Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ashland Unleashed

I traveled with 2 kids and a rat to California to visit all of my family. Yes, we drove and took our time doing so. I think I hit just about every rest stop and it wasn't for the kids. Apparently venti - sized coffees work as a total laxative on me, who knew?

I have a sordid love affair going on with the town of Ashland. I can really envision myself living there, probably only in the summer though - winter might change my mind. This town has some tremendous eating opportunities and since eating is a hobby of mine, the town is perfect. At this point, my kids have fallen in love with the area because although it is a college/kinda hippy town, there are plenty of kid friendly options, including pets! Ashland is a total dog friendly town. AND if you are lucky, you can meet some of the dudes playing music for money - they always have awesome pets and they let you pet them (for a small fee, of course :)

So if you visit, here are a few of my haunts that are worth checking out. I must admit however, I didn't see a Shakespeare play while visiting, nor did I white water raft through hell's canyon! Probably will wait a few years so the children can enjoy it as well. We did walk around the theaters so that should give me a few points, right?

May I add that Sophie the Rat joined us on our excursions and was welcomed by all - even shop owners.

1) Lithia Park is beautiful with ambling pathways, grazing deer and duck ponds. Creek walking is plentiful as is the rock climbing wall and playground for kids. Random people play their music or assume their yoga positions offering a zen like feel to the place :) Honestly though, the area is gorgeous and perfect for exploring.

2) Be sure to stop by Mix Sweet Shop right down the street from the park for amazing treats and homemade, FANTASTIC, organic ice cream. Think flavors like Stumptown coffee and chocolate malted milk and fresh raspberry. Think also of decadent cupcakes, tarts and croissants. Now, add organic to the above list and you have it made. Yes, we went twice because it was that good.

3) After being in town for a bit I was ready to get my nose pierced and a tattoo but I will save that for another post.

4) So, if you want to take the kids somewhere quirky and fun go to Gypsy Rose. A word of caution to parents though, beware of the downstairs because there are a lot of gag gifts that aren't very appropriate for the younger set. Upstairs however is laden with fun and original jewelry and clothing. I got these earrings that most people wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole but they are perfect for me and I love them. So there. That is me attempting to be assertive.

5) "You must eat tacos" is my subliminal message to you. Just cross the street from Mix Sweet Shop and you will find yourself smack dab in front of Agave. THE.BEST.TACOS.EVER.EVER.EVER (and I've been to Mexico and Guatemala so I know!!) All made from scratch (tortilla press is cranking them out), the tacos are considered more of a small plate item. The margaritas looked so beautiful and fresh for a hot day, complete with umbrellas.

Since I wasn't sure what to order and I had 2 kids in tow, I ordered some of everything! Jaimey is a total carnivore so I got her a grilled carne asada (skirt steak) taco with crumbled cotjia cheese, fresh lime and shredded cabbage. Did I mention everything is made from scratch??

By the way, I whipped out some of the espanol I have been learning but they weren't amused so don't do it, apparently they don't speak Spanish.

Will had a grilled chicken version with pico de gallo and I had the baja fish style. "Delish", as Rachael Ray would say. Still needing more, I ordered their homemade chips and salsa. After I watched them making it I had to order, you would have also (2 bucks!) We polished it off in like 2 seconds, including the two types of salsa they served. AWESOME! Everything was presented in this honest, colorful, real food way. I totally respond to the simplicity and beauty of good food and Agave gave me more than I bargained for. In addition, cheap - cheap - cheap!! Seriously, each taco is a couple of bucks. YOU.MUST.GO.THERE!

6) OK , so what if you don't want tacos? How about pasta instead? Check out Wiley's World on Siskiyou Blvd. Extremely kid friendly with an all organic, made from scratch menu. My kids love the butter and cheese pasta and the marinara. Plenty of vegetarian items to choose from which I really appreciated. I enjoyed some basil pesto pasta that about sent me to the moon. They also sell their pastas and raviolis which would be great if you lived in the area. Very funky, eclectic decor - everything from miniature yodas to smiling buddhas with a few "Peace" signs thrown in for good measure.

Fun place and great for kids which rocks because not only are your kids happy, you can enjoy an awesome meal! How cool is that?

7) For the best breakfast head to Morning Glory Cafe located on Siskiyou Blvd in a darling house. Don't worry, no creepy lady lives there cooking out of her unlicensed kitchen! Not only is their food absolutely incredible, their gardens are spilling with herbs and flowers. They have designed (very specifically) lovely seating areas out on their decks which include swings, cushioned benches and the like. They also offer free coffee while you wait. And wait you will. I need a medal for this, I waited with kids for 40 minutes just because I was hell - bent on eating their breakfast while I was in town. All that to say the kids totally amused themselves with the fountains and outside shady area because it is like this little 'Secret Garden' experience. Also, if that doesn't work they have an entire bookshelf filled with reading options for all ages.

Jaimey loves their organic sausage and pancakes. Will just loves their hot chocolate (and the mug they serve it in.) I go nuts for their mochas, the cup they serve it in AND their sweeter side of breakfast options. Also, perfect for vegetarians - huge menu of options. My current faves include the Sourdough French Toast with Fresh Berries, Lemon Butter and Berry Compote.
Another one is their Macadamia White Chocolate Waffle with Lemon Butter, Whipped Cream and Fresh Raspberries.

*I could go on and on about the shops, Dagoba Chocolate Factory, Yogurt Hut, and the beautiful restaurant options literally at every other store front but I would fill too many pages*

I will include one other great stop. Head to Central Point (a little north of Medford) and check Rogue Valley Creamery. This is a beautiful cheese company that utilizes sustainable practices in creating their cheeses. Some of my favorites are the Crater Lake Blue and the Touvelle. Very delicious and the samples are fantastic which are offered in their gift shop. Just don't let your kids try the Jalapeno one! I had to buy a few packs of cheese which will be enjoyed in a mighty way.

OK, I included a few photos....wish I had more but I guess I was too busy stuffing my face!

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