Tag Archives: restaurants

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.

Good times!

Raspberry Mojito and Thai Chicken Temaki (yes, served in a shot glass!) at Pair

Raspberry Mojito and Thai Chicken Temaki (yes, served in a shot glass!) at Pair


It’s First Thursday! Are you ready to stroll?

First Thursday is the perfect time to combine all your favorite things to do in one glorious evening: you can go shopping, art watching, bar hopping and gnoshing — and still get home before Letterman.

For this month’s art offerings, be sure to check out Jack and Mark Bangerter — yep, they’re related, father and son. Their new watercolors are at A Novel Adventure.

Another hot spot: the 8th Street Marketplace, showing off its new Artists in Residence (AiR) featuring Holly Streekstra, Kelly Packer and Adrien Kien.

After the shopping and the art, stroll on over to a Downtown restaurant and/or bar. Many are featuring hopping happy hours and drink and food specials. At Pair, you can try one of their new Sushi Shots — only $3 for Happy Hour.

For more to do, places to go, check out the Downtown Boise Association Web site:

For goodness sake!

jhuff1Dear Readers,

At the expense of being seen as “tooting my own horn,” I am going to toot away. As of today, Sunday, March 1, nearly 1,500 readers have stopped by “First, the good news,” since its Feb. 19 debut. About 120 have joined the Good News Army by enlisting on the “First, the good news” Facebook group.

“First, the good news” is now a bi-weekly column at the Idaho Business Review and this blog is linked to from the IBR Web site. Look for other news organizations to be linking to the blog: Boise Weekly, Idaho Press-Tribune and Fox 12, for starters.

So far, I’ve gotten a thumbs-up for “First, the good news” from:
— The Downtown Boise Association
— Mayor Bieter
— Boise’s economic development department
— Idaho Business Review
— Fox 12
— Boise Weekly
— Idaho Press-Tribune
— Tracy & Margo at 107.1 K-Hits
— Many well-wishers and supporters, from business folks to just plain folks

Coming this week, look for stories on:
First Thursday: What’s the haps
Interview with former Idahoan Gary Bermeosolo
Ain’t got no money but still want to party? Here’s how you can!
Walks like a man: Interview with Faith, the biped dog
Shop on a dime

That’s just what I’ve come up with so far. Send me YOUR ideas: jeannehuff@gmail.com.

Until then, start every day with “First, the good news.”

Cheers!

Jeanne

Good chat!

Carol Ann and Michael Boss

Carol Ann and Michael Boss


Since starting this blog project, I have been bowled over by support and helpful suggestions. Being the sole reporter and editor, I’m doing my best to keep up, but I’m more than happy to tell you: there’s a lot of good news out there!

In this chapter — actually, this might even suffice as a Web-sized tome — I introduce to you Michael Boss. Boss is a fellow Web entrepreneur. He started his own Web site:

http://www.behindthemenu.org/Behind_the_Menu/Welcome.html

and his game is all about food. And local restaurants. But, as you will discover, Boss is, well, his own boss, and, like Thoreau once wrote, he’s taken the restaurant review less traveled. Boss’s delightful restaurant revelations fall more into the category of fireside chats with each restaurant owner.

Intrigued, I thought it would be fun to turn the tables on Boss. The result is a comfortable, relaxed conversation. I’ve not yet met Boss in person, but I know when I do, it will be like meeting an old friend. I invite you to pour a cup of coffee (or glass of wine), set out a plate of sweets (or hors d’oeuvres) — and enjoy.

JH: Can you tell us a little about yourself, please? Sort of a mini-bio?
MB: (I was) born and raised in San Francisco between the era of the Beat Generation and the Flower Children (I went to the same junior high as Jerry Garcia, thanks for asking). I credit growing up in The City with one of the things that motivates me to write about food: the recognition that the world is full of a lot of amazing cultures and traditions that all find their way into what we eat.

This conviction was further reinforced by living a number of years in the Middle East, where, at one stage, I taught rotary wing aerodynamics to Irani army cadets in the legendary city of Esfahan. Throughout my world travels I became increasingly fascinated with culinary traditions and with how the subject of food can unlock so many stories about place, tradition, and ethnicity that few other subjects invoke with so little controversy.

Having had my own public relations agency in Boise for ten years, I got to know a number of local restaurant owners through a marketing program sponsored by SYSCO. The program evolved into more of an advertising co-op model, which was a disappointment to me in that my interest was in the multitude of stories behind the menu items of locally owned restaurants.

The conventional media pipeline didn’t allow for those stories to be told, and it took another five+ years for the technology of Web 2.0 and social media to create the kinds of tools and communities to allow for the audacity of creating my own “media source” for local restaurants to tell their stories.

And then, of course, losing my job as the PR Manager and Media Strategist at MPC Computers gave me the perfect excuse to follow my muse. Necessity is, if not the mother of invention, than at least the father of opportunity.

JH: Michael, your Web site “Behind the Menu,” features local restaurants. However, instead of it being a clearinghouse, listing or even a collection of reviews, your Web site is more about taking a look at what goes on behind-the-scenes. Can you tell us a little more about your Web site’s mission statement?
MB: Good insight, Jeanne. You’re right. This is not a directory or site for conventional restaurant reviews. I find both of those to be limited in their story telling potential, and there are already some good sites out there for listings and reviews. My personal favorite is http://www.idahoeats.com. (It’s a ) great concept, and really well executed except for all the Google Sense ads.

If you look at the title on my business card, it’s “Culinary Raconteur.” The mission of Behind The Menu is just what the name suggests: to tell the stories behind the food in local restaurants and businesses that make up the culinary environment in the Boise Valley.

What is the experience that a chef/restaurant owner is trying to create for the customers? What are their inspirations and associations with the foods they serve? What are their relationships with local growers and producers? What are the family and ethnic influences on their cooking? What culinary causes are they passionate about?

You can walk past the double fudge brownies at the Brick Oven Bistro and never know that the recipe came from a legendary culinary diva of Denver who used to hold court with visiting celebrity chefs. If you knew that story, you’d never again think about that brownie in the same way. That’s the story I want to tell — more to the point, that is the story I want people to hear from the restaurant itself through the podcast series (now available on iTunes as “Local Food, Local Voices,” by the way).

JH: How did you get so involved with food? Did you spend time in the kitchen as a child? Fascinated with making mud pies? What’s the story?

MB: I came to the kitchen late in life, but now do most of the cooking at my house. I love to cook.

You also have to go back to the answer to my first question. My very first epiphany around food came during my sophomore year in college, which I spent in the South Indian city of Bangalore. The food was a VERY powerful experience, and I realized that it embodied so many things about the culture that you couldn’t have learned as powerfully in any other way. To this day I believe that you can’t really begin to know a culture until you learn to speak at least some of the language and eat the food.

Those two things will tell you a lot about how other cultures perceive the world. I also discovered along the way that when you ask people about their relationships with food, you’ll learn a lot about them that other questions might not have uncovered. It’s a safer subject than politics and religion, but it can tell you a lot about both of those as well as others.

JH: What’s the funniest story you’ve heard during your interviews?

MB: Funny you should ask! I think it actually came out of this morning’s interview with Chef Lou Aaron (the Behind The Menu blog and podcast will be posted this coming Monday).

MB: Chef Lou earned his chops in the biz by starting in the “dish pit” of the Gamekeeper. He got “promoted” to pantry chef, and one of his duties was to prepare king crab legs. The process resulted in his going home each night with bloody hands. He told me that to this day he still has nightmares involving what many would consider a delicacy!

JH: Most touching story?

MB: Has to be Michael Mohica’s story from Ono Hawaiian Cafe. Michael started his culinary career as a little boy cooking with his grandmother. She died last year, and was never able to visit the restaurant that her grandson created, although she did see photographs. If you read one of the comments to the blog about Ono, you’ll see that one of his family members wrote about how proud their grandmother would have been.

Having that connection with my food as a chef would sure make me put an extra dollop of love into whatever I served. It’s not just food, it’s memories of a much loved grandmother that I’m sharing with the people who come to my restaurant.

That’s powerful stuff. I want people to know about that connection when they eat Michael’s food!

JH: So, Michael, how do you choose your subjects, how do you decide where to go next?

MB: In getting this project off the ground, I’m initially going with places I’m familiar with and recommendations from people whose taste I trust. My rule of thumb is that while I don’t write reviews, I won’t write about any place that I wouldn’t want my family or friends to experience. You know the feeling that you have when you recommend a restaurant to someone you love, and they call you one day and say, “wow, thanks so much for that recommendation — that was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.” That is giving someone you love a special gift.

As time goes on, I’m going to “mine” the Idaho Eats Web site and seek out the places that are getting the best user-generated review buzz. I know it sounds snobbish, but since I don’t take money for content creation, I have the journalistic prerogative of writing about what pleases me or captures my attention based on word-of-mouth (which is what this site is all about to begin with). Over time, I’d like Behind The Menu stories to be associated with recognizing the best restaurants, chefs, and culinary businesses, whether the subject is a steak house or a local winery. Presumptuous, perhaps, but as Robert Burns said, “a man’s reach should exceed his grasp.” I said that in my best brogue, by the way. (Smiles.)

JH: Where will you go next?
MB: Damned glad you asked that question, Jeanne! On Monday my partners (Scott Nicholson, a local commercial real estate agent, and Brian Critchfield, a social media visionary and ace marketing maven) will be hosting a focus group at the BSU Culinary Arts Program. We’ve invited a number of local restaurant owners, who will be attending along with some of the culinary program faculty who are intrigued with the Behind The Menu concept.

During the focus group we’ll be teaching some basic social media skills that a restaurant owner can put to use the minute they get back to their office/kitchen. We are also going to introduce a social media association concept that we hope to refine through restaurant owner feedback, and that will provide ongoing social media marketing services to deliver the content that the site creates around our local food scene.

Ultimately, it will be the association fees along with sponsorship from non-restaurant culinary businesses who want to reach the local foodie audience that will pay the freight for creating the content in an “ad free” environment. We are taking a more innovative approach to the business model that we believe is in keeping with the more innovative nature of social media as a marketing strategy.

I don’t believe in pouring new wine into old skins. We also want to form relationships with other organizations who promote local businesses, which would include the Downtown Boise Association, Think Boise First, Buy Idaho, etc. We share their belief that the high tide floats all boats.

Finally, we want to find ways of using the site and social media model to create interesting synergies between different members of the culinary community. Imagine events, promoted through “Tweet Ups” (Twitter gatherings) that are culinary-themed, such as pairing chocolate and wine, or that tie some of our restaurants to historical subjects (imagine Bar Gernika and the Basque Block history), or that feature “progressive meals” with a particular ethnic theme?

And we haven’t even touched on the content possibilities with creating a YouTube channel for five-minute video vignettes, or guest blogs, or inviting well known community folks to do a podcast interview at a favorite local restaurant to talk about their connection with its menu.

The mind spins…Which also leads to another potential revenue stream: content syndication.

But the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, and the first step is simply telling one good story, then the next one.

JH: Wow. That “big-picture” future is, well, I won’t say mind-boggling, but it does offer food for thought. What’s next for you, Michael? A book? Oprah?
MB: I used to do a seminar presentation entitled “Be Your Own Oprah” based on the belief, which is fast coming to be common wisdom, that social media and Web 2.0 tools that I can access by simply opening up my MacBook can make any of us the Oprah of our own community, depending on how we define “our community.”

Right now, I want to be the Oprah (or at least the white, middle-aged, male version) of the local restaurant scene. My community will decide if they want to bestow that honor upon me, and I trust their judgment.

Book? Probably not, but we’ve already talked about rolling the “long form” blog and podcast stories into Web site profile pages for each of the participating restaurants. No reason these profiles couldn’t be packaged as print pieces for the hospitality industry as “Signature Dishes of Boise.” I’m open to whatever digital media opportunities grow organically from the single-minded intention of telling the “tales of culinary adventure from the City of Trees.”

JH: Would you like more input/suggestions from local gastronomes?
MB: Absobloominlutely! I’m a big believer in collaboration, and in taking an idea that you think is a good one, sharing it with people whose creativity you trust without the expectation of any particular outcome, and then seeing what develops organically. I’d hate to be tied to any project that depended on me being the smartest guy in the room! But then, like Groucho Marx, I probably wouldn’t join a club that would have me as a member.

JH: Michael, this has been a great interview. I think what you’re doing for local restaurants, getting their stories out, getting to the heart of the matter, is a great service. Is there anything we’ve left out, anything else you’d like to say?
MB: I’d like to thank the members of the Academy, my mother and father for always believing in me, and of course, Jesus. (Sorry, I’m a bit of an iconoclast, but I also know my priest would think that was funny. He’s an iconoclast too).

JH: Thanks Michael!
MB: Au contraire, Jeanne. Thank YOU!

Give ‘em the business and shop around

Psst. Don’t be afraid. Contrary to what you may be hearing, it’s all right to go shopping. I actually shopped in broad daylight Saturday and guess what? I wasn’t a bit embarrassed. You can really get good bargains (try the 3 B’s on Broadway or the Grocery Outlet, you’ll be surprised and amazed — good deals on Zeppole bread and decadent Dellalo dipping oil at 3 B’s, Norma Jean merlot at G.O. ).

And guess what? It’s not all shuttered doors and “closed” signs out there. Yeah, some retail stores and restaurants have closed and others may join them, but — there are many out there, open for business and weathering the storm. Some are even seeing growth. Seriously.

Here are a couple to cheer for, send me more so I can pass the good news along:

• See Jane Run Director of Marketing Deb DiFanti said that in January, the stores’ sales actually grew by 20 percent. Plus, the store is launching a local See Jane Run Half Marathon and 5K “I run for chocolate and Champagne” in Boise on June 20. A portion of each registration will go to Boise Komen for the Cure. http://www.seejanerun.com/t-See-Jane-Run-Half-Marathon-and-5K.aspx
• Locally-owned and operated Goodwood Barbecue Company
http://www.goodwoodbbq.com/ was founded in 1999 by Steve Cooper and Mike Mantooth and is still going strong. Recently, I spoke with Kevin Hughes, area director for the Boise market, about Goodwood’s ongoing success in the current economy.

“Sales-wise, we’re maintaining,” Hughes said. “We’ve reduced our management levels at each of our stores, but no one’s hit the unemployment line.” Hughes said it’s important to pay close attention to the numbers and monitor your business accordingly.

One of the first things the company did was bring staff members together and talk turkey — about what was happening with the economy and the affects it would have on everyone, including employee AND customer, or “guest” spending.

“It’s an overall education that we’re all in this together,” Hughes said, adding that more and more, he’s seeing the dining-out experience become more special. “It’s become a conscious decision. People can’t afford to do it five times a week anymore and when they do go out, they want a special occasion. We want to provide the best possible experience. We’ve always stressed the value of our staff, but out of a pride factor, a sense of community factor, we owe our guests the best possible experience when they come through our doors.”

And, Goodwood has not raised menu prices, reduced portion sizes or substituted ingredients to save money. “We make things from scratch,” Hughes said proudly. “We view our business as building relationships with people.”
Hughes said Goodwood customers are pulling for the restaurant company

“People come in saying, ‘gosh, we’re so glad you’re so busy.’ It’s remarkable,” said Hughes. “It almost brings tears to your eyes.”

Up and running…

Wow, the response to my good news shout-out is incredible! Thanks to all for sending news items, contacts — and kudos, too, for all the good wishes, support, suggestions and opinions. Whew! Keep ‘em coming!

I’ve got lots of ground to cover, so…
First, the good news!

GOOD STUFF: Thoroughly Modern.
The Modern Hotel and Bar, 1314 W. Grove, Boise, is, like many of us, throwing an Oscar Party Sunday, Feb. 22. This one is particularly cool because The Modern is a regular hangout of Boise’s own Heather Rae, producer of the Oscar-nominated (Best Screenplay) “Frozen River.” Melissa Leo, another Oscar contender, stars in the heralded film. The crowd will be uber cool and holding their collective breath while the rest of us just wish we could be that cool. RSVP and get your tickets — which include an Oscar ballot, two drinks and appetizers from Café de Paris — by Friday, Feb. 20. Sweet: The night’s events include a Modern give-away — a free night in a Modern suite! 424-8244.
Coming up: The Modern Art show slated for May 9. Artists, get your entry forms in by Saturday, Feb. 28! http://blog.themodernhotel.com/

GOOD DAY: A rose by any other name…
Hats off to the Flying M Valentine for AIDS auction for bringing in a cool $27K!! While that may be $1,000 less than 2008’s shindig, that’s still pretty awesome, said owner Lisa Myers. “It was better than I expected because so many said it was going to be bad (because of the economy). But people came out and really supported a cause that they love.”

GOOD DEED: Now that’s a helping hand!
Way to go, Alan Hamilton, of AIRE Inflatables in Meridian, http://www.aire.com/aire/. At $1,000 Hamilton was the winning bidder on an ice chest at an auction to help out BLM seasonal ranger Mick Krussow at the annual Utah Guides and Outfitters/ Colorado River Outfitters Association convention in Grand Junction, Colo., on Feb. 11 and 12. Krussow has been battling cancer and is just finishing up his second round of chemo (seasonal rangers don’t get health care benefits). The $1,000 was way cool — but wait — Hamilton tossed the cooler he’d won back into the ring. By the time it was filled up with fist fulls o’ tens, twenties and hundred dollar bills, Hamilton and friends had raised a “cool-er” $2,300 to help Krussow.

Good job!

Keep sending me the goods!

jeannehuff@gmail.com

A good start

Ticked off, sad, depressed and disappointed by all the bad news? Tired of hearing about foreclosures, bailouts, layoffs and favorite restaurants closing? Me too! That’s why I am starting this blog — to paraphrase a line from the 1976 movie “Network,” “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!”

Here’s my story: My name is Jeanne Huff and I got laid off from my job of five-plus years as assistant features editor, reporter and columnist at the Idaho Statesman on October 9, 2008. I thought I’d bounce right into something else new and exciting, but the economy and all of its bad news bounced back. Hard.

A couple of weeks ago, I had coffee with my friend, Jim Meadows. Jim is the owner of Home Enhancement Company. He does home staging and orchestrates charitable makeovers, bringing other local businesses together to help make dreams come true for some who can’t afford to do that on their own.

Jim listened to me grouse for a bit, then said: Everywhere I look, there’s bad news and everybody I talk to is sick of it. Why don’t you write about the good news? It’s out there. I hear about it all the time, but the mainstream media just doesn’t talk much about it.

I said: Yeah, I like that. Good news.

Since then, Jim and I have talked to a lot of people: community leaders, economic development and city hall types, media moguls, local business owners and “just plain folks” and friends. EVERYONE thinks it’s a good idea.

Sure, there’s bad news out there. Plenty.

And it gets plenty of exposure.

I want to get out the good news.

So come to this blog for an uplifting look at our world, both big-picture and Boise-style. And if you’ve got something to add, please feel free! I’m starting a Good News Army.

I’m looking for news in the following categories (or just make one up).

GOOD STUFF:
Know of a new restaurant or shop? Is one extending its hours or changing its menu?

Send your good news items to:
jeannehuff@gmail.com
GOOD DAY:
Did you see or hear of a good deed lately? Was someone noticeably nice? Let’s celebrate our local heroes, spread the word and the good vibes.

GOOD BIZ:
If you’re a local business owner, what are some tips for success? How have you tailored your services? What innovations have you made?

GOOD NIGHT:
What’s happening? Cool places to go, things to do?

GOODIE-GOODIES:
Know of any good bargains, sales, cheap, tasty snacks, budget-minded recipes?

GOOD FINDS:
How about local hidden treasures? Let’s get the word out.