If the last week of temps in the 30s, two-for-one entrees, or complete lack of people on Town Square hasn’t reminded you that it is offseason yet, it is. We all know that this is short lived. Soon enough streets will be crowded with fur coats and holiday picture-takers at all hours of the day posting up in front of the elk antlers. Until then, Jackson enjoys a slightly slower pace of life. The offseason is also the time of the year when all of us trapped in the Hole go out and explore the big wide world beyond our little corner of the Cowboy State.
It is always important to expand your palate while venturing away from Wyoming during your time off. I recently made the trek back to my home city of Seattle only to find myself reinspired by food. Here are a few things to keep you adventurous while you explore the world outside of Jackson.
If it is served in something that is illegal in Jackson, try it:* Let me clarify by saying I am referring to food trucks, food windows, pop-up restaurants, and street vendors here rather than a hobo pie cooked under a bridge. Places where start up and fixed costs are low, like food trucks, are a great incubator for chefs taking a risk on what they are serving. Chances are it will be good, and almost certainly the hyper-ethnic food that this type of venue tends to cater to, is something you can’t enjoy here.
When in Rome: If your final destination ends up being some place close to the ocean then for God’s sake get some oysters (or any seafood for that matter I am just projecting my love of salty crustaceans). Don’t get a cheeseburger in Japan or a pizza in Brazil, get what is local and fresh wherever you are, even if you aren’t especially fond of it. I distinctly remember ordering fish head curry in Thailand a few years back. In most cases I would never order fish head anything, but I figured what the hell. Turns out it was delicious, and fish heads are my new thing.
Go Prepared: I wrote an article last year on how apps can aid your food quests in other cities. A little research goes a long way in making sure you spend your limited amount of food away from home in an efficient fashion, but it can only get you so far. Although Yelp, Urbanspoon and various other websites can be helpful, never hesitate to ask a local. It can be as easy as asking your server where they go on their day off. Almost always the most authentic tastes of the town are ones unspoiled by hoards of tourists (just Yelp the top attractions for Jackson Hole and see how many of those would break your top 10).
Don’t miss Breakfast: While traveling there is no excuse to sleep in. I don’t care if you had a long night the day before, the only reason not to get up early is if there is nothing worth doing, and as you are traveling, that is usually not applicable. Man up and take that hangover head on, don’t worry, it is never as bad when you wake up in a strange city compared to clocking in for a 10 hour shift. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day; however, that might exclude your five-egg omelet, which is more nap inducing than invigorating. Just remember, eating breakfast sets you up to enjoy lunch and dinner, which is reason enough to wake up early in my book.
… and finally don’t forget to Capture the Moment: This does not have to be with a camera at the dinner table, but taking note of your experiences makes them infinitely more pleasurable as you can look back on them later. Instagraming every meal for the world to see in most cases is overkill; consider the candid, meaningful photos or descriptive journaling to jog your memory in the future. Life isn’t staged, tilt shifted, and saturated (most of the time) so why should your memories?
When it is all said and done and the honeymoon feel of your offseason vacation has worn off (or you are forced to fly back as is usually the case), you can find solace in the fact that we have it pretty good here. Our little mountain town holds its own when it comes to food options and while modernist fare, or crazy hybrid cuisines may not be readily available, you can rest assured after a long day of skiing, nothing tastes better than a cold beer and a gourmet burger.