread is not an old wife’s tale, like I kept hoping. So, while walking up Tablerock, I’ve been noticing there is a lot of dog poop. Fresh and gooey, dried and shriveled, teeny-tiny and ginormous. Right. On. The. Trail. God knows what is out in the wildflowers, weeds and boulders. Why? Why? Why?photo 2

There are handy scooping bags conveniently placed at the trail head and they’re FREE. So, why all the poop?? “Part of being a responsible dog owner is picking up the poop,” this is what I told my grandson Max when he, my daughter, Tracy,  and my granddaughter, Julia, inherited Puppet. We practiced in my back yard where there is usually a fair number of poop scooping opportunities. Yes, he hemmed and hawed, “I can’t do it, I’ll throw up, it’s so gross!” But finally, herking and jerking, he passed the smelly Easter egg hunt test. If he can do it, so can you!

And about you dog owners who bring your snarly, aggressive companions along for the walk — don’t. At least, not until you and your friends take a class, there are a number of dog training classes available, some even free. Call PetSmart or Petco or Zamzows or the Idaho Humane Society. We took Payton through the Scotch Pines Dog Training and he actually graduated. He got a little cardboard graduation hat and everything. And he is “socialized.” So, if he passes another dog, or a group of 10 dogs, a person using a walker or a baby in a stroller — he is not a threat. Sometimes, he even lays down to let others pass. If you have a dog, even if he is on a leash, that you are unsure of, “I don’t ever know what THIS one will do,” LEAVE THAT DOG AT HOME. Because, I don’t want your dog attacking my sweet little Puppet.

Bike riders who share the hiking trail: pay attention. Scootch over. Slow down. Once, I saw a guy on a unicycle coming down the trail. No kidding. It doesn’t matter what you’re riding as long as you ride it — and the trail — responsibly. There are families, kids, babies, dogs, grannys, people with walkers, canes and disabilities — you need to watch out for all of us.

Finally, I have to say a few words to you who do not deserve to be dog owners. You let your dogs — untrained, aggressive and vicious — roam the neighborhoods. Your animals are not wild animals they are domestic but because you are so irresponsible, they act like wild animals. They terrorize other animals and people — two of them murdered my friend’s sweet kitty. He was just sitting in his spot. In the early morning sun. Shame on you. Give your dogs to Cesar Millan (he’s the dog whisperer, he knows how to rehabilitate dogs but I think training you is hopeless).

It’s just about being responsible.

Bobbleheads: They’re ba-ack!

You may still be able to get one of these.

You may still be able to get one of these.

Last year, when I stopped to get a Kellen Moore Bobblehead at Jacksons I was denied! I couldn’t believe it – by 8:30 a.m. I was two hours too late.

I wasn’t about to miss out this time. They released the Jamar Taylor bobbleheads for sale at 6 o’clock this morning.  I was there one minute later.

At first, I was worried I still didn’t make it in time. After all, anticipating last year’s bobblehead frenzy, Jacksons had issued a press release stating they would begin passing out numbers for queuing up in line at 2 a.m. When I pulled up at the Fairview Jacksons – purportedly its most heavily trafficked store – there were quite a few empty parking spaces. Inside, the line was average – I was the fourth one back.

Had the rabid bobbleheaders already come and gone?

As I stepped up to the counter, I caught a glimpse of telltale bobble boxes stuffed into my fellow shopper’s bag across the aisle. The woman at the counter told me the limit was two per person.

“I thought there would be a line,” I said.

She rolled her eyes. “I thought so, too. I got here at 2,” she said. She added two others got their line numbers right after she did. Then a couple more stopped in to wait until the magic hour. But all in all, it was not the mad rush of yore. The store had received 76 bobbleheads, and there were still about 70 to go.

When I called the store at 8:36 a.m. and asked if they still had bobbleheads, someone named Bobby said, “We sure do.”

“How many?”

Pause.

“A lot.”

I pressed Bobby as to why the run on bobbleheads was so different from a year ago – did he think it could be because the Broncos had hit a bit of a slump?

He didn’t skip a beat. “Oh, yeah.”

Now, even if that’s not true — although I did hear ticket prices have recently been lowered  — the thought that Boise Bronco fans could possibly be so fickle really bothers me.

I like to think of my hometown fans as a better lot than that. Bronco Nation should keep the Bronco Mania steady as she goes, right? After all, it’s much, much bigger than the expanded Bronco Stadium with the attached Steuckle Sky Center and the 34,000 blue-and-orange-clad attendees. Our Boise State Broncos have generated impressive team revenue, ramped up Boise State enrollment, and many say they’ve boosted our local economy big time. In fact, Jana Jones, director of economic development services at Boise Valley Economic Partnership, said being a Broncos name dropper opens economic development possibilities for Boise nationwide.

They may not be winning every game, but they haven’t lost their cachet, she said. Just say the word and conversation blooms. People start talking about their own Fiesta Bowl experiences — “I was up until the morning watching it,” said one East Coaster. “I couldn’t go to sleep until it was over.” Or they just want to know about that blue football field.  “For us, it’s still one of the things that opens doors for consultants and business owners across the country – especially on the East Coast. There are so many fans there who live and breathe college football.”

In an article this summer on Forbes.com on the economics of football, the Broncos were singled out for the impressive revenue the program generated in the 2011-2012 season — $15+ million.  Reporter Alicia Jessop said Boise State generated a higher net income than schools including Texas Christian, Northwestern and Louisville.

Tell you what: I hope all of the Jamar Taylor bobbleheads are sold today. If you hurry, you might just snag one. And I’ve get my iPhone calendar set to alert me at 5 a.m. on the rest of this year’s bobblehead release dates – Oct. 11 (Shea McClellin), Oct. 25 (DJ Harper) and Nov. 8 (Buster Bronco). I’m going to get them all (fingers crossed).

But if you missed getting a bobblehead and really, really, really want one – like I wanted the Kellen Moore boblehead last year – (read about the surprise ending here)– send me an email. IBR reader Beth Hagen of Kuna came to my rescue last year and offered me one of her Kellen Moores, inspired by the Starbucks customer who had anonymously bought everyone behind him a coffee that morning.

I’m ready to take her lead and pay it forward.

Showdown at the sloppy joe corral

I was listening to an interview with the ever-bombastic Keith Olberman on NPR the other day and found myself shaking my head with a smile on my face more than once. That guy knows his way around a dictionary and a thesaurus, blindfolded, I bet!

Then, when I was leafing through an old notebook of my own writings, I came across something that made me think: “Damn — I coulda been a contender!”

Here is a letter I wrote at 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 13, 1989 in Olathe, Kansas:

Dear Sirs,

I just viewed your “Hormel Sloppy Joe vs Manwich” commercial for the first time. I must tell you, I found it highly offensive. The violence portrayed by the mock bullet hole-in-sauce was enough to thoroughly insult me both as non-committal viewer as well as possible consumer, but the red, oozing theatric of the lumpy liquid was quite insensitively unnecessary and totally overdone!
This procedure, too closely correlating a human shot gun-at-the-OK-Corral scene, going so far as to depict ketchup-stain imitation blood, caused me great distress, dismay, outrage and yes, repulsion. I can only cringe in horror at the rapidly approaching certain viewing of this wretched commercial by my non-violent, peace-loving and innocent three young children. How alarmed they will surely be at the sight of their present-day favorite Friday night supper as it dribbles death-like down the shirt-front jar of the visibly labeled, although somewhat stained and marred Sloppy Joe Mix. How disgusted they will certainly feel when they watch, unable to pull their eyes away from the fascinatingly macabre and grotesquely riveting meal at hand.
Is this “meal,” depicted now and forever in our tainted minds as a gun shot wounded, dying, chunky-tomato sauce-dripping outlaw, brazenly being marketed as cannibalism, dressed up in a jar?
Preposterous?
How then explain to my 4 1/2 and 6 year old the too familiar similarities between the visuals of this commercial and a cowboy shoot-out?
The stains like blood down a shirt front vs thickened ketchup oozing from bullet-shaped (and bullet-sound effected) holes in the sauce jars?
I believe this commercial to be totally mired in bad taste. As a past consumer of your product, I request that you pull this disgusting charade of marketing pulp off the video air waves. It is disgusting, offending and against all basic mores and agreed laws of life. This corrupting segment of visual garbage should be tossed back into the stockheap of unwanted, unused, unusable and unacceptable toxic-waste commercials — exactly from where it most evidently came.
Word of advice: Use material that makes people watch in happy, mindlessly wondrous fascination — not grotesquely staring in morbid dementia. I think it will work better in selling a food product.
Sincerely,

Jeanne Huff

Here We Go Again!


Happy New Year!

It’s 2011 and wow, am I excited! If you are one of the regular readers of this blog, you’ll know I started this whole thing as a sort of knee-jerk reaction to getting laid off. And, because my life-changing experience happened at the same time our entire country was devastated by a plummeting economy resulting in bad news, bad news and more bad news, the theme of this blog was good news.

And even in the darkest of times, with unemployment climbing, house sales and spending in general plummeting to historic numbers, there has never been a shortage of good news to report: from the cast away, two legged puppy miraculously learning to walk upright to Wishing Star recipients teaching us about the real superheroes to others in our community staunchly determined to look for the good around us, and finding it.

I took a soul-searching trip back to my roots and took all my readers along in my pocket, sharing the guilty pleasure of the lip-smacking, never-to-be-replaced-by-the-Colonel Chicken Mary’s (or Chicken Annie’s) fried chicken, the exuberance of my dog Payton’s leap into one of the few remaining Kansas strip-pits and the simple joy of rekindling old friendships and revisiting the past.

I told you about my disappointments, how it felt to be laid off, unemployed, one of hundreds of applicants for each and every job posted. The agony, worry, dashed hope; hours spent searching, dreaming, writing dozens of resumes, hundreds of cover letters. I created my own company, took on part-time, temp jobs, worked on projects and freelanced for magazines and newspapers.

Today, I am sharing some more good news: I have landed a job. A real job, the job that seemingly was made for me, one of those Mary Poppins jobs, “practically perfect in every way.” Starting tomorrow, I will assume the duties as Special Sections/Project Editor for the Idaho Business Review.

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am, but maybe you already know. I keep pinching myself but with each re-reading of my SIGNED offer letter, the words sink a little deeper.

I.Have. A. Job. THE job.

Practically perfect in every way.

Thanks for tagging along with me on this journey. I hope you will keep the good news faith. I’ve got a feeling there’s going to be more where that came from.

And, of course, I have a gift or two for you. Here are a few of the more popular First, the Good News Videos from 2010 and 2009.

Deer friends

“I saw a family of deer this morning on my way to aerobics class. There were four of them and one even had a rack!”

“What? Say that again,” said Bob. “You saw WHAT??”

“Deer. This morning. In the neighborhood. Walking on the street.”

“You saw deer? Where?”

“Over on Orchard. There were four of them. They were headed towards the canal, you know, that woodsy area.”

“Oh, right. I bet they live in Kathryn Albertson Park. That’s cool…. One of them had a rat??”

“No—a rack! One of them had a rack!”

“Oh, yeah, that makes more sense. I thought you said ‘one of them had a rat,’ and I thought wow, that’s weird.”

Even though this is a pretty typical conversation for me and my husband Bob, what’s not so typical is that there were four deer in our neighborhood the other day. A fuzzy Bambi family nestled in amongst houses, streets, cars and people.

Keep your eyes open, people. You never know what wonders you may see.