We love road trips. Mountains, desert, hot springs, or canyon, we love exploring the great state of Idaho. Experience has taught us, though, that a good meal can be hard to come by in some of Idaho’s more rural areas. After searching for quality restaurant meals in locations such as Cascade, Mountain Home, and Idaho Falls, but encountering only rural Idaho’s vast culinary desert, we now travel prepared with our own supply of road food.
The ironic part about Idaho’s Culinary Desert is that it’s located on some of the greatest farmland on earth. Sadly though, not much of this farmland is dedicated to growing delicious food for the local population to eat. Idaho has lots of ranching, and lots of commodity crops like potatoes, onions, and wheat, that are exported to other states. Grocery stores in more rural locations tend not to be so impressive either, and we’ve heard stories of desert ranchers making monthly grocery shopping trips to bigger towns, and surviving on canned goods most of the time, especially in some of the colder, higher elevation areas where it’s hard to even grow a garden. To be fair, the local population is very tiny in some of these locations, and maybe the local culture doesn’t yet support great restaurants, even near tourist locations, or the locals actually grow gardens and cook for themselves at home most of the time (!). Anyway, Cast Iron is in search of good places to eat in Rural Idaho. If you know of any, let us know!
For a recent trip to visit Marty’s grandma in Salt Lake City, we traveled prepared. We packed our picnic bag with all kinds of goodies. We usually keep it pretty simple: Sandwich fixins, including good bread, meat, several kinds of cheese, homemade chutney, avocado, and some leafy greens like spinach or lettuce. I always pack some fruit, and Marty usually likes a sweet treat, maybe a chocolate bar for something easy or cookies if we had time to make them. And PB&J, for if we need a change of pace on our sandwich options. I also like to pack a picnic plate to prepare the sandwiches on, and a knife.
A good thing about sandwiches is that they’re easy to eat while driving. Usually it’s my job to make sandwiches, while Marty drives.
Now, what separates the sandwich you see here from an ordinary sandwich, is that the meats we used came from a favorite local establishment, Smoky Davis. Located on State Street just up the street from my house, I drove by it for two years or so before I ever went in. I sure was missing out. They carry all sorts of smoked and dried meats. We ask for ours sliced thin like lunch meat, and though they look like ordinary lunch meats, they are far superior. The dried beef, smoked turkey, and dried pork are some our our favorites. They are a perfect compliment to our homemade chutney or chili sauce, which we use on winter sandwiches rather than a slice of tomato.
In addition to superior smoked meat products, Smoky’s sells fresh local beef from some farmer friends of ours at Homestead Natural Foods, local eggs from a neighbor of our farm out in Star, and a wide selection of local wines. We highly recommend Smoky Davis for your next picnic or satisfying lunchtime sandwich.